Taste of Spain

We finally dusted off the wine tasting cobwebs last night and had a dinner with some friends at Delicado in Blues Point. 

Jamie, the wine store manager, had generously given Jeff and I a spontaneous tasting a few weeks before when we randomly popped in one Sunday morning to buy some Vermouth. That tasting was so awesome we asked if he could do another one for us over dinner at the attached restaurant. 

So Friday night. Over tapas that Jamie put together, we had some cider, a cab from Navarro, a Mencia (my favorite of the night with it’s nose of clean men’s soap), a Tinto di Toro, and a Petite Verdot blend. Plus some Pedro Ximenez Sherry to go with the churros and chocolate fondue at the end. Burp. 

Happy 2017

It’s been a while since I posted here; life has been more in the photography-realm, and as such I’ve been posting more on www.ptanphoto.com

It’s been a great start to the year so far though. Very active. We ushered in January on the Overland Track, and we saw the close of the month on Mount Kosciuszko. If we have a goal for 2017, it is to do a lot more hiking and camping. May this be the year of enjoying and appreciating nature. 🙂

Turned another year older today as well. But after the amazing hike we just did, all I wanted to do today was relax and chill. So we just slept in, luxuriously, then had a dim sum brunch and napped again. In the evening, we turned on the grill and slapped on some steak, which we washed down with a beautiful bottle of Malbec and grilled corn and mango salad.

Thanks Jeff. 🙂

Kick-starting my 2017 goal

One of my goals for the upcoming year is to do my first ocean swim in Australia, from Manly to Shelly Beach and back.

To be honest, the distance isn’t really a problem. I just have this irrational fear of swimming in the ocean. And it’s completely irrational, given that I had a blast swimming in Croatia, and generally enjoy snorkeling and love scuba diving. I even look forward to seeing sharks underwater. 

It feels different somehow though, when the focus isn’t on looking out for marine life but just covering ground. I’m afraid that if I’m not paying attention, something sinister can come out from the depths, be it sharks or blue bottles. Then there’s the currents and riptides to contend with. And waves. Hahah.

Oh well baby steps. So, kicking off pool training for the moment, to get the confidence that I can cover the distance.

And although I haven’t really swum in forever, I managed a decent 2.5k swim today, after I clocked off work for the last day this year. Woot! Gotta focus on ramping up speed next too. 

Berowra Waters Hiking

Our group’s hiking scorecard to date:
1) Bouddi National Park Walk: Supposed to end at McMasters Beach, we turned around at Little Beach (14km walk). Shortened the walk in favor of eating and drinking. (0/1)

2) Mt Kosciuszko: Supposed to do the 18km trail, we maybe did 5km if even. The weather felled us, so we decided to eat and drink instead. (0/2)

3) Kangaroo Valley: The directions on the map we had was flat out wrong. So we did a steep 12km trail instead of the 16km trail we’d ear marked. The wine post-hike at our camp site was stupendous though. (0/3)

4) Berowra Waters: We were supposed to do the 16km walk from Galston Gorge to Berowra Waters, but after laughing at 2 dudes we met on the trail who had somehow managed to walk a loop back to Galston Gorge, we ended up doing the same exact thing. Karma. Then, we decided to just drive to the end of the trail at Berowra Waters and walk part of the trail from the end. And half an hour in, we managed to get off trail and had spend the next hour bush whacking our way back out to freedom. Maybe 10km. But the post-hike food and drinks made up for it. (0/4)

At least the company and food / wine / cocktails were good.


It will be ok, hopefully

​Grateful for the opportunity Thursday to step away from the office and hit the open road to Wollongong to test drive a series of Audis. 

Like Obama said, the one certain thing is that the sun will rise – and it did, after heavy thunderstorms last night. It will rain again tomorrow and over the next couple of days, but on Thursday, feeling the wind in our hair and seeing baby whales joyously breaching in front of the harbor, gave us hope. 

People may suck, but nature is glorious. There in of itself, is hope.

Finding Grace

What are the five stages of grief again? Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, then finally acceptance?

I feel like I’ve run through the course over the past hours. My dreams last night were variations of the same living nightmare. I keep waking up, only to find the new reality.

It’s times like these that show the mark of one’s character. My first instinct, and still the same one I am trying to manage, is to stick my head in the sand. To mourn the loss of America and the collapse of its democracy. To run away. Then here comes HRC, to demonstrate the courage, conviction, and strength it takes to stand up and concede. To say that she will work with the new administration to help keep the country great. To bring together the divide.

Goodness knows what the future will bring. The new presidential elect certainly hasn’t helped with any clarifying policies. But I’m drawing strength and hope from the grace and resilience HRC showed today.

Hilary’s speech.


How did we end up here

It’s not even so much that an ignoramus with clearly no interest in foreign or domestic policy gets elected (because even though the GOP has managed to sweep both the house and the senate, you’d hope there’s still enough checks/balances in government).

It’s more the fact that there’s still so many bigots / xenophobes / racists / sexists in the country that depresses the hell out of me.

Did we just move back 50 years as a nation? What will happen to the rights of women, gays, minorities? What will happen to the economy? What will happen to democracy? Or is democracy completely overrated?


What a beautiful, glorious day. I actually woke up at 420am, intending to catch the sunrise. But I’m a huge sucker for clouds at sunrise, and there wasn’t any to be seen this morning – just the stars. 

So I messaged C and we rearranged to soak in the sun instead, five hours later. 

We took a long, leisurely stroll around our neighborhood, through bushes, quiet residential streets with the lovely purple blooms of jaracandas, and wound up sitting alfresco at a cafe for brunch and Bellini. 

One of those days where, even if you didn’t do much, you feel so intensely alive, and happy. To see the clear blue skies overhead, watch the sparkle of the water below, feel the cool breeze on your face, and smell the gentle fragrance of flowers in bloom.

An interesting Spit to Balmoral Paddle

Joined a new meetup group today for some paddling, because Jeff is out of town and the group I usually paddle with was fully booked. 

We met bright and early at Spit Bridge. The original plan was to do a long full day paddle, with a beach BBQ in the middle, but the winds were strong, and expected to pick up as the day went by – gusts of up to 50km/h. So the new plan was to just do a 2 hour paddle to Balmoral and back. 

Sounded easy enough, and so our 12 boats, a mix of singles and doubles took off. But it quickly became apparent that this was no leisurely stroking in the sun. At certain points I had to physically punch into the wind to move forward. Still, everyone got to the nude beach Obelisk Beach upright.

It was when we turned back that things started going awry. The organizer was towing a lady who was out on the water for her very first time – and in a single! – so he went ahead. The rest of the group was quickly spread out, everyone intent on trying to staying afloat. Then the first boat capsized, a double. I tried to steer towards them to help, but even as I did so, I could feel my boat wobble dangerously in the waves. I saw another double kayak sprint towards them, so I decided to concentrate on trying to save myself.

When I next turned around, the other kayakers that had kept even with me were now out of sight. Uhoh. 

I caught up to the organizer who was looking increasingly anxious, so I took over the towing from him while he doubled back to round up everyone else. 

Thankfully, as we struggled back towards shore, a couple rescue boats came zipping by, and in minutes, had on board the kayakers who had capsized and couldn’t get back into their vessels.

When we finally reached shore, the tally: 4 boats capsized – of which 3 needed tows back in; the 1 lady that needed help from the beginning; and the 1 guy who called it quits at Balmoral Beach and flagged a cab back to Spit instead.

But the sun was shining and nobody was freaked out. Which was really quite incredible! Everyone had the most positive of attitudes, even the first timer who couldn’t tell which way was up on her paddle. And so we spread out our picnic blankets in the sun and had a delightful BBQ.

All’s well that ends well. 🙂