Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Morning paddle

Photograph by Odille
Autumn is here. The beautiful warm days are persisting, and with each one I am sitting at my desk looking out, wondering if this will be the last chance to take out the wave ski.

This morning I made a quick plan, got the ski on the car and set off before I thought better of it. I haven't paddled at Cornelian Bay before - always been a bit put off by the sludgey sand - but I felt like paddling around to the fuel tanks at Selfs Point. That probably sounds weird but I have always found the huge white cylinders of different shapes and sizes clustered on the edge of the water to be very handsome. Mt Direction is a camel hump of bushy green behind. Its a nice scene, I just can't lay my hand on a drawing of it at the moment.

Google Street View
I braved the squishy sludge and pushed out into the glassy water. Its a fairly sheltered bay, sitting between the Domain and the cemetery. I wanted to paddle out of the shelter and around the point of the cemetery so I could admire the tanks from the water.

Once I got out there I could actually smell oil - I am sure it wasn't from the tanks but just the normal smell of a working river. Not that the Derwent is busy by any means. In the half hour I was paddling out, only one boat went downriver. The wake took so long to reach me it caught me by surprise a few minutes later. The oil smell took me back to being little, on Christmas trips to Sydney, and being out on the busy harbour on ferries. I wonder how many people actually work on the water in Sydney now compared to the 1980s?

Once I had ogled the tanks I kept pushing out into the river, aiming straight at Geilston Bay on the other side. I had half an idea to just keep going and surprise Mum and Dad for morning tea. But to arrive near their house would require fighting the current, and I didn't fancy a half hour walk in saturated shorts. I might one day try it, but I'll start from upstream, let someone know first, and probably ask for a lift back to the car afterwards.

After a while I realised that my next target, an orange buoy, wasn't getting any closer, and I had effectively got myself into an endless lap-pool situation. So I took the easy way out and turned around and headed back in.

I didn't fancy the squidge so I went over the rockier side of the bay where the boathouses are. A few of them had morning residents. You are not allowed to spend the night in them, but if I had one I would certainly be down there early on a day like this. I am considering this morning my anti-school holiday. Soon enough I will have kids on holiday on my hands while I try to work. For now they are all safely in school for a couple more days.

Matt Newton took this one years ago, i just had it lying around.
After I stickybeaked around the boathouses I pulled up on the crappy oyster-shell encrusted south side of the bay. Not really any better, but at least I know that now. Walked around the bay and fetched the car. Now I am back home and the day's work can commence.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Chess Club for grown ups

I supervised the Taroona High team at a chess tournament the other day. There are some terrific players at THS but many of the older ones have drifted away from chess, which leaves Marcus as the main hope of the team although he's only just turned 13. He carried South Hobart Primary team's hopes through his last 2 or 3 years playing chess there, too.

He did OK at the tournament, but as he often does he finished between 3rd and 10th. I feel like he puts so much time into working on getting better, and tries so hard in tournaments but isn't making inroads against those top 4 or 5 kids. He's certainly smart enough. So I asked him if he wanted to go and try out the Hobart Chess Club.

The lady who runs the school chess tournaments mentioned it years ago. The juniors run from 5 to 6.30 on Monday evenings and the adults follow; kids are welcome to stay and play against adults if they wish. I didn't push it as who wants a commitment on Monday nights when there other things all week, especially in soccer season?

But now I think Marcus, who loves playing and loves to do well, is ready to have regular games against strong players and meet the wider chess community. He seemed cautiously keen so we went along this evening to the Migrant Resource Centre in Molle St, which is not far from home.

There was a coaching session for the first hour, playing through a famous game; then the kids (all boys) were paired up. Marcus played a kid of similar ability and age to himself and had a long tight game that he ended up losing. By then it was 6.30 and the adults were shuffling in.

Elf and Michael and I had been reading books and generally sitting around the edges, and all four of us were getting pretty hungry, but Marcus was very keen to stay and play. The rest of us went off and got takeaways at the Tandoori House.

When we got back he was just starting his third game against his nominated adult opponent, and he was having a wonderful time. Marcus won all three. He loves it, thinks the people are very nice and the balance of coaching and playing is just right. He was concerned the opponents would be too hard (or too easy) but I think he is going to get heaps of good competition and heaps of variety too.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The last school sports

Yesterday I went to the South Hobart primary sports day for probably the last time. With Michael in Grade 6 this year, we are experiencing quite a few lasts. We started our involvement with the school in 2006, (almost matching the life of this blog), so it's quite an era coming to an end. Given the fluidity of people's work lives now, and I expect in the future, most kids will probably never have an 8-year stint anywhere again after primary school.

Michael is developing his thoughtful and responsible side. He shies away from the kind of leadership roles that naturally appeal to Marcus, but in his low-key way I can see he is enjoying being "top of the school".

At the sports I found him sitting in the back row of the grandstand, not on his own but just in his own space, behind some friends. Where Marcus revelled in leading, and encouraging, it is rare to hear Michael express enthusiasm for others efforts, and we are really trying hard to work on that with him. It comes very naturally to me to babble encouraging generalities while watching kids sport or playing my own, but it will have to be a learned skill for our youngest.

Of course it's nice to be encouraging, but beyond that it is good for you yourself, I believe. Even if it's claptrap and the people nearest me dearly wish I would shut up, I am certain that some kind of soup of positivity infuses and nurtures my brain while I am being Mr Encouragement.

Back to Michael and the sports. Grade 6 kids are chivvied into participating in practically everything. Once I was there too to join in the persuading, Michael had no hope of receding into the grandstand as he wished.

He had won his 100m race before I arrived - he usually runs in the "not that fast" heat and has won it comfortably now two years in a row. I also missed seeing his long jump, but I understand he came fourth.

I came in exactly at the start of his speciality, the sack race. He has been unbackable favourite for this for some years. It's a shame the monkey race was phased out, he was seriously a world title chance in that one. It was like Walter Lindrum all over again.

His race approach in the sack was "give it the kitchen sink", which probably cost him the win. He is simply the fastest, so if he'd just gone boing boing he would have won comfortably. Instead he took off in a frenzy and fell, injuring his arm and scraping his knee. He got up and then just burned up the track with the most incredible (bagged) closing speed anyone had ever seen. But too late, he hit the front mere inches after the finish line.

After some cajoling he went in the 200m. He is actually quite fast when he applies his mind and legs. He ran in lane 2, starting staggered behind all but one of the others. And he caught them all but one, coming with a terrific finish and just failing to pass Oliver who had spent nearly all his petrol.

Michael's egg and spoon race was not his best, but I was pleased to see that at last SHPS has invested in some Sensible Standard Spoons after some less-than-fair variability in past years.

As ever our family house Derwent was the winner at the end of the day. Join me now in one last rendition of DER WENT (clap clap clap) DER WENT (clap clap clap).

Summit meeting in Richmond

I went to Melbourne for a footy bloggers summit meeting. Had a great time with my TTBB colleague Dugald, and meeting for the first time Craig from Footy Maths Institute, John from Holy Boot's Emporium, and Andy from TTBB and Reading Sideways.

We met at the London Tavern, and then had a stroll through the park around the MCG and a bit of kick to kick.  

Above and below, soaking up the Tigerish atmos of the London Tavern in Lennox St Richmond.

The Canoe Tree. "...an old eucalyptus scar tree which shows a big scar caused by harvesting of bark for a canoe by the original inhabitants of the Yarra River Valley, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation." -Wikipedia

The Lake Oval, former home of the South Melbourne Football Club. Now its been swanked up as a (locked up) soccer and athletics venue.
Abot 15 years ago before the Lake Oval was redeveloped. The echoes of Laurie Nash and Bobby Skilton that were here then were removed along with the asbestos. 

This next batch are from around Victoria Park, former home of Collingwood Football Club. It is now open to the community and its an object lesson for how this sort of heritage site ought to be retained.

Alistair Jellie fitting in with the frankly yellow-and-black vibe that now permeates Vic Park thanks to health and safety regs.

Magnificent scoreboard sculpture by Anderson Hunt

The sculptures around the MCG are very classy. Shane Warne with just a hint of tub.
DK Lillee photographed from exactly 22 yards away.

A quite moving memorial to Tom Wills, pioneering cricketer and co-inventor of Australian Rules.