Tag Archives: fishing

Sunset Walk At Patonga, NSW.

Lately, I’ve been getting itchy feet. Real itchy feet. Not surprising after being in lock down for at least 2 months, and not being allowed to leave the house except for grocery shopping and my eternal arch-nemisis….exercise. I wasn’t too sure whether meandering along with my camera, especially pausing to take in the view or stick my camera up a tree, counted as “exercise”. Or, whether this seemingly innocent escape for a woman with mobility issues, might be considered “illegal”. After all, a girl simply going out on a driving lesson with her mum in Victoria, was pulled over and initially fined $1652 until sense and intense media pressure prevailed. I didn’t want to land myself in that kind of trouble.

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The Jetty at Patonga looking towards Broken Bay and Palm Beach. 

 

Restrictions are really starting to lift here in Australia now, especially considering the exceptionally low transmission rates we have here. However, although our kids went back to school this week, I’m still practicing social distancing and largely staying home. Besides, it’s almost Winter here. I’m as snug as a bug in a rug getting on with my WWI research and writing projects, which I view as my job. At least, that’s the direction I’m working towards. I also have a fairly extensive, global network of blogging friends and we get on really well.

Rowena Patonga 2020

Here I am going for my walk. No selfie capabilities on my SLR. Besides, I quite fancy being a lurking shadow in all sorts of distorted dimensions. 

“He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk

and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.”

– Friedrich Nietzsche

I don’t really NEED to go out, but that can also become a problem. Unfortunately, my arch-nemesis exercise, along with sunlight and the great outdoors where I can stretch my wings and almost inhale the ocean, are almost critical for my mental health and happiness.

 

So, feeling rather virtuous, I headed over to Patonga Beach on Thursday afternoon. It’s  about a 15 minute drive away, taking us past last week’s Water Tower Walk Water Tower Walk, Pearl Beach, and we keep driving through Brisbane Waters National Park with nothing but bush on either side and the road stretching through seeming nothingness ahead. This area is so untouched and seemingly remote, that it’s hard to believe we’re only a stone throw from Sydney.

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Here’s one of our stunning Rainbow Lorikeets feasting in an Illawarra Flame Tree at Patonga. The tree was full of them chatting away.

The last stretch of the drive passes through some sharp twisting bends as you descend the hill into Patonga. After driving through the bush, the tranquil sea-side village of Petonga, which means “oyster” in Aboriginal, feels like something out of the set of an old movie. Patonga is nestled on Brisk Bay, which is on your left where there’s a rustic jetty heading out towards the Hawkesbury River on the extreme right and Palm Beach, across the other side of Pittwater on your left. There’s also a children’s playground here on the waterfront, which no longer captures my attention now that our kids are in high school. However, before our local park was given a massive upgrade, I used to take the kids to a park located next to the camp grounds at Patonga, which was almost on the beach.

However, today I was fairly rather reflective because my sister-in-law is starting treatment for breast cancer, and my thoughts are very much with her. Not only because she’s family and because what she’s going through is rotten, but I went through chemo a few years back for my auto-immune disease and it’s a frigging rollercoaster, even just from a logistical point of view. This time, it’s my turn on the sidelines, and I want to do a good job of that. Indeed, I want to do a better job of what I’m doing so far, because the card I wrote and it was an extensive message straight from the heart) is still sitting in the loungeroom and I’ve been thinking of a gift but haven’t got there yet. You know, there’s that going round in circles and wanting to get that gift that’s going to hit exactly the right spot, and heaven forbid in your desire for perfection that you actually end up doing NOTHING!! My goodness. Haven’t we all been guilty of that.

 

 

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Frolicking in the wonders of nature, able to walk through the clouds.

Anyway, I picked up a few shells along the beach to include in my letter to my sister-in-law. I hope she appreciates them for what they represent, and that she doesn’t take me for a cheapskate.

Sea gulls Patonga

Sea gulls might be common but I still love them. They’re such characters and theis flock was just standing in the shallows on the beach looking like they were really enjoying themselves and I had to join in their festivities. Besides, they made me feel like less of a lone ranger and part of a wider belonging. 

So, going on this walk was really good for dealing with all of that, as well as all the fall out from the coronavirus and the kids suddenly being forced back to school full time  this week by the NSW Education Minister. As my walk continued and the sun started to set behind a row of incredibly majestic Norfolk Pines, my footsteps seemed to lighten as all these stresses wafted out to sea and far away.

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher

storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”

― Rabindranath Tagore, Stray Birds

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Sunset Behind the Norfolk Pines, Patonga. 

Of course, by this stage, I’m castigating myself for staying indoors and not getting outside amongst all this more often. What I appreciated, perhaps, beyond all else,was soaking in that vast expanse of space, and being able to stretch out as far as the eye can see. Even the most minimalist of homes, still has four walls, and I can assure you that our place has a hell of a lot more. You could say that the interior is made of books and tea cups with a pile of musical instruments thrown in.

Meanwhile, the sun has set on another day, but we did make it next door for a chat with our elderly neighbours who are family to us. They live behind us across a back lane way and one thing I’ve loved about lock down, is that is been perfectly acceptable to get around in your pyjamas. I bought a fancy pair of Peter Alexander PJ pants with are hot pink with white circles and are pretty shmick. I had no qualms about wandering out the back gate over to their place in my PJs with my ugg boots on. It was so incredibly relaxing. You could even say liberating. It’s been the same on zoom. At first, I used to get dressed, but now we’re all in PJs, dressing gowns and the other night I even watched an interview with Cate Blanchet and Stephen Colbert via zoom and both of them were in their PJs. It made for such a relaxed and intimate interview.

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What a magnificent sunset and I just love the feathery white clouds floating over the lingering blue sky. 

“Ô, Sunlight! The most precious gold to be found on Earth.”

― Roman Payne

As tempting as it is to immerse myself in nature and escape the heaviness and responsibilities of life, there’s always that rubber band drawing me back home in both good and bad ways. At times, I really resent having to rush home from my sunset photography jaunts to get dinner cooked for the family. However, I really cherish our family and all that being part of a family entails. Sure, there are responsibilities. However, there’s love, connection, intimacy, belonging along with frustration, irritation, expense, and that sense all round that someone’s clipping your wings. As much as we need togetherness, we also need time apart, space to do our own thing and the capacity to create and be a part of stories which we might choose to share with the family and have something to talk about. Moreover, this sense of family is also what you make it. You can build your own family. You do not need to be alone and these families are just as legitimate as your more conventional families. Blood is thicker than water, but the bonds of experience and caring for each other and especially being in the same boat are also strong.

I’m not quite sure how I reached that point after setting out on a walk around Patonga. However, with everything going on in the world at the moment, for many of us, it’s a time of deep questioning and thinking about just about every aspect of life and it will be interesting to see what life will be like on the other side. I for one am not planning on going back to how it was before and am working towards creating my own new world. How about you?

I hope you and yours are well and staying safe.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Weekend Coffee Share 23rd october, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

You’re just lucky that it rained. Otherwise, you’d be joining me in a tent camping at the Scout Hall right on the waterfront.

That said, I still haven’t decided whether I was lucky or unlucky the weather saved me from camping. While I was looking forward to giving camping a go and sleeping metres from the water, I did get cold feet which had nothing to do with the rain! I’ve now decided I should start off with camping in the backyard where everything but the camping is familiar.

How was your week?

Now, that we’ve established that we’re not roughing it, can I offer you a more civilised beverage than billy tea? In case you don’t know what billy tea is, that’s tea made in a tin pot over the camp fire.

Last week, was really hectic for me. There were a couple of tough, difficult days for my son, which have come good but they were incredibly stressful and we are still concerned about him. He is 12.5 years old and in his first year of high school and I guess that says it all. He has taken up sailing so hopefully that will provide him with a relaxing outlet to get him through the swirling vortex of pubescence. I might need to take it up too, although writing and photography are my outlets.

Thursday, I had a medical check-up in Sydney and as usual, I went off the grid afterwards. I went to the Sydney Jewish Museum to see an exhibition about Anne Frank and also a collection of letters from Otto Frank, which he’d sent to an Australian and a New Zealander who’d written to him after reading Anne’s diary. That was fantastic. Here’s the link.

After going to the exhibition, I started walking towards Surry Hills and Central Station. En route, I stumbled across  Darlinghurst Gaol, which has been the National Art School for some time. The old sandstone architecture was very striking and intriguing and I could sense the stories hovering in the air…and a few ghosts.

I love Surry Hills and stopped there for afternoon tea, wandered through Salvo store there and a bookshop, which had a stunning rainbow-coloured bicycle parked out the front. I could almost picture myself riding it but am not so sure. It is very rainbow.

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I also saw some fabulous Street art in Surry Hills:

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Saturday, I went down to the Scout Hall to join in with the fishing, which largely involved me taking photos and watching a few of the kids. In retrospect, I realise that I should’ve had a few lessons myself as I have no idea how to cast off and so was of little help to the kids. The kids caught a few undersized whiting and bream which were thrown back after photographs were taken but one boy managed to catch a flounder, which was exciting…not a common fish. I also spent considerable time following mother duck and her ducklings with one of the cubs. The ducklings were adorable!

 

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Our Daughter Fishing.

 

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Australian ducklings with mother duck.

Meanwhile, last Sunday we finally planted 12 of the sunflower seeds salvaged from the MH17 crash site in the Ukraine. You would be so proud of how lightening fingers here is looking after those precious seeds. A week later, seven out of the twelve seeds I planted have sprouted but one had it’s top nipped off. I am moving them out in the the sun outside every morning and then bringing them back in at night and watering them with a spray bottle. My other half-dead plants are complaining of preferential treatment as they continue to experience neglect but I have to ensure these sunflowers not only survive but also produce a bumper crop of seeds, which don’t get eaten by the birds either! It’s a big job!

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Anyway, I’d better head off and start getting ready for another week. It’s now Sunday afternoon and Monday morning is just around the corner.

Hey, just wondering, if I turn back and go round the other corner, does that mean I’ll go back to Saturday and get another weekend? After all, it makes perfectly logical sense. If only this were possible, I might just be ready for another week. What do you think?

Anyway, thanks for catching up and I hope you’ve had a great week and an enjoyable weekend.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share run by Diana over at Part-Time Monster and you can read the other posts by clicking here on the Linky.

Love & Best Wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

A Different Type of Rescue Dog.

Welcome to Rumford, Maine where we’re chatting with ferry master Jerry Putnam and his dog, Major beside the Androscoggin River. Major is a New Foundland or “Newfie” and while I’m used to big dogs, Major is more like a bear crossed with a tank and yet he’s very friendly.

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Androscoggin River, New Hampshire, sadly renowned for its poor water quality.

Please be advised that you’ll be needing to set you watch back more than just a couple of hours to join me on this trip. You see, we’re traveling back to 1885 or thereabouts to hear this tale.  By the way, I apologise if the details get a little sketchy on this trip. You see, I’ve never been to America and I’ve never seen a Newfoundland dog beyond Googles images. However, I’ve never let that stop me from spinning a yarn before and it won’t stop me now. I stumbled across this story online in a small Australian country newspaper from 1885. I have no idea how it found its way there but it seems that after all these years, I’ll be sending the story all the way back to Rumford, Maine where I hope it finds a new home.

As you might be aware Newfoundlands are excellent and enthusiastic swimmers and are famed as the lifesavers of the sea. Indeed, there have even been some famous and very impressed rescues carried out by Newfoundlands:

  • In 1881 in Melbourne, Australia, a Newfoundland named Nelson helped rescue Thomas Brown, a cab driver who was swept away by flood waters in Swanston Street on the night of 15 November. While little is known about what became of Nelson, a copper dog collar engraved with his name has survived and 130 years after the rescue it was acquired by the National Museum of Australia and is now part of the National Historical Collection.[17]
  • In the early 20th century, a dog that is thought to have been a Newfoundland saved 92 people who were on the SS Ethie which was wrecked off of the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland during a blizzard. The dog retrieved a rope thrown out into the turbulent waters by those on deck, and brought the rope to shore to people waiting on the beach. A breeches buoy was attached to the rope, and all those aboard the ship were able to get across to the shore including an infant in a mailbag. Wreckage of the ship can still be seen in Gros Morne National Park. E. J. Pratt‘s poem, “Carlo”, in the November 1920 issue of The Canadian Forum commemorates this dog.
  • In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo saved a hearing-impaired man from drowning in the Yuba River in Northern California. The man fell into the river while dredging for gold. Boo noticed the struggling man as he and his owner were walking along the river. The Newfoundland instinctively dove into the river, took the drowning man by the arm, and brought him to safety. According to Janice Anderson, the Newfoundland’s breeder, Boo had received no formal training in water rescue.[18

You can watch some Newfoundlanders going through their rescue paces here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oQzXJ5ldRM

By now,  I’m sure I’ve whetted your appetites sufficiently and you’re all just longing to find out what Major did. What act of great heroism plucked this ordinary dog out of obscurity and onto the pages of a distant Australian newspaper?

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However, there’s an exception to every rule. Just because some dog’s profiles read like a brochure from the Kennel Club, there’s always an exception. Just as people don’t like being categorized, stereotyped or told how they should conform to type, dogs can be much the same.Not that Major almost drowned but he did have a different interpretation of what constitutes a “rescue”.

Or, did he?

After all, what constitutes a rescue? Is it just about saving that drowning person from the surging waters? Or, is it also about encouraging someone to overcome their fear of drowning,  let go of the edge and finally learn to swim? What if that person doesn’t respond to “encouragement”? Is it okay to add a bit of persuasion? A nudge? A tug or even the proverbial cattle prod?

Well, you don’t need to ask Major. When it came to helping his canine counterpart overcome his fear, he was a Dog of Action with no time for philosophising, desensitization or phoning a friend. When a brindle hound was too scared to swim out to its owner on the ferry and was howling on the shore, Major grabbed it by the scruff and threw it in the water so it either had to sink or swim.

You’ve got to laugh and who hasn’t been tempted to do that to someone we know, but a bit of compassion doesn’t go astray either.

So, even if another dog is having a full blown panic attack about getting their precious paws wet, you don’t grab him by the scruff and throw him in the drink. After all, most breeds of dog don’t have a Newfoundland’s webbed paws, innate love of swimming and other special design features. They chase sheep.

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I’m not putting my paws in there!

Of course, this includes the Border Collie. While our last Border Collie loves chasing sticks through the surf, Bilbo rarely gets his paws wet and it’s taken a lot of angst for him to get to the point where he sometimes now retrieves his ball out of the wash on the beach.

Indeed, Bilbo has had a few newsworthy water avoidances and he could well have been cast as that miserable mutt Major threw into the river.

Fetching Bilbos Ball

Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!

A few years ago, when Bilbo saw us all kayaking from the backyard at Palm Beach, he also started howling and fretting just like that other poor hound. Bilbo chewed through the back gate, jumped the back fence and we were about a kilometre from home when we looked out and kids said: “Someone else has a Border Collie”. As we paddled closer, our fears we confirmed. It was our freaked out mutt, giving us the paw: “What do you think you’re doing going out there on that crazy contraption? OMG!!!! You could fall in. Drown!!!! Then, who’s going to feed me?” His heart was racing. He was puffing. The dog was a wreck…so was the gate!

I would never have thrown Bilbo into the water to get him used to it. Yet, over time, he accidentally fell in the pool chasing his ball. He also fell out of the kayak and took our son into the water with him. That could’ve been nasty because he tried grabbing on to Mister which could’ve pulled him under. However, through all of this knockabout exposure and by being part of our family, Bilbo isn’t quite so anxious anymore. He’s stepped out and started filling out those paws, becoming a brave dog.

Meanwhile, here’ the original newspaper story about Major:

A Dog Story.

 When Jerry Putnam had charge of the ferry At Rumford, Me., over the Androscoggin River, he owned one of the handsomest Newfoundland dogs I ever saw, and the dog was as intelligent as he was handsome. Like all of his kind, he was fond of the water, and further than that,  he manifested an absolute contempt for those of his species who shrank from the aqueous element, and it is of one of those contemptuous manifestations that I wish to tell, for I was there and saw.

The ferryboots, of various sizes, to, accommodate different burdens, were impelled by means of a stout cable stretched from shore to shore, as that was the only device by which the heavy boats could be kept to their course in times of strong currents, and during seasons of freshet I have seen a current there that was wonderful.

 One warm summer day, while a few of us were sitting in the shade of an old apple tree, between Jerry’s house and the river, two gentlemen, with implements for hunting and fishing, came down to be set across, and straightway one of the boys went to answer the call. He selected a light gondola, the two gentlemen stepped onboard, and very soon they were off ; but before they had got far away from the shore a common brindle house dog came rushing down upon the landing, where he stood and barked and howled furiously— furiously at first, and then piteously.

 The boat was stopped, and from the signs made we judged that the strange dog belonged to one of the passengers. Yes, the owner was calling to him to come.

‘Come Ponto! Come !Come! ‘

But Ponto didn’t seem incline to obey. Instead of taking to the water, he stood there, on the edge of the landing, and howled and yelped louder than before.

 Presently old Major — our Newfoundland; who had been lying at our feet, got up and took a survey of the scene. Jerry said only this—’What is it, Major! What dy’e think of it?”

The dog looked around at his master, and seemed to answer that he was thoroughly disgusted. And then he started for the boat-landing — started just as the boy in the boat, at the earnest solicitation of his passenger, had begun to pull back. With  dignified step, Major made his way down upon the landing, proceeded directly to the yelping cur, took him by the nape of the neck; and threw him — he did not drop him — but gave him a vigorous, hearty throw, far out into the water ; and when he had done that he stood his ground as though to prevent the noisy, cowardly animal from landing. He stood there until he had seen the cur turn and swim towards the boat — until he had been taken on board by his master— after which he faced about, with military dignity and precision, and came back to his place beneath the apple tree.

 — N. Y. Ledger.

The Burrowa News (NSW : 1874 – 1951) Friday 13 March 1885 p 3 Article

Have you ever been to Rumford, Maine or had any experiences with Newfoundlander Dogs? We’d love to hear your tales!

xx Rowena

A Pelican’s Modern Convenience.

This pelican seems to be taking the easy way out.

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I wonder if pelicans can read…

Too much hard work, it’s given up fishing and is waiting for fish co-op to open.

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The Lazy Bird waits for the Fish.

Geoff spotted this pelican outside the Hawkesbury River Fish Co-Op in Brooklyn, Sydney.

xx Rowena

 

Coffee By the Sea

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share chez moi. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a tail in your face or a dog on your lap, especially if you’re joining me for Tim Tams. The doggies can’t seem to read “Not suitable for dogs” on the side of the packet. Don’t worry. I don’t feed my dogs chocolate, although there have been times when their thieving paws have helped themselves. “Go to jail. Go directly to jail puppy dogs!”

While it might seem like I’ve had a busy week, to be perfectly honest, I’ve been a bit of a Homer Simpson glued to my armchair as the alternating heat, rain and chill took its toll. Need to muster up some energy to finish off my son’s room. I emptied out more cupboards while he’s off at my parents’ place and lost my mojo somewhere along the way. Wasn’t such a good idea after all!

Jonathon shark Umina Beach

Monday afternoon, some sort of crane must’ve plucked my son and I out of our respective chairs and plonked us down at the beach with the dogs. Almost straight away, I spotted a fisherman doing battle with a mighty fish and was spellbound. I’ve since realised that the ocean is one of the last unknowns on this planet. After all, Google Earth must have documented nearly each square inch of land. Hidden cameras seem to capture our each and every move. However, who knows what’s on the end of that fishing rod? Who knows what’s swimming around your feet while you’re hanging out at the beach? Yes, the ocean is one of the world’s last mysteries… the last frontier.

I manage to inject a fair amount of suspense into The Boy & the Shark .

For better or worse, I found out we had sharks at our beach. They were baby sharks but who’s to say the rest of the family wasn’t out there as well?

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Captain! oh my Captain!

Tuesday, we went sailing with my Dad at Palm Beach. We motored down to Newport and then sailed passed Scotland Island and then motored back. Although I barely know port from starboard and am more likely to get hit in the head by the boom, I do make good ballast and I did have a go steering. Overall, I found the whole sailing experience very liberating and almost an out-of-body experience. There was such freedom out there and so much space.  Just a vast expanse of water, sky and the sunlight sparkling over the water like a diamond carpet.

Shark Smile

Not sure whether it was Wednesday or Thursday my time but I participated in Trent’s Weekly Smile Share. I must admit that I was a little cheeky because I posted a shark smile. While my son was poking and prodding the gasping shark on the beach, I noticed that the underside of the shark’s mouth either resembles a frown or a smile depending on the angle. It was at this point, too, I must admit, that I also realised just how much blogging has taken over my life. I’m an addict.

Although the rest of the week has been fairly quiet, I have participated in 1000 Voices for Compassion’s monthly blogshare. This month’s theme was forgiveness. I decided to write about the difficulties of forgiving Dermatomyositis, the severe auto-immune disease which remains a formidable foe.

Forgiveness turned out to be an incredible theme. Most of us live with something we’d love to exterminate, delete, replay and it is a real struggle to know quite how to deal with all that angst without imploding. I read some incredible stories where writers have ripped open their hearts, souls and minds and let me in. Shared those very painful moments in slow motion frame-by-frame. Sharing such intimate details, naturally brings closeness, intimacy, trust. After all, if you don’t truly know someone, how can you call them friend?

I really recommend you read as many of these posts as you can.

The rest of the week has been a blur.

All I know is that I only have 5 sleeps until the new school year begins. I am hoping that all my preparations haven’t been in vain but we could well see the birth of Frankenstein. Both kids are starting at new schools so we’ve been organising uniforms right down to checking the colour of their socks. Of course, this is all been a conscious process which is such a contrast to arriving back from holidays the night before and stepping right back into familiar shoes. Hey, even the car knew the way! I tell myself I can do it and Geoff will still be on holidays and yet I still feel like I’m about to walk the plank and did I mention something previously about SHARKS??

Deep breath Ro! Stop catastrophizing!

Does anyone else argue with themselves like this?

By the way, sign up starts for the Blogging A-Z April Challenge on Monday 25th January. I strongly recommend taking up the challenge. I participated for the first time last year and loved it but will be doing things differently this year. Last year, I wrote my posts every day and didn’t really have a tight theme. It was something loosely based on my world. While it was fun, trying to write and read so many posts really took over and the whole thing became quite intense. This year, I’m aiming to have all my posts written well ahead of time. Of course, for most of us, there are letters where you have too many options and there are a couple letters which cause such angst but I’m on my way.

Are you planning to sign up? You can sign up here.

Finally, it’s Sunday and we’ve finally returned from picking up the kids from my parents’. Had a great afternoon there where I inevitably ended up in the pool. I can’t believe how quickly I’ve turned into an old lady and all that’s missing is the swimmers with the skirt. Indeed, that would be more flattering. It was after dinner by the time I finally got into the pool and when it came to getting wet and even dipping my lower half in the water, it was painful and took forever.

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Not getting my face wet!

Eventually, finally…I did a lap of breaststroke which must have looked more like dog paddle as I obstinately stuck my head out of the water like a little kid. “Don’t like getting my face wet!!” I tell you. Sometimes, I wonder about this other half. She is such a chicken while the other side throws caution to the wind.

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Swimming with the kids was really good for me because the water enabled me to be much more physical than I am on land.I was even able to give both kids piggybacks because the water takes their weight. I can’t tell you what this meant to me and to them to be able to play together. For Mummy to be awake. Involved. Not having a nap. Not too unstable on her feet to have a go. Mum could be Mum.

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Firing the canon…Photo taken by Geoff (well done!)

Tomorrow, Mum is off to the hairdresser’s at long last. I won’t know myself! Yippee!

By the way, Tuesday 26th January is Australia Day, known by at least some Aboriginal people as Invasion Day. It celebrates or commiserates the landing of the First Fleet at Botany Bay in 1788. That’s 228 years ago. Mind you, this 228 years is just the tip of Australia’s history. It is an ancient land.

We’re not going to be that patriotic this Australia Day. We’re planning to finally see Star Wars 7 and we’re dreading another night consoling a dribbling, shaking mutt as the fireworks go off. However, you can read about the Bicentenary here

Speaking about the dogs, a bit of forgiveness has been required in Bilbo’s court over the last couple of days. Miss has been away for 2 weeks and Mister a week and he’d had enough. He’s been getting quite stressed. Fortunately, they’re back so hope he settles down. By the way, they were both very exuberant when they arrived home today and greeted them with much tail-wagging and paws…no cold shoulders this time!

The Boy & the Shark

If it hadn’t been for his mother, the boy would’ve missed the shark altogether.

Indeed, he would’ve been at home glued to his iPad.

It was Mum who’d dragged him off to the beach for a walk with the dogs, although he didn’t take much persuading. It’s just that while there’s that age-old bond between humans and their dogs; humans and the sea; electronics is a new but equally strong force.

Even being at the beach, the boy would’ve missed the shark if it wasn’t for his Mum. He’s a much faster walker.

By the time the fisherman went into battle, the boy was halfway down the beach.

Meanwhile, Mum was spellbound. Seeing the fishing rod bending right over and all his muscles flexed, I couldn’t wait to see what was on the line.  The fisherman  was strong, muscular and incredibly fit but that fish was still holding its own.  Had it been a gold fish, he could’ve plucked that fish straight out of the water. So, it had to be  one hell of a beast…a determined beast at that! It was fighting for its life and wasn’t giving up but the fisherman wasn’t giving up either.He was wrestling that fish with all his might.

Thinking back to Hemingway’s classic: The Old Man and the Sea, I found myself completely absorbed in the battle. I had to see what was fighting it out at the end of that line and how this mighty battle played out.

I had to get our son. He loves fishing and I knew how much he’d love to see this! He’d be riveted!

However, he’s a much faster walker and he was already halfway down the beach. Of course, I’m calling him and calling him but there’s absolutely no response. All I see is the back of his head moving further and further away. Why doesn’t he turn around? What is he thinking about? Is he absorbed by the scenery or lost in his dreams? How would I know? Oh! How often I’ve wished there was some kind of window so I could see inside his head?!!

He absolutely adores fishing and I can’t believe he’s missing out on the works. I keep calling and still only see the back of his head.

Unfortunately, I’m not able to run and I can’t see myself catching up without having a heart attack.

Besides, I can’t take my own eyes off this extraordinary battle between man and fish. There’s such tension. Not only in the line and the fisherman’s entire being but also curiosity! What is it? What type of fish? What’s going to happen? Is he actually going to land the fish before his line snaps? His rod breaks? Or, will this mighty fish actually escape and get away?

These are the great fishing unknowns. It’s inherent mystery.

Of course, there are no guarantees until that mighty fish finally lands on the beach. It’s been caught. So for now, that fish still belongs in the realm of dreams and fishing legends.

While I understand that catching fish is all part of fishing, I really don’t like the actual catching part… watching the fish gasping, taking its last breath. Personally, I’d rather throw it back. However, eating fish is no different to eating something neatly packaged from the supermarket. It’s just that we haven’t “prepared” it ourselves.

At last, I can make out the fish in the breakers. Its silver body is flapping like the clappers, twisting and turning struggling with every speck of its might.

What is it?

This is, of course, the burning question. After all, we all like to know what’s lurking in the deep where we go swimming. Although we know there are fish out there somewhere, we seldom see them. Moreover, on the rare occasions we’ve been fishing, we haven’t caught anything either. So, to be perfectly honest, I’m even a bit surprised that anything’s there.

The fisherman lands the fish and it’s lying there on the beach, wriggling, writhing and then it stops moving for a bit.

My goodness. Its silhouette is unmistakable.

It’s a shark!

For a moment, there’s that feeling of horror. A desire perhaps to rewind the last ten minutes and NOT find out what’s actually swimming at our beach.

After all, do you really want to know that you’ve been swimming with sharks?

Well, it’s only a baby shark…a Bronze Whaler weighing around 6-8 kg.

It couldn’t even take off your foot but I don’t think I’d like to find out. Moreover, I wouldn’t want to be a small dog swimming out there on dusk either. There are a few dogs swimming at the moment. Humph! All those tales weren’t just a dog beach legend, after all!

However, looking at the size of it, I doubted this shark travelled alone. That it had friends and indeed, there’s a school of sharks swimming around OUR BEACH!

!@#$%@#!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Yet, there was also that awe. I’ve never seen a live shark up close and I was mesmerised. This shark only had a small row of teeth, which seemed to retract. So rather than being a fearsome beast, it had a rather gummy smile, like it had forgotten to put its teeth in.

That’s when I noticed its frown. Of course, when you turn this frown around, you get a macabre kind of smile. Strange, the things you’ve never noticed before, which may not change the world but get you thinking…

Shark Smile2

Meanwhile, as I’m interacting with the shark, the lad is still walking away, almost reaching the other side of the rainbow. He hasn’t turned round once and he later assumed that I was right behind him. That said, he should have known I’d have been talking. That if there was silence, he should investigate. For all he knew, Mummy could’ve been abducted by aliens. Or, in this instance, eaten by a real live shark flapping on the beach!

Finally, he turns round. He’s too far away to hear me but I gesture for him to come back and made some sort of signal towards the fisherman.

He returns. However, this might not have been such a good thing, after all!

The boy can’t keep his hands off the shark. Even though it’s gasping for air and clearly not at home on land, it still hasn’t given up its will to live. As I said, this shark was a real fighter and while it’s been caught and dragged out of the sea, the battle isn’t over yet. Not by a long shot!

So, there’s my son standing there proudly holding a live shark as though he’d caught it himself. It’s an absolutely perfect, once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity. I am the absolute Queen of photo opportunities BUT… of course, I don’t have my camera and my phone is as flat as a tack. In what has to be one of my biggest bloopers yet, I have no way of photographing this priceless moment. This is the very same person who takes photos in her sleep!

Pathetic!

However, I have no shame and ask the fisherman if he would mind taking a photo and emailing it to me. He’s very kind and through broken English we exchange details. Turns out he and his friend are visiting from Lithuania. Thought it was funny that it’s a visiting tourist who gives these Australians our first close-up view of a shark!

Of course, I was hoping that shark would be our last but the rod is bending over again and the tension is twice as great now that we know that another shark is on its way.

“Our friend” was not alone.

Trust me! I didn’t want to know!

xx Rowena

Shark Smile!

Sharks don’t smile.

That is, aside from the cheerfully reformed Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo. However, who really trusted him deep down when he said: “Fish are friends”?

However, like so many things, it’s all a matter of perspective.

This week I discovered that when you look at a shark’s mouth from down below and swivel it  around, you get a smile.

And, if you’re really lucky, you might even get a toothy grin!

Shark Smile2

 

Me being me, I couldn’t resist adding some eyes but Mr Shark was smiling too much to even attempt a moustache!

Now, I can just hear you asking: “How on earth did you come up with this?”

Well, it’s not often that even this intrepid Australian comes face-to-face with a live shark. Indeed, I’ve never even seen a shark outside a tank until this week when a fisherman caught one off OUR beach!

Then, he caught another one!

Baby Bronze Whaler sharks which wouldn’t do much to a human but what about a small dog? I can just imagine the talk down at Dog Beach! Full Story Here.

So, it just goes to show how you can find smiles in the strangest of places!

This has been part of the Weekly Smile blog share at Trent’s World

What has made you smile lately?

xx Rowena

 

The photo  shown here isn’t “our” shark. It was much younger with much smaller teeth.

Happy Father’s Day, Geoff!

Just because you’re standing there with a fishing rod, doesn’t mean you catch any fish…much to Geoff’s relief. Fishing isn’t what you’d call his “thing” but he was on an overnight camp with the kids at Scouts. Had a great time while I stayed at home and ordered a pizza swarming with anchovies!

Happy Fathers’ Day to all Dads.

Love,

Rowena

Only Fools Go Fishing: Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy, Australia.

I stumbled across this photo as my reorganisation of my digital photos continues. It was taken at Fisherman’s Wharf in Woy Woy about an hour’s North of Sydney’s CBD. Just in  case  you’re thinking “you had to be there”, I managed to snap this pelican strutting straight inside the fish & chips shop looking for a feed. From my perspective, it’s a rather cocky-looking character who acts like he owns the place.

Unruly pelicans and sea gulls squabbling during feeding time.

Unruly pelicans and sea gulls squabbling during feeding time.

The pelicans there are very bold and audacious. Indeed, gangs of pelican thieves have been known to snatch and swallow plastic bags filled with fish from unsuspecting diners.

Mister with my aunt at Fisherman's Wharf back in 2004 when he was only a few months old and bald was beautiful!

Mister with my aunt at Fisherman’s Wharf back in 2004 when he was only a few months old and bald was beautiful!

Of course, the pelicans are gorgeous but they do extract their pound of fish.There’s nothing like a free lunch!

xx Rowena

Homeward Bound: Palm Beach to Ettalong.

No doubt, all weekends away end up feeling like Cinderella’s horrific crash landing after the ball. You’re back in rags, your coach is a pumpkin and both you and Prince Charming are so quite what you used to be.

My weekend in Palm Beach was no different and once I’d polished off that divine chocolate cake and all that luscious chocolate sauce, I was on borrowed time and the clock was really ticking.

Tick-tock..tick-tock…tick! TICK! BZZ!!!!!! Game Over!!!!!

space_invaders_wallpaper_game_over_by_shadowbott-d5rxcn6

However, as the rain and wind whipped around, a lingering doubt emerged. Could the ferry service actually be cancelled?

If so, how on earth was I going to get home?

No ferry would stretch the 30 minute journey home into an extremely long, arduous, meandering journey involving 2 buses, 2 trains and not only a packed lunch but also dinner and possibly even a midnight snack.

This was obviously a serious concern!!

However, as if I would travel all that way when I could just stay another night and wait until the storm cleared! Yeah, right!! I could just imagine how well that would go down! There I was living it up in Palm Beach while Geoff had been at work and taxiing the kids around and then he’d be having to take time off work as well to get them to school. Yes, I’d be extremely popular!!

Indeed, it could even be grounds for divorce!

We’ve been on some pretty ragged rides on the ferry before, crossing the high seas where the waves loomed like skyscrapers overhead and our beloved ferry felt more like Scuffy the Tugboat, seemingly tossed like a salad in the ferocious  surf.  Of course, the kids who have a real penchant for melodrama, were freaking out about sinking, drowning and, of course,  even dying while the ferry plowed on through the drenching rain and heavy winds. Ghostly white and sitting on our laps wrapped up in our arms, the kids are vowing never to catch the ferry again. That was a few years ago now before they became intrepid sea scouts!

The ferry service was cancelled for the rest of the day after that.

I was concerned about the ferry being cancelled on Sunday too.  Sure, I know we’re not crossing notorious Bass Strait of Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race fame but the weather still gets wild enough. Wild enough to cancel the ferry. That’s right. There comes a point when even the most intrepid Palm Beach Ferry Captains hang up their hats and stay on terra firma.

However, I’m in luck. The ferry is running and although the weather is a little rough and wet, it remains quite civilised.

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf...so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

Sunset Palm Beach Wharf…so pleased that bird dropped into the shot!

A friend from Church drops me off at the wharf with 15 minutes to spare where I can enjoy watching some people fishing while the sun sets. I am reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. However, the keen fisherperson is a woman and she knows her stuff. With the precision of a plastic surgeon, she wraps up a cooked prawn in some plastic netting salvaged from a bag of fruit and pushes the hook through. That prawn won’t come off without a fight, so the fish will have to work a bit harder tonight if they want a free feed!!

At 6.15pm, this is the last ferry and in contrast to yesterday’s rowdy party atmosphere, the ferry is almost empty. There’s just a few weekend stragglers on board and pure silence. You could even meditate it was that quiet. Talk about a contrast!! We all sit inside…even me who is all but always out there on deck pushing the limits with my camera. Too wet, too windy and way too bumpy tonight. Time to take it all in through the rain-stained window.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

The View through the Window- Palm Beach Ferry.

As the ferry started approached Ettalong Wharf, I was looking out for Geoff and the kids and really looking forward to their enthusiastic greetings: “Mummy! Mummy!” and finding out how their scout camps went. These are the sort of exciting moments you live for as a parent: warm, gutsy hugs, smiles, laughter and a thousand stories all spilling out at once. That’s the thing about going away. As much as you protest against the homeward journey, we all know: “There’s no place like home!!”

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

The Palm Beach Ferry returns to near deserted wharf at Ettalong as the weekend draws to a close.

However, when the ferry pulled into the wharf, there was no one there. The wharf was empty, deserted and not even a sign of our car anywhere. No enthusiastic waves. No hugs. No Mummy!!! Just the sun setting over a deserted beach and the sounds of the wind and the surf.

I knew I was being a bit ridiculous, especially after it was me who actually went away for the weekend. However, there was this residual small voice which I’d thought had disappeared long ago:

“Nobody loves me!”

It’s not that I’m looking for sympathy or even a chorus of: “where were they? Why weren’t they there to pick you up? How dare they!” I mean…it’s not like I cried or anything. However, after building up the big greeting all the way home and really looking forward to seeing the rest of the family, I did feel a bit sad, forgotten and (drum roll)  ABANDONED!!

Serves me right for going away for the weekend without them. This was karma and a taste of what it’s really like to be alone.

As it turned out, the family wasn’t far away and had got held up at scouts. Geoff and the kids had been unloading boats, kayaks and all sorts of paraphenalia from their weekend competing at the Sirius Cup at Sydney’s Balmoral Beach. That’s all. Nothing sinister!

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister poking out his tongue while scouting at the Sirius Cup, Balmoral Beach.

Mister had had great fun and made it into the finals for the C2 at the Sirius Cup, which means a 2 person canoe. We were so proud..particularly as he’d overcome his fear of sharks and other nasties and gone for it!! Miss had done really well at her Cub leadership course too. However, there are unfortunately no photos.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

A reflective moment during scout camp.

It’s been a fabulous weekend. Absolutely fabulous!!

Geoff even managed to watch the Grand Prix! Unfortunately, it wasn’t Australian race champion, Daniel Riccardo’s day.

Boo who! Tomorrow…it’s back to yet another manic Monday morning. I’m going to need a pretty strong coffee to get me going. It’s going to be like raising the Titanic.

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

The Monday morning salvage routine is going to be tough!!

xx Rowena (and a few extra kilos after that chocolate cake!!)