Monday, May 23, 2005

Sydney to Singapore

It was an early start to get from Umina to Sydney airport but traffic is very light that time of the morning so made it without problems. The Qantas flight to Adelaide was uneventful. Turned out that the father of the guy I was sitting next to owned a property in Milton. It has been a long time sinc I had flown Qantas. We had a nice breakfast and the service was excellent.
I had a few hours to fill in in Adelaide so walked to the international airport from the domestic. A bad move! It was a lot longer than I expected plus it is a major construction zone.
The Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore was great. I had been upgraded to first class on a brand new Boeing 777-200. There were very few passengers on board and the service was exceptional. Food and wine were as good as any good restaurant. The flat bed seats would also be an advantage on the next flight. I arrived in Singapore early and made it through immigration and customs in record time. My ex business collegue was there to meet me and we headed into town for a meal. He took me to a very nice cafe that served traditional Singaporean fare. It was a combination of seafood and chicken with nose running chilli all washed down with excellent Tiger beer. We then moved on to a bar where a friend of his was singing and consumed a few more Tigers. Then it was back to the airport to catch my 1 am flight to Rome. There is no doubt that Changi Airport is one of the best in the world, spacious and efficient with lots to do and see while waiting.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Nature Shows It's the Boss

On Friday afternoon, about 3pm, we experienced an extremely violent hail storm. The winds were swirling like a tornado with a noise as loud as a jumbo jet. The house was shaking as it was battered by wind, hail and eventually rain. It all lasted about 20 minutes but seemed longer. It is probably the worst storm I have ever been through in this area.
We only got a minute's warning via the radio so it was too late then to get much under cover.
What a mess! There is hardly a leaf left on any tree. Lots of trees as well as branches are down. The water tanks have had holes punched in them. Hail stones were still around hours after. It looked like snow in the paddocks. Some were as big as cricket balls with the average golf ball size. The cows and calves were ok, just a few small cuts and a little traumatised. My neighbor's horses were ok too. However, they have had all their skylights in the house broken and their beautiful garden is ruined. Another neighbour turned up to check out that we were ok. His car looked like someone had gone over it with a hammer.
Then we got fogged in with a real pea-souper so it was impossible to find out what other damage had been done to the property. I had water in the house through the ceiling as the gutters and downpipes filled with hail and the run off backed up so was busy mopping up most of the evening. I have the fans going so hopefully it will all dry before I leave for overseas as I don't want things going mouldy! I can be thankful that no windows were broken.
There was no damage to the car which was under cover in the car port. But it still had hailstones on the roof blown in by the wind.
All my new vines have been stripped and tree branches are down all over them. Many have been badly damaged. In fact you could say that they have been trashed! I think I will have to consider starting all over again next spring. This means cutting back to two buds and beginning the training procedure all over. The trellis has also been damaged and the electric fence is squashed. All very depresssing.
There was considerable damage in Ulladulla with windows smashed and cars written off.
I did a property boundary tour on Saturday morning. There were many trees down, some very big. A lot had been completely uprooted, others snapped off at the top. A few had fallen across the fence line, so it was out with the chain saw and the repair wire. I think there must be at least 10 years firewood in the fallen trees, not to mention a good stock of fence posts and strainers.
I was about to rack off the wine this weekend but the hail has smashed to pieces the 60L plastic bins I use during transfer and were outside drying.
The cows head off today for tomorrow's sale in Milton. They have put on considerable weight since being separated from their calves. Prices are still quite high so hopefully the return will at least pay for my air ticket.
During all this drama, I have been packing and "mothballing" the house as I leave for Sydney on Tuesday.
Then it's off to Rome via Adelaide and Singapore on Thursday. I am having dinner with an old business friend in Singapore during my 6 hour layover there so that will break the monotony of 32 hours travel time, 23 of which are in aircraft. Luckily I have been able to upgrade to business class with my frequent flyer points which should make the trip a little more bearable.
If I can find an internet cafe in the Montefalco area, the next post will be from beautiful Umbria!