Saturday, March 30, 2013

Training for the marathon walk

I've signed up to do the marathon walk from Ballina to Byron again, with (most of) the team from last year. My friend and colleague Betty and I decided to do a 10 km training walk from Ballina to Lennox Head, accompanied by Betty's partner Brian. The plan was to leave a car at Lennox so we could drive back.

It being a lovely morning, I set off at about 7.30 on the motorcycle for Betty's and Brian's house. When I got there, Betty told me that Brian had already left, driven to Lennox and was jogging back. We could meet him en route and walk back to Lennox with him. Man, that's one fit man, I thought. Here was me feeling virtuous about a ten km walk!! We left the house at 9.45 and sure enough, by the time we got to the beach, Brian was already there, having run the whole thing in about 50 minutes.

And so we set off. (Click photos for bigger).

A lovely track to walk along
Looking back Southwards towards Ballina

A pandanus palm. They are plentiful around here.
It was just a glorious day for a walk though going up the first headland was a bit hot and I was wondering whether I should have brought a hat after all.

Me 'n Betty

Boulders Beach, looking South. Love the pines.

Near the top of the first headland
Brian gazing out to sea to see what he can see

I could see how the headlands had eroded after the heavy storms of this year. This area below, used to have sand.
That tussock there is going to fall in and get wet :-)

Looking out towards lovely Lennox
Once in Lennox (10.30) we treated ourselves to an icecreamy thing each :-) and Brian drove us back.
Thank you Betty and Brian for an absolutely lovely and companionable morning! Looking forward to more walks in the near future.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

And they're off! Overseas trip for Tess and Yarrow

Well actually, by the time I've gotten around to posting this, they're gone!! Tess and Yarrow left last Saturday for a two-month trip through Europe with Hans and Niki. This isn't their first trip around the world, not by a long shot: in 2010 they went to Portugal and the Netherlands. But this will be the longest that they've been away from home and I shall miss them muchly.

The day of their departure dawned in spectacular colours!
They were pretty excited to leave and had been packing and repacking bags for about a week.

You can see how much they've grown since their last Europe trip
Myself and the trusty Subaru were enlisted to take Hans, Tess and Yarrow to Coolangatta airport for the first leg to Sydney.

All that baggage, with 367,000 km on the clock and going strong. Good car!!
At the airport I waited with the travelling threesome until it was time to go.

A pensive moment
Waiting at airports is always slightly awkward ... there were moments of stillness and moments of silliness :-D

Horsing around:-)

 And then it was time to say goodbye...

Me 'n my Tess ...
Bye girls, have a wonderful wonderful time. I already know you're *loving* Paris :-)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bouncy dogs and accidental injuries

Every Monday I teach in the Master's program up at Tweed Heads, which means I'm away from home all day. So usually I take Radha to visit my old neighbour Chris (she's not really old!) and her young dog Piccolo so they can romp together; and recently I've been taking Chicco for a calm rest day at my parents' place.

Yesterday though Radha was so happy to see my mother that she leaped up, and raked her considerable claws along my Mum's arm, accidentally tearing three large rents in her skin. It looked quite horrific at first - two of the tears were about 5cm long and had taken off large triangles of skin. On cleaning and dressing the wounds we discovered that there was not too much skin loss, though whether the flaps of tissue will adhere again remains to be seen.

A visit to the doctor ensued and a large bandage was applied, together with tetanus shots and antibiotics. So sorry Mam!! :'(

Here you can see my Mum showing her sadness about her arm:

Though of course, being Mam, she was able to joke about it too!

Radha, however, thereafter played all day with her friend Piccolo and gave my poor Mum not a thought!! Insensitive soul ...

Look out behind you Piccolo! There's a subtle ambush about to happen ...
Being dogs, romping in the water. Yay, MUD!!! om nom nom nom ....

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Walking without Chicco ...

This morning, for the first time ever, I went for a 'round walk' without Chicco..

The round walk takes us eastwards, steeply down the valley, across the creek, northwards up the spur of a similarly steep hill - first brightly grassed meadows, then rocky,  along a densely wooded glade, and finally across the tops through long grass to come westwards back to The Grange. It takes about 35 minutes and involves some quite puffing and climbing. The last few times we did this one, I noticed Chicco lagging behind, hugging the easier slopes and panting heavily in any sunshine. She liked to lie in the creek, and was reticent about coming out to walk up the hill... Towards the end of the walk she was labouring, panting, and uncomfortable. She had to stop, and sometimes she had to just lie down. It was just getting too much for her.

She's nearly 13. That's 91 in Dog Years, which is old ... especially for such a large breed. Also, it's a long and loving time to have a fairly constant companion animal in your life.

So, this morning, even though Chicco's ears pricked when I picked up my walking boots, I pretended I was just brushing some dirt off them. I snuck out the back, whispering for Radha to come, so as not to hurt Chicco's feelings.We left her behind in her day bed and went on the walk, just Radha and me. Tears bit at the back of my eyes.

Walking down the first grassy slope to the creek, it just didn't feel the same. Radha kept looking for Chicco, and was unusually reticent and "un-playful". At the creek, where Chicco would flop blissfully in the stream, and Radha would scamper around and dip paws in and out with tail wagging hugely (she's not keen on streams is Radha, but she likes to play with Chicco in the water) ... this time Radha bent to sniff the stream intensely, and eventually left it to walk across the bridge, without any tail wags.

Coming up the hill Radha was startled by some strange sudden sounds coming from the glade: maybe a wallaby, or a lost heifer. She wasn't feeling brave.  She stuck by my side, frequently looking back, maybe to see where Chicco was.

At the top of the hill, it started to rain softly. I thought, maybe I could have taken Chicco: the rain would have cooled her, kept her from overheating. She might have coped better in the cool. Maybe.

Walking along the ridge through the very tall grass back to the Grange, Radha and I decided that even though Chicco slowed us down so much, it wasn't anywhere near as nice without her...

Even so, I don't know I can take Chicco on this walk again.

When I got back, I looked with love on my old dog and apologised for not taking her with us. I stroked her black ears and her greying muzzle and promised some short interesting walks in the days to come. Her tail thumped, but then she looked away. She did, of course, know she'd been left behind. I'm not prone to anthropomorphism, but she's not daft, is Chicco.

Here are some photos from this morning. Of course, they don't contain any of Chicco.

On the hill leading down to the creek, deep in paspalum grass

Sniffing for a friend in the river meadows
Coming along the ridge slope towards the Grange I can see the faint track ahead of us, left over from Chicco's walk last week in the long grass. Can you see it too?

Here is the route:

View Round walk in a larger map

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Monkey see, monkey do. Or is that "horsie see, horsie do"?

OK. Guess who's been playing with Briony's old swing, and got themselves stuck? My boy Rascal. Of course.

Ya gotta love 'em. 

PS No harm done: he stood perfectly still while I lifted his leg out (bit of a ballet dancer stretch, but never mind). He was very appreciative.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Team update

Ruby came over today and we made good progress with training Elara. At the end of the hour Elara was walking freely forward and Ruby could steer her where she wanted to go. Good going for a young team!

Parked and forgotten?

Rural decay, or simply an unpaid parking ticket? Whatever the cause, this old girl looks like she's staying put...

Photographed while walking the dogs in Bangalow the other week.

Radha offers to drive

7.30 am, and the girls need to get to their early Extension English class. No school bus available, and I'm wanting to get on with my Master's unit marking, and it's raining, and my ribs are sore, and I haven't finished my tea and and and ...
Don't stress, says the dog. I'm onto it. Leave it to me.

I put this photo on my facebook page and got some funny responses :-)