Monday, 27 February 2012


This is a four-spined jewel spider and isn't he or she beautiful? The shape reminds me of the Millenium Falcon spaceship in Star Wars. I've been sating myself on such imagees today and can't wait to see all the beautiful insects and other beasties (although I won't get too close to the spiders). The biggest insect on the continent is a stick insect that can grow to 50 cm! The biggest butterfly has an 18 cm wingspan and a type of bird-eating spider can measure 16 cm. Today I learned that insects make up almost 90% of all living things on the planet and also that female mosquitoes like to urinate on us as they suck our blood. Tidbindilla Nature Reserve is one of the places Lucie plans to take me when I visit her in Canberra. Here I should see koalas, kangaroos, potaroos and wallaroos, possums, platypuses and possums, emus, echidnas and lyrebirds, all in a a natural setting. It could well be the one and only time I see any of these animals throughout my stay - apart from roadkill.

Looking at creatures put me in a good mood this morning; it was downhill from there. All the aforementioned animals might be washed away before I get there - and Canberra along with them. 114 mm of rain fell on parts of Victoria in the previous 24 hours. Compare that with the average total February rainfall of 50 mm. More is set to fall over the next few days and as much as 200 mm in the Capital Territories. Watch this space. I'll be interested to see if they moan about it and then I can call them whingeing Ozzies. Meanwhile it's forecast to reach 17 degrees in parts of Northern Scotland tomorrow... in February! 17 degrees would be practically a heatwave in July, let alone in February.

The other bad news relates to my bicycle. I had it returned to me today, after its service. It cost... I can't even bring myself to type the amount, but it was more than double what I expected. I'm so glad I will have extra rent money coming in because without it I'd be in trouble. Neil at the bike shop said it took him six hours and he's never spent that long on a service before. He worked on it mostly after the shop shut because he didn't want to be disturbed and finished at 10.30 pm last night. Just about everything was replaced. If all those bits that had been taken off were put together, the whole would be more my bicycle than the bicycle that I call my bicycle that grins at me from across my ambiently-lit bedroom. I suppose the frame is still the one from the original bike. So, it was cleaned very, very thoroughly, and this being Scotland it was caked in a lot of mud and grease - six years' worth in some hard-to-reach nooks and crannies. Ross, who brought it to my door, said I should give the tyres a wipe before I put it in the box! That's an end to my training. I better not ride it before the flight - I've barely used it in the last week as it is.

Another succinct Google Maps hotel review to finish. Bronwyn says of the Wee Jasper Station :

"Locals are... intresting." (sic)

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