Sunday, January 27, 2013

Welcome to summer!

What a marvellous weekend of weather we've had. So Wellington does get a summer after all. Not every year obviously, but I shouldn't complain.

I'd like to think I made the most of the sunshine. Yesterday I went tramping; we set off from the club just before 7:30 (I took my car) to do the Wainuiomata Catchment walk through an area of bushland that is normally human-free. The park ranger met us at the entrance and gave us a guided tour of Drummond Ridge and Skull Gully (a name that conjures up vivid images and also made me wonder where the word "skul(l)duggery" came from). The ranger pointed out fauna and flora along the way, although there isn't much fauna and that's by design. Last August they did an aerial drop of 1080 poison, they have lines of stoat and possum traps at regular intervals, although they do have a population of wild pigs, hence when they find a trapped possum they often find only its head. He was an expert on matters ecological; intervening in ecosystems is such a fine balancing act - by solving one problem you can so often create another. The trip lasted seven hours, although we did take fairly regular breaks. To be out in the open air for that length of time, and to get moderately heavy exercise, did me the power of good (thankfully we only got dappled sunlight so didn't get too hot). I can still feel those endorphins now. I'll put up some photos in my next post.

I hadn't been home long from the tramp when I went over to my cousin's place for a barbecue. She's off to America on business next week - again. Her three boys are such a nice bunch of kids.

This afternoon I had a swim in the sea, for the first time since I've lived in Wellington. I swam at Seatoun; I'd hardly call the water warm but (unusually for me) I went straight in.

I tried to listen to the womens' tennis final but I fell asleep early in the second set. When I woke up Azarenka had just completed her comeback to beat the unlucky Li Na. I couldn't believe some of the negative comments that were made following what was quite a dramatic three-set match. I'm sure much of the negativity was due to the result - Azarenka got a bad rap for that time-out she took towards the end of her semi-final. Some people had this to say: "What a shocking match: 16 service breaks!" I didn't understand that. How does a lack of service breaks imply a high-quality match? All it means is high quality of serve.

The men's semis were both enthralling in their own ways. Djokovic's demolition of Ferrer recalled Federer's dismantling of Roddick in the 2007 semis. I watched that match six years ago - in which Federer looked like he could just about walk on water - and by all accounts Djokovic flicked the switch over to god mode on Thursday. Andy Murray's victory over Federer was much tougher, but when I had a look at the stats, it seemed Murray was the better player by some margin and Federer did well to take the match to five.

As for the men's final, it's a tough one to pick. I make Djokovic a slight (maybe 55:45) favourite; I'll go for a four-set win for Djokovic, 6-4 7-6 2-6 6-3. Overall it's been an interesting tournament that has raised a number of issues, not least the question of equal prize money for men and women. I'll try and explore one or two of these issues in my next entry.

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