Tag Archives: car

A Morning Stroll…Friday Fictioneers:

“Cars have feelings too,” it said. “You think I like being luminous green and an absolutely laughing stock? Of course not. I hate it. I used to be fade into the background grey, but then Harry lost a bet and obviously HE wasn’t the one who got painted green! Now, I stick out like a wretched neon sign and everyone calls me Kermit the Frog.

However, it wasn’t all bad. Daphne, a pretty pink 2CV, has a thing for bright green. Turns out, for every Kermit, there’s always a Miss Piggy.”

Humph…a talking car. Perhaps, I need a stronger coffee!

…..

100 words

….

Thought you might like to hear Kermit’s views on being green. I’ve never forgotten when I first this at the movies and it was so sad. Such a touching song.

Meanwhile , my mother and her family have had an almost phobia of the colour green and felt it brings you bad luck. Well, I thought I might just Google that and as it turns out, that wasn’t all just superstition as green paint and clothing dyes used to contain arsenic. Here’s a link to a great story about it: Scheeles Green .

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields where we write up to 100 words to a supplied photo prompt. Many thanks PHOTO PROMPT © Brenda Cox this week.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Yarn Spinner…Friday Fictioneers 7th July, 2022.

Just out of high school, the boys had stopped off at the Alfa car dealership looking for mechanics apprenticeships. Although he’d never got his hands greasy, Tom was strangely confident.

“My parents have a couple of Alfa Romeo 159 turbo diesels. Dad does all the repairs himself. Had a beast of a time getting the engine out. Talk about needing a lot of tools!”

The service manager was impressed.

“Shame you don’t have a driver’s licence or I’d give you a job.”

Tom felt 10 ft tall, although much better suited to a career in sales than mechanics.

….

98 Words. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

This is another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Mutterings of A Reluctant Traveller.

Greetings Bloggers,

This is Rosie. You’ve never heard from me on the blog before, because I’m rather anti-social, and despite being the smartest dog in the pack, I don’t come when called, and that’s not the only string to my rather recalcitrant bow. However, I am a hard worker, which is more than I can say for these humans who just sit around tapping all day, although Dad does throw the occasional ball and then mutter something about getting back to work.

I’m the dog on the right refusing to sit, while Zac’s the world’s biggest crawler sitting down being such a good boy and Mum’s favourite.

Anyway, despite being what other members describe as “impossible to train”, I have become the favourite of the Little Miss. As I said, I’m not stupid and while that brother of mine, Zac, thinks he’s Kingpin just because he’s flopped over Mum’s lap whenever she’s awake, I figured out that the Miss was the one to aim for. Get into her good books. She’s the one who always seems to be heading out for long walks, and if she takes a dog, she always takes me and leaves the other two behind. Lady apparently sniffs and stops too much, and Zac just goes berserk. None of us like other dogs, but Zac is the worst. Zac is the worst at everything, even though his full name is Isaac Newton. Well, on second thoughts, he’s really good at sooking up to Mum.

I just had to include my favourite photo of my brother and I as new arrivals.

Well, that’s just what Mum calls the back story. I’m just filling you in a little bit about how things operate around here, although I’ve left out how Lady caught a rat last week. She never chases sticks or balls, but if anything real is about, she’s onto it. She never gives up.

Miss and Mum driving

I decided to call this story “Mutterings of a Reluctant Traveller”, because I still haven’t got my bark back after a harrowing trip in a speeding contraption. Indeed, it was far more terrifying than the rumbles in the sky (thunder) and the beast which starts up just behind the dog bed (the printer). When it comes to this strange, white contraption, I must admit I was completely hoodwinked by Mum and Miss. They’d taken the other dogs out the back as usual and got me on the lead, and there I was thinking I was going for a walk, when instead I was shut inside the white contraption and restrained. While I was stricken with terror and dribbling faster than a leaking tap, Miss was so excited talking about taking me to Terrigal for a walk. The walk bit I understood, but what was a Terrigal? What was going to become of me? Just add to that the fact that Miss has only been driving a week, and see how you’d feel.

That’s why I don’t take any responsibility for what happened next, even though the evidence proved rather conclusively that I’d polished off my brother’s breakfast as well as my own.

Well, indeed, that’s my roundabout way of saying I threw up in the car.

I am not pulling on thee lead!

I didn’t mean too. Honest. So, I don’t know whether I was meant to be sorry. Moreover, I don’t know how I could be called a bad dog when my stomach upended itself without any assistance on my part. Indeed, I actually felt rather hungry afterwards, and I kind of wanted it back. Anyway, no one called me a bad dog. All was forgiven, and I finally managed to go for my walk.

Surf Rescue craft at Terrigal Beach along with the seaweed.

Well, that’s the end of my story. I’m now back at home sweet home, and I’m relieved. Dad said that’s the last time I’m getting in the car. Here’s hoping!

There was a big tree trunk on the beach after all the rain we’ve had lately.

Love and pawprints,

Rosie xxoo

PS: A Note From Mum

Rosie, you weren’t entirely without sin, and conveniently left a few things out, especially barking at other dogs. Her golden halo well and truly fell, and has now become her collar.

Weekend Coffee Share – 7th March, 2022.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you? I hope you’ve had a great week!

The last week here has been somewhat obliterated by the news that legendary Australian cricketer, Shane Warne AKA “Warnie” died suddenly of a suspected heart attack on Saturday while he was on holidays in Thailand. It came as a super shock, that someone relatively young with so much life and vitality got snuffed out like that. Warnie was also a couple of months younger than me, and seemingly in much better health. So, it just goes to show, you can never know.

Meanwhile, Miss has passed her Learner’s Permit Test and has been out driving for a couple of hours most days. Ironically, almost all this driving has been done at night under wet conditions which you would see as ideal for a new driver. However, the roads have been virtually empty and it’s give her a chance to build her confidence. She also had an opportunity to go over the curb, but all things considered, she’s doing very well. She’s so proud of herself to and chuffed when she drives to qa new place and extends her range further. She was really happy to take on the Drive Thru at McDonalds where she works, and that one of her friends was on at the time and saw her. She needs to get up 120 hours of driving time and has to wait 12 months before she can sit for her Provisional Licence, but she’s made a solid start.

Tomorrow the infamous “Mister” turns 18. I can’t believe it, and I know many of you who have been hanging round here for quite some time, can’t believe it either. He will be old enough to vote, buy alcohol and if it hadn’t been for all the covid disruptions of the last couple of years, I’d also say be independent, but that will come. He’s having a small party tomorrow night and apparently our family dinner has been deferred to next week.

Meanwhile, Jonathon is running a fundraiser for Muscular Dystrophy Association, who support research into Muscular Dystrophy and neuro-muscular conditions. In case you feel like supporting his efforts, here’s the link to donate: https://www.facebook.com/donate/941861509874336/941861523207668/

I probably shouldn’t put this so far down the pecking order. However, yesterday I attended a writing workshop with bestselling author Graeme Simsion who wrote the Rosie Project, which has evolved into the Rosie Series. He recently released The Novel Project, and this formed the basis of the workshop. A copy of the book came with the workshop, which was great but I hadn’t had a chance to look at it yet. However, in a nutshell, Graeme had done a scriptwriting course and the Rosie Project had started out as a script, but he dramatically reworked it and produced it as a novel but hd used the classic three act scriptwriting structure, and it’s really worked for him and a number of successful authors. I first got onto this at a writing workshop at the Sydney Writer’s Festival conducted by Director and author, Mark Lamprell, who was seemingly part of the furniture at my grandparents home many moons ago. All this structure, is good for me in a way because I unashamedly write from the heart, the soul but am coming a cropper when it comes to larger works. All this structure could well be good for me. Yet, at the same time, it seems rather mechanical and like a factory processing line what with writing on all these cards. However, it’s probably a process I’m currently doing in my head as I edit and reedit my work, and it might actually be rather helpful to extricate that process out of my head and put it down on paper where I might also be able to come back to it later. Trying to stop writing without losing the thread and being able to pick up where I left off, has been a big problem, especially with my more detail WW1 history bios. I am often writing late into the night bleary-eyed not wanting to let go. So, I will try to dig out the cards I bought after attending Mark Lamprell’s talk, and really give them a go this time.

By the way, I’d be interested to hear what you feel about a tightly structured approach to writing a larger work like a novel. Does it take away all the fun? Or, is it the secret ingredient for converting good writing into a finished book?

Meanwhile, last Wednesday night, I found myself wandering along the streets of Pisa, Italy looking for inspiration for a flash fiction prompt for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s photo was the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and no immediate inspiration came to mind. So, I fired up my rocket and zoomed over to Pisa via Google Earth and touched down outside a chicken shop. I wandered round the streets for an hour expecting to see the tower any minute. After all, how could I miss it? When you see it in photos, it seems to be on a patch of grass and standing alone and isn’t crowded in my more recent newcomers like so many modern cities. Anyway, I gave up trying and went back to the search and this time when I opened my eyes I was right there about a nose length away from the tower itself. Wow! It was a mind-blowing experience. There it was. I also came across the Cattedrale di Pisa which was basically next door, and Trent let me know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was actually constructed as the bell tower for the Church. Makes sense, and it too has a slight lean btw. Anyway, I came across a Youtube video about climbing up the tower and that helped inspire my story: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2022/03/03/stairway-to-hell-friday-fictioneers-3rd-march-2022/

Seaweed has overtaken Terrigal’s ocean pool during the heavy rain.

If you feel like a wander around Pisa, then you can check it out here: https://wordpress.com/post/beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/66442

Meanwhile, the rain’s still going here and wreaking havoc.

More grey skies at Pearl Beach looking towards home.

Well, I’d better keep going. I’m needing to cull back the photos for tomorrow night’s slide show.

Meanwhile, you might like to join us over at the Weekend Coffee Share, which is hosted by Natalie the Explorer https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Best wishes,

Rowena

Miss Becomes A Learner Driver!

Today, Miss who some have know since she was six years old when I first started writing Beyond the Flow, passed the test for her Learner’s Permit and I took her for her first official drive. It was so exciting and almost went without a hitch, and we’ll just gloss over that one time she mounted the curb and a couple of wobbles going round a corner. We started out at Umina Beach carpark, and after a few laps, she ventured down towards the caravan park until flooding forced her to do her first three point turn and soon she was driving down the main road and going around a couple of roundabouts.

Before you start thinking she’s a driving protégé, I should point out that we set out on our driving lesson at 8.15pm after her dance class on a wet and rainy night. Indeed, in case you’re not aware the East Coast of Australia has been hit by a mighty deluge and what they’re calling a “rain bomb”. The flooding in place is catastrophic and incredibly heart breaking. We haven’t been greatly impacted here but there are some local road closures and it’s been hard to get around.

However, the upside for our daughter’s first driving lesson was the there was virtually no one on the road, and so she could get a feel for steering and get somewhat comfortable in the car. She didn’t need to be critically vigilant about keeping left and skimming past parked cars. She could leave a bit of room while staying on the correct side of the road.

It was also funny driving with her, because she was chatting with me most of the time. A car would appear and she’d pipe up: “I have competition”, which I thought was hilarious. I didn’t really interfere very much. I thought the early days were more about her getting a feel for the road and gaining confidence. However, she was keeping a fairly close eye on how she was going, particularly the speed. For much of the time, she was going along at about 20 kph and that was where she felt comfortable. I reassured her that she has the L plate and people will give her some breathing space. That said, she was overtaken by a rather reckless driver we both agree ought to be on his L plates or lose their licence entirely.

While I was incredibly excited to be driving with our daughter, the biggest part of this story is not her learning to drive. She has been dancing since she was three and must have highly tuned spatial skills from 12 years of dance, especially performing in groups. However, the real drama was all about producing her blessed original birth certificate before she could even sit for the test, and this was where the side fell down big time. I suspected the certificates weren’t in their place in my top right desk drawer, and yet I left it right until almost the last minute before we left to look for them. I thought I’d done well finding the decorative copies still in their gold tube from 16 years ago. They were originals and authorised copies so I couldn’t see them being a problem. That was until we were at the desk at Service NSW and they told her she couldn’t sit the test.

I don’t need to tell you how awful I felt. Our daughter was disappointed and no doubt angry with me although she said nothing. Meanwhile, I said a lot, berating myself for being so stupid. This incident raised those horrible, dreadful weaknesses of mine with organisation, time management. I have been trying so hard to overcome these difficulties and have been seeing an occupational therapist for a very long time, and I am improving, but the situations I am facing keep changing and the last two years of covid and lockdown have really stonkered me. It’s been really hard going trying to reconstruct things at home, particularly getting on top of my daughter’s busy life of school, dance, work, and now L tests and upcoming dance competitions not to mention getting eyelash extensions and her hair done. I am such low maintenance that I’m barely conscious of how I look, and sometimes marvel at this stranger I occasionally see in the mirror…”Who are you?”

To be honest, my writing and research along with the lockdowns has more to do with that than running after the kids. I could focus 100% on my inner life and almost forgot the veneer completely. It’s been wonderfully refreshing, and even liberating, but it’s over and time to merge bck with the real world.

Anyway, I digress.

The place was pretty forgiving about our ID troubles, and just said to pop back before 4.00pm Wednesday or Thursday.

Well, that was easier said than done.

Firstly, I had no idea where the birth certificate was. We tore the place apart, and without any luck we tore the house apart and ordered a new one which was going to arrive in three weeks even with an express order. Boy, I felt bad!!!

Secondary, there was another hurdle we hadn’t quite grappled with yet – the rain.

Meanwhile, I turned my attention to another problem at home. The clothes dryer was broken and needed to be pulled apart and have the sock or goodness knows what other blockages removed a long with the inevitable lint which shouldn’t have been anywhere near the motor. I’d cleared the kitchen table for that surgical procedure, but had filled it up again looking for the certificates and so piles of detritus were being moved round and round the house, while a good portion also made it into the recycling.

Meanwhile, our daughter was very sweet and said she knew I’d find them.

I was praying!!

Then, I noticed that about five crates of stuff out of our son’s room from a year ago were still in the kitchen and backroom. After the debacle of losing the certificates and still needing to find them, those crates were going. I attacked them with fresh eyes and was making steady progress. Then, after moving this one particular crate, the promised land opened up in front of me. There was the folder of certificates. I’d redeemed myself.

That was yesterday, and today we headed off again. This time, we made a list of everything we needed and had it altogether before we went to bed last night like good little Vegemites (there’s an Aussie saying for you). However, we got in the car and Miss asks us if we had the documentation. Can you believe it?! Diffusion of responsibility strikes again. None of us had thought to take it out to the car, and I think she’d also left her glasses behind.

Meanwhile, there were the floods and heavy rain with the possibility this forecast rain bomb was going to hit while we were on the way. We checked reports and adjusted our route, and allowed a good hour for what might’ve been a 15-30 minute trip…and of course, some really heavy rain blinded our vision for a bit and the traffic was abysmal. Gosford had turned into a parking lot. We needed to be there by 4.00pm and it was getting mighty close with red light after red light. Where is Chitty Chitty Bang Bang when you need him? Dilbert’s detrafficator would also have been appreciated. However, we g\had God and the power of prayer, and we got there.

By this stage, I was a total nervous wreck, and I was wearing a mask which combined with my impaired lung capacity and hyperventilating, wasn’t good. I just wanted her to get the test over and done with. However, they seem to draw the whole build up right out and before they even know whether they’re going to pass, they do the eye test and goodness knows what else but it took a good fifteen minutes (not that I was counting or fixating at the clock like a crazed maniac!!)

I needed the toilet and there wasn’t one there. So, I had to go for an extended walk.

When I returned, she had passed and was sitting in the chair getting her photo retaken.

I’m glad it’s over.

Tonight, we clocked up 45 minutes of night driving in the rain. We have 119 hours to go before she is eligible to sit for her licence.

There is also her brother who has also just started learning.

Let the driving begin.

Have you got any stories about learning to drive that you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Me and My Boy…

After taking our son on a long, epic drive last week, I was reminded of the walks we used to go on when he was just knee-high to a grasshopper. I know it’s such a cliché, but I’m still amazed how much time’s flown under the bridge. That with the click of my fingers, he’s now turned 16 and at the end of next year, he’ll be out of school and on the cusp of adulthood. Where did all that time go? I don’t know. However, paradoxically as we headed forward on our journey North, I was taken back to those very special early walks together. Walks with me and my boy.

Ironically, what I remember most about our walks together, is how I’d be tugging on his small hand trying to get him moving, while he was enthralled by some random “treasure” he’d discovered on our path. Of course, I tried to slow my pace down to appreciate that lump of gravel, or rusty bottle top through his eyes instead of my own. However, there were understandably times when my patience grew thin. I just want to go, and he’d become equally immovable. However, back then I had one thing in my favour. When all else failed, I could pick him up and cart him off, even if he wasn’t happy.

I can’t do that anymore either.

Mister and I reading during my 7 week hospital stint in 2007 when I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis
Swimming with our son at our local beach.

Anyway, our son has decided to go into sound engineering when he leaves school, and he’s already getting good experience helping out at Church. That’s why he needed the lift. He’d been offered further training and the opportunity to help out at a funeral at our main Church campus an hour’s drive away.

To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t mad keen on driving him up there. Indeed, I’m sure you can read my mind: “What the???? Can’t you catch the train? A bus? Fly on your broomstick?” Moreover, when all of those avenues failed, there was the added annoyance of having to fill in a few hours before driving him home. Indeed, it was looking like much of my day was going up in smoke with the barest slither remaining. Not that I was counting. Or, that I minded. I am his mother. If I can love him to the moon and back, surely I could drive him there as well?!!

Humph! I’m not so sure that was part of the contract.

Rather, it was looking like the perfect time to play the dying swan. Get his father to drive him. However, Geoff is working from home, not doing long distance parent taxi duties. So, for better or worse, I had to rise to the challenge.

Meanwhile, alongside this protesting siren of complaint, was gratitude, relief and a sincere desire to do whatever it takes to help our son to find his feet and get his career established. I mean that too. Whatever it takes, especially when he’s so keen and he has an equally keen mentor volunteering to train him up. With our local theatres closed down due to covid, Church is one of the few venues where he can get some experience. Indeed, as we all know, it’s a hard world out there. No one’s knocking on your door to give you a start. You have to go hunting. Go all out. Eat humble pie by the kilo, just to have a chance of getting a toe through the door.

However, instead of being an onerous ordeal, our trip turned into an adventure, and reminded me:

“Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful.”

― George Bernard Shaw

That’s exactly how our drive together panned out. We had an hour each way to chat, but then there were some complications. For those of you who know me well, you won’t be surprised to hear that we experienced some navigational difficulties. However, this time I blame my son. I was pretty sure we were meant to take the next exit, but he was insistent. Moreover, although I know he is “often wrong but never in doubt”, he has a much better sense of direction. So, I bowed to his expertise. Indeed, I carefully followed his directions to turn right at the roundabout, and drove along until it was clear we were in the wrong place, even if we weren’t officially “lost”. I must admit that my heart rate started to increase a little at this point. I mentioned heading back to the freeway to take the next exit. However, he was quite confident. Knew there was a Bunnings Hardware Store on the left coming up and a shopping centre. Sure enough, he was right, and good enough with his sense of direction to redirect us. Meanwhile, in the end it turned out that we were both right. Both exits worked.

When we pulled up, I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do for the next few hours. However, one of the guys showed me a local map and I spotted that Norah Head was nearby. Now, I was set. With my camera in the car, I set off to revisit Norah Head and the lighthouse where I’d been as a young child with my family and on a couple of slumber parties as a teenager with friends. By now, I was actually quite excited and grateful for my big day out. You could even say I was happy!

Just to top off my day, I bought myself a beautiful new skirt and a tray full of red Salvias which I’ve planted out the front. I ate a pie in a park surrounded by lush green trees and ocean views feeling pretty chuffed our day was going so well.

After walking around the lighthouse (which you can read about here), I was back to pick him up. I was even given a tour of the sound desk by his mentor, who had no idea just how untechnical I am and how I even struggle to operate out TV. However, I did gain at least a cursory view of the thing which makes our son tick, and is going to be a big part of his future. That was pretty special. After all, being understood has always been very important to me, but the flipside of that is to understand. Put yourself into someone else’s shoes even when they don’t fit particularly well, and go for a walk.

Or, perhaps even go for a long drive.

That certainly worked for us!

Has our day out brought back any memories for you? Do you have something you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Farewell to the Family Car…

It was a long, long time coming and extremely overdue. Yesterday, our blue, 2001 Nissan Pulsar was ceremonially collected by the wreckers and carted off to heaven.

A few days ago, I’d been overjoyed that Geoff had finally gotten around to getting it towed away. It was finally going to be scratched off our never-ending to-do list.

However, when the moment finally came and this massive tow truck pulls up outside our place to cart her off, it was a different story. Indeed, I was more reflective than expected and both Geoff and I formed a guard of honour of sorts to see her off.

We’ve been through a lot with that car. We bought it new in February 2001 just after we’d got engaged on Valentine’s Day, it just so happened that we bought the house in about the same week. Things were on the way up back then. All our Christmases had come at once, and we were impervious to future bad luck. We were engaged and invincible! We’d come through our bad luck and it was all going to be smooth sailing from here. None of what I now know to be the regular ups and downs of life, that precarious journey along the snakes and ladders, and far away from the laws of gravity which dictate that what goes up, comes down.

it’s been about 18 months since the car was last driven. In that time, it’s been superseded by the two luscious red Alfa Romeos. I don’t know what it’s taken so long for that car to go, However, there was something about me needing to clear stuff out before it could be hauled away, and Geoff needing to arrange to get it picked up. I’ll also blame Covid, even though it was awaiting pick up at least a year before Covid came along. I should also mention that my husband grew up on a farm in North-Eastern Tasmania where deceased vehicles simply rusted into the dirt. However, we don’t live on a farm. Moreover, my husband is collector of cars and you could say one more just blended into the landscape, even if the landscape was just a suburban back yard. There’s also this other factor that we’ve almost had the blue Pulsar for 20 years and it has simply become part of our landscape…here but not here.

Seeing the old girl off, brought so many memories to mind, especially bringing the kids home as babies from the hospital, which is such a massive event for all families. Huge. Yes, the kids had come home in the blue car. Fallen asleep in the blue car. Fought in the blue car. Thrown up all over the back seat in the blue car. My husband and I had argued in the blue car, and at least he’d driven off in the blue car in a few heated moments. However, what I hadn’t remembered til tonight, was that we drove home from our wedding in the blue car. I’d totally forgotten that. I only remember pulling up at the Church in the Mark IV Jaguar convertible. I was such a princess and it might’ve only been for one day, but the memory remains (and I still have the tiara to prove it.)

So, by the time the old girl was being hauled up on the tow truck, I almost felt like dragging her back. Giving them back their $150.00 and saying I’ve changed my mind. No! The blue car will stay with us forever. Can become some kind of water (or even rust feature) in the back yard. After all, all those memories are so precious. They need to preserved and it felt surprisingly sad to wave her off. Yet, at the same time, our place is getting buried alive in cars and it had to go. Time to cherish the memories and the photos without its physical presence.

Still, you know that just like saying goodbye to Bilbo the family dog who had been with us for 12 years from the time our daughter could crawl, the car also served us through a long, and monumental time in our lives. From when our son was a baby to being just one year out of school. By this time, it was our back up car and we’d bought a younger red Pulsar, which I unfortunately wrote off in the hospital car park a few years ago. While I’m not a real car person, the family car certainly takes you places and some how becomes more than just a car. Indeed, how many people recognize their friends by their car? How many people become their car. or it becomes them? There’s some strange psychology in that. Indeed, there could well be an entire branch of psychology dedicated to cars and their owners. It would be busy.

I wonder if any of you have had a car for a long time and it saw you through a lot? Or, do you have a special car with some stories to tell? How do you relate to your car? Is it just an A to B job? Or, a character car which is something special? I should mention that we also have a Morris Minor, but that’s another story for another day.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Hope For the Lost…?

Sometimes, I wonder if there’s any hope for the directionally challenged, especially those of us with “geographical dyslexia’ who head the exact opposite direction like someone reversing their letters.

Last weekend, my doubts were only confirmed when my daughter and I managed to miss the freeway exit for Newcastle, the second biggest city in NSW and hardly somewhere you could miss. Obviously, the sign was hardly insignificant or hiding behind a tree either. Yet, we achieved the seemingly impossible! We missed it.

Before I go any further, I should emphasise that we were heading for Newcastle just North of Sydney in Australia and not Newcastle Upon Tyne in the UK, or Newcastle Ontario and if you want to be really clever or completely lost you could even end up in Akhaltsikhe (Georgia), Nove Hrady (Czech Republic), Jaunpils (Latvia). Those would take my capacity for getting lost to new, inconceivable heights!!

While it’s all very funny to joke about how women can’t read maps or might hold the street directory “upside down”, for those of us who literally get lost in the shower the difficulties, stress and consequences of venturing further afield are daunting and even prohibitive. Indeed, as a sheep who’s been lost many times over, I’m often left calling out for a shepherd and lost beyond the powers of prayer. It’s no wonder that I have three sheepdogs at home and perhaps if I sat one of them in the front seat, they might be able to get me where I want to go. I’d just have to hope a ball or stick didn’t fly past or we’d end up in serious trouble. They wouldn’t stop.

Rowena & Amelia red car

Shame you can’t drive along with your navigator sticking their head out for a better view.

Anyway, I was put through my paces again last Saturday when I had to drive our daughter to Newcastle for her regional school aerobics competition. Theoretically, Newcastle is “just up the road” and about a 1.5 hour’s drive. Moreover, I’ve been to Newcastle quite a few times. So, finding my way around shouldn’t be a problem and yet it was. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t be like my Dad who only ever has to go somewhere once and can find his way back without any assistance at all. He might not have been to Newcastle for over ten years. However, I still remember him driving straight to Mum’s Aunty’s place which wasn’t right smack bang next to the GPO either. His navigational skills are legendary.

Papa and Chev

My proud grandfather with his Chev in 1938. 

 

However, Mum’s father’s sense of direction was also legendary but for all the wrong reasons. He not only seems to be the source of my spatial dyslexia he also refused to follow the map and had to find his own way. Once, after we’d moved house my Dad posted him a map with red arrows marked on it. Yet, he still managed to get lost. Thought he’d use “DIY navigation” instead. Go his own way. Dad was beside himself. Why couldn’t he follow the arrows? Jeepers! What’s a shepherd supposed to do when the sheep exits stage left instead of right and won’t heed the warnings? Just to add a bit more texture to this portrait, my grandfather was actually a Church Minister so goodness knows where he was leading his flock or if they were ever heard from again. Naturally, I jest on that front because in every other sense of the word, he was a true shepherd. Just don’t ask him to follow a map!

Bert & Marj State Border 1938

Pictured with his sister Marj (I think) on the South Australian & NSW Border back in 1938 when he drove to and from Dalby Queensland back home to Hahndorf, SA. 

 

While the spatially challenged were at the mercy of the street directory back in the day, we now have a host of gadgets and apps at our disposal and we have no excuse for getting lost. However, so far I’ve refused to get GPS because I don’t want my navigational skills to get worse. I believe wholeheartedly in the powers of neuroplasticity and that if I get lost often enough, one day I’ll be found. Well, actually it would be far better if I could find my own way there.

So, I decided that if I had any chance of turning myself into a navigational superhero, I needed to apply the Scout’s motto and “Be Prepared”. Friday night, I got the street directory out. Photocopied the route and highlighted it with a bright orange fluoro marker. You couldn’t miss it. I also sat our daughter down and went through the map with her. After all, she was going to be Navigator-In-Chief. We both knew where we were going. We’d been to this part of Newcastle before and it was quite familiar. The venue was also across the road from a huge Westfield Shoppingtown at Kotara and if we lost everything else, we couldn’t miss that. We could not go wrong.

However, as we found out, there’s a huge difference between seeing something on a map and seeing it on the ground where you have all sorts of landmarks which bring these streets and turn-offs to life.

Newcastle Link Road

How could we possibly miss a sign this big, bold and clear?

Before we had a chance to apply our knowledge of the Newcastle map itself, we missed the turnoff to the Newcastle Link Road off the freeway. I definitely remember seeing the exit and the sign beforehand. However, then I saw this little goat track off the freeway and couldn’t see the overpass and so I didn’t turn off. The next thing we were heading towards Hexham with no U-Turn and no side streets. We were stuck on a trajectory which was taking us all the way to Queensland.

Well, it would have if we’ve driven another ten hours down the same road. I’m not intending to exaggerate, catastrophize or in any way beat up just how far we’d deviated off course. However, I did need to pull over. Stop hyperventilating and work out how on earth we were going to shift the earth round and off its axis so we could approach Newcastle from a different angle. Actually, I think that should read something like turning the map around,  but I’m not good at regrouping. I had my route all planned and mapped out in bright orange. It was gouged into my neurones for eternity. I just hadn’t factored in that we could miss a major exit and all the signposts which went along with it.

Unfortunately, it took a while for our daughter to appreciate the true nature of the crisis. That she was driving with Mum not Dad, and I was in throws of having a fully fledged catastrophic meltdown. That soon there was only one direction I could drive, and that was home.

Phew! She woke up. Next, she did what every sensible teenager would do She went for the map on my phone. While this might not be as good as the street directory for giving us the bigger picture, it does have a blue dot showing where we are and talked us through where we were and where we were going. It overcame the hurdle of coming at it from a different direction as well, which isn’t done easily with your old-fangled street directory. Indeed, I might even be a convert. If we’d been using Google Maps, we would not have missed the exit. It would have been clear.

By the way, if you ever see a red Alph Romeo wandering around the road like a lost sheep, be afraid. Very afraid. Or, if you’d like to be constructive, you might just tell me where to go. I’d be most thankful!

How are you when it comes to reading maps and getting around? Do you have any epic sagas of getting lost and battling with the compass? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Stumbling into the Great Chev Mystery…Friday Fictioneers.

There was something eerie and chilling to the bones about finding this old dead Chev dumped deep inside the woods. While Jane had seen deceased, decrepit vehicles rusting into the dirt on local farms, she’d never seen something like this in the woods before. As she cautiously edged towards the car, she almost leaped out of her skin, as leaf litter crunched under foot and she remembered a story about young lovers  who disappeared without a trace. She thought they’d been driving a Chev, but how had it resurrected from the dead? Why now? Where were they?

97 Words.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields, where we write up to 100 words to a provided photo prompt. PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz.

Best wishes,

Rowena

The Woman in the Red Car…

“Red has guts …. deep, strong, dramatic. A geranium red. A Goya red … to be used like gold for furnishing a house … for clothes, it is strong, like black or white.”

–Valentino

For those of you who have been following my ups and downs here on Beyond the Flow for awhile, you’ll know that I’ve had some car troubles over the last couple of months. These began with a nasty scrape in the supermarket car park and was following up with driving into a concrete divider in a car park which cracked the radiator and our red Nissan Pulsar was written off. For those of you who appreciate a bit of humour, I say that I took my son to the Emergency Department but my car didn’t make it home alive. My husband bought a Subaru Forester and we all really loved that car. However, I think it was only two weeks after we bought it, that I got caught in a hail storm and the car is covered in dents and everyone else we know, has had their cars written off. So, we were back to the online auctions and that’s when my husband stumbled across an Alfa Romeo 159. I can’t remember what year is was made and I struggled to remember the 159 part, but the trait I never lost sight of, was that is was red. An absolutely luscious red that makes you want to go and put on your tap shoes and dance on the table.

“There is a shade of red for every woman.”

-Audrey Hepburn

rowena alfa patonga 2

I need to brush up on my modelling skills.

However, it wasn’t just the colour that lured me in. It is Italian and oozes with Italian style and pizazz. Indeed, the Italians invented pizazz. This included a leather interior. I have always wanted a sports car, and while this is technically classified as a family sedan, this Italian sedan has nothing to with being sensible, responsible and did I mention anything about being dowdy? Not on your life. In other words, my Red Alfa, who in typical Australian fashion, could well be named “Blue” is my midlife crisis, post-disability and chronic illness mobile.

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Look who popped out of my sunroof!    Photo Geoff Newton

Although the car actually arrived home on Friday, I wanted to wait and get some good photos incorporating our beautiful local scenery rather than photographing it while it was simply parked in our driveway. While I clearly need more experience posing as a photo model, we haven’t turned out too badly and didn’t crack the lens.

pelican

The pelican didn’t seem that interested in my new car.

On our first photo stop, we drove over to Patonga about a fifteen minute drive away. Being a Sunday during the January Summer school holidays, there were no parking spots at the beach or near the wharf and so we meandered around through the back streets until we found a spot on the Hawkesbury River side and there was a stunning pelican swimming back and forth doing its rounds.

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The backwaters of Patonga, NSW.

We also thought we’d head over to Koolewong on Brisbane Waters to photograph the car in front of the Imagine Sign. Based on the game of Scrabble, IMAG_NE features large letter pieces which spell out the word “IMAGINE”, with a space where the second “I” would be and invites the community to interact with the sculpture to complete the word.

Created by Australian visual artist and creative producer, Emma Anna, the artwork originally exhibited at Bondi’s famous Sculpture by the Sea in 2008, and has since featured around the world including at Denmark’s inaugural Sculpture by the Sea in 2009.

I think the sculpture was installed on the Gosford Waterfront towards the end of 2016 and yet I’ve never stopped and photographed it, which really is rather extraordinary when you think of the vast myriad of things I have photographed. I don’t often drive into Gosford so it’s probably a case of out of sight, out of mind. However, I’ve always loved it. Not only do I love to imagine, but I also love Imagine by John Lennon.

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Let me reassure you the car was stationary when these photos were taken. Photo: Geoff Newton.

Needless to say, the kids are expecting to be driven to school in the Alfa, instead of the bomb which usually gets parked at the station. We’ll have to see.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with some of my favourite driving songs:

Lastly, as I was just wrapping up with a Google search for “red car” to see what turned up, up popped The Wiggles hit:   The Big Red Car, which dare I say it, has to rate as a driving song and has certainly been a big hit. It just wasn’t quite the driving song I was hoping for:

Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car
We’ll travel near and we’ll travel far
Toot Toot, Chugga Chugga, Big Red Car
We’re gonna ride the whole day long
Murray’s in the back seat
Playing his guitar
Murray’s in the back seat
Of the Big Red Car
The Wiggles: Big Red Car
I’m not sure that the Wiggle’s Big Red Car is a good place to finish up, but c’est la vie. What do you think about my new set of wheels? What are a few of your favourite driving songs? When it comes to what I usually listen to in the car, it’s usually the local radio station or a CD like David Bowie. I do like listening to him in the car. Ed Sheerin’s another but I usually hear him on the radio. That reminds me of beautifully moving ballad: Perfect.
Anyway, I’m actually heading off this time.
Best wishes,
Rowena