Dorothy had travelled the world using her magic ruby slippers, and she was no longer the fresh-faced, young girl who had followed the Yellow Brick Road into Oz. Indeed, she was now older than Aunt Em had ever been, and it was time to hang up her shoes. However, she had no idea where to leave them, or how to pass the baton on. Immobilised, the shoes took over, and they touched down in front of New Zealand’s Great Shoe Fence. Problem solved. Dorothy hung them up, and waited until a young woman took them home…Jacinda. She had extraordinary plans.
There were quite a few directions I could’ve taken with this prompt. I had no idea what the “Raise Plow” sign meant. Being from Sydney, we haven’t had to deal with snow plows. Apparently, the sign is used to alert drivers of snow clearing vehicles to raise the snowplow that can get damaged due to construction plates hidden under snow or speed bump on the road. So, my focus was drawn more towards the hanging pile of shoes. What did that mean? I wasn’t too cluey on that front either. However, I did recall a shoe fence we’d stumbled across on our honeymoon in New Zealand 20 years ago. That was the starting point for this story. It’s a place where old shoes go to die. However, some people seem to find a pair there as well, and breathe fresh life into them. So I thought I’d find a special pair of shoes which could be left behind, and found this incredible pair of Ruby Slippers designed by jeweller Harry Winston to acknowledge the 50th Anniversary of the movie in 1989. They are made of real diamonds and rubies and are worth a cool $3 million. Wow!
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed my story and additions.
Here’s a flashback to a family sailing trip from 2014 at Palm Beach, Sydney when J was 10 and Miss was 8. Miss wasn’t real keen on sailing back then, although she quite enjoys Papa’s Boat now. So, let’s raise a glass to precious memories, growing up and great adventures.
If you have been following my blog lately, you’ll know that we are currently on holidays at Palm Beach, Sydney.At least, we were. School and us have gone back and I’m a bit behind with my posts.
Palm Beach has to be pretty close to paradise. If you have ever watched the TV drama series Home & Away, you’ll be familiar with its glorious surf beach with golden sand and the historic lighthouse standing sentry. However, there is another, equally stunning, side to paradise.The Pittwater side with its sparkling, diamond carpet of relatively still water…a calm, tranquil alter-ego just perfect for sailing and other water sports.
We are a sailing family. Well, at least we are trying to be.There is only one thing standing in our way… FEAR! Our daughter is terrified of sailing. Well, it’s not just sailing. It’s kayaking, swimming in the surf and even catching the…
This weekend, I’m getting in a bit of a head start. It’s Saturday afternoon – not Monday afternoon at about 2.55pm AEST when I’m clicking on the upload button with minutes to spare- or too late, as has also been the case. Anyway, it’s raining here again, and I’m having a pyjama day. I’ve been sending a few emails, and had a chat with a friend who spoke about needing “physical people”, and I mentioned that my friends online were hardly going to jump out of my computer screen to join me for a cup of tea. However, I’ve been friends with so many of you for such a long time, and our connections have been personal, even intimate. Indeed, some of you know me better than my friends on the ground, especially after these crazy covid lockdowns. We’re living in a weird world. At least, we were. Even I’m starting to venture out a bit more albeit tentatively.
We’ve had a few monumental weeks lately what with Miss turning Sweet 16 and getting her learner’s permit and driving round for hours. Then Jonathon turned 18 and officially became a man last week (whatever that means). However, this week another line was drawn in the sand and I can’t wait to see what unfolds.
As you might’ve already seen, Geoff and our son drove down to Geelong in Victoria last Saturday so he could board the Tall Ship, Young Endeavour, on Monday and sail through to Sydney. It’s a young training scheme, and the ship was gifted to Australia by the British government back in 1988 for Australia’s Bicentenary. I’d heard of the ship years ago, but our interest was piqued when we saw it berthed in Stanley when we were down in Tasmania on holidays. Geoff is a member of Gosford Sailing Club and our son was also sailing for quite a few years, but had pulled back and then there was covid.
While they were down in Geelong, Geoff and J had a chance to look around and check the region out. After seeing his photos, I decided to head on down via Google Earth to join the dots. While it was interesting to check out the waterfront and historic architecture (at least, by Australian standards), but I was particularly drawn to series of colourful bollards of historic people from the Geelong area. Here’s a link: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/03/25/bollard-people-of-geelong-australia/
Unfortunately, I didn’t make it down to Geelong because our daughter had a dance audition here, and she has another one tomorrow.
Meanwhile, I decided to start collating my flash fiction pieces. So far, all of these were written as contributions to Friday Fictioneers, which is hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. It’s been quite a fascinating and invigorating process. Some of these were quite good. Many of them that I’d thought were quite good, were a bit average on review but had a spark and I’ve rewritten probably about ten of them during the week and I’m feeling pretty stoked. I won’t talk about the rest. They seemed to pass muster at the time, but it looks like they’ll be making their way to the cutting room floor.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to meet their bollard people in person. Geoff and our son made their acquaintance while they were in Geelong last weekend. They’re so creative, and would be most suitable guests for a Mad Hatter’s tea party if only you would wave a magic wand and bring them all to life. Indeed, that would be rather interesting, and I can’t help wondering what would happen to unsuspecting Geelong if that were to come about. Would they be forces of good or evil? I don’t know. There are over 100 bollards, which were all designed by artist Jan Mitchell who was commissioned by the City of Greater Geelong in 1995 to transform reclaimed timber pier pylons into these remarkable works of art.
Well, now I feel like jumping on a plane and trying to find and identify all 48 bollards. They have this wonderful fusion of history, humour and really help to give Geelong a sense of place and character. Indeed, I’d love to see something like this in our local area. What can we do to give us character, individuality and artistic flair? Traditionally here in Australia, that has involved building something big such as Coffs Harbour’s Big Banana, the Big Prawn in Ballina, the Big Pineapple on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the Big Orange in Mildura, the Big Merino and the Big Cow at Nambour also on the Sunshine Coast. I don’t know whether it’s an achievement or a point of shame that I’ve been to all of these throughout my lifetime. Geoff resisted revisiting the Big Merina driving home from Geelong through the week.
Have you ever seen the Bollard People of Geelong? Or, perhaps you have something similar in your local area you’d like to share? I’d love to check it out.
Today, we’re going on a quick fly-by tour of Geelong, which is the second largest city in Victoria. It’s a major port located on Corio Bay, which is an an extension of Port Phillip Bay. I’ve posted two maps down below to help you get your bearings. The first map gives you the bigger picture of where Geelong is located in regard to Australia, and the second map zooms into Port Phillip Bay, and you can see Melbourne up the top on the Yarra River, which flows into Port Phillip, and Geelong on the left.
After that brief geography lesson, I should explain that our visit to Geelong is really riding on Geoff’s shoulders. Geoff was down in Geelong for the weekend depositing our son (the Infamous Mister) onto the Young Endeavour which was sailing out of Geelong on Monday, and arriving in Sydney on Wednesday 30th March nine days later. They spent two nights in Geelong before Mr sailed out and Geoff drove home yesterday (Wednesday) after he spent Tuesday stalking the ship around Port Melbourne.
Geoff quite liked Geelong, and pointed out that much of the historic architecture is still around and hasn’t been bulldozed to make way for concrete bunkers. So, you can thank him for most of these photos, although after looking at all the photos and hearing his stories, I decided to pop down there myself via Google Earth, and join the dots for myself. I’m glad I did, because it’s a really good thing to walk around the streets to get to know a place, and not just jump from spot to spot.
I have to admit I was quite grateful, because Geoff especially photographed the architecture around Geelong to give me a feel of the place, and I guess to also help me feel like I was still a part of it. I was planning to be there and was really looking forward to it, but our daughter had a dance audition here, and so it evolved into a father-and-son road trip in the end and I watched the boarding and departure via FaceTime, which actually wasn’t too bad. I really felt a part of it.
Geoff also made a particular effort to photograph doors around Geelong for me (and of course my other door affectionadoes at Thursday Doors). This means that he’s become a convert, which is rather good. Much better than him thinking we’re a bunch of nutters (even if it might be true!!)
Anyway, here’s a selection of doors Geoff spotted around Geelong:
Well, I need to call it a day. However, I will be back tomorrow to share some fascinating painted bollards which can be found around Geelong. I felt they deserved a post of their own.
In the dead of night, the archaeology team arrived at the excavation site.
“Leave no stone unturned. Legend says that if the Garden of Eden can be accessed from Israel, the gate is buried here at Beth Shan. Once we find the gate, use every trick in the book to get through. Go nuclear, if you have to. We need to know who commands the universe: Jesus, Allah, Buddha, the Wizard of Oz, or the Big Bang? Screw faith. We need proof.”
Sometimes when I respond to these photo prompts, an idea immediately leaps out at me, and I’m on my way. However, there have also been many times where I’m a bit stuck, and inspiration takes it’s time. I didn’t recognise the subject of this week’s photo prompt, but the photo had been saved as Bet-Shan. Thanks to my best friend Google, I came across the following quotes:
“The fertility of the land and the abundance of water led the Jewish sages to say, “If the Garden of Eden is in the land of Israel, then its gate is Beth Shean.”1.
“If paradise in situated in the land of Israel, its entrance is Beth Shan.2” – – Rabbi Simeon Ben Lachish, c. A.D. 350.
It’s quite interesting to think that I as an Australian who has been in and out of lockdown over the last two years, could be writing about a scene in distant Israel and basing a story there.
Although I was fully aware that I was mixing with writers from around the globe at Friday Fictioneers, I wasn’t so conscious that the photo prompts themselves also came from around the world, and that quite a few of my responses had picked up on that and my writing had developed a strangely international influence without me even leaving my chair.
By the way, this all came to my attention because I finally decided to collate my flash fiction pieces and see what I had. It’s been very insightful and I’m still going. I’ve re-written quite a few, and realised quite a few more could use “a reno” but overall I was quite pleased with what I had. However, I also realized I need to write quite a few more.
This afternoon at 1600 hours, our son set sail on board the Young Endeavour out of Geelong bound for Sydney on what’s going to be the adventure of a lifetime, and we’ll be collecting him in nine days time in Sydney. Just to put you in the mood, check this video of the trip out: https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/389567701984131
Our story begins back in January 2017 (now Five years ago), when we went to see the Young Endeavour in Stanley, Tasmania while we were on holidays. Aside from our daughter, we’re a sailing family and my Dad also sails. So, we were pretty keen to check her out.
However, the weather conditions at the time were pretty treacherous. Stanley is on Bass Strait between Australia and the Australian Mainland, and it gets rough. It also gets very windy, and Stanley was blowing at her best that day. All of this meant we weren’t allowed on board. However, we did have a chance to speak to some of the youth team, and we heard about the ballot system which is used to secure yourself a berth. It all sounded like an unlikely gamble, and what were his chances of being lucky enough to be drawn out of the hat? However, to use another hat analogy again, you’ve got to throw your hat into the ring to stand a chance. I made a mental note to myself to make sure we didn’t forget to apply when he was old enough.
Recently, while I was sorting through some paperwork, I came across the postcard we’d picked up in Stanley and places were open. I didn’t need a second thought. I was filling out the paperwork online and I can’t even remember whether I asked him about it. I probably did. However, a set of car keys was missing at the time, and he was otherwise occupied. Besides, I didn’t really expect him to be offered a place straight away, and if he was ever going to be lucky enough to get a spot, it might take a few years. However, the very next day I received an email. He was in. He was really excited and thrilled to be doing it. So, it was full speed ahead.
There was just one very small minor detail which remained. He had to pass a PCR covid test last Friday, and what I didn’t know, is that he also needed to pass a RAT this morning before he could board. So, there was every chance that after winning the lottery to get a spot, he might be let down just as he was about to board. Fortunately, I think they all passed, but wouldn’t that have been awful to have your dream go up in smoke like that at the last minute?!! (Covid has a lot to answer for!!) However, that was all good, and at 3.00pm (known as 1500 hours in Navy lingo) he climbed on board.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t be there in person because Miss had a dance audition locally. However, Geoff compensated very nicely by having me on FaceTime and I was standing with him dockside watching him climb on board, having a bit of a welcome ceremony including introductions, and then they raised the gangplank, untied the ropes and motored off into the pending sunset. (I must say I was surprised a replica of The Endeavour came with a motor, but I bet there are lots of mod cons on board belying the outward appearance and history of the ship.)
The ship itself is under the command of members of the Royal Australian Navy, but the young sailors or “Youthies” as they’re called, are trained up along the way and on the final day, they take charge of the ship, which sounds both thrilling and terrifying. In addition to the regular staff and the youth, there are also two naval staff doing a “suitability voyage”. Staff are assigned to the Young Endeavour for 18 months to two years, and they’re on board to see if they’d like it, and there was a comment: “No pressure guys. Just a ten day interview”. I was also pleased they have a navigator on board, even though poor Mister has been needing to give his grandmother and myself directions since he was just a little tacker.
In addition to all the sailing aspects of the trip, there are also some additional details which, as my Dad used to say will “put hair on his chest”. First and foremost, they’re not allowed to access their mobile phones on board. Now, just think about how that would impact most of us. For many, it could well be on par with giving up smoking cold turkey. Mister is also a gamer. So, none of that for a week either. Now, you’re talking about serious deprivation. However, the flipside of that will be liberty, conversation and face-to-face interaction. They’ll also be climbing straight up a vertical cliff metaphorically speaking but they’re all in it together, which should foster strong bonds. However, after nine days, probably also some irritation factor too. I hope they all packed their deodorant.
For those of you with an interest in sailing, adventure, or just want to keep up with the trip, the Captain does a Captain’s Log every night which goes live at 22:00 Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEST). Here’s the link: https://youngendeavour.gov.au/the-voyage/captains-log
By the way, for those of you who are new to the blog, I should explain that I’ve been writing this blog for ten years from when Mister was eight and Miss was six. I didn’t want to use their actual names, and these alternatives seemed to fit quite well back then. However, he recently turned 18, and he clearly needs an update. I’m working on it.
Lastly, if any of you have been on board the Young Endeavour and have any stories to share, I’d love to hear from you.
We are going really well here, although our men folk have escaped down South crossing the border of Victoria and are in Geelong. This afternoon at 3.00pm our son will be boarding a tall ship, the Young Endeavour, and at 4.00pm they set sail for Sydney arriving on the 30th March nine days later. It is a trip of a lifetime. Captain James Cook was sailing The Endeavour when he “discovered” Australia’s East Coast back in 1770, and for better or worse depending on your perspective, he claimed Australia’s East Coast for the British Empire. Anyway, in recognition of the Bicentenary of English settlement at Botany Bay on the 26th January, 1788, the British Government gifted Australia with the Young Endeavour to Australia as a youth training vessel and crews, like the one our son is about to be part of, have been sailing it ever since.
Rather than giving you a second-hand and poorly informed account of what it’s all about, I thought I’d share this breathtaking video from their Facebook page. It makes me wish I was 18 again and on the trip of a lifetime. On the other hand, I was 18 back in 1988, and watching the Tall Ships sail into Sydney Harbour on Australia Day 1988 when it seemed all of Australia was congregated under the Sydney Harbour Bridge at Kirribilli and around around the harbour just to get a glimpse: Here’s the video link: https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/389567701984131 If you’re interested in following their journey, here’s a link to the Captain’s log: https://youngendeavour.gov.au/the-voyage/captains-log
Meanwhile, I am reluctantly at home. Our daughter had a dance audition yesterday, and I needed to be here. She’s also in her second final year at school and it seems to be assessment season. She also had a nasty virus last week. She had five RAT tests, which all came back negative but that kept her away from school for awhile too.
However, I really enjoyed watching her and the other students from their studio dance yesterday and her long awaited tutu finally arrived yesterday so it was special to see her put that on, although nothing like seeing her p on stage and under lights. I can’t wait. She will be exquisite.
Last week, we went out for a family meal to celebrate both “the kids'” birthdays. As you may recall, Mister turned 18 and Miss was Sweet 16, which are both special birthdays. We went to a so-called “hamburger restaurant” in Terrigal called Milky Lane. OMG! I struggle to find the words to describe the food, the out-of-this-world which transformed the place into an almost out of mind experience. It was so not McDonalds (which is where Miss works btw). I felt old, but it was wonderful and I’d love to go back.
I am actually getting out and about a bit more, but still wearing my mask and social distancing. On Saturday, my friend and I met for coffee at Link and Pin in Woy Woy, and we returned yesterday afternoon to listen to live music. We had no idea who was playing, but caught two acts. The second was called the Howlin’ Rats. The singer, who calls himself Harry Hobbit as is a computer programmer, during the week, had some very interesting effects with his voice which I didn’t really understand so I’ve bought their `CD and I’ve got his number. He asked me to write a bio for the band. I thought it would be interesting, and I’m rather curious. I like stepping into other people’s shoes and it’s just good to have a convo with a stranger in person for a change. Covid has ruined my social life.
Anyway, I need to dash but will be back later to polish this off.
Many moons ago, I used to lament not having that special someone, and being able to go out for that much longed for dinner for two. These days, however, Geoff and I have been married for just over 20 years, and those days are long gone. Indeed, these days a family birthday dinner out is our mission impossible. Traditionally, these have included my Mum and Dad taking the festivities to six. However, thanks to a nasty combination of covid and covid lockdowns, Mum and Dad are still in isolation and the “kids” wanted to celebrate their birthdays with friends and also have oodles of activities on. This means the family dinner has been hard to squeeze in.
However, we finally managed to get out to what is most definitely a young person’s hangout, although they didn’t turf us old fogies out. Well, make that one old fogey and one well camouflaged one who apparently lost ten years a week or so go when I got my hair done again.
So, we ended up at Milky Lane in Terrigal. You might recall seeing Terrigal Beach during my recent beach-crawl driving round and round with our daughter who is learning to drive. Milky Lane classes itself as a “burger restaurant”. However, that’s the understatement of the century. McDonald’s is a Burger restaurant and Milky Lane is in a different league. The only trouble I had was trying to ensure I didn’t fill up on my burger, and miss out on dessert. Or, worse still, overeat and make myself dreadfully ill.
Meanwhile, while I throw rapturous praise around the food, the decor was out of this world, and so mind-blowingly atmospheric and a great backdrop for photography, especially if you could find more enthusiastic photo models. People who aren’t more interested in eating their meal (what I came here for) than having their photo taken. I could’ve taken photos for a decade in their especially if I had a revolving cast.
Obviously, the last two years in more on than off lockdown has knocked me about. I’m not what I was. Who is? Two years is too long for anyone to sit still anyway.
Anyway, we had a wonderful night out, and afterwards we crossed the road and walked along the beach a bit.
There was an almost full moon which was hanging over the beach like a golden beacon. A row of ships waiting to access Newcastle Harbour to the North were lit up in lights, and along the promenade a row of massive Norfolk Island Pines were lit up in lights like Christmas trees, although it’s March. The Rainbow Lorikeets had also congregated in the tree and were conducting a noisy chat. The waves were rolling in, and I could’ve stayed there for hours, but the kids wanted to go home.
Taking the red-eye from Perth, Bridget had no illusions about why she was returning to Sydney. It wasn’t love. She’d never forgiven her mother for forcing her to give up her own precious daughter at birth. However, the neighbour had called. Forgetting was one thing, but the tanned, English toy boy surfer was quite another. Although Bridget hadn’t been to Mass in years, she could never condemn Mother to hell. St Margaret’s Home for Unwed Mothers was now an Aged Care Facility, and they had a bed. It was pure practicality, never revenge. Bridget had become her mother’s daughter.
99 words PHOTO PROMPT – unknown submission.
As often happens, this story deviated quite a way from where I started out. I was actually born at St Margaret’s Private Hospital, Darlinghurst, Sydney which was actually at the centre of a social/cultural drive for unmarried women to give up their babies for adoption. Some of these adoptions were more forced than others, but there was a lot of shame. There was also a lack of understanding about the bond between mother and child, and these women were supposed to just go home and forget. Get on with their lives. I also found out they didn’t give caesareans because they didn’t want to leave any scars. No proof.
Meanwhile, the mother has advanced dementia/Alzheimers. I remember hearing a joke about being nice to your kids because they choose your nursing home. There’s a lot of truth in that, which played out in this story.
I am considering turning this into a longer story. Along the way, I had the daughter paying for a cleaner and gardener to look after her mother’s physical needs, but not having a personal relationship, and thinking about the reasons for this, led me onto this path, which seemed to come together well.
What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear from you.