Hanami

It was 18 degrees today. Laugh if you will but for the first time this year, I was able to venture out of the house in just a shirt. In fact, I even rolled my sleeves up. In contrast, when I lived in tropical Broome, if the temperature fell below 30, people got their winter coats out. And just yesterday, for the first time this year, the temperature in Sapporo was not less than that in Perth:

By the way, it didn’t rain today but they are still forecasting it for tomorrow. The weather gadget on my iphone forecasts rain every day. It’s like the boy who cried wolf. I’ve decided that unless I can actually see it raining, I shall ignore all forecasts of rain from now until the end of summer. I reckon at worst I’ll get wet one time in ten.

This weekend, we celebrated the transience of beauty with a quick inspection of the cherry blossoms in Maruyama Park. Cherry blossom viewing, or hanami in Japanese, is an annual tradition across the nation. The blossoms only last a couple of weeks so when they are out, everyone rushes to the park with the most cherry trees and sets up shop under the blossoms and either has a pleasant picnic or gets outrageously drunk. When I was in Tokyo I heard stories of the office juniors being sent to spend the night in Ueno Park to stake out the best turf for the corporate cherry blossom viewing but at Maruyama Park, it only seemed to be groups of families and friends. It was still quite busy:

There were plenty of barbecues all fired up and some groups were very organised indeed:

There’s nothing like sharing a keg of beer in the park. Kaz and I didn’t hang around to eat and drink, though. We were enjoying the warm weather on our leisure bicycles and, as members of the Maruyama Zoo, we had to move up the hill to inspect the animals.

I said “strewth, g’day cobber” to the kangaroos at the zoo but I think, like me, they were too busy enjoying being outside after spending the winter indoors. The bear was a different story and was active and apparently hungry after the winter’s hibernation. He scared the bejaysus out of these kids shortly after the photo below was taken with a solid charge at the glass pane.

Maybe he thought the tubby kid in a hat would be quite tasty with a bit of apple sauce. On the way home, I did manage to come across what I might describe as the worst cycle lane ever, if the internet wasn’t full of worse examples.

It’s fairly freshly painted. It makes you wonder what they were thinking while they painted it. Not that it matters, everyone completely ignores cycle lanes here anyway. Maybe they just had too much paint at the depot.

The weather was still very pleasant on Sunday for the Team Attic group ride. The boys generally take off at a fair old pace and Kaz has trouble keeping up, plus the ride is a bit long, especially when we factor in the 30km we ride to the meeting point and back, so we’ve decided to start taking a short cut and meet everyone again near the end of the ride. We had a pretty nice ride, first along the coast and then along a narrow road through the bottom bit of the mountains to the north. If you look carefully, you can see there’s still a bit of snow on top of the mountains in the distance:

And here’s Kazuko storming up a little climb through the woods:

We still did just under 100km by the time we got back home. And then I opened a bottle of wine and spent the evening watching the Giro. Isn’t Cadel doing well? Does anyone think he can get back the minute and a half or so that the villainous Vinokourov has stolen from him? Sure Vinokourov is a doper but I think he’s really despised because of his striking resemblance to perennial cinema bad guy Rutger Hauer. In any case, it’s the Zoncolan climb coming up this Sunday. I have another bottle of wine booked for it.

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