Monday, 31 December 2012

2012 Annual Report on Family Matters

I decided that rather than send round an annual report just before Christmas I would wait until the year was finished and cover the whole year.  (Those of a questioning frame of mind might like to consider why we of  Christian origins have the solstice, Christmas and New Year so close together but not all on the same day.  Watch for a blog post on this topic!)

I should warn that this is most likely to be mainly a report on matters  Martin, but I am writing the post so that is fair dos.

The biggest event of this year is a forecast of a bigger event next year, in that we are expected to become grandparents about 21 January.  The current planning is that Ingrid and Alex will become the subjects of a daughter on that date.    Our efforts at parenting have worked out very well, so now we go for the grandparenting award!

Generally our lives move on in the same pleasant way as they have in the past.  In addition to our work around the block Frances does her guiding at the National Gallery, I do a lot of birding and we both do stuff with the native plant people. 

We took our overseas trip a little early this year, going to Sri Lanka.  
We chose that country as being somewhere with excellent birding that wasn’t too far away.  That trip has got its own blog which you may wish to peruse.  
A great trip and we thoroughly recommend the country as a destination.  A big thank you to Reedy Creek Kennels for looking after the third member of our family!

We still needed to escape (or at least get a respite from)  the cold of Winter in Canberra  so in July took a driving trip to South Australia, going to Eyre Peninsula.  

That foray is covered extensively in a set of posts  about travelling with Tammie.  Again an excellent trip and we thoroughly recommend the Coffin Bay area for those interested in nature.   (For those more interested in 1000 dB disco music, excessive substance abuse and such like, the area is not so good, but there are still good opportunities for fun.  Try the cheap version without a cage!)

Weather

For 2012 anything factual is about rainfall, and I will return to that in a wee while.  On a subjective note the year seemed distinctly cool: Summer was about 2 days in January and Winter seemed to run from mid-April to late October.    As I am now the owner of a nifty weather station I hope to be able to provide some further and better particulars about things like temperatures and wind next year.

Getting back to rain, we have scored 902 mm this year, our second highest since we moved here 6 years ago.  February (198mm) and March (220mm) were particularly soggy.   Despite BoM prophesying that we were not moving back into El Nino conditions it has been pretty dry here since early October with a few days of heavy rain interspersed with several weeks of no rain.  The sprinkler system is getting a workout after being on pause for about 10 months.

Birding

My life list got a tidy boost, to 1941 species, with our trip to Sri Lanka returning 190 species of which 104 were lifers.  I now rate the Sri Lankan Blue Magpie as bird of the trip.
In Australia 214 species were observed and, deleting a few species seen in both countries, overall I scored 390 species.   For Australia "Bird of the Year" goes to the Banded Lapwing.
While not as dramatically colourful as many of the birds in Sri Lanka for many years these were a bogey bird for me (and thought to be extinct in the ACT).  So finding up to 40 feeding in a friends brassica paddock was very exciting!

As usual I have compiled a couple of articles for the local birding group’s more scientific bulletin and one for the local newspaper.  In addition I have created an additional blog on which I write reports about the local birds, taking up the slack left by a reduction in size of our community newsletter.  It seems to be building up a bit of readership in the area with some folk from elsewhere also taking a look.

Plants and orchids

This is beginning to assume a major part of our lives, but I haven’t yet got to recording them with the same about of seriousness as I have birds.  Since I am developing a recording system for the ANPS Wednesday Walks that may all change by this time next year.  I find that my skills in plant – especially orchid – identification are increasing, but I am still a long way behind Frances.    It is unlikely I will catch her up as she is getting interested in drawing things and is thus reinforcing her knowledge through that process!

I’ve written a couple of articles for the Journal of the ANPS and they publish a few of my less bad photographs from time to time.  This one got on the front cover of the Journal:  Woo Hoooo!

Blogging and such like.

I continue to blather through various blogs about places we’ve been and things we’ve seen.  The posts I put up on the Wednesday Walks (both bird and plant) attract a good number of readers.

On the main blog this year has seen my ‘usual’ number of hits per day rise from about 28 to about 35 with occasional posts getting into triple digits. Over the year I received 13,000 hits which is rather pleasing.

Running etc 

At the start of the year I decided that I was going to run the Melbourne Marathon again  so as to get back on the ACT Veterans ‘all time best for age’ list when I turned 65.  I managed to finish in 4:06 
which was good enough for 10th place on the target list. 

As a result of preparing for the marathon I got a good bit fitter, reducing my weight by some 5kgs in the process.  As a result I did quite well in the ACT Veterans handicap series but mucked up my handicap by doing too well in the October event so couldn’t score enough points in the December event to win.  Overall I came third over the year.

Overall I ran 1378km this year and adjusting for the effort of walking a riding got a total Cooper distance of 1846 km (averaging 5.3km per day – this is the best I have managed since 2008).

Driving

We covered 27,795 kms this year and used 9.6l/100km (or 29.16 mpg for traditionalists).  Fuel prices continue to be rip offs for the fuel companies, only slightly mitigated by discounts through the Supermarkets: we paid on average 13,4 cents per km for fuel!  It will be interesting – but not pleasant - to see what happens when the Australian dollar drops in value.

Politics

There were no elections at State or Federal level affecting us this year.  The Federal scene continues to be toxic due to the Mad Monk leading the opposition and the State Government seems to be intent on alienating everyone (but as the State Opposition is not heard from – other than the utterances of former members appearing at  various corruption enquiries - they will probably get re‑elected).

A bright point was the local Government elections which resulted in a reduced development Council getting elected.  Thus far they seem to be trying to deliver what they promised.

NSW towns

In the middle of the year Frances was reading something about the town of Hill End and realised she hadn’t been there.  This led her to think of how many other towns in NSW remained to be graced by our presence, and whether we shouldn’t do something about reducing the number thereof!  Thus was born our new project of trying to visit every town in NSW. 

I decided to use, as a starting point, a list of towns with War Memorials from the NSW Register of War Memorials.  The Register has 2111 entries but many towns have several memorials so the list of ‘unique’ names is much shorter, coming in at  813.  (Of these, 95 are suburbs of Sydney which I have thus far discounted.)  By the end of the year we had visited 40 towns

through day trips from Canberra and a couple of more extended trips. 

We have added several new memorials to the Register, 
including a few cases in which the town wasn’t on the Register at all.  We are getting some overall views about the meaning of the word ‘town’ and enjoying looking at the buildings and finding out the history of areas.  It has also been a revelation how many memorials are due to airmen killed on training missions in Australia: this is an aspect of WWII of which I was previously unaware.

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