Tag Archives: Palm Beach

Moon Rising…Love and Loss.

Today, marked the end of an era.

Or, should I say, yesterday.

The clock has not long past midnight. No matter how much I try to pause time, it is now officially Wednesday. Tuesday is well and truly done and dusted. It’s been put to bed. Tucked in and even had its goodnight kiss…and a story!

So, what we’re really talking about is yesterday…Tuesday 5th May, 2015.

Yesterday, my parents sold their place at Palm Beach and our home away from home has gone.

Of course, we can still visit Palm Beach and it is only a 30 minute ferry trip away but it won’t be the same. I certainly felt I belonged there. That somehow I’d absorbed, even inhaled, that magnificent view across Pittwater, especially at sunset when the rose-orange lights swept across the water. That the outside had moved inside, becoming a part of myself.You know how it is when everything around you takes on a sort of spiritual significance and what you see, feel, hear, touch and small somehow get etched into your soul? It doesn’t happen every day.

Therefore, not unsurprisingly, I feel like I have left such a huge part of myself behind. That I am now some modern reincarnation of Keat’s La Belle Dame Sans Merci whose been relocated to the beach, where I’m left roaming along the mudflats with the soldier crabs.

After all, it’s hard when you’ve put down roots. When you pull them out of the ground to move on, you can’t but leave bits of you behind, which you can never get back. They’re tied to the soil, buried and have become a part of that place.

Once upon a time, I would have been totally and utterly devastated. Sunk into a full-blown catastrophe and threatened to lock myself in my room for eternity. Indulging and indeed fuelling my angst, by playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and reading Keats. He was quite a jolly fellow after all, wasn’t he?!!

Although I’ve matured a little, I have been locked in a fierce debate with myself. I know that I should be grateful for the time we had there. Two years in Palm Beach, albeit part-time, is an absolute dream come true but it’s awakened something in my soul, which doesn’t want to be extinguished. It’s fighting like mad to survive and yet I just don’t understand what it is. Emotions never talk in neon signs and the views of the heart are often cryptic and difficult to interpret at best!!

I hoping I can still hold onto this and somehow take it forward.

However, this closure has reminded me of that age-old question: Is it better to have loved and lost that never to have loved at all? Is it better to stay safe or to have a taste of heaven and then have it suddenly snatch away?

It’s such a wrench…especially when you have lost someone you love more than life itself and for whatever reason, there is no return.

My approach has always been to move on. Find someone else. Take what you enjoyed about this place and enjoy it where you are. We actually live ten minutes walk to a glorious beach and we’ve brought the kayaks and Laser back home so we can still do our water sports. That said, I’ll really miss the friends I have made over there and what it meant for me to have an escape hatch. Moreover, we all know that the rebound often just compounds the hurt!

Geoff and Miss watching the moon rise.

Geoff and Miss watching the moon rise.

Tonight, it was a glorious full moon. We’d dropped Mister off for his Scout hike and stopped in at the lookout to turn around and chanced upon this…the moon rising over the Central Coast, just North of Sydney. I’d never thought of the rising moon as being symbolic of hope and new birth before but that was it’s message tonight. It reassured me that everything is going to be okay. It’s not the end of the world. You’re not going to die.

Indeed, being a bit philosophical about this difficult change, I am aware that by spending so much time in one place, we’ve actually narrowed our horizons quite significantly. Instead of looking out and seeing the world, we’ve been swimming round and round inside a very small pond. Although we still haven’t explored every nook and cranny, the rest of the world awaits. Indeed, there is even so much to explore right at home, which has been simply overlooked. There are also so many other places and I’ve never seen myself as a John Howard-like character. Our former Prime Minister has been spending his annual holidays at Hawk’s Nest ever since the Big Bang. As much as I love the comfort of the familiar and being a quasi local, I’ve always seen myself as more of an explorer.

And so I have quite mixed feelings as one chapter closes and another begins. It’s time to carpe diem seize the day, instead of being afraid.

Bring it on…but please give me a little head start. I’d like to be prepared!
How have you dealt with difficult transitions in your life? Please share
.

xx Rowena

Palm Beach Perspectives, Sydney, Australia.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

-Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor (161-180 CE)

Known as Summer Bay to lovers of the TV Drama series Home & Away and “Palmy” to those in the know, generation after generation have made the long drive up to Palm Beach often returning with sand-encrusted butts, sunburn and shocking tempers in a stinking hot car full of flies. Of course, that’s turning the clock back to the inimitable 70s when going to Palm Beach for us, meant piling into the family’s beloved HG Holden which had painfully hot upholstery and no air-conditioning. Ouch!

Palm Beach is located 41 kilometres North of Sydney’s CBD. However, I can assure you that if you’re catching the legendary L90 bus, welcome to eternity. Indeed, the journey takes around 2 hours. If you were traveling in Europe, you could well have traversed a few countries in that time. Moreover, bus is the only form of public transport. At least historically speaking, trains have been resisted.

On the other hand, if you are coming from the Central Coast, Palm Beach is only a stone’s throw away. You can catch the Palm Beach Ferry from either Ettalong or Wagstaff, which is an absolutely stunning 30 minute trip. When that gorgeous Australian sun is illuminating the ocean like a magical diamond carpet and the wind isn’t too strong, you’re in absolute paradise. On the other hand, when there’s heavy rain, strong winds, the ferry is heaving up and down through what feels like treacherous surf and you’re about to throw up; you feel like you deserve a bravery award once you reach the other side. Yes, at times like that, you even wonder if you’re about to become a modern version of the Swiss Family Robinson or remake Gilligan’s Island. Melodrama aside, the crew are very adept and the ferry is cancelled during particularly rough weather.

Palm Beach is an absolute kaleidoscope of perspectives, like any place, once you scratch beneath the surface. Obviously, creating that sort of mosaic, isn’t possible here so I’ll stick to the bigger picture, providing more of a broad-sweeping overview which a few “local” insights.

Geographically-speaking, Palm Beach has two quite opposite perspectives: the surf beach and Pittwater. The beach equals waves and swimming while Pittwater is “flat” and better suited for sailing, kayaking and other water sports.

Palm Beach- surf side

Palm Beach- surf side

Starting off with the surf beach, the first thing you’ll probably notice is that the sand is deep gold in colour. The next thing, is the surf. At the Southern end, the waves are relatively gentle and you have “kiddies’ corner”  where families with young kids hang out. There’s also an ocean pool where you can swim laps. The beach then stretches around towards the Northern end with it’s famous surfing breaks and culminates with the Palm Beach Lighthouse, which lies perched on top of the headland like a crown. If you are fit and energetic, you can walk up to the Lighthouse. I haven’t been up there for years and I’ve heard the path has improved but it used to be more of a climb than a walk.

The majority of swimmers are clustered “in between the flags”. The red and yellow flags mark where it’s safest to swim and is patrolled by the Surf Lifesavers. So, if you find yourself getting into difficulty, you can easily be spotted and rescued. I can assure you that as a teenager, my friends and I did consider needing a bit of CPR but never actually implemented these plans. We were all “talk”. That is, except when it came to talking to the lifesavers. These Adonises were in a league all of their own.

In a scene reminiscent of hundreds and thousands sprinkled on top of bread and butter (fairy bread),the crowds pour into Palmy from Christmas through to the Australia Day weekend at the end of January, which signals the return to school and the end of the precious Summer holidays. Then, the masses jostle for a precious rectangle of sand to park their towel on the hot,hot sand under the scorchingly hot Australian sun.

Although people living overseas have asked me about the hole in the ozone over Australia, it doesn’t look like all the sunbakers roasting themselves into early-onset melanoma have heard anything about it. When we were young, we used to to cover ourselves in baby oil or get sprayed on the beach by coconut oil, which was the height of sophistication back in the 70s and 80s. There was no such thing as a “fake tan” back then. Just sunburn, peeling skin, freckles and the odd genetic mutant who could actually pull off a tan.

Many years ago now, I used to hang out on the beach where designer sunnies were de rigeur and it certainly wasn’t the sort of place you’d turn up with hairy legs and arm pits which could fuel a forest fire. You didn’t just practice “the strut” at Palmy either. You had to have that down pat beforehand so Palm Beach could be your catwalk. Even better, if you also had the fingernails to eliminate your competition!

Geoff arriving home from a sail.

Geoff arriving home from a sail.

While the beachfront is renowned for flashing incredible wealth in a subtle, understated way and very much being “a scene”, the Pittwater side of Palm Beach is like it’s alter ego and incredibly down to earth  Understandably, there generally isn’t that fashion element you get over at the surf beach. Getting covered in sand and mud, we save our good clothes for back home or dining out and only wear our glad rags out there. It’s water shoes, wet suits, swimmers, grungy t-shirts and thick smears of sunscreen and broad-brimmed hats.

Although my tour of Palm Beach is rapidly drawing to a close, there are still two places I’d like you to visit.

Here I am enjoying a deep-fried prawn from the Fisherman's Basket.

Here I am enjoying a deep-fried prawn from the Fisherman’s Basket.

Firstly, there’s the infamous Palm Beach fish and chips shop, which has gone by various names over the years. It’s located on the Pittwater side, just across from the ferry wharf. People come from all around Sydney and the Central Coast to feast on these fish and chips, which surely must be among Sydney’s best?!! You can either eat-in or take them across the road and eat them in the park while checking out the sailing.

Secondly, there’s Alf’s Bait Shop in “Summer Bay”. Personally, there’s such an incredible cringe factor and like Neighbours, Home & Away is best exported but the show has been a fabulous ambassador and no doubt sold Australia to thousands of tourists. Palm Beach really does look incredible. That said, they usually present a glamorized, postcard perspective. After all, it does rain in Palm Beach and it isn’t always sun and blue skies!

However, while so far I’ve given you what pretty much reads as the glamour tour of Palm Beach, I can’t help feeling that Palm Beach is a little over-rated, especially given the cost of real estate. Even though it is part of Sydney, Palm Beach is actually very isolated and lacks most of what I would class “essential services”. There are no proper supermarkets and you have a ten minute drive into Avalon, which can extend to 20 in traffic. It is impossible to find a parking spot, which has meant that we’ve gone down for fish and chips and have driven off. I don’t want to knock down paradise and put up a parking lot. However, you do need to eat and get out of the house. That is also made difficult by the very narrow, twisting roads which lack adequate footpaths/ Indeed, in spots being a pedestrian is almost asking to get run over. As I was walking back from the bus stop the other day, I really felt like I needed to breathe in to distance myself from passing traffic.

Consequently, you can feel a little trapped and claustrophobic on the “insular peninsula”…especially when we have stunning beaches back home which are close to the shops, train and bus at such a fraction of the cost of real estate here.

Actually, thinking about Palm Beach’s location, it’s almost like someone was playing pin-the-tail on the donkey and stuck the pin almost off the side of the map. Even though it’s located in Sydney and not in the outback, it does feel strangely isolated both from services and people. So many of the houses are empty.

I am a bit down on Palm Beach at the moment because my Dad has sold the house here and we’re moving on, which is a serious wrench.

So rather than writing home about all the things I love about the place, I am also trying to remind myself of all the other equally beautiful places elsewhere and think about the flip side of the travel experience. For the last few years, we’ve immersed ourselves here but perhaps now it’s time to explore further afield and explore with a broader brush. When it comes to the Pittwater side of Palm Beach,it feels like we’ve explored each and every single hair on its head…especially when I’ve photographed it in such incredibly, minute detail and it feels like I know each single hair on its head, even though we’re still finding new critters.

So, soon I will be seeing our time in Palm Beach from another perspective…the past. I don’t need to leave it behind completely. After all, it’s only a short 30 minute ferry ride away but we planted roots here even if they’re uprooted and not severed completely, it still hurts and I feel a bit lost and disorientated. That said, once school goes back next week and we’re back to the grind at home, it will be a different story.

We’ll be home.

This has been P for Palm Beach Perspectives for the Blogging from A-Z April Challenge. How are you going with the challenge? Thank goodness, it is Sunday tomorrow and we have a break!

xx Rowena

Autumn Leaf, Pittwater, Palm Beach, Sydney.

You don’t expect to see autumn leaves on a sunny Sydney beach.

Then again, you don’t expect autumn either…just perennial blue skies!

However, while out walking the dogs today, I found a smattering of autumn leaves along the sand, looking rather out of place…at least to me! Yet, they were so beautiful.

I wonder where their journey will take them as they’re pick up by the ocean currents and taken to other worlds!

Even though I’ve already posted Life Lessons as my L for the A-Z Challenge, I though I might just sneak in L for leaf.

xx Rowena

PS: This post received a shout out over in Spain…how exciting! Check it out here: http://howtofeellikecatalan.com/autumn-is-here/

Feeding Life Lessons to My Kids.

This being the second week of the school holidays, I’d personally like to turn all the life lessons I have ever read into some kind of breakfast cereal and shovel it into my kids quick smart whether they’re hungry or not. This is what parents did back in the Victorian era and it seems like a much better idea than being glued to electronics, especially when the outdoors is so incredibly beautiful, serene and finally sunny!!

Moses wasn't too happy with his peoples either.

Moses wasn’t too happy with his peoples either.

I know ramming the Ten Commandments down their throats might seem a bit “old school”, “traditional” and potentially a form of social control. However, perhaps deferring to a higher authority is what I need. After all, as soon as their father arrives home, the little mischief makers do exactly what they’ve been told and fall into line. Don’t you think calling on God’s almighty divine intervention snap them to attention even faster than: “Do you want me to go and call your father?”

While I absolutely adore: The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran whose poetic language just flows like heavenly music, The Ten Commandments cut straight to the chase and pretty much cover all the bases. I also like the sense of hell fire and brimstone, which is infused in the “thou shalts” of the King James version as well.

Perhaps, I should start using a few “thou shalts” of my own around the house:

  1. Thou shalt listen to your mother.
  2. Thou shalt do your chores.
  3. Thou shalt wipe your own backside.
  4. Thou shalt not fight with each other or with your parents.
  5. Thou shalt not whinge, whine.
  6. Thou shalt accept: no means no!

You know I actually felt quite empowered by the “thou shalt”. I think I shalt add it to my arsenal.

Our kids do scouts and as everybody knows, the scouting motto is: “Be prepared” and a big part of it involves being able to pack for camp. This is, as it turns out, an incredible life lesson. Scout’s does a fabulous job preparing kids for this by providing a packing list for each and every camp, which even has a visual diagram. It is hammered into the Scouts that although they can have assistance, they must pack their bags themselves. Moreover, as I still have lingering chemo brain myself and have never been good at packing light anyway, I find the whole thing too stressful . Yes, I know. Even though it might be a very good life lesson for me as well, I’m avoiding these packing nightmares like the plague. I am now getting to the point of tough love too! You don’t pack it, you deal with it!!

As you might have gathered, I’m over it. Maxims like “flogging a dead horse” and “pushing shit uphill” definitely come to mind.

"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything's going my way"-"Oklahoma".

“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way”-“Oklahoma”.

Anyway, while I’m waxing lyrically about life lessons for the kids, I need to consider a few for myself. It’s a sunny day in paradise and what with all the rain we’ve had, these are precious…particularly as we head towards Winter.

So without further ado, the kids and I are off to walk the dogs along the waterfront before the tide comes in. After all,

The tide waits for no (hu)man!

Edmund Burke

Stay tuned for part 2. How could I write just a few paragraphs on such an inspirational topic?

L is for Life Lessons in the A-Z Challenge. The letter L official marks our halfway point. Hurrah! Not that I’m wishing it was over but it is called a challenge for a reason. It’s challenging!

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

Found…Lost Dog.

You know how much I love our precious Lady, a 2 year old Border Collie x Cavalier King Charles Spaniel what with her effervescent wagging tail which speeds up as you approach and her warm, loving, affectionate nature…

However, without being a dibber-dobber, she has quite a capacity for mischief and her sin sheet is long and extensive. In Australia’s past, humans have been transported for lesser crimes or even hanged.

Anyway, Lady’s latest crime wasn’t so much that she got lost, although that she did. It was more a matter of how and where she got lost and what that little black dog was up to, which caused her to get picked up off a busy road before being unceremoniously squashed by the L90 bus, which travels a long and arduous route from Palm Beach to the city.

It was this skulduggery which had her picked up off the road and “transported” to the local vet’s. “Transported” was the word used when sending convicts to our shores and in the case of Lady, who really did deserve to have a mug shot taken, she truly was transported. She was being a very, very bad dog!!

You see, if you have been following Lady’s adventures, you might recall that she found a recently “deaded” rabbit on the road near a park on the Palm Beach foreshore a few months ago. She took off from me and shot off to the beach where she efficiently skinned it and had an instant meal. Lady came from a farm in rural Tenterfield and I had been warned that she liked to hunt. However, being a city girl, I’d never had a dog who could help themselves in such a fashion before. All my other dogs were just happy with their kibble and the occasional butcher’s bone and could only bark at any furry or feathered critters.

Lady must be quite partial to a bit of rabbit because every time we walked near the park she’s take off near the road and I was naturally terrified….especially her being a black dog on a black road. Black on black doesn’t make for good visibility!! Lady was back on the lead.

Being awhile since we’ve been over, I’d naively thought that Lady would have forgotten about the rabbit by now. She’s a lovely dog but she’s no Einstein and she certainly doesn’t seem to remember her name when you call her or other “commands”. You could say that she’s very “laissez-faire”.

Lady out walking in the clouds at Palm Beach, yesterday.

Lady out walking in the clouds at Palm Beach, yesterday.

Anyway, I was walking past the park which backs on the road and is just down from where she’d found the rabbit when I saw Bilbo walking out of the park but Lady wasn’t in sight. Suspecting she was off rabbit hunting again and her chances of surviving on the road were slim, I raced up in hot pursuit. Well, as fast as I could, which is, as you’d expect, is well below the speed limit!! The traffic up ahead had stopped and that did concern me. Had she been hit? What was going on? But I hadn’t heard anything and I would have heard a yelp, a screech. I scanned up and down beside the road for a ball of fur but saw nothing. Lady had simply vanished. I even asked Bilbo where she was but he wasn’t helpful at all and looked flummoxed, which was odd. We walked further down the beach but there were no paw prints and another dogwalker hadn’t seen her either.

By this stage, I was really starting to worry. I’ve lost her down here for a few minutes before but she’s soon reappeared usually running furiously to compensate for some deviation she’d found.

I scanned the beach, the water, the road and found no sign of her, which really wasn’t making any sense. How could the dog simply vanish almost right in front my nose? The dogs can sometimes walk a few metres ahead but they generally don’t wander and Bilbo certainly stays close. This unfolding nightmare was just like a scene out of CSI, where the parent turns away for just a second and then their child was gone. Kidnapped in one of those plain white vans.

I called and called and called her name and no little black dog appeared.

Where was she? What had happened to her or had she simply made her own way home?  I was starting to get frantic!! After all, I love my little black dog!

But she wasn’t at home either and when I told Miss I’d lost Lady on our walk, she wasn’t impressed. “You were supposed to look after her,” she said.

Lady had vanished without a trace from right in front of me and I really had no idea what to do. How could I lose the dog? Miss told me off and said I was supposed to do looking after Lady. She was right. I wasn’t happy when the two kids had ridden off on their bikes once and Mister arrived home saying he’d lost his sister. At the time, I couldn’t understand how he could lose his sister when they were riding together like that but now the same thing had happened to me and I’d lost the dog. Now, I could sort of understand that these mysteries were possible even if I didn’t know how.

I’d barely been in the house five minutes when my phone rang and it was the Avalon Vet. Lady was safe and hadn’t been injured. The prodigal dog had been found on the road, rescued and taken to the vets.

Perhaps, the driver could’ve checked if she was alone before they put her in the car and drove away. I was only metres away from her and as I said, I saw the bus and some kind of delay on the road. I also called Lady over and over and over again they could have heard me. That said, it’s a narrow, busy road where the traffic is awkward. Morevover, there probably wasn’t anywhere to stop.

As much as I value persistence, Lady discovered that persistence also has it’s drawbacks and we also need to know when it’s time to stop and apply the brakes.

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.

Calvin Coolidge

I’m bending the rules a little but this is a second ‘F’ post for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge. After the morning I’d had with the kids, I also wrote about Fractured Fairytales.

Do you have any lost dog stories to share? I’d love to hear them!

xx Rowena

PS: I just remembered that while we were at the vet’s Miss saw a sign advertising Puppy School and she said that’s where Lady needed to go. When we were talking about how F was my letter for today’s challenge, she said: “F for Fail”, referring to Lady failing Puppy School. It looks like Lady will be getting an education when we get home!!

Fractured Fairytales

“Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace.”

Eugene O’Neill

Quite often, indeed far too often, life deviates from the plan or what we thought we’d signed up for and quite frankly, we wouldn’t mind a refund. We didn’t realise and certainly weren’t consciously  thinking we’d signed up for a fairytale or some kind of fantasy but as evidence mounts up to the contrary, it feels like we’ve been sold a fake or indeed a dud. The Prince and Princess find themselves living in a tent. instead of a castle.Their horse and carriage turns out to be the local bus. Not quite what they’d had in mind!!

Culturally, we perpetuate many ongoing fairytales such as Cinderella who finds her Prince Charming but motherhood and parenting have also been portrayed as quite the fairytale where we all play happy families. Happy families who know nothing about divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, poverty, homelessness, chronic illness, death. After all, aren’t we all just meant to keep smiling?

So much for the fairytale. School holidays can be explosive!

So much for the fairytale. School holidays can be explosive!

Surprise! Surprise! The prospect of having that perfect family holiday or having the school holidays go without a hitch can be just as much a fairytale as finding Prince Charming. Screams of: “Can’t you lot play happily together?”, “If you can’t share, it’s going into time out”, “Go to your rooms” resonate throughout the the burbs along with regrets and reflections on where it all began and wondering how it ended up like this.

The Happy Family

The Happy Family

After the consumption of all that Easter chocolate, I guess I should have anticipated trouble but they’ve been really good over the last couple of days and caught me off guard. There are kids visiting next door and they’ve all been playing exceptionally well together building elaborate engineering structures in the mud and gravel at low tide. They had a fabulous time but the kids went out today and ours were bored yet not wanting to go out or do anything either, which is when things really start to go wrong. That said, Miss did venture into the freezing swimming pool in her wet suit and actually managed to stand up on her surfboard , which was a very exciting achievement and I would have been totally over the moon if the morning hadn’t worn me out.

However,  it’s not just the kids who can ruin a family holiday. In case you’ve forgotten the Griswalds in European Vacation, parents can be just as guilty:

[In England]
“Ellen Griswold: Clark, you’re on the wrong side of the road.
Clark Griswold: Yes I know, honey, I’m also on the wrong side of the car.”

So here I am in Palm Beach which is pretty close to paradise but feeling frazzled. You could say it’s time for a Bex and a good lie down. However, experience tells me that lying down could be catostrophic. With the kids at large, something tells me I wouldn’t be singing: “je ne regrette rien” www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q3Kvu6Kgp88. I’d be lucky if the house is still standing!

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

Freddie the Front Door Frog.

On that note, I’ll just add that prior to my frustrations this morning, I was intending to write about Freddie the Front Door Frog who is an Australian Green Tree Frog. Freddie lived on the window ledge underneath my in-laws kitchen window, near Byron Bay for something like a decade. A firm believer of “if you’re on a good thing stick to it”, the kitchen light attracted a smorgasbord of insects providing Freddie with a very steady diet. He was one plump and very happy frog who, unlike so many of his kind, was actually benefiting from interaction with people.  he’d developed what you’d call a mutually beneficial relationship. While not as well known as his furry compatriots, Freddie is an absolutely gorgeous Australian.

Actually, it’s a shame Freddie is so far away. If a kiss can turn a frog into a prince, perhaps it could also bring the fairytale back to life as well.

As I head off to bed after further dramas thanks to the dog, I remind myself that “tomorrow is another day” and who knows? Perhaps, it might just be a fairytale after all!

“Every man’s life is a fairy tale written by God’s fingers”.

-Hans Christian Andersen

This post is part of the Blogging from A-Z Challenge which is taking place during April.

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena

Easter is Growing Up!

This year, there was no Easter Hat parade with all the school children singing: “Here Comes Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail…” www.youtube.com/watch?v=0G6F0pyaT7c Both kids are in primary now and considered too mature for such childish things.

Yum! All that yummy Easter chocolate!

Yum! All that yummy Easter chocolate!

To add salt to the wound,  crime to end all crimes, the kids shot the Easter Bunny, Santa and the Tooth Fairy with one very effective bullet not so long ago. For years I’ve been telling them they had to “believe to receive” but seemingly weren’t listening. They weren’t happy when I didn’t leave any Easter eggs out.However, they hadn’t left any baskets out either.

A very Happy Chappy!

A very Happy Chappy!

Somehow, I don't think eating a Lindt carrot quite qualifies for the Paleo Diet!!

Somehow, I don’t think eating a Lindt carrot quite qualifies for the Paleo Diet!!

Further breaking with tradition, we’re on holidays and so we didn’t make it to Church and even though we did try to find a service, we still missed out.

It’s also hard to think about the symbolism rebirth of the resurrection which is more in tune with a Northern Spring than Autumn in Australia where the leaves are changing colour and starting to die  as we head towards Winter.

In other words, our Easter was all topsy turvey and upside down. No regrets because we had a fabulous day. It just wasn’t how we usually spend Easter.

Yet, as John Lennon said:

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

However, while the kids were too grown up to believe in the Easter Bunny anymore, they were still keen for an Easter Egg Hunt and we invited the kids from next door over to join in the fun. We had a second hunt today and the rain hit just as the search began. Oh yes! Our scruffy Lady puppy dog snatched one of the eggs and tried making a speedy getaway as Geoff chased the dogs out of the hunting grounds. We don’t feed our dogs chocolate but we’ve only had Lady for about 6 months and she knows all about chocolate. She loves it and appears at the light whenever chocolate appears much to her disappointment. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate can kill dogs.

"Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything's going my way"-"Oklahoma".

“Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day. I have a wonderful feeling, Everything’s going my way”-“Oklahoma” Frank Sinatra: www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNm76stOJis

We were also thrilled that after two days of solid rain and predictions of more to come, that the clouds lifted and we woke up to bright, glorious sunshine and we were out the door to make the most of what had been “the view”. The dogs were particularly thrilled and as soon as the gate was open they sped down to the beach. However, it was high tide meaning they couldn’t get very far on foot and so we bungled them into the kayak with me and they certainly got more than they bargained. Bilbo’s lucky his claws didn’t get stuck in the plastic. He was very uncomfortable and not the courageous adventurer at all!! You’ll read more about that as the A-K Blogging Challenge continues under K: Kayaking with Dogs.

Kayaking with two dogs onboard certainly is an acquired skill, especially with Bilbo who hates getting his paws wet and prefers terra firma.

Kayaking with two dogs onboard certainly is an acquired skill, especially with Bilbo who hates getting his paws wet and prefers terra firma.

My parents came round for an Easter meal. While setting the table, I discovered the glass table top reflected the clouds and immediately grabbed the camera:

Sunseting over Pittwater with the cloudy sky reflected on the dining table.

Sunsetting over Pittwater with the cloudy sky reflected on the dining table.

Despite wanting to keep this post simple, I couldn’t resist looking up Easter traditions around the world:

Sydney, Australia: The Royal Easter Show: http://www.eastershow.com.au/

France: If you fancy some spring cleaning, head to Alsace in France: http://www.frenchmoments.eu/easter-in-alsace/

Italy: we have Pan di Ramarino: http://sociopalate.com/2015/04/02/golossary-pan-di-ramarino/ and Agnello Pasquale, A marzipan lamb, is a typical Sicilian Easter dessert.http://sociopalate.com/2015/03/30/golossary-agnello-pasquale/

Ireland: http://www.irishcentral.com/roots/how-the-traditional-irish-easter-was-celebrated-120536204-237383821.html#

Germany: A beautiful German Easter tradition is the Osterstrauch. This is a branch or small tree decorated with hollowed-out eggs: http://www.quick-german-recipes.com/easter-in-germany.html

Argentina: the world’s biggest hand-made chocolate Easter Egg:http://globalnews.ca/news/1922341/giant-easter-egg-cracked-open-in-argentina/

Latvia:When I was in infant’s school one of the Mums who came from Latvia taught us how to make coloured eggs boiling up brown onion skins to make the dye. As young child, I was amazed! Check this out: http://www.latvianstuff.com/Lieldienas.html

The Phillipines: https://mangosalute.com/magazine/what-do-filipinos-do-during-easter

Weird Easter Traditions Around the World: http://www.mirror.co.uk/usvsth3m/flying-bell-weird-easter-traditions-5451736

Preparations for the Easter Hunt.

Preparations for the Easter Hunt.

How did you spend your Easter? I hope you had a wonderful day!

Anyway, we would like to wish you all a Happy & Blessed Easter reflecting on Christ’s resurrection while also enjoying all the fun stuff as well…Easter eggs, Easter Egg hunts and making all sorts of Easter arts and crafts.

Love and Easter Blessings,

Rowena

PS Here are some interesting Easter curiosities from around the world:

Dogs of the World Unite!

Back by popular demand, it’s Bilbo and Lady, AKA “The Dogs”.

Every dog has its day and letter “D” on the Blogging A-Z Challenge is ours. Welcome to our universe. Of course, once we heard about the A-Z Blogging Challenge, we weren’t about to be overlooked, neglected or omitted…especially when we’ve been banished outside at the grandparents’ place at Palm Beach over the Easter break.

Hardly a postcard perspective: a wet Easter in Sydney as Autumn sets in.

Hardly a postcard perspective: a wet Easter in Sydney as Autumn sets in.

Just to fill you in, it’s raining. Indeed, it’s been bucketing down and there are also fierce winds which would make the French Mistral look restrained. Although we’re out of the rain on our bed with a blanket, this is no compensation for being inside with the family, even though we’ve been told to make the most of the view. It might be worth millions but so is being with the ones you love instead of being shut out.

You might recall that Bilbo wrote extensively about the Golden Rule and how important it is to treat others as you would like to be treated. So I ask you, how would you like to left outside in the rain instead of being snuggled up with your family by the heater? It’s not much fun, is it?

Moreover, we’re sure you can appreciate that for inside dogs like us, there’s no greater insult  than being shut outside. Far from just being locked out of the house, we’re shut away from our family, love, warmth, pats and above all else, a sense of belonging and being an integral part of the pack. This all means death to a dog.

Lady being quite the "dog hog" taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before I intervened. I'm sure many blokes who've lost the doona mid-winter would say: "typical woman". I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the "Tramp".

Lady being quite the “dog hog” taking up both the huge woolen blanket and dog bed, leaving Bilbo shivering on the door mat before Mum intervened. I’m sure many blokes who’ve lost the doona mid-winter would say: “typical woman”. I do think Lady also tries to live up to her name and sometimes even Bilbo is treated like the “Tramp”.

What have we done wrong? What is our crime? Being a dog? Just because we were born dogs instead of human, does that mean that we are somehow inferior? Or, were all living things created equal?

Grandparents certainly don’t seem to think so! Not only to they put the kids on some kind of ridiculous pedestal which bears no reflection on their actual behaviour but they also elevate other despicable creatures to lofty, undeserved heights.

I don’t know whether you’ve had much to do with grandparents but they’re funny creatures. They talk about healthy eating but then fill the kids full of lollies and sent them home twitching full of sugar and all sorts of toxic chemicals. They cry poor and then spend buckets on the kids. Grandma has been bringing Bilbo ham scraps all his life and might tolerate a bit of interaction but there’s a real “us and them” approach and why they dote so much on those naughty grandchildren when we’re so well behaved, I’ll never know. In a way, it’s easy just to write them off and say they’re just not dog people. However, once we found out that they batted for the other side, we decided to fight back and stand up for Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Text displayed on a placard announcing the sale of biens nationaux (1793).

Text displayed on a placard announcing the sale of biens nationaux (1793).

You see, it’s not just that they’re not dog people. They’re actually cat people. We are part of the family yet we’re banished outside peering longingly through the glass, while they all sit around the table and chat. Moreover, as soon as that wretched cat from the across the road even alights on the driveway,they bend over backwards contorting themselves to lure in that wretched fleabag.

That freeloading cat on its way to Grandma's house. Where's the big bad wolf when you need him?!!

That freeloading cat on its way to Grandma’s house. Where’s the big bad wolf when you need him?!!

Cat being cat, it’s so aloof and standoffish and completely lacking in canine warmth and affection. “Puss! Puss! Puss!” They all coax and then there’s  inevitably the ultimate of betrayals when the kids even join in: “Mama! Mama! The cat’s here!! I need some food for the cat” There’s absolutely no support for us. No calls of: “Mama! Papa! Please let the dogs stay inside!!” Grandparents always cave in to the grandchildren. Everyone knows that the little people cast some kind of spell over their grandparents and they can do not wrong. In the process., they somehow wrap their grandparents around their little fingers and manipulate them like puppets and they can’t say no. We know that if those kids pestered long and hard enough, we’d not only be allowed inside but we’d even be sleeping on the lounge!

However, we’ve had no such luck. The kids just keep playing with the cat.

Should read: "No Humans" and definitely "No Cats"!!

Should read: “No Humans” and definitely “No Cats”!!

Sadly, this kind of inequality isn’t just confined to the grandparents. We live in an unjust world. We might not be able to read but we’re not stupid. Dogs aren’t allowed on most beaches. We’re not allowed to catch the bus or the train either. As much as the humans might say it’s a dog’s life, we’re the ones stuck on the leash.

What makes humans think they’re so good? Haven’t they been hell bent on destroying our beautiful planet? They’re certainly NOT the custodians they were always intended to be. We dogs might leave a few smelly piles around for silly humans who can’t even breathe without texting to step in. Otherwise, we walk very lightly on the planet. Unless the humans dress us up like Christmas trees, we’re content to wear the coat God gave and we don’t need superfluous clothes, shoes or all sorts of bling. We’re quite happy with a simple abode although I must admit we’re rather partial to a drive in the car. I guess our carbon footprint isn’t quite so neutral after all.

Yet, we still come out way ahead of the humans!!

All these observations suggest to us that is instead of neutering dogs and keeping us on the leash, that perhaps the rest of the animal kingdom should unite and reverse the order of things. Put the humans on a leash before they blow up the planet and leave the rest of us homeless or even obliterated.

Lady chatting with Max online.

Lady conferring with Max online.

Of course, we can be benevolent to some humans just like they’re partial to some dogs but the hour has come. We have decided to harness the power of the world wide web and we’ve been conferring with comrades all around the world. So much for romance, Lady and Max the Dog were plotting revolution and nothing less. Yes, those gorgeous puppy dog eyes can be very deceiving!!

We get by with a bit of help from our friends and here are some of our canine comrades:

Max the Dog: https://withinthekstreets.wordpress.com/

Monika and Sam the therapy dog: Tails Around the Ranch: https://tailsaroundtheranch.wordpress.com/

Rachel Mankowitz: https://rachelmankowitz.wordpress.com/

Geoff Lepard touring Dulwich Street Art with his dog: http://geofflepard.com/2014/09/15/dulwich-street-art-part-one/

Clowie’s Corner: http://clowiescorner.en.1.3142.xyz/category/clowies-tales/

Doc at Mother’s Little Steps: http://motherslittlesteps.com/

Diplomatic Dog: https://diplomaticdog.wordpress.com/

Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

Dogs of the world Unite!

xx Bilbo and Lady

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!!)