February 2009 Archives

Changing skies

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Sunshine has broken through, and we've managed to get to the ocean for a swim. Well, in an ocean pool surrounded by rock, which made swimming possible, and even gettting over the rough flat rocks to peer into rock pools and have waves splash over us.

Readying ourselves for the next chapter as we head to Perth at the weekend. Everyone has been telling us that at least the weather will be sunny over there, being on the edge of the desert and all... Forecast for Perth this weekend: 35c and heavy showers. I am the rain god.

P.S. It may look like a bush fire, but this is actually the sunset colouring the low clouds as they drift up the valley. And the pinnacle in the background on the right is a place called Drawing Room Rocks, which we climbed to the first time that I came to Australia (and life was less complicated).

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Beached es

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On a lighter beach-themed note from my previous sandy musings, here is a little gem for all of those folk who struggle to find the difference between an Australian and a New Zealand accent. This should now stand as the definitive example of the Kiwi sound.


Normal service has been resumed...

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..and here is my latest column for The Times.

message ends.

Beach-bummed

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...or not. Today we hit the beach, only I stayed on the concrete path by the road as I have particularly 'urban' tyres on at the moment. Mind you, even mountain bike tyres struggle on sand.

 It's a hard world to leave behind, watching surfers, paddlers, splashers, sand-castle builders and general beach layabouts enjoying one of the most naturally fun places an able-bodied person can go.

I have to rebuild a bit after days like today, refit my defences. Too many days like this on the spin and I must admit I struggle. Still, at least the sun shone, and the beer that I am just about to open is a cold one.

And then there's always gems like this one sent to me by my brother. However noble the intentions may have been, some things are just plain odd. And what's with the girl second from left? Does she just have some kind of head/underwear-based disability?

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Ch.ch.ch.changes

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An interesting post from Andrew Farrow, fellow blogger and SCI person. It is a timely subject for me over here in Sydney, where I am beginning to appreciate more of the benefits of things like the D.D.A. in the UK.
Here there doesn't appear to be a DDA or similar, and I can already see how easily I can become and 'arsey cripple'.

There is an exception in play here. It annoys me when I can't get in the lift beacuse it's full of able bodied people. But to expect them to delight in running up and down endless flights of stairs (as I would were I ever given the chance again), is perhaps unrealistic. It doesn't stop me from huffing and scowling, however.

To expect people to empathise with everyone and anyone at all times is unrealistic. But a little consideration isn't too much to ask.

The Rainmakers

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Yes, we have brought all of our British expertise to these drought ravaged shores, and having arrived in 40c, we have quickly taken control of the situation and dropped the temp to 20c with a generous sprinkling of drizzle.

Sydney is still one of the most challenging cities a wheelchair user can face, but this time I am a little more capable, a little more intrepid than our last trip two years ago. Sometimes it's nice to be reminded how far I have come.

And even in the rain, there are times to sit and just enjoy the view...

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Time delay.

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'tis nearing midnight on Tuesday evening her in Australia, but I thought it best to offer a link to my latest Times piece.

Here everything is dominated by the horrendous bush fires that have struck Victoria, with the death toll now at 180 and set to rise. Truly horrific, and made even more disturbing by the knowledge that many of the fires may have been started deliberately. Obviously the weather has played it's part in creating the conditions, but the arson aspect is bewildering.

I suppose that arson exists in the damper parts of the world too. It's just that setting fire to a bus shelter or a litter bin in the middle of an English winter is less likely to cause a blaze that runs out of control, leaving hundreds dead and destroying whole communities.

As for us, jetlag is gradually receding, the rain has arrived (quelle surprise), and we are enjoying exploring the Olympic Park where we are staying. Interesting to see with 2012 and the potential legacy in mind...

Half way round.

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For those of you who may have been wondering, my column in The Times didn't run yesterday as everything was put on hold for a 'snow special'. And to be fair, it was pretty special. I even managed a snowball fight with R, at her insistence, I hasten to add.

It all went very well, with her laughing like a loon, passing snowballs for me to throw at her and then missing my face from a foot away. Inevitably, I eventually scored a direct hit to the side of her face, and it ended in tears. It was her idea, it was only soft snow, and I didn't throw it very hard, but I can sense that any protestation is falling on deaf ears as you all think, "What a bastard. Throwing snowballs in the face of a three year old." Mea Culpa

Well, in the midst of all the snow-based fun/chaos, our departure is suddenly upon us, as we head off to Australia today. Once I have thrown a few more things at a suitcase, that is.

I shall try to post a bit when I am there, but with  44c predicted at the weekend, I'm sure it will be boring tales of sitting next to the air-con  sucking on ice cubes. And I don't know what I shall be doing in the daytime...

Heat is not my strong suit anymore, as my body doesn't regulate temperature quite so well now half of it is asleep. It will be interesting to see whether I can acclimatise, especially going from -1 to +44. Geeeeez.

I know, it seems churlish, possibly insensitive to all those who are staying in -1 for me to sound like I am moaning. There are probably plenty in +44 who envy me the -1 of the last few days, too. Sorry.

I shall manage. As long as my tyres don't melt. And my cold goes away.

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Snow Joke

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There's a strange eerie peace that descends on the world when it snows heavily, even in a large city. And there's nothing like the gasps and squeaks of excitement that emerge from a three year old when they look out of the window and see the world under snow.

However, there's also nothing quite like trying to get through the stuff in a wheelchair. It's more forgiving than sand,  but it's still very hard going, and even the smallest twig can cause you to wheelspin on the spot. And it gives people the excuse to park in the disabled bay outside the house. There's also nothing like gripping titanium wheelrims covered in melting snow to create the coldest fingers imaginable.

Making a snowman isn't quite the joy that it used to be. I ended up sat in one spot and soon ran out of reachable snow which also meant that I had dug a small hole for myself and I couldn't get up the sides without assistance.

So I found myself facing another one of life's pangs of sadness, as I am unable to make a great big snowman with my daughter, something that would have brought huge pleasure to us both. And it's been a while since I've had that first encounter with something I can no longer do. By now, most of the stuff of our everyday life has been faced, accepted and negotiated. 

Still, at least it doesn't snow that often. And it does look quite magical.

And then this evening I got to make a snow man with her. He's only about 18 inches tall and sits on our front wall (which made him 'wheelchair accessible'), but he's got a cheerful smile, almost as big as mine.

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