Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A review of 2013

Regular readers of this blog will already be up to speed with most of the events of the year.  However in case they have blinked and missed stuff I will try to cover a few things here.

Obviously the biggest change was the arrival of Arabella on 8 January 2013.  We were sitting at home trying to keep an eye on the bushfires of Catastrophic Tuesday while anxiously awaiting news of our daughters progress.  All good in the end: fires didn't get near us and we have a lovely grand-daughter who is going great guns.

Exercise

Having raised the issue of the medical profession, in April, I had my first ever stay in hospital to fix up some hernias.  That has all been resolved, but the 6 weeks off running got me into some bad habits, such as not doing much running.  Unfortunately this wasn't accompanied by a concomitant decrease in calories consumed so I now merit consideration for a role in an Austin Powers movie.

That leads on to the topic of running.  The sorry tale is shown in the following graph.
At least the last few months are fairly flat: the decline ceased (although I do regard reliance on a second differential as a pretty desperate approach to scratching out a positive).

Apart from the medical disruption I didn't have any incentives to keep up my exercise this year.  I wasn't planning to run a marathon (hooray - I didn't, so an objective achieved) and I didn't think I could do much in the way of competing in the Vets Handicap series.  WRT to the latter that was also achieved, and  I came 36th out of 132.   It was good that my friend Rob won the annual Handicap series.  It is also good that despite finishing in the top 30 in the last event of the year my handicap has been eased off so I can be competitive again.

I am not the only exerciser in the family and Frances is getting into her gym in Queanbeyan frequently as well as walking with the small dog every morning.

Despite being a year  - or indeed 7 years in canine equivalents - older the smallest member of the household is going well although she is doing more sleeping than she used to.  She can still put on speed if there is a suitable incentive - ie anything with fur on it.

Not really exercise, but sports related.  Our financial adviser gave me the opportunity to join a tipping competition.  It was originally AFL and NRL but has now expanded to include Gridiron.  After the 2013 Reguar Season I am 334th - out of about 10,600!!

Blogging

It is probable that I spend too much time doing this. However in the past year my base blog has been visited about 13,000 times with around 55,000 page views so some of you are interested.  I have babbled 279 times on that blog as well as a few other offerings about Birds in Carwoola  and our trip to the UK.

Travels

The big trip this year was to the UK and if you wish to read more about that I suggest you visit the blog linked above.  One passing thought is that we were in that country when Prince George was born.  This makes a pleasant change from our record in previous decades when our visits seemed to coincide with the death of a member of the Royal Family.

In terms of travel within Australia the major development was starting on a project of visiting every town in New South Wales.  Searching for a list of 'towns' I came across a Register of War Memorials in New South Wales and took that as the population.  Surprisingly we have come across a few Memorials not on the Register (although they are now!).  The total list is 817 places but 97 of them - at least - are in metropolitan Sydney and I have, for the time being at least excluded them.

We have visited 99 places and in most cases there is a blog post about the trip.  Of course, we have taken the low hanging fruit and most of our visits are fairly close to Canberra.  We did do a trip to Albury and visited quite a few interesting places near there and another through the central West to Lake Cargellico.  As might be expected with the focus on the Memorials our conceptual peripheral vision is revealing many other aspects of the towns as we go through.

As a consequence of

  1. the need to go further;
  2. our feelings of guilt about leaving Tammy in kennels; and 
  3. the difficulty of finding accommodation which is not canophobic

we have acquired, right at the end of 2013 a camper-trailer for use in furthering this project.  Other than getting it back from Sydney we haven't used it yet.

Also under this topic I should note that we have finally become a 2 car household.  Frances has been longing for a VW Jetta for many years and the Subaru was starting to get towards needing some work done on it so I got a Pajero,  The latter will tow the camper.

Natural History stuff.

To some extent this my main preoccupation (or possibly, as I am no longer in the Labour Force, postoccupation) and certainly fills up a lot of my time (and blog posts).

Weather

Although some brain-dead twerps - see politics below for more on the Abbott government - deny that the climate is anything to do with anything or that people have anything to do with climate I tend to think that observing the weather is pretty much the starting point for thinking about natural history.  To that end I have been using weather stations to record our local weather.  I haven't had much success with them but am now hopeful that my Davis Vantage Vue will give me reliable service into the future.

The following image pretty much sums up my view of the weather since about March.
Its been a bit dry, as shown in the following Chart.
The rainfall recorded in three months was the lowest for the month since we have been here.  I will do a more complete post on this early in the New Year.

Birding

My list for 2013 is a pretty pathetic 251 species.  This includes 209 species seen in Australia and 55 seen in the UK and/ the Netherlands (thank you for the long taxi Schipol airport)!  The most surprising thing about that is that there were 13 species seen in both areas!

I only added one species to my life list (Pied Honeyeater, seen at Lake Cargellico Sewage Works) but in a late burst added 4 species to my ACT list.

Carwoola birding has been a bit like the curates egg: good in parts.  I will be writing up a full review of what's been seen locally and posting it to my Carwoola Birds Blog early in January: so watch that space.  We have added a few species to the area list (good part) but have lost a couple of stalwarts: one moved away (bad part) and one passed away (very bad part).  The total number of species seen in the year is low, reflecting the poor weather conditions (see above) especially the lack of water in a swamp on the Plain.

Plants and Insects

The main focus for both of these has continued to be the Wednesday Walks with ANPS.  

Frances is going great guns in her plant identification skills and I am getting better at writing down  other folks identifications.  I have put in a bit of time getting the plants lists from these walks loaded to the Atlas of Living Australia which I regard as a National Treasure.  We have currently got something of the order of 21,000 records up there.

WRT insects I continue to be amazed at the knowledge of Roger Farrow in identifying these beasties.  I still have to count legs to be sure it is an insect.  However I am equally astonished at the differing shapes, sizes and generally diverse appearance of insects.

Politics

Oh heck: I can't bring myself to post about our Government.  Thank goodness they only have 3 year terms. After that amount of time I suspect that even the bogan masses who voted them in will have had enough of the Abbott Government.

That deals with 2013: onwards and 

upwards to 2014!

HAPPY NEW YEAR



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