Neologisms required

As rich as the English language is, sometimes there are moments where there is no English word available to adequately describe that experience. I had two such moments on my cycle to work this morning.

Firstly, that moment, when you’re out on a foggy morning, when the mist disperses sufficiently for you to feel the warmth of the sun on your face for the first time. A subtle, but truly delicious moment that deserves its own word in the English lexicon.


Secondly, only moments before I took the photograph above, an elderly gentleman walking along saw some litter on the path (an empty beer can), and in a ‘civic minded’ gesture dealt with it by picking it up and … throwing it in the Styx Creek drain, the satisfied look on his face betraying his obvious belief that in throwing the can there he had somehow magically made it disappear! Surely the English language has space for one more word to describe this particular kind of insanity?

Any suggestions?

Cycleway ambivalence

Newcastle Council is currently constructing a new section of cycleway on Jackson St Hamilton North, which is on my regular route of cycling to work. I’m feeling pretty ambivalent about it. On the one hand I’m pleased to see any money spent on cycleway infrastructure. But on the other hand this project continues a tradition of building cycleways where they are least needed, and by implication not building them where they are needed.


Jackson St, Hamilton North.

Jackson St in Hamilton North is effectively a hybrid one-way street/cul-de-sac, as you can’t turn into it from Griffiths Rd. Apart from school start/end times it is a very quiet street with virtually no traffic, and therefore little added benefit in having a cycleway separate to the road. (If you click on the photo and zoom in, you can actually see a person standing in the middle of the street, with absolutely no danger of being hit by a car!)

Its a similar scenario on Griffiths Road alongside Richardson Park, where last year the council constructed a cycleway along a section of road that already had a wide and rarely occupied verge/cycle lane.

Griffiths Rd, Hamilton North.

Griffiths Rd, Hamilton North.

And the same scenario on Hobart Rd New Lambton, a year or two ago when a new cycle path was constructed along a section of road with a rarely occupied parking/cycle lane.

Hobart Rd, New Lambton.

Hobart Rd, New Lambton.

I’m guessing that the reason why the cycle paths are being built where they’re not really needed is that council has only a limited budget for cycling infrastructure – the places where cycleways are needed are in congested areas, where construction would be difficult and expensive, and the budget isn’t big enough. So instead the only option is to spend the money on smaller, easier projects, which will tend to be in locations where a separate cycle path isn’t really needed.

So where is it needed? My regular cycling route from Lambton to Wickham is fairly cycle friendly, so I don’t have much to complain of. The most obvious spot for improvement is Chatham Rd, Clyde St, and the Clyde St railway crossing in Hamilton North. I’d love to see a  dedicated cycle path along this stretch.

A cycleway here, please.

A cycleway here, please.

Actually, if I dream big dreams like Mark MacLean, I’d love to see a cycleway built on the following route, after the former gasworks site is remediated and turned into a nature reserve.

A cycleway here, pretty please?

A cycleway here, pretty please?

And finally, there is one other thing that makes me less than excited about the new cycleway in Jackson St – and that’s the pace of construction.

Jackson Street shared pathway construction.

Jackson Street shared pathway construction.

The council’s sign says that constructing 375 metres of cyclist pathway is “expected to take four months”! That works out to an average rate of progress of 3.1 metres per day! That’s a rate that I was going to describe as “glacial”, but when in the interests of scientific accuracy I looked up how fast glaciers can travel, I found that back in 2014 the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland made a new world record when its pace was measured at more than 46 metres per day, which is 15 times faster than the Jackson Street cycleway. I am thus forced to invent a new adjective, and describe the pace of construction as “subinfraglacial”.

Jakobshavn Glacier. (WikiMedia)

Jakobshavn Glacier. (WikiMedia)

Creature from the drain

Cycling home from work this afternoon I found this tortoise, on Bates Street Hamilton North, rapidly dehydrating in the heat of today, and in a prime position for being run over by a car. I placed her1 beside the road under a tree and verified that I was looking at a live’n and not a dead’n, and then pondered for a while.

I’m guessing that with the recent heavy rains she’s been washed down the drain and eventually managed to crawl out in Hamilton North. I wondered what to do for a while – putting her back in the bare concrete drain nearby didn’t seem suitable, so I carried her upstream in my lunchbox, and released her in Kerai Creek in Lambton Park, which is looking pretty nice after the recent restoration work by Hunter Water.

I went back later in the evening with my daughter to see how she was going, and found her lying submerged in the middle of the flow, and my immediate thought was “oh no, she’s slipped in and drowned”, but on picking her up she poked her head out slightly and gave me a healthy but  exasperated “not you again” look.

My daughter has named her “Flo”.


1. Actual gender unknown. Assumed gender for narrative purposes.

Occident Accident

A couple of months ago in an e-mail conversation with Mark Maclean we noted that in Hamilton North and Broadmeadow there is a “Boreas St” (North) and an “Orient St” (East) and an “Australia Rd” (South).  I jestingly wondered about the missing compass point, and the whereabouts of “Occident Rd” (West).

NSEI actually did a search on Google Maps and found that the closest was an “Occident St” in Nulkaba, which interestingly has a companion “Boreas St” and “Austral St”, but is missing an “Orient St”.

Then a few days ago when I was putting together the web page for my January 2016 article for the Lambton Local, I accidentally and serendipitously discovered on a 1906 real estate map that there was an “Occident Rd”, in neighbouring Waratah West!

WThis road was closed in 1910, and Christo/Christie Rd shortened.

OccidentRdClosedBy overlaying the old map onto Google Earth you can get a sense of where Occident Rd used to be, in the area which is now part of the Acacia Avenue Reserve.

WGESo is there any intentional connection between these streets? I have seen no direct evidence of this, but it is somewhat suggestive that when you look at a map of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve (below) where the reserve boundary is marked in green, that Occident Rd is adjacent to the west boundary, Orient St is adjacent to the east boundary and Boreas St is on a north boundary of the reserve. Coincidence or not? Unfortunately Australia St is not near any boundary.


Spring has swooped in


“Cracticus tibicen hypoleuca male domain” by JJ Harrison ( – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons.

Many people have various markers as to when spring has sprung. I have three, all of which have happened in the last couple of weeks:

  1. Taking my gloves off while riding to work.
  2. The smell of blood and bone fertiliser in the air.
  3. Being swooped by a magpie, which happened to me yesterday in Chatham Road, Hamilton North, just in time for the official start of spring today.


I’ve been checking every day, and right on cue, on the first day of spring my mulberry tree sprouted its first green leaf buds.