Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Bowraville to Toormina

Forgot to close the window (there's always a screen to prevent the beasties getting in) and was kept awake by torrential rain and woken by the rooster. There's only two chooks left, as the rest have been taken by foxes - and goannas snack on all the eggs. Eileen told me about a woman she knows who was the first person to ride across the south of Australia on a horse. She did it to raise money for cancer, as her 18-year-old daughter had died from a melanoma. That explains why all children and many adults walk about with sunhats on, even when it's cloudy. Talking of which, it was cloudy, cool and a bit drizzly during an easy ride up the highway to Toormina. It was warmer in London goddamnit! Cycling news : nothing to report.

Nature news : a lot to report! How did the dead chicken cross the road? It was carried in small pieces by ants. When stopping in a forest for a typical lunch of chicken, mayonnaise and salad on wholemeal, I dropped a piece of said chicken; whereupon a wood ant tried to haul it away. The piece was maybe 50 times its weight, but it wouldn't give up, even though it could barely move it a millimetre. It seemed to be chewing at it in the hope a chunk would fall off. I put another, smaller bit beside it, and after stepping on it for a while (still battling with the larger bit) it turned its attentions to this other piece only ten times its weight. The ant dragged it in a dead straight line across the path (how on earth do they navigate?) until I lost it in undergrowth. Occasionally smaller, green, shiny ants would try to teal a piece, and every couple of feet (ie a mile for the ant) it would stop and clean its antenna with its front legs. I could watch ants all day and today my low mileage allowed for it.

In Toormina I hooked up with Warm Showers stalwarts Steve and Kerry, along with their son Dylan and dog... I'm sure it began with a T... no it's gone. Steve gave me the obligatory beach patrol in his van, and then we enjoyed a very tasty lasagne. Steve, a keen cyclist, builds and fixes his bikes (including welding) and takes part in mountain rides with a local group. He showed me his phone app, which records the route (including which side of the road he's on - when weaving up steep hills for example) and all kinds of stats, including highest altitude and graphs of speed and altitude. He is one of those very practical people, who will try his hand at anything, especially where saving money is involved. When his automatic car's reverse gear went kaput he fixed the gearbox, even though it took him 100 hours. Another time when he broke down in a creek, he went home, borrowed a marquee from the company he works for, erected it beside the vehicle (now hauled by tractor to a farmer's field) and worked on it for two days solid. Unfortunately he still couldn't fix it and had to have it towed home, where using the extensive tools in his garage, he got it running again. He also showed me the hammock he takes on cycling expeditions. I've never seen anything like it; it's a hammock/tent/sleeping bag in one; ie it's covered - and being off the ground there's less chance of getting wet in a downpour and most of the beasties are kept at bay. I say most, because of course the beasties will get you in the end...


  1. Clearly an Englishman who has lived in Scotland for a long time with the use of the word 'beasties' ;o) x

  2. I used it for your benefit. To me they're friends ;-)