Are Cyclists like Cats on a Rainy day?

Our Cat!

Our Cat!

I was struck by a thought as I walked back from University on a wet cold Adelaide winter’s day.

Are Cyclists like Cats on a Rainy day?

On rainy days our cat wanders from window to window seeing if it is raining outside each. I found myself effectively doing the same on my walk home. It wasn’t raining behind me which was towards the coast but it was in the hills which were in front of me. So, maybe a flat ride might be OK? Then once home the sun was shining out to the north – maybe that was the direction for a ride?

In any event, shortly thereafter the wind came up, the clouds took over and down came the rain. Like our cat everywhere I looked there was no respite. Another day without a ride.

As a result, just 25kms on the bike in the last 10 days but it has enabled me to spend hours and hours on my thesis. Not a bad thing as a recent discussion with the Honours Co-ordinator confirmed that I have just 12 weeks to finish it. With that thought has come the first hint of panic. Continue reading

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Planning – Italy 2015

Mt Etna

Mt Etna

For the very few of you who have followed my blog since it early days (apart from thank you) you will know that as I focussed on “What’s next” I have wanted to spend 3 months in Italy. In Novemebr 2015 we will – well almost- Insurance and Visa rules mean it will be a few days short.

Agrigento - Sicily

Agrigento – Sicily

On insurance, my new post fulltime work cost saving regime means we will use our credit card policy which allows only 90 days for the trip. While on the cost cutting, yet again, I couldn’t face the cost of Business Class (just over double the cost of economy). We have decided however that we will only do daytime flights – we are not in a hurry.

To do this we enlisted the support of a travel agent something we haven’t done on recent trips given the resources available online. Our initial discussions weren’t that fruitful with agents suggesting that it really wasn’t feasible. Then we stumbled upon a very helpful travel agent who seemed to immediately grasp the idea. She understood that we are not we weren’t in a hurry so flying in a number of steps is not a problem to us. Infact the whole idea of this holiday is slow travel – apparently this brings the cost down? Using stop-overs in Singapore,Sri Lanka and Dubai we land in Milan having flown only during the day. Our return will be Rome, Dubai, Singapore, then home via Perth. To claim the Perth leg is a day flight is a stretch (lands at midnight) but it is only a short hop from Singapore – so I will claim it. We won’t have to attempt to sleep on the plane which is something I really struggle with. It also provides an opportunity to spend a few days in Sri Lanka, something that wasn’t on our agenda previously and for my favourite person it will be her first visit to Singapore. Continue reading

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Book Review Man on the Run, Paul McCartney in the 1970s

Source :

There were two reasons that I bought Tom Doyle’s book Man on the Run, Paul McCartney in the 1970s. The first my love of The Beatles and the second my interest in exploring “What’s Next”.

Given my age, my love of The Beatles started about the time of their breakup. My first record was Abbey Road. I have all of their albums and listen to them along with a large slice of their post Beatle individual contributions on a regular basis.

In and earlier post I have mentioned that I have been to The Dakota Building and Straberry Fields in Central Park. All part of paying homage to the greatest band of all time.  That said, when it comes to The Beatles individually my favourite has always been Paul and particularly his time with Wings. I was lucky enough to see them in 1975 on their Australian tour.

So about the book as after all this is a review!

Through access to those individuals who were around Paul including the other Beatles across the 70s, Doyle tells a story that he rightly points out has had little exposure beyond the public slanging match between Lennon and McCartney and Paul’s well publicized drug busts. The book addresses these openly but not in a sensional manner and perhaps even more importantly in context.
In a sentence, the book starts with the end of the Beatles and tragically ends at the time of the death of John Lennon. 

I find the context particularly interesting given my interest in “What’s Next”. Early on we get a pretty raw account of the difficulty Paul McCartney faced; moving from being at the top as a member of the greatest band of all time and then  seeing it all end well before he was 30. It is no wonder he and his new wife fled to Scotland to hide!

Doyle recounts Paul’s early post Beatles solo career. The formation of Wings and Linda’s role in the band which was always controversial. Denny Laine, one of Doyle’s major sources apart from McCartney himself, provides great insight as to Linda’s importance in keeping Paul out of his personal post Beatles malaise. It is an important reminder of the central role Linda played in Paul’s life.  Infact perhaps she  was the true hero in the 1970s Paul McCartney story,  rather than the villain she is so often portrayed. There are also insights into his family life which seemed to cycle from idyllic farm life to the choatic life of a rock band. This perhaps is also a sign of the challenges being faced by someone who has been to the top and is then faced with a void to be filled. One minute living the quiet family life away from it all and the next craving the bright lights and publicity. All provide insights as to how Paul dealt with his early post Beatles days.

The Wings tour of Australia gets a mention with special attention given to the Norman Gunston interview which in my opinion it is one of the most hilarious interviews of all time. In truth, it is this period of Paul McCartney’s post Beatle life that I am most familiar. This is  perhaps not surprisingly given as Doyle notes, the enormous success that the Wings US tour followed by the painstakingly  MCartney mastered triple live album and video Rockshow. 

References to the relationship between Paul and John play an important but not pivotal role in the book. McCartney and Lennon’s post Beatle interactions were bitter sweet . On occasions they and their wives enjoyed each others company and then on others the relationship was decidedly frosty. Again perhaps this is how it is after people move on from an intense relationship – a reminder that it can never truly be the same.

I can’t deny that I didn’t find the references to Paul and John’s relationship the most interesting aspect of the book. However it was also interesting to reflect on, how in the post Beatles phase Paul could ever have thought his fellow Wings members ever be his equal, why did Paul want an amateur (Linda) in a world touring successful rock band and why did he record Mary had a little Lamb? Doyle gives us insights into each and much more.

It’s  well worth a read.

Other posts on The Beatles and Paul McCartney :

The only thing you did was Yesterday
The Beatles Boxed Set
Memories of a Great Concert

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Shut Up and Write

My university along with many others has adopted the concept of “Shut up and Write” where there are designated times that students commit to just writing. It’s a great way to simply get on with it. 

This is something I’ve needed to do in recent weeks. It’s all been a little disjointed lately with too many other things getting in the way of my thesis. In particular my time has been spent dealing with one last work assignment that has involved a considerable amount of time and travel, starting to plan our trip, and marking. However, over the last week I’ve made real progress on my thesis.  Even while traveling it’s been possible to get stuff done. That along with time at Uni, discussions with my supervisor and time at my desk , my thesis is really progressing.

I’ve largely completed my interviews of participants and had most of the interviews transcribed. I have a couple more interviews over the next week or so and then that task will be completed. It’s been a really interesting process made so much better by the locations, topic and the occasional opportunity to sample the product. This was a good topic to pick!


I’ve revisited my Literature Review. I wrote it last year as part of my course work and as a result it has needed to be refined to take account of my topic. I revisited my definitions again yesterday after a mild panic about whether they were still appropriate having regard to my data. The good news is that they seem OK and it should not need a major rewrite to integrate the subject matter of family wine businesses into it.

I’ve also delved into the history of wine. Its roots in The Middle East, the importance of religion and trade to its progress, and in an Australian context its rocky beginnings as early as “The First Fleet”. The decision to focus on family wine businesses has been fascinating.  Such a rich history in far away places as well as in my backyard, with the region I am focussing upon a region located literally 20 minutes from my home. South Australia has a rich wine heritage, however my focus is on a newer region which will hopefully make my research contemporary and relevant. 

With the majority of the interviews completed its been possible to start the data analysis process. This has involved checking and and rereading transcripts, identifying “rich description” and an early focus on potential themes. It’s both daunting and exciting. My research is really starting to take shape.

As well as being enthusiastic about the topic some early and serious discussion about starting my PhD has provided focus and purpose. My Honours Research is like an apprenticeship or a very long job interview. The good news is that my enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be waning. It’s all reinforced the need for me to do well in my Honours so the best opportunities are fully available to me next year.

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Research can be a dark place

In the last few days I’ve seen the pressure that self-directed study and research can put people under. One was someone just a few weeks from submitting their thesis,  the other had just embarked on their PhD. Both just seemed completely overwhelmed by it all. They were in a very dark place.

It made me think what sort of consolation and comfort could I offer? It’s easy to say, just get on with it and write. I said that to one of these people a couple of months ago. It might have been the right answer, however when you are down at the bottom feeling depressed such comments were perceived as a kick in the guts. So what else could I do or say?

On reflection, I think it’s just about being supportive and providing encouragement. It’s not possible to know if they have done enough work, answered their research question or even asked the right question, even if you think you do know. It’s  important to stress that there is no value looking back as this just wastes valuable time and energy, rather encourage them to look forward. Maybe cooking them a meal or even doing their ironing could be a genuine help. Above all else,  just check-in and see if they are OK.

Research can be such a luxurious place if you have the time but when you don’t it or you for some reason lose your perspective it’s just plain horrible!

Footnote: I wrote this post a few weeks ago as a reflection.  It seemed also appropriate for today’s 

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