16 October, 2011

Imago - October 2011

Well this is the first post in a very long time!

Headed up to the farm with Danielle, Persephone, Mum and Perra. It's a beautiful time of year to go up and it's the first time we've been up as a family for about five months!

It was a bit rainy to begin with but Danielle and I put out the fruit fly traps and the codling moth traps, as well as got the last (third) section of the electric fence removed. On Day 2 we uncovered the maple trees and protected them as well as the pomegranate, cherries, and maple trees. Danielle did a whole lot of weeding! Sussed out the irrigation situation to prepare for getting a trench digger. I'm wanting to install pipes between the dam, yurt, garden and yoilet. On Day 3 we ook it a bit easier and walked down to the picnic spot. I took Persephone for a swim in the dam... bit chilly! But she enjoyed it. And we put up a prototype of how we'll put the foil insulation up in the yurt. I also sprayed some seasol onto all the leaves of the trees. Mum spent a lot of time looking out for Persephone while all this was one... so great and helpful.

September 2011

Last month I headed up to the farm with Peter Hagerty. It was the first time in three months so I was a bit trepidatious as to what i'd find. Goodnews everything was pretty much in order.
And with Peter's help we got a good section of the electric fence pulled out. Slashed the whole mandala, put out the first codling moth trap, fixed the dam end of the siphon and tied down the second layer of the nashi. And importantly we put out lime, dolomite and chook pellet around each of th etrees.

16 August, 2009

Community Garden

Saturday last week I went out to Tung Chung to visit Isabelle's friend May who has a couple of plots in a Community Garden. (Grandad's temple Lo Hon Ji overlooks Tung Chung) Isabelle also has a plot, which May will tend for her when they are established. Now everyone kept talking about the farm... but when i got there i realised that what they are talking about, we would call a community garden.
It was interesting to talk with the manager about what they would like to do in terms of organics as they are restricted by the funding and the presence of the school next door. One of the pictures shows the showcase room, which is netted against insects, concrete floor and everything is grown in boxes. Not exactly a natural system, but the funding body requires it. Then the soil outside is pretty poor and because of the school next door, they can't create their own compost, so they are getting topsoil (of which there is plenty) trucked in from a village nearby!
It was interesting to see that the sign out the front mentioned "social enterprise" and there is even a poster in the Metro that talks about social enterprise. We've got a bit of catching up to do on that front in Australia.
Afterwards we went back to May's house and had a great chat about organics with her friend from Taiwan who has been growing for the last 10 years.
I told them about the four most important things I had learnt from my growing experiences at Imago:
• Healthy plants don't get sick
• Feed the soil not the plant (difference between feeder and tap roots)
• Create a balanced soil (pH, Ca/Mg, biology etc)
• No-effort farming (self-sown)

Then we all went out to dinner at a seafood restaurant nearby, where we picked the seafood out of a dinghy. The restaurant was on an old wharf which had some of the original wooden fisher huts.. all soon to be removed by a potential bridge to china. People are protesting against the bridge because it may disturb the habitat of the rare white dolphin.

Cantonese Classes - Pt2

To graduate, we just needed to pass a test, which we were given 25mins to do and whch we marked ourselves... that probably explained my experience with the highly variable competences in the very first class.
So all ready to start Intermediate 1.2 i was wondering how i would do it. Being the only student i would get only half the time. Arlyn has started at school and Emily was back off to Taiwan for a while.
Turns out that another student joined my class, he was also born in HK but is English/Japanese. He's in his late 20's, went to International School (and so doesn't speak much Cantonese) but is fluent in English and Japanese and can speak a lot of Mandarin. Very interesting bunches of people!
We got one of the same teachers as last session... yay! But got the dreaded May for the second hour. Bugger.
In fact I was so unhappy that i spoke to the first hour teacher about it as May teaches in a very different style to all the other three teachers that i have had at the school. Without going into details i think it is not a very effective style for any student as it doesn't actually challenge the student to the work.
May had spoken to this teacher as she could sense something was up... so we'll see what happens next week.
I said (to the other teacher) that it wasn't personal with May and that if May were willing to change some aspects of her teaching style then I'd be happy. I pointed out that I'd come from Australia especially to do these classes and so it was very important to me that they be good classes.
Bit of a dilemma as I don't want to make anyone feel bad or rock the boat too much, but at the same time want to get the most out of the classes.

Cantonese Classes

On the first day of class I turned up and found out that i was an hour late... bugger. And i joined the class and did fine. The class was seven people mostly from England and America with a couple of them pretty good and the rest looked like they were struggling to me. The teacher for this hour was "May" and I thought she was pretty terrible. Didn't wait for students to answer, jumping in and answering for them, concentrating on students that were good already, not getting students to practice but just asking if they understood and if they did or didn't answer then moving on (it's very easy to say you do understand, but unless you actually do it you don't really know).
So at the end of that lesson I asked if I could join a higher class, only to find out I was now an hour late for that one!
Well this class had a great teacher and only two other students. Arlyn who is 13 years old and from the Phillipines. She really really wants to go back to the Phillipines, but doesn't want to let her Dad know that. She's just about to join the International school here and is busy learning Cantonese in the meantime.. partly to be able to speak to her Dad. She used to communicate with him via her older brother who seems to enjoy making her life difficult!
The other student was Emily from Taiwan who has also grown up in America. She's in her mid/late twenties is my guess and can read and write mandarin, so the main thing for her is pronouncing the Cantonese words. She's living with her cousin in Hong Kong and seems to fill her days with shopping and domestic chores, but only because she doesn't really know other people here.
At the end I asked if they would mind if i stayed in their class and it was settled i could stay. I was really pleased as three students was so much better than seven and we had a lot of fun during class. A bit later Laurent joined us, he was 22 years old and is Swiss Vietnamese, about to go to Beijing to do a year's research in Physics and has a girlfriend from Shenzhen living in Hong Kong.
What a great bunch... we had a lot of fun and started having lunches and dinners together.

Wilson's Trail

I was invited to go on a hike this week, and I was very pleased as it would be a great way to see a part of Hong Kong that I wouldn't normally see and to meet some new people. Little did I know what was in store for me!
I was told that we would be leaving at 11pm at night (too hot during the day), 11 people, 20km and we'd take about 7-8hours. Now I was thinking... hmmm how can a 20km walk take 7-8 hours?
I took with me 3L of water, a fold up umbrella, some dried mangoes and raisins and a torch all in a shopping bag. The others were a bit surprised when I turned up looking like i was off on a shopping trip.
Anyways off we went...
We walked up a mountain where we got some of the most incredible views over the New Territories, but for some reason we didn't stop to take in the scenery we just pointed and said wow and kept walking...?! Actually there wasn't much talking the whole trip, except perhaps to say "siu sum" meaning be careful as there were plenty of slippery bits.
After a few hours we got to the Hok Tau Resevoir and had our longest break the whole night...10mins. People even took their bags off! I was hoping for a swim but apparently you can't swim where there are no lifesavers.
So we set off on the next stage of the walk, straight up the mountainside again and here is where i found how a 20km trip could take all night. The terrain here is very steep and we went up and down up and down all night long. I was absolutely completely and utterly buggered by the end of the night. Meanwhile the others seemed to be doing fine. Much respect to Hong Kong hikers!
I've tried to give some perspective of the elevation using a Google Earth picture, however it looks like it is flat on top, which it certainly wasn't! We walked from sea level up to the top and back down and back up again. And up top there was plenty of ups and downs. Arrgghhh!

For more information and maps on the Wilson Trail see: http://www.hkwalkers.net/longtrail/eng/wtrai/wtrail.html

30 July, 2009

Guess how old I am...

When going out in the Cross the other night, I got asked for ID. Now you would have thought that being twice the legal age that the bouncer may have over looked me, but no... he didn't bat an eyelid when he looked at my license. We figured that if he couldn't count that high that we could get in.
People rarely guess my age in Australia, however I would have thought that in Hong Kong that people wouldn't have the same difficulty. But to my surprise they have exactly the same difficulty, even relatives! So that puts pay to the cultural differences rationale.
Not such a bad problem to have really.

Things I didn't realise I don't know how to do...

Being in HK with all these relatives around, with perhaps a little bit of fussing going on... I've discovered that in all these years I do not yet know how to:
• eat soup
• use a fan
• turn on an air-conditioner

Come back regularly to see what else i have yet to learn how to use!