16. April 2009 02:29
by Rene Pallesen

Hunter Valley 2009

16. April 2009 02:29 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

hunter valley

This weekend we again drove up to the hunter valley about two hours drive North of Sydney. We left at 7am and met the other guys up there just after 9am.

This time we went a big group of us but only three of us were tasting wine. The others were taking photos.

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Kim and I have spent a fair amount of time in the Hunter Valley and have a lot of favourite wines in the area. This time we decided to try some new and smaller places that we hadn't been to before. The challenge is still to find a sub $20 bottle of wine that is really good. It is pretty hard...but not impossible.

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In total we went to 9 vineyards to taske their wines. Some of the favourites this time was Gartelmann (The Wilhelm Shiraz is a good buy) and Peterson Estate (Kim loooved the sparkling desert wine).

For lunch we went to a restaurant called The Verandah. They have a tapas style menu. The food was ok but a bit on the pricey side (but most of the . My favourite place in Hunter is a place called Mojo...but they are only open for dinner.

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Bimbadgen really let us down this time. They have some really good wines there, but the customer service was appalingly bad! They did not provide any assistance and were very rude (not just limited to one person there). I wanted to buy a couple of their wines but ended up walking away because there was no-one there to help.

6. April 2009 08:17
by Rene Pallesen

Ethans Birthday 2009

6. April 2009 08:17 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

ethans birthday

This weekend it was Ethans 8th Birthday and his parents had organised a Birthday party for all his friends. As the last couple of years Kim and I was asked if we could facepaint the kids (We are not really good at face painting but the kids really don't care). Most of the kids had some degree of autism so just getting them to stand still while we paint them is a challenge.

The previous two years I was dressed up as a pirat but decided to do something something different this year. I wanted to come dressed as a monster (Ethan likes Monsters) but Kim though that I shouldn't scare the kids and that I should come as a joker instead. We bought a hat and some stripey tights...it looked really funny.

One of the parent though I was a paid helper when we arrived and started issuing me orders regarding that I really should be watching the kids so that they wouldn't injure themselves in the jumping castle that they had hired...he must have found it really unprofessional when I brushed him off ignoring his orders (I have a strong belief that kids should be allowed to be kids and that we in this modern age is too cautious protecting them)...and he must have felt really silly when he realised that I was a member of the family.

The rest of the day was spent playing games with the kids (They had good fun when I started spraying them with water with a water pistol...until I was told by the same parent that I should stop because the jumping castle was getting slippery).

The 'Donkeys Tail' game was a bit of a non-event...all the kids cheated and placed the tail where you would expect the tail to be. All credit to the kids...at least they know where the tail goes on animals.

After the party Kim wanted some alone time with me and we decided to go and watch a movie. There wasn't any good movies on that I wanted to watch so I let Kim decide...and we ended up watching a chick flick.

29. March 2009 09:26
by Rene Pallesen

Guys and Dolls

29. March 2009 09:26 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

guys and dolls

Dolls are a Necessity...

Kim and I went with a couple of friends to Capitol Theatre to see Guys and Dolls. This was my christmas present from Kim ('give me experiences instead of objects').

It was really good...I think I prefer the lightheartedness of musicals to Operas. Capitol Theatre is one of the great theatres in Sydney. In inside decor is old and glamourous. The Dancing and the singing in the show was really good.

Poor guys...the Dolls seem to have the upper hand in this story.

In one of the roles was Kenny...from a famous Australian movie 'Kenny'. I have no idea what his real name is.

15. March 2009 10:56
by Rene Pallesen

Climbing at Blue Bell (The Shire)

15. March 2009 10:56 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

climbing at blue bell the shire

This weekend Andy and I decided to explore a new climbing area in the Sydney Area (We are running out of places to climb within Sydney and sometime Sydney is too long a drive).

This time we decided on a small area called Blue Bell in the Southern part of Sydney in the Heathcote National Park.

Once we arrived we had to find the access to the cliffs. The carpark is almost on the top of the cliffs near houses, but the area doesn't get a lot of traffic so there is no good tracks. Eventually we found our way down with some a lot of bush bashing.

We decided to start on a couple of easier climbs on the Mini Wall where there was some grade 16 climbs (and 10/11's). They were far from being grade 16. The first two climbs (Anika 16 and Nathan 16) were harder than what they were graded at. Both Andy and I were finding it hard and agreed that the climbing felt more like a 18 or 19...and we were both thinking "what the fu.. is wrong there!". We then looked at who had graded the climbs and it turned out to be the same person a Jason Lammers. We decided that this may be one very dangerous Wanker and decided to take other climbs that he'd graded with caution (Next day I found another website describing the climb as being a lot harder...this guy graded it as a 6a = 19).

After this we moved to the main wall and did another climb at the same grade (Sparky 16) and this turned out to be really nice a cruisy and this would potentially be a good lear-to-lead climb for someone who is comfortable in the gym.

Blue Bell Main Wall

After this we moved onto a bit harder climb (Heathcote 18) graded by the same idiot Jason Lammers. Someone who is only just comfortable at this grade would be in real trouble here. The top move is really delicate; in fact so delicate that Andy were totally unable to complete the move and bailed after a a number of attempts (and a lot of falls).
I then tried the climb and eventually after a couple of falls managed to complete the move...and boy that is really balancy. You hand on to this slobing groove and then do a high stepup. you then balance your left hand up the wall until you reach a good hold up very high (as Andy put it: "A typical Rene move"). I would grade it as a 21 move...three grades harder that the wanker graded it.

We had a look at the climb next to it (Screaming Cookatoos 18) and decided to do this on a top rope given that the top move looked dubious and that we hadn't had much luck with grades.
Lucky that because the top move it really reachy and fairly thin. It would have taken a lot of commitment and knowing exactly where the only good hold is (which isn't great) to be able to complete it and then you still have to put a plate on the carrot bolt and clip it from this position before moving to the anchor. They really should have put a ring bolt here and they could have put the bolt a bit lover so it could be clipped from below protecting this move better.

By the way this area is a weird mix of Ring bolts, fixed hangers, ringbolts, gear, chain anchors, ring bolt anchors and topouts....great job guys!!! Anyway we had a really good day but we didn't dare try any of the many 19, 20, 21's (which is my comfortable lead limit) in the area as most of them were graded by the same guy. Without including these climbs the area is too small to return to in the near future.

28. February 2009 08:13
by Rene Pallesen

Magic Flute Opera

28. February 2009 08:13 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

magic flute opera

Instead of a christmas present Kim gave me tickets for the opera. This year for the Magic Flute by Mozart.

Magic Flute

It was different from most of the other operas I've seen in that no-one dies in it and it wasn't one of this big tragegies.

She had gotten us some good seats with a good view of the stage...and we had a really nice evening out.

23. February 2009 08:18
by Rene Pallesen

Ceiling Insulation

23. February 2009 08:18 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

ceiling insulation

The NSW government currently provides a rebate for anyone insulating their house ceilings.I had already considered doing it anyway as it does cool down the house during the summer and keeps it slightly warmer during the winter time.

The Insulated Ceiling

So I spent 5-6 evenings crawling around the roof cavity spreading out the insulation bats. Some of the ceiling was really hard to get to.

14. February 2009 08:02
by Rene Pallesen

Valentines Day

14. February 2009 08:02 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

valentines day

What can I say? I don't like going out on Valentines Day, but I still enjoy a romantic evening out...so this year we decided to celebrate Valentines day evening before (And I gave Kim flowers the day before that...and they were so fresh that they kept for two weeks). We went to a nice little restaurant at Balmoral Beach called the Watermark.

Valentines Day

The food was really nice, the scenery was really nice (slight drizzle), the Wine was fantastic (Canonbah Shiraz 'Drought Reserve' 2004)...and lastly my beautiful wife was gorgeous as always.

5. February 2009 08:35
by Rene Pallesen


5. February 2009 08:35 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments


Yeah...summer in Sydney. We have fantastic beaches here in Sydney and unfortunately we don't use them enough (Water is too cold). We did however manage to get to Maroubra beach a couple of afternoons this summer.

Maroubra Beach

31. January 2009 08:24
by Rene Pallesen

Opera in the Domain

31. January 2009 08:24 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

opera in the domain

Every year in Januar and February there is a big festival on in Sydney with different entertainment provided for free by the city and different sponsors. It is hard to make time to see everything, but we did have time to go and see the the Opera in the domain.

Opera in the Domain

We went there with Berry and his wife and had a nice evening.

Berry and his wife

26. January 2009 06:51
by Rene Pallesen

Climbing Dam Cliffs Blue Mountains

26. January 2009 06:51 by Rene Pallesen | 0 Comments

climbing dam cliffs blue mountains

This weekend Andy and I were supposed to have been going to Nowra to climb Saturday and Sunday, but the Australian weather dictated otherwise with 42 degrees in the shade Saturday.

Instead we changed the plans and went to Dams Cliffs in the Blue Mountains Sunday. This area is easily accessible, mainly in the shade and had got some great moderately graded climbs.

This was great as May also could join us. She had a really uncomfortable climb in Nowra with some friends some months ago and was afraid of getting back leading climbs (from her own words she was afraid to die). Nowra cen be very different and intimidating to someone going there the first time. We had a 7.30am start and she was half asleep when we picked her up and slept most of the way in the car.

When we got to the cliffs we decided to start on an easy warmup called"The Sisters of Fatima 16" and we asked May to do the first lead and she did a really good job. After this she seemed to have gotten over her fear.

Click here to see more climbing photos

We then moved over to a more moderate climb called "Shadow of the Goat 19" where I did the first lead...pleasant enough. We continued to "Truancy Officer 20" which I also led but which we decided was far easier (probably a 17).

After this we decided to stay in the 20+ territory and moved to a climb called "Vasco Pyjama 22" and Andy too the first lead.

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At the second bolt he reached the Crux (The most difficult section on a climb) and after a number of tries coming off every time he bailed. When he got down he said "This climb has got Rene written all over it, it is a move that is in your territory!', so I was up next. I got up to the same section, and had a look at it a saw 2-3 possible ways through the section, but decided to go for a very long and very balancy reach first and managed to stick the top hold in the first attempt without falling off.

After this section the rest of the climb was easy. Both and and May then toproped the same climb (This is where the rope has already been placed on the top of the climb...which I had just done) and may cruised through the same section, but Andy still struggled. I honestly think that despite it being a long reach this is one of those climbs where it is an advantage being short.

After this we could decided what to do next. I was keen on doing another climb next to it called "Friendly Fire 22" but was worried about getting stuck half way up and not being able to clean it. One of the women climbing in one of the other groups said that if I'd just climb the previous one then this would be a lot easier (Looked a lot harder to me) so I decided to give it a go and lead it.

I was glad that I did, because the section that looked really difficult from the ground turned out to be sustained but now massively difficult once I got up there...this just proved that you should just jump on any climb that looks remotely climbable and is well protected regardless of its grade...they are just subjective numbers anyway.

After this we decided it was time to head back to the Big Smoke even though we were still strong enough to do another climb....it was getting late!

Download video of Rene Climbing at Dam Cliffs
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