Colour… I’ve almost forgotten what it is to have colour. We all have. No one knows whether there’s something wrong with our eyes, our brains or whether the entire Earth’s turned black and white with shades of grey.
People say it’s global warming, but I’m sure it’s the Big Bad Wolf, and I’m afraid. Very afraid.
Yet, I haven’t forgotten what it is to see red. Immerse myself in red. Be red. Red hair, red lips, red hearts, red dreams in red skies.
I also remember when the grass was green.
Anything, but black and white with shades of grey.
100 words. Photo prompt copyright Sarah Potter.
My response to this week’s prompt has been inspired by the weirdness of living in our current situation with the changes wrought by the coronavirus where wearing masks, social distancing and not hugging your friends has become the new norm. I now see scenes of people interacting normally on TV in scenes filmed in the past, and it’s starting to feel strange. Stop that. You’re not allowed to do that.
Gee , I really hope the vaccine comes along soon, and we can be ourselves again.
This has been a contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields.
Well, I’m not quite sure what to offer you with your cuppa tonight. On Friday night, I made a Bombe Alaska for my friend’s 60th Birthday. Unfortunately, the meringue slid off the ice cream centre and the brandy wouldn’t light. So, you could say that it was “Fizzer Alaska” instead.
However, it tasted good anyway. I’d added a few extras like a layer of Nutella Butter Cream and roasted hazelnuts over the cake for extra lusciousness. It was yum and a lot of fun, even if it didn’t go according to plan. By the way, if you’re a keen baker or fancy a bit of dessert, you might like to check out my previous post.
Last week, was fairly difficult overall. Our teenaged kids are keeping us on our toes with our son not seeing the point of doing his final year of school and looking at TAFE to pursue sound engineering. It sort of makes sense, but it’s still a big decision and it’s taking me time to get my head around the ramifications of it all. As if that wasn’t enough to think about, our daughter has been making some poor choices of late, and we’re needing to get our heads around that too. Long gone are the days where we could physically pick up our children when they were running off the “wrong” direction. Now, we’re needing to try to work with the teenage brain, which science tells us is potentially incapable of making good rational choices until they’re 25. Yet, this unregulated teenage mind is moving forward at full throttle thinking it knows it all, knows what’s best and can do anything it likes. Sometimes the only thing standing in the way is their hapless parents, school authorities, or when things go really pear-shaped, the police. Meanwhile, I keep dropping what I view as pearls of wisdom into the hapless subjects’ minds while driving them from A to B. It’s a bit like dropping coins in a money box, except it seems that the plug at the bottom has often been pulled out and lost. Consequently, the coins are often falling straight through and rolling away. It’s not a very encouraging picture. However, somehow most teens and their parents survive to adulthood so it’s not all doom and gloom after all. I live in constructive hope.
In addition to doing my baking at home, I’ve also loved watching Junior MasterChef and tonight is the Grand Finale. I’ve been so incredibly impressed with the dishes put up by the kids. They really knocked my socks off. If you’d like to watch any of the past episodes, here’s the link: https://10play.com.au/junior-masterchef-australia and you can find the recipes there too if you’re feeling particularly daring. Just because these cooks are young, doesn’t mean their dishes are any less impressive than their adult rivals. These kids are potentially the great professional chefs of the future and this pool of talent is a cut above the usual contestants for the adult version of the show. indeed, they’re absolutely mind boggling. I can’t wait to see who is going to win, and how the show is going to unfold.
However, before I move on from Junior MasterChef, I just heard the most priceless comment from one of the contestants, Georgia. You see, they’ve invited their mums onto the shows for the finale. Now, these kids have been doing just fine without their mums on set for the entire series, and have been able to go it alone. However, now they’ve reached the finale, mum is calling out from the gantry. My message to the mums is to back off. I think they know what they’re doing. These thoughts were going through my mind when Georgia piped up and said: “Who invited our mothers along?” Well, at least Filo is pleased his mum’s there.
Meanwhile, my WWI bio research is going really well. I have no idea how it’s going to find its place out there in the real world, because it’s a bit out there and it seems to sit somewhere in between academic history, creative writing, documentary and a movie script. Each of these things are ambitious on their own, and challenging the world order probably verges on suicide. After all, each of these disciplines is probably in its own box for a reason. I guess I’ll be finding out what happens when I break multiple moulds at once. Well, that is once I get all of this finished…
Oh well. Another week has begun. OMG! Do you ever have Mondays where the prospect of another week just wears you out, as you haven’t had enough time to recover from the week that’s been, or to resolve the splatter on the roof its left behind? Perhaps, I’ve been spoiled for awhile, because in so many ways life has been a lot simpler this year due to covid. While we’ve had to deal with the complications of hand sanitiser, masks, gloves, social distancing and toilet paper shortages, so many activities were cancelled that we haven’t been buzzing off over the place like manic bees trying to get everything done and take kids to three different places at the same time while trying to have some kind of a life ourselves. It’s been nice taking up the piano again, doing my extreme baking and doing hours of research. Indeed, it’s probably been something of a luxury…especially with my husband working from home and not commuting for three hours a day.
PS The last word on the Masterchef Junior front goes to Georgia’s Mum as she ate her daughter’s dessert the “Tropical Mess”…”she’s tricky to make a lunchbox for. She’s very particular with her flavours.” You’ve got to feel for the mother of Junior MasterChef.” I have some empathy with her. My kids have both been super fussy eaters and are very particular even if they aren’t MasterChefs themselves.
PPS I know I haven’t actually finished this post yet. However, I’d forgotten all about touching on the US election. I don’t know if I would’ve voted for Trump or Biden, but I’ looking forward to the changing of the guard.
For me, 2020 has become a year of extreme baking where I’ve broken out of my straight jacket of tried and tested caution and taken on many risks, and my family and friends have been more than willing guinea pigs.
Last week, I thought I’d reached my zenith with the precarious Tree House Cake I created for a friend’s birthday. Moreover, just to blow the risk out of the park, we needed to transport the cake without the chocolate house sliding off its perch. Indeed, at one point, Geoff had to slam on the brakes and I almost leaped out of my skin!! However, the cake survived, and was an amazing success.
Perhaps, it was that success which spurred me on to attempt this week’s total insanity. You know how it is. You take a huge gamble. Have a bit of success, and it goes to your head. Now, you think you can do ANYTHING! Indeed, you’ve become invincible.
Moreover, I’ve also been watching Masterchef Junior where you see pint-sized supremoes conjure up the most incredible and unbelievable dishes out of the weirdest and most exotic flavours and ingredient combinations. You can either be incredibly humbled, or inspired to have a go yourself. I haven’t tried to replicate their dishes. However, time and time again, I’ve seen how you can jazz up a simple dish with a few added elements and create something truly spectacular and utterly scrumptious. So, I think it’s fairly fair to say that Masterchef Junior has fuelled my courage, spirit of experimentation and my seeming passion for skiing straight over a cliff, and expecting to land on both skis. Indeed, Masterchef has turned baking into an extreme sport.
Added to this mix, there’s the coronavirus. With so many of the usual sources of excitement, entertainment and facets of simply being human prohibited, perhaps it’s not surprising that I’ve turned to baking for a buzz. What else is there to do, especially for those of us who are in a high risk category and need to isolate and stay out of circulation as much as possible?
However, countering these temptations to succomb to extreme baking, there’s my mother’s tried and tested cooking advice. Indeed, I’ll call it “Mum’s Golden Rule” and that reads: “Never cook anything for a special occasion that you haven’t tried and tested at home first.” Clearly, that’s very good advice, especially when people are counting on you.
Yet, as I said, I’ve been throwing caution to the wind lately, and there’s no better illustration than my decision to bake Bombe Alaska for my friend’s 60th Birthday Party on Friday night.
After the famed tree house cake, I couldn’t just dish up a dried up sponge cake. No, it had to be spectacular. Have a sense of theatre, especially as she’s a performer and loves a lot of sparkle. So, what could be better and offer more theatre than a bombe…a Bombe Alaska? Not that I’ve ever tried baking Bombe Alaska before. Indeed, I’ve never even seen or tasted it before. So, I really was flying blind. Yet, how hard could it be? You just follow the recipe and Bob’s your uncle. Your bombe is ready to explode.
Well, at least, I knew I had to clear carve out a massive hole for the huge bowl of ice cream in the overloaded freezer. After all, baking isn’t just about creativity. There’s a lot of science and meticulous preparation, which can seem a bit boring and dull, but it’s just as important as the baking process itself.
In case you don’t know much about making Bombe Alaska either, the bombe itself is made out of 6 cups of ice cream which is packed into a pudding basin. This goes back into the freezer to set, and then upended on top of a cake base, covered in meringue and baked in the oven at 200 degrees celsius. Of course, baking ice cream in the oven really goes against the grain. Doesn’t the ice cream melt into a ginormous puddle and DISASTER strikes?!! However, this is where the science comes in. The meringue is supposed to act like a shell insulating the ice cream inside while the outside forms a voluminous crust. After the meringue shell is lightly browned, you take it out of the oven, pour warm brandy over the top and light a match…KERBOOM!!!
Well, at least that’s what’s supposed to happen…
As I said, this was the first time I’ve even made Bombe Alaska, and it’s not a dessert I’m even familiar with.
Just to complicate matters further, I significantly altered the recipe. The original recipe used a combination of vanilla ice cream, frozen raspberries and lemon sorbet on a sponge cake base. However, I had a layer of chocolate ice cream on top and a mixture of vanilla and raspberries inside and I replaced the sponge cake with a gooey Flourless Chocolate Cake. After finding out the mix for the chocolate cake was big enough to make 2 cakes, I also made some Nutella Buttercream Icing and spread lashings of icing, roasted hazelnuts, Violet Crumble over both cakes and the other cake became home for the Happy Birthday candles.
Unfortunately, the chances of the Bombe working out were always going to be low. The party was being held at a friend’s place and I had to beat up the meringue at home before we left, a good two hours before it headed into the oven. Obviously, that delay was hardly ideal. The other concern was that I didn’t know whether I’d have enough meringue to seal it properly, and I couldn’t just whip up more on the spot. So, I was really taking a huge chance.
Yet, surprisingly I just shrugged off the doubt and the possibility we’d be drinking our bombe out of mugs. However, despite the obvious insanity of proceeding with the bombe, I could sense in my heart that the bombe was meant to be – whether it worked out or not. I was just following orders. BTW, taking a chance like this is very out of character for me. I’m usually quite the perfectionist albeit in a quirky, haphazard guise. I don’t like failure and usually play it safe.
So, without any further ado, the bombe goes into the oven and there’s a group of spectators hovering around the oven door. We’re intrigued, and rather curious to see what happens when you put ice cream in the oven. It certainly goes against the grain and doesn’t make a lot of sense. Moreover, again I’m wondering why I took on such a risk, and so publicly. What was I thinking? Indeed, was I thinking at all?
All goes well for the first few critical minutes, but it doesn’t take long for trouble to brew. A hole opens up in the meringue and the chocolate ice cream pokes it’s head out. Oh no! I’m hoping it can just manage to hold itself together until the meringue has browned. However, reminiscent of the Christchurch earthquake, the ice cream begins to liquify. More meringue slides down the embankment and it’s pretty clear there’s nothing I can do to salvage the wreck. Yet, I’m still trying to brown the meringue so it’s not just a sticky moat of rawness around the base. Ever the optimist, I haven’t given up yet and I’m still hoping we’ll somehow be able to light the brandy and get the bombe to go off. However, we ended up being a bit confused about what to do with the brandy and how to heat it, and we were also doubtful it would light on the ice cream surface now the meringue had washed away. However, it didn’t work. So, we’ll end up calling this “a learning experience”.
Yet, the Bombe Alaska still tasted really good and still had a lot of theatre, suspense and it made everyone happy. Moreover, it did what it was really intended to do, and that was to show my friend how much I love and value her. It helped to make her birthday extra special, and that’s what I particularly wanted for her as Covid has hit her business really hard and she’s had to do a hell of a lot of soul searching this year. That’s what really mattered, and what’s important about my baking… seeing people smiling inside and out.
So, although the bombe didn’t light and all the meringue fell off in the oven, I still consider it a success and I’m planning to have another go fairly soon at home. See if I can perfect this spectacular dessert and possibly come up with a Christmas variation.
It’s exploding with possibilities.
Have you ever had or baked Bomb Alaska? What are your secrets for getting it to work out? I’d love to hear from you.
Anyway, were you almost shocked like me that it’s now November and another year has almost gone up in smoke? I know this year is 2020, and it’s a year we’d all like to accelerate through, destroy, blow up, delete or all of the above. However, a year is still a year, and good things have happened in 2020. My cousin and his wife had a baby last week and friends got married and we’ve even been to a few parties lately. Of course, we’re rather shielded from the full impact of the virus and also extensive lockdowns here, but I’ve also been researching WWI intensively this year and that puts 2020 into perspective.
Last week was a bit clunky around here. There’s been the ongoing saga of our son’s subject choices for his last year at school and trying to keep him there for another year when he doesn’t need it to go into sound engineering. I’ve been doing my research which is very slow and I must admit I’ve been doing a lot of avoidance. I find it all confusing, and since I went down the university path and that was over 30 years ago, a lot has changed and I’m starting to feel like I’m from the era of the horse and cart (or is that actually his impression of me?) Not much has been said for a few days and he was home sick today. I can’t help wondering if I lie low and don’t say anything, he’ll accidentally get through Year 12 and he’ll at least have that under his belt before he heads off to TAFE to get a trade certificate to get into the sound engineering course he wants to do. However, this is probably too much to hope for and more stress is just around the corner.
Meanwhile, my research is progressing well. I’m still beavering away on my WWI research. I posted yesterday a South Australian farmer I’m researching, Herbert A Stewart who found close to 200 messages in bottles washed up on the beach near his home in Rendelsham , South Australia. He forwarded the letters onto their intended destinations with a cover letter, and there was one day where he found 47 bottles. So, at times he was really under the pump and while this would seem a unconventional way of supporting the war effort, it would’ve made such a difference to the families and friends of these men. I was also surprised to find that some of the messages in bottles thrown overboard in the Great Australian Bight were found in New Zealand. That’s extraordinary. I’ve also found it rather calming and reassuring to think about the ocean currents circulating around the world regardless of everything else that’s going on just like the sunrise and the sunset. There’s that continuity. At least, there was before cllimate change.
This afternoon, I went for a quick walk along the beach. Even though it’s almost Summer here, a cold wind was blowing and so I just did my walk and didn’t hang about. Not unsurprisingly, I almost expecting to find piles of bottles scattered across the beach after doing all my research. However, there wasn’t much to see on our beach today….just a jellyfish.
Meanwhile, it’s getting quite late. So, I’m going to head off.
So, what’s been going on for you? I hope you’re okay and keeping safe.
“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m not sure whether you can help me, but I’m hopeful.
After all, one of the things I appreciate about blogging, is how you can write and share your ideas before you’ve fully nutted them out. You can test the waters, and even hook up with others interested in the same area and collaborate in a more low-key environment. This is particularly good, too, when your nearest and dearest in terms of love, relationships and DNA, doesn’t share your research interest. Indeed, many of us would be better off talking to the dog, or trading in the cat.
However, by heading online too soon, you risk making mistakes, and there’s a definite safety in holding back until you’ve dotted the i’s crossed the t’s. Possible wisdom in staying offline perfecting your manuscript and seeing it published in print, even if your scribblings might be set in stone.
Of course, operating within the university context can provide the ideal nursery environment to safely nurture your research project and receive much needed mentoring support. However, there’s still that sense that you need to have your “shit” together before you put it out there, even as a concept. Indeed, embarking into the realms of professional research is very daunting. After all, “thou shalt not make a mistake” is its first commandment, but we’re only human. Even if it’s only a comma out of place, it’s still a mistake, and at the very least, you have to live with your own censure.
My personal journey along the serious research path is even lonelier than most. While research has been part and parcel of my writing and I have an honours degree in history, my current interests have been fuelled by the events of late 1999 and 2020. Firstly, I was forced inside by thick, suffocating bushfire smoke when I simply couldn’t breathe for weeks at a time, and I depended on our air-conditioner. After a brief intermission, I was back inside self-isolating from the coronavirus, which turned into lockdown, back to self-isolation. All I can say about that, is thank goodness for my research. It’s been a lifeline this year.
So, after keeping virtually all this research offline, I’ve decided to cast a line out into the world wide web. Moreover, just like anybody going fishing, I’m optimistic my efforts won’t return with an empty hook, and I’ll find a great big fish dangling at the end of the line,
The blog has come through for me before, and I’m hoping it will deliver once again, even if this approach does seem equally random as the very messages I’m chasing. They were written by Australian and New Zealand troops and sealed inside bottles and often thrown overboard as they crossed the Great Australian Bight with a hope they’d eventually find their intended destination.
However, my primary focus isn’t on the troops themselves, but on a South Australian farmer who found almost 200 messages in bottles near Rivoli Bay on the Limestone Coast. Not only that, Herbert A Stewart of “Bleakfield”, Rendelsham forwarded the messages to their intended destinations with a cover letter, and he even went to the trouble of forwarding letters written by NZ troops on to New Zealand.
While you would think that forwarding messages in bottles doesn’t make much of a difference to the war effort, when you look at it on this scale, it takes on a different slant. Indeed, I’m incredibly inspired by Herbert’s dedication, hard work, love and compassion for the soldiers and their families. Indeed, I’d love to be more like him.
By the way, it’s worth putting Herbert’s efforts into some kind of context. While it wasn’t unusual for soldiers to throw messages in bottles overboard in transit, so far I haven’t come across anyone else finding the sheer number of messages Herbert found. As far as I can tell, he found at least 180 bottles, and on the 31st August, 1916, he found a record 47 messages. The closest I’ve come across is Harbour Master, Ned Carrison, of Port McDonnell, South Australia who found 10 bottles on the 16th July, 1916 not far from Herbert’s stomping ground.
At the moment, I’ve only been able to identify 22 of the messages found by Herbert Stewart, and this is clearly only the tip of the iceberg. It looks like Herbert kept a record of all the messages he’d found, and I’m hoping that’s somehow been preserved. I’d also imagine that there are families out there who still know the story of how an ancestor or loved one’s message was forwarded to them by Herbert A Stewart of Bleakfield, Rendelsheim, South Australia. I would love to hear from you.
I’m also interested in the WWI messages in bottles in general. So, I’d love to hear from you if that’s of interest.
While researching messages in bottles might seem quirky and eccentric, the reality is that each bottle is a time capsule preserving a fragment of a much larger journey of a soldier, or group of soldiers heading across the ocean to the front. Moreover, they also tell a story about the person who finds the bottle. Who were they, and what were they do on the beach? They often had to work hard to salvage the scrap of paper which had been floating adrift at the mercy of the sea. I’ve read about bottles turning up covered in seaweed and barnacles. Messages which are wet and barely legible but the finder is just able to pick out an address, a name, a detail and the message has been printed in a newspaper. There was a message written by an Australian soldier which was found by a Maori man on the beach in New Zealand, Herbert Stewart also found a letter by a Maori man from the 1st Maori Continent which was found near Rivoli Bay, South Australia. Indeed, there’s something rather touching about the currents carrying these bottles across boarders and boundaries, especially when I’ve been conducting my research during Covid where we have boundaries on boundaries on boundaries, and we can’t even hug a friend. The ocean, on the other hand, knows no boundaries and these messages in bottles rose from the deep, and went where they went until they were found, retrieved and passed on. Sadly, some of these messages took years to research their destination and by that time, some of their scribes had inevitably died…killed in action, died of wounds, casualties of a foreign war.
Anyway, if you have any information to share or would like to pick my brains, please leave a message. I’d love to hear from you.
How are you this week? What’s going on in your neck of the woods? For those of you who don’t know or can’t remember, I live just North of Sydney, Australia and so it’s Spring here and we’re also in what seems to be a Covid bubble as it stands.
As time goes by and these truly radical lifestyle changes have become the norm, I’m feeling more relaxed about going out, but trying to remain vigilant. Until there’s a vaccine, we’re in it for the long haul which requires a different approach to getting through than a sprint. That’s not to say I’m taking risks, but I’m no longer Alcatraz either. Well, not when there’s such a low risk of transmission. Meanwhile, I’m somewhat conscious of increases overseas, and hoping and praying for all affected and hoping the numbers will drop. Melbourne is doing much better here, which is great news.
Meanwhile, life here’s been busier than usual, but mostly in a very positive way.
Yesterday, our daughter competed in a local dance eisteddfod and received two 1st placings and a second placing in her ballet solo (she was only .5 behind 1st place). This was the first time our daughter’s placed first and she’s been competing for a couple of years. So, this was a big step forward for her. She’s keen to pursue a career in dance, especially classical ballet, and so it’s important for her to place well to head down that trajectory. It’s also such a buzz to win, even though I know I’ve brought up the usual benefits of having a go when things haven’t gone so well in the past. That said, I’m pretty sure she’s always placed with her solos.
After the competition, we headed off to Terrigal to meet up with her cousin for lunch, and we wandered along the beach front afterwards. I only captured this quick snap of the three of us and didn’t bother with scenic shots as it was a bit overcast and I’ve had better conditions in the past. Terrigal is one of the tourist focus points on the NSW Central Coast and is more touristy and built up than our local beach. It’s also more upmarket. However, we’re surrounded by National Parks and also closer to the train to Sydney. So, we’re happy where we are.
Last week, was a big week for our son. He was off on work experience at a local youth centre where they have a radio station and sound set up. He received very encouraging feedback, which is more than I can say for his commentary on my driving. I had to get across three lanes of traffic to get to our turn off coming home and it really was quite hellish, and people were not real keen to let me in either. I really needed to be able to wave a white flag. Or, have a sign saying: “Mum’s taxi’s having a rough day. Please give me a break!!”
Last week, my aunt, Dr Anna Haebich from Curtin University in Western Australia, was interviewed on Radio National by Phillip Adams:
Meanwhile, last week I was also pretty shaken up. I found out last Sunday that there was a devastating car accident locally involving local teens. Unfortunately, now that my kids are also local teens, it also meant that we knew some of the people in the car and there was also that awful realization that we could also get a knock at the door at some point. I’m also a community-minded person and so I’m trying to be there for my friend and find out more about what our teens are up to. This incident has made me realize that while our teens are very well connected via social media and mobile technology, us parents are probably crashed out at home or happy to be catching up with a few of our friends and enjoying our own new found freedom without being aware of the undertow. I’m now applying my research feelers to this to get up to speed. I’m talking about brain speed here, not putting my foot down in the my Alfa Romeo.
Anyway, I’d better call it a day and crawl into bed.
This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share.
It’s currently Sunday night, and I’m currently watching Masterchef Junior Australia. So, this week I thought we should try to nut out some way of breaking into the TV set and running off with all their goodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it?!! A serving of lobster mornay, followed by handmade ravioli with lemon tart with berries for dessert followed by Spiced Chocolate Tart. Hey why stop there? I think I’ll add a third dessert and also go for the Masterchef interpretation of Smores using marshmallow made from Davidson Plum. I have no shame. Besides, with this being a virtual meal, we can gourge ourselves without consequence and no fear of impersonating Monty Python’s Mr Creosote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U
How was your week?
Last week, was the second week of school holidays for my kids. On Tuesday, our daughter and I caught the ferry across to Palm Beach where we met up with my Dad and spent a few hours out sailing across Pittwater. It was a really special day, because we haven’t been out on the boat with Dad for a few years , and we also haven’t seen him and my mum for a few months as we’ve been playing it safe re Covid. On top of that, it was also special to snaffle our daughter away from her friends for the day, and time with her has become a precious commodity, especially with all the hours she puts into her dance. However, there were also a few disappointments as well. While we’ve been having some wonderfully sunny Spring days lately, on Tuesday it was grey and overcast, which isn’t great for photography. My favourite fish & chips shop was closed so I missed out on my fisherman’s basket, although I did pick up a tasty and very generous fish burgers next door. Lastly, there was the problem of insufficient wind. Since we thought we might end up without any wind at all and would have to go under motor, the soft 2 knot wind was great. However, it would be fair to say that both Dad and I were left longing for more and were very pleased when the wind managed to get to 4 knots, even if it was as we turned for home. Dad says that often happens.
I’m sure I must’ve done something else last week. Has it just slipped my memory, or was I just trying to keep my head above water? I’ve been doing a bit of research on my WWI soldiers’ project, as well as baking. Oh dear! I’m sure I did more than that. However, I’ve also been trying to clear stuff out of our house, and get it to a point where we can actually entertain from home again. It’s been years.
Lastly, this week school goes back, which also means that violin lessons start up again. I’ve had over two terms off from my lessons, and I’m still a little undecided about whether I’ll go back. I think it would be good to reconnect, and I’m starting to feel it would be a good idea for me to get something back to normal. However, I’ll need to suss out things at the studio before I truly make up my mind and I also need to get in more practice. I’ve been getting back into the piano, and having the keyboard where you can lower the volume and play into the night. Obviously, that’s much harder with the violin, and I try to be considerate about when I play.
Next week, I might have to make up a few activities. I’m feeling like there’s not a lot to report. Hey, I believe that’ll take me into the league of creating “fake news”. The only trouble is, that with all the covid restrictions in place, you’d know I was lying. What a pity!
Monday was all azure blue skies and glorious sunshine. However, of course, when we were going sailing on Tuesday with my Dad, it was dull and overcast, and we weren’t even sure there was going to be any wind.
However, that didn’t really matter. That’s because it’s been a couple of years since I’d been out sailing with Dad, and thanks to being cautious about covid, we haven’t seen him for a while either. Moreover, our daughter was also on school holidays, and I’d finally managed to pry her away from her friends for a day out. So, when you look it at like that, no matter how the sailing turned out, we were in for a wonderful day!
Yet, that’s not to say we still weren’t hoping for a perfect day out. A steady, but not gale force, wind with sunny skies good for photography, great conversation, and I did mention something about food? I was particularly looking forward to ordering my Fisherman’s Basket from Palm Beach Seafoods. Yum. Nothing like a good grease and oil change now and then! I’m now really sure grease is good for my engine, but it sure tastes good.
This all brings me to possibly the most challenging aspect of sailing. You’re 100% at the mercy of the wind. Be that too much wind, not enough wind.
Well, maybe it’s not quite 100% controlled by the wind, because other weather factors also come into play. We get some scorchingly hot Summer days here where I’d rather not be out on the water burning to a crisp. On the other extreme, I know some of you live in parts of the world where your marinas are buried under snow and ice in Winter, and that puts an end to sailing. On this front, we’re pretty lucky. Our Winters are pretty temperate, and you can sail all year round. However, there’s still about a month each year where you’re better off staying home and snuggling up in your woollens in front of the heater.
Dad sails a Catalina. It’s a beautiful boat with everything you need to sleep onboard and it certainly feels luxurious. You can sit up there on the deck and soak up the view without the boom hitting you on the head and throwing you overboard. You can also get in and out of the boat without getting wet. That can be a real bonus.
However, there’s still something thrilling about being in a small craft almost at one with the ocean, even if it is pretty hard work constantly adjusting the sails and ducking under the boom. However, there’s that exhilaration of speed and shooting through the water, which is pure fun.
Of course, catching the wind on any sail craft is problematic, and also seems to require an intuitive sense. Indeed, the initiated, can pick up speed in a relatively light wind and in such a small craft, its absolutely exhilerating!!. Indeed, putting all this overthinking aside, it’s fun. Pure fun.
Anyway, I’ve put the cart before the horse already talking about sailing, because we still need to catch the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach. Meanwhile, our journey to Palm Beach on the ferry from Ettalong is always an adventure, and I was really looking forward to that too. It’s been a few years, and what with Covid, we’re lucky to travel anywhere at the moment. However, while we had perfect weather on Monday, it was chilly with grey, overcast skies yesterday, and instead of hanging out outside as usual, we huddled indoors. I took no photos, and sat there wearing mask and gloves…humph.
In additon to the ferry and sailing trips, I was also looking forward to having my fisherman’s basket at Palm Beach Fish & Chip Shop. This has been a ritual ever since I was my daughter’s age, when I stayed at “Palmy” with a friend. I even worked there briefly, but didn’t make the cut. I was more in-tune with baking than the fast food industry. However, I still like to reminisce, especially about nights eating pizza at Palm Beach jetty with friends, while drinking Dad’s second-rate French Beaujolais.
However, they’re closed on Tuesdays, and I was left staring through the window at an empty shop. We sat down and had lunch together at the other takeaway shop. I enjoyed a very generous fish burger while chatting with our daughter, which was probably the most remarkable part of the day. She’d planned to bring a friend along and they were going to head to the beach while Dad and I went sailing. However, the friend was grounded, and our daughter didn’t quite twig that lunch with Papa included sailing. The last time we took her sailing didn’t go well. She was absolutely terrified. However, she was much younger then, and Dad had more of a racing yacht then. It was much more sensitive to the wind and I remember some exhilarating (terrifying) moments. While Dad’s always looking for converts to sailing, he hasn’t taken our daughter or my mother out on the boat since then.
Sailing’s been something I’ve dabbled in as a by-stander over the years. I went sailing with my dad a few times when I was at school. We sailed lasers down at Middle Harbour, and I really loved it. Again, it was more of an exhilarating experience and nothing to stop you from flipping over, which is why my Dad prefers the safety and security of his yacht these days. I don’t know why those sailing outings with my dad stopped all those years ago. That was him, not me. I would’ve kept going. The family also spent a week onboard a yacht sailing around the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater. A few years ago, my parents had a place at Palm Beach and the previous owners had left a laser behind. This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. Our son was doing sea scouts. It was great for him to have access to our own boat, and I went out with my husband. I was really little more than ballast, and he did all the hard work. However, I still loved being out there, and a few times we even took the dogs. If I didn’t have my health difficulties, I could see myself as a sailor. I can sense the waves in my soul, which could also be what makes for the poet in me.
Meanwhile, to get out to the boat, we caught a ride from the marina. This is fun too, because this guy gives us an entertaining tour of the houses. He knows who owns which massive waterfront mansion, and always throws in some incredible stories to boot. His feet also told a story, and wished I could make a portrait. They were definitely sailor’s feet… tanned, weathered, a few jagged broken toe nails and dusted with sand. This is his second life, and he used to be more corporate. However, he clearly belongs here now, and could well be a very good friend of Hemingway’s if he was still alive today and found his way Down Under.
Dad was not happy when we pulled up at the boat. It’s only been a week, but the seagulls have pooped from one end of it to the other. Indeed, they’ve even left a nest, making themselves right at home. Fortunately, there were no eggs and Dad unceremoniously cast that into the water filled with disgust. As he cleaned the deck, the seagulls were circling like vultures. They weren’t about to give up their perch without a struggle, and no doubt their squawks of complaint acknowledged Dad’s impertinence. Meanwhile, my daughter and I waited down below in luxury. I was becoming pleased that she’d come. She was admiring the Catalina with its plush interior, and she enthusiastically raised the curtains and peered out through the portholes. Phew! It was starting to look like we had a convert in our midst, and that the terror was gone. That she might actually enjoy sailing after all. Wouldn’t that be great?!!
As I said, Dad was thinking that we weren’t going to get any wind, and we’d be under motor. However, the wind managed to get up to a trifling 2 knots, which wasn’t enough to ruffle the water, but we did get under sail. It was very relaxing , quiet and peaceful. I had a go at steering, which according to my dad was “having a sail”. To be honest, it all felt pretty calm and timid. Moreover, of course, it was only when we were heading back that the wind managed to get up to around four knots. Dad said that often happens, and I could see that he also liked a faster sail. A bit of an adrenalin rush. However, we managed to keep my daughter happy, and that was the real success of yesterday’s voyage.
Indeed, I was reminded of the importance of little things yesterday. That just sitting together is enough. You don’t need an action-packed, adrenalin-fueled adventure to have a great time. Indeed, we don’t even need to have words. We can just be.
Yet, of course, it was also pure magic to be out there again. I love experiencing the enormity of being out there on the water, even if we weren’t out at sea and far away from land. I loved soaking up this vast enormity of water all around me, with the rim of the coast snug around us. Indeed, from the comfort of my desk, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to be onboard one of those triangles of white sail you see far out on the horizon. It looks so peaceful from a distance, even though I know it’s like the proverbial duck floating on the water. While it’s all grace above, those feet are paddling like fury, working hard down below. Moreover, it’s dangerous, and I don’t need to look far to see someone who has lost their life onboard a yacht out there. Indeed, it reminds me. There’s much to be said for dreaming, but not all dreams are meant to become real.
So, in my mind’s eye I’m hovering around the horizon in my little white yacht. There’s wind in the sails, dolphins jumping past and life is all blue skies and sunny days.
Have you been sailing? Are you a sailor? I’d love to hear from you and more about your adventures.
After a tumultuous battle between land and sea, the waves engulfed and devoured the crumbled ruins of Atlantis. Proud of its conquest, the ocean refused to regurgitate its shattered remains, or give up clues of its whereabouts. Rather, it kept its hoard buried deep beneath the sand, where its secrets could not escape. Meanwhile, the humans spun magnificent myths and legends. Surely, such a place could not exist, and the sea fuelled this deception with its whispers to keep its treasure secret. However, Poseidon had finally had enough, and left a solitary coin upon the beach. The time had come.
Goodness knows how I ended up at Atlantis from this photo prompt, except to say that my husband and I end up watching a lot of ancient history documentaries. Anyway, I had fun with this. We live right near the beach ourselves and have been through some nasty storms which have ravaged the coast, but no mysterious secrets have been revealed at our end.
This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. Every week, she posts a photo prompt and we write a hundred words to the prompt. I am constantly amazed at how these prompts stimulate my writing, and I strongly encourage you to get involved and have a go. You might surprise yourself!
I’m not sure whether you’ll be keen to join me here. It’s Spring here, and we had a high of 32ᵒC today, and we’re back to having the air-conditioner on. That said, it’s going to be cooling down again later in the week. So, I’m not quite sure whether I should be packing up my woollens quite yet.
It’s hard to know quite where to start today. We’re in the middle of school holidays, and our son has a group of mates over and they’ve taken over the kitchen and are playing cards. I can’t remember the last time he had a group of mates over, and it’s really lovely to have them here. They’re really polite and a real pleasure. I’ve always wanted our place to be a bit of an open house where they feel free to bring their friends. However, life got in the way, and the house has had different ideas. Indeed, it’s been hard to contain the tide of stuff building up all over the place. However, we’ve been making some headway lately. So, hopefully this is just the beginning. Stuff out. People in.
Meanwhile, I thought I’d take you on a bit of a road trip. Last week, our son was offered some additional training on the sound desk at Church and to help out with sound at a funeral. I was stoked for him to not only get the additional training, but also to be doing something so worthwhile. The only downside was all of this was an hour’s drive away, and I’d also have to fill in a few hours and then drive him home. I get quite fatigued so aside from chewing up my day, I was also concerned that I’d run out of ergs before we arrived home. However, my son and I had great chats driving each way, which reminded me of the walks we used to go on when he was just a little tacker, and I wrote about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/norah-head-lighthouse-nsw-australia/
The other complication, of course, was covid and trying to work out where I was going to go while he was busy. Although numbers are very low here, I’m still being careful.
However, filling in time actually evolved into quite an adventure for myself, as I ended up spending the afternoon at Norah Head enjoying the stunning views and checking out the exterior of the lighthouse. Not unsurprisingly tours inside the lighthouse are currently cancelled due to coronavirus. If you’d like to read more about my day out at Norah Head, you can check my post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2020/10/02/norah-head-lighthouse-nsw-australia/
Lastly, our weekend was also busy as our daughter was performing with dance team at her dance school for their annual production concert. The standard of these students is incredible not just in terms of technique, but also in terms of expression, feeling and churning your emotions around and giving you goose bumps. The ballet was Les Sylphides with music by Chopin and the original choreography by Mikhail Fokine. Les Sylphides has no plot but instead consists of several white-clad sylphs dancing in the moonlight with the “poet” or “young man” dressed in white tights and a black tunic. It was incredibly beautiful, and it was almost unbelievable to see our very own daughter looking so beautiful in the flouncy romantic tutu and en pointe and to my untrained eye looking like a professional ballerina. Yet, at the same time, you could also interpret this scene as something of a horrific nightmare where she was paralysed inside this cold, detached, untouchable character something like a porcelain doll. Like many teens, there have been times when she’s been quite withdrawn and it was this aspect of her that I saw in this character. Well, at least the first time I saw it. I experienced that less the second time I saw it and appreciated more of its beauty, as well as the technical complexity of the piece. Indeed, I’d really like to see it again just to really savour and remember it for all time. There was also a musical theatre number followed by a moody contemporary piece called Cosmos, choreographed by one of their teacher’s, Miss Karina Russell, who recently played Veruca Salt in Charlie the Musical. I felt really spoilt being able experience such incredible creativity and talent locally, especially with my daughter in the cast and being able to soak all this up on her journey towards becoming a professional dancer. I was also over the moon to see my friends from the dance school again for the first time since about March.
We’ve also been attending an online conference with our Church, Hope UC. Obviously, due to Covid, it went online. For some, this was probably disappointing because it cut the program back considerably and you’re listening to sessions online, even though we were encouraged to watch it in groups, which we did and we also shared a meal and more than our quota of cake and dessert. So, juggling conference and our daughter’s performances and rehearsals, it’s been a busy time.
Finally, I’m pleased to report some progress on the garden front. While I was at Norah Head, I bough half a dozen red Salvia’s which I’ve planted in a row out the front. I also bought a very striking non-flowering plant, which as an unusual choice for me as I love prefer brightly coloured flowering options. However, this one made was an exception. I also need to confess that I still haven’t planted the gardenias I bought a few weeks ago. However, they’ve been well watered and are still alive, which is still a good outcome. I’ve been having trouble working out quite where to plant them. I know I’m probably over-thinking it, but you can’t keep moving plants around like paintings on the wall, especially once they’re dead.