Sunday, 21 July 2013

The Australian Institute of Sport

 The indoor stadium, where in his misspent youth Simon saw Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, Joe Cocker and Jon English, and worked on a production of Aida.
While in Canberra last year we took advantage of being in the same town as the Australian Institute of Sport. Although the Institute's focus is training elite athletes, members of the public can join the AIS for AUD$63 a month and attend exercise classes and use the gym and swimming pool.

We chose to do daily morning aqua aerobics classes in the indoor 25m shallow pool. It was a friendly and welcoming group. For us hardy European types the water was heated to scarcely lower than bath temperature, but all the locals were complaining about how cold it was. I reckon the water temperature was at least 28°C. The pool is 1.1m deep for its entire length, and Simon found he was continually scraping his knees. I had no such problems, but we both struggled with the levels of co-ordination required for the Wednesday aqua Zumba class.

The swim centre is the building to the left.
The facilities at the AIS are excellent, as you would expect from an institution that receives much of the AUD$170M annual government funding for elite sport in Australia. Politicians perceive elite sporting achievement as very important to Australians, and as a result it is generously supported -- some would say at the expense of other less glamorous but ultimately more significant things (such as hospitals or even sport at a school and community level).
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Guided Walk: As part of the Archaeology Festival de la trace aux gestes there is a guided visit on Thursday 25 July to the Abbey of Saint Pierre in Preuilly (bring binoculars for looking at the capitals if you can) followed by a walking tour of the town to see various historic buildings and learn about their past. After the walk you can also attend a flint knapping demonstration at the museum, very educational and suitable for young and old. (Note: the commentary will be in French, but the demonstration and walk are both worth doing even if you don't understand the language, so long as you are interested in history, architecture and pre-history.) Meet at the Maison de Pays (Tourist Office) in Preuilly at 3 pm.
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Ile de Ré Reflections: A view of Ars-en-Ré.
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A la cuisine hier: 22 Blueberry Muffins baked, using some of the blueberries I picked the other day in the Sologne when Antoinette, Pauline and I went on a blueberry picking expedition after Walt blogged about it. All the blueberries disobligingly sank to the bottom, despite me following the instructions to coat them in a little flour to prevent this happening.

A kilo each of sour cherries and redcurrants boiled up together and strained through the jelly bag, ready to make sharp spicy ruby coloured jelly which can be used in both sweet and savoury dishes. Delicious with cheese and strong flavoured cold meats, but also spread between sponge cakes or used like jam on toast.
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SAP AGM: I attended the Société d'Archaeologique de Preuilly Assemblée Génerale yesterday afternoon in the Salle des Fêtes. It was a choice between having the air-conditioning on or being able to hear the speaker, so it wasn't all that pleasant. Not much news -- I see the key members frequently enough to be up to date. I managed to get at least two people's names wrong whilst mingling before the meeting got underway. Oh well...
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Swimming: The difference in the weather between yesterday and the day before was particularly marked. Friday it rained all morning, at times quite heavily. It wasn't really cold, but only the diehards were at the pool and we swam happily through the rain, with Laurent directing poolside under a large umbrella. Yesterday I reckon it had already hit 30° C by the time we arrived at the pool at 10.30 am. There were probably more people than I've seen there before enjoying the water, but we still got a good swim in, dodging the occasional child on a floating mat or thrashing their way to daddy.

3 comments:

  1. Your muffin batter was too thin!

    Pauline also made a batch...
    didn't coat the blueberries either...
    and the froot stayed where it was.
    But they are rather lovely to eat... only four left!

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  2. I guess 170 million Aussie dollars spent on elite sport is arguably a lot of money. However, to put these numbers into perspective I would like to know how much money is spent on elite culture (dance, art, music,etc) by this same government.

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  3. HT: I take your point that important research is at least partly funded by the 170M. I can't find any figures that compare apples with apples, but it seems total Australian government spending on culture is 2-3 times the total spend on sport. It is interesting to do even this broad comparison, as it is very easy to be impressed by big numbers taken in isolation. I was surprised at the spend ratio -- which I am guessing from your comment is not uncommon.

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