31 December 2008

2008: The Year of Travel

It's hard to think that 2008 is actually over after today. It's so monotonous to keep saying it, but each year is flying by and I can't believe what amazing things have happened this year and still seem so recent in my mind!

Work for me continued with UWS in the Teaching Development Unit but it didn't come without further ups and downs including a change of job title after a successful application the role of E-Learning Media Developer, followed shortly by the threat of losing this position due to restructure and funding woes later in the year. It was even more interesting then that I became a permanent full-time employee whilst on leave! The good part is that I'm still in a fun and interesting role with an equally fun and interesting team of people and looking forward to the wonders that '09 will bring...

The biggest memories to take away from 2008 are from all the adventures and travelling that occured. Right back to January with a trip among friends to Dubbo (in a day) to the Western Plains Zoo to check it out. February saw my brother, Michael and I drive down with the EuroFordClub to attend the Melbourne Small Ford Sunday which was a great weekend. In April, for the Easter break while Mum and Dad were away in Singapore, Eleonor and I headed to Perth to check out the western city, see The Pinnacles and other sights and fly on a classic Qantas B747! The BIG holiday was quickly planned and arranged for October where both of us flew off (back home) to the UK to spend time on tour throughout Great Britain, hang out with Eleonor's brother Henry and my family and friends, then to head over to Paris for a few days. What an amazing trip, and we'll definitely be coming back in the next few years! Not to end it all there, I was back off to Perth again with Dad to spectate at the Red Bull Air Race in November!

I highly doubt 2009 will be able to compete with the adventures of 2008, but I'll be happy if we can fit the odd one or two in there somewhere!

In April we were visited by my long time e-pal Zoltan from Germany who was visiting Sydney as part of an orchestra. It was great to finally meet my friend in the flesh and hangout in the city for a day and even give him a taste of kangaroo! When we're in Europe Zoli, Stuttgart will be a destination in our itinerary so we can return the favour :)

I visited three live concerts this year which included Disturbed, The Pink Floyd Experience and Van She (a band Eleonor's in to). I continued to play out on the guitar to keep current as always. Disturbed's new album (prompting their world tour) was probably the highlight of musical releases in '08 with more hard hitting, head banging numbers like Inside the Fire and Indestructible to name a few.

With cars and planes, the Cougar gained a sunroof in January and went onto win the Best Mondeo/Cougar award at the Melbourne Small Ford Sunday event. For another year in a row I attended the Sydney All Ford Day but came away with just a smile on my face this year as there were fewer awards handed out. The Cougar has made it into the 2009 NECO Calendar where I believe she represents January (haven't received mine in the mail yet!)

Mike farewelled his beloved RX-8 recently as it was becoming harder and harder to maintain. I'm not sure if he 'saw the light' but the 8 was replaced with a Subaru Liberty which should run cheaper, chew less oil and fuel and be cheaper on the insurance wallet...

With aviation, I continued my flight training but have still not gone solo thanks to a lot of negative energy coming my way this time. Instructor changes, inadequacies, it was government documents earlier in the year, bad weather and general screwing around by flying schools doesn't help the issue. I've since started training at a different school and will see how we go in early 2009 hopefully to finally tick off that milestone and move on!

My diecast collection reached and quickly passed 200 models in January and I'm climbing past 300 by November! I've reached a plateau in my collecting (finally) and am only searching for the odd one or two rare 'grails' to complete my collection as well as any new releases which hit the market. I'm looking at downsizing in early '09 to palm off models that no longer fit my criteria!

Aside from all the flying I did to travel to London and Perth, as well as my own training, I was able to get down to the airport for more spotting and witness the arrival of Qantas' first A380. I continued publishing new video material I have recorded in my travels as well and sharing my photos with aviation enthusiast groups after gaining more confidence in my picture taking abilities and after acquiring my new camera just before heading to the UK.

Well done to TeamVodafone, the V8 Supercar Team I support as well as the Formula 1 team for winning their respective championships this year. The added sweetener with Lowndsie and Whincup taking a third consecutive Bathurst 1000 victory this year and a whole bunch of other awards in the 2008 season.

On a sadder note, the family farewelled Rex, our faithful dog in the Winter of this year after he passed away at the age of 14. We think he went peacefully and has his own 'patch' in the back corner of the backyard now. We gained a few fishies from our Uncle in a large fish tank which welcomes guests to the house at the front door now. Congratulations too to Dave & Kell with baby Jarryd born in March (just after my birthday) and Alan & Belinda with baby Cooper born in April.

With such an eventful year already behind me, it's exciting to look forward to 2009 and what's coming. I only hope that in a year's time I'm able to look back on the year with as much astonishment as I am today! Tonight the family heads into Milson's Point to finally witness the city fireworks from the balcony of my Uncle's apartment so another first to be ticked off that 'life list' that exists in my head :P

Wishing you all a great new year and we'll chat again in 2009!

Dan

19 December 2008

Years of Dedication

December brought about the end of the V8 Supercar Championship for 2008 and it was a farewell on many scales including retiring Holden (enemy) driver Mark Skaife and the last time the V8's would hold a round at the south-western Sydney track Oran Park.


Oran Park
I have fond memories of watching races at Oran Park. It was the first track I visited in 2002 along with friends armed with an analogue snapshot camera sitting at the final corner. Watching as Mark Skaife took the round and more points with which he would eventually claim victory of the season...

This year was different. I had witnessed the crowning of Ford champions before at Eastern Creek when Marcos Ambrose dominated in 2003 and 2004, but he was the driver of the team my brother had supported. I had stuck it out supporting Craig Lowndes since his defection from the Red Side and any team he drove for. So close we had come in recent years but 2nd place was getting boring, so it was with great relief I was finally able to cheer that my own team, the one I supported had finally claimed the championship crown - even though it was in the hands of Jamie Whincup and not good ol' Lowndsie. Well, beggars can't be choosers and Whincup was a deserving champion this year for sure.

Dad and I went to Oran Park for this occassion and although it was crazy weather wise, we experienced blistering heat in the sun and extreme downfall in the rain, it was a great day of racing entertainment. Although Holden's Garth Tander took the round due to some bad luck which befell Jamie Whincup, it didn't change the fact that Whincup had taken the #1 from Tander. Well done to Mark Winterbottom for a solid performance and backing up his 2nd placing in the championship. Well done also to Lowndsie for 2nd place in the round standings.

Next year will be different with the venue moving to the Homebush Olympic Site, unless the greenie, stuck-up, know-nothings get their way in abolishing the government's plans...

Year's end approaches... already!

06 December 2008

More Air

Continuing the hectic travels in October, there was no rest for the wicked as a week later I jetted off with Dad to the other side of the country for the Red Bull Air Race in Perth. The following documents that weekend adventure...

The Air Race was planned well enough that with our morning flight departure from Sydney we got into Perth just after 10am local time and had enough time to get to the venue and check out the action!

The event is planned in the form of a mini airshow over two days so we saw displays by a RAAF Hornet, the Roulettes and vintage warbirds amongst the heated competition of the Red Bull competitors.

Having vaguely followed the series in the second half of the year and being patriotic I was gunning for Paul Bonhomme, the British pilot who was fighting for the championship against Hungarian Hannes Arch. However, the latter merely had to secure a decent qualifying result, which he did, to claim the 2008 title. Nevertheless, the flying was cut throat, entertaining and unbelievable at times.

It was a great, fun filled weekend, made easier by the flight time and start/finish times of the event itself. Sadly it's now back to reality! Even sadder is that the Air Race won't return to Perth until 2010, so I'll have to wait a while before re-embarking on this adventure.

Ah well, the International Air Show is on in 2009 - there's my next aviation fix!

In other news, more up-to-date, I finally rejoined the world of piloting today with my first ab-initio training flight since early August! No thanks to delayed paperwork, instructor absences, bad weather, bad luck, holidaying and whatever else has worked against me, this was my first time behind the controls and had a reasonably impressive lesson recapping a lot of techniques etc and overcoming my rustiness.

Here's hoping we can finally overcome that certain milestone in my sights... If the planets align, the stars are right and destiny gives her permission, it just might happen!

Until the next entry, hope you're having a happy festive season so far...

18 November 2008

Paris Trip Week 3

The final instalment for our overseas trip takes us to Paris. There was a little bit of mayhem and frustration in departing London after missing the two ideal trains to connect to Kings Cross, and then a further two possible trains because they were too full in the peak hour, it was easy enough to recognise we'd miss our original Eurostar. Thank God there was another one running which we were able to get aboard.

The Eurostar trip was worth it, and after cooling down and a bit of a nap we had crossed the English Channel (via the 'Chunnel') and were speeding towards Gare Du Nord in Paris. We spent a lot of time trying to adjust to the new country, and I quickly learnt not to reply too anxiously to foreigners who ask if you can speak English - I was quickly presented with a piece of paper basically asking for money...

Eleonor was able to work out how to purchase 5 day unlimited train and bus tickets to get us around Paris and then we were off to our first hotel which was a nice enough place. We decided to write-off the rest of the day, unfortunately though Eleonor would get sick from a pizza we cooked up later that evening.

The next day the weather had come in so it was wet and dreary in Paris, but we had a ticket on an open-top tour bus to take today so we went. It wasn't too bad in the undercover section of the bus (once we found where to board the damned thing!). We were treated to an audio commentary as we drove around Paris seeing all of the sights, albeit sometimes in questionnable weather. We earmarked all the good places to go to for tomorrow...



As we had a two-day pass on the sightseeing bus, we ventured back to all of the main places we wanted to visit from the previous day. The weather had improved substantially so our first stop was George V along the Champs Elysées. We looked at Louis Vuitton, Colors of Benetton, Peugeot, Mercedes Benz and other exclusive shops along this famous avenue before heading to the Arc De Triomphe for a look.

We took the bus up to Trocadéro which offers wonderful views of the Eiffel Tower and went to look at a market setup down the road. But it must be a morning market as they were all closing up by the time we got there. So we went back to Trocadéro and caught the bus to the foot of the Eiffel Tower where we snapped some photos and walked down the Champs de Mars.

Our evening's entertainment brought us back to the Eiffel Tower for dinner at the Altitude 95 restaurant which is on the first elevation of the tower. We then embarked on a cruise along the River Siene and learnt about Paris and it's many bridges. Following the cruise our group went to the Moulin Rouge to see the stage show Feerie (Fairy) which finished at a modest 1:15am!!!

The next day we ventured out to La Defense. We were intrigued by seeing the Grand Arch which is a huge building with a hollow centre which can be seen from the Arc de Triomphe. The entire area of La Defense is filled with modern architecture which was quite amazing to be amongst. We then headed back via foot and metro to a small tucked away place along the Siene where a small replica of the Statue of Liberty stands. We then continued back into Paris to see Museé D'Orsay. We picked the right day as it was open late for us to take all of it in.

Our final day in Paris we decided to hit the souvenir shops for those final purchases before spending the rest of the time in the Louvre. I think Eleonor would have needed a week to have covered everything in that museum! I saw the real Mona Lisa and was happy with that, but time got the better of us before we had to head back to our hotel, get our bags and head to Charles De Gaulle Intl for our flight back home.

What a holiday! It's hard to sum it all up here concisely without going into too much detail, but on the same note I know I'm missing a lot of the detail as well. We definitely visited some great places which we'd recommend anyone go see if you get the chance.

Even three weeks after getting back, my head's still over there in holiday mode :)
For more photos from Paris, check here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=68813&l=2aa35&id=574363344

I'll return you to your normal programming from here, thanks for reading!

13 November 2008

UK Trip Week 2

Continuing from the previous week, Eleonor and I got some time to relax a little as we moved in with Eleonor's brother Henry in Dalston, not too far from the centre of London.


On our first day, Henry guided us through to London's South Bank from Waterloo station and we took a 'flight' on the London Eye giving us amazing views over London and the Thames. Back down on Earth we walked along the river towards London Bridge taking in the sights.

The following day we visited Maddam Tussauds where we were freaked out by the many figures there and took the opportunity to 'hang out' with famous people on display. We decided (over ambitiously) to walk to Buckingham Palace, so we took in the wonderful colours of Regents Park, and the hustle and bustle through Oxford Circus taking stops at clothing stores and Hamley's toy shop. We worked our way to Piccadilly Circus as the sun was setting and realised Buckingham Palace was out of reach. Henry met up with us and we had a look through Leicester Square nearby.

Another big day beckoned as we head off for Cambridge to catch up with some of Eleonor's travel friends and to check out the Imperial War Museum at Duxford. We were frustrated with a somewhat confusing bus system at Cambridge railway station but we made it to Duxford and had just enough time to check out the two main hangars I was interested in. We stepped aboard the pre-production prototype Concorde, stood beneath a Vulcan bomber's bomb bay, boarded a BOAC VC10 and checked out the US Air Force Museum as well. From there we headed back into Cambridge where our friends Colette and Julia met us and gave us an in-depth tour of the many colleges in the city. We stayed overnight thanks to their wonderful hospitality, and began the following day retracing their steps.

Once we got back to London, Henry had booked us tickets to see a stage show in Leicester Square. We watched 'Avenue Q' which can only be described as Sesame Street for adults. It was a hilarious show though.

We could slow the pace down the following day as we were set to meet up with some family friends of ours in my old stomping grounds when I was a kid. Ted & Teresa (my godparents) caught up with us for lunch and we got a nice look at the English countryside on the River Crouch. Colin & Yvonne met up with us for dinner that same evening. It was great to be amongst friends after about 11 years since the last time we all caught up!


The week was quickly flying past, and we had a very early start on the Friday to head to Victoria Bus Station and catch a 2.5 hour bus ride to Bristol. I had been so excited about this day but had not realised how difficult (or how expensive) getting to Bristol could have been. We were able to take a quick look through the city before catching a bus to Filton where Airbus Industries are located, but, even more importantly we were here to look at a preserved British Airways Concorde. The last one to enter service, and the last one to fly a commercial flight from New York to London. The tour was excellent, and we were able to experience a mock-flight onboard, take a tour of the cockpit and explore every aspect of the exterior before I splurged my wallet into the souvenir shop!

On our return to London we caught up with Colette, Julia and their friends who had made a trip into London to catch up with us again for dinner, and give us a proper goodbye.

We had one more day to spend with Henry so we ventured back into the city and toured Tower Bridge and took a look at other places along the Thames including the Tower of London and St Paul's Cathedral later in the day.

The last full day in London we headed back out to the suburbs to catch up with the English side of my family, most of whom made the event at my grandparents place where we had a great catchup. We were treated to a wonderful roast and dessert. More importantly, it was great to see everyone was happy and healthy :)

For more photos, see the following link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=67888&l=aa3b3&id=574363344

Week 3, where we head off to Paris will be coming soon.

Until then...

09 November 2008

October Update and the UK Trip

Hi All,

Been a while since I last blogged, but when you're on holiday I guess the priorities change. I'm not sure how other people actually get around to blogging whilst they are on holiday, but I can only guess they have enough time and energy leftover in the day to be able to do so!

Anyway, this is the long awaited UK Trip blog with photos. But first, I realised I didn't tie up the loose ends from before I left... which was attending the Pink Floyd Experience concert with Dad at the end of September.
'The Pink Floyd Experience' are a band from New Zealand and they put on an excellent show and tribute to one of the best bands of all time.

It was great to hear all the favourites such as Wish You Were Here, Shine on Your Crazy Diamonds, Another Brick in the Wall and a stunning finale in Comfortably Numb, but I also liked their renditions of Dogs of War and Learning to Fly which I had never heard performed live before.

Needless to say, both Dad and myself enjoyed the show immensely!

The UK Trip - Week 1...

So here we go! This will cover the first week of the trip (or thereabouts) which was the 8 day tour conducted by Trafalgar. We'd explore England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales in our travels, but we had no idea just how much could be crammed into such a short time period.

We gotta admit. It was a damn long flight to London! Etihad Airways did a good job and they were definitely comfortable in Economy Class. We were quite impressed by the seats and room available. Too bad the Aussie flights were so full so we didn't score the benefit of a window seat, but we thought the in-flight entertainment would make up for it. Too bad then that I had a dodgy unit. So for 14.5 hours I somehow survived on other things, but I did manage to scab off of Eleonor's unit to watch Kung Fu Panda on her screen!

Abu Dhabi Intl Airport has to have one of the smallest terminals in the world! Thank God they're expanding because it was crazy! Our flight to London was improved, we had a window seat this time (Etihad use a 2-4-2 seating layout) and working IFE! I gave Eleonor the window seat, but she started feeling nauseus so she didn't enjoy (or even look at) the view of London as we arrived in the morning :(

Her brother Henry met us at Heathrow and inducted us to the London Underground (Tube). He scooted off to work and we found our way to our hotel at Islington, on Pentonville Rd (Monopoly anyone?). We spent the first day walking around Angel and doing some shopping etc before crashing in our hotel and getting ready for the trip ahead.

The first day of our trip would take us to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare and onto York before arriving at our next hotel in Leeds. We had a look at the house where Shakespeare lived and many shops along the streets of Stratford-Upon-Avon. We even stumbled across a small collectors fair just before we had to get back on our bus and found a number of goodies. York's Minster was amazing to behold both inside and outside and we also looked at The Shambles and other places around the town.


Our next day would take us further north through the Lakes District and a cruise on Lake Windermere. England's largest lake. Our guide sounded a bit like Ringo Starr, but he had a good sense of humour. The weather looked beautiful but it actually was quite cold outside. Nevermind that, the 'Windermere Warmer' was sure to keep you lively, thanks to the alcoholic element more than anything else! From Windermere we continued onto Scotland, passing towns and power stations in the landscape we got to Gretna Green, a famous town just inside the Scottish border, famous for marrying British couples due to differences in laws between the two countries. We pushed onto Glasgow where we would be staying the next couple of nights, but our night's entertainment would be in Bannockburn where we were treated to Haggis, bagpipes and a display of Scottish dancing.

Edinburgh was our next stop the following day where we were given an introduction to both the new and old cities, and then let loose to do as we pleased. We climbed the Scott Monument as our first priority and though it was hard due to the narrow staircases and the shear height, we were well impressed with the views at the top. We then walked along the 'Royal Mile' in the old city to Edinburgh Castle (via a nice lunchstop!) The castle was awesome, and you could easily spend a lot more time in there what with the Crown Jewels on display (recommended 25 mins, we did it in less than 5!), and the Scottish War Museum etc...

We were back in Glasgow for dinner before heading off the following day for the Stenaline ferry over to Belfast. We got a bit of gloomy weather in this section but the ferry trip was short and smooth, while Belfast was interesting to take a look at. We had lunch at the Europa Hotel, which is famous for being the most bombed hotel in all of Europe. Nice statistic hey?

From Belfast we continued onto Dublin. Entering the Republic of Ireland we were now seeing speed limits in km/h and realised our Pounds won't help us anymore with currency... eeek! It was no problem anyway as we toured Dublin and found an ATM.

We had a good look around Dublin, seeing all the parks both inside and outside the city, the grand Post Office and the Millennium Spire, otherwise known as the 'Erection at the Intersection'. Eleonor was even lucky enough to find a Leprechaun, but she didn't find his gold.

That evening we went out to an Irish pub for some entertainment of the dancing kind and from an Irish Comedian. No trip to Ireland would be complete without either of those two!

Our next stop was Waterford, a city south of Dublin. We had a look at the Waterford Crystal factory with 5-digit Chandeliers for sale, and other beautiful crystal accessories. In the evening we were off to another Irish pub for some more entertainment provided by a nice Irish family.

The next day we were off early again for a ferry to Wales. We made Cardiff by the afternoon and taken on a tour of Cardiff Castle before heading to our hotel nearby. Eleonor and I ventured into the city to checkout the waterfront area.

Our last tour day we left Cardiff headed back for England and checked into Bath. The Bath Cathedral and Roman Baths were standouts in the city centre, but we also looked at Royal Crescent where the tour group were amazed to see their first squirrel! I roamed the city and its shops while Eleonor went off to checkout a fashion exhibition at the other side of town.

From Bath we headed to Stonehenge and we were able to take a good look around the site before our bus returned us to London and we reunited with Henry at his place in Dalston.

We had covered so much, it's so hard to fit it concisely into a blog post, or even include enough photos for you to see what we did! There are more available at the following link: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=67241&l=5a8ce&id=574363344

I'll get onto Week 2 shortly :)

Until then...


10 October 2008

Holiday UK & Ireland 2008

Hello All,

this is a different blogpost to the norm as it's somewhat impromptu, but just an update from Waterford, in Ireland on how our trip has been going.

Very well.

So there you have it. In two words I've summed up 5 days! hahahahahahahahahahahaa.

Well, there's so much more I could say, but I only have 1:30 left on this machine and the clock continues to tick. Will I get to the Publish Post button in time?

Ok, well Edinburgh was Great, and Ireland has been real fun. We're still yet to experience all of England so that awaits us in the coming days as we venture back via Wales and Cardiff.

The fun is still ahead for us both and we'll try to keep you all posted when we get on other computers and have more time to spill our adventures!

Stay tuned...

21 September 2008

The Countdown

Well, it's been a hectic few weeks since I last posted and it's only getting busier as time goes by. The countdown keeps going by and in just over a week and a half Eleonor and I are off to the UK! It's quite exciting, but we've still got so much to plan and do before that happens! eeeeep!

On top of all this, the changing face at work could see another position change for me depending how things work out within our department, and we're relocating to Werrington South from Hawkesbury so the team will finally exist on the same campus. So things are quite busy all over the place!

The Holiday...

Everything's finally paid for now and we're just getting everything else into place with our itineraries on their way to us with all the info we need to get on our tour and where we're staying etc. We still need to finalise meetup arrangements though with the family and friends during our time in London! I'm sure it will all come together, but you can't help but be a little anxious with the time running out :)

In the lead up to our departure, the weekends are quickly booked out and there's so much other stuff happening it's just craaaaaaaaazy!

The Music...

Things have been quite musical in life lately. A few weeks back I rocked out with Dave and Kell when we went to the Hordern Pavilion to see Disturbed! They were awesome, as were the support band Alter Bridge who Dave and I have taken a liking to as well. P.O.D. were also on stage, though I thought they'd have been a bit better than they were, but Disturbed made up for any shortcomings with a high energy concert playing most of the favourites from their four albums.

This past weekend we got the guys together and saw a psychadelic group called Van She. Eleonor and Claire were fans and had a great time at the front of the 'pit' as they did their thing.


Next week Dad and I are off to the Enmore to check out a Pink Floyd cover band who are renowned to be the best in the world...

The Flying...

Short story here. Haven't flown since the beginning of August due to tight money constraints and bad weather. I've booked myself in next weekend to try and hopefully conquer the first all important milestone of going Solo before we leave for the UK - fingers crossed...

More Flying...

Got some photos here from some recent spotting adventures down at Sydney Airport, but today was a momentous occassion as Dad and I went down to welcome Qantas' brand new Airbus A380 on it's first visit to Australia. We had an excellent viewing location and the video capture has turned out beautifully. Dad's photos also turned out great. He also showed me a new spotters location with awesome views and I got to try out my new camera recently purchased with aviation spotting in mind - my Canon Powershot S5 IS :)



Well, I'm going to try to keep this blog updating. Maybe one more episode before we leave for the UK - and hopefully many more to keep you up-to-date of our travels!

Until then...

01 August 2008

Highs and Lows II...

It was the only topic heading that I could think applied to the recent few weeks, and since I had already taken the title in the last topic (for completely different reasons) this is the 'sequel'.

Happy Birthday Michael, and Nanny!

To the highs first then! Michael celebrated his 20th birthday on July 12th, and successfully acquired his full driver's license first thing in the morning after completing the knowledge, or hazard perception test. Well done!

Nanny, over in the UK also celebrated her birthday on July 14th. So best wishes to you guys back in England!

A New Job

Not quite, but I was successful in my recent application for the new media position at work! So now I have a more concise and understandable position title of E-Learning Media Developer. Which means I develop media for e-learning! Anyway, while I'm working in the same role, and same department as before, this new position opens up more exciting projects and possibilities for myself, and for the unit. So, hopefully there are great and exciting times ahead.

Paperwork to Fly

With all the recent improvements in my flying, the only thing that has been holding me back was the paperwork from CASA allowing me to fly solo. Well, it's all finally come through, so I can legally do everything - but now my instructor's are away or busy. So annoyingly, I have to wait, as I'm not scheduled to fly until next weekend, and by then it will have been a number of weeks out of the seat.

What's also not helping is the poor Winter weather we're currently experiencing. But, as always, watch this space...

Farewell Rex

The lows... Our dog, Rex passed away last week at 14 (human) years of age. He went peacefully we believe, in his sleep. Michael found him on a cold Friday morning, lying in front of our air conditioning unit. Dad and I buried him a day later.

Rest in Peace, furry friend...

To see a photo tribute to Rex, go here: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=47002&l=cdc58&id=574363344

Until next time guys...

01 July 2008

Highs and Lows...

Happy Birthday Dad!

First of all, belated Happy Birthday to my Dad! His birthday passed on June 24th and though it was much like any other day, it still was his birthday nonetheless. We went to the local revolving restaurant for the occassion.

Reworking the Position

Amidst a busy time of year, I'm working on a new job application within UWS to continue working in the awesome team I'm currently with and have some further job security beyond September this year! Will keep you posted...

A visit to Bankstown Aviation Museum

Glory days are gone for this bird at Bankstown Aviation Museum We figured it was about time to pay this place a visit. What with Dad and I flying regularly from Bankstown these days, it only seemed silly we hadn't visited much earlier.

So we went along last weekend with another aviation minded friend and took a look around. Inside the museum was a great collection of aircraft and related items from all different eras. There was plenty to see and do, but the real marvels were outside.
Unfortunately it was almost sad to see these great aircraft sitting outside with engines missing, and other significant parts like rudders, bits of wings etc... these planes basically looked like they were put out to die. A mini 'boneyard'. We looked around, there were planes I didn't even recognise, there was Dad's 'dream' amphibian in pieces, the body of a once all Aussie Nomad and at least 5 or 6 DC-3's in differing states of disrepair. We got to look inside one, and I even sat in the cockpit, but the poor bird looked as though she'd never take to the skies again. Certainly not without a large injection of cash.

What was sadder was I went home and flicked through some aviation magazines. The DC-3's once belonged to a pilot who operated a scenic flight service with these historical aircraft. The article showed the planes, the very one I had sat in, in their glory days and spoke of a bright future ahead... Yet they sit at Bankstown with no ability to fly :(

Farewell 'Richmond Town'

The last B707Another sad occassion in aviation, but this one much more historic as the RAAF farewelled it's last B707 (named 'Richmond Town') in service on June 30th 2008. 29 years of service provided by this last B707 which originally started out as a passenger jet for Qantas! I was lucky enough to see her on her last takeoff from Richmond AFB before going to perform her passes over Sydney Harbour.

Training Update

After a couple snags involving paperwork for my license and registration etc as a pilot, it looks like my training is well on track. I'm becoming more and more confident with my flying, and my circuit technique. Last week I nailed three decent landings and came away feeling good! I hope I can continue forward and improve so when I'm ready to be sent for solo (anytime now) I'll pass with flying colours (stupid pun absolutely was intended!)


As I touched on earlier, it's a busy time at the moment. So much going on and things to be doing. Time's passing really quickly as well, so I guess before we know it, I'll be in the UK! Plans are moving along slowly for that trip, but without a doubt it's coming and I think I'm starting to feel a little more excited about it all!

07 June 2008

Things in Motion

Mostly just a general update this time around. I was trying to think of an interesting title for this blog, but I can only generalise as it seems that things are indeed in motion and the future's looking bright and interesting!

First though, I think I'll rant a bit about our wonderful Road Authority in NSW called the Roads & Traffic Authority (RTA)... maybe it's secret code for Retarded Tight Arses or something, but sheesh... I was too quick to give them credit a while ago when they actually raised the speed limit on a piece of road nearby by 10km/h. Of no real consequence as we use it somewhat infrequently.

I take it all back now though as the main road I take to work will now be cut back by 10km/h for a large portion of the trip, and on roads which have no development and are still in decent condition. All this while the idiots I normally follow from day-to-day to and from work never actually reach or get anywhere near the posted speed limit. So now, we're just all destined to travel slower in each direction... WOOHOO.

/end rant.

Flight Training Update

It's been six lessons now since I restarted my training in 2008. Finally, today's lesson I made the kind of progress I've been looking for. I made 3 exceptional landings (though not consecutively) and came away with a smile and confidence that I'm back on track. I also got to take out one of the sportier Cessna's wearing red, white and blue vinyls which of course make the plane go faster :P But, seriously, things are looking up with the training as my instructor has made a few references to going Solo in a few weeks... I will try to keep you all updated.

I'm Coming Home - October...

I alluded to this fact at the end of the last blog entry. It's now as good as confirmed as Eleonor and I are putting through the last payments to secure our trip and tours of UK and France. We're set to travel there in October this year where we hope to explore England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and France. For my English family and friends, we've left some time to catch up and can't wait to meet up with you after 11 years since my last visit!

Will continue to post updates here as I get the chance to...

05 May 2008

Flying Again

Another interesting month has passed. I hope I'm not neglecting my blog too much...

Back in the air

April saw me return to the air briefly as Dad has continued his flying and now re-learning his formation skills. I was able to go up with an old friend of his from the 'real' Schofields days.


The end of April finally had me back in the Pilot seat and resuming my training after a 6 month absence. I've been lucky enough to restart with my original instructor at Aerospace Aviation and so far it has been a matter of getting used to everything all over again. Last weekend's lesson in particular was tricky due to the weather throwing some crosswinds my way. Not exactly the weather you need when you're a noob all over again...

Bathurst

A few of us cruised out to Bathurst on the Anzac Day long weekend as we had been promising ourselves we would 'conquer the mountain' for a few years. The weather had fined up for us so we made a go of it, but of course, on our first lap of the Mt Panorama circuit, the rain came down. Still, we made the most of it with photos and video footage capturing our moments!

We'll go back again... Though we learnt a valuable lesson. Don't go on the last day of a long weekend! It took us about 2 hours to get to the track, but nearly 4.5 hours to get home! 2 of those sitting in horrendous holiday traffic whilst Michael nearly ran out of fuel. When the traffic finally cleared we were at a loss to explain where on earth it all came from in the first place?! No accident, no incident, no broken down car... NOTHING!?

In other news...

It was great catching up with long time e-pal, Zoltan from Germany who came down to Australia to perform with his university orchestra. Eleonor and I visited the performance and met up with Zoli twice which was great.

Also, we are in the planning stages of a trip to the UK for later this year. So, I'll be coming home... watch this space...

02 April 2008

Easter Holiday

Actually, a lot has happened since the last blog. I had a great time catching up with friends for my birthday, and Steve celebrated his birthday at the end of the month as well. Mum and Dad went on a holiday to Singapore for a little over a week and they enjoyed themselves with some time away.

I must also convey my Congratulations to Dave & Kell on their baby boy Jarryd. Also, Congratulations to Alan & Belinda, on their baby boy - is it Cooper yet?

Easter Long Weekend

Not to be outdone, Eleonor and I headed off to Perth for the Easter long weekend to see the sights of a city never visited and just to hang out together.

Perth is a beautiful city, smaller than Sydney of course, but I would say cleaner and a lot more carefree and relaxing.

Of course, visiting during an Easter long weekend probably meant that most of its residents weren't actually in the city, and our first night walking around on Good Friday proved that as we were the only ones out I think!

We ventured up north to see The Pinnacles. Mysterious limestone formations in the middle of a desert. We also visited a wildlife park to get up close with Koala's, Roo's and a Wombat and we went sand-duning in our 4WD bus. We both tried our hand at sandboarding, but umm... yeah let's not go there...

Our second day started off badly as our city tour wasn't even acknowledged so we had to quickly make new plans. Thank God for the open top double decker bus who came to the rescue and offered virtually the same tour for less money! So we saw the sights of Perth from the open top of this bus before embarking on a cruise to Fremantle via ferry. At Fremantle we took a tram ride around the city and explored their new motor museum and the local markets. We headed back into Perth in the afternoon and walked around the CBD which was much busier this time around!

The third day was a very long one indeed. We left at 7:45am and returned at around midnight! Our bus covered a lot of distance with short stops in between as we headed south through forests towards Albany. The highlight down here was the suspended tree-top walk which was very similar to the one I walked on in the Huon Valley, Tasmania last year. As night approached, we headed back north via Kojonup for dinner and a brief history tour.

Our last day left us to our own devices so we went to the Bell Tower and chimed some bells before walking to Kings Park. This wasn't our original intention though as we wanted to catch a bus, but they only come on the hour, and we kept missing them. So we took the healthy option and walked on - well aware we had to be at the airport on time! We made the park, but couldn't find the sights we particularly wanted to see and were about to give up and head back. But we found the DNA Tower, snapped a pic and started our power walk back to the city, looking for a Taxi. We didn't find one until we were well in the heart of the city, but, a credit to cab drivers, this guy took us back to our hotel in time to get our bags and to the airport with room to spare!

What a wonderful trip it was. We'd easily go back to see the places we missed like Rottnest Island and maybe even Broome, plus, we'd travel via the Indian Pacific next time...

08 March 2008

Already a Quarter of the Way into 2008!

Hello All!

How quickly time has passed, and we're basically into March already!

Well, I capped off January and began February with a pretty active weekend roster. At least for three consecutive weekends something exciting was due to happen...


Dubbo

Some friends had played with the idea of trekking out west to go to Dubbo and the >Western Plains Zoo. We all thought why not? and so decided to head out. Not only that though, with common belief being that you would need an entire weekend to fully enjoy the Zoo, we decided we'd prove them wrong and embarked out on our day trip!


It was about a 5 hour trip by road, taking in the sights through the back of nowhere on the way to Mudgee and then onto Dubbo. The zoo was quite large, and we got to see an array of different animals in replicated habitats for them. Due to the heat, they weren't all active however.

It was a slightly shorter trip home, but we got back with enough time to grab a decent meal before ending our day.


Melbourne

The following weekend I had decided to attend the Small Ford Sunday which is a car display held annually near Melbourne for the smaller Fords. Michael (my brother) accompanied me so we could tag team the driver responsibilities and we convoyed down with a few others from the EuroFordClub.



What a drive! I think we calculated it took us about 10-11 hours including stops to get to our destination! Plus, the roads in Victoria were long, straight and quite uninspirational... no matter how many 'Powernap Now!' signs they posted along the side of the highway.



Whilst we spent much of Friday driving, Saturday allowed us to explore a bit. We drove with Damo and Sean through Melbourne and around other parts including Geelong, and to the otherside to meet some of the EFC guys for a barbecue.

Due to some stupidity on my part, I had the Cougar 100% clean before heading down to Melbourne, but drove through a dusty carpark which meant all my hard work was undone. So, Saturday night, thankfully our accomodation was right next to a car wash... it was re-cleaning time!

Sunday was the day of the show, so a relatively early start as we headed in to put our display together which turned out to be quite impressive. We almost had one of each modern EuroFord available within Australia. The only noticeable exception was the Ford KA. It was a long day as I tried to keep on top of car cleanliness before judging. Once that was done, we could leave the car and go for a walk to take in some of the other vehicles on show.

Presentation time and our club took out a few awards for Best cars, including Best Focus, Best Fiesta and mine winning Best Cougar/Mondeo :) I got to shake hands with V8 Supercar driver Steven Richards!

Sadly, once the show ended though, Michael and I had to hit the road home! Michael had to work the following morning! We set ourselves a goal to make the VIC/NSW border by sunset, which we did quite comfortably and we still saw daylight towards the halfway point. The weather decided to give us more of a challenge though as it started pouring, and Michael had a tough drive in the pitch black darkness along the Hume Hwy in pouring rain and whilst contending with other trucks. Considering we left at about 4:30pm from northern Melbourne, we arrived back in Sydney (home) at 12:45am.

Maybe next time we'll fly...

Blackheath

The following weekend was a birthday party adventure for one of Eleonor's work friends. She had decided to rent out a nice place in the Blue Mountains (at Blackheath) which was awesome. We had fun there, but, since it was raining had to do indoor activities, including cooking, fighting for which room we'd sleep in, and playing cards til the early hours of the morning.

Unfortunately, our planned canyoning adventure went up in tatters the following day though as the weather truly disintegrated (though the guides insisted the weather was actually perfect) and there was a stuffup with the booking. So we ventured back to the 'big smoke' instead.

Back to normality after all that. Although I did venture out to the airport for another round of spotting a couple weekends ago with a friend. Now, I'm looking forward to my trip to Perth with Eleonor over Easter, while the parents will be leaving next weekend for the cruise in Singapore, oh yes, and I have a birthday of my own to look forward to...

Will be in touch,

Dan