Posted in Sydney sparks

Foggy Sydney

Today is a super foggy day in Sydney. As in a crazy pea-soup, cancel-the-ferries, can’t-see-more-than-100m, where-has-the-city-gone kinda foggy day. Normally, the fog rolls away pretty early on (where to? I don’t know), but it’s only just starting to lighten up now and it’s after 10am as I write this. I went for a walk around to Mosman Bay this morning and it was actually a bit spooky, a little bit Jane Austen-ish with all the mist swirling around. Sharing photos of fog is kind of like talking about last night’s amazing dreams – it means a lot less to you if you weren’t actually there. So, I’ve limited my snaps from this morning…

Normally a great spot to sit and admire the city. Not today though.
Normally a great spot to sit and admire the city. Not today though.
Woooooooo (that's a scary ghost noise)...
Woooooooo (that’s a scary ghost noise)…
Ghostly boats in Mosman Bay...
Ghostly (and sometimes ghastly) boats in Mosman Bay…
A foggy bay on a foggy day.
A foggy bay on a foggy day.
Starting to clear as I walked home - can just see the Manly Ferry, back in action.
Starting to clear – can just see the Manly Ferry, back in action.
Posted in Sparks in the wild, Sydney sparks

Stormy Sydney

So, Sydney was hit with a whopper of a storm on Saturday. It rained pretty much all day, usually heavily, and was super windy. I’m no weather guru, but on the scale of bring-an-umbrella to just-stay-home, I would officially classify this storm as start-building-that-ark. As the rain pelted down through the night, the wind was howling and things were banging and crashing and flying around outside. Not exactly Wizard of Oz-style, but it was definitely pretty wild in my neck of the woods.

The beginning...
The beginning…

I’m lucky to live in a very tree-y part of Sydney and I’m used to seeing some leaves and small branches on the grass after a windy night. When I looked out the window this morning and saw a fairly large branch on the ground outside, it seemed like a pretty big deal. And then as I went on my morning walk, a friendly lady (a) made eye contact, (b) smiled and (c) spoke. Imagine that! Anyways, she said “look out, there are huge trees down along the path – it’s pretty incredible”. I thanked her and smiled – thinking that she looked like the kind of fancy lady who would be bothered by stepping over a twig and getting her Prada sneakers dirty. Huge trees, I thought, uh huh.

Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.
Like a well-organised collection for the Council Cleanup, all along the path.

And then I got to the corner of the path and it was like a war zone. Except, instead of people, tanks and guns, there were huge trees (yep, that lady was right) split away from their trunks and fallen over the path. Lying heavily over the power lines, which were then sagging way too close to the ground. It was both incredible and a little sad to see these poor, grand old trees who had lost their battle with the ferocious winds. And then there was the water – the little creek, normally dry, was gushing and water was tumbling over rocks.

So, yeah, after this morning, I guess you could say I’m a jungle trekker.

It’s hard to get the scale in my phone photos, but that lady in red just past the tree was not a tiny pixie.


Yes, that makes things a bit trickier...
Yes, well, that makes this walk a bit trickier…
Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way...
Like intrepid explorers, the morning walkers will find a way…
And lean to the right...
Today was a good day to be short.
Ok, fine, I'll go around then.
Ok, fine, I’ll go around then.
So that's how it's meant to look here...
Aha, so that’s how it’s meant to look here…
And this is normally dry. So I think it's safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.
And this is normally dry. So I think it’s safe to say we had a fair bit of rain.
Just like match sticks.
Just snapped like a twig.
This was not damaged in the storm. It's been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I'm not sure if they're still waiting to fix it, or if it's a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, or something incomprehensible like that...
This was not damaged in the storm. It’s been like this for months. It used to be a normal bench, but now I’m not sure if they’re still waiting to fix it, or if it’s a modern art installation? You know, poking fun at the urban experience, man’s inhumanity to man, or something incomprehensible like that…
Posted in Sparks in the wild

Run, Pinkies, Run

I mentioned a little a while ago that I bought some ridiculously bright pink running shoes in an attempt to run faster. After a reasonable testing period, I am thinking of writing to the manufacturer to tell them that THEIR SHOES AREN’T WORKING PROPERLY.

As a bit of background, I am not what you’d call a natural athlete. It is not a genetic gift with which the children in my family were blessed. I mean, you know, we can all walk without bumping into stuff, but we weren’t really runners or netballers or footballers or gymnasts or swimmers. My younger brother and I were t-ball players (and I don’t even know if that version of junior baseball exists anymore) and I played volleyball and a teeny bit of tennis in high school. Where the coach was the same creepy old dude that had coached my mother when she attended the same school some decades earlier, so it wasn’t exactly Wimbledon.

The Bay Run, Canada Bay in Sydney.
[Image from NSW Govt Planning & Infrastructure]
Anyways, a few years ago I started to run a bit because it seemed like the thing to do. I felt like I was still too young and too dog-less to be going for walks, and running always looked pretty cool. When I watched other people doing it, that is. I was running a few times a week for a while there (the Bay Run in Sydney was my stomping / slumping ground) and my fitness improved and I remember feeling fairly self-righteous after I exercised. But then I fell off the wagon. And the cruel thing about a long break in exercise is that it’s not like riding a bike – your body (well, at least, my body) doesn’t pick up right where it left off and say, ‘oh yeah, we’re running again – I remember this, let’s go’. Not even close.

Path to Mosman Bay.
[Image from Sydney Diary Star]
So now I’m starting again. Along a beautiful track, with my new shoes, the Pinkies, for motivation. And since I’m a bit older, I don’t want to risk getting injured or collapsing on the side of the road, so I’m following a training program called Couch to 10k. I had started with a Couch to 5k program a few years ago and I liked the gradual increase in intervals, so that the running kind of snuck up on you. And I also liked the way they encouraged you to take a day off every other day.

I found an app called 10K for Pink – it’s a free app that someone somewhere had recommended and it’s pretty good – I’m up to Week 6 of the 14 week program now. It’s great because I can just concentrate on breathing while I play my music and a lady in an upbeat voice interrupts at intervals to tell me what to do – “start running”, “start walking”, “you have one minute left” and my favourite: “start your cool down”.

If the Pinkies aren’t exactly making me faster, at least they’re super-light, which must surely mean that it’s a little easier to lift my feet. And it also means that I have no excuses when I go on a couple of trips later this year – the Pinkies will be coming with me, tucked into my suitcase and ready to run in the northern hemisphere. Since the first trip is in a few weeks, I thought I should introduce the Pinkies as (a) it will help to keep me running, now that you know and (b) they may post from their travels if they run across any everyday sparks. And if you’re thinking of running, you can check out the Couch to 10k program that I’m using here. It did seem like a good idea at the time!

Posted in Sydney sparks

Some Sydney Sunshine (and a turkey)

Looking back to Manly Beach [EverydaySparks]
Today was a lovely day in Sydney – sunny and pretty warm for the middle of winter. The clouds were hanging around but not really getting in the way of the sun. This is probably my favourite kind of weather – and it’s even better if you are lucky enough to spend time out and about soaking up the sunshine, as I was today. So, for something different for this blog, here’s my morning in  words and pictures.

Winter sun at Manly [EverydaySparks]
First, I met my lovely friend Stef at Manly beach for coffee. We went to a cosy cafe next door to the legendary Adriano Zumbo Patisserie. It’s closed on Mondays, by the way – so it’s the safest day to be in the neighbourhood if you can’t resist the famous ‘Zumbarons’ (a range of very interesting macaron flavours) or other amazing cakes. If you’re not familiar with this Sydney icon, you can check out the website here. (I especially like Mr Zumbo because he has a Willy Wonka tattoo on his arm. Uh huh.)

Ocean pool, Manly [EverydaySparks]
On the rocks [EverydaySparks]
We went for a walk around the ocean path, which was full of mums pushing their babies in sporty looking prams – what a great way to exercise, chatting to your mates while you power walk around the beach on a sunny day, pushing around 15kg (of pram and baby).

We weren’t power walking though – just normal walking – and it was such a nice day that I couldn’t resist some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream on the way back. They had no customers, so really it was more about lending my support to the struggling retail sector. And charity never tasted so delicious.

Brush Turkey taking the high road [EverydaySparks]
Shortly after I arrived home, I went out for a walk/run (I’d be lying if I said I ran the whole way) in my new hot pink shoes that make me go faster. As I was running around the bush path to Mosman Bay, I noticed something on the path ahead. For a minute, I worried that I was hallucinating (maybe due to my pre-run ice cream). Then this brush turkey jumped out of the way and scurried into the bushes.

On the road again [EverydaySparks]
I’m sure I wasn’t running that fast – maybe it was the shoes that put him off. Whatever, he politely jumped up from the path, through the bushes and back down on to the path behind me. And then went on his way to do whatever it is that a brush turkey does with his day.

And that was my Monday morning.