What’s the delay?

It’s a while since I’ve posted.  The message about Jasmine was written a couple of weeks ago, but it’s taken time to co-ordinate the photo with it.

In the wider world, the events in the Middle East and in New Zealand have rattled us a little.

Our friend Jan’s family has been under strain during Jim’s cancer treatment, and Allison has been providing what support she can.


Allison has been organising us for the medieval Rowany Festival at Easter — when, as everybody knows, these things are properly done in the two weeks immediately beforehand.

We still have plans for a new feasting tent for Okewaite, our local Goulburn SCA group.  The price was blowing out, but we’ve decided to use some black canvas I had in the shed, for part of the roof.   I hope it will look quite stylish.  We’ve found some canvas offcuts on Ebay, and now we should have enough to proceed.

On our own tent the walls are held up with curtain hooks, which have driven us crazy, especially as we seem to have used an inferior tape to slot the hooks into.

I was going to replace these with fancy nylon hooks sold for tent manufacture, but the medieval purists said we should use wooden toggles instead.  Actual toggles are quite expensive, and we don’t have time to make our own.  So we’ve come up with a bulk supplier of inch-long wooden beads and ordered 500 of them at 10 cents each.  Which will be good for our tent and the new one.

Allison wants me to make a camping bed for us.  If it’s a wet Festival, we’ll want to be up off the ground.  So we’re going with a four-poster bed, not being the type to slum it.  This is under construction in the workshop now.  I’ll post a picture once it’s done.

Back to taekwondo

I have taken up taekwondo again. This is a Korean martial art, very popular in Australia in the 1980s.

When I started, the halls used to be packed with young people. Times have changed, and it’s hard to compete with Facebook and online computer games.  It’s ages since there has been a really compelling Kung Fu movie.  So most clubs are struggling.

When I lived in Yass, there was a great club, though they made me start again from white belt.  I worked my way up to one level short of a black belt.   In those days I could do a flying side-kick high above head level, to break a board.  The instructor left, numbers dwindled, and one of the students murdered two teenage girls and was locked away (in Goulburn!).  They shut the club down.

I tried karate for 18 months; it wasn’t as good.

We moved back to Canberra, and I found a new taekwondo club.  Then I snapped my anterior cruciate ligament and it took three years before I could train again — and flying side-kicks seem to be gone forever!

I went back to the same club, but their numbers were down to very few.  They had lost interest in recruiting new people.

Mostly they were 2nd and 3rd Dan black-belts, highly capable.  Just keeping up with these folk was a huge stretch — quite exhilarating!  Sometimes quite bruising.

That was the pinnacle of my skill.  The club folded; they would have found a way for me to get a black belt, but it seemed a bit hollow so I didn’t press it.

Eventually I found another club.   Good instructor, though idiosyncratic.   They made me start from white belt again, which was a bit strange as their standard wasn’t that good and some of their black belts were scared of sparring me.  Even when I was going easy on them.

There was a new instructor, that I didn’t get on with, and the club brought in some very strange new policies.  So I left.

After a break, I found a small club just around the corner from my house in Scullin. Owen and then Allison came to training too. This was a pleasant time, but the only other senior member was the instructor, so my skill level didn’t really improve. Eventually he had a baby too, numbers dwindled, and the club closed.

Soon after, we moved to Goulburn. I found a club there, and learnt some new stuff, but that club again had very low numbers.  The instructor decided to have a break after many years, and the club closed.

Training in Canberra from Goulburn is very difficult. In 2009 I found some lunchtimes classes, again small numbers and nearly all black belts.  That was good fun, but without the evening classes I wasn’t getting enough training on the formal patterns.

In early 2010 I had a bad flu then an injury, so I didn’t start again immediately.  When I went back, I discovered that the club had split and the new class times would not work for me.

Then we went overseas, and I had a period between contracts so I wasn’t in Canberra anyway.

But the stars have aligned again.  I’m back with the lunchtime set once a week, and I’m getting to one or two evening classes too.  It’s inconvenient, but great for my fitness and mood.

I don’t know if I’ll ever get a black belt — but I’m enjoying the journey, and the destination has become less important.