When I showed my husband this week’s prompt, he showed me photos of dare-devils kayaking off waterfalls. I must say them very impressive, reckless and also potentially stupid. Of course, I could ever do anything like that, only write about it. However, today I attended an motivational seminar via livestream called Standing Tall. It’s actually for teenagers. However, I wanted to see what it was about. I’d signed my kids up for it, and also thought I might benefit myself. After all, you’re never too old to learn. The livestream will be available for the next three months and I highly recommend you check it out. Here’s the link: https://www.standtallevent.com/online
This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ We’d love you to join us!
Let me offer you a warming tea, coffee or perhaps even a mug of hot chocolate. It’s freezing here, and it’s feeling like we’re down in the snow country, although I’m still able to move my fingers, so I shouldn’t be complaining too much. I’m just waiting to drive our daughter to school and filling in a few minutes, and I’m grateful for the warmth of Zac the dog on my lap who is no doubt reciprocating.
How was your week, and what did you get up to?
The highlight of my week was going to an art exhibition opening on Saturday afternoon at La Carta Art Gallery in Wyong, My friend’s teenaged daughter, TP, was among the exhibiting artists, which is what took me there. I love her work and it’s so good to see an artist in the making, and watch her insights and talent evolve. We rarely get that opportunity and usually only see the finished product, and by this stage, it’s usually well beyond our price range. During the week, I’d already seized the day, and had bought her charcoal sketch: The Cat. . It was funny because people seemed to assume I’m a cat person. However, as most of you know, we’re dog people here and have three lively dogs of our own. Besides, that wasn’t why I bought it. I thought the perspective was very clever and I loved the expression on the cat’s face and it’s huge, wide eyes. I wonder what it was looking at…
Meanwhile, I also fell in love with the work of another artist, Lena Nimmo, who is more around my vintage. She had quite a number of paintings in the exhibition, including many people. Should I be calling these portraits? I don’t know. I was captivated by quite a number of them, especially a woman with dark hair and some kind of look in her eyes. I’m not an art critic. I just found the woman intriguing and was drawn in. I almost could’ve bought that painting, along another painting of a young woman playing the piano. Pianos have been such a part of our family life, but I have so many of my own photos and the same old problem of limited wall space. However, then I spotted a painting of a woman praying, The Prayer, which had been inspired by a 1914 work by Felice Casorati. To be honest, I much prefer Lena’s version. It’s absolutely exquisite, and I’m giving it to my mum. It was her birthday on Saturday, and she is a woman of faith who always starts the day by reading her Bible.
By the way, I really enjoyed myself, and I can’t tell you how wonderful it was to immerse myself back in the art world again after being in lockdown and isolation for most of the last year, along with the year before. It gave me a bit of a jolt. This is what I’ve been missing out on. It inspired me to venture out further. Embrace more of living However, covid is still around, and it’s Winter and flu season here. I’m planning to get my fourth covid vax and the flu vax this week. Apparently, you can get them together which sounds practical, but I wonder how I’ll feel afterwards. Yet, there’s part of me that wouldn’t mind a few days in bed with a good book. One of the downsides of getting back to our so called “normal” is driving all over the place again. Some days I feel like a buzzing bee.
Over the weekend, I also submitted a 500 word short story into a Furious Fiction competition held by the Australian Writer’s Centre. I’m not sure quite what I can mention about my story online. However, I wrote about a family grappling with Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy. There are two sisters who find out they are carriers after Sally’s son is diagnosed at age four. Bridget has a daughter and because Duchenne’s is largely passed on to males, she’s okay but could be a carrier. The story is set just over a year after Sally’s son has died, and his massive electric wheelchair is still taking up most of their loungeroom, and they haven’t been able to part with it. I guess part of what I was looking at was that pressure to move on and what to hold onto and what to let go. As I worked on the story, I added in that he’d played boccia, which is a variation on bocce, which is played by severely disabled people, providing a sporting outlet. In my story, he’d been part of a fictional Australian team who’d won gold in Rio. In part, the story was inspired by Australian Paralympic gold medallist, Kurt Fearnley . I’ve heard him speak and he’s also written a very inspirational book Pushing the Limits: Life, Marathons & Kokoda. Many of you, would not be aware that following the birth of our 16 year old daughter, I was struck down by a muscle-wasting autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis, and spent eight weeks in hospital and rehab trying to get back on my feet. I was very debilitated, and to be perfectly honest with you, don’t know how I’m still here or how I’m doing so well these days. It’s a real testimony to the motto; “never give up”, because there were many times it was tempting, which at the same time, I fought like a bat out f hell to survive. I know that might sound contradictory, but that’s what it’s like with real emotions when the rubber hits the road. It’s tough. Of course, you’d rather be at the beach and chilling out. It is what it is, and I can’t describe the relief, especially now that the worst of covid has passed and we have a vaccine and anti-virals.
Well, that’s about enough from me for this week. However, I thought I’d share with you the link through to the past winners of the Furious Fiction competition because their stories have been published and the judges have also provided feedback, which is very helpful: https://www.writerscentre.com.au/blog/category/furious-fiction/
“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”
-Vincent Van Gogh
Since our son returned from his voyage onboard STS Young Endeavour, we’ve had so many chats, and I’ve literally been squeezing out every last detail. Strangely, I haven’t even needed to coerce. He’s been surprisingly chatty and responsive to my endless questions. I have an insatiable curiosity, and after being in lockdown or isolation for so long, he was a marked man.
Despite all these stories and conversations, this is how he summed the trip up in a nutshell: “no words can describe the rollercoaster it was”.
Meanwhile, what I would like to say at the outset, is how proud I am of him and all the other Youthies onboard. That’s not just proud Mumma speak. While they had a lot of fun, they had some tough life lessons onboard, particularly when three of their number tested positive to covid three days before they were due to disembark, and had to leave the ship early. It must’ve been devastating for those who left, but the camaraderie among the group meant that it deeply affected them all. They were “one for all, and all for one”, and I was really touched by their empathy and compassion.
So here’s a bit of an overview of some of the challenges our intrepid youthies faced during their voyage.
Probably, the most obvious challenge when you first see the Young Endeavour, is height. It’s a very long way to the top of the mast. While I doubt anyone with a serious fear of heights would do the trip in the first place, that’s not to say these daredevils didn’t face some trepidation. While they were up there, they were balanced on nothing more than a wire tightrope, while they furled and unfurled the sails and they were heavy. However, this crew was apparently pretty good, and they had all been up before leaving Port Phillip Bay. Well done!
“The heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.”
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Another big challenge was also clearly identified before he left. That was no mobile phone, WIFI, Internet…the works! All of these were banned onboard. Surviving without social media probably wasn’t going to be his battle. However, as a gamer, we thought going cold turkey on this front was going to be tough. Yet, he hasn’t mentioned that at all.
“You can never cross the ocean until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus
Physical fitness was also a serious concern. I’d watched the promotional video and it looked very physical furling and unfurling the sails. It would be too late once they were onboard and had raised the anchor to have second thoughts: “Let me off. I’ve changed my mind!!” They were committed. However, they were not alone. They were going through this very steep learning curve together and they had the “staffies” onboard. They were headed by inspirational Captain Adam “Charlie” Farley who might’ve had his official whites on for boarding and disembarking, but the rest of the time he was wearing the blue shirt like the rest of them and was inspiring alongside rather than from above. (By the way, he was the only one who managed to do a backflip off the boat while they were in Jervis Bay, and apparently he was as smooth as a “swan”.) He also stuck a motivational quote on the fridge every day.
“Seasickness: at first you are so sick you are afraid you will die, and then you are so sick you are afraid you won’t die.”
— Mark Twain
Meanwhile, seasickness wasn’t something we’ve given any consideration until we watched the informational videos. Our son has sailed for many years, and has never shown any sign of seasickness before. However, this trip was much more challenging what with crossing Bass Strait and being out at sea. Given that their website had dedicated an entire video to the subject, it wasn’t something to ignore. https://www.facebook.com/YoungEndeavour/videos/1018219102114384
Fortunately, he was only sick once after eating too much breakfast. However, things weren’t pretty for some of the others on Day Two while they were crossing notorious Bass Strait, and the sea was rolling like a Bucking Bronco. Naturally, this wasn’t pretty, and I’ll spare you most of the details. However, he did mention there was a “Red Sea” flowing through the ship, which reminded me of that famous scene from Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life featuring Mr Creosote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U (watch at your own risk).
Yet, despite their ordeal, the Captain’s Log reported that the youthies still performed their duties, which sounds incredibly commendable. Yet, while it would be easy to feel sorry for them, all of this struggle was what they’d signed up for… throwing themselves against the elements to develop that much desired trait…resilience. Of course, resilience has never been served up on a silver platter, and only comes once you’ve stretched yourself well beyond breaking point. My dad used to call this “putting hair on your chest”. So, all these youthies must be woolly mammoths by now!
However, as bad as the seasickness was for some, there was a popular antidote…the humble Sao biscuit. Our son described them as “the wonder food of seasickness”. Indeed, written underneath the bunk above him were the words: “Saos are king”. In case you’ve never encountered a Sao biscuit, it’s very plain, and would be kind to a troubled tummy. The fact that something as plain and ordinary as a Sao biscuit could save the day, goes to show that a big problem doesn’t necessarily require a big solution.
Another consideration I had, was how roughly 20 young strangers aged 16 to 23 were going to coexist for nine days in a very confined space without erupting. Being stuck on the same boat for so long could be rather fractious, and I did address this with him before he left. However, it was actually quite the reverse. As I explained earlier, they all got on incredibly well and really looked out for each other. It’s also worth mentioning that they didn’t stay onboard the ship for the full nine days and they broke it up a bit with some activities on land.
Homesickness was another possibility. Our son has been away on Scout camps and Jamboree before, so I wasn’t expecting him to get terribly homesick. However, some of the others were younger and especially with covid around, haven’t been away from home all that much. You don’t have to be a sook to get a bit homesick, especially given the physical challenges of the journey.
In addition to the challenges, our son also shared details of the voyage.
They did a bit of singing onboard. Singing was also a bit of a thing onboard and the Captain’s Log mentioned them singing John Lennon’s Imagine, which must’ve been so moving out there at sea. J. also told me that when they were waking someone up to go on a watch, they sang a variation of The Wiggles’ song: “Toot Toot Chugga Chugga Big Red Car”: “toot toot chugga chugga big blue boat”, and by the end of the voyage, they’d call out: “Wake up Charlie” (the name of the Captain and a reference to Wake up, Jeff also from the Wiggles).
He also made a reference to them being told to “use your Navy voice”, and that they had to raise their voices to be heard. That made me laugh. When he was younger, he was always being told to “use his inside voice”, and bring the volume down. How times have changed!
“When anxious, uneasy and bad thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”
– Rainer Maria Rilke
Meanwhile, although I thought the storytelling driving home in the car was amazing, it was nothing compared to having him bring up my good old friend Google Earth and for a virtual experience. He took me from Geelong out through the Heads of Port Melbourne and across the notorious Rip all with a click of the mouse. From there, they’d sailed across Bass Strait where they saw quite a few islands, dolphins and fed a lot of fish. Then, they anchored in Refuge Bay, which was a welcome relief from the rough seas and seasickness. They sailed up along the continental shelf reaching Jervis Bay and then onto Sydney’s Watson’s Bay where I think they spent a few days. They spent their final night moored near Taronga Park Zoo being serenaded by the elephants. I recorded the whole experience, and wished I could’ve been there. Somehow, being a couch sailor isn’t the same.
“To me, the sea is a continual miracle; The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships, with men in them, What stranger miracles are there?”
– Walt Whitman
These were apparently the Captain’s parting words:
“You leave with new skills, improved persistence, resilience and adaptability, as well as generally knowing you are more capable than what you probably thought. And of course, having made great new friends – most probably, friends for life”
-Captain Adam “Charlie” Farley
There is so much more that could be said, and perhaps I’ve focused a bit too heavily on the hurdles they’ve overcome rather than the fun, especially since one of my motivations is to encourage other young people to sign up. Yet, despite or perhaps because of these hardships, our son has emerged a much more confident and optimistic version of himself with a pile of gripping stories, and a swag of new friends. Indeed, even a week down the track, he still remains exhilarated.
Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who made this trip not only possible, but also such a success. No doubt so much has gone on behind the scenes, and we are incredibly grateful.
Before I head off, here are a couple of videos you might enjoy and if you or someone you know has been onboard STS Young Endeavour, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below.
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”
– Jacques Yves Cousteau
Last Wednesday, Geoff and I drove down to Sydney Harbour to welcome back our No. 1 son, who’d been away for ten days sailing on the tall ship STS Young Endeavour from Geelong to Sydney. Indeed, we were waiting at the Coal Loader Wharf near HMAS Waterhen with our eyes peeling looking for the much anticipated ship, when a massive rainbow appeared. I couldn’t believe my luck. I have been in lockdown at home for the best part of six months and right on my release, a rainbow appears, I have my camera, and better still, the Young Endeavour appearing right on cue and I managed to capture it sailing across the rainbow. Better still, our son was perched right at the very top like an oversized crow as they came in. Oh! Be still my beating heart!
Just to recap on the journey, he’d been away on a nine day trip from Geelong to Sydney which, as he said, was pretty much the “Sydney-to-Hobart Yacht Race in reverse minus Tasmanian.” They sailed out of Geelong on Monday the 20th March. On Day two, they sailed out of Port Phillip Bay, across the notorious Rip and soon they were taking on the even more notorious Bass Strait before heading up the East Coast. They stopped off at Refuge Bay, Jervis Bay and Watson’s Bay along the way before spending their final night anchored near Taronga Park Zoo listening to the elephants.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see him, the boat, and to finally be a physical part of his experience after being unable to see him off in Geelong. The ship was due in at 10.00am and knowing the Navy, it would be 10.00am sharp, and they certainly wouldn’t be running on Byron Bay time (which is little better than a hair past a freckle). However, my watch hit 10.00am and there was still no sign of the Young Endeavour. The anticipation was absolutely killing me. Thank goodness the rainbow was there to distract me, and we were just hoping the rain would hold off long enough for us to see them come in.
Then, apparently just a minute or two after ten, the ship’s canon sounded, and STS Young Endeavour finally came into view. There he was – one of those large black birds perched right at the very top of the mast with the daring of a movie stunt double. I couldn’t wait to see him. Give him a hug. Have him back.
However, there was a spanner in the works. An unfortunately all too familiar spanner, which I’d naively thought had been wrestled and dealt with before they’d climbed on board. Three of the “youthies” (as the young people were called) had tested positive to covid despite having had a PCR test and a RAT before leaving (covid seems to be more effective than the devil at sneaking into unwanted places and wreaking havoc). Apparently, the news went up to the Navy “higher-ups”, and after being isolated on the bridge for four hours they were given a “VIP” escort to the big navy base at Woolloomooloo. While it was tough for those whose voyages were cut short, it also hit the remaining youthies really hard. In only seven days, they’d all grown incredibly close. There was no “us and them”, or being focused on No. 1. They’d become a unit and they were welded together like an unbroken chain.
Of course, I wasn’t there, and it’s an interesting experience writing about someone else’s journey as though it was your own. However, even as a parent of a now 18 year old where the umbilical cord was cut years ago, we’re still Mum and Dad. We’re still interested in what he’s up to, especially when he’s been on such a privileged adventure, and as the Captain mentioned in his first Captain’s Log, we had all become “armchair sailors” back home.
Besides, we’d also gone through the last two years alongside them. I don’t need to explain what this has been like to any of you. We’ve all been living through it. We also had the worst bushfires in living memory just before covid along with it’s choking haze of smoke which travelled the globe several times over before finally breaking up. We haven’t been able to plan, hope, leave the house although many of us tried to make a positive out of a negative and had our “Covid Projects”. On a much more serious note, people have died. Now, places are recovering from devastating floods and there’s the invasion of Ukraine.
So, without going into all our son and these other young people have been through over the last two years, let’s just say that their arrival home, especially surrounded by that massive rainbow, just screamed positivity. Indeed, you can see, I’ve doctored the photo of the ship surrounded by the rainbow, and added the words: “There Is Always Hope”. I’ve come a very long way to reach that point. Indeed, with our son perched high up on the mast, me being there to greet him after more than six months in lockdown, and capturing the photo of a lifetime, it was an incredible triumph.
“My soul is full of longing for the secret of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
I was pleasantly surprised by how chatty he was, and his incredibly enthusiastic and visually graphic storytelling abilities. After all, teenagers aren’t renowned for sharing all the lurid details with Mum and Dad and perhaps there was still a lot he left out. Usually, we’ve ecstatic to get a grunt.
In my next post, I’ll share a few points from his trip, and you never know perhaps he or one of his fellow youthies might share their experiences directly on Beyond the Flow. I live in hope.
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.
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.
Well, I know I’m really stretching the truth a very long way, by even suggesting that our dearly beloved Border Collie x Kelpie, Isaac Newton (mostly known as Zac) has been over to Ireland this week, and more specifically to to the quaint little village of Carrigaholt in West Clare. If ever there was fake news, this had to be it. However, I was checking out Carrigaholt myself via Google Earth and whizzing along all sorts of country roads and photographing derelict old farm houses, when Zac stood right next to the screen and got beamed up into the story.
I know that travelling from Sydney to Carrigaholt might sound rather random, and in my usual style, it sort of is. However, my Great Great Grandfather, Edward Quealey, was born in nearby Lisheenfurroor, and it was late the other night and I wandered off to check it out and ended up in Carrigaholt. Indeed, I feel like it was all meant to be.
Meanwhile, I’m hoping some doors open up soon for me to physically get to Ireland. Australia’s had our borders closed for almost two years, and we’ve had young kids and health issues to consider, but now more than ever I just want to get on a plane after doing all this exploring.
Have you ever been to Ireland? Where did you go? How was it? I’m like a sponge and could just soak Ireland up, although it could be a bit cold for me at the moment. That said, it’s been quite hot here over the last couple of days. I am very grateful for the air-conditioning.
This is actually my second coffee share post this week, and while it’s too late for the blogshare, I wrote a post from my new blog: Tea With Ethel Turner, which got up in time. However, I still decided to put this together because so much is going on. At least, it seemed that way, but perhaps that’s only because not much has happened for so long what with being in lockdown for the last three months.
Well, the big news is that our NSW State Premier who is simply known as “Gladys” resigned after being hit with corruption charges by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). The irony is that the public and the media have almost unanimously come out in support of Gladys and feel ICAC’s timing stinks. We’re due to start coming out of lockdown on 11th October. Covid cases have dropped back own again which is encouraging, but Gladys has been our fearless warrior woman defending us from covid and trying to keep the economy going. Like Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, she’s been giving a 11.00am daily update until about a week or two ago. I didn’t watch these very often, but they were repeated throughout the day and on the nightly news and they brought calm and stability during very tempestuous and uncertain times. Now, Gladys has gone and the Deputy decided to go as well. He’s had enough and is leaving politics. I think someone else has also left, resulting in three by-elections. Goodness knows what’s going to happen now without Gladys to keep covid out. I might be weird, but I already miss her. Gladys, don’t leave us!
Yesterday, Geoff and I went out in the kayaks. I’m not sure whether I’d go so far as saying we went kayaking, because we were test driving how I went in the red fibreglass kayak instead of the much heavier, cumbersome yellow bathtub. It went okay. It felt a lot more unstable and I almost had that sense you have when you’re first earning to ride a bike. I had to be very conscious and focused on what I was doing or I felt I’d lose my balance and end up tipping over. However, tipping over was very unlikely much of the time, and getting beached posed a much greater threat. It was low tide and we headed inland which was more like a wetland or swamp and there was only a depth of about 30 centimetres. We knew a friend of ours was also out kayaking and we eventually caught up with him and a friend. It was so exciting to see him. This normal thing of seeing friends, bumping into friends has become so precious after being in lockdown for 14 weeks now, you’re soon doing the happy dance (which isn’t such a good idea when you have lousy balance and your in a kayak).
Meanwhile, the preparations for Freedom Day are starting to get under way at our place. Freedom Day is scheduled for Monday 11th October. To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure what so called freedoms we’ll be getting then, and it doesn’t really apply to vulnerable people like myself, because we have to stay on guard and if anything, be more cautious about who we hang out with. However, I think it allows me to go down to Sydney to see my Mum and Dad and that’s at the top of my out of jail bucket list.
Anyway, as I said, we’ve been doing some work around the house in preparation for being able to have people over here again. Geoff has painted much of the house, although we still have to get onto the front door. I was initially wanting to repair the table out the front, which has also been storing a large fish tank so we couldn’t use the table. A friend of mine had found a lovely old table beside the road and I’d fallen in love with it, and he was thinking it was too big for his room and he might get rid of it. Well, naturally I quickly put up my hand. However, we already have a few excess table inside the house, and I was trying to find the right time to mention the new addition to Geoff. A table is a very difficult thing to hide, especially when I needed him to pick it up! Meanwhile, my friend was starting to lose patience with the delays. I was getting frustrated with the delays. I could be sitting out the front in the sun reading instead of being stuck inside. I needed a reading nook. I needed somewhere covid friendly for friends to chat.
Well, we have now picked up the table, and today I started sanding the top back and I’ll finish it off tomorrow and also paint the legs.
It’s been an interesting process sanding back the table top. While some people deliberately destress their furniture, the table had some nasty scratches which looked like a cat had gone crazy. In another patch was very badly scratched after goodness knows what idiot madly tried sandpapering the varnish off working against the grain. These scratches didn’t add character and while I’d never be sitting at a friend’s place chatting and eating dessert and counting the number of scratches on their table, the thought did cross my mind. It’s probably that same part of my brain which frets about “red pen” (a writer’s nemesis) and having one comma out of place in a published work. Yes, I know. I need to go and get a life. Believe me, I would if I could. So, after using the orbital sander for the best part of 3-5 hours and still having scratches, but now having patches of light appearing through the immovable dark (the table is made of oak and had been vanished). I couldn’t see how I could get get the surface to a point of equilibrium. To a point where it didn’t look like I’d tried really really hard to get it right but had clearly given up and thrown in the towel. I asked Geoff if we could apply some varnish stripper to clean it up a bit. IT’s only at this point that he brings out the belt sander, which was clearly the right tool for the job and in minutes sawdust and varnish were flying and the table top was as smooth as a baby’s bot. Well, it will be when I’m done. The battery had gone flat and it was getting late. We didn’t want to disturb the neighbours.
However, it’s now looking like I’ve become one of those fusspots who are never satisfied. As all that dark varnish disintegrated before my eyes and those immovable scratches were pulverised into sawdust, the tabletop started to look rather plain and devoid of character. It looked like it had had it’s personality removed, and that somehow even those very scratches which grated on me like fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, gave give it character. The table now had a perfect face, but it almost appeared unnatural. Or, at least it will when I finish it off tomorrow.
Anyway, with the way things are around here, it won’t take it long to get knocked around a bit. This house is the personification of “Misrule”.
Well, on that note, I’d better head off. I don’t think I’ve actually asked you much about how you’re doing and what madness is going on in your neck of the woods.
Before I ask you how your week was, and if anything, indeed, anything at all has transpired in your neck of the woods, let me offer you a drink.
If you’re in lockdown here in NSW, you might be wanting a stiff drink, although it could be worse. Covid could be spreading like wildfire unabated. We had 830 cases overnight and three deaths. Parts of Sydney have now gone into an extreme lockdown and a nightly curfew from 9.00pm to 5.00am I believe. Meanwhile, we live on the NSW Central Coast which was classified as part of Greater Sydney, but we lobbied the State government to be reclassified “regional”. That was passed, and so we’ll be left out of future Sydney lockdowns unless our own incidence warrants it. That’s a relief, I think.
Meanwhile, over the last couple of months, frictions have been mounting in the community. There’s the vaxers versus anti-vaxers, different attitudes to wearing masks and as the incidence of covid in Sydney has shot up and Police surveillance has increased, heated discussions about protecting civil liberties have also eschewed. Again these tensions climaxed on the weekend with large, sometimes violent, protests in Sydney, Melbourne and the Gold Coast and it just makes me wonder what on earth these people are thinking and what gives them the right to keep the rest of us locked down longer?
My personal view is that too many people take breathing for granted. As someone who has crook lungs and lives with dodgy breathing all the time and has experienced crisis point, being able to breathe is something to take seriously. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not important. Indeed, most of us think that not being able to walk is one of the worst things that can happen to you. However, not being able to breathe is fatal. I’m not prepared to play Russian Rouette with my own life let alone the lives of those I care about. My 15 year old daughter sums things up well: “Why can’t they just stay home for a month so we can get out of this?” Short term pain, for long term gain. Sounds logical to me. However, we’re still hearing about parties being held. Party is now a euphemism for “super-spreader event”. Well, at least, it is for the parties that make the news.
Meanwhile, I’ve been sinking into a deep state of hibernation. I’ve always been a bit of a pyjama princess. However, now after wearing PJs for a few months, and then putting on real clothes, they feel so scratchy on my skin. Unpleasant. I bought a really soft pair of cloud pyjamas from PJ Guru Peter Alexander, and they’ve been so soft. However, they’ve probably had the equivalent of 10years wear during lockdown and are wearing out. Never fear. I’ve ordered a replacement.
Anyway, as I said, I’ve been in a state of hibernation. I wasn’t feeling 100%, and didn’t get out for a walk for a few days. Then, I felt a bit wonky on my feet, and decided to wait until Geoff was free. On Saturday, we drove over to Pearl Beach and went for a walk around the rocks and peering into the rockpools for signs of life. It was rather liberating to get out. You know how it is once you finally fight off the inertia and get out there and you feel like you’re soaring on eagle’s wings, and wonder what took you so long to get out there. I blame the politicians. They keep telling me to stay home. I know they didn’t tell me to eat chocolate, and they do allow us out for exercise. However, the predominant message is to stay home, and I have.
So, after going out for our walk yesterday, Geoff and I went out kayaking today. I know that sounds incredibly sporty, especially for someone with disability issues. Well, I can assure you that I’m no Jessica Fox (Australian gold medal Olympian kayaker). I’m slow and I don’t have a lot of stamina, but we did manage to move and had in some ways a rather indulgent time out there on the water together. It was pure bliss. You can read more about it here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2021/08/23/kayaking-in-lockdown-a-new-beginning/
Meanwhile, we’ve been watching The Voice on TV. This year, the judges are Guy Sebastian, Jessica Mauboy, Rita Ora and Keith Urban. I always love watching the show hearing the music and the backstories of both the performers and judges. It’s all about people to me, and being an extrovert I need people more than ever. I see the judges smiling and chatting away on the TV and all sense of perspective just evaporates and they’re right here in the loungeroom with us and not a thousand miles away. I don’t know where it was being filmed but they’re hugging, breathing on each other without a concern in the world. So, it can’t be Sydney right here right now, which we all know anyway as these things are always filmed in advance.
By the way, here’s a real treat from The Voice, where Guy Sebastian performs Climb Every Mountain with contestant Julee-Ann who is legally blind and had to ask if anyone had turned a chair after an absolutely stellar performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKfOlZtNlxI