A lifetime of crippling debt

Holly and I have decided to enter into a lifetime of debt. That's right, we're planning to enter the Sydney housing market. Eek! Scary shit eh?

Now we, too, can bore everyone by talking about real estate. We've evidently settled into the Sydney lifestyle.

Any hints and tips would be appreciated. Spare change too.

Shiny new bike

Giant CRX City Pro

Note: one year on, I've blogged about my experiences with this bike.

I just picked up my shiny new bike. It's a Giant CRX City Pro which features Shimano Nexus internal eight speed hub, carbon fibre front fork and seat post. It's incredibly light, certainly the lightest I've ever ridden. The only thing I'd really liked to have changed was the grip gear shift. I much prefer rapid-fire but it'd add $200 to the cost to change it out. Hopefully by the time it comes to replace it, the price will have come down.

The "Pro" variant here means you get the carbon fibre components, mud guards and rack included.

Riding home from Woolys Wheels in Paddington I really enjoyed this bike's zippiness. The frame is pretty aggressive, which suits my city riding style. The hub gears are a dream, thought he lowest gear definitely isn't low enough for touring. I really like the fact you can change gears while stopped at the lights, though it's gonna take me a while to get out of the habit of shifting down as I approach lights.

Next bike-related job will be to restore the Cannondale I had been riding, so I'll have a bike with appropriate gearing for touring.

Happiness is a firm mattress

Holly and I ordered a new mattress for our bed last weekend. We've not been sleeping well for a month or two now, due to the crappy, saggy old mattress. The new one arrived on Saturday and it's amazing. We've slept like babies the last two nights, and both of us feel a whole lot more alert.

Quite amazing the impact of a mattress eh? Maybe we're getting old...

Need a new bike

Just got a call from David at Cheeky who's been working on my bike. The spokes on both wheels were very loose, and the wheels were pretty badly out. The first spoke he touched broke off at the nipple, so it's gonna need a complete rebuild.

This brings up the point that the bike is a hand-me-down and there's a few things that need doing. The drive train is well on the way out, and it's gonna need replacing within a few months at best. It's too warn to swap out individual components so it's gonna be new crankset, rear cluster and chain. Expensive. I bet the rims on the wheels probably aren't in great nick either, as this bike has seen some big distances.

So I think I may be better off buying a shiny new bike. Much as I like the idea, I've been quite enjoying the ride this frame provides. The shape means the bike just wants to zip along. Thing is, it's pretty old and heavy, so I really probably should buy a new one.

I've been fantasizing about my ultimate commuting bike for some time now. It would have a hub dynamo driving LED lights front and rear, hub gears and a chain cover. Now's the time to see if such a beastie is viable.

Any such bike will also need to be workable as a touring bike, so it can't weigh a ton, needs to perform well in a range of gear ranges and have strong

This big problem is, with such a specialised bike it'll probably take a bit to work out what to get. In the meantime, what am I gonna ride?

Any suggestions on bikes and components? I'm not one of these bike nerds who can rattle off Shimano's latest catalogue. That's something I've always left to good mechanics.

Free beer!

I'm subscribed to the Malt Shovel Brewery's (of James Squire fame) email newsletter. The latest one had what I thought was a pretty condescending comment for something sent to self-identified beer lovers.

Now don't be scared. Yes it is a dark beer. Okay, you've never been fond of dark beers. But our James Squire Porter isn't that intimidating.

Now I know the average Australian beer drinker would find a dark beer intimidating. But then the average Australian beer drinking would find a case costing more than $40 intimidating. The people these marketroids are talking to have already pointed themselves out as adventurous beer drinkers, so why talk down to them?

Anyway, I emailed them my thoughts and got this reply:

Thanks for your email. Our apologies if you found part of our April Newsletter patronising. We can understand how beer lovers could have taken those comments in that way. Our newsletter is certainly subscribed to by beer lovers, however we also have a number of members who are new to craft beer and might not have been introduced to the full range of flavoursome James Squire beers. Our intention was to encourage them (as well as beer lovers) to enjoy Porter as winter approaches.

We appreciate your feedback and would like to send you a carton of James Squire Porter. Please let us know the address where you would like us to send it (will be a weekday courier delivery).

Free beer! Can't beat that. And we just finished the last of our case of wonderful Hop Thief too.

I'll have to complain more. I'm sure you, gentle reader, would know that's quite difficult for me ;)

A Winter after two Summers

Last night I actually got a little chilly at the pub. We haven't had a Winter since we left the UK in April last year. Two Summers in a row was pretty luxurious, but we're actually looking forward to a bit of a cold spell. Cold weather cooking will be a lot of fun after all these barbecues and salads.

That said, my memory of Winters in Sydney is that you get much colder because there's no heating. Everyone lives in this airy, floorboarded houses that don't close up and don't have central heating. We'll be spending the four bitterest weeks huddled under doonas with a crappy electric heater costing us a fortune.

But I can look forward to casseroles, stews and soups. I made the first casserole recently on a chilly Sunday and it turned out brilliantly.

How useful!

A job ad from realstate.com.au led me to their site, where you have to register to apply for a job. It helpfully tells you this:

I can guarantee you, my password isn't made up of asterisks.

Further hunting around I find this one which helpfully tells you:
The Web PM has a large accountability relating to project management and ensuring all stakeholders engage into the development and maintenance process correctly to ensure quality deliveries.

I think what they mean is that you must speak project manager bullshit and applications in plain English will not be considered. Damn!

Beach and beer

We had a great weekend up the coast at my parents' holiday house. We drove off on Friday night and watched a film when we arrived. Saturday morning we slept in, had a lazy breakfast reading the paper. Then a really nice swim down at Avoca. The water temperature is brilliant at the moment.

The bottle shop in Wamberal has an excellent range of new boutique beers. We bought a case of Red Emperor which is a really tasty red ale contract-brewed for a Mittagong label in Mildura. Really spectacular was the Hunter Bock from Hunter Beer Co. Delicious and malty, it comes in a champagne bottle which brings a bit of drama with it. I'll keep an eye out for their Witbier.

Saturday night we spent with Ben and Kaz who cooked us a lovely dinner and then we played Settlers well into the wee hours. In the morning they cooked for us again, a lovely brekkie! We owe them a few meals now.

Then Sunday we drove down to Putty Beach and had another surf. Lovely conditions and a beautiful, warm weekend. Weather should start getting colder soon, so it might be one of the last swims we get in.

In other beer news, I'm doing a woodwork course on Tuesday nights. My project is to make a box that keeps my beer at the appropriate temperatures. It's basically a big box to put the fermenter in, which will be lined with some kind of insulating material and will have a Peltier device and fan to keep things cool. My problem isn't that it's too cold, it's way too hot in our house to brew. The beauty of a peltier is that by reversing the polarity I can heat if that becomes necessary over the winter.