Categories
Life Travel

There’s nothing quite like a good spelunking on Christmas Eve

Seasons Greetings

Merry Christmas everyone. I hope you have a fantastic holiday and manage to spend your time with loved ones.

May the New Year bring you bigger and better things.

Spelunking

Yesterday I went spelunking with Gordon, Nani and Dinko. We went to the caves at Kalk Bay, and ended up doing Ronan’s Well, exiting at Robin Hood Cavern.

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Gordon, Myself, Dinko and Nani preparing to get into small spaces

This is the second time I have been caving, and it was far more pleasant than the first time. I can’t figure out why, as we had just as many tight spots, and they were between rock, and not rock and sand. Perhaps it was due to me knowing what to expect, and also knowing that it would take a lot for us to have as big an epic as Dinko had when they got lost in Ronan’s Well and ran out of torch power.

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A Dinko wedgie

As far as the experience goes, there were quite a few cruxes on the Ronan’s Well side. I did manage to get my hips stuck often, and I recall being in one position for about 10 minutes very slowly edging millimeter by millimeter through and resting every so often.

The technique I used for these passages was the classic ‘Superman’ technique, where you have one arm extended forward, and one behind. Apparently the crux here is to not bend your front arm’s elbow!!

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Stuck hips, Superman style

I found that because I have unstable shoulders, they popped a couple of times. Since the adrenaline was pumping, I didn’t feel the pain that I should have. Perhaps this is not the sport for me, but then again, neither are climbing or squash good for my shoulder.

The other annoyance was wearing a single piece overall. This further restricted my arm movement, but in certain places, it helped me use my arms to pull my hips and legs forward.

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Hug that wall Nani

Our slight (almost) epic was not being able to find the exit, despite passing people who entered through it!! This turned out to be fun though, as we ended up doing more exploring than we planned to. Many dead ends were encountered where the rocks looked unstable, and it was rather damp.

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Gordon, on a good day

Ponta Malongane

In November, Gordon, Liza and I decided to take a week off and go diving in Mozambique. Well, actually, we had been planning this for quite a while.

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Gordon, hanging around

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Myself and Liza

We flew up to Johannesburg, where Liza’s sister kindly lent us her car for the week. We drove to the Kozi Bay border post, where we parked the car. The resort picked us up and deposited us at our accommodation.

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Nemo’s, or Clown fish

All in all, we spent each day, apart from the first doing at least one dive, but normally two. I did 7 dives in total, with two of them at advanced sites. The resort is absolutely fantastic for diving. They are very well kitted out as far as facilities go and run the dive camp well.

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Emperor fish

The diving was awesome. Definitely the best diving I’ve ever had. The memorable things that we saw were Sting rays, Morey eels, Potato bass, Turtle, Angel Fish, Clown Fish, Emperor Fish…

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Random other stuff

Other things that I should have blogged about, but didn’t here, here and here.

Categories
Travel

South England

Since I was able to come to the UK, mum, dad and Anita all took a week off, so that we could go away, and have a nice family holiday. They planned a week away in a town called Torbay, which is on the coast, in Devon.

Torbay

The Torbay area, is know as the English Rivera. It is very definitely a sailing town, and is rather quaint. We explored the harbour, walked along the pier, and did the fish and chips thing :), which is a must in places like this. There was also a market there on Sunday, which added to the festivity of the place.

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Torbay from the upstairs balcony

Apart from taking it easy on some of the days, we also ventured out a bit. On our way there, we visited Stonehenge. Spent a day travelling to Cornwall to see the Eden Project. We also saw a couple castles; Dartmouth castle and Berry Pomeroy castle.

Stonehenge

Yay, Stonehenge is one of those places that I’ve always wanted to see. People tell you that its origins are a mystery, and this seemed to further make me want to visit it. I had the feeling that if I went there, I’d figure out why it was there. Nope, it’s still a mystery. They had a nice audio guide which really made the visit that much more interesting, as you were explained the history and everything that they have managed to piece together about it so far. Audio guides rock!!

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Stonehenge

Eden Project

The Eden Project, in Cornwall, is an impressive display of biodiversity, and has plants from dry – arid regions to humid tropical regions, and focuses on plants which are important to human society, and sustainability. The entire display was great. There were loads of interesting things to learn. From English folk lore about what certain plants can do for you to how plants are used as crops, or for potential future wide scale uses (eg. Hemp).

What was really awesome was that the tropical section had so many plants that we used to grow in Triangle. It was a nice walk down memory lane.

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The Eden Project

Dartmouth castle

This was one of the three castles that English Heritage manage. We decided to see it since it was closeish. This castle was a bit disappointing in that it was only built for a military purpose. It was used to defend the river mouth from attack during the various wars that England have been involved in. What was rather amazing tho, was that one of the things that the castle did for defense was hoist a cable across the mouth of the river to trap boats entering. They would then attack them with the cannons. Ingenious.

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Dartmouth – the mouth of the river Dart

Berry Pomeroy castle

Definitely the best site that we saw. This is a castle that was originally built by the Pomeroy family, and then sold to the Seymours. Very little of the original castle remains, because it was mostly rebuilt, and further extended by the Seymours. It was destroyed in the late 1700’s by a fire, and never rebuilt. What I really enjoyed about this visit was the architecture, and how grand and luxurious this place must have been. Oh, it is also reputedly the most haunted castle in Britain.

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Anita at the Berry Pomeroy castle

Categories
Travel

Holiday in the UK

As mentioned previously, I have taken three to four weeks off in lieu of not having a proper break since I went to the Orange river. Also, I haven’t seen my family since January. I managed to finish a first draft of my proposal, and got to my supervisors about 2 hours before I left for the airport. Am very happy with it so far, and am trying not to think about the changes that I may have to make when I get back.

Of airports and stuff

I flew Lufthansa, and had a very good flight. The only problem with the trip was that I went via Frankfurt. Now Frankfurt is a good airport, however, since the London bombings, it seems as though all flights to the UK have to go through more security procedures. As a result, I decided to go to my gate as planned, about an hour before the flight left. I entered the gate, and went through the security check, and sat down, and continued reading my book. I then heard over the loud speaker that due to the delay in the previous flight, our flight was departing from a different gate. So after managing to find the new gate, I found a sea of people clamouring to get through the security. Now, this was about 45 mins before the boarding time.

What they did not take into consideration with this gate change, is that they also had to screen everyone else again for the other flights leaving from the adjacent gates. After about an hour standing in line, I finally made it through. This was even after the security people, after looking at my ticket said that I will miss my flight. I found comments like these very unprofessional, and they further agitated people in the queues. They also only opened a single security station, whilst there were enough security people hanging around to man two security stations. The plane left slightly delayed, and landed early. The muppets of this post: Frankfurt Airport Security.

Categories
Conference Travel

My adventures down under

The purpose for this trip was to present a paper at the Centenary of Flotation Symposium. It is my first publication. Of course, since the conference was conveniently located in Brisbane, there were many hidden agenda’s too…

I arrived in Brisbane on the evening of Thursday, 2nd of June. It still astounds me as to how I could lose a day in the travel, given that I left in the morning on the 1st of June. I was picked up at the airport by Thakor fua. It was really awesome how it immediately seemed that I had just been in Brisbane a couple of months ago, where in reality it was more like two and a half years.

I immediately made plans to go scuba diving on Saturday with Jenny, who is a work colleague. All I can say, is that it was an experience. That is, neither good, nor bad, and I just classify it as an experience.

As my first boat dive, I was not used to the whole get in a boat thing. It consisted of sitting on the side of a boat, holding onto a rope for an hour and a bit, with cold wind and the occasional splash of water, whilst only wearing a wet suit. Luckily the bay is quite sheltered, however when we left the bay, it got really choppy, and there were many waves.

When we eventually reached the reef, we diverted from our deep dive to the shallow dive, as it was raining, and conditions didn’t look too good. The skipper, who incidentally is South African made the decision that we would only do that dive if the weather cleared up, which fortunately it did after the first dive.

The actual dives were not as scenic as my dives here in Cape Town. The reefs seemed rather bare, and very dead. Maybe it’s a seasonal thing. The fish life, however was awesome. We saw some blow fish, many other colourful tropical fish, and what appeared to be similar to puffadder lazy shark (?). They had a weird name for it which I can’t possibly remember.

The shallow dive was down to about 13m, and the deep dive was down to 28m. I definitely felt some nitrogen narcosis a bit, however it was not pleasant, as has been described to me, I felt very paranoid. This paranoia may have had something to do with the fact that we dived in a very strong current – If it was wind, I’d describe it as gail force – where we had to descend holding onto the anchor line of the boat. The 5 minute 5 meter decompression safety stop was very not pleasant. I am thankful for my diving gloves!!

The return trip was even worse than the boat ride out. I really shouldn’t have had the soup in between the dives. Had a throbbing headache from the combination between diesel fumes and the deep dive. We had a pleasant stop along a sand bank on the way back, where I was thankful for ground. I made a less than elegant exit off the boat though.

On return from the dive, I felt shattered, and I have vague memories of Nisha trying to stir me up, and me falling asleep halfway through her efforts.

I was dropped off at my hotel, where I collapsed into my bed, only to wake up in the morning to the pleasant realisation that it was the best hotel room I have ever stayed in!! It even had a TV in the bathroom.

The conference and work side of the trip went really well. Needless to say that I was visibly nervous when I presented my paper. That’s all I’ll say about that.

The conference gave me an awesome perspective of Brisbane as a city. My hotel was about a 20 minute walk from the conference venue, which was rather pleasant. The awesome thing about my Hotel’s location was that it was right on the river, opposite Kangaroo point. Runs and walks in the mornings and evenings were stunning.

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Steve, Nick and Katherine

On the Friday of the following week, I decided to go down to the Gold Coast with Steve, Nick and Kath from UMIST. This was great, coz even though it rained that afternoon, we swam. I realised that I had not swam in the sea, for swimming sake (ie. not scuba), for over a year, even though I live in Cape Town.

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Myself, Aniel and Nisha

Luckily the weekend was a long weekend. Again I spent this at foi’s. Did some visiting to Ansoo bhen’s and Smita’s. Took it easy on Monday, and left to visit the JKMRC on Tuesday. That evening I visited Tara masi and family. It was great to see everyone again. Yet again, it felt like i had just been away for a couple of months.

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Mithun, myself, Mikesh and Aarash

I was rather sad to leave Brisbane, however I did feel a bit meetinged out. It was a great trip, and I look forward to visiting there again.

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Nisha should not be allowed near a camera