The numbers at the meeting point were down on previous week. Some said that it was because it was because it was getting colder. Even I felt that arm warmers were required but not the two or three layers that the others were wearing. We followed the usual route down to the coast. With the small numbers it would have been impossible for me to avoid being on the front. I took my turn and even managed to get on to the back of the bunch. I started losing them just after the surf club and they were totally out of sight by the time I reached the sailing club. I turned at the roundabout and headed back with Paul. He’d been suffering from a virus recently and couldn’t keep up with the fast boys either. At least we got back to the café before the fast boys, if only by a minute.


I joined the slower Wednesday group at the usual place on Gracie the trike. The plan was to go along the river path and then return to a café in town. The problem with this plan was that the route went very close to my house. I really didn’t feel like making the return trip back into town. I don’t know why but todays ride was particularly slow and disjointed. This made up my mind to cut the ride short and head home, I wasn’t really enjoying the ride.


A friend called out of the blue for a quick chat and to make arrangements for meeting at the top of a hill on Friday. Now all I had to work out was which bike to tackle the hill on.


After doing the shopping and changing a light bulb I felt strong enough to tackle the ironing pile. The fact that I felt tired from the early start and the cycling made the mindlessness of ironing even more attractive.


I felt tired but still went to swim training as I felt I should. It was a case of short term pain against a long-term plan and I opted for the long-term plan. I had second thoughts when I looked at the session. There was far too much kicking and sprinting for my liking. It would have been churlish to turn round and go home but I did consider it. Instead I suffered through the session and ended up with aching legs.


We had soup and bread for tea as it was simple and easy to prepare. I managed to eat it without falling asleep but it was a close-run thing




I had no enthusiasm for running this morning so I didn’t, there was cleaning and tidying to do and I felt there was enough there to justify me not running. I probably could have gone for a run in the time it took me to think up of that justification.


I was surprised to find that despite the long weekend of eating out, drinking and generally not watching my weight I was actually lighter than last week. I like little surprises like this. It fully justified the excessive amount I ate for breakfast.


I took my eye off the ginger cat for maybe two seconds and he was off over the fence. He returned fifteen minutes later with a dead rat. He swiftly took it in to the bedroom so that he could disembowel it at his leisure.


I’d all but forgotten about the agency and the job they had put me forward for due to the lack of communication, that’s why I was surprised by the call asking me if I was still available. It looks like I will have an interview in the next few days.


I was just settling into sorting out some photographs ready to make a photo album when I got a call from another agency. They don’t call for months and then two call on the same day.


We had a of few of the neighbours round for drinks this evening to say thank you for looking after the cats over the weekend. We drank wine, ate cheese and talked about all kinds of thing but as it was a school night it couldn’t go on till late.


Lie in

If we had been organised we could have gone for a swim this morning. That didn’t happen so we had a small lie in followed by a light breakfast and some stress-free packing. None of us felt like rushing about.


We sat down in the airport to share a pot of tea when the urge came on. There was only one sit down in the men’s and it was occupied by a gentleman who was in no hurry to leave. I stood there sweating and hoping I’d not gone past the point of no return. Eventually he emerged with a newspaper under his arm. I was in there for a matter of seconds


The cats were pleased to see us when we got back. They had obviously been having a party whilst we were away. There were signs everywhere: rumpled carpets, moved ornaments and kitchen sponges in the bedroom where just a few of the signs.


I was waited at the zebra crossing on my way to my German class when the man next to me asked me where the German club was. I didn’t know but that didn’t stop him carrying on the conversation. He seemed insistent on telling me that the people at the German Club had no interests in talking about Germany’s war time leader. He seemed puzzled that they wouldn’t, I was puzzled at his puzzlement. There was, of course, a simple explanation and it wasn’t to do with the people at the club.


Today’s German class covered a piece of German grammar that I have never really understood. It was all about whether things were in place or being placed. It made my head hurt.


We had soup for tea, it made a lovely change after all the eating over the weekend. I didn’t think I could face another pub meal for a day or two.



I woke feeling slightly disturbed about the dream I’d been having. It involved adventure racing, getting lost and following a river that didn’t exist. It was all very strange and make me thankful that I don’t usually remember my dreams.


After a light breakfast of a cup of tea we made our way to the surf club to register for the swim, pick up our swim cap and tee shirt and then mill around until the briefing.


The mini swim was first so we stood by the railings and watched some very fast youngsters cover the distance very quickly.


After the briefing we were marshalled onto busses and taken to the beach round the corner. The volume of conversation on the bus was incredible and only got louder. In was glad that the beach wasn’t any further away.


There was plenty of time before the official start so I decided that I needed to get wet and practice starting through the waves. I had a fun five minutes working out how to be buffeted by waves.


Loved One started in a wave or two before me. I watched them wade out through the waves and then be thrown back by the sea. It was obvious that there was a current running and that starting on the left side of the start was the sensible choice.


I wasn’t going to run to the water and I didn’t despite watching most of the field pass me. The first wave lined everybody up again and justified my decision not to run.


It was a lovely swim in clear warm water, I passed a few fish and a lot of people on the way to the finish.


After recovering from the swim by showering, eating and drinking we went for a stroll up to the lighthouse via the most easterly point on the mainland. After a quick look around the building and finding that we had missed the guided tour ice creams took precedence.


We had hoped that there would be a better sunset tonight but the clouds moved in to dash our hopes. It was still very nice sitting on the beach as dusk gave way to night.


We ate at the big pub this evening whilst the rain the we had watched approaching hit the town. There were a lot of damp people outside but inside we were warm and being fed with nice food.


Back at the apartment we took it in turn playing our favourite songs until the constant yawning forced us to bed.



We started the day with a swim. We joined the group outside the surf club and took part in the stroll along the beach. We didn’t go as far as yesterday as we were all feeling a little tired from yesterdays fun and games. Despite the wind the water was calm and flat. This made the swim a pleasure and that pleasure was enhanced by seeing a turtle just a little below doing its turtle business.


After a wash and brush up we headed to the hills for a small tour of the hinterland. Our first stop was a small town. We parked and wandered about for a while but there was nothing there to really hold our attention.


The railway used to run through the town but that had long been abandon. The station was still there, neglected, and the rails lay on the ground unused. I find sadness in abandon rail lines.


Our next stop was a castle built from cinder block that housed a macadamia nut wonderland. We were in the heart of macadamia land. The place sold anything and everything to do with the nuts whether the product needed it or not.


We’d book lunch at a highly regarded restaurant, so we knew it was going to be special. We didn’t realise quite how special. We selected some appetizers to share. The olives were outstanding and the macadamia nuts were lovely. The girls had oysters, they knew my views on that particular mollusc.


I settled on the roast pumpkin with macadamia for my main. The girls went for the slow cooker lamb. A reverent silence fell over the table when the food arrived. It looked lovely and tasted wonderful.


We wobbled from the restaurant and decided we needed a walk so we went over to Lennox Head for a stroll to the lookout and back. The view was only slightly spoilt by the suicide prevention notices


We sat on the beach and watched the clouds change colour as the evening came. It didn’t take long for darkness to engulf the beach. We wandered back to the apartment past a group of people playing drums and being accompanied by a trumpet. It was all very laid back and in keeping with the place.


We decided to have dinner in tonight as we had a big swim in the morning. None of us were particularly hungry but we managed to demolish a simple pasta meal with very little difficulty.



Getting up early always sounds easy the night before and is always hard in the morning. Today was no exception but we all wanted to join the swim from the surf club so we had little choice.


We arrived before the appointed time ans slowly others appeared from all directions. They were a mix of locals and holidaymakers here for the weekend. At some point a secret signal ran through the gathering and we all made our way to the beach and then walked what seemed a long way to the point. I thought we would get in before the rocks but we carried on through a gap and then into the surf.


The water was warm and clear. There were fish, pretty fish and some but not many ugly fish. It was lovely swimming round the point and it had the added bonus of being accompanied by a turtle. That was special.


I was enjoying myself just dawdling through the water and having the novelty of being able to see the bottom. I looked over to Loved One and saw a fin beside her. Then there was another one. A pod of five dolphins appeared from nowhere and hovered round for a while. This was turning from a special swim into a magical swim.


We met with the other swimmers for a hot drink and a chat in the beach bar. One of them had chai tea, it looked disgusting. I tried not to think about it but resolved never to drink it.


The bay we had been swimming in is sheltered bit the beach around the corner gets the full Pacific Ocean treatment. We took a stroll to watch the waves come rolling in and to see small crabs scuttling into little holes


We were asked to arrived a little earlier as the sea conditions were getting a little lumpy. We filled in forms that absolved the organisers of any responsibility whatsoever and then were herded into a darkened room for a safety briefing. Once the health and safety was out of the way we were given flippers, masks, snorkels and wet suits and taken to the boat. We were going snorkelling around the rocks a little way off shore.


The lumps in the sea made the boat ride interesting. We stopped before the rocks and were told about the currents. We then went round the back of the rock and were briefed about the limits of the snorkelling area. I felt a little over briefed and forgot most of it the moment I got into the water


I was suddenly immersed in a world o of glittering and colourful fish. All I had to do was float on the surface and watch as they went about their fishy business. I felt like I’d been dropped into a scene from Finding Nemo.


I was floating about minding my own business when I suddenly found myself up close and personal with a turtle. He came so close that I could almost touch him.


I was bobbing about over a crack in the rock when I saw a shark crammed into a crevice, then another, and another. They were friendly blind sharks but I wasn’t sure how friendly so I didn’t go out of my way to formally introduce myself.


The session was over far too quickly. I felt that I’d only been in the water for ten minutes whereas the Boatman knew it had been nearly an hour.


We ate out tonight at a little restaurant by the shore. We were obviously not the sort of people the serving staff wanted in their restaurant as they were curt and on the verge of rudeness with us whilst they fawned and flirted with the other customers. I really didn’t appreciate being told why there was a lump of orange in my beer. Fruit does not belong in wheat beer.



I was woken by the sound of rain early in the morning and had then failed to get back to sleep. Eventually I gave up and got out of bed, just before the alarm when off. I made tea and some breakfast for us before doing some tidying and putting my washing things in the case. We left the house on time.


Even though we had plenty of time Loved One was cursing at every red light. She hates being late and her idea of on time is five minutes early. We arrived at the car parking service on time.


To me, dark skies and drizzle equates to cold so I’d slipped on a jumper. This was a mistake and I was now far too warm.

Check in

I know why airlines like replacing highly trained and skilled staff with machines but I don’t have to like it. Check in was now full of people who were expected to operate these machines and who didn’t really have a clue. This made a frustrating experience of standing in a queue into an even more frustrating experience of waiting in two queues interspersed with operating unfamiliar machines. I wasn’t in the best frame of mind as we arrived at the gate as it opened


The young child was on the other side of the aisle and one row in front. I just knew it would start crying the moment the plane took off. I was wrong. It saved it all up for the landing but then screamed so loudly that I started questioning whether infanticide was completely wrong in all cases.


We arrived at lunchtime and went hunting for food. We settled for the beach hotel and a selection of burgers and chips. I was happy that we were now in a state that served beer in proper measures. I wasn’t so happy about the headache that was slowly building up.


I laid down for five minutes and woke up two hours later. The headache had gone and magically the shopping had been done.


After toasting the sunset and eating nibbles into the dark we felt that it was time to go foraging again. This time we ventured to the railway inn as they had live music. For the second time today I had a burger, I cannot recall the last time I had two burgers in one day. I found that vaguely disturbing.


We finished off the evening chatting in the garden of our apartment whilst having a few drinks. We went to bed just before we drank too much.


I woke in the middle of the night convinced someone was prowling around the flat. Dressed only in underpants I got up to confront them. I couldn’t find them so I went to the toilet instead.



It was a bit hard to work out it it was going to be a fast one or a slow one today as there was an almost equal number of fast boys and mortals. The start of the ride was a bit odd in that the two leaders rode off the front whilst the rest of us stayed as a group. We caught up with them at the lights and they decided to ride at a more suitable pace.


I hit the front at some point on the coast road and that’s where things started to get hard. I was going as fast as I could but the guy next to me looked relaxed and able to go faster. I got to just before the crossing before I admitted defeat. Unusually for me I was able to grab the back of the bunch and stay there until just past the sailing club. Then, inevitably, I started losing contact. The bunch were way up the road by the time I got to the roundabout. I felt happy that I’d stayed in contact for so long


I caught up with Gary and we rode back to the café together. Gary was a little tired after his ride yesterday so he was more than happy for me to take the front for extended periods. I started thinking about joining the Tuesday ride even though it would mean yet another early start.


My second ride of the day was with the slow group on Gracie the Trike. This was a much more pedestrian affair but it was still a lovely ride. We did a circuit of the parklands via a variety of bike paths and trails. I had a lovely feeling of accomplishment in having circumnavigated the city. I had earned my pot of tea at the café stop.


I was sure that we had agreed not to go swimming this evening and instead have a leisurely evening and indulge in a session of stress free packing for our trip tomorrow. I was mistaken, we had agreed to go swimming.


Tonight’s session involved a lot of kicking. Kicking is not something I enjoy practicing as my technique ranges from poor to non-existent. I have to use fins otherwise it would take me the whole session to do one length. I knew I’d done far too much when I started to get cramps in my calves. It was time to get out.


I got involved in a conversation about cycling in the changing room and this resulted in Loved One having to wait for me for the first time ever after swimming.


Neither of us had any intention of cooking this evening and even if we did there was very little to cook anyway. We stopped at a small Thai restaurant that had recently opened and offered takeaway. The interior looked like a cafe so I assumed that the food must be good to compensate for that. I was right.


I wasn’t in the mood for fiddling about. I wanted to put my clothes and other vital necessities in the case and go to bed. I’d been awake for far too long and needed sleep. Loved One was tired too but seemed incapable of just putting some stuff in a case. Instead she seemed to find a whole host of other activities that warranted her attention. I fell asleep on the sofa.



This week’s weigh in was a confirmation that my well-crafted diet plan had gone off of the rails due to eating too much. Last weekend was the obvious culprit with its meals out and drinking. A least the gain wasn’t too much and I had plenty of headroom before I exceeded my starting weight, something that I would call a failure.


I went for my usual short run this morning. My heel is still annoyingly painful but not enough to stop me doing a ten-minute run followed by almost ten minutes of stretching. I was quite pleased to find that today’s run was the fastest I’d done the route.


The house was looking a little grubby so I decided to spend the morning rectifying the situation. Armed only with a limited selection of cleaning products I managed to make the house look a lot less grubby. This was mainly due to removing the accumulations of cat hair. Our cats seem to shed more hair that two cats would warrant.


I decided that the tyres on my road bike needed swapping. The back is a lot more worn than the front and, in my mind, this means that it is more susceptible to punctures. If I’m going to have to fix a puncture I would prefer it to be on the front wheel as this is easier to deal with.


Loved One had a friend round to cut and colour her hair this evening. Her friend was a hairdresser so it seemed like a good thing. I just tried to stay out of the way and prepare dinner for all of us. I have very few opinions on hair as evidenced by the state of my own hair so I felt it was better not to be drawn into the conversation.


I prepared some chicken Kievs with small potatoes, broccoli and honey carrots. I was going for simple food prepared well rather than anything fancy. It seemed to work, everyone appreciated the dinner.



We had nothing in particular to do this morning and took full advantage of this to have a semi-epic lie-in. Eventually we have to get up but only because bodily functions forced us too.


Loved One collects boxes for the kids at a local school to use during craft lessons. The garage was full of bags of boxes and we felt it was time to deliver them. There was no one at home so I had to throw the bags over the locked gate. I felt very self-conscious about this and was surprised that no one challenged me. I was to all intents and purposes throwing rubbish into someone’s garden


We spend the afternoon avoiding chores and drinking tea. I find that this is one of the best ways of spending and afternoon.


I went to my German class this evening. There were only four people in the class which made it move at a slightly faster pace. The teacher asked lots of questions, most of which I could have answered but I felt that I would rather dominate proceedings if I did. I didn’t feel that this was fair so I aimed for one question in four. The problem with this strategy was the lengthy silences from the others when I felt it wasn’t my turn to answer