Friday, March 27, 2009


Spending the day at NASA in Houston, where they have very large space vehicles like this Saturn V. Cool.

Edit: Here's another one from the day since I got my photos onto the computer. This is a Mercury capsule which is just large enough for one man to orbit the Earth. 'Faith 7', to be precise.

Diane's Visit - Houston

Alan took Thursday and Friday off, so we took a trip down to Houston. Diane wanted to see NASA, and we wanted a curry!

There was a huge thunderstorm parked over Houston when we arrived, which scuppered any plans of seeing anything much Thursday afternoon, so we checked into our hotel and crashed out for a bit. The rain eventually stopped, which let us out to investigate the Houston Ginger Man for a couple of beers.

We finally got our long-awaited curry too, which was really very good. Why can't anyone sell a decent curry in Austin?!?!?!

Friday was spent at NASA. There's another blog post about this so let's have some different photos here. We all enjoyed going round the facility, it's a really good day. We were tired at the end of it though.

This is the control room where they managed all the Apollo missions from in the 1960s.

Here's a moon buggy. I'm on the moon!

We got back on Saturday a bit after lunchtime and I scooted straight off to Tamzin's house to help her prepare for the huge party she was throwing that evening. Diane and Alan joined me later, armed with a keg of beer, woo-hoo!

The party was a James Bond themed one and seemed to go pretty well. Alan was performing bartender duties and made sure everyone had enormous vodka martinis.

At the beginning of the evening, Rusty the balloon pilot called me and asked if I'd crew for her the next morning. Just as well I was driving then so I hadn't had any beer at this point!

Up at 05:30 for the drive to Round Rock, where five of us helped Rusty get airborne.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Diane's Visit - Rodeo

As the Austin Rodeo was on during Diane's visit, we had to go!

The rodeo is kicked off by the singing of the National Anthem.

Six-year-old kids ride sheep in the Mutton Bustin' event. It's hilarious to watch.

Calf roping.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Diane's Visit - Austin

My friend Diane came to visit for two weeks, which is why I haven't been updating this blog much - we have been way too busy showing here about! So here are some photos from her time in Texas.

Here's the view from the Iguana Grill, where we met with Tamzin and her family, and her friend Alison who was also visiting. This shows how low the water level is in Lake Travis right now.

We went to the Bob Bullock State History museum in Austin, to give Diane an introduction to Texas. This mural is on the floor as you walk in.

We did a boat tour at the Aquarena Center. This is the bottom of the lake in San Marcos, where fresh water springs bubble out. Several rare or unique species live here.

We took a look around the Texas State Capitol building in Austin. Being as Diane works in a law-related occupation, we both found it interesting that the Legislature is currently in session, so we had the opportunity to hear them passing a few laws.

Lawmaking appears to be done by computer these days:

Meanwhile, a school choir was singing in the main hall. I've never seen this place so busy.

Here's a view of the Capitol dome from the annex outside.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Fastball live in Austin

Fastball opened the free concert on Auditorium Shores that is past of the SXSW music festival. They were awesome as always. We love Fastball!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Collings Foundation Tour

The Collings Foundation operate various warbirds and tour them around the country each year. You can get rides in most of them or just have a look round.

I went down to San Marcos this time and was fortunate to see them all arrive.

First in was the Mustang...

Shiny, eh?



Blackhawk, just passin' through...

And last but not least, the Huey.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Taylor Air Race

Last Sunday was Taylor Air Race, in which a bunch of pilots with go-faster stripes on their planes (amongst other mods) compete in a timed lap of the local area. Although it's not really a spectator sport, the takeoffs and landings are photographable, so off I trotted to Taylor to do just that.

This was the biggest and fastest competitor, a Swearingen SA226:

More pictures are in the usual spot.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ludo at Emo's

We went downtown to get a meal out and go see a band. Haven't been downtown in months, so this was a nice change.

First stop was in the Iron Cactus, where we sat on their open balcony upstairs and had the most monster portion sizes of food. It was nice enough but way too much! Normally we would take it home in a to-go box but you can't really do that when going on somewhere else. Still, it was very pleasant sitting in the evening sun and watching the world while we ate.

Onwards, then, to Emo's where we joined the line and waited for a whlie until the doors opened. There were four bands here tonight; we were here to see the headliners, Ludo. Last summer they played at Batfest and were awesome, so we wanted to see them again.

Sadly, Emo's has just won the Alan-rated "worst sound system in Austin" trophy. Watching the first band we were treated to wooden bass and horrible room distortion. We stuck it out for a while and retreated outside, where the sound was great! So we enjoyed the next two bands from the comfort of some barstools outside....

Ludo finally came on so we went back inside. They were great, of course, if marred by the dodgy sound. They always have fun when they play. Look at the keyboard player on the left, here; that grin didn't leave his face once! So all in all, a good evening; nice to be out.

Saturday, March 07, 2009


I had a fortuitous meeting with our new neighbour last weekend. He's the one who has bought the land next door and has been clearing it, preparing to build his house. All the cedar trees he took down have been slowly converted into piles of woodchip mulch by a small army of men with various chewing machines.

So, I asked what he intended to do with all this, and he said I could have as much as I liked! Bonza! Thus I spent last Sunday moving several bin-loads of it to make our front courtyard look nicer, as most of the mulch in it had been washed away.

Here's one side, before; all scraggly and unkempt:

And here's the other side, with new chippings (I took the pics halfway through the process):

I managed to capture enough to also do the flowerbeds just outside the front gate, before the army returned and redistributed all the mulch with diggers, all over the neighbour's land. Thanks, neighbour! Very generous.

Meanwhile, if you sit outside after a hard day's mulch moving, with a nice cold beer, you can be rewarded with a lovely Texas sunset:

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Moon and Venus

The Moon and Venus were in conjuction on the 27th February. There was a lot of high cloud haze but it was very thin; enough that we could see the sights but it caused a big halo around them, especially later on after I took this shot.

The streak on the right is an aircraft passing by ;-)