Tuesday, June 20, 2017


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Raiders meet the players

As a family of three we've become passionate Canberra Raiders fans. It's an interesting one as up until 2014 (when I was generously given a family membership as part of my Human Brochure membership), I'd never really paid much attention to Rugby League.

In the UK, League is very much a 'northern' thing. A flat cap and pint versus the allure of rugby union's spiffing top hat and gin and tonic. I don't think I'd watched a single game of rugby league growing up - apart from perhaps the odd foray into Eddie Waring's 'up and under' on tele on a Sunday afternoon.

In truth football and cricket dominated my youth. Rugby union did pop-up occasionally with the six nations. Bill Beaumont et al then Jonny Wilkinson's world cup winning drop goal with 20 seconds to go in 2003. I knew nothing of rugby league though.

Our free ticket (and subsequent paid renewals) has brought us into a world of Rugby League. A frantic running and pushing game, sometimes brawl over brains, but nevertheless an exciting game with (fairly) straightforward rules, that unlike Canberra's rugby union team (Brumbies) attracts more of a crowd and a noisy one at that.

The scheduling of Raiders games is odd - sometimes there may be two in a week, at other times there's a month or more between home games. Nevertheless the games are often exciting and both Audrey and Eli love the noise of the crowd and celebrate victories as much as they bemoan the defeats. A loss can cast a shadow over our household for an entire week.

Ricky Stuart, the Raider's coach has built a young squad with plenty of guile. What's more they seem to be really nice guys. Rugby league in Australia is beset with a bad reputation - players with drug habits, tattoos, philandering relationships and misdemeanours both on and off the pitch. Of course I'm looking at things through green tinted spectacles, but by comparison Raiders seem to play fair and are good role models. We've been along to a couple of 'meet the player' sessions recently and I've been so impressed by how down to earth the players have been and how giving of their time they are to my kids.

In the absence of a football (soccer) team in Canberra, Canberra Raiders certainly fills a hole. The kids mock their fellow pupils who claim to be fans but have never actually been to a game, whereas they've sat shivering on Friday nights watching second half collapses or celebrated late tries that claimed victories when all hope was lost. I hope like me the kids #bleedgreen for the rest of their days.

Jordan Rapana - a kiwi who is an incredibly fast and skilful player

Eli's two heroes - Jack Wighton and club captain Jarrod Croker

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Saturday afternoon horse riding

Audrey on Romeo (her favourite pony)

The beautiful Brindabella Mountains in the background
Things have turned a bit chillier now and so Audrey's horse riding lesson (which has taken place in extreme heat with ponies bothered by flies) is now 'crisp' and chilly. Canberra is characterised (usually) by lovely blue skies though - so even though the weather is cold we still get a fair amount of sunshine and daylight. Here's some pictures from Saturday's lesson.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Million Paws Walk, Castle Park and Civic!

Audrey had been desperate to go to Million Paws Walk on Sunday - a charity dog walk which now takes place around Lake Burley Griffin. We don't have a dog(!) but the weather was beautiful on Sunday morning and so we headed along so she could get a fix of "Man's best friend".

It's actually remarkable how much Audrey loves dogs now. She was terrified as a younger girl - (to the extent of having to cross over the road whenever there was a dog in sight) but is now significantly removed from that. There were hundreds of dogs doing the walk (of all shapes and sizes) and it was really good fun being part of the action.

Afterwards we walked into the city through Commonwealth Park and found 'Castle Park' a series of brick tunnels and fortifications that the kids could climb through. I can't believe we'd never been there before and I was grateful that I had found it now rather than in a few years time when the kids would have outgrown it. We'll definitely be back. We headed into the city for a quick bite before heading home.
The kids wrapped up their day with a trip to see the film; 'A dog's purpose' which Andy took them to - thereby wrapping up a complete dog-centric kind of day!
One of the mounds in Castle Park

Light fun in Civic (the lights change colour when you press them)

Dog fancy dress at Million Paws Walk

Jessica Watson

This term Audrey's class has been doing a project on 'Explorers'. When the first emails came out from her (excellent) teacher, I thought it would be great to do someone contemporary (and preferably female) rather than Captain Cook, Christopher Columbus etc who are all essentially just dead old men.

I've actually got a great book on Australian adventurers (picked up from a charity shop) but you soon learn from it that while brave/foolhardy a lot of early exploration in and around Australia was pretty haphazard, expensive and prone to failure.
There are disastrous stories ranging from the calamitous exploration by Burke and Wills (to walk from north to south Australia) and the exploration of inland Australia by Charles Sturt.

Burke and Wills both died (a member of their exploration was saved by local aborigines) meanwhile Sturt marched off into inland Australia (basically a desert) carrying a whaling boat as he was so convinced there was an inland sea...
Audrey and I took to the internet to find someone a) still alive(!) and b) a female. We came up with Jessica Watson - who was young Australian of the year in 2011 for her efforts in circumnavigating the world unassisted when aged only 16.
I bought Audrey, Jessica Watson's book (which she read in a couple of weeks) and we listened to podcasts, youtube clips etc. It was wonderful watching and listening to the enthusiasm Audrey built on her subject - so much better than reading about some old guy getting stuck with a spear in Tahiti (Captain Cook).
On Friday Audrey had to present back to the class. I'm comfortable in saying that she knew more than any other kid presenting on their explorer. I don't know if Audrey will ever learn to sail, or if she'll go on explorations of her own but I was so proud of her knowledge of another young (and great) Australian. I hope so much that the two get to meet each other one day.

Presenting back to Miss Cupid.

2 point

Audrey loves horse riding and her is really progressing given that she's only been riding for just over a year.
On Saturday the kids were practicing '2 point' (no I didn't know what it was either) but essentially the first step in learning to jump.
Audrey actually had a cantankerous old pony (Sparkle) but kept him really in line throughout the lesson. It's great watching her having such fun.