Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Drum Tao- I want to be a Japanese drummer

On Friday night Jason and I went to a performance of Drum Tao at the Perth Concert Hall. We were treated to an amazing performance: from powerful drumming, to athleticism, to to simulated fight scenes, to playful drumming all of this interspersed with soulful flute work.

The drummers are incredibly strong, graceful and skilled. Some of the drummers look like the aren't moving their body at all (including their forearms) yet the drumming is going a hundred (or more) beats a minute!! At times I was totally spellbound and others I was tapping my feet along with the rhythm. One set of drums was so deep and strong that I felt it in my heart during the performance.

Unfortunately no cameras were allowed so no photos for you. I am also struggling to explain how fantastic the show was. So here is a link to where you can see some promotional clips on Drum Tao.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A day in New Norcia

This weekend just been Jason and I decided to head out of town. We headed north east and found ourselves in New Norcia. New Norcia is about a 2 hour drive from Perth and is a little piece of Spain that emerges from the Australian bush. New Norcia is home to the Benedictine Monastery (founded in 1847) and is still home to a community of monks living a simple life of prayer and work within the monastery. The town's motto is Pax, see below:
The town of New Norcia has buildings in a Spanish style of architecture, along with some other historical sites. Among these are the two old Boarding Schools, St Ildephonsus' and St Gertrude's (both now used for accommodation and various social functions), the Abbey Church, an old mill, a wine press, a hotel, and the monastery itself. Below is some of the architecture found at New you can see we had a beautiful clear day, albeit a little cool for Western Australian standards, we only got to about 17 degrees...from top left going clockwise: the monastery (first two photos), St Ildephonsus (Boys Boarding School), the Abbey Church (*2), St Gertrudes (the girls Boarding School), and the Abbey Church again.
We started the day with a visit to the art gallery and the museum, which is housed in the Old Convent. This is where the nuns lived and looked after the Aboriginal orphans. Unfortunately no photos allowed from this section of the visit. We bought some New Norcia bread (wholemeal and fruit) and some macadamia and almond panforte. We should have bought some of the local olive oil as well. As an aside, the last Spanish Benedictine monk of New Norcia died in January 2010, aged 99. He continued to prepare the bread for the monks and olive oil almost upon his death.

Following this we headed out on a guided tour of the town, firstly visiting the Monastery Chapel and the Abbey Church. The Monks prey 6 times a day as well as holding a daily Mass. The prayer times are: 5.15, 6.45, 12pm, 2.30, 6.30 and 8.15. Following the 8.15 mass the Monks descend into silence until 8.30 am the following day.

The Abbey Church was home to a unique depiction of the stations of the cross (as well as other pictures). These were etched into the stone walls. Check out the purely Australian nativity scene in the bottom left- grass trees, a kangaroo, the stars from the Australian flag and the Aboriginal.
The public is free to walk around the village, but by taking the tour we got to see inside some of the buildings not actually open to walk ins. See below for some of the stunning architecture and beautifully frescoed interiors.
At the end of the tour we wandered up to the New Norcia Hotel for lunch. I had a salad of Honey roasted butternut pumpkin, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and baby spinach leaves drizzled with a honey, mustard and lemon dressing. Jason had a beef burger and fries and also enjoyed some of the Monk's own specially brewed Abbey Ale. A good end to a good day.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A little bit of homesickness

So yesterday Jason and I went round to a friends place and watched the All Blacks vs Wales Rugby game. As the All Blacks ran out through the tunnel I had this overwhelming sense of homesickness. This led me to think about the things that I really miss about New Zealand, and in particular Wellington.

Firstly, I find Wellington to be a stunningly beautiful place. Check this out:It has huge contrasts. Its not a place everyone wants to live due to the weather, but that was what I loved about it. Wellington taught me to be thankful for the good things- a core saying of Wellingtonians is "you can't beat Wellington on a good day" and its true, on a good day Wellington is superb. In Wellington you had to make the most of the good days as sometimes they were few and far between. In saying that it was the character of Wellington that I loved, the forcefulness of the weather, and the uncertainty over what each day might bring. Check out the waves at Lyall Bay during a Southerly storm. Another advantage of Wellington's weather is that the wind, the hills and the cold made me a very strong athlete. I was happy in the knowledge that during a race I would not be faced with anything worse than what Wellington dished out on a regular basis. This held me in good stead for a number of races, in particular the 2008 World Champs in Vancouver where we experienced 11 degree water temperature with lots of chop... just like Wellington Harbour really.

One of the biggest things that I miss from Wellington is our house, the glorious deck on a summers day, the wood burner in the winter. I miss the view from our house over some of my favourite running areas: Otari Wilton Bush, Karori Cemetery, Johnstons Peak, Makara Peak, Wrights Hill, the Wind Turbine and the Radar Ball. I miss waking up to the alternating sounds of the tuis and sounds of Sunday morning rubgy wafting up from Ian Galloway Park. I miss pottering in the garden at the end of a hard training day. I miss the privacy that we had from being set in the bush. I just miss having a place that's ours. I think that a first home will always be special and 100 Pembroke Rd was special.
WA has some beautiful white sand beaches but I miss the sheer ruggedness of Makara Beach and the South Coast. I loved running anywhere around this area and some of my fondest running memories are of night time runs up the tip track and back via Red Rocks. Mind you the night running means that you miss out on the stunning views. Jason and I often went walking out at Makara when we were short of something to do and Makara was the scene of my first ever foray into photography.
I said earlier that you can't beat Wellington on a good day and photo below is one of them. Check out Wellington's harbour. This photo was taken from Jason's office on a cell phone, so doesn't really do the harbour justice at all... but how beautiful is this.
I have spent many hours on and in this harbour, from canoe polo training, to swimming to a few sailing trips. I also lived on Oriental Parade pretty much just behind the fountain in this photo. I have so many great memories of Wellington Harbour and I miss the camaraderie of meeting my training buddies at Freyberg pool.

I consider Wellington to be my home town although I only lived there following University. I have fantastic memories of all of Wellington- From my first apartment on Vivien St with 5 girls and 1 boy to living on Oriental Parade in a massive 5 bedroom house to a cute 3 bedroom house in Normanby St, Newtown. Following this I lived with Jason's parents and then Jason and I moved to Tawa. Finally, after a 2 year stint in Tawa we bought our own house in Northland.

To me Wellington means a place of beauty, a place of character and passion, a place that helped shaped me into the person that I am today. Wellington is rugged and not everyone understands it. I have cycled and run over much of Wellington and know it inside out. So as I sit here with tears running down my face I think I'll leave my post at this, because I just miss it all so much. Thanks for letting me ramble and post my musings about a place very dear to my heart.

My next post will focus on the things I love about Perth and will contrast Wellington and Perth.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Reigniting the love for Bikram Yoga

Bikram Yoga, commonly known as hot yoga is a system of yoga that was developed from traditional yoga techniques . Bikram's Beginning Yoga Class runs approximately 90 minutes, incorporates a series of 26 postures and 2 breathing exercises, and is practiced in a room heated to 40 - 42°C.

Bikram yoga aims toward general wellness and claims the heated studio facilitates deeper stretching, injury prevention, and stress and tension relief. Bikram yoga is claimed to systematically stimulate and restore health to every muscle, joint, and organ of the body.

I used to do bikram back in wellington but its been 2 years since I last practiced a class. Perth is sometimes in the 40s outside and I haven't been that keen to do hot yoga to date. However, this evening I was talked into doing a class in the newly opened Scarborough Beach studio. I REALLY enjoyed it but it made me realise how weak my body has got over the last two months without proper training. Time to get back on track I think!!!

Here are the 26 poses practiced in Bikram...I am good at poses 3, 4, 20 and 25. I really need to work on poses 8, 22 and 24. The rest I am ok at.

Now, rather than going into a long spiel about my experience with Bikram, I'm going to list a few first-hand pointers for those of you who are curious and may be interested in exploring Bikram.

1. Bikram is HOT. I mean really hot. As soon as you open the door to the studio, your face will slam into a wall of hot air. Get to the studio early so your body can adjust to the temperature.

2. You SWEAT a whole lot. Be prepared to sweat a lot. Bikram says that you shouldn't wipe it away either, you need to be disciplined to let the sweat keep dripping.

3. Bikram STINKS. Bikram requires that all studios use carpeting - no wood flooring. Why? Because it's the only flooring approved by Bikram... and because they're crazy. Sweat soaks into the carpet and the smell builds over time. The studio I visited tonight was brand new, so it did not smell.

4. HYDRATION. Drink lots of water before and after your session, but not during. Too much water during upsets your stomach and makes the remainder of the class uncomfortable.

5. Bring a LARGE TOWEL. Lay the towel over your yoga mat, aligning the top of the towel with the top of your mat. This is so it catches your marvelous yoga sweat.

6. Wear VERY LITTLE CLOTHING. Clothes get in the way with Bikram. No large shirts or long pants. They'll be a soaking mess five minutes in. Keep it light.

7. DO NOT EAT for a couple of hours before class. At least nothing heavy. You'll be twisting, turning and flexing those stomach muscles. If you're storing too much food in there, it may want to make an exit.

8. TAKE A BREAK when needed. Seriously, if at any moment you feel dizzy, faint, weak or like you're about to hurl, just sit down on your mat.

9. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. After you're done, relax. Take it slow. Drink a lot of water. Take a shower. Eat something. Go to bed. Sleep.

After today's session, I felt completely wiped out. I also felt like I have removed a layer of residue and toxins from my body. Time for me to start looking after myself a little more again, I miss being really fit and strong.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Searching for a little soul...

So the hunt for a second car is on it our household at the moment. We have been needing a second vehicle for a while now and its going to be "Jason's" car. So instead of the nice sensible small economical car that I had in mind to supplement the 4 wheel drive Jason is now in search of something a little less sensible. He wants a car with character, a car with some soul... a car that sings to him as he drives it. Call me a girl, but I just don't really get it...

So if Jason had his ultimate non-sensible car it would be the 1969 GT500 Mustang Fastback... shown below:However, the budget doesn't stretch this far quite yet, so Jason has decided he would like to buy the car that he learnt to drive in (only slightly better). So he is after a 1983 VH Holden Commodore, but with a V8 in it. Luckily enough for Jason Holdens aren't too hard to come by in Australia so for the last 3 weeks I have had regular emails from Jason with links to potential cars for me to comment on. I think so farI have said "that's a nice colour" a few times, haha. Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the search for the car with soul as it progresses.