Tag Archives: ocean

Sailing On The Wings of Poesie…

“On a day when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a day.”

― Rumi

After watching our son sail today, my head is jam-packed with metaphors. Overflowing with adjectives, adverbs and superlatives. Indeed, I’m completely overloaded with words flying in from all directions and creating an almighty traffic jam in my head. Clearly, this is not a good thing, because as any half-decent writer knows, less is more. However, what are we supposed to do when we’re so enchanted by something, an experience, a feeling, an object, that we start spewing out metaphors, adverbs and adjectives like a broken sewerage pipe?

I don’t know. I always overdo it. Indeed, I’m one of the most enthusiastic, upbeat people I know, especially when I’m “sailing” on top of the water, and haven’t hit the deck.

Just to set the scene…The majority of the boats were an Optimus or “Opti”. Another parent described these as “a floating bathtub which uses a towel as a sail”. They’re a great sail boat to start out on because they’re relatively stable, although on the downside, they’re not as fast. Our son was too tall for an Opti and went straight to a Flying 11, which has rather complicated rigging and is a faster, but less stable boat and new recruits are likely to capsize. Indeed, they capsize a lot and usually want to quit!!

However, that’s what I’ll call the technical or business end of sailing, and I was more focused on watching my son and husband work together to get the boat assembled and to actually see Mr sail his boat. However, as much as I aspire to be the perfect Mum, I couldn’t be the passive observer and switch the writer-photographer off. Sailing is a spectacle. It’s an Adrenalin boost. A creative response was inevitable…an occupational hazard.

The skippers assembled on the grass and walked through the muddy bank to launch their boats. I don’t know how many boats were there. However, there were enough to resemble a small fleet and look quite spectacular. Yet, they’re only little and reminded me of hand-made, origami boats. Indeed, I even Googled how to make them when I got home, although I didn’t succeed. That boat didn’t even get a chance to sink!

Getting back to the race… one minute I was watching Geoff help Mr get his boat out, and the next he was gone.The boats had sailed off into the distance and the skippers merged in with the sails. Now, they were nothing more than a patch of white on a blue background.

Yet, I was still watching. Feeling something bubbling up inside but I couldn’t quite channel my thoughts into anything specific.

Sheep…the little white boats now reminded me of sheep… what with being white on the blue background. In hindsight, even I can see this was a bit far-fetched. That I’d inhaled too much magic dust, and my imaginings had gone too far. After all, I doubt whether a sheep can swim, and as for a flock of sheep wading out into the deep, that’s bonkers.  Clearly, I’d had too much sun!

Still, being in serious creative overdrive, I didn’t just stop at sheep analogies. I also thought of dancers in white tutus, which is hardly surprising given that the dance studio is our home away from home. Indeed, sailing reminded me a lot of dancing with sailing being a kind of dance on water. That said, it’s not that graceful when the boom smacks you in the head, or you capsize and you’re wading through the mud to get back.

Hey, did I mention something about clouds? The boats also reminded me of white clouds. However, you’d have to say they’d had a close encounter with a steam roller with a triangular cutting attachment. After all, sails are flat, not round and fluffy.

Okay, I accept the cloud analogy doesn’t fit.

“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison

Anyway, in case you haven’t worked it out already, I was really pleased and relieved to get down to the sailing club today. Like many parents, my husband and I split up on Saturdays. Geoff does the sailing run, while I do the dance run with our daughter. While this set up is very practical, it means I haven’t seen our son sail in his new boat and they haven’t seen our daughter perform her dance solo. Moreover, each of us is missing out entirely on one child’s universe. Or, at best, we’re skimming past the outer reaches. Indeed, my husband and son missed out on half of the annual dance concert, because he had a big day. Indeed, that afternoon’s sail was just as important to him, as her dance concert was to her. That’s where you need the wisdom of Solomon. Alternatively, you could always clone yourself, so you can be in two places at once. Nothing to it!

By the time I pulled up, Geoff and Mr had got the boat out of bed and it was out on the grass waiting to be set up. Setting up the Flying 11 every week, is a bit like wrestling with an Ikea flat-pack with ropes and sails thrown in for added complexity. Geoff and the Mr almost, almost have their routine down pat and make a great team. Getting the boat ready, is a two person job and it took them some time to get the rigging sorted. Moreover, as these boats have sacrificed stability for speed, it’s frequently capsized. It’s a very challenging boat and the sort of thing “which puts hair on your chest”, as my Dad would say. However, this is the price you pay as a young sailor climbing through the ranks and learning the ropes.

“That’s what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we’ve changed because of it, and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games. Losing, in a curious way is winning.”

Richard Bach, Jonathon Livingston Seagull

Launching Fury

As luck would have it, the weather was perfect…blue skies, sunshine but not the blazing Summer heat. Probably my favourite bit, was watching all the boats get in the water. It was low tide and they needed to wade out quite a way through the mud to launch. I know there was order in there somewhere, and everyone was respectful of each other’s boats. However, I was struck by the kaleidoscope of little boats of varying classes along with their different shaped sails…a real cacophony. Indeed, I know I’ve overdosed on metaphors already, but they were like a flock of sea gulls.

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If you peer deeply into the centre of the photo, you can see the fleet.

However, all too quickly, the flock had disappeared out of view, and we weren’t really a part of it anymore.We could just make out a cluster of tiny, white sails in the distance. For some reason, it felt very strange knowing Mr was one of them. I guess I’m so used to seeing anonymous yachts sailing past in the distance and it felt weird to know he was on one of them. Moreover, it’s a bit of a stretch to think of our 14 year old son skippering a boat out on the horizon all by himself. He hasn’t ridden a bike in years and is too young to drive a car, even as a learner. Yet, he was out there by himself, not out in the ocean or the open sea, but close enough. That didn’t worry me at all, because the club has a safety boat and it’s a safe area. It was more the extension of his horizons and by proxy, my own that felt uncomfortable. He wasn’t in the small pond anymore.

That’s one of the great things about sailing for kids. They can experience freedom, a degree of speed, independence and nut things out for themselves without adults hovering over their shoulder. So, while it’s not an inherently safe sport, it’s actually not too bad when you compare it to contact sports, wandering around the neigbourhood or even riding his bike.

Now, I’d still like to write a poem about it. Or, if I could, paint what I saw. However, I photographed the race with my phone and plan to get back there for the last two weeks of the season with a real camera. Open my eyes to absorb what I can. Then, I’m going to try to get in a sail myself!! I made great ballast!

Have you ever been sailing? Or, been a sailing parent? How did it go?

xx Rowena

 

 

 

The Eye Beside the Sea, France.

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”

Paramahansa Yogananda

“Behind the most beautiful eyes, lay secrets deeper and darker than the mysterious sea..”

-yld

Last night, I was trawling through Facebook, when I stumbled across this fantastic image of a big blue eye staring out to sea with a sense of the ocean being swept up inside and the waves crashing within.

Of course, I had to investigate it further. Investigate it via the only means at my disposal…Google. Sadly, there was no spontaneous trip to France for this little black duck. Yet, coincidently, I’m watching a travel doco set in Paris at this very moment. Well, I was until the ads started up.

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French artist Cece painted “The Eye” on a WWII blockhaus on the beach of Siouville-Hague, Normandy, France. The village of Siouville-Hague is located in North-West France, in the department of Manche in Basse-Normandie.

Normandy Landings

These days, it’s hard to imagine the scenes this blockhaus witnessed during WWII. I have no sense of direction at the best of times and it is difficult for me to get a real sense of the geography and the action it actually witnessed. However, I  gather this blockhaus witnessed The Normandy landings (codenamed Operation Neptune), which led to the liberation of France from the Nazis.

Getting back to the artwork, Cece explained:

“The basic idea was to revitalize an abandoned place full of history: a world war 2 blockhaus, collapsed, almost lying on its side. At first it was about to humanize this place with some poetry : before, the eye of the soldiers were watching the dead coming from the sea, and now there is this big blue eye, looking at the life and moves coming from waves movements, talks and answers , interactions of two creations coming from man and nature .. and then also I’ve wanted to point out the damage that may make human at some sites (into the pupil, the silhouette of the nuclear power plant from la hague).”

Yet, clearly “The Eye” also stands alone, divorced from the past. The eyes are the window to the soul and with this eye staring out and being washed by the sea, it’s redolent with meaning. I would love to stand there on the sand in front of it, peering deeply almost through the eye, and see what comes back to me. What mysteries would be revealed? Would “The Eye” reveal hidden, inner parts of myself? Or, perhaps even lead me into some kind of dance with its creator? Either way, I have no doubt,  that there’d be magic.

“Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.”

– Paramahansa Yogananda

Coincidently, a new TV series is about to start up here in Australia. Seasoned journalist, Ray Martin, will be hosting: Look Me In the Eye in which two estranged people sit in silence for five minutes, looking at each other. I’m looking forward to seeing how it pans out. Although we know eye contact is very powerful, is it enough?

By the way, if you have seen this magnificent artwork in the flesh, I’d love to hear what it was like. 

xx Rowena

The Reflective Sailor

Not sure what the reflective sailor’s thinking. If it were me, I’d be thinking about where my next coffee is coming from. Even a 9.00 am start on a Saturday morning seems a bit cruel, especially when we had to leave “the Peninsula” to get there. You just ask anybody who lives on a peninsula what it’s like travelling abroad? We’re all inclined to be rather insular…at least, geographically speaking.

Anyway, on Saturday morning Mum’s Taxi found itself feeling rather confused driving the sailor to his lesson, rather than ducking around the corner to drop our daughter at dancing. I quite enjoyed the change and having time driving along with my son and hanging out at the waterfront. Would’ve loved to go for a sail myself, although can’t sail and would need to hitch a ride. (Sounds like I need to do something about that!!)

Of course, I couldn’t go anywhere near the waterfront without packing my camera and I wasn’t disappointed.

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Moody Skies.

Not only was the sailor a little reflective, dark brooding storm clouds also obliged. Indeed, looking at the photos, you can’t help wondering how I let our son sail out in that weather.

Anyway, of course, he survived.

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Looking after the boat. The kids are taught that the boat looks after you, you look after it. I love the sound of that!

I’m so pleased our son loves sailing. Seems like a great stress release for the “reflective” teenage years. After all, I haven’t forgotten what sailing through the swirling vortex of pubescence was like. I’m sure most of us had moments where we’re surprised we made it through.

Do you sail? Feel free to share links to sailing posts in the comments.

xx Rowena

Clouds! Camera! Action!

Last stop…Scouts. Next stop…dinner?

Well, maybe not.

While Mum’s Taxi could’ve stayed parked in the driveway, instead it was reversing back out again and darting off to the beach. Never very good at sticking with routine, I was being led astray by forces beyond my control.

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The Magic of Clouds.

The clouds made me do it.

As I was driving home from dropping our daughter at Cub Scouts, I’d spotted massive clouds on the horizon and I just had to capture the magic. It was right on sun set and anticipating the magic, my imagination was already painting incredible pictures.

That morning, we’d had incredibly heavy rain and localised flooding. So, the clouds promised to be good.

I popped home to pick up my camera.

“No, Mummy! Don’t go!” My son pleaded. “The last time you went, it hailed.”

Hail? Why did he have to mention the hail?!!

dog in the storm

The hail storm was about to hit. Not a good time to walk the dog. This wasn’t one of ours!

Although I didn’t want to think about the hail storm, revisiting my past sins could well prevent me from repeating past mistakes.

You see, today wasn’t the first time I’d spotted superlative clouds while driving around in Mum’s Taxi.

Indeed, after spotting these clouds while picking the kids up from school, I just ducked down to the beach for a few minutes with the camera. These clouds were too good to miss and I really thought I had a chance at capturing the big one. That mighty shot which makes even your most incredible photos look ordinary. This is the photographer’s equivalent of catching that prized marlin as eulogized in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.

In other words, it was NOT to be missed!

Having been caught out in thunderstorms with my camera before, I was being careful. As soon as I felt a huge raindrop fall on my shoulder, I immediately headed for the car. However, I hadn’t banked on the speed of the storm. It was already too late. I’d only just made it to the car when the storm hit. Hauled up in my tin can, the windscreen bore the full force of the storm’s brutal full-frontal assault. Yet, somehow it withstood the incessant pounding and I survived. While the hail was still falling, I decided to make a run for it and drove gingerly home through an icy wonderland to reach the kids. Our entire town was blanketed in ice.

By the way, we live just North of Sydney where it’s hot and we don’t get ice and snow! So, this weather was exceptionally exceptional!

I couldn’t believe how a quick five minute photo shoot at the beach had turned into a near catastrophe. However, the worst was still to come. The hail had pelted straight through our back roof like machine gun fire and it was now leaking like a sieve. Of course, this had to be the roof to my office and my PC was swimming through the rain and hail with the mouse in hot pursuit. The kids were extremely stressed as well and I had to do some quick thinking to keep our son from heading up a ladder to “fix” the roof. Thank goodness volunteers from the State Emergency Service came to the rescue and put up a tarpaulin. Angels come in an amazing range of guises!

So, when Mr J had concerns about me bringing on another hail storm, there was motive to his madness. Indeed, I’d told the kids that if I ever tried going cloud chasing again, stop me. I was starting to appreciate that once I’d seen all those billowing clouds, all reason disappeared. Under their spell, all I could do was blindly follow.

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So without any further ado, I was off. My entire gripped with potential! I could sense the magic in the air.

Clouds! Camera! Action!

The clouds didn’t disappoint. Huge, towering castles of whipping meringue, they floated majestically above the beach, staring at their glamorous reflections in the shallows. I wonder if they loved their own reflections as much as I did?

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They were absolutely mesmerizing and I didn’t have to ask if you could fall in love with a cloud.

I already knew!

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Of course, all too soon, the light was fading transforming their brilliance into a world of silvery shadows, infusing their night music with Neptune’s melodies.

I wondered if Endymion and Diana were about to embrace but it was time to go.

Just one minor detail…was our dinner burning?

xx Rowena

PS I loved those clouds SO much, I couldn’t resist going back again this morning.The stream was produced by the storm, showing just how heavy the rain has been!

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The Morning After, Ocean Beach.

 

 

 

A Photographer’s Dream.

“A tramp, a gentleman, a poet, a dreamer, a lonely fellow, always hopeful of romance and adventure.”

Charlie Chaplin

On Thursday morning, a freakish sea of fog literally knocked on our front door, as the street and indeed our entire town vanished in the haze. We’ve been living here for 15 years but we’ve never seen anything like it before. While we’ve seen patches of fog over the beach and the river in the past, we live a few streets back. Eerie, intriguing, even beautiful and yet there was a nagging underlying concern: why is it so?!! Google can tell me how fog forms but that doesn’t account for why it’s here… an act if God or Mankind?

I don’t know but for now, I had more pressing concerns.

“A writer, photographer, dreamer, wife, mother, daughter, friend seizing each and every beautiful stunning moment and lighting its spark. That’s who I am.”

Rowena Newton.

Although I consider myself a writer first and photographer second, given these freakish weather conditions, I didn’t even stop to think. As I shuffled the kids into “Mum’s Taxi”, I threw my camera bag in the boot and all plans were off. I was off to the beach. Once I’m looking through the lens, that’s it.The rest of the world is gone.
Not that I had great expectations. With that much fog, the beach could well be a complete white-out. Yet, on the other hand, that mix of intense early morning sunlight and the thick milky haze could well be spectacular, creating something exceptionally good. I just didn’t know.Photography is like casting a line out into the ocean, you just don’t  know what you’re going to catch. You can read the landscape and weather conditions to improve your chances but ultimately there’s a strong element of luck…being in the right place at the right time.
That is, as well as playing the numbers game.
Mind you, you can ,take your 10,000 photos but if you don’t train your eye and learn how to maximise your equipment, you might catch the big one once but it won’t be a repeat performance.
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I pulled up at the beach and saw a thick blanket of fog through the sand dunes. Nothing that special.
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A Morning Walk.

Then, as I walked along the beach, I turned back around looking East. The sun was rising, still low on the horizon, blazing through the fog with a burning glow. There was no colour. The canvas had been painted silver grey etched with darkened silhouettes. It was eerily Post-Apocalyptic and I half expected a cloaked pirate to emerge from the haze…Captain Jack Sparrow, perhaps.
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While Mummy is Sleeping…

Instead, there were just the usual early morning walkers and a father hanging out with his toddler son. Couldn’t help thinking Mum was at home trying to sleep or perhaps at home with the new baby. Or, perhaps she’s at work while Dad’s staying at home. Who knows? You can’t assume but remembering that staggering sleep deprivation, I’d be asleep!

“It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wow! This was good…very, very good. The interplay between the sunlight and the fog and those darkened silhouettes was pure magic and all my senses suddenly sprang to life. I could feel that intense tug on the line as the rod bent over towards the sea, knowing beyond all doubt that I’d caught a whopper of a fish and needed to use every bit of nouse to bring it in.
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Seagulls Reaching for the Sun.

I am not a technical photographer and rely more on my eye, perspective and the magic of being in the right place at the right time and seizing the moment. At this point, I was focusing on the silhouettes…nothing special in normal light but seeing the familiar through the fog made it freakishly unusual. As I said, Post-Apocalyptic.
The sea gulls also added an intriguing element. They’re so common and yet through this fog and the muted light, they appeared somehow profound.
From not knowing how this expedition was going to turn out, I was absolutely stoked with the results.
These photos were such an unexpected gift. When I woke up that morning, I’d had no plans of going to the beach or taking photos. However, through capitalizing on the unexpected, I produced some of the best photos I’ve ever taken…the most atmospheric.

“Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”

John Lennon

This would not have been possible if I didn’t have the space to create. To be able to down tools and just take off. Living beyond the clock, I can follow the twists and turns of fate, creating my own path as I go. Sometimes, I almost feel myself being pulled along, led somewhere beyond myself. Call it what you like… God, fate, serendipity but inspiration grabs me, sweeping me right off my feet and into the unexplored realms of imagination. No doubt, you have been there yourself and can’t quite explain how you arrived or quite how you left. Not everything comes with scientific proof.
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Beach Feet.

That was Thursday. It’s now Saturday and I still feel strangely intoxicated by the fusion of sun and fog, which completely dazzled my senses. It’s been like peering into something so beautiful or transcendental but then arriving back home with a thud. That nasty bang on the head…a reality check.
Welcome back to the “To-Do List”.
Perhaps, I should take a hint from Snagglepus and simply “exit stage left”. After all,
just like “taking the hair of the dog” is offered as a hangover cure, my solution could very well involve taking more photos!
Or, I could just write about it instead.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
Hope you’ve had a great week and are enjoying your weekend.
xx Rowena

Kayaking with Two Dogs

There’s a good reason why I’ve never seen anybody else kayaking with two dogs on board. It’s absolute madness.

Welcome to another sunny day in Sydney’s gorgeous Palm Beach. Just to fill you in a bit, it’s now autumn and the air is starting to chill. The ocean water temperature isn’t too bad and you can still wade through the water in comfort. That said, we’ve turned up the solar heating on the pool and are praying for summer’s artificial return.

After both kids had declined to join me, Geoff helped both of the dogs onboard and we were off: Lady in the front and heavy Bilbo in the middle facing me with his claws all but wedged into the kayak. If you haven’t followed Bilbo’s adventures before, let me just say that he’s NOT into adventure and his bucket list only includes walks on dry land where he doesn’t get his paws wet. Lady is considerably more adventurous and will swim and has also taken “liberties” as the hunt for local rabbits continues. In case you’re thinking rabbit hunting is a local “sport” Lady was originally from a farm and chanced across a dead rabbit while we were staying at Palm Beach, which is much better known for it’s fish and chips and fasionistas. She still hasn’t forgotten and her desperate quest for more rabbits continues.

Even if you haven’t been kayaking, I’m sure you’d still appreciate that staying afloat requires a healthy respect for the laws of physics. The most obvious being staying in your seat while you’re out in the water. Keeping the weight evenly balanced would also be a good idea and you certainly don’t need to be Einstein to work out that leaning to one side with your tail in the water, is an invitation to capsize.

Welcome to kayaking with two dogs. Being a Border Collie, Bilbo is supposedly representing the world’s smartest breed. Although 50% Border Collie and 50% Cavalier King Charles Spaniel which comes in at something like number 42 on the list, Lady does seem a little. Humph…Let’s just say that for what she might lack in the brains trust, she certainly makes up for in looks and I’ve never met a dog before who wags their tail with such incredible enthusiasm. She is one very, very happy dog…even though she hasn’t found a second rabbit.

Given this combination, I could at least hope for two dogs who might think before they do something stupid.However, as it turned out, we were challenged right from the start.

Freaking out due to the instability of the kayak and the prospect of heading out to “sea”, Bilbo all but sat on my lap down the back of the kayak while little Lady was down the front. I’m probably not even capable of adding up Bilbo’s and my combined weight and even if I could, I certainly wouldn’t be advertising it here. Let’s just suffice to say, that Bilbo must be close to twice Lady’s weight and to counterbalance my weight as “the human”, he should have been down the front. He wasn’t and if you’ve ever tried to shift a terrified dog whose absolutely petrified of getting his paws wet, you’ll know that he was going nowhere!!

Compounding trouble, Lady doesn’t like to sit at the best of times and being in the front seat beyond my grasp, she could pretty much do whatever she liked. This included standing instead of sitting and even when she was sitting, sitting right on the edge of the kayak with her tail dangling in the water. As you could imagine, this was just asking the kayak to capsize.

Consequently, with Lady hellbent on destabilizing the kayak and Bilbo being so anxious that any instability sent him all but jumping onto my lap, even I was feeling sea sick. With all this commotion, even I was staring longing at home base hoping Geoff wasn’t faraway. Obviously, I didn’t need a crystal ball to know capsizing was more than a just a possibility and I could well be in need of a net.

All those dramas aside, it was a real hoot kayaking with the dogs. There were waves and shouts of admiration from the neighbours and I was pretty chuffed. After all, how often do you see someone kayaking with a dog onboard, let alone two and I really love my dogs. No doubt, there were a few fans taking selfies with us as this incredible spectacle passed by.

That said, it was tricky just trying to move the paddle with Bilbo hovering right over the top of me. I was almost whacking him in the head. Almost whacking him in the head while Lady was either standing up, sitting on the edge and all but disco dancing in the kayak creating waves and definitely poking her pink little tongue out at physics.

Yes, it was definitely time to start meditating and being mindful…ha!

However, the dogs weren’t my only challenge. There was also the tide. We live in a tidal zone so while you can throw around phrases like: “the tide waits for no man”, we know exactly what that’s all about. You have to have enough water to get out and enough water to get back. Get the timing wrong and you’re beached…just like a whale.

Fortunately, we made it back with plenty of time to spare. However, the next day when I was only out with Lady (Bilbo rejected a repeat invitation), I pushed my luck a bit too far and we got beached about 100 metres away from home. After several failed attempts to budge us with the paddle, Lady was thrown overboard and Mister was recruited to save his Mum. Yes, it was time for him to implement all that Sea Scout training and earn his keep. Mister sat bow which pulled the stern up out of the sand and then I managed to paddle further out and with his help, make it back to the boat ramp. Phew!

Lady walking home.

Lady walking home.

It seems like the dogs aren’t the only the ones who need to take a few lessons in physics. It looks like I could well be the next in line.

By the way, you might enjoy another post about the dogs out on the kayaks: Mutiny on the Yellow Kayak https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/mutiny-on-the-kayak/

K is for kayaking on Day 11 of the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge. How are you going with the challenge? Found it much easier today without the research load. Thanks dogs!! It’s been fun revisiting our fantastic, inimitable adventure.

xx Rowena

Catching the Palm Beach Ferry – the Perfect Antedote for a Rough Week.

Last week might not have been the worst of times but it certainly wasn’t the best of times either.

No matter how medical tests pan out, they still put you through an emotional and organisational wringer. Moreover, I won’t even mention what we all could have accomplished if we hadn’t spent an eternity on hold… waiting. That just adds stress on top of stress because you can’t help thinking about what else you could be doing if you weren’t still waiting. After all, didn’t you know? Life’s a beach!

So far the test results are encouraging but we are waiting for the final results. Make that still waiting!!

Anyway, whenever you are going through a trial, you have to do the whole ying and yang thing and somehow balance up the good and the bad. You need to look after your mental health as much as your physical health…even when someone you love is seriously ill.

Ettalong Beach

Ettalong Beach

So after a rough week, we needed a great weekend. The kids were already been booked into scout and cub camps and were looking forward to extreme fun as well as pushing their physical limits.Geoff and I were off to Palm Beach together until fate intervened. Miss needed a taxi and so Geoff stayed home. I did reconsider Palm Beach but I really needed a break and we all know what the home front’s like. It’s a constant battle against an insatiable, demanding beast which is constantly sucking you dry. So as much as I hate to admit it, I took off on the Palm Beach Ferry looking forward to drifting off into a blissful state of suspended animation in Palm Beach and I wasn’t looking back.

Ettalong Wharf looking towards Booker Bay

Ettalong Wharf looking towards Booker Bay

Meanwhile, on the way to the ferry, Geoff’s short straw was cut even shorter when his mobile rang and he was off to work for a few hours. What have I mentioned about Mrs Murphy’s Law?

So there I was at Ettalong Wharf about to set off on my own private adventure, which, as it turned, it wasn’t going to be all rest and recuperation, after all.

What I love about traveling or going out solo is that you can meet an amazing cast of characters you’d never meet otherwise. When you’re with the family or group, while it’s fabulous to enjoy each others’ company and do things together, you also become insular. Immersed on your own private island. But Rowie was out of her chrysalis and my wings were just about dry. This repressed social butterfly was about to take off!!

Boarding the ferry.

Boarding the ferry.

Before even boarding the ferry, I met a wonderful group of 20 somethings who made me their  Paddington Bear.  I didn’t even need to lure them with marmalade. You see, with my broken foot back in the boot again and staggering along with my walking stick and my bag, I didn’t even need a sign saying: “Please take care of this bear”. It was pretty obvious I could use a hand. My new-found friends chivalrously carried my suitcase onto the ferry and even invited me to sit with them in the crew section, among the privileged few, which I might add, did not include the buck’s party wandering around the ferry wearing green aprons. Suddenly, I was part of a mobile party and it was such FUN!!!! Surrounded by a kaleidoscope of outfits, fake and real tans and short skirts. Actually, make that short short or some instances, even short short short. It was time to  Party!!!!

Traveling in style with my absolutely fabulous ferry friend, Emma. Happy Birthday!

Traveling in style with my absolutely fabulous ferry friend, Emma. Happy Birthday!

Fun and compassion…such a wonderful mix.When you’re having a bit of a rough trot, you don’t want all doom, gloom or even too much sympathy. There’s no better therapy than a laugh and experiencing an unexpected, spontaneous act of human kindness and the hand of friendship, especially from strangers from the distant galaxy of youth. It was just what the doctor ordered!

After all, don’t you sometimes get sick of being a grown up and I didn’t realise the Palm Beach Ferry could also be a time-machine.

Heaven!

Heaven!

But my new found friends, weren’t just about partying, looking good and having fun. They were such caring, compassionate and thoughtful people who really touched my heart. They had time for me. Included me.They even carried my bag to the bus stop, which also involved a lot of trust on my part as well. That’s gives an insight into the bond we’d forged on a very short ferry ride. I know this meeting wasn’t a random thing. That it was destiny. Meant to be. Serendipity.

At this point, we parted ways as I waited for the bus but the party continued. Another gaggle of twenty somethings were spilling over the footpath and onto the road. Putting my “mum hat” back on again, I felt like shepherding them off the road and back onto the footpath, although I said nothing. I don’t think you needed any testing apparatus to know they’d had more than a few drinks and I could sense the Palm Beach locals would be eying off this unruly mob thinking “@#$% Coasties!!” However, at least these characters knew how to have a good time and as long as they stayed off the road, they weren’t hurting anyone.They were all heading off to Newport Arms, which is abut a 15 minute bus ride from Palm Beach. The Newport Arms is one of Sydney’s most popular hotels or pubs and is quite legendary.

A disapproving Mrs Mangel from the hit drama series, Neighbours.

A disapproving Mrs Mangel from the hit drama series, Neighbours.

The bus pulled up and I sat opposite an elderly lady who was already sporting a few frowns and other disparaging expressions. If you ever used to watch Neighbours going way back to the beginning, there was Mrs Mangel and this woman was a white-haired impersonation a she sat in her seat so stiff and almost frozen,  The party revelers, including the bucks party, also clamber on board. By now, they were under the weather, rowdy and rambunctious. No sooner than the bus starts moving and the bucks start belting out iconic Cold Chisel songs, providing live, on bus entertainment. I loved it. Soaked up every minute of it. Great memories.

Cold Chisel: Cheap Wine & A Three Day Growth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFKxbr4_-Vc

Jimmy Barnes: Working Class Man: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQl8_u-JKew

However, to say “Mrs Mangel” was looking “Uncomfortable” would be such an understatement. Evidently, she found the echoing sounds of fun and jovial happiness. as torturous as fingernails scratching down a chalk board. I could sense the pain in every cell in her body. It was etched across her face and she’s so incredibly uncomfortable. She yearned to get out of here. Get those louts off the bus so she could return to civilisation. She was really suffering in serious pain and looking across to me for some kind of understanding or even salvation. I haven’t made it to the hairdresser for awhile so the grey is showing but being more mature doesn’t make me a wowser. That said, I shouldn’t judge. I often struggle with loud noises myself but juxtaposed against everyone else on the bus, who were squeezing the fun out of life, it really looked like she’d swallowed a bag of sour lemons.

This reminded me of something an elderly friend once told me. She said that her husband had “decided to get old”. At the time, that struck me as odd. After all, he was in his late 80s and a returned serviceman, At that grand age, he was old. However, I am coming to realise that there is a difference between getting old and feeling old. Feeling old is a choice.My grandmother said much the same thing. That she’d look in the mirror and she didn’t know the old woman staring back at her. Quite remarkable really. At least, I used to think so until I started looking in the mirror and started seeing glimpses of photos I’d seen of my great grandmother looking back at me when I still feel 25 on the inside and I suspect I will feel forever young: www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQi8wEHMm5Y

I was barely on the bus and I was off, leaving the party behind as I headed for a weekend of silence, solitude and serenity alone at Palm Beach. Almost immediately, despite the animated screams from the kids playing in the pool next door (this time it was my turn to feel somewhat tortured), I fell into a deep, comatose sleep and began to dream.

Sunset, Pittwater, Palm Beach.

Sunset, Pittwater, Palm Beach.

When I finally woke up and the sun had all but set, I realised that the screaming had finally stopped. I’m not talking about the kids screaming in the pool but the screaming in my heart and in my head. I had only been vaguely conscious of the scream before but now that it had stopped, I could hear it so clearly and feel its pain. Yes, I’ve been screaming, silently, unconsciously screaming for some time but it was only now that it had stopped that I could ironically hear myself. The touch of human kindness on the ferry had released me. Set me free. Probably not forever, it was only intermission but it brought relief.

Now, I could feel myself slowly starting to stretch back into my full height, gaining strength and being able to stretch my wings enough to fly, instead of being curled up into a self-protective ball so I could just survive.

It was then I remembered a childhood song, which Google (my not so secret best friend) reminded me came from Romper Room: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aIRu8-5Nyek

Bend and stretch

reach for the sky

There goes Jupiter,

There goes Mars

Stand on tippy toes

Oh so high!”

I would love to hear how the love and compassion of a stranger has touched you. Please share!

Love & Blessings,

Rowena