Road Trip 2014: Adelaide, Naracoorte, The Grampians

After the underwhelming experience that was Kangaroo Island, we were pretty much ready to make our way back to Melbourne, but we had a few stops to get through before that. First was to visit emmy’s friends in Adelaide, the city of churches. Originally we were only going to spend one night there but due to my accident we had to spend three nights there and had no idea what to do. We ended up just trying to catch back up on as much rest as possible, that’s not to say that we did absolutely nothing there, we had a couple of outings, one to Hahndorf, and the other to Glenelg, unfortunately we didn’t have the inclination to venture out to the Barossa Valley or Mount Lofty despite neither being particularly far, just a lot of effort with the baby.

First, we visited Hahndorf on emmy’s advice as she loved it the last time she was there, it is a quaint town on the outskirts of Adelaide, the theme is Germany, well, it’s where the first German settlers settled near Adelaide and now it is a tourist destination. It’s pretty nice, and well established, with a few German restaurants, but the main attraction really is its good looks, with the main road lined with big trees. There’s also the Beerenberg strawberry farm where there are many things – not just strawberries – to dig your teeth into, mostly sauces, jams, and the like. A street full of artisan stores selling all kinds of trinkets and fashions, emmy says Yes Please!

The following day we went to Glenelg for brunch, a visit to the beach and a wander down the main street. This beach kicks arse, a pier where the kids can jump off like crazy teenagers that they are and crystal clear turquoise waters and soft, fine, white sand. A strip of shops with some nice iced creameries along the way (recommend the Danish Andersens one), beats any beach near Melbourne as far as I’m aware. We also paid a visit to the xmas decorations at night (even though it was freezing and smelly as hell) which were quite comical. The next day we left for Naracoorte quite early.

Naracoorte is famous for its caves, heritage listed and all that, as well as being relatively close to a bunch of other Limestone coast attractions (mainly wineries), but we didn’t bother leaving our accommodation because it was hot and we were tired, the bed and breakfast we stayed at was quite lovely as well. We left for the Grampians nice and early the next day.

The Grampians are a beautiful place, and there are so many walks to do there, short and long, too bad that it’s too hard (for me) to carry a little one around them all. We settled for those that were really close to car parks and staying inside mostly (again, really hot). I wanted to have a go at one of the easy big hikes, like Mount William or The Pinnacle, but it was just going to be hot and not great light for my photography, so I settled for night shots of The Pinnacle from our accommodation (not bad, I will probably do another post with some HDR shots that I took on the trip).

Stars in the Grampians

Stars in the Grampians

Me at The Balconies

Me at The Balconies

View south from the Balconies lookout

View south from the Balconies lookout

So all in all, we didn’t do much, I got to the Balconies lookout (would’ve been good for sunrise), Mackenzie Falls (just before all the other people arrived) but without enough time to nail the shot that I wanted, and a quick look at Boroka Lookout for a sunrise (it’s not really a sunrise spot). Oh well, another time, maybe I’ll take Oscar camping there and we can do all the things that I missed or stuffed up here.

In Adelaide, we had one home made meal, one bbq, one Vietnamese restaurant meal, traditional German at the Hahndorf Inn (massive portions, for two means, for 3-4), a brunch at Zest Cafe in Glenelg (nice), iced cream at Andersens (yum), we’ll need to try some more places to get a better feel for the quality of Adelaide’s restaurants though.In Naracoorte, we just cooked up our own steaks at the bed and breakfast, it was okay, but I’ve done better.
In the Grampians, we didn’t venture out of Halls Gap for food, we had burgers at Basecamp Eatery (would’ve been good except the burgers were a bit dry, where’s the sauce!?!?!), the Spirit of Punjab, lol, was okay, would’ve been good if we had spoons or even forks (our room had neither), and also at the Livefast cafe, nothing special, neither was Coolas ice creamery, but that might’ve been too dependent on the flavours we chose.

As I said, in Naracoorte we stayed at Carolynn’s Cottages, and they were by far the best accommodation that we stayed at for the whole trip, comfortable bed, nice decor, and comfortable chairs, very accommodating, beautiful property with a serene garden.
We stayed at the Grampians View Motel in Halls Gap, it’s at the southern end of Halls Gap and has a very nice view of the Pinnacle, also, there are a million kangaroos there in the late afternoon. The room though lacks a kitchenette, and is a bit dated, we stayed in the deluxe spa room which is a bit like a love motel with the black and red decor. There is a small swimming pool which we didn’t use, but it looked clean enough

That’s it for the road trip, I’m not sure what comes next, we haven’t been doing much lately and I’m not sure that I can plan much in this daze that I’m in, any way, I’ll have some more pictures from the road trip once I get through processing them.

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Road Trip 2014: Kangaroo Island

Now back to this road trip, and the highlight of this trip, Kangaroo Island, we didn’t read a lot about it but we had high expectations based purely on all the hype that surrounds the place. I may sound a bit harsh here, but personally I found it quite underwhelming, from the lack of good eating options (apart from expensive wineries) to the lack of wildlife (we saw a lot more dead kangaroos than live ones), to the not-that-amazing scenery. Now, given that we didn’t do any wildlife tours (which are quite expensive), I guess you might be able to understand not seeing any wildlife, but come on, it’s called Kangaroo Island, I saw one mother kangaroo and her joey on the roadside near Seal Bay, and that was it, I might have seen a dead snake on the road at one point too. Seal Bay, at least did live up to its moniker, there were seals there, and they were quite close, although quite sleepy at the time of day we went.

  • Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
    Seal Bay, Kangaroo Island
  • Emu Bay Lavender Farm, Kangaroo Island
    Emu Bay Lavender Farm, Kangaroo Island
  • Cape de Couediac, Kangaroo Island
    Cape de Couediac, Kangaroo Island
  • Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island
    Remarkable Rocks, Kangaroo Island

On day one, after arriving at Penneshaw via the ferry, we drove to Kingscote and found our accommodation, the Seaview Motel, and it did actually have a seaview, unfortunately, the door, or the windows of our room weren’t sealed properly so there was a little wind getting in (it was crazy windy in Nepean Bay). Not a great accommodation, very old and in need of an upgrade, maybe they can’t because it is an historic site or something, I’m not sure. We arrived in the afternoon and were pretty tired from a long day of driving from Robe, so we just had a quick look around Kingscote to see what we could eat and that was it.

Day two consisted of a drive down to Seal Bay (seals) and Vivonne Bay (amazing beach apparently) on the southern side of the island, finished off with a trip back to the north side visiting Emu Bay (didn’t see any emus), the beach and also the lavender farm. As I said, there were lots of seals and good close-ups of them, most of them were sleeping, and such, but it was quite nice, although nothing special. Funny moment, we were thinking about how to take a family portrait and I decided against asking the guide, and instead asked another tourist who had a DSLR thinking that he probably knew what he was doing. Turns out he was an idiot, he took four photos, the first one out of focus, the next three were in focus but with no seals in the picture, so while I was grateful for him doing that, I should probably check what type of lens the next person I ask is using, and make sure that it is not just the kit lens. The moral of the story is, bring a tripod.

We couldn’t really find any good place to park to visit Vivonne Bay, and with the weather cold and windy we just rushed a quick walk down there, I could tell that the beach would be pretty amazing in good weather with fine white sand and crystal clear waters, but it just wasn’t happening for us, so we headed off for lunch at the fresh marron farm in Parndana right in the middle of the island. Marron are basically big prawns, and yeah, they’re pretty yummy, so that was nice. To finish off, we went up to Emu Bay (no actual emus) on the northern coast, the beach was pretty nice with pelicans, and the weather was a little warmer there. The lavender farm was good but I wouldn’t bother with the lavender iced cream, it’s just crappy vanilla iced cream with some lavender thrown in. Afterwards, we went back to Kingscote just in time to catch the 5pm pelican feeding show, quite interesting and amusing, word of warning, there is a voluntary donation.

Day three we went to Penneshaw to visit the community market, and Cape Willoughby Lighthouse, then dropped by Dudley Winery for lunch, and finished off with a stop at Prospect Hill Lookout, and a visit to the sheep cheese farm. The market was pretty underwhelming (as these things tend to be) with not a lot of stuff to see, we were thinking that there would be a lot more fresh produce to try, the lighthouse was very unspectacular, so much so that I didn’t even take a picture of it. Pizza and wine at the winery was good though, definitely a recommended visit. Prospect Hill Lookout was good, nice steep climb up stairs followed by a spectacular view over the island (would be good for a partly cloudy sunset/sunrise), and finally, the sheep cheese farm was so-so. The cheese was good, but the tour was a bit of a waste of time, I wouldn’t bother with that and just buy the cheese Island Pure Sheep Dairy, hey you can get it from Queen Vic Market.

Day four was to be the pinnacle of the trip, with a visit to Flinders Chase National Park to visit Cape de Couediac (lighthouse), Admiral Arch, and Remarkable Rocks. This was where I was expecting to see some spectacular landscapes but the vistas that we saw did not match what was in my head. The lighthouse was nice, and the walk from the carpark too, as well as the walk down to Admiral Arch and the seals, that was good, but nothing spectacular. Remarkable Rocks were described by emmy as “interesting“, didn’t sound too remarkable to me. They’re not like the Remarkables in New Zealand, let’s just say that much, they’re okay, but again, nothing special, especially if you can’t climb them haha. Food at the cafe at the national park visitor centre was okay though.

Finally, we were set to leave, and head back to the mainland and our next destination, Adelaide. Before that though (we had an afternoon ferry), we visited one of the honey farms, Clifford Honey Farm and bought some honey, again, I wouldn’t bother with the honey iced cream, it’s just cheap vanilla with some honey mixed in. From there we went to the oyster farm shop in American River and had a big seafood platter (mostly oysters). It was nice, not as good as the oysters we had in Hobart, but pretty good, this was actually the one day where we got some pretty fine weather (it was okay the previous day, I actually got sunburnt but more just sunny, not warm), so while waiting for our ferry, I had a wander along the beach next to the ferry which was quite nice, good for collecting sea shells, some nice snail shells there, and the water is clear and the sand, fine and white.

And that’s when we realised that tourism in Australia kind of sucks, if I list the things that we don’t like:

  • food, good (relatively cheap) food is hard to find
  • attractions are usually over-hyped
  • expensive to visit some places, Cape Otway Lightstation for one fits this point and the previous point
  • the weather is too important (e.g. a good tourist spot should be good regardless of the weather)
  • it’s too damn big
  • not much variety/culture

I’m not saying that these points only apply to Australia, I mean, we sort of had the same experience in Europe, but then, at least everywhere you go is different, it’s only an hour or whatever and you’re in a new country with a different culture and language. Any way, on to the reviews and recommendations.

Kangaroo Island Seaview Motel, as I stated above, very outdated and not particularly clean, the wifi didn’t work. I wouldn’t recommend.

The places where we ate expensive food, were all reasonable, the marron farm, oyster farm shop, and Dudley cellar door. The places where we ate cheap food not so much, the fish and chip shop (next to the Caltex) in Kingscote was nothing special (considering it’s an island where there is plenty of seafood), the restaurant we had pizza was typical take away shop quality. I didn’t mind the take away shop that sells giros, nothing special but at least not horrible. Also, the cafĂ© at the Flinders Chase National Park had some reasonable food that wasn’t too expensive. The cheese from the sheep dairy farm was pretty good, no issues with that at all. Here is another problem as pointed out by emmy, seafood in Australia is expensive, it’s always expensive, it doesn’t matter if it is caught right next door, or we’re in the middle of the desert (I wouldn’t recommend eating seafood in the middle of the desert any way), it’s expensive. It seems that transport is a minor cost for seafood, I remember when we were in Borneo in Malaysia, and we had these giant prawns and squid cooked in front of us and they were seriously cheap and yummy, it doesn’t happen here.

Just a quick note, if you’re driving and taking the ferry, fill the car up before you get to Cape Jervis, it’s more expensive than Kangaroo Island, probably Normanville (coming from Adelaide, not Victor Harbour) is the last main stop before Cape Jervis, the petrol was still reasonable there.

Okay, long post, well, we’re heading to Adelaide, Naracoorte, and the Grampians next to finish off, we were very much winding down at this point, so while there are a lot of things to do, we didn’t do them, so the post should be kept reasonably short.

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Bistro Thierry

Happy Birthday me, 33, just like my number, and multiplying each digit together equals my birthday. Any way, moving on, my better half surprised (as if I didn’t know) me with dinner at a fancy French restaurant, something that we haven’t done before. Bistro Thierry in Prahran is pretty French, from waiters with French accents (mostly) to all the pots and pans, baguettes to escargot, and creme brulee. We each ordered an entree along with a main, and a glass of wine (as chosen by the waiter) and shared the dessert as we usually do. This being a French restaurant, of course we also ordered some traditional French Fries.

I had the steak tartare, while Huyen (her name is not em or emmy) had escargot, I would have to say that the steak tartare was the highlight of the meal for me, beautifully tender and a very flavoursome vinegarette on top. The escargot were yum, but the sauce was probably a bit rich, very buttery, the snails were cleaner (no grit) than the ones we ate in Vietnam, but the sauce was too overpowering.

On to the mains, emmy had one of the fish of the day, pan seared snapper on black rice, she just told me that it was good but did not have any wow factor. Meanwhile, I went with duck confit, it was good except that the skin crackling on top was just too salty. The french fries were good (although we probably should have gone with a salad instead), as were the baguettes on the table.

For dessert we ordered the creme brulee (not pictured) as we tend to do, I liked it, but it wasn’t anything special, I wonder if there is anything that can make it really stand out. That’s it, good service, good atmosphere, food a little pricey, and tending toward being a bit rich (that’s French cuisine I guess), a good meal, but I don’t think that I’d put French food up there in my favourite cuisines.

Steak Tartare

Steak Tartare



Duck Confit

Duck Confit

Pan seared Snapper

Pan seared Snapper

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Road Trip 2014: Portland to South Australia

After leaving Princetown and stopping at a couple of lookouts near the 12 Apostles, we were headed for our next stop, Portland, via Port Fairy. It was particularly cold and wet this day so after having brunch in Port Fairy and hesitating on whether to visit the lighthouse or not, we ended up skipping it (another time perhaps) and just moving on to the accommodation in Portland. We ate at Rebecca’s Cafe for brunch, which was quite good, and had a great selection of cakes as well.

Portland, well, there isn’t much to say about Portland, pretty much your average regional town, not much to do or eat in town, maybe any attractions are outside of town. We did get out to have a look at the Cape Nelson Lighthouse but it was only a brief visit due to the weather. I would have loved to stay longer but the better half and the little one were in the car and it would have been very rude to keep them waiting too long. I would definitely hope to stop by in the future better equipped (an umbrella maybe) and more time to snap this location, very nice indeed. We stayed at the Victoria Lodge Motor Inn, it was okay, nothing special, clean and tidy.

  • Cape Nelson Lightstation
    Cape Nelson Lightstation
  • Blue Lake, Mount Gambier
    Blue Lake, Mount Gambier
  • Obelisk, Robe
    Obelisk, Robe
  • Obelisk, Robe
    Obelisk, Robe

After Portland, we headed to Robe in South Australia, via Mount Gambier, we had a wander around Blue Lake before having brunch and continuing on to Robe. Cafe Melzar in Mount Gambier was okay, but the portions were a bit small for the price. Driving on to Robe (em took a quick look at the sink hole garden) we were well and truly in South Australia, the timezone having changed, and the roads becoming very monotonous and boring with nothing interesting to keep the eyes from drooping.

We stayed at the Best Western Motel in Robe which had a nice, big room and a spa, but it was a bit too loud (Oscar is a light sleeper) so we weren’t able to give it a go. There isn’t a lot to do in Robe itself, a couple of walks around the town, see the Obelisk, I think the area is mainly for food and wine tourism, as for such a little town, it seemed to have a good selection of dining options. The two that we had time to try out were Sails (fine dining) and Provedore, a French bakery. Em had the lobster special at Sails while I tried the steak and an octopus salad, pretty much everything in the lobster menu was great, my octopus salad was very good and massive (it was virtually a main), the steak and prawn main was again, massive, the sauce I remember was a bit salty, otherwise, a very fine dining experience. We only had time for a take away breakfast from Provedore before heading for our longest day of driving. So a couple of rich, buttery croissants, and an orange friand were pretty much going to have to suffice until dinner time. They were very fresh and very French, absolutely delicious and well worth the extra step before leaving.

Six hours in a car with an unsettled baby, yikes, and finally we got to Cape Jervis where we could all get out of the car and relax for just a bit (on the ferry) before driving an extra forty minutes from Penneshaw to Kingscote where we would spend four days on Kangaroo Island. Next on dtraCorp…

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Road Trip 2014: Great Ocean Road I

We hit the road looking for our first stop, Lorne for lunch, before we would make our evening stop in Apollo Bay to spend the night. I’ll leave the overview of the trip for the last post of this series so that I can concentrate on the actual places we went here. We had lunch by the beach in Lorne which was nice, the weather was warm and sunny, and we got pies from Grandma Shields Bakery of which I am a fan (although having to pay for sauce is not something that I do like). We were a bit tired already (haha and some of us a bit cranky too!) and decided not to push our luck too much and so did not stop at the pier this time.

From there we carried on along the Great Ocean Road which is a treat even if you’re driving (although as usual, it would probably be nice to be there around sunset or sunrise), for a bit more than an hour to Apollo Bay. I’m going to be perfectly honest when I say that Apollo Bay is quite underwhelming and not somewhere that I’d be spending too much time in the future. Both the accommodation and the restaurant we had dinner (take away) were disappointing. The Seaview Motel, the name of the motel is not a lie, but you have to look pretty hard to see the sea, the rooms are perpendicular to the road (and the sea) which means you have to look out to the side and you might see the ocean, and on top of that, there is a newer, nicer looking accommodation right in front which would have better views.

We got a take away pizza (can’t remember what) and pasta (puttanesca) from La Casalingo (rated fairly well on urbanspoon) and I could definitely do better myself, just like some cheap take away here in Melbourne, but it wasn’t cheap at all. So, overall I would pass on Apollo Bay. From there we basically got up really early (thanks Oscar) and moved on as quickly as possible, heading down to Princetown and Port Campbell National Park via the Great Otway National Park.

  • London Arch
    London Arch
  • The ARch
    The Arch
  • Gibson Steps
    Gibson Steps
  • Gibson Steps
    Gibson Steps
  • Gibson Steps
    Gibson Steps
  • Island Arch
    Island Arch
  • Geology Walk
    Geology Walk
  • The Razorback
    The Razorback
  • Geology Walk
    Geology Walk
  • Loch Ard Gorge
    Loch Ard Gorge
  • Great Otway National Park
    Great Otway National Park

This is when the weather turned to shit and hopes of a photographic dream with fluffy clouds, blue skies, and amazing scenery were blown away by the Antarctic winds and washed down the drain by the “Summer” rains. Whatever, we had to make do, and at least we still had the scenery, if not the weather. The Great Otway National Park is pretty cool, the trees that line the road going toward the Cape Otway Lighthouse are very interesting and have great textures. The Lighthouse itself is not particularly interesting, and it is extremely windy up the top. After that we went down the road to Port Campbell National Park and visited Loch Ard Gorge.

I’ve seen the Twelve Apostles before, and Gibson Steps as well, so I wanted to see something else and maybe scout some sunset/sunrise locations. Loch Ard Gorge was well worth it, and finding the Geology Walk which took us past Island Arch and the Razorback which I decided looked like a great spot for sunset. With the weather the way it was, I didn’t expect many people to show up later, as I was having a look at Loch Ard Gorge just before sunset, a tour bus showed up so I hurried over toward the Razorback to capture what I could. I got to try some multi-exposure shots as well as long exposures which I think turned out quite well. There even ended up being a tiny hint of a sunset and some interesting clouds, it definitely was not a waste of time (and I finally got some good use out of my tripod!!).

The next morning, the body clock got me up about 45 minutes before sunrise, I decided to head to Gibson Steps rather than the Twelve Apostles because I thought it would be more secluded, it was empty, but I don’t think there would have been many people (if any) at the Twelve Apostles either. Again, I experimented with the same techniques from the night before, and also added in some auto-bracketing for good measure. Almost lost the stupid lens cap off my DA 21mm lens, but got some nice shots I think (again, a hint of a sunlight and clouds and the flowing water gave me some interesting elements to work with).

After that, we left for Portland via Port Fairy, but not before stopping along the way at The Arch and London Arch, both very worthwhile although I do prefer The Arch myself (but I may have missed something at London Arch). We did skip Bay of Islands, but seeing it as we drove past I must say, it definitely looks like somewhere worth visiting next time, it was raining quite persistently the whole day which made it hard to spend the required time at these great sites.

We stayed at a self-contained cottage in Princetown which was pretty nice, although the fridge froze everything we put in there (the fridge, not even the freezer). There is a selection of DVDs to watch and a couple of separate rooms which meant that we didn’t need to tiptoe around while Oscar slept in the evening. There is a stock standard pub in Princetown which is where we had dinner. I’m not sure where we had lunch, it was in Port Campbell, but the name of the restaurant escapes me, it was modern Australian cuisine I guess (it may have been The. Karoa, it’s next door to Frying Nemo any way), it was not bad, but nothing special.

I’ll leave it at that for now, next time we’ll be heading into South Australia and to the brink of Kangaroo Island.

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Southeast Australia, Melbourne to Kangaroo Island

Road Trip Route

Road Trip Route

Total kilometres covered, 3, 411.2, from home here in the suburbs of Melbourne to the southwestern end of Kangaroo Island (via the Great Ocean Road), Adelaide, and back again (via the Grampians), it was a heck of a lot of driving (for me anyway). The weather was pretty horrible for the first week or so (until the last day on Kangraoo Island), and then a bit too hot (considering we had a six-month old, was bloody good otherwise), I think if I learnt one thing from this trip, it is not to go anywhere where the main attraction is hiking, during Summer. I snapped a lot of photos (for the first time in ages) and tried some new techniques, which worked some times and not so much others, but live and learn.

Just a short post here, I will be adding much more content for this trip including about twenty photos hopefully over the next week or so and over the xmas break. Hopefully I will get the photos up here in a timely manner and over a couple of posts to spread the pictures out, I’ll be taking my time as usual with the flickr shots as I don’t know when I will be going anywhere next. Good to get away from home and work for a bit, but it’s pretty good to get a break from all that driving too, and settle back into some form of routine.

I’ll also be adding some reviews of the accommodations, some good, some not so good, which I will probably also add on to tripadvisor at a later time.

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We were supposed to be on holiday this week, somewhere in South Australia by now I think, but having played basketball the night before we were to head off, I experienced something that has never happened to me before. I was on the wrong end of a concussion and forgot pretty much everything that happened from Sunday afternoon until the middle of Sunday night, and Monday morning while I remember it is also a bit vague.

Approximate state of myself on Sunday night

Approximate state of myself on Sunday night

Apparently, as far as I can recall, I was fighting for a loose ball, fell, and hit my head on the floor. I don’t think that I ever lost consciousness, but I was probably quite confused and running in circles. I remember lying in bed on Sunday night having random conversations but don’t remember what they were about (my short-term memory was resetting every two minutes I am told), and it was probably only when I woke up on Monday morning that I realised that I had suffered a concussion., but my memory had not recovered and everything that I could remember was a bit vague and seemed like ages ago. In the afternoon I was making phone calls to the hotels to see if we could re-schedule our holiday to a week later (which we could fortunately), but I did call a couple of them twice, not remembering that I’d already called them. That’s all for now, we’re leaving on Monday again, no basketball this Sunday (we lost), I’m done for the year, so hopefully nothing gets in the way of us departing then. There should be video of the game, so when it comes up I will update this post if they captured what happened, I need to watch the game to see how it went anyway because I can’t remember playing at all.

Okay, so here is the video (I’ve moved it straight to when it happened, but it’s within the first 40 seconds of the game, I think I started showing signs of confusion a couple minutes before half time, and they took me off with just under 14 minutes to play in the game (we were up two at the time, but eventually lost):

Should have been a charge, am I right?

Picture taken from simpsons wikia.


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It’s a Moth!

Haven’t posted anything recently at all have I, been too invested in Clash of Clans I suppose (and I’m not too ashamed to admit it, I am kind of ashamed though). Well, any way, this moth came out of nowhere (well, it was under my car) and landed in front of me while I was putting the washing out, it didn’t move for ages so I guess it wanted me to take a picture, either that or it was too tired/injured to do so. Either way, it worked out well, because I managed to snap up a couple of nice macro shots. So we’ve got it in all it’s glory, and then a very nice close-up macro shot to show it’s many eyes. OK, well, I’m going on holiday next week, so don’t expect anything in the following weeks, although I think I will post another Japanese restaurant review once we get back :D.





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Synology DS1511+ disk expansion

  • The bare drive
    The bare drive
  • The DS1511+ with empty slot
    The DS1511+ with empty slot
  • New drive in the disk case
    New drive in the disk case
  • New drive in and detected
    New drive in and detected
  • Volume expanding
    Volume expanding
  • Disk expansion complete
    Disk expansion complete

After three years, the original 3.6TB (3 x 2TB HDD) SHR raid (Synology Hybrid RAID) has finally been reduced to less than 50GB of free space. So with the price of a 4TB drive about the same bang for buck as even a 2TB drive I decided to go and grab one and see how this hot swappable disk expansion works. This was the exact reason I decided to get this NAS solution, expandable storage with different size hard drives providing RAID and disk fail protection. I could wait until I needed to add storage space (and when it became cheaper) before adding more, rather than filling the NAS with equal size hard drives (with less total space down the line) and having to do a lot more fiddling with it, although I do wonder what would happen if the biggest drive (in this case the 4TB) had an issue and needed to be replaced. Having thought about that, I suppose with 10TB of hard disk, the free space on the volume is equivalent to 10TB minus the largest disk, so in my case 6TB, therefore the 4TB could be removed without problem, I guess they thought of everything (except what do I do in this scenario if two disks die?).

Well, now that the deed is done, I can go over what happened, if you didn’t work it out from the picture gallery I will explain it step-by-step:

  1. First, I bought a Western Digital 4TB NAS drive because that’s what the marketing wants you to do.
  2. Then I removed a a drive holder from the diskstation (it’s a bit dusty in there), all while still on.
  3. Screwed the new drive into the drive holder with the provided screws (by Synology).
  4. Pushed the drive back into the diskstation and clicked it in, about ten seconds later the light came on.
  5. I didn’t actually know what to do at this point, but decided to just load up the synology application page, and went to the storage manager, lo and behold there is a volume expansion function there.
  6. I also had no idea how long it was going to take so googled it, and was quite surprised to see that people had complained of this taking 4-5 days or more. Fortunately for me this took less than two days, and luckily there were no power interruptions or anything of that nature because I don’t have a UPS.
  7. In conclusion, that went splendidly well, and now I have an additional 2TB (decimal) of disk space which should last me a couple more years, I may even be able to get a UPS in that time.


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Holy Guacamole!

Yeah, it’s been a while since I posted anything, busy I guess, and even this is a re-post from my old site, but it’s too good not to appear here. So I learnt this recipe while I was in Peru (not when I went to Mexico ha!), and from our tour guide on the Inca Jungle Trek of all people. We were pretty much at the last stop before hitting Machu Picchu, and had stopped for lunch before making our way to Aguas Calientes for the night (and Machu Picchu in the dark early morning). We only had crackers, but this was avocado (aguacate) country, so for our entree to lunch, our guide made a quick guacamole dip. I’m sure everyone has their own twist on guacamole, it’s a very simple dip/sauce to make, but I thought I’d throw mine in the mix.



The ingredients are as follows:

  • avocado (1 for two people)
  • 1 (small and juicy) lemon per avocado
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (or more, depends how garlicky you like it) per avocado
  • black pepper (crushed is good)
  • salt (I don’t measure it, I taste the guacamole until the amount is right)

The following are optional extras:

  • chilli, sliced, the amount depends how hot you want the guacamole really, if they’re really hot like mine, then one is probably good
  • onion, I am not a big fan of raw onion, so I tend to only have cooked onion with chicken tortillas and not in the actual guacamole
  • I really like the smell of oregano, dried or fresh
  1. So if you have a ripe avocado (apparently you can tell if the top is a bit soft, google it for a better method), just crack it open and scrape the contents into some kind of bowl/dish and mix it up (or blend it if you like it smooth) with a fork to start with, and then a whisk to clean up (or a blender if you’re rich like me).
  2. Cut the lemon(s) in half and squeeze the juice in till it’s all in more or less.
  3. Crush the garlic and throw it in and mix it up.
  4. If using chilli, slice up the chilli and mix that in as well.
  5. If using pepper, crush it in.
  6. Keep mixing it with the whisk and adding salt, all the while tasting it, once the flavour is right, you have your guacamole.

I’ve tried this guacamole with both corn chips and with chicken tortillas, and for my personal tastes, it was really good, I was very happy to say the least, because it was the first time I actually made it, for the chicken tortillas, and I was working from memory. Give it a go, but I think avocados are seasonable fruit, so don’t bother if the avocados aren’t in season I guess. That’s a fast, easy dip for chips and chicken based tortillas/tacos. One avocado is about right for a pack of corn chips (180g I think).

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