Tag Archives: summer

Party Ice – Thursday Doors.

Welcome to Another Thursday Doors!

This week, I’m applying the KISS Principle to my contribution…Keep It Simple, Stupid.

As you may be aware, I’m from Sydney, Australia and so we’re in the throws of a sweltering, sunny Summer here right now. We have just returned from a week away staying at Nureybar, located in lush green countryside about 15 minutes drive out of Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast. Indeed, I’ve sat up at night reading or writing intoxicated by a chorus of frogs, grasshoppers and even a Gecho, who is rumoured to be an Indonesian import.

This holiday has proven just how photographing doors can get under your skin and even become part of your raison d’etre. A late start to the day, meant many of the shops had shut by the time I’d finished my coffee and so I could appreciate and photograph the closed doors without needing to explain myself, which is a good thing I feel. I feel a bit awkward trying to explain doorscursions to the uninitiated, especially when most people coming to Byron Bay are smitten by the beach instead.

Anyway, as I said, I’m going to keep this post really simple and catch up on the full range of doors from my trip next week. In the meantime, given the Summer heat here, this freezer door had instant appeal. Indeed, I could’ve jumped in there.

Lastly, before I head off, I thought I’d ask you whether you’ve ever had an accidents or close calls while doing photography? Your tales of misadventure don’t need to be doorspecific. You see, while I was away, I was exploring my in-law’s garden and ventured off the path to photograph a beautiful bromeliad. However, as I stepped off the path, my foot was gripped by sudden pain as a stick jabbed me in the arch of my foot. We’d just been out for coffee and I was wearing sandals and the stick got me from the side. At first, I thought I’d cut an artery but nothing quite that dramatic but it did necessitate a trip to Ballina Hospital and four stitches, a tetanus shot and four hours later, we were on the way home. While the wound itself isn’t much, I’m hobbling around and it still hurts. I also need to work out how I’m going to wash my hair and shower for the next ten days. This is what happens when you believe in jumping in boots and all and don’t think about the safety considerations beforehand. Anyway, I’ve learned this lesson and will be wearing sensible shoes in future…or not!

How has your week been? I hope it’s been a good one.

This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share December 17, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share!

Today, I’m being a lousy hostess. So, if you’re thirsty or hungry,  you’ll need to head out to the kitchen and DIY. By the way, while you’re up, would you mind getting me a cup of decaf tea please? Pretty please!!!

I’ve locked myself in the lounge room with the air-conditioning on having a lazy Saturday. I need one.

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Sunbaking inside enjoying the air-conditioning.

How many sleeps is it now before Christmas? I have no idea. After all, it’s barely registering that it’s Saturday. I’ll blame the heat, but I’m totally incapable of performing such mental gymnastics: 25 – 17= 8. Eight sleeps…that’s better than I thought.Just a quick question: If I don’t go to sleep, does that mean Christmas will never come? I’m not sure.

I guess I should buy myself an Advent Calendar. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry about mental arithmetic. Mind you, it couldn’t be a chocolate one. In this heat, it would go into an instant meltdown. Let’s just say I’ve had enough meltdowns lately.

So,I could also visit Santa’s Countdown Clock.

Anyway, not being much of a number-cruncher, I countdown towards Christmas the same way I give directions… pick out landmarks and hope no one gets lost.

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School Carols.

For us, the landmarks to Christmas include: the end of year dance concert, the school carols night, the end of school and then there’s Church Christmas Eve. Somewhere along the way, there’s also checking out Christmas lights, making the Christmas Cake and wrapping presents. Sneaking in a few siestas isn’t a bad idea either!

Anyway, yesterday was the last day of school. Both my kids changed schools at the end of last year, yet I found myself back at their old school. A few of our friends had kids in the graduating class and I went to see them off.

hands-3

 

It’s a school tradition for the rest of the school and teachers to create a human tunnel for the graduating Year 6 kids to walk through. It’s a rather intense and emotional time for the entire school…smiles, tears and that sense of being in the departure lounge at the airport. I should also add that it gets quite challenging for the ginormous Year 6’s need to crawl through the tiny arches constructed by the kindergarten kids.

While most of these kids will end up together at the local high school, the transition from primary to high school is momentous…a huge leap along the pathway from childhood to growing up. Although they’re taller, their first day at high school feels a lot like their very first day at school all over again, except Mum isn’t allowed to cry this time. No tears allowed.

For better or worse, the end of the year is also a check list…especially Christmas.There’s barely been a tick in mine.  Actually, I haven’t even written the list yet, which could explain a bit. Significantly, I haven’t made my Christmas cake yet. This is a Christmas tradition deemed so important in the past, that when I had three days’ notice that I was having chemo 3 years ago, I HAD to make my Christmas cake. It seems that when I’m not under the pressure of dying, that making my Christmas cake hasn’t fallen onto the back burner. That’s along with writing and posting Christmas cards, wrapping presents and removing the excavation piles from where we squeezed in the Christmas Tree.

As you can see, we are buried deep in the depths of Christmas chaos and won’t be emerging any time soon.

Yet, at least we’ve managed to put up the Christmas Tree and decorate it. We have a real tree every year and this is the first year it’s been at ground level since we had the kids. Miss took over the decorating this year, introducing me to a new form of Christmas madness…CDOCD or Christmas Decoration Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My usual hodgepodge of decorations made and bought throughout my lifetime was banned. Let’s just say I watched the proceedings.

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In addition to all the Christmas hoopla and end of school stuff, we also found out that our daughter has been accepted into Dance Team at the dance school. This isn’t just an honour and recognition of her dance abilities. It’s also a huge commitment and responsibility. That begins with arriving on time and not only being able to find your dance shoes, but also putting them on your feet. This seemingly simple process is harder than you think.

Jon & Geoff sailing

Geoff and Mister sailing.

Our son has also graduated from his Level 3 sailing course and starts racing in January. I know he’s going into his second year of high school, but it  still seems so grown up. Well, considering he’s about to overtake Grandma, he’s not so little any more.

Maybe, I’m the one who needs to grow up but that’s not to say there’s still a long way to go.

Mind you, growth should be a life long journey and I certainly haven’t stopped growing yet (and I’m not just referring to my Christmas waistline either).

By the way, although I’m not ready for Christmas, I have been doing plenty of writing. I have been working away on my Paris memoir. In addition to typing up excerpts from my diaries at the time, I’ve been reworking poetry I wrote at the time, writing new poems and short stories and being very productive. There was:

Poem:Slide Night- Dumped In Paris.

Poem:Welcome to the Yellow House.

Paris Syndrome – Disillusioned By the City of Lights.

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Photo: c Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

I also took part in Friday Fictioneers again, writing All for Love. It’s the story of an Australian war bride living in a US town.

How are plans going for your celebrations? I’d love to hear what you’re up to!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster.

xx  Rowena

 

 

 

Reverse Sunbaking.

While I’m not sure whether Reverse Sunbaking is going to take off, I’ve been converted.

Before you Northerners think I’ve gone bonkers, I live in the sunny, Southern Hemisphere and you’ll find me living near the beach, just North of Sydney.

Umina Beach post storm Thurs

Our beach after a storm..

Reverse Sunbaking involves basking in the air-conditioned indoors, rather than turning lobster out on the beach in the midday sun. While you could set yourself up on a towel on the floor, I’ve gone for my writing chair…a comfy recliner. There’s no sun, sand, ocean views or the sound of the waves but I can chillax. For some reason, frying myself to a crisp has lost its appeal…along with melanoma.

Not that I haven’t been outside. Indeed, this morning the family walked down to the shops, thinking we had Buckley’s chance of finding a car space. Of course, we spotted two empty spots in prime real estate once we got there. Isn’t that always the way?!! Yet, it’s also good to actually use our legs for their intended purpose. Sometimes, I think my legs feel their only mission in life is to sit in the car!

Unfortunately, Reverse Sunbaking and Couch Potatoing are  closely related with only minor variations in their DNA. So, if I start sprouting, I’ll have to start moving. After all, I definitely don’t want to be swallowed up by the couch, losing all sight of the outside world. Couches can do that, you know! (Sounds like the horror makings of a Roald Dahl novel).

By the way,”Buckley’s chance” is another one of those weird Australian idioms. It means “to have little or no chance of doing or achieving something”1. You can also say something like: “You’ve got Buckley’s”.

Good luck if you’re trying to work out who Buckley was and why they became the personification of negative thinking. Like so much slang, it’s hard to retrace its origins but these conundrums do keep  academics employed.

So, what are your views on Reverse Sunbaking? Do you think I’m launching the next trend? As one of my favourite shows: The Living Room asks: is it hot or not?

xx Rowena

Winter Australia…Summer UK

While we Aussies are a tough breed, nobody’s invincible.

Now that Winter is setting in, it’s pretty clear that cold weather is our kryptonite. We must have some kind of inbuilt solar panel and need those vital sun’s rays to survive. Without them, we shrivel up and lose all power. Hibernate among the gum leaves alongside the koalas wishing we were small enough to crawl inside a soft, warm pouch.

The strange thing is that it’s not just the humans who are affected. I even saw my friend’s Scotch Collie down at the beach wearing a coat the other day. These dogs with their thick woolly coats survived a Scottish Winter once upon a time. However, the Australian version is just as allergic to the cold as it’s human counterparts.

Hence, when you hear an Australian cry “cold”, you’d better ask for clarification before you assume we’re talking about sub-zero temperatures.

Cold is all relative.

But before you write us off for being “soft”, just wait until the thermometer climbs to 30 degrees Celsius and you’re talking about being “hot”.

We might not be great with the cold but know how to handle our heat!

After all, some like it hot!

xx Rowena

Featured image from https://www.facebook.com/Anything-Straya-528717497224853/?fref=photo.

 

 

Haikus for Four Seasons

Winter

Sitting on the sand

wrapped in a woolen coat,

I am waiting for you!

 

Spring

No bikini body here,

I watch the whales migrate.

Diet starts tomorrow.

 

Summer

Longing for the beach,

bare feet burn on the hot sand.

Steam rises in the surf.

 

 

beach wide angle 2

Ocean Beach looking across to Lion Island and Palm Beach.

Autumn

You have gone too soon.

Yet, sweet Summer hasn’t died.

I cling to your rays.

 

Rowena

6th March, 2016

Tonight, I set myself quite a challenge..to write series of four inter-connected Haiku for each of the four seasons, set down at our local beach  5-10 minutes walk from home. While there are seasonal changes at the beach, these can be quite subtle aside from the peak Christmas period when we actually experience some crowds as well as annoying traffic. The blow-ins are considered “blow flies” by many of the locals.

It was quite challenging working out how to interpret what really are fairly subtle seasonal changes here and work something out that covers the four seasons. The weather is largely good for 9 months of the year although there are some patches of incredibly hot weather. Even Winters can be pretty mild with only a few weeks of intolerable cold. At the same time, we do get stretches of heavy rain.

Autumn Leaf Palm Beach Sydney

Autumn Leaf, Pittwater, Palm Beach, Sydney

So, when it comes to describing our four seasons, especially set at our beach, many of those conventional symbols or representations aren’t applicable. We don’t have snow and while there are some deciduous tree with those stunning Autumn leaves, Australian native plants are evergreen and their leaves don’t change colour. There are town and suburbs which do experience a “true” Autumn but not around here. You really have to go searching for Autumn leaves. They’re not to be found on every street corner.

As for Spring, we have been on water restrictions here for over ten years and even though they’ve eased, the intermittent rainfall has been quite cruel to our garden. There is no sudden explosion of life from these dry sandy soils in Spring and if I’m feeling particularly motivated, I’ll pop down the street and buy some colour. Cheap colour so it doesn’t really matter if I kill it. Our garden really is more of a cemetery. Indeed, in Summer, make that a “crematorium”.

We actually took the kids and the dog down to the beach tonight for a walk and the kids had a brief swim. We’re not real keen for them to swim at dusk as there are some sharks around. Not that we’ve had any attacks here but we don’t want to be the first either! Really must try to get down there more often. It’s been too hot but our Summer isn’t over yet and I’m really going to try to squeeze out every little last bit that we have left.

xx Rowena

 

Refrigerated Australian!

It was so hot today that my son sought relief from the heat by cooling off inside the refrigerator! It made a comic alternative to the usual scenario of the teenager raiding the fridge, fueling what seems like one continuous growth spurt.

The forecast tomorrow is for 42 degrees celsius. That’s the sort of heat which surely must fry an egg on the footpath. Indeed, tomorrow we might just give it a go…all in the name of “investigative journalism” ie blogging.

How’s the weather going over your way? Seems we’re mostly either frying and burnt or starting to freeze. I’ve seen a few snow scenes starting to appear. Would love to see some links to all sorts of landscapes in the comments. This could be quite a laugh.

Of course, Paris is still on my mind and I’m sort of following the updates, I don’t like having the news on a lot around the kids and they’ve each had a day off this week. I am also concerned about hearing about more attacks and I treading a bit carefully at the moment. How about you?

Anyway, had a laugh finding my son and in the fridge, Seems like a good idea!

Take care!

xx Rowena

A Letter to the Sun.

Dear Sun,

Where the @#$$% are you?

Just in case you haven’t checked your calendar lately, it’s now the end of September.You’re supposed to be here by now and no more of these fleeting drop-in, guest appearances either! It’s well and truly Spring. Summer is just around the corner…not a few blocks away, despite what you might think.You’re supposed to be here by now!

Indeed, it’s now almost October and for some strange reason, you’ve gone Missing In Action.

It is currently 14.8°C and I know I can’t blame you for the wind but it’s a roaring 14 knots and even the dogs are complaining that their fur is being blown all the way to New Zealand.

After preliminary inquiries, I’ve established that you were last seen on the Australian East Coast on Monday 21st September at 5.50PM, although there have been a few unconfirmed sightings since then.

Meanwhile, I’ve received confirmed reports that you’ve escaped back to the Northern Hemisphere and I’m starting to wonder if you’ve been snatched, although I’m yet to receive any ransom demands.

I repeat where the @#$$% are you?

If you don’t report back in by 07.00 hours, you will be considered AWOL and can expect an instant court martial upon your return.

Yours sincerely,

Australia.

Writing prompt #32: Summertime

Another day, another writing challenge beckons. This one comes from Uli at Confessions of A Broccoli Addict: https://wordpress.com/read/blog/id/28417405/

Writing Prompt: Write a story or poem that includes the following words:

  • summer,
  • ice cream,
  • bicycle,
  • dog,
  • waffle iron.

So pop on your favorite version of “Summertime” (mine’s by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong) or another summer song, and get writing. Post your story/poem or link in the comments by June 22 to be included in the round up.

I’ll add my response in the comments and include it in the round up as well.

Riding my bicycle in my bikini,

liquid ice cream dreams

melt away.

Devoured

by the flapping tongue

of a thirsty dog

they disappear.

Evaporate.

It’s like they’ve never even been.

Oblivious to my ice cream woes,

the boy with the waffle iron

Find s love

In another’s arms.

Sometimes,

summer can be so cruel.

XX Rowena

PS It was tough trying to fit waffle iron into a poem!

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