Finding Time…

What with living only 10 minutes walk from the beach, you’d think we’d be down there everyday trying to carpe diem seize the day – especially at the moment during the peak Summer holiday period, where even our dog is sunning herself for hours out in the midday sun. Indeed, this is when all the ring-ins descend on the beach like “plagues of locusts”, as though they own the place. Clearly, if the crowds are any indication, the beach is where we’re supposed to be (although social distancing, of course, this year!)

However, just because we live near the beach, doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on with the realities of life just like everyone else. There’s going to work, school, and our endless battle with trying to sort out, maintain and renovate our house and garden. On top of that, there are the personal crises which affect most families from time to time and despite all the advise to take time out for self-care, it’s very hard (at least for me) to fight my fixation on the problem and a need to get it sorted, which isn’t going to happen if I’m swanning down the beach.

Moreover, this Summer has been uncharacteristically cool, and we’ve also experienced frequent heavy rain. While there are some who still feel the need to get outside even in the rain (and they often have a dog or two in tow), I don’t like get wet at the best of times and being rained on is just plain yuck.

Yet, at the same time, there’s still been enough sunny days to at least encourage me to go for a swim, for Geoff and I to go for a walk, and maybe even the four of us to venture along the beach as a family. That is, if we could actually hit our teenagers over the head with a baseball bat so they don’t mind being seen down at the beach with mum and dad…HOW EMBARRASSING!!

Yet, sometimes, you just need to be forceful. Make it happen.

Finally, Geoff and I actually made if over to Patonga Beach, a 15 minute drive away, and walked along the beach and rocks together where we could soak up each other’s company, and also immerse ourselves in such natural beauty. I really love walking along the rocks, and even though I’m now 51 and have well and truly outgrown my spade and bucket, I still remember going exploring through the rockpools with my dad as a kid, and my incredible delight at finding little crabs and shells. Indeded, even now, exploring the rocks reminds me Keats’ immortal poem: On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer:

Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Such incredible markings in the rocks.

What really struck me about visiting the rock platform at Patonga, was the swirling pattern in the rocks. As Geoff pointed out, the swirls were created as the sandstone was being deposited, seemingly by the ocean currents. We don’t know. We’re not geologists, but we do have inquiring minds. So, if any of you are any wiser and know how these swirls got into the rock, we would love to know.

How were these interesting and very striking markings in the sandstone formed?

I have spent years climbing over rocks at the beach. Back when my parents used to have a place at Whale Beach, I used to spend hours down there by the myself, and I’d go down on to the rocks and watch the furious encounters between land and sea. I’d sit on this massive rock, which jutted out into the waves like a mini headland and the waves crashed out the front and swooshed up the side. It was very spectacular, and I almost felt consumed by the ocean, I was that close.

I almost always walk over the rocks in bare feet. Of course, it feels very footloose and fancy-free. Indeed, feeling the sensation of the rough sandstone underfoot, the discomfort of stepping onto those pokey blue periwinkle shells which jab into your feet, is such a sensory experience. It’s just not the same in shoes where your feet can’t see, feel or even breathe it all in. it is as real as real can be especially with the sea breeze slapping your hair into your face. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind at all. I’m fully and completely alive.

It’s interesting too, because each beach is unique. They might look similar, but each and every beach has its own fingerprint embedded in the sand and surf, and it’s own soul bellowing out through the waves and making its presence felt. You can even drive from one beach to the next around here, and the motion of the waves, the action and intensity of the surf, and the nature of the rocks all vary. You could never get bored. Or, at least you shouldn’t. There’s always so much to explore and absorb and it’s all different.

Looking across to Palm Beach from Patonga. You can barely see it, but the Palm Beach Light House sits on top of that headland.

It’s not often Geoff and I go to the beach together. I’ll blame him for that. He goes sailing most Saturdays, and is more of a flat water soul. I enjoy going to the beach, but not when it’s really sunny and I’m likely to fry like an egg and just get burned. I also enjoy sailing, but more on my Dad’s bigger yacht or going out on the kayak. I don’t know how to sail the laser myself.

The other trouble Geoff and I have is trying to find some spare time. Time is constantly going up in smoke, and although our kids are teenagers, they still take up a fair bit of time and emotional energy, and are more likely to need us spontaneously. Indeed, that’s why they have the mobile phones. It’s not so we can keep track of them. It’s so they can keep us on a constant leash…”Taxi!”

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

Our Family Taken Christmas Day 2020

However, it’s also important for Mum and Dad to have time together and not just so-called “quality time”, which to me is the biggest cop out ever. From where I sit, it’s very hard to have true quality time if you don’t spend enough quantity time together. Indeed, there’s a lot to be said for just sitting a long side someone for awhile, and simply going fishing or going for a drive. By spending time together, you gain a sense of the whole person, and not just a series of disjointed snapshots. You can tell a few stories, and create a few as well. Indeed, being close to someone is being able to read them like a book. I don’t know about you, but when I read a book, I don’t just speed read from cover to cover. I usually read with a pen in hand and underline my favourite bits. Indeed, I also read in between the lines. After all, good writers don’t spell everything out for us in the text, especially when it comes to poetry. (Humph! No wonder I haven’t read many books lately!) WE have to go looking.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don’t know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
― Anais Nin

Meanwhile, Geoff and I were looking at going out for dinner tonight. However, most of the local venues are closed tonight and the weather’s a bit blah. So, we’ve ordered takeaway instead. Now that the house is looking better, it’s much more relaxing to eat at home and we’ll head out for lunch when we’re in Newcastle tomorrow.

How to you juggle relaxation, relationships and the never-ending to-do list? Have you been for any great beach walks or activities lately? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,


10 thoughts on “Finding Time…

  1. maxwellthedog

    Beaches have always been a part of our life but now that we are in California there is not much appeal for us to visit the local beaches. The water is usually a darkish green with limited visibility and for us it is just too cold. The sandy areas are huge and gorgeous but when the water is unappealing, the whole beach experience diminishes. Max likes the beaches here since there are some that are dog friendly and he likes to run on sand and smell whatever stinky thing has washed on shore. Once this pandemic subsides we’ll head back to Hawaii to visit and we’ll be back at the beach for sure.

  2. Laurie

    Wow! You certainly do live in a beautiful place! I loved seeing the photos of the blue skies, beach, and unusual rocks. Right now, it is gray and cold where I live. We didn’t get to the beach this year due to COVID. I can just imagine walking barefoot over the sand while looking at your photos. I know it doesn’t help much, but your kids will not be at home for much longer. When my youngest left the nest to go away to college, I was lost for a little bit. Of course, Hubby and I soon figured out that we had a lot more freedom with all of our kids gone, and I would say our empty nest years have been one of the happiest times of our lives! You will be there soon!

  3. Karen J Schoff

    It is so true that those who live close to the beach often forget to go there. When we lived in Ceduna, which is right on the western coast of South Australia, we were only a few minutes from the beach. But we hardly ever went there. Unfortunately it wasn’t the nice sandy kind of beach. More the rough rocky kind strewn with broken bottles. How I wish we lived near the beach now!

  4. Rowena Post author

    Didn’t know you’d lived in Ceduna. I’ve been through there when I drove across to Perth with a friend in around 1995. It had a frontier feel to it back then.
    It’s funny you should mention broken bottles on the beach at Ceduna. As you may be aware, I’ve been researching WWI and I found out that it was a bit of a thing to throw a message in a bottle overboard as they were crossing the Great Australian Bight. There was a guy living near Mt Gambier who found almost 180 bottles on the beach and he forwarded the messages onto their intended destinations along with a cover letter. They don’t make too many people like him anymore.
    Did you ever make it to Esperance? We only drove through but it was so pretty. The colour of the ocean was incredible.
    How are school holidays going for you? They’re going pretty well here. We were planning to visit my sister-in -law near Byron Bay but there was an increase in cases and we didn’t want to risk it. As it turns out, it probably would’ve been okay but I think it’s helped having people stay close to home.
    I ended up exploring Norah Head and the lighthouse with my daughter this afternoon after picking her up from camp. We had a wonderful time having lunch together and exploring. She was getting tired by the end and I overdid it getting back up the stairs to the beach. I was feeling invincible going down, but my heart was pounding for quite awhile after I returned to the top but it was so worth it. I want to go back.

  5. Rowena Post author

    You must be missing Hawaii. I miss you being in Hawaii and your posts. The restrictions on travel are disappointing. Understandable and necessary, but still disappointing. What are the infection rates like where you are? Hope you’re keeping okay. Congratulations on the new President.

  6. Rowena Post author

    A lake also sounds lovely and quite reflective. I visited Norah Head today which is surrounded by some pretty rough surf and there’s actually a lighthouse there, which says a lot. I loved watching the incredible violent force of the waves. It was incredible. Our beach is much more sedate.

  7. Karen J Schoff

    We lived in Ceduna from 1996-2001 and then moved to QLD. Dan was born in Ceduna but Bec had to be born in Adelaide due to lack of doctors. Yes we did make it to Esperance. My brother lives in Perth, so we thought it would make sense to visit WA while we were reasonably close to the border. We spent 3 weeks travelling around the bottom part of WA, coming back via Kalgoorlie. Would love to go back. Our holidays are going well too. Dan is back into his routine at Yellow Bridge and Bec and I will be back into study in late Feb. Meanwhile we’re just poking around, might do some day trips around the region. I’m not sure if any of the broken bottles in Ceduna had messages – probably just from the locals. By the time we were there I think they had banned glass and public areas were dry zones. We enjoyed our time in Ceduna. It gets a bad rap in the media sometimes but it’s different if you actually live there. The people were really good. Good fishing too.

  8. Rowena Post author

    I’d really like to drive across the Nullarbor to Perth as a family road trip. Goodness know when that will be possible on the border front and timing could be a problem too. Our son is about to turn 17. Hard to know whether he’ll move out at the first opportunity or still be living at home at 40. It can be hard to pick.
    I went round Southern WA and spent a week in Denmark, which was lovely. It was Spring and the wildflowers were amazing the scent of the expansive wattle groves is something I’ve never forgotten.
    I ended up living in Geraldton for a year and working for the Chamber of Commerce. That was probably similar to Ceduna, and the climate was rugged with very strong winds and searing heat in Summer. However, like you say of Ceduna, the people were great and it was the experience of a lifetime to live over there and changed my thinking quite a lot.

  9. maxwellthedog

    We miss some aspects but, surprisingly, fewer than we expected. The beach is definitely one of missed things, though. We are aiming for a home visit maybe in mid-summer based on the current rate of things. On the basis of age we are eligible for an early vaccine. Currently California is the epicenter of the infections but we’re hunkered down and feel (relatively) safe.

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