Category Archives: Travel

Bye! Bye! Miss!

“You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to

grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than

the other girls.”

― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

/Tonight, we waved Miss off on her school ski trip. They were picked up from school in three massive coaches tonight and they’ll drive through the night to hit the slopes at Perisher Smiggins in the Australian Alps bright and early at 7.00am. By the way, if you’re used to skiing overseas, I’ll let you in on a little secret. The so-called “Australian Alps”, should really be called  “The Australian Mole Hills”. We don’t have real mountains in Australia.

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Loading up the bus.

Naturally, seeing her off was a tad emotional and yanked away at my heart strings, Although she’s now 13 and in high school, as she climbed on board,  it was like watching this tiny girl get swallowed up by this massive white coach and disappear.  Not that I was about to board the bus to yank her to safety. I’m not that pathetic. I know it’s only for a few days and she’s been away from us for longer trips before. However, it’s moments like these where you not only think about all the fun adventures she’ll have, but the gaps in between certainties also open up just enough to let in the doubt. The what ifs. After all, we live in an uncertain world where anything could change at the tick of the clock. Of course, these uncertainties are always there, but our routines and busyness block them out and we forget we don’t hold the remote control. That things can happen. On the other hand, I’m equally sure she’ll arrive home tired with a beaming smile on Friday. She’ll have been away on what will be yet another trip of a lifetime.

“I think she is growing up, and so begins to dream dreams, and have

hopes and fears and fidgets, without knowing why or being able to

explain them.”

Louisa May Alcott

Another thought crossed my mind as I started working on this post, we’re in the process of waving goodbye to her childhood. Indeed, it’s clear that horse has already bolted. That said, she hasn’t grown up quite as much as the photo would suggest. She must be standing on a mound because there’s no way she’s as tall as me. I’m a good 174 cm  tall and she’s nowhere near it. Just as well I took this photo below with her Dad, which brings her nicely back down to size. Geoff is the same height as me so she hasn’t shot up quite as much after all.

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Yet, she’s still grown up a lot since I first started blogging back in 2012. She’d only just started school the year before and truly was a little girl back then.

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what

we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before

we can enter another.”-

Anatole France

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The kids on my daughter’s first day of school back in 2011. 

 

There are people I’ve been blogging with much of those years and have seen my kids grow up, which is a really special privilege really. After all, it’s an incredible thing to see someone grow up, looking at their photos, taking in their adventures and stories and being a part of their lives even if you’ve never met, which is one of the peculiarities of these close blogging friendships. In some instances, we do know each other better than people in the so-called real world, but we’ve never met. Never gone out for a real coffee. Nothing. It no longer seems strange to me until I try to explain it to someone who doesn’t blog.

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Snowplowing on our first trip to the snow in 2012, aged 6.

Anyway, getting back to the trip, it’s going to be an experience for her. It was optional trip, and so many of her friends aren’t going, which has thrown her somewhat out of her comfort zone and she’ll be mixing with other students she doesn’t know and others where there are some tensions to boot. In effect, she’s stuck in a lift with these people for the week. While as  a teacher or parent, we can see this as a good thing and say a stranger is only a friend you haven’t met, as a teenager, is a whole different story. It can be unsettling.

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Back at ski school in 2013.

However, Miss really loves skiing and is is a fairly good skier, especially compared to most of these kids who won’t have been skiing before. That should give her a bit of confidence.  I’ve also seen her face light up on the slopes. She’s had the ski bug bad before and once she hits the powder, she’ll be right. I just hope she doesn’t sustain an injury, because that could be a disaster for her dancing. She’s performing in Swan Lake with Central Dance Company in four weeks. She’s not allowed to get injured and in hindsight, perhaps I should’ve put a roll of bubble wrap into her suitcase. That would be a great look out on the slopes, but I’m sure I could’ve sold a few bubble wrap suits to some of the other parents. While we say we want our kids to get out there and experience the world, we’re all lying. We really just want them to sit in front of the TV and stay safe.

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The kids with their snow kid in 2012. 

Meanwhile, we have one less person at home. For her brother, it means more chores but for me there’s one less fuss pot to feed and we could all use a few new stories. I’ve been fighting off some weird sleep virus so haven’t been much fun anyway. The week will fly by and all too soon, she’ll be back.

Well, that is except for the dogs. They don’t know anything about fun-filled ski adventures or the frolics of the sun. All they saw was the suitcase come out, and Miss is gone. Indeed, I could just imagine Lady thinking we’re hopeless parents. Don’t they even realize they’ve lost one? This is her song…

“No one to talk with
All by myself
No one to walk with
But I’m happy on the shelf
Ain’t misbehavin’
I’m savin’ my love for you…”

Meanwhile, I’ve spent a few hours tonight hunting down the photos from 2012 and getting well and truly lost down memory lane. Our son only has two more years of school and who knows how many family holidays we have left. That’s not to be negative and reflective. However, it is important to make the most of it. Find the time and money to get away. I’ve been thinking about a camping trip soon. That said, my husband and son will be going camping with the extended family up at Bathurst in a few weeks time to watch the Bathurst 500 Car Race. My daughter and I are staying home “to look after the dogs”, but she also has a dance production.

Anyway, I’m very late to get to bed and will head on now.

I’d love to hear about your skiing adventures or how you feel about your kids growing up and stretching their wings.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Moonlight in the Clouds…

“No more words. In the name of this place we drink in with

our breathing, stay quiet like a flower. So the nightbirds will start singing.”

― Rumi, Night and Sleep

Last night, the most magnificent moon stood almost suspended among the clouds at the end of the street, an exquisite jewel of creation. Our street is rather ordinary and nothing like watching the moon rise only metres away over the beach. That said, I can’t remember the last time we actually paused the frenetic pace of life to stand beside the water’s edge transfixed by the rising moon. That should be a point of shame really.

“If you want the moon, do not hide from the night.

If you want a rose do not run away from the thorns.

If you want to love do not hide from yourself.”
~ Rumi

Cloudy moon

Indeed, even last night, it’s glamorous appearance merely signaled a dash to fetch the camera and carpe seize the moment, rather than truly soaking it in and enjoying it for what it was an expression of nature, and perhaps even of God.

Somehow, we need to make more time to press the pause button and get outside to enjoy the world right at our feet. We don’t even need to travel to experience the world through fresh eyes. That is a point for me atm as a number of close friends are traveling through Europe and I would love to be there but can’t on so many levels. However, it helps that my Australian  backyard is overseas for most of you and somewhere exotic. It’s all a matter of perspective.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Just had to include this moon quote about human nature:

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never

shows to anybody.”

― Mark Twain

Red Door, Patonga…Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Thursday Doors.

You know you’re sadly door-obsessed when you go to a place of stunning natural beauty, and your heart skips a beat when you come across a red door. I’m sure many of you relate to my experience and perhaps Thursday Doors has become the equivalent of AA  for the door-obsessed. A safe place for us to share our passion for doors and all the stories they tell. Moreover, doors also have a metaphorical appeal…an open door, closed door and what these mean to the journey.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”     

Alexander Graham Bell

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Patonga

This week our love of doors takes us to Patonga, on the NSW Central Coast 91 kilometres North of Sydney and a short drive from our port of call last week,  Pearl Beach. By the way, Patonga is Aboriginal for “oyster”.

Patonga has a delightful sleepy feel to it. As you drive down the hill into the village, the beach is on your left and a jetty heads out into the bay. You’ll spot a few fishing boats and there was a father and son fishing from the end of the wharf without catching anything. You see scenes like this around the world, and only the backdrop changes.

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This red flower, which I took to be an Australian native, turned out to be a weed hailing from Madagascar…Mother of Millions. I wonder if it’s seen the movie. 

“Red is uplifting.”- Jerry Lewis

After going for a bit of a walk along the waterfront, we drove around town and that’s how I came across this red door in a side street just back from the Hawkesbury River. I have to admit that there was an instant tick inside my head…”That’s Thursday Doors done and dusted.”

Before I head off, I’ll leave you with this quote from Oscar Wilde. Although it pertains to red roses,I’m sure the sentiments could be extended to red doors.

“A red rose is not selfish because it wants to be a red rose. It would be horribly selfish if it wanted all the other flowers in the garden to be both red and roses.”

Oscar Wilde

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0 Please pop over and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dancing in the Moonlight…Friday Fictioneers.

David was joking when he’d asked ballerina, Vanessa Rossi, away camping for the weekend. Never thought she’d agree. Moreover, when she arrived flagrantly overdressed, he was relieved he’d also booked into a hotel.

“You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the girl,” he laughed.

Vanessa smiled, sipping champagne while David wrestled unsuccessfully with the tent. Once a Scout, always a Scout, Vanessa could pitch a tent blindfolded. However, she said nothing. He was her Prince, and she was his swan. Enthralled, they danced around the crumpled tent in the moonlight.

….

100 words

I was fiddling around with this one for quite awhile tonight and feel it has good potential as a short story. It was actually inspired by a story my husband tells of a school camp trip when this group of trendy girls had an expensive, upmarket tent but didn’t set it up properly and it fell over during the night and the boys had to come to the rescue. I haven’t had much camping experience myself. However, I was driving across the Nullarbor Plain on the way from Sydney to Perth and we camped by the road for the night. I always thought it was hot in the desert and was almost paralyzed by the cold. To compound my discomfort, I’d worn this fancy jumper with decorative holes and the wind howled through them. I was told “You can take the girl out of the North Shore but you can’t take the North Shore out of the girl.” That’s the part of Sydney I grew up and let’s just say it wasn’t rough and tumble. Meanwhile, the girl in this story is loosely inspired by our daughter who at 13 is still yet to step out in the world but is currently rehearsing to appear in Swan Lake in a local youth production and has been a scout until the start of this year. She got into scouts through her brother, and while she enjoyed it, I was also keen for her to do it as a counter-point to her dancing. Felt it was good for her to get out into the bush hiking and camping and stepping beyond the studio.

I hope you enjoy it and that it hasn’t suffered too much trying to cut it back to 100 words. It’s been heavily edited.

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields where we write 100 words to a photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © Jan Wayne Fields

Best wishes,

Rowena

Aussie Street Library, Pearl Beach …Thursday Doors.

“Be an opener of doors” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome back to Thursday Doors. This week, we’ve jumped into the red Alfa, traversed the steep hill and hairpin bends down to Pearl Beach, just so we could check out Jill’s Library. This is Pearl Beach’s incredible incantation of the humble street library or book exchange. Without a shadow of a doubt, this brightly painted library full of pre-loved books, is just waiting for desperadoes like myself to pop along.

More than functional, Jill’s Library is also a work of art featuring some of the area’s local characters…a kookaburra, magpies and rainbow lorrikeets and sprays of wattle. I don’t know much about how it came about. Simply that it was painted by Pim and named after Jill. That’s all.

I know I’m supposed to be writing about doors here. However, you barely notice the door on this picturesque box. Rather, it’s little more than a framed piece of glass, designed to keep the books clean and dry. However, for ardent bibliophiles like myself who are peering through the door in search of treasure, the door is a window of possibility. What’s beyond the glass?

Temptation…That’s what it is. Although our place is bursting at the seams with books with buttons flying and fabric tearing under their monumental force, I still want more. Indeed, like Monty Python’s Mr Creosote who couldn’t stop stuffing his face, I can’t stop bringing more and more books home. I can’t say no.

Indeed, this was no exception. I shamelessly raided the library, taking home Kristina Olsson’s spell-binding Australian novel, Shell. However, in my defense, I’ve almost finished it. I couldn’t put it down.  Shell tells the gripping story of shell-9781925685329_lgPearl Keogh, a journalist who is protesting against Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war. Then there’s Axel Lindquist, a glass artist from Sweden, who is working on the site of the emerging Sydney Opera House creating a glass sculpture inspired by Utzon’s design. Of course, there’s romance. However, that’s almost secondary to this world of living, breathing history. Olsson’s prose is incredibly poetic and philosophical, which I absolutely love. Indeed, it feels like Shell was written just for me. Indeed, it’s opened a door into another world just as surely as that very famous wardrobe door, which took Lucy into Narnia.

It usually takes me a few weeks to get through a book. So, the fact I’ve almost finished Shell in a couple of days speaks volumes.  Indeed, I’ve have been enjoying snuggling up in bed with my book and my electric blanket on. While the Winter sun filters through the curtains behind me, I could almost feel like I’m sunbaking down at the beach, except a cold snap surrounds me. Most homes around here don’t have central heating. We brave the Winter months and invest in air-con for the Summer.

Anyway, getting back to the Street Library…Despite its apparent simplicity, Jill’s Library captures the essence of Pearl Beach, a relaxed creative and cultural community of locals and weekenders who live alongside the lorrikeets, magpies and colourful Rainbow Lorrikeets.  It’s the sort of place people go to exit stress and embrace sun, sand, surf and a good read. Indeed, a good book is even better shared and discussed over coffee and cake.

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Thought I’d better share a photo of the real deal also taken at Pearl Beach the other day. While that kookaburra is looking pretty innocent and minding his own business, I’ve had a local kookaburra snatch a hot sanger (sausage) off the BBQ here. So, they’re actually pretty audacious.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed that broader story of Jill’s Library, Pearl Beach.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0 Please pop over and join us.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Pearl Beach, NSW…Walking Through The Lens.

Shame! Shame! Shame! Why is it so difficult for me to get out of the house and get over to Pearl Beach and go for a simple walk? Pearl Beach is only a 15 minute drive away, and is absolutely beautiful. It’s hardly going to the dentist. Although we have our beach just down the road, it’s important to get out of your own backyard and see the world, even if it is only the world next door and not somewhere further afield.

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Pearl Beach, NSW.

However, the reality is that when you live in a place, you’re not on holidays, even if you live near a beach. Life still gets you by the short and curlies and as much as life is to be lived, it also has to be endured. Stuff has to be done. Annoying, irritating stuff such as cleaning, appointments, brushing your teeth, which are hardly earth shattering unless they’re neglected. I’ve also been researching and writing my book which has caught me up in some kind of net where I’ve been swimming along feeling like I’ve broken through, when my foot gets stuck. However, through my efforts to escape, I only make things worse. I’m wrapped up like a cocoon and I’m going nowhere. A spider trapped in its own web.

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Fond and painful memories of our Pearl beach friends who moved to Poland. It is a strange feeling being the ones left behind still living in the same house while they’ve moved on.

So, I deserve a 22 carat gold star for just making it to Pearl Beach today. However, after going for a walk as well and getting some EXERCISE, I deserve the sun.

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So, there we are… me and my girl walking along Pearl Beach. I looked out to sea and there was a white dot of a yacht sailing along the horizon. I’ve been giving a bit of thought to what lies on the other side of all that ocean. Who am I waving at? This was a tough question for me, because I have no sense of direction and am hopeless at reading maps. However, this was a question I’m pursuing  like a grand global adventure all from the comfort of my armchair and laptop. Anyway, if you could throw a stone from Pearl Beach across that vast expanse of ocean, I think it would bypass New Zealand and Easter Island, heading straight for Chile somewhere around Valparaiso. That freaked me out. That’s a long way over the rainbow.

Anyway, back to walking along the beach. The weather was absolutely glorious, sunny and about 22°C. This was the best of our Winter. Talk about being lucky ducks.

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Moreover, the beach was the most incredible canvas underfoot. Although the wiggling strandlines are meaningless, I sense something profound in their squiggles which is beyond music or words and something like the whisperings of heaven. These squiggles formed wave-like patterns at Pearl Beach, which I’ve never seen before. They were absolutely enchanting. Moreover, tiny crab holes punctured through the sand. Foot and paw prints were appearing, disappearing or merging in a footprint jungle. So much to photograph.

Beach Canvas

Beach Canvas

I used to go to playgroup at Pearl Beach with my kids before they started school and  we’d often end up at the beach afterwards, particularly when they were older and had outgrown their morning nap. We’d order a serve of chips and chat until responsibilities sank in and it was time to go home. In hindsight, their childhood seems like one endless Summer by the beach. However, this idyllic interpretation is definitely the rose-coloured version. Life has had a nasty habit of stepping in and stamping on our dreams. However, we have big feet and are just as good at stomping back.

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Plagelines, Pearl Beach. 

Now that I’ve got back out there extending my explorations of our beautiful local beaches, I’m thinking of doing a walking tour of our coast and walking along a new beach each week. Considering I’ll have my camera in hand, it’s hardly going to raise my heart rate in a big way, but it will help. Exercise is exercise. Hopefully, if I draw up a plan, I might actually stick with it and I’m thinking of recruiting a few friends. Turn it into a social event. Clearly, I’m not really passionate about raising my heart-rate. Indeed, I can just see myself indulging at a cafe afterwards but at least I’m honest.

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Anyway, I hope you enjoyed our walk along Pearl Beach.

Is there somewhere special where you like to go walking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Winter Walk Along the beach…

“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”

– Sarah Kay

It’s a tough life living near the beach here on Australia’s East coast just North of Sydney. Although the mercury might plummet to single figures, it doesn’t stay there for long and the sun can be absolutely glorious. Indeed, during the last week, it’s been perfect.

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Umina Beach, NSW.

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

Rumi

After spending a few days indoors with our daughter competing in the local dance eisteddfod and our son performing in the annual Scout and Guides’ Gang Show, I was busting to get outside, spread my wings and soak up that balmy sunshine.

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Even seaweed on the beach can take on a magnificent beauty and I loved its jagged shadow.

These photos were taken over two beach walks this week. On Friday I went by myself for some much needed solitude. Not necessarily that sitting on a rock all by myself type of solitude, but definitely not having to worry about dogs pooping or lunging at other dogs who for reasons unexplained seem to press the growl button not an enthusiastic wag of the tail. I didn’t have to wait for anyone else to get dressed or find a missing shoe either. Rather, I could simply get in my car and go.

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A lone photographer on the beach…

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

Rumi

As much as I simply love going to the beach enjoying it at face value, at times I also push myself to squeeze in a beach walk to de-stress, raise my heart rate or improve my overall well-being.

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Today, our daughter asked if she could come with me, which was great because she’s competed in a dance eisteddfod during the week and has her grade six ballet exam in three weeks and more phenomenal stress there, along with the final preparations. Getting out of the house, out of the studio and onto the beach and expanding your horizons across the vastness of ocean which extends off as far as New Zealand or even South America. Isn’t that incredible!

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see a shadow.”

Helen Keller

I love photographing shadows down on the beach. They’re so intriguing and distort as the sun nears toward sunset which is when I usually manage to get there. Shadows are also mysterious, enigmatic, and alluring. They’re not just something you accidentally capture in your photo which needs to be Photoshopped out. The other thing about these shadows, is that for users of real cameras and not phones posing as cameras, shadows are our take on the selfie. otherwise, I still need to stop a complete stranger to take our photo and I don’t feel entirely happy about handing my camera over especially when I take my glasses off and I couldn’t even see them make a run for it.

“A human being is only breath and shadow.”

-Sophocles

Another favourite subject of my beach photography is the seagull. Although I’ve probably overloaded my hard drive with seagull photos, I keep taking them. As annoying as they are, I love seagulls.

“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”

-Rumi

When you take a closer look at these photos, you’ll see that our beach is surrounded by bush and is relatively untouched and natural. You can walk down the beach during the week and only run into a few dog walkers and virtually have the entire stretch of beach to yourself even in Summer. It makes me wonder why anyone would ever compete to find enough space to stretch out their towel among the multitudes.

Anyway, reality bites and I’d better get dinner into the pie machine and onto the table. It’s a cruel world, but Masterchef finals week starts in ten minutes so I’d better get a move on.

Best wishes,

Rowena