Journal for 22 November 2000

Getting organised and getting fitter

Lots of work getting the house together, though also some time to get into active sport again.

As I write this we're camping in one room in our house while the floors are sanded. To get to this stage involved a marathon session of several days of stripping carpet and lino. We've got a mixture of old timber boards in most of the house, but only the kitchen/dining room had them exposed and polished. Getting the carpet up was easy: getting the lino and backing glue/paste off was not - but thankfully several friends came and lent a hand over the weekend. We're now into debate about what the various woods are: jarrah (a reddish West Australian hardwood) is easy, but opinions vary about the others.

Meanwhile Katie has been developing plans for the garden. She's already had a tree surgeon round to thin out some of the trees in the bottom half of the garden, which should help the fruit trees and vines, and has had the benefit of giving her sea views (well glimpses really) from her office window perched on the mezzanine. Water features, a boule court, beds, more trees are all on now on the drawing board.

As are plans for turning the garage into her studio, as well as doing lots of odds and ends like painting, wiring, plumbing - the house seemed pretty livable to me until Katie's energy got turned loose on how it should be J . So our days seem pretty occupied.

But that still leaves early mornings and evenings. There is no daylight saving in Western Australia, so the best time to get out exercising is early in the morning. Katie has her scull in the Edith Cowan University boatshed on the Canning River, and tries to be on the water at 6am several days a week. She got a shock the other day when two dolphins surfaced just behind her, and followed the boat playing an jumping out of the water.

I've taken up bicycling with the RSBCA again, with groups whose start-times vary from 5.30 to 6.30am on different days. I'm slowly getting fitter: I keep getting dropped by the peleton, but a bit later along the route each time. I've also been doing some more sailing on Saturday afternoons: some very close racing, and it's great to be sailing in 20 knots wearing shorts and a t-shirt.

Holly gets lots of exercise too, mostly on the beach as it's been pretty hot. She's not very keen on waves, but it tends to blow from the east in the mornings before the sea-breeze kicks in, so the water's flat then. She can still be reluctant, and I don't think other dog walkers quite believe the sight of Katie wading out carrying Holly before throwing her and a stick into the sea simultaneously. I took her round a local lake one evening, and spotted her watching something crawling along the grass - I was worried it might be a snake, but it turned out to be a long-necked turtle who seemed unconcerned by Holly's attentions.

We're in the middle of the Fremantle Festival, so that has provided lots of choice for the evenings. The opening concert was in a local park - a bit mixed in the choice of music, but a pleasant picnic, and we all returned to our house afterwards with guitars, mandolin and sundry percussion instruments. Lots of songs we hadn't thought of playing in years, and we've vowed to produce a South Beach Songbook for future sessions.

The parade was on Sunday and we watched from the balcony of a local hotel. A glorious mixture of cultures and causes - from Croatian to Sikh and from protestors against live sheep exports to those opposed to a new bypass. Lots of bands and music.

All in all, life feels pretty busy - but I am putting out feelers on things to do when we've got the house and our belongings a bit more organised.

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The Royal South Beach Cycling Association is a group founded by John Longley, Mike Lefroy and me in 1984. We were originally the Royal South Beach Cricket Association playing in an indoor cricket league, but we were hopelessly bad. So we took up cycling instead. Originally it was just the three of us bicycling from Fremantle to Perth and back around the river. Gradually more people joined us for the main ride on Sunday mornings. We used to start in Walker Street where John, Mike and I all lived, but eventually the noise from all the cyclists at 6am prompted complaints from those trying to sleep in, so the start was moved to Old Papa's Café in Fremantle. It has grown over the years, to the stage where up to 100 cyclists now set off at a variety of times and over a variety of routes, and there are also rides most other days of the week. It remains very unstructured: there is no membership (though there are RSBCA cycling jerseys and shorts), and groups and routes change all the time, depending how fast and how far people want to go.