Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Trip to Jervis Bay

Ever since my wife bought a book about Jervis Bay (about 6 years ago) she wanted to go there and explore. This year, we allocated two days of the extra long weekend for such trip.

The day before the trip I went to a service station and filled up the fuel tank with Unleaded 98 to make sure I wouldn't have to refuel mid-way. I expected the 98th to provide good fuel economy, but 200 km later I couldn't believe how good it turned out to be. To finish that distance I only spent 1/8 of my 68-litre fuel tank. That amounts to 4.25 litres per 100 km - same as Fiat 500 Pop. Talk about Falcons being gas guzzlers!

While I was driving towards Jervis Bay I confirmed my long-standing belief which survived so many experiments that it can be considered a law. Let's call it Vlad's Highway Law #1 (yeah, I expect to discover more): as soon as an overtaking lane ends you will catch up with a slow-moving vehicle. Usually you spot that vehicle ahead when the overtaking lane just starts, but however fast you go, the lane will end before you have a chance to overtake that sleepy driver.

At one point I saw a warning road sign "Possums crossing". I looked at the road side and who do you think I noticed there? Two girls in bikinis! Well, I appreciate their letting me know about possums, but why wasn't there a sign about girls? Honestly, I was just a GPS-led lemming who travelled from point A to point B through complete nothingness. I had no idea whether the line of trees along the road concealed a beach or a mountain range. Apparently, it was the former. In such case a sign "Drive carefully: girls in bikinis for the next 2 km" would be much more useful than the possum warning. After all, in the history of car driving what do you think caused more road incidents - possums or scantily clad girls?

Our first destination was the place of our stopover, Coolangatta Estate. I think of it as a winery which offers accommodation and dining. A guy who was drinking beer in their restaurant probably thought of it as a pub with some overpriced house wines. I visited their cellar door before and found their wines nice but not special. However it was the first time ever when I stayed at a winery, so I didn't know what to expect: drunken parties throughout the night? People knocking on the cellar door at 3 am and asking for more?

To rate my accommodation experience I will use Kano model. It's a theory of customer satisfaction which I learned about while studying Scrum. (Never thought of its being of any use outside the work, or even at work, but there you go - I am telling you about it in my blog!) It classifies product/service features into five categories three of which I will use:
  • Delighters/exciters - features which cause customer's delight if present, but do not cause negative feelings when absent. There were two of such features: vineyard views from the verandah and a beautiful, albeit non-functional, fireplace in the room. Definitely, not what I expect from my average stay.
  • Then we have satisfiers - attributes which result in satisfaction when fulfilled and dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. In this category I should mention the size of the room - I found it pleasantly spacious. For me it's more of an aesthetic than a utilitarian quality. To think about it, why would one need a big place if all one plans to do there is to sleep? Nevertheless, I felt pretty disappointed when a guesthouse room where we stayed in Melbourne turned out to be a rather cramped one.
  • And finally there are dissatisfiers -  attributes which are taken for granted when fulfilled but result in dissatisfaction when not fulfilled. We discovered one when my wife made an attempt to close the curtains. As Olga was pulling the curtain, the rail got dislodged from the bracket and plummeted down nearly missing her. An inspection of the bracket revealed that it was fixed so close to the perpendicular wall that there was no place to attach a rod end which would act as a stopper. When I replaced the rod and carefully drew the curtains along it I also found that their size was not sufficient to cover the whole window - so much for the privacy. That was a typical example of a dissatisfier - usually one, quite mindlessly, pulls a curtain and immediately forgets about it without having any conscious sense of satisfaction from being able to block voyeurs from peeping inside one's room (unless one is paranoid, of course). However, if one can't accomplish this simple act it results in a certain, and sometimes an acute, dissatisfaction.
I actually reported the episode with the curtains to the reception lady during the check-out. The lady was so impressed by my depiction of that horrible incident which almost cost my wife her life that she forfeited the cost of our breakfast. That almost made up for the inflated price of the room. The thing is, Sunday stay usually has a low, weekday price. However, those smartasses reckoned that many people would plug the gap between the weekend and Australia Day with an annual leave or, following an Australian age-honoured tradition, a sickie, making it a super-long weekend. So they charged the full weekend rate on Sunday and they didn't get it wrong - on Saturday, when we placed a booking, there were only 4 rooms remaining out of 30+.

Right after arrival we went to the local restaurant for a lunch. There I confirmed one more law - Vlad's Law of Australian Hospitality: the further away from a state capital, the bigger the portions. Having studied the menu I was pondering whether I wanted a standard half-rack of pork ribs or I was hungry enough for a whole one. I decided to start with the standard option and, boy, was I glad I did it! Usually most of the meat is cut away from the ribs and you spend more energy extracting meat fibres from between them than you acquire from consuming the obtained protein. That half-rack had more meat on top of it than some of the steaks I ordered in restaurants.

Now about the overpriced house wines - in the restaurant they were actually the same price as at the conveniently co-located cellar door. The customers, who wanted to order a bottle, were encouraged to go to the cellar door and buy one. There they were met by an experienced lady who, just by looking at a customer, could immediately tell if the said customer wanted a cooled bottle of sparkling and if he wanted it opened on the spot. That actually happened during my visit to the cellar door and left me duly impressed by the lady's powers of observation.

This paragraph is for those curious about what I have bought at the cellar door. Interestingly, my choice was rather non-traditional for me. For one thing, I bought a sparkling wine which I had never done before at cellar doors. This time I was interested in tasting a 7-years old sparkling wine which was kept on lees for 4 years - Estate Grown CJB Sparkling Chardonnay 2009. The wine appeared to tick all the boxes in my sparkling wine checklist - it was not sour, it was brut and it had nice bitterness from the lees. Just from tasting I could not tell if the bitterness would be too much when I drink the whole bottle, but finding this out was a good reason to buy one. I also bought Estate Grown Verdelho 2015 and Estate Grown Alexander Berry Chardonnay 2014. The latter was again an unusual choice as I don't like the Chardonnay's varietal taste. The Coolangatta's version, however, didn't have much of it, but had a nice vanilla flavour from oak - either that, or I have started warming up to that variety.

As to the drunken parties, there weren't any. The closest thing to a debauch I witnessed there was a solitary man who nodded off on a verandah drinking a glass of wine. It was 9 pm.

Next day we went to Jervis Bay. It is famous for its white beaches, but there isn't much to tell about them - if you've seen one, you've seen them all. The sand is white, the water is placidly lapping at, or in the extreme cases, gently smacking the shore, the people are busy with traditional beach activities - nothing to write home about. Still, there were some curious observations and incidents that I'd like to share with you.

One thing that I noticed was that almost every beach had a rusty creek flowing through it to the sea. Yes, rusty! It's the most appropriate description of the water colour. I wonder what caused such unusual colouration. It could be something innocuous, but the brownish plume of water swirling along the beach made me reconsider my bathing intentions.

Here is an unusual succulent: it was found just on the edge of high tide, it was the first one I saw with an umbel, and its leaves, when broken, had a pleasant fennel flavour. I gave it to Olga to smell and she asked me how come I always found nice-smelling leaves while the ones she picked were mostly plain. I had to let her in on a little secret - I gave her only the nice ones to smell. I wish there was a easy way to identify those plants - some of them would make terrific spices.

A man in a spacesuit attaches a giant huntsman spider to a tractor. No, I was not stoned - I have a photo-evidence!

A lighthouse which was so badly constructed and placed that it had to be exploded in order to prevent it from misguiding ships.

A road to the sea, literally. In fact it was a boat ramp with a small appendix for cars to make a U-turn. Surprisingly, there was no parking near the ramp so we just stopped for a minute at the U-turn spot marked with No Parking sign, to make some photos. Now imagine this - as soon as I moved beyond the regulatory 3 metres from my car, there appeared a Federal Police vehicle, the inhabitants of which reprimanded me for parking in the wrong spot. I immediately jumped back to my car and pledged not guilty as the regulatory two minutes had not expired yet. And you know what - they actually waited there to make sure we left in the due time. Now, that's what I call efficient public service!

Nothing special about this picture, but I believe everyone will find something to enjoy in it.

Found this in Vincentia - a corrupt place, obviously, but I took note of the number, just in case...

And I'll leave you with another one of my TGIF photos.

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