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21 January 2007

Open season

January in Melbourne is dominated by tennis, and specifically the Australian Open Championships, which is hosted at Melbourne Park, just adjacent to the MCG! However prior to the Open commencing a number of run-up tournaments are hosted around Australia. In Melbourne the Kooyong Tennis Centre hosts the AAMI Classic to which eight of the top ten ranked men are invited. This year saw the who's who of mens' tennis at this tournament, and we went to see the final play-offs last Saturday. Andy Murray triumphed over Safin in the contest for third spot, and Roddick beat Federer for the top spot. The Kooyong provides the opportunity for seeing good contests the equivalents of which are typically sold out at the Aussie Open months in advance!

Summer holidays

Although we did not go away for the summer holidays, we did manage to take some time out during the non-working days. My brother came out from South Africa again, and on one occasion we cycled to Williamstown on the opposite side of Melbourne harbour. Pearl took the train and met us on Williamstown beach, before joining us on the cycle back to Melbourne. Melbourne is extremely accommodating to cyclists, and being able to take your bicycle with you on metropolitan and regional train services is just one example of this. This allows one to go out to more remote spots and cycle back into the city or vice versa. There are numerous cycle tracks throughout the city and the suburbs. Some are exclusively for cyclists' use, others are shared with skaters or pedestrians. Many roads have specialist cycling lanes which ordinarily motorised traffic is not permitted to infringe, and even where there are no demarcated cycling lanes, traffic is generally extremely considerate of the cyclists. This means that there are very few excuses left for not going out on a bike, and I have quite taken to this new pastime quite well. I have been out on a Saturday morning run on a few occasions: this involves cycling along the coast from Melbourne down to Rickert's Point and back, a distance of about 50km. Melbourne's ubiquitous coffee culture, with its innumerable coffee shops comes to ones aide somewhere along the road, allowing a good aerobic workout to also serve as a social! Chatting to Robert, who invited me on the run, the cycling culture has taken off in Melbourne over the last number of years, and he estimates that the number of cyclists on the roads on Saturday mornings has at least doubled. Undoubtedly more and more people as finding out about this form of recreation and taking it up more seriously!