Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 in Review

As the year nears its end I will cast an eye back over what has happened, highlighting changes.

As would be expected the biggest changes have been with grand-daughter Arabella.  She has gone from a nearly 1 year-old baby to a nearly 2 year-old little girl.  Here she is on Christmas Day.
At the other end of the age scale is the small dog, Tammy.  She is beginning to slow down a bit, not surprising at about 12 years old ( I suspect equivalent to about 84 human years) but has still got plenty of bounce when bouncing is needed.  Here she is, later on Christmas Day, about to offer necessary guidance to Boson, our friends Whippet Cross.
Watching them sort out their relationship was hilarious, especially as Boson invites play by bouncing his front feet up and down and then waving a paw in the air.

As a result of having Tammy we acquired, very late in 2013 our camper-trailer.  This made it relatively easy for us to take trips away.  Initially it took a bit of gritting of teeth but we now have the process down pretty much to routine.  We have done 7 trips this year totaling to about 9,000km.  The biggest trip had us away from Carwoola for nearly all of July visiting Western NSW and the North Coast.

We have also taken several short trips to beautiful Mallacoota just in Victoria.  Here we stay in a house owned by friends whose work has taken them out of the country.  Apart from the scenery ...
.. we also get to receive visitors of a marsupial nature.
While we are at home Frances has entered the realm of U3A (University of the Third Age) doing a shortish course on English Cathedrals and an ongoing Latin course.  She has maintained her interest in music and acquired a ukelele,attending another U3A course to get into the basics of the instrument of George Formby.  She continues.with piano, tin whistle and accordion!

Frances is also the project manager for various bits of our garden which continue to give us great pleasure and, for about half the year, quite a bit of food.  We ended getting a very good crop of tomatoes last year which were cropped made into pasta sauce which was then frozen.  This has been eaten throughout the year.  

Strawberries have also been frozen and towards the end of the year have been replaced as pickables by raspberries and loganberries.   In October 2013 a late and very nasty frost meant we got no apples last year: that didn't occur in 2014 so a good crop looks likely in 2015.  
Also looking better than usual is the crop of plums: as long as they get the right amount of water we should get a good crop of them towards the end of Summer.

Mentioning climate gets us to the weather.  I will be doing a special report on the year's weather when the year is complete, so will suffice for now to say that our rain was about average, after a very dry January.  We have only had the Creek flood once this year - partly due to restrained rainfall and partly to having added an extra 1 metre pipe.

Our interests in things natural has continued with us going on quite a few ANPS Wednesday walks when we have been home and they haven't clashed with the bird walks I lead one Wednesday a month.  On the block we had a pretty good orchid season with lots of Cyanicula and Glossodia.  

My main entertainment in the birding sphere has been a 'game' moderated from the US in which one tries to add a new species every day.  My first effort, starting on 1 January, bit the dust after 162 days and my second go beginning on 1 July lasted 173 days.  Definitely good fun and I look forward to starting again on 1 January.  I managed to add 2 birds to my life list in the year: Grey Falcon and Plum-headed Finch. Both of these additions occurred on our big trip.  The former is a very rare bird and was definitely a target for the trip.  The latter has been a target species for years, so it was very nice to realise that I wasn't looking at mutated House Sparrows when I finally nailed it.

Although not unusual to me, as I spend a lot of time looking for and at the family of Tawny Frogmouths that share our block I can report that they raised two chicks to independence this year.
Of course I spend a fair bit of time composing these blogs.  I've added 267 posts to this blog and probably another 50 to the various 'special blogs'.  For this blog there have been about 12,000 visits (averaging 32 visits per day) covering 48,000 post accesses, so someone reads the stuff!

The final topic is of exercise.  At one point we - mainly Frances - were thinking of doing some serious multi-day walks so started training for this by extending our morning dog walks.  The longer term objective has faded but we have kept up the longer walks, going about 8km (rather than 4km) 4 mornings a week.  This seems to have caused my waistline to be a little more evident and has helped my fitness a bit.  

Overall, by the end of the year I will have achieved about  200km running equivalents more than 2013.  140 of these km will come from extra walking, 40 from mountain bike riding and 20 from actual running.

My main achievement in the year was winning another gold medal in the ACT Veterans monthly handicap events.  This was an honest run, as I was very surprised to come first on a pretty tough course.  It did help that as a result of getting rather unfit mid-year my handicap had been eased out a few groups.

Everything else is pretty much chugging along as it should.

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