Tag Archives: Amsterdam

A-Z Reflections 2020…Place I’ve Been.

Phew! That’s the Blogging From A to Z April Challenge done and dusted for another year.

Before I go any further, I’m going to provide a quick list of posts before I reflect on the challenge itself (just in case you’re going to read one post and go no further.)

A- Amsterdam: 1992

B- Berlin: 1992

C- Canberra

D – Devonport, Tasmania: Crossing Bass Strait 2017.

E – Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania, 2017.

F – Florence: 1992. 

G – Geraldton, Western Australia 1997 and 2002. 

H – Heidelberg: 1992.

I – Ipswich: Visiting My Grandparents.

J – Jindabyne: Skiing in the Australian “Alps”. 

K – Koln (Cologne) – 1992.

L – London: 1992.

M – Melbourne: 1997. 

N – Driving Across the Nullarbor Plain: 1996.

O – Great Ocean Road, Victoria: 1998 and 2002.

P – A Different Perspective of Paris: 1992.

Q – Queenstown, Tasmania: 1995

R – Rotorua: 2001.

S – Sydney Harbour: Forever.

T – Toowoomba: 2010

U – Umina Beach, NSW: Home.

V – Places I’ve Played My Violin: 2012.

W – Whale Beach, Sydney: 1990 onwards.

X – An Extraordinary Travel Yarn (Pinnacles WA) 1990

Y – Yachting Holiday (Hawkesbury River): 1983.

Z – Taronga Zoo, Sydney: 2009.

This year, I had trouble signing up, but decided to go ahead with my usual write-on-the-run approach instead of being prepared, organized and “this is something I prepared earlier”. However, despite almost combusting in this intense pressure cooker environment, writing on the run also gives my posts a sense of immediacy and intimacy, which might be lacking otherwise. Moreover, with the changing state of coronavirus around the world this year, it worked particularly well and helped me feel more in tune with the times. For me, it’s not a time where you want to be out of step with the people no matter who you are. You’re putting something out there into the pond and it needs to have some kind of synergy with the mood of the times.

What do you think? Or, perhaps, it’s a case of: “Hey, Ro. Get off your soap box.”

As you know, my theme for this year was: “Places I’ve Been.” My thinking behind this idea was to post a series of bright, colourful photos of where I’ve travelled in the past at a time where planes right around the world are ground, borders are closed and travel is banned. Indeed, travellers have been in quarantine and isolation and a cruise ship, the Ruby Princess which returned to Australia without her passenger being screen for coronavirus A month after its return, 19 passengers were dead in Australia, two deaths were reported from the US and more than 600 had tested positive. With around 200 of the 1100-odd crew struck down with the virus, the ship spent weeks moored at Port Kembla. With all these travel bans in place, I even had a few friends contact me during my series on Facebook suggesting I contact the Police about travelling at the moment. That was a pat on the back. I’d truly recreated the immediacy of travel, even though one of these trips dated back to 1983.

However, as usual my posts were much longer than anticipated and I actually managed to clock up 32, 650 words.

Rowena in Florence

The series also allowed me to write up a good swag of my own travel stories and experiences and I’m already in the process of editing them and putting together a hard cover book at least for the family. Well, at least I’m downloaded all the stories and created word documents with the photos removed. It’s a start.

It also allowed me to redefine travel. That we tend to think of travel in terms of going to various places. Or, visiting particular sites, which creates a sort of check-list type of travelling. I’ve going here. What’s there to see. Let’s get through this place as quickly and efficiently as possible and get onto the next one. It’s this kind of travelling that leaves tourists heads spinning. I’ve seen 50 churches, been to 20 galleries and my heads spinning like a zoomed up merry-go-round where you desperately just want to get off. Oneed, after also staying in so many hotel rooms, it can be a relief to get back home to your own bed and stop living out of a suitcase.

That’s not generally how I’ve traveled. I spent roughly nine months in Europe back in 1992 and I barely planned anything and wandered around. Met and lived with locals and chatted with other backpackers from around the world in cafes. Sure, I had time on my side and we lived on the smell of an oil rag to stretch our money almost to breaking point. However, we had breathing spaces to take it all in, and we had the rest of our lives to fit it all in.

Anyway, as I said, this series allowed me to redefine what “travel” mean to me. It wasn’t just about place, but it was also about people. Indeed, when we visited Ipswich, that was all about seeing my grandparents and how the family home can become that place.

I also learned  a lot about myself. My personal journey has experienced a number of earth-shattering blows where it’s at least felt like everything I have and have ever known has been destroyed and I’ve had to rebuild myself from scratch, while the people and structures around me have continued virtually unchanged. For me, that’s been the result of three acute life-threatening health and disability issues, which have seriously limited my capacity to travel, along with the resulting loss of employment which has left me without a personal income.

Rowena skiing downhill Fri

Yet, despite these blows, I’ve continued to travel and view new places and experiences through the pen and the lens and share these experienced here on Beyond the Flow. Working through this series, therefore, sharpened my identity as a traveler, a person who lives and breathes for travel and just because it’s on a different scale to what it used to be, that doesn’t change who I am.

So, so to reach personal break though during the A-Z Challenge, speaks volumes and I’m naturally very grateful. Every year, I find the process of structuring a series of almost random things into a cohesive theme creates profound outcomes. It produces a creative energy I struggle to explain. Have you found that? I also suspect that writing all my posts within the stressful confines of the 30 days contributes to that alchemy. You throw all these random things into the pressure cooker and every year, I’ve been dished up with a surprising masterpiece.

I’ve also made friends. Indeed, I still have friends I made on the very first A-Z Challenge I did something like five years ago. Once again, I’ve made some new ones this year and I’m certainly intending to keep in touch, especially after going through social isolation and lock down together. We’ve forged a bond.

So, I’d like to thank everyone who organizes this every year and everyone who has visited Beyond the Flow, but I’d also love to welcome you over to visit.

On that note, it’s time to say Goodbye for another year, although I hope to see at least a few of you in between. I also hope that you and yours are keeping well and safe as the coronavirus crosses the globe. Bless you!

Love & best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share – 6th April, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

This week you’re in luck. I can offer you a lusciously fresh, Orange Buttercream Cupcake with raspberries on top. My husband dropped off a box of three to my parents and brother in Sydney on his way to work this morning. In keeping with social distancing regulations, he simply left the box on their doorstep, knocked on the door and was off. Mum had a lovely surprise. My Dad doesn’t like icing so his was plain, which looked like he was missing out alongside the rest. Dad was pleased I remembered, although Mum said she could’ve cut the top off. I warned her all that icing could have made her sick. It’s very rich.

cupcake box Pymble

Mum sent us this photo of the cupcakes we dropped off. As you can see, two of them had evaporated soon after delivery.

I’m pleased we got in touch. I haven’t seen them for a couple of months. We had to cancel a get-together for our kids’ birthdays because we had colds, not knowing what was to come. I should’ve pushed a bit harder and got something organized. However, you know how it is. You always think you have forever. Who could’ve predicted this was just around the corner?

I obviously don’t know how the coronavirus is impacting on you, your family and friends and community. However, I would love to hear from you and come together around this online cafe and share our experiences. I live at Umina Beach, just North of Sydney, Australia. The whole country is close to being at home. Most state borders have closed and in Western Australia, they’ve even set up regional zones for containing movement. This is really good, and it’s making life a lot easier for people who are at high risk of not only catching the virus, but also having a dire outcome. This, unfortunately, includes me but for once, I’m not alone. Most of the country is in the same boat and people are rising to the challenge.

At this point in Australia, the impacts have largely been economic and around 1 million people have lost their jobs. The government has responded by increasing welfare payments, but it’s hit some people very hard and losing your job is always painful. Fortunately, Geoff works in IT for a university and so far, so good. He’s an essential worker. He lost his job back in the GFC, so we went through this back then and know that pain and hope you and yours have managed to avoid it.

While still on the subject of Coronavirus, I also wanted to share something I posted earlier tonight….Every Home Is Now A Stage. As you may be aware, musicians and performers around the world have been posting free performances online with a view of lifting our collective spirits and so I decided to put a selection of these together to share with you. There are contributions from Jimmy Barnes, Andrew Lloyd Webber, the National Gallery and I had to include a clip of feeding a baby koala at Taronga Zoo, which made my heart sing.

KLM

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking part in the annual Blogging From A to Z  April Challenge. My theme this year is “Places I’ve Been”, which has a travel and photographic feel to it with a bit of introspection and philosophy thrown in. The alphabetical aspect to this challenge always makes it interesting, because there are always some letters where you have a plethora of options and it’s really hard to boil it down to one. Then, there are other letters where you really have to struggle to come up with anything and the results can feel quite random. I chose this theme, due to the current travel restrictions and I wanted to spread some joy. It’s also been very therapeutic to revisit these places myself and to realize that despite illness and parenthood, I am still a traveller.

Here’s are my posts for week 1:

Amsterdam

Berlin

Canberra

Devonport, Tasmania.

Have you been to any of these places? Or, perhaps you’ve lived there? I’d love to read any reflections in the comments below.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali.

We hope you and yours stay safe and well.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

A-Z April Blogging Challenge- Theme Reveal – Places I’ve Been.

Once again, yours truly is completely unprepared for the annual A-Z April Blogging Challenge, despite fervid vows to “Be Prepared” next year and have all my posts written up in advance. Well, I guess my disorganized, last minute response could well be in keeping  with the theme of today…April Fool’s Day. Last night, I decided to change direction from ANZAC Soldiers serving in France during WWI to a photography travel series covering places I’ve been. I chose this theme because much of our world is currently in some form of social isolation at home and any form of travel has been outlawed and a plane has become a rare sight.

So, let me introduce myself.

Rowena 2018

My name’s Rowena Curtin and I’m no longer a 40 something writer, researcher, wife, mother, photographer and poor impersonation of a violinist. I am now 50. However, let’s be quite clear. I haven’t become 50 something YET!!!

Family

The Family at Christmas 2019

The other cast members here are my husband Geoff and two teenagers simply known as Mr and Miss. Geoff is currently working from home having conference calls and the like from our kitchen dining area which has now become his office. Our kids are doing schoolwork from home until the end of the week when they go on holidays. Our daughter has also been turning our kitchen into a dance studio right through dinner time and then there are the three dogs who are overjoyed to have all their ball and stick throwers at home. So, as you can see. Our place is rather cozy at the moment and will be for the unpredictable future.

Lady at Ocean Beach

Lady at Ocean Beach, Umina, NSW.

By the way, we live at Umina Beach just North of Sydney Australia. The beach is only a short walk away, which has been a blessed escape hatch from being imprisoned at home. Well, being stuck at home hasn’t quite become a prison yet. So, perhaps I was exaggerating things just a little for creative effect. However, whichever way you look at it. The world as we know it right now is hardly situation normal.

Of course, we’ll be travelling around the world alphabetically. However, there will be a particular emphasis on revisiting my 1992 backpacking trip around Europe where I landed in Amsterdam and then caught a train to Koln (Cologne) in Germany and onto Heidelberg, where I ultimately ended up living for roughly 6 months with a local family which was the experience of a lifetime. I also spent a week in Berlin living in what had been an East Berlin student house which still had all the authentic “interior design”. Then, I spent two weeks in Mons which included seeing Van Gough’s house nearby. There was about 6 weeks in Paris, a weekend in Florence and a week in London. It has become the trip of a lifetime, despite my desire to get back. Added salt to the wound, was when our son’s 3 week school history tour of Europe was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. He was due to be there now, but my goodness! We’re so glad he’s home.

So, I invite you to join me for these vicarious travels and I hope these photos and stories lift you out of the coronacrisis and possibly even taken you to your happy place. Indeed, that is the hope for myself.

Moreover, if you are doing the Blogging A-Z April Challenge, please leave a link to your theme reveal in the comments below.

Stay tuned!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Anne Frank 70 Years On: Our Vigil.

Last night, as part of a global tribute to mark the 70th anniversary of Anne Frank’s death, we lit candles and read passages from her diary out loud and recorded them to post on the official Facebook page.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

My husband and son take part in our vigil to honour the life of Anne Frank.

I don’t know if anyone else in the family really appreciated its significance or what it meant to me personally but they went along with, no doubt what they thought was another one of Mum’s crazy ideas, somehow sensing that there was some import somewhere.

This is one of the passages we read out. I chose this one because although Anne Frank suffered, she also saw the good and had a real joie de vivre, even while being imprisoned and in hiding in the Secret Annexe.

‘As long as this exists’, I thought, ‘this sunshine and this cloudless sky, and as long as I can enjoy it, how can I be sad?’
The best remedy for those who are frightened, lonely or unhappy is to go outside; somewhere they can be alone, alone with the sky, nature and God. For then and only then can you feel that everything is as it should be and that God wants people to be happy amid nature’s beauty and simplicity.
As long as this exists, and that should be for ever, I know that there will be solace for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances. I firmly believe that nature can bring comfort to all who suffer.
Oh, who knows, perhaps it won’t be long before I can share this overwhelming feeling of happiness with someone who feels the same as I do.”

– Anne Frank: ‘Diary of A Young Girl, 23rd February, 1944.

This isn’t the first time that I’ve spoken to the kids about Anne Frank and or the horrors that she endured due to Nazi anti-Semitism and no doubt it’s going to take a few more attempts for the penny to finally drop and that one or both of them might also see the value in journalling as well, which I would love.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney's Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

Our tribgute to Anne Frank at Sydney’s Palm Beach. We lit a glowing circle of tea lights.

The way I see it, the kids are like piggy banks. One coin might not seem like much and rattles around feeling lonely inside piggy’s empty belly. However, one by one, those gold coins start adding up and pretty soon that piggy is getting heavy and seriously worth breaking into. You have loot! You can go and blow all those savings on that much desired “something”!! (Sorry, I’m a spender not a saver. If you want investment advice, you came to the wrong blog…make that the very wrong blog!!)

When I was growing up, girls weren't supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

When I was growing up, girls weren’t supposed to even surf. There are so, so many things my daughter rightfully takes for granted!

So, hopefully after last night, a few more gold coins have gone into their precious heads and they will appreciate and not take for granted the freedoms they have. The ability to say what they think without being put in gaol, although it may land them in time out! To appreciate that being able to walk along the beach, is a blessing and not something to take for granted because for us it is always there. I hope they will also appreciate that although alot of kids and teens feel their parents may not understand them and that some level of conflict with your parents is almost a right of passage through the teenage years, that they are very much loved and all any of us really can do is try and do our best. We are all mortal with feet of clay.

It has taken me the best part of a life time to appreciate that in my own parents. Even now, I’m now ashamed to admit that I’m their harshest critic. Mum and Dad, I am incredibly sorry for that and commit to change. It’s all very well to champion the Golden Rule but it’s also something I need to implement myself. As I somehow commit to change, I’ll just add that I’m not alone in this. Aren’t we all guilty of judging harshly and being so incredibly demanding of those who brought us into the world? They were no doubt young and naive like the rest of us and didn’t quite realise what they’d taken onboard. That parenting is a lifelong journey. That birth was only the beginning.

Although I’ve posted this link to an interview with Otto Frank, Anne’s father, before it’s worth repeating. He speaks such wisdom and like the rest of the world, we wish he could have had his family back. I could imagine the horrors he has endured!!

Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWRBinP7ans

Like so many I cherish the memory of Anne Frank and send her our love and this quote I love from The Little Prince by St Exupery:

“You – you alone will have the stars as no one else has them…In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night…You – only you – will have stars that can laugh.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Love & blessings to you all and may we all know and appreciate what it means to live  in the free world and the joy of being able to step outside the four walls we call home!

Rowena