Ash Wednesday, which is a Bank holiday here. Isn't this just a brilliant country? Seemed rude to my hosts to be working on a Bank holiday, and was determined to get up to the Blue Mountains whilst I was here, so this was the day!
Picked up at 7.30am. by our driver Cleave and his daughter Abigail, age 5. Here's a picture of Abigail:
...and here's a picture Abigail took of me:
Have to say, "Ten green bottles" travels amazingly well!
The Blue Mountains are so called, apparently, because from a distance they look blue, although close up they don't. Not sure I've done justice to the beauty of them in the following pictures:
Missing my SLR, I have to say, in terms of control and looking through the viewfinder, but jolly nice being able to put the camera into my pocket!
Of course, the Blue Mountains are famous for what is supposed to be the best coffee in the world. This is what a coffee plant looks like in a pot:
and this is what they look like on the slopes:
I have a confession to make, though. I very much like filter coffee, and the aroma of Blue Mountain coffee is just amazing. However, in terms of taste, I'm equally happy with much cheaper coffees. Feel that I'm missing out here, except that I'm sufficiently miserable to be of the view that there's little point in spending time and effort acquiring a taste for a more expensive commodity when a cheaper one will do just as well.
What I haven't yet said (although you might have guessed from Abigail's picture of me) is that this was a bicycle tour. Slightly disconcerted when I saw the bicycle allocated to me:
With one front brake, and the back brake activated by pedalling backwards. The website of the company did make it clear that it was a downhill ride, and there was a distinct absence of statement along the lines of, "Only come if you run a minimum of three marathons a week". All in all, it should have been obvious, I suppose, that the main exercise I got was in the fingers of my left hand applying the brake more or less permanently: free wheeling felt very daring, and pedalling just a few times in a couple of hours. Once I acclimatised to what was happening, and that I wasn't going to get a whole lot of exercise, a very enjoyable way of experiencing the mountains.
Finished off with a swim in a waterfall:
Very strange effect, swimming into the waterfall and not getting anywhere. A jolly nice finish to a great day out, thank you Cleave, Abigail and colleagues!
P.S. just one more road sign today:
Cleave tells me that there's a sign, "Undertakers love overtakers" - if I see it I'll upload it.