Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Kata Tournament

The kids took part in a Kata tournament against another Dojo in the north of the city. It's a pretty friendly (but serious!) affair. For the uninitiated a kata tournament is non-contact, but competitors go through a series of routines against another participant. It makes it interesting as bigger/stronger competitors don't always win if their younger rival has perfected and timed their punches and kicks more appropriately.

Both Audrey and Eli did ever so well. It's the second tournament of this type that they've entered (they now have 'orange senior' belts) and they look forward to it ever so much - their competitive nature is never more evident. Audrey only just missed out on a position but Eli came away with a very creditable third place in his category.

Eli with his winning ribbon

Graffiti masterclass!

The kids and I went along to the launch of an amazing mural in the city next to a skatepark. As part of the launch the kids were allowed to practice graffiti on one of Canberra's (26) legal graffiti walls. Here's some pictures of our morning.

The real artists in front of their mural!

Balloon Flight over Canberra

Nearly two years ago we won a balloon flight when we entered a (25 words or less) competition at the Canberra Balloon Festival. The kids and I had taken some time with our entry and written a little poem (sorry I can't remember how it went!) but it was clearly good enough for us to collect first prize.

I had been worried about taking A&E on the flight as I wasn't sure their disposition to heights(!) nor whether they'd be able to see over the basket. As it was I needn't have worried - they took the whole thing in their stride and all three of us loved every minute.

The balloon took off from Narrabundah in Canberra's south, and we drifted for probably an hour and a half over Canberra - past the embassies, over Parliament House and the lake eventually landing in a paddock near Higgins in Canberra's north.

The pilot took a relatively low flight path (although Audrey reminded me that we flew high over Telstra Tower) so it can't have been all that low as the tower itself is 195 metres high. Nevertheless at the start of the flight at least we seemed to skim the top of some of the houses allowing the kids (with great glee) to shout to people down below who were in their gardens or walking their dogs.

It was an early start (we had to arrive at 6.30am) and landed sometime around 10am. There were two balloons in our party - we flew in a yellow Questacon balloon and our partner was a black balloon.

Here's some pictures of our morning which probably tell the story of our morning best of all.

waiting for the balloon to inflate
big fans blow the hot air into the balloon
big Ted stowed on board
Audrey smiling over Canberra
Manuka oval
Lake Burley Griffin
DFAT and Parliament House
Parliament House
Parliament House
Old Parliament House
Lake Burley Griffin and the National Museum
Hickman selfie
Flying high over Telstra Tower
Lake Burley Griffin down below
Warming up
Coming down to land

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