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23 December 2010

Good bye 2010, bring on 2011!

It's difficult to believe, but last night was the shortest night of the year i.e the summer solstice in the southern hemisphere, and with it the holidays are therefore only a breath away! Melbourne has a new buzz, with many visitors including the Barmy Army and the English Cricket Team aka "The Poms" to entertain us on Boxing Day (plus next four, hopefully), and I hope it turns out to be a real contest. The Ashes cricket series is well poised, which has re-ignited interest in the game, - the MCG is a sellout on Sunday!

2010 saw me celebrate a significant anniversary (you can but guess which), included two trips to South Africa and a number of adventures of exploration around Australia. In March we drove along the Victorian and SA (aka South Australian) coast and caught a ferry to Kangaroo Island, yet another very pristine part of the world, which is good to see (and know, since they are becoming scarcer!). In winter we explored Victoria's King Valley and specifically their wine farms! In spring we took Jay, Jacqui and their girls up to Hamilton Island - part of the Whitsundays group on the north-eastern shores of Australia and bordering the GBR (Great Barrier Reef). It was a nice change from Melbourne which was still very chilly and wet. In fact this year has been by far the wettest that I have experienced in Melbourne so far. We sailed up to Whitsundays Beach, apparently one of the top beaches in the world - and I can believe that! It is on Whitsundays Island, which is uninhabited and a nature sanctuary, no doubt majorly contributing to the beach's very pristine nature. We also snorkeled around one of the reefs off the yacht, but were really pressed for time, so we'll have to schedule a return visit.

Personally, I kept myself occupied with two primary passions, namely sailing once or twice a week on Barry's Zardos and cycling. The latter takes up a lot of time too, but I am slightly more in control, since I don't always cycle with our team - the 6am-ers. Still, a routine 40km ride before work in the mornings takes me about 80 or 90 minutes. The routine however makes up for good outings. In October I was seconding Brave Dave of the 6am-ers on his Melbourne to Warnambool quest - not an insignificant 260km ride: however on the day this was compounded with cold temperatures (below 10 degrees C), intermittent showers and a headwind in excess of 30kph for most of the way! However Brave mastered it well, and was rewarded with a prize for his effort! Just earlier this month I went with the team to ride the Tour of Bright (I had not actually entered the race), and this included an ascent of Mount Hotham (ascent in excess of 2000m). I rode both stages and was pleased to finish each of them well. It's probably worth a mention that Pearl and I skied Mt Hotham two years ago!

In between, Melbourne laid on its usual array of activities, but for me the highlight this year was the 2010 World Cycling Championships which took place in Geelong (80km southwest of Melbourne), featuring the world's top riders. (See separate blog post below if you're interested).

Now we're getting ready to spend Christmas at home for the first time in a number of years, hoping to take in some of the cricket, before getting ready for the state titles S80 sailing championships in early January, followed by the Australian Open tennis and the Tour Down Under in quick succession thereafter - and that is just the start of 2011! It will no doubt be at least as hectic as 2010. Bring it on!

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