Canberra's weather is so much nicer than Melbourne's! I can honestly say that I'd swap in an instant, all other things being constant. It's certainly very cold, but the beautifully sunny days more than make up for it. Melbourne is so dreary in comparison; it might be warmer on average, but it's so wet and overcast that it doesn't really matter. I like Canberra
This morning was spent rollerblading around Lake Burley Griffin with Dale and a friend of hers. It was simply good fun, under a crystal-clear sky and on a Sunday morning when most other people were still in bed. I hadn't rollerbladed in a while, so I was a bit awkward at first, and yes, I did stack it once. I thought I'd get a bit adventurous and see if I could still do a slide-stop - which I couldn't, as I decided as I was tumbling along the path Very good fun though - and the scars are minimal
Lunch today was at some yacht club on the lake. I had to sweet-talk one of the staff into serving us though, as we didn't have reservations. The little boy act seemed to work fairly well here though, and we managed to get our food without too much trouble. I wish I could remember the name of the place; will have to check, as it's worth going back to (and perhaps even with a reservation next time ).
The War Memorial was our next destination, after leaving Dale's friend and returning my rented blades. If you haven't been to see it, I strongly suggest you do so - it's well worth it.
Outside the War Memorial there were a bunch of Army Reserve recruiting people holding a bit of a demonstration/recruiting day. I pointed out the Austeyr and Minimi to Dale (they're the toys I'm most familiar with) and one of the NCOs present saw me doing so. They were letting children play with the weapons, and he asked if I'd like to hold one. Of course I said yes, and he handed it to me - incorrectly, and with the safety off. Before I'd thought too much about what I was doing, I'd cleared the weapon (it involves removing the barrel and having a look into the chamber to see that there are no rounds there). He looked at me a bit strangely after that
To be fair, I was trying to needle him a bit; it also happened that the weapon was a Steyr S, which has removable sights that you can replace with different scopes etc, and as I hadn't seen this particular type of scope before I was a bit curious. Anyway, once he'd determined that I didn't have any live rounds in my pockets he calmed down a bit and we had a bit of a chat. Very interesting, and good for a chuckle or two
On to the War Memorial itself... I should mention that it has a web site, here. It's divided into different sections for all of the different conflicts in which Australian soldiers have been involved. We were a little rushed in going through, however, and adding this to the fact that there is simply so much to see meant that I didn't really get to see nearly as much as I'd hoped. It's really a multiple-day exercise in itself... Next time I'm in the city however, I plan to go back and see more of it for myself.
I guess the main reason I was so impressed by the entire Memorial is that it doesn't glorify war. The designers actually made the distinction between glorifying the fallen for the supreme sacrifice they made, without glorifying the existence of war itself. On the contrary, they have gone out of their way to illustrate just how terrible war is, and the devastation, both personal and national, that it can leave in its wake.
When we left I was feeling pretty sober - as one does - and I'm afraid I wasn't very pleasant company for the next few hours. One lesson that can be learned from this is not to plan anything that requires good cheer after visiting. It was a very moving experience; just not a happy one.
Dinner for Sunday was at La Scala, an excellent little place in Civic. And now, as I was officially on Telstra's time, the corporate Diners Club card was given a bit of a warm-up.