Travel – Sydney

Posted by jerry on September 20th, 2008 — Posted in History, Journal, Travel

Well, the evening passed – along with dinner, my body absorbing minimal nutritional value on its way through, but it was still a delicious meal for all that. And the hotel guy cheerily informed us that the air conditioning was still on heat … I decided not to go there.

Nature’s alarm clock in the form of a mob of screeching cockatoos woke us at 6.30am from our hour or so’s sleep – there is just no arguing with a parrot! so if I seem grumpy or churlish today I would just put it down to the lack of sleep and the fact that I am due in the recording studio in 2 hours to play bright and happy tunes like ‘Farewell to Chernobyl’….

The Sienna Marina coffee shop and restaurant is a good place to start one’s caffeine intake, along with free wireless internet access. It will be warm today – 31C is forecast – which would be the height of Summer for Canberra. Two days ago we had minus 2C overnight, so we are unaccustomed to the warmth and humidity. The clear sky and sharp shadows attest to a truly beautiful day ahead.

Woolloomooloo is one of Sydney’s forgotten gems – close to the multi-million dollar Wharf development, and built on reclaimed land beneath and adjacent to the Domain parkland, you can find inexpensive accommodation within easy walking distance of the City, and similar easy walking distance to Oxford Street for the bookshops, art shops and fashion designers.

And everywhere you find evidence of the Convict workings – like the various historic stairs cut directly into the rock face to get to the city and thence via The Rocks to Observatory Hill – which I wrote about previously.

Horderns Stairs
in Potts Point is a prime example – they were built in 1882 – and you can still see the tooling marks on the rocks. Noting the signs for falling rocks, I don’t think I’ll be investing in the apartments above that have been built right to the edge of the rock face.

Horderns stairs


Travel – Sydney

Posted by jerry on September 19th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Travel

In Sydney to do some music recording, we took the opportunity to take in Berkelouw Books and Ariel Books on Oxford St and came back to the hotel with quite a haul!

On the way to Oxford Street, we passed St Vincent’s Hospital, and right opposite found a memorial drinking fountain dedicated to the memory of one of Australia’s greatest heart surgeons, Dr Victor Chang.

Chang memorial

Berkelouw’s has a cafe upstairs serving delightful apple and rhubarb slice and berry cheesecake – we washed these down with two large flat white coffees. Internet connection was a bit flaky so I waited until we got back to the hotel

Berkelouw Books

I found an early Thomas Sebeok book on semiotics, called ‘A sign is just a sign’ – it looks great – I’ve been reading a bit about semiotics lately – the study of how we make meaning with signs.

Ariel’s yielded Alain de Botton’s ‘Essays in Love’ – which we had been hunting for some time – we have all his others.

As we crossed the road from Ariel’s I spotted a pile of steam rising in front of an illuminated sign on a building on Oxford Street and couldn’t resist a moody photo

Oxford Street, Sydney

And on to an art store – Canberra’s main art stores have been taken over by Eckersly’s and the range has narrowed markedly – and they cater more for scrapbooking than fine arts it seems. But the art store on Oxford Street has a huge range of items for artists – I found some orange shellac for varnish, and Sharon some sketch books and a few other things.

Then it was on to a Nepalese restaurant for dinner – it looked quite genuine cuisine, with goat (with or without bones and skin!) on the menu – we settled for a lamb and a chicken curry, with rice and naan bread – delicious!

Weighed down with books we stopped at a 7/11 for some milk and then caught a cab back to the hotel – The Mariner’s Court on McElhone St in Woolloomooloo – great value, comfortable clean rooms recently refurbished.

Mariner's Court Hotel

And so to blog with a backdrop of fireworks.

Recipe – Chocolate Crunch Slice (Hedgehog)

Posted by jerry on September 13th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Recipes

Got a chocolate party to go to? This is a quick and easy – and delicious – chocaholic’s delight!

Chocolate crunch slice

2 bars of dark cooking chocolate (400g)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine (50g)
1 teaspoon of instant coffee
1 egg (optional)
half a packet of milk arrowroot or other plain biscuits
2 tablespoons mixed peel

Half fill a large pan with water, bring to boil. In a second (and smaller) pot put in the chocolate and margarine and put that pot in the larger one so it works as a ‘double boiler’. Chop the chocolate into small chunks and place in the smaller saucepan, and add the butter. As it melts, keep stirring gently until smooth and creamy.
Boil a kettle and use just enough hot water to dissolve the instant coffee (about a teaspoon) and pour the coffee into the melted chocolate and stir in well.
Take a bowl and break the biscuits into pea-sized chunks.
Take the chocolate mix off the heat and allow to cool for about ten minutes. Stir in the egg (optional).
Now add the biscuit pieces and the mixed peel and stir until well covered in chocolate.
Pour the mix into a bar-tin lined with baking (greaseproof) paper or aluminium foil
Refrigerate until set – about 2 hours.

Turn out the bar onto a board upside down, making sure the paper is completely removed, dust with icing sugar and slice thinly to serve.

This has been adapted from the recipe of a family friend called Makiko 🙂

Variations can include half a cup of mixed dried fruit, or nuts substituted for an equivalent amount of the biscuits.



Large hadron collider – tomorrow when the world began…

Posted by jerry on September 9th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Technology

Wednesday will not be like any other normal Wednesday. At least at the European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) it won’t. Wednesday is when the large hadron collider gets switched on. The large what?? A great big machine for winding up very small particles very very fast and smashing them into each other. If that sounds like a rather strange thing to do, it may be. But it also may be the start of a project that could just unveil the secret of matter itself and the start of the universe from the Big Bang.

While there have been rather fanciful stories circulating about how when the machine gets switched on, the world will be swallowed by a black hole – that, according to Dr Brian Cox, is plain nonsense.

The LHC will be dealing with such small particles that the energy produced by the collisions would barely power a small light globe, but it may just reveal where all the universe’s energy actually comes from.

Here’s hoping anyhow – it’s great to see that there are still enough scientific visionaries to do big science. Good luck guys!


Hudspith steam bike

Posted by jerry on September 8th, 2008 — Posted in Journal, Steam, Technology

Geoff Hudspith has been developing this bike since the 1970s, and has been riding it at shows for years. But it is also a practical workhorse as well as a beautiful piece of home engineering

Hudspith steam bike

Seen here on Google video, the bike is seen being fired up and run – even taken on a ferry. This is no museum piece, but everyday transport. And it runs on steam.

The bike runs on 125 psi and burns kerosene. Performance is about 8mph sustained speed, 6 – 8mpg of water and about 60 – 70mpg of paraffin. The engine has run for 11 years – five years on the bike, and shows no sign of wearing out!