Monthly Archives: December 2008

100: Oatmeal stout

5kg Maris Otter
450g Flaked oats
340g CaraHell
340g Chocolate malt (1000 EBC)
160g Crystal 60L
100g Crystal 40L
230g Roasted barly

Mash for 60 min @ 68°C

70g East Kent Goldings for 60 min.

WLP013 White Labs London Ale
OG: 1.061 (15,0 brix)
FG: 1.013 (7,9 brix)
6,4% ABV

Bottled January 24, with 100g dextrose

New Zealand – South Island (part 2) and Sydney

The last post about New Zealand ended with great expectations about the quad-biking trip. They all came true and it was even better. I did not fall off, although I did get stuck halfway up a steep incline and nearly summersaulted backwards, but that was the worst bit. Driving through the mud pools was even better, even though I got stuck in one of the largest ones when the rear wheels completely lost traction and spun me off sideways into the fence. Wellington boots are not only good for keeping water out, but also to keep water in, that I can tell you.

Leaving Queenstown and over 2,5 weeks of travelling through New Zealand, some sort of travel weariness started to set in and we felt like we had finished with New Zealand. Quite the opposite was true, of course, and we still had several days left along the east coast of the south island. We drove to Oamaru leaving the mountains behind and entering more flat farmland. You have probably already guessed that a bit of grassland with few sheep and cows did not impress these dutch countryguys. The biggest tourist highlight along the way, the Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony, which I wrote about earlier, did not help much to that feeling. Seeing Elvis later that night in the pub (actually, two of them), not sure how that helped.

After Oamaru, only Christchurch was left on the menu before flying out to Sydney. We did a short walk around town at night and were lucky not to get stuck in traffic as Santa was arriving in a park downtown that evening. The last full day in New Zealand, I was overdosed on all things touristy so I decided to stay in the hotel room and do some geeky stuff (see earlier post) working on download statistics of FreeBSD installation discs. Then it was up early morning to check in at 5am for our flight to Sydney.

I have been to Sydney once before, but then ended up having to call Qantas and ask for a plane out ASAP. This had much to do with the fact that we were unlucky enough to hit the same weekend as the rugby finals, and we were forced to move hotel two days in a row and couldn’t even find a room under AU$500 for the last night we had planned there.

This time was better. Much better. Having to get up at 4am (2am Sydney time) and arriving at 9am right in the middle of peak hour, did have some logistical difficulties. It turned out that CityRail was very capable of dropping us off at Artarmon station with only one change at Central without any trouble, and also the next few days they got us to where we wanted quickly, though at a price. So big props to them. Working public transport is a must in such a big city. Fin collected us from the train station and we could slowly start to wake up and get used to the idea of being in Australia and no longer in New Zealand over a cup of coffee. Even though Artarmon is only a few kilometers north of the city center, if does have a suburbian feel about it. A large green park starts right at the center of Artarmon and goes all the way to the sea, which turned out to be a surprisingly nice stroll after lunch completely without feeling as close to the famous bridge and opera house as we actually were.

Shu had taken a day off on Tuesday, and the 5 of use went for a trip to the Blue Mountains. After a few hours in a car, we stopped for a walk around a little lake to stretch our legs. After lunch, it was on to the famous Three Sisters and a stiff hike to a few of the wonderful waterfalls in the area.

Wednesday, Fin and me did all the must-do tourist things in Sydney. Starting on the north side, we walked across the bridge, via the opera house and botanical gardens, back into the city for lunch in an ants nest, or was it an underground food court in the middle of the financial district? Quite a nice walk, although you keep having the feeling that the pictures on the postcards are better than the ones you can take yourself. Somehow we ended up outside a microbrewery with pretty decent beer, but unwilling to serve us food, as our table was only for drinking and no eating, and there were no other tables available. Luckily, there were several other places near that were quite happy to make some money by giving us food.

Already the last day in Sydney, and of this trip. I used it for sleeping in and meeting up with Fin a bit later in the day. We took a ferry to Manly, north of the city on the coast. From the harbour we walked to the beach and followed it east into a nature reserve with some very scenic viewpoints and WWII anti-aircraft remains. We had to rush back to catch the ferry back to meet up with Edwin Groothuis, a fellow FreeBSD developer and my mentor when I joined the project many summers ago. We discussed the general state of the world over several dishes in Chinatown.

That was that. Coffee and lunch with Fin on Friday morning and all that was left was 30-some hours of flying and waiting to get back home. Home was still where I left it almost 4 weeks ago, although a lot colder. The snow that people tell me was here has already gone. Tomorrow it’s back to work and I’ll find out what has changed there. Thank you New Zealand and Australia, until we meet again!

Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony

It’s been a few weeks but I’m still pretty miffed about the whole experience. I’ve seen tourist traps as bad as they come, but this topped it all. A tourist trap all in the name of conservation.

The Oamaru Blue Penguin Colony in Oamaru, on the east coast of the New Zealand south island, is a zoo except that they don’t have to feed the animals but let them fight for themselves in the ocean. Like other conservation efforts, e.g. gorillas in the Virunga mountain range on the borders of Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo, tourist money is used as income for conservation of the animals. Unlike the gorillas, this is not done with minimal impact to the animals and their environment. You will not find a 350 seat grandstand and a parking lot few meters from the gorillas, but you’ll have to track up the mountains for several hours. The gorillas do not sleep in nicely built nesting boxes. The gorillas are saved by conserving the habitat they are living in and, for the most part, by keeping humans away from them. In the ugandan part of the Virungas, only 5 gorilla groups are habituated to humans, 3 for tourists and 2 for research, and all the others are left alone to do what gorillas do. Hopefully the war in the DRC will soon subside so they can take up their conservation activites again.

Maybe it’s just me that has become spoilt by experience like the Virunga gorillas in Uganda and Kruger National Park in South Africa, but sitting on a grandstand with busses offloading tourists out back is not my way to get income out of tourists for conservation. I especially took exception to all the pains they went through to tell visitors not to take pictures or mobile phones around the penguins to not disturb them. What would happen to the penguins when they get disturbed? In the short run, they would jump back into the sea and maybe come back later, or maybe not come back later and leave their young hungry, which might even starve. In the long run, they will probably find a different spot to nest. Would this be bad for the penguins? Probably the contrary. The current location is right next to the harbour and only about 1km from the city, with the usual consequences, so they might be better of somewhere further away. Would this be bad for the visitors center? Devastating.

Maybe it was just the window dressing of the visitors center, the tour busses driving off and on, the bandstand, and whatnot. Maybe it was me being too tired and in a bad mood that day. To me, this had the look and feel of a commercial enterprise, not of a serious conservation effort. I for one certainly enjoyed myself more in the warmth of the pub instead of sitting on a cold bench for several hours between a few hundred other tourists. If you’re in the area, go check it out for yourself, but be warned.

Page 56

The game is simple:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open it to page 56.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
  5. Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

My result:

The town turned out to be an enormous distance from the airport, probably at the insistence of the taxi-drivers.

Douglas Adams and Mark Carwardine – Last chance to see. A book that was in my suitcase just beside the bed with my laptop on it and which I’ve been rereading as Mark is redoing the same trip together with Stephen Fry. Sorry, it was actually the second closest book as the book underneath my laptop, there to keep it off the sheets and keep it cool, had a picture on page 56.