Tag Archives: surfing

Weekend Coffee Share – 8th June, 2020.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

How are you and what is going on in your neck of the woods? I’d like to offer you a slice of Lemon Meringue pie with your cup of tea, coffee or whatever. I made it for my parents who both celebrated their 75th birthday this week. I added some raspberries to it, which made a wonderful addition. The raspberries were a bit light on as I wasn’t too sure how they’d go However, they went really well and I’ll add the full punnet in future. Not that I make Lemon Meringue Pie all that often, but I’ve been doing more baking since Covid 19 came along and Masterchef 2020 is also on at the moment giving me plenty of inspiration and intimidation.

 

If we were to meet up for coffee in person, I know we’d probably be talking about the riots and #blacklivesmatter. I live in Australia. So, I’m geographically removed from what’s going on in America, although the TV brings it into our living room and it’s hard to know how much the news represents what’s going on over there. While I think the original #blacklivesmatter hashtag was a great rallying cry following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, I’m not so sure about using it in such a broad-sweeping sense because every life matters and there are a lot of people who are equally being discriminated against, killed and also dying from neglect. As a person living with a disability, people in my community have been denied access to wheelchairs or basic equipment needs and lack a voice. A woman with cerebral palsy recently died due to neglect by her carer. Aboriginal people here have adopted  #Blacklivesmatter to raise public awareness of Aboriginal deaths in custody which really does need to be acknowledged and addressed. It slips so easily under the carpet, and it’s hard to keep up with all these horrid things in our communities which definitely need to be addressed and fixed now and not consigned to some politician’s eternal inbox where it never sees the light of day. I personally believe that if we treated everybody with respect and applied the Golden Rule and tried to put ourselves in other people’s shoes, as Harper Lee says in To Kill A Mockingbird, that much of the discrimination, inequality and hate would at least be reduced. However, some communities have particular areas where more is focus and action are needed and I understand the need for the slogan #blacklivesmatter even though every life also matters. It’s to draw attention. Have an impact. Make us sit up and notice, and that’s important too because it’s very easy for each and every one of us to get very comfortable in our easychairs at home and be oblivious to what’s going on beyond our own four walls. My own ignorance abounds and I’m generally living back in WWI with my research. It’s such a long way away from the present, that it’s easy to forget anything is going on beyond what I can see.

While it’s important to highlight discrimination, struggles, hate etc certain groups might be experiencing, it’s also important, indeed critical, to keep building bridges between people and we’ve seen so many examples of that during these protests. People coming together across that so-called black-white divide and embracing each other in love (and despite Covid 19 restrictions). There is good and bad everywhere, but it’s important that we stay informed somehow of what is going in the bigger picture and don’t close our eyes to suffering, injustice, cruelty and neglect.

Anyway, I don’t know if you wanted to come over here and talk about all of that over coffee. However, I couldn’t not talk about it and I’d really like to see some really strong role models rise up out of this to lead us forward and on a global scale. Let’s see humanity unite and connect building bridges right around the world and make everyone feel at home, safe, valued and at peace.

 

 

Meanwhile, my photography walks continue. Last Friday, I decided to head over to another local beach at Killcare about a 15 minute drive away. However, in the absence of any signage, I took a wrong turn and ended up at MacMasters Beach 10 kilometres further down the road. It also turned out that the battery for my SLR had failed to charge. That left me taking photos with my phone. Being a committed SLR photographer and unashamed snob, as far as I was concerned, I might as well be taking photos with my shoe. However, while they turned out quite well, and using my phone is certainly much easier than lugging the camera around, I’m not a convert yet.

Despite all these mishaps, MacMasters was breathtakingly beautiful. I stopped off at the Barefoot Cafe for some homemade prawn spring rolls, which were scrumptious and deliciously crunchy and I’ve been plotting my return ever since. Meanwhile, rather than walking along the beach, I decided to walk across the rocks to the headland and watched the surfers as I went. It was all quite mesmerising, particularly as I reflect back on it now from the relative blandness of our lounge room. Indeed, from that perspective, it was absolutely magnificent!! I’d love you to join me at: Surfing Through The Lens.

Meanwhile, yesterday, we drove down to Sydney to celebrate my parents’ 75th Birthdays. It was Dad’s birthday yesterday and Mum’s through the week. Thanks to the blessed coronavirus, we just celebrated with our family and my brother. As I mentioned before, I made an Leon & Raspberry Meringue Pie and Dad picked up a chocolate meringue cake from a local French Chocolate shop. It’s to die for. Except if you die, you can’t go back for a second piece. It was a shame not to catch up with my aunts, uncles and cousins, but getting all of that crew together isn’t as easy as it used to be either. We’ve scattered and outgrown a standard table as well.

MacMasters Beach feet

Lastly, I’m trying to find a way forward for my violin and have taken up the piano again hoping they’ll fuel each other on. I’d like to record my piano playing and accompany myself on the violin and put together a CD just for myself. Something to work towards. The music school has been closed for a couple of months now due to covid restrictions and i’m going to take the next term off as well to fund a keyboard synthesizer. My son who is studying entertainment and sound at school and helping out at Church, tells me that a note on a keyboard is like a button which triggers off a chain reaction of sorts. I’ll be interested to see it in action. Meanwhile, I’ve been playing Leonard Cohen’s Alleluia on my daughter’s keyboard and setting it to tenor saxophone, which sounds very moody and atmospheric. I’m also playing New York and pretending I’m a violin-version of Frank Sinatra in a pink dressing gown, spotty pink PJs and ugg boots. It’s not quite the New York look, but that’s me in lock down.

Daleys Point2

Sunset Daleys Point 

Anyway, it’s really got very late and I need to get to bed.

I hope you and yours are keeping safe and are finding a way to navigate a path through everything that’s going on at the moment.

This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Ali

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Surfing Through the Lens – MacMasters Beach, Australia.

“People see by the light of their own stars. Some nights the stars waver

in obscuring mists. I steer a straight course by my own compass. and

delight in the mysteries of misguiding stars.”

― Chris Ernest Nelson

Let me start out by saying, that when I set out on my latest, local photography walk,  I had no plans of going to MacMasters Beach. Rather, I was heading for Killcare. However, it just goes to show that a person with no sense of direction, shouldn’t leave home without consulting the map. Moreover, some of us are so spatially-challenged, that turning the map around to face “the right way up”, doesn’t help. It doesn’t get us where we want to go. So, we need to allow an extra hour or so to reach our destination. Or, move to a peninsula or island where we can’t stray too far away, and will eventually find our way home.

MacMasters Beach

MacMasters Beach, NSW, Australia.

Indeed, I’m sure John Lennon had geographically challenged people like me in mind when he said:

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

Last Friday afternoon, I set out for Killcare to explore the beach and the adjacent rocky headland through the lens and hopefully, at least, raise my heart rate  a little. Although Killcare is only about a 15 minute drive away, I’ve only been there a couple of times and that was about 8 years ago. That was back in the days when I went out for coffee with some of the mums from school, and that’s been awhile too!

MacMasters Swimming ppol

It almost feels like I could walk on water here and I was so amazed people were actually swimming in there during Winter. 

Anyway, I don’t think I mentioned that I’m trying to extend my walks beyond the local beach, and expand my horizons. That goal’s been reinforced by the coronavirus. Although Australia is starting to open up, I’m still semi-locked down and social distancing, and not at the point of returned to enclosed cafes or shops quite yet. Moreover, I’m not wanting to catch trains down to Sydney, which makes my usual escape hatch of Sydney more of a consideration. So, like so many of us the world over, exploring our local area is the way to go. Indeed, “local” has now become the new  “travel” just like “cruise ship” has now become synonymous with “the plague”.

Although I didn’t consult the map before I left, I did check my camera battery and swapped it over. At least, I was somewhat prepared, although I didn’t have time to wait for the battery to charge and didn’t have a spare. I also checked that the memory card was there. I’ve been let down on that front before as well. Nothing like heading out on a photo shoot, only to find an empty void in either compartment.

When it came to finding my way to Killcare, I knew I needed to turn right at the servo. After that, it was going to be case of drive by feel. To be perfectly honest, I fully expected to find a sign, which didn’t seem unreasonable. After all, Killcare is hardly a bush shack  hiding in the gum trees.

Well, if there was a sign, I missed it. It wouldn’t be the first time. Won’t be the last. However, as I kept driving through the bush with no Killcare in sight, I knew I’d missed it and was heading further afield. Indeed, it was starting to look like further, further afield. I had no idea where I was going to wind up. However, I was somewhere on the Australian East Coast and knew they’d at least stop me when I reached the Queensland border. That’s because the border between NSW and Queensland are closed and no doubt heavily guarded on account of the coronavirus. Indeed, you’d be excused for thinking NSW was the new Mexico and hopefully the Queensland Premier won’t be building any physical walls any time soon to keep us out.

Anyway, eventually I spotted an exceptionally rare local sight…a sign. Directions.

I was at MacMasters Beach just under 10 kilometres off course.

spring rolls MacMasters Beach

No worry. I’d never been to MacMasters before, and now it was about to become my oyster. Or, in this instance, my delicious prawn spring roll from the Barefoot Cafe. I haven’t exactly been going into shops and cafes. However, I could make it in and out of this place quite effortlessly and sit out alone out the front and soak up the magnificent view.

Cafe MacMasters Beach

The Barefoot Cafe, MacMasters Beach

Gee, it’s a hard life.

Well, it did become a bit tougher. Instead of going for an easy walk across the sand, I opted for a much more challenging step, hop, stumble  jump across an endless jumble of rocks and stones at the foot of the cliff, which only lead to more rocks, stones and fallen boulders around the corner. I didn’t end up going there and decided to turn back before I tempted fate. This sort of terrain is really good for strengthening your feet and ankles. However, since I’ve had some really nasty falls on supposedly safe footpaths albeit with nasty cracks, I thought I’d better limit the liability a little.

MacMasters Feet Rocks

Walking over bumpy terrain and building up my resilience.

However, before I walked anywhere, I stepped out of the car to photograph a banksia flower, and one shot later the @#$% camera battery went flat and I had to resort to using my phone. I know most people don’t think twice about taking photos with their phone, but I’m a hard core SLR user and a phone is a phone is a phone. That is, unless I’m absolutely desperate like that poor soul who who has to pull up beside the road when that elusive public toilet remains out of reach.

Fortunately, the phone photos weren’t too bad and going back with my real camera, gives me a better excuse for going back than feasting on more of those scrumptious prawn spring rolls. They were particularly good.

As I was stumbling over the rocks, I was the very personification of solitude itself. A lighthouse watching the surfers floating on the waves like bobbing seals, catching the odd wave and then running over these same rocks nimble-footed and leaping off the rocks into treachery itself yet miraculously surviving so effortlessly.

Surfers MacMasters beach

Surfers Bobbing Like Seals at MacMasters Beach.

Many, many times through the years, I’ve longed to trade places with one of these surfers and hit the waves myself. I have had a surf lesson once and have at least managed to get a board out there and surfed on my tummy and had a taste of what it might be like if I could actually make it up onto my feet. What it would be like to step out of my body into the wet suited fitness of someone else. Or, even that I could get back there again myself. It wouldn’t matter whether I couldn’t could stand up or not, because I’d be embracing the waves, the ocean and somewhere far beyond my chair at home. Moreover, life is to be lived and not just viewed as a by-stander through the lens or as  a writer through the pen or any other form of standing by and observing instead of jumping in. So many of us, for a myriad of reasons, are guilty of this, which is why I’m often just grateful to get out there doing something and soaking up some other part of the world, even if it is virtually on my own doorstep.

MacMasters Beach Full moon

Meanwhile, it’s Winter here. The sun had set and the light was rapidly fading. Having to traverse back over this rocky terrain, I couldn’t linger and risk an accident. I couldn’t risk stumbling over these rocks in the dark. So, I started walking back. Then, much to my delight and my frustration with my SLR camera out of action, the full moon is rising above the horizon. It’s just a ping pong ball in the sky. There’s no glow. No reflections on the water, but it’s still a full moon rising with all its awe and majesty and I feel so blessed to be here and a part of this.

Yet, it was also time to go home.

Daleys Point2

However, you might recall that I missed a turn and found myself at MacMasters Beach. So, you shouldn’t be surprised that I missed a different turn heading home and found myself at Hardy’s Bay. I haven’t been there before either and again, it’s pretty close to home. Why is it that we keep returning to the same places, revelling in our comfort zones, instead of exploring what’s almost on the palm of our hand? Is it all too easy and prior to the covid craziness, we always thought adventure had to be overseas. It doesn’t have to be and my health challenges have aught me that.

Daleys Point

 

After being immersed in all that awe and wonder, arriving home proved quite an anti-climax. Do you ever get that? Those times you walk in and almost walk straight back out the door?! Life is so much easier behind the lens, especially when your battery is fully charged and ready for action. Reality is over-rated. Over-rated indeed.

Have you been on any walks or photographic adventures lately?

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

W – Whale Beach, Australia…A-Z Challenge.

For those of you who’ve ever been to Whale Beach, I can hear you calling loud and clear: “What are you talking about? That’s not Whale Beach!!”

However, today I decided to challenge your sense of the perspective of place. Instead of just viewing Whale Beach from it’s classic postcard perspective with its rocky headlands at each end and the sandy beach in between, we’re tracing snail trails across a rock pool on the Southern headland. I’ve always loved tracing and photographing their curly trails. They’re so creative, and seem to reflect my state of mind. There’s no such thing as a straight line from A to B.

ferry

Palm Beach Ferry

After that brief explanation, I’d like to welcome you back to Places I’ve Been, my theme for the 2020 A-Z Challenge and as you already know, we’re heading off to Whale Beach.

Whale beach Map

A Map of Northern Sydney with Whale Beach top right.

It’s a bit of a complicated trip, and we’ll be catching  the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach, which will take us across Broken Bay with stunning views across to Lion Island. From Palm beach we’ll be getting a lift to Whale Beach, which is not the easiest place to reach via public transport. However, that’s also part of its quaint appeal. It has a very relaxed village feel, and doesn’t get the crowds during the Summer peak.  Indeed, many of the dwellings here are weekenders and while these blow-ins might live someone else, they’re largely considered locals, at least among themselves.

Whale Beach

Whale Beach looking North. CC BY-SA 4.0

I know “Whaley” very well. Indeed, it’s been my home. Our family used to have a house on Whale Beach Road, just across from the beach. Well, there was the slight matter of needing to climb up 200 stairs to get back to the house. That could be very challenging. Yet, there was a spot roughly halfway, where you could turn around, pause, and point out the view and distract your friends from your acute shortage of breath. It was often my salvation, not that I was that unfit even back then. Let’s just say there were a lot of stairs and they did go straight up!!

Whale Beach trike

Trike Heading Out To Sea, Whale Beach (looking South). 

My parents bought the place at Whale Beach, while I was still at uni. Unfortunately, I didn’t drive. So, unless I was with friends, I had to catch the dreaded 190 bus from Wynyard Station, which grunted along for at least 90 minutes from point to point, and that doesn’t factor in the steep walk from Surf Road straight over the top of the hill to reach Whale Beach Road. It might not be one of the world’s tallest peaks, it was a pretty decent climb.

Whale Beach Estate 1928

However, since my parents’ sold the house about twenty years ago, we won’t be revisiting the old house, and we’ll be heading straight down Surf Road to the beach. Indeed, I forgot to tell you we have a surfboard on the roof and we could even be driving a Kombi. Not a splitty, because that’s well beyond our price range, and I suspect we’re driivng something rustically unreliable. After all, that’s the less than romantic reality of being a true Kombi owner these days.

 

 

Whale Beach is a surf beach, especially at the Northern end where there’s a cool rip called “The Wedge”. I’m not even going to pretend that I know what that’s about. However, I have photographed quite a few surfers down there over the years. Watched them sitting on their boards bobbing up and down like corks waiting for the wave, while their faithful mutts sit on the beach waiting. At least, that’s how it used to be back in the day. Dogs off the leash are probably incarcerated now. Hey, even the humans are in trouble these days thanks to the coronavirus. A couple of footballers made headlines and were fined for flauting social distancing today. However, even I’m getting itchy feet and I have more incentive than most for staying put, and that doesn’t include sitting on Whale Beach and contemplating life, the universe and everything. Rather, these days have to revamp the walk and talk into some kind of walk and think. Is it possible? I’m not convinced. It’s certainly not easy to walk and write, although I could possibly argue that writing is work and the beach is my office, just as long as I stay away from Bondi!

Whale Beach Feet

Anyway, let’s rewind a little. As I said, my parents owned the house while I was at uni. So, of course, there were parties, usually with a ratio of way too many blokes to girls. There was love and heartbreak, not just for myself but also my friends. There were lonely stretches staying there for weeks at a time all by myself, but resulted in prolific writing and no doubt long hours talking on the phone. However, every night as regular as clockwork, a light switched on at the Southern end of the beach. The light fell right across the breakers and snaked around with the waves. It was absolutely magnificent and a memory which almost defined my soul and brought me such peace. Joy doesn’t need to cost the earth or be high tech.

Whale Beach also became a place of solace. Somewhere we could take friends who were going through tough times, and even combusting with self-inflicted angst. We’d walk along the beach or walk around to Palm Beach. It was a place of gentle, compassionate healing and casting all your cares off the cliffs and out to sea. For many of us, myself included, there was a Christian spiritual aspect to this, but I can’t speak for the rest. People from many walks of life came to the house, and had their own beliefs. It was not not a place of judgement, at least, from my perspective.

Rainbow Lorrikeets

A Pair of Rainbow Lorrikeets Having A Cup of Tea on the Balcony.

Before I head off, I just want to tell you about some extra special visitors to the house. There are the birds, especially the Rainbow Lorrikeets. They’re absolutely beautiful and ever so friendly with their sweet chatter.

Whale Beach is why we live at Umina Beach. It’s Whale Beach on a beer budget.

Have you ever been to Whale Beach? What did you love about it? Mind you, from my point of view, what is there not to love?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Santa’s Australian Post-Christmas Escape.

You couldn’t blame Santa for needing a bit of a break after supervising all his elves and dashing round the planet on his sleigh. After all, he must have the most stressful job on Earth.

So, here he is hiding out at Lennox Head, South of Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast catching some waves.

Of course, I had to join him. While I’m not much chop as a surfer, today must have been my lucky day because I not only managed to stand up, I also stayed dry. That’s quite an achievement.

By the way, I should mention that I’ve enjoyed feeling 21 again on this holiday. I’m not looking forward to returning to responsibility when the kids go back to school at the end of January. It’s been absolute bliss drifting along for a bit and not needing to be anywhere at a particular time. No lines etched in the sand. They’ve all been washed away.

Have you ever been surfing and do you have any stories to share?

Best wishes,

Rowena

Dog & I Finally Go For A Walk…

This afternoon, Lady and I actually made it out the front door and went for a walk along the beach, finally snatching hold of the remains of the uncharacteristically brilliant sunshine. It was a perfect day, and yet we almost missed it. Moreover, if I’d checked the weather forecast for the coming week earlier, I’d have pressed the eject button much sooner and soaked up more of those rays. It’s still Winter Down Under. Yet, today the temperature reached a high of 26°C or 78°F. As it turns out, most of next week it will be rainy and overcast. So, just when I was going to get back into my fitness regime, I’ll be stuck indoors. Typical! Anyway, Spring is on its way and soon I’ll be complaining about the heat.

 

Still, I’m chuffed we got to the beach at all. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been struck down by a weird virus which has brought on sinus trouble and extreme fatigue. I’ve been sooo tired and sleeping most of the day, although I’ve also managed to read half of Charles Dickens classic, Oliver Twist. So, it appears  my eyes and mind were at least getting some exercise, while the rest of my body crashed out.

However, while Lady and I made it to the beach and had our walk, the pups were not so lucky. I had tried unsuccessfully to recruit our daughter to come with us so we could take all three. However, she’d returned from the snow yesterday and is exhausted. Our son was glued to his games. Besides, the other leads had gone missing and I blame my frenzied clean-up for burying them, which might not make a lot of sense to some of you, but I’m sure there’ll be plenty who understand. Life is chaos.

Bilbo with ball

Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball.

Speaking of walking the dogs, how do they know I’m thinking of taking them for a walk before I’ve even got he lead? The plastic bag? All it takes is seeing that pair of shoes and socks. Yet, they don’t seem to go crazy every time they see me put on the shoes. I’m sure they know the difference. They know when there’s a walk at sake, and when there’s not. By the way, I should also point out that I’m now very haphazard and unstructured about their walk times. I made that mistake with our last dog, Bilbo and he just developed expectations. Expectations aren’t a good thing for a Border Collie to have. They’re sheepdogs and they’ll round you up to ensure their expectations are met. Hence, it pays  to have no routine, no consistency and to break just about every rule in the parenting text book to get some peace and quiet. I’m sure they have ESP. I kid you not.

Lady swimming

I hope you like the photo of her royal scruffiness emerging from the surf. She loves swimming almost as much as sniffing and I just have to hope their isn’t a dead anything on the beach because she not only rolls in it but rubs it right into the fur follicles so it won’t come out. She might be called Lady, but she can be rather uncouth at times.

Beach Sunset

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed joining us for a trip to the beach. Have you been for any walks lately? Please share in the comments below.

Best wishes,

Rowena

PS These photos were taken with my phone and I can really notice a difference in quality to the Nikon SLR.

 

Saturday Night in Byron Bay…January 5, 2019.

Although blogging is supposed to be an immediate medium, there was something about announcing to the world that we’ve abandoned the house to go to Byron Bay, which didn’t sit well despite leaving the three dogs in charge of home security. So, I’ve decided to write about our week that was a week in arrears so that I can still share my daily adventures with you and you can appreciate more of a local or quasi-local experience of the place.

By the way, we weren’t actually staying in Byron Bay itself. We were staying with family out at Nureybar about 15 minutes out of Byron in the lush green hinterland, which is breathtakingly beautiful and did I mention something about GREEN?!!! Geoff and I first met on NYE exactly 20 years ago and we came up here a few months later so I could meet his Mum and family before he disappeared overseas for a few months to America. I had been to Byron Bay once beforehand when I’d stayed right in Byron Bay at the Youth Hostel, which was quite a different experience. We’ll just leave it at that, although I could mention something about what happens in Byron stays in Byron.

DSC_1190.JPG

We really enjoyed our Spanish plate.

Anyway, we’d driven up on the Friday and after sleeping through most of Saturday, decided to head down into the Bay to go to the night markets and pick up some dinner. Food, markets, art, music…I was in heaven. The markets are held every Saturday night in the Railway Park as you drive into town. Unfortunately, the trains no longer make it into Byron Bay and so the Railway Park is something of an anachronism. However, it’s one of our favourite places in Byron Bay after the Lighthouse and the beach, because it has the most amazing climbing tree which has fallen over onto its side and somehow managed to stay alive. This makes it very easy for young kids to climb up into its branches and there’s nothing quite like being able to climb a tree and shelter in its branches. However, this tree also has a special kind of magic all of its own. Every time we go there, we usually find something hanging in its branches…a milk crate hanging by a rope, paper lanterns, sunflowers, ribbons. It just seems to be asking for us humans to leave something special behind for the next person who comes along. I think we might’ve tied a ribbon or scarf around it once. I’m not really sure.

DSC_1113

The kids leaving for Jamboree just over a week ago. Indeed, they’re almost about to leave. 

By the way, I probably should’ve reminded you that we were teen-free on this trip as our kids are away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in South Australia at the moment. Ideally, we would’ve all gone up to stay with Geoff’s family but we couldn’t fit it in later. As much as we parents are supposed to enjoy being child-free, I must admit that it felt quite weird being there without them and visiting all our favourite haunts right down to going to Pinky’s for ice cream and fighting off the drips all by ourselves. It also felt strange not to have the dogs with us either, although it was rather nice to be able to leave my biscuit unattended on my plate and still find it there on my return.

DSC_1187.JPG

Anyway, getting back to the markets, I was dazzled by an amazing range of artworks, but unfortunately my budget and available wall space only extended as far as postcard-sized prints…something to jog my memory later. I bought a print of a mother whale with her calf for our son who wants to be a Marine Biologist. Then I wandered over to Deborah White’s stall and bought a mini wooden chopping board with one of her prints on top and a few cards. She incorporates a cellular perspective into her art which I really love. I love zooming in and macro photography myself and she seemed to see the world through a similar lens.

deborah white artist

I was so dazzled by the art and live music, that food was a secondary concern. Although my Brother-in-law had recommended the mushroom pasta, we actually ordered a Spanish plate, which was fantastic and something out of the ordinary.

dsc_1194

After dinner, we decided to walk down to Pinky’s on the main street order an ice cream and walk up to the beach. The streets were really festive and lined with buskers and the whole place felt so alive. I really wished it could be more like this where we live. We also live right near the beach and there’s a popular caravan park down the road. However, we have nothing like this. Our culture seems to be kept behind closed doors and I am guilty of this myself. After all, I am the Closet Violinist.

Surf Mobile Byron Bay.JPG

The ice cream was rapidly dripping down my hands, over my dress and even onto and into my sandals. I could even feel its sticky sweetness in between my toes. I guess by now you’re thinking that’s a little too much information. That I’m oversharing. Well, before I move on, let me just let you know that my husband didn’t get any drips on him. I think it might be yet another Rowieism and that only I could manage to cover myself in ice cream at an age where most of us have developed a bit more sophistication and can eat an ice cream without wearing it.

By the time we reached the beach, the sun had set and the light was rapidly disappearing. On our right, the Cape Byron Lighthouse was doing it’s thing. I’ll never get tired of watching that place and going up there for a closer inspection. It feels like an old faithful friend after all these years. We usually go there with the kids and so there’s this progression of photos and the kids get taller and also less rambunctious and hopefully less of a liability. We usually get an ice cream up the top. That’s become a family tradition, along with the photos. One year, I even posed with my violin up there. That was rather funny because I’d only been playing for a year then and couldn’t really play much at all. However, I’d performed at the music school’s annual concert, which just so happened to be at Lizotte’s, a local rock n roll venue owned by Diesel’s brother. So, there I was a novice violinist hanging out in the red room where all these great acts had gone before me. It blew me away.

byron bay night

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that there’s an informal drumming group which jams everyday on the rocks at sunset. I have taken better photos on previous visits but must’ve been having trouble walking because I didn’t quite have the energy to get up and photograph the drummers upfront. Mind you, I also liked watching these flowing fabrics move to the beat. They also told a story.

drummers byron bay

Well, I hope you enjoyed our first night in Byron Bay. Our next stop will be the Byron Bay Markets.

Have you ever been to Byron Bay? I’d love to hear your tales. 

Best wishes,

Rowena

ice cream at lighthouse

I couldn’t resist sticking in this photo of the kids eating ice cream at the lighthouse. I think it was taken in 2011 when they were five and seven. 

Mega Weekend Coffee Share

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

You might want a cool drink this weekend. It’s warming up around here and we’re enjoying some glorious Spring weather.

It’s not every week that I can tell you that something’s happened. I’m not talking about my usual staring at the waves or up into the clouds and finding peace, joy and harmony in the trees.

No, indeed.

I’m talking about some pretty extraordinary stuff. Not that I’m showing off because I was just in the right place at the right time, which I’ve got to tell you is a bit of a rarity for me…especially when all this happened at our local beach an hour from Sydney. We’re not a backwater but we’re hardly Mecca either.

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The kids learning to surf.

Wednesday morning, the kids started a three day surf course. I was really excited about this as I have a secret passion for surfing, even though I’ve only caught a few waves in my life time and they were lying down. Yet, I loved that sensation of surging through the waves. Wow! My husband has also been interested in learning to surf and so we bought a board when we were in Byron Bay a few years ago but it’s never seen the beach and has been filed away in the deepest, darkest recesses of the garage…a doomed holiday “romance” of sorts.

So, the kids are lined up on the beach learning how it’s done on the sand before they hit the surf. I’m taking a few photos and follow them down to the water.

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That’s when I spot a group of Tibetan monks on the beach. They’re dressed in their robes. The same coloured robes as the Dalai Lama. Not only that but they’re all lined up carrying surfboards.

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Blessing the Beach.

That’s right. There was a group of Tibetan monks at our beach going surfing. Well, not quite going surfing yet because they were giving a blessing for the beach, posing for photos and talking to the media. Then, they changed into board shorts and life jackets before they headed out.

I’ve written two posts about their visit:

Accidents, Blessings & Tibetan Monks at an Australian Beach.

The Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia

Backtracking a little, that morning I had a nasty fall at the shops and sprained my ankle and tore a hole in my knee. There was no one around at the time and I must admit it would’ve been really good to have someone help me get up. Even better, just imagine if those monks had found me. They could’ve carried me back to the car and blessed me on the way. What a shame! That would’ve been fantastic!

But, I’m Tonka tough. I kept going.

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The Family with Jimmy Barnes at Book Bazaar.

Saturday morning, was planned excitement. Australian rock legend Jimmy Barnes was at our local bookshop, Book Bazaar, signing copies of his book: Working Class Boy. I’m currently reading the book and love loving it even though it’s heavy, emotive, dark and very much like Angela’s Ashes. I’ve actually found it pretty hard finding out the back story behind the man. A man who is as Australian as Vegemite. Pretty much every Australian “of a certain age” has a story about Barnsey and or Cold Chisel.

Anyway, meeting Jimmy was pretty nerve-wracking. Not because I was nervous or shy but because I was desperate to get a good photo of him and ideally him with us for the blog. However, I knew they were  expecting 200 people through in 2 hours and they had at least 3-4 queue cops on duty. In the past, I’ve found that while they talk about embracing social media, bloggers don’t even rate a spot at the bottom of the pecking order. I just had to hope. Pray. Usually, the long lens comes through, but queue cops can show no mercy. When you’ve had your allocated 30 seconds, you get the boot.

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This queue cop wasn’t wearing the official t-shirt and looked like he was in the wrong side of the globe.

However, unbeknown to me, I had two magic tricks up my sleeve. I’d at least read some of his book and I showed compassion. Who wouldn’t? He might be a famous rocker now, but once upon a time he was a little boy living in a war zone and as a Mum, I wanted to pick up that little boy, give him a huge hug and a Matchbox car.

Here’s the full story: Jimmy Barnes: What do you say when you meet a rock legend?

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Jimmy Barnes signing our books.

Being a complete and utter dag, I sad as much to him as he was signing the book and made a connection. Just because your famous, it doesn’t mean you don’t need people to care, listen to your story and give a damn.

So, I’ve felt like I’m sitting on Cloud 9 after those outstanding experiences this week and yet, at the same time, the cough is more repetitive and less productive than even though my lungs are clear. My ankle is still swollen and badly bruised from the fall but doesn’t really hurt…the ups and downs of life.

This weekend is also “Bathurst”. That is the “Bathurst 1000”…a 1000km race around Mt Panorama with such thrills as “Hell Corner” “Forrest’s Elbow” and “The Chase”. I don’t think any of this track is what you’d consider “safe”. It’s definitely a case of “maniacs only need apply”. Another aspect of Bathurst is the intense rivalry between Ford and Holden. Will Davison & Jonathon Webb won this year and yes they were driving a Holden!

So, how has your week been? I hope it’s been a good one and I’ll be trying to visit everyone for  coffee.

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana over at https://parttimemonsterblog.com/  and you can click through to the linky here

xx Rowena

Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia.

Yesterday, I shared my serendipitous encounter where I met a group of Gyuto Monks from Tibet at my local beach in sunny Australia, not far from Sydney.

Today, I wanted to share a few more photos and delve further into what the monks are about and why they’re in Australia.

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Photo: Rowena Curtin

After all, if you’re anything like me, you’ll probably need to have the details pointed out to i.e these monks wear the the same robes as the esteemed Dalai Lama and “are masters of Tibetan Buddhist tantric ritual and their lives are dedicated to practicing tantric ideals. To be with them, to observe and be touched by their humanity, is to see kindness in action.”

That said, I have read and posted about The Pursuit of Happiness  by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter in addition to yesterday’s post: Accidents, Blessings & Tibetan Monks at an Australian Beach.

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Much of this is beyond my understanding and experience but I strive to place love, compassion and empathy at the centre of my life…values which are lived and breathed by the Holy men.

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At one with the wave. Photo Rowena Newton at Wamberal, NSW.

I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of surfing as a spiritual activity before but it has to be. Obviously, surfing is intimately connected with the ocean, the waves and nature and being close to the ocean always makes me feeling closer to God, feeling his wonder, majesty and spirit all around me. It blows me away. After all, God occupies our entire universe and isn’t shut inside a building.

In an interview with Australian Surf Champion Nick Carroll,  broadcaster Caroline Jones asked: “Is there something about the moment when you’re absolutely concentrated there on what’s happening, that is, a feeling that as well as being frightening, a moment of great peace, or joy or something very extraordinary?

He replied: “Yes, surely.If you want to put it into a religious framework, Eastern religions deal with moments like that better than what we consider are usual forms of religion because they do deal with cathartic moments. The Zen Buddhists deal with them very well. You get moments where your whole body, soul and mind are just concentrated on doing something in the surf. When it’s very big and you catch a wave and take off there’s usually, on a big wave in Hawaii, several seconds during that wave where you really throw yourself over the brink, you really have to forget about everything, totally, to make it. You have to forget about trying to do something, you have to just get up, trust your instinct and just fall into the wave. It’s during seconds like that that you seem to just  totally disappear, you as a being don’t exist at that moment. It’ hard to express, you throw yourself into the moment that you’re actually inside everything that’s happening, you’re inside the wave, you’re inside your surfboard and what it’s doing. You’re inside all the landscape around you and the ocean as it’s surging, you get totally inside the moment and it’s so intense that time disappears, everything disappears. You disappear, you’re not thinking of you Nick Carroll or whoever. It’s way beyond that.

If you’re going to make a very big wave you have to be totally unified with everything that’s happeneing. You have to know absolutely everything the board’s doing, what’s happening with the wave, where the water is on the wave, how fast the water’s moving up the face of the wave, what’s happening with the wind, where there might be a couple of people in the way, and I don’t think you can know about that if you choose to take the form of thinking that we do in our everyday lives, where I’m very aware of me, Nick Carroll. Your brain just can’t handle it, it has to throw stuff away to fit it all in. And so a lot of what it throws away is the useless stuff, the ego, the “I’m Nick Carroll, I’ve got fears, worries, doubts etc”___all very useless stuff. To take all that information in about what’s happening, to get right inside it, you have to ignore a lot and discard it.2.”

I experience this myself through my writing, photography and also through playing the violin. I know that sense of merging and oneness and it’s incredible.

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed riding the wave with the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta, even if it was only from the shore. Unfortunately, we left before they hit the waves…not in their robes but in the safety of board shorts and life vest.

To view TV coverage of the event and of the monks surfing: http://www.nbnnews.com.au/2016/10/05/surfing-monks-create-waves-in-umina/

Have you have any experiences with the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Monks of Gyuta? I would love to hear your experiences and how you felt.

xx Rowena

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Hopefully some of his calm brushed off on me.

Sources

  1. About the Gyuto Monks of Tibet in Australia

2. Caroline Jones, The Search for Meaning, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 1989 p. 56.

Accidents, Blessings &Tibetan Monks at our Australian Beach.

It’s no wonder I “over-think” things. Strange things keep happening and I’m trying to work out whether it’s chance, coincidence or destiny. That’s why I like the word serendipity because it seems to covers that ambiguity. It was “meant to be”, and yet it was also brought about by chance.

Moreover, I should also add that it’s up to you whether you grasp that serendipitous moment (that is, if there is such a word) and run with it or let it slip through your hands into the wind where it could well be grasped by someone more daring.

Before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long camera lens (I tell you I’ve lost count of how many doors a long lens has opened for me over the years but it’s certainly been more influential than the sword!!)

As I said, before I get to the audaciousness of the woman with the long lens, let me just tell you that before I was strutting my stuff down at the beach and flashing my lens around, yours truly had a nasty fall. Not of the figurative kind but of the real, painful and ouchy kind. I’d ducked down to get my daughter a loaf of bread and for no reason whatsoever, my ankle flipped over, gave way and I landed smack onto the concrete.

As I’m lying there, pain receptors all over my body are flashing red and my  brain is doing this desperate mantra: “Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! Ouch!” Meanwhile, inside I feel this desperate, crushing sadness. It’s almost been 2 years since my last fall where I broke my foot in equally pathetic circumstances and yes, I was feeling sorry for myself. I was wanting someone to rescue me and give me a hand up. I might have been at our local shops and I know a lot of people around here, but there was no one in sight. As much as it’s embarrassing to have a fall, it’s also a relief to have help getting up and some loving, caring stranger ask if you’re okay and bless you with the touch of human kindness.

However, as I said, there was no one in sight.

So, I picked myself off the ground and hobbled with my sprained ankle on one leg and my grazed knee on the other, looking like a mutant John Wayne. Bought my bread. Said hello to a friend (without mentioning my accident) and drove home.

Life as a parent…there is no off switch.

The kids were going to their first surf lesson this morning. I’d been really been looking forward to watching them, but now I was wondering how I was going to walk along the beach. I was angry with my foot. Angry with life.

By the way, as far as I’m concerned, it’s alright to ask: “Why me?” at these times.  It’s just not good to dwell on it.

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The kids learning to surf.

Anyway, I made it onto the sand and was taking a few photos of the kids and listening to their surf instructor, when I noticed a group of Tibetan monks wearing flowing robes on the beach. Immediately, instinctively even, my photographic eyes were starting to switch.

Obviously, a group of Tibetan monks in robes stood out on an Australian beach. We’re about 90 minutes  North of Sydney and not what you’d call a multi-cultural area. It’s bikinis, board shorts and surf board territory around here.

Now, I have seen some interesting sights on the beach, and more often, I’ve been an “interesting” sight myself (what with taking photos of things at the beach…tea cups, Eeyore, kids etc ). However, Tibetan monks on an Australian beach is a first.

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Our son taking to the waves.

So being the helicopter parent that I am, I totally switched off from my kids’ surf lesson and started chasing these poor monks up and down the beach with my camera instead. Actually, unlike my kids they were there to be photographed, were only too happy to meet and greet and they also did a meditation to bless our beach.

However, these monks weren’t just there to look at the waves. Apparently, they’re going surfing. They’ll be having a surf lesson and I later saw them wearing wet suits and life jackets, although we left before they had a go. The TV station was there and an official photographer with a much bigger lens than mine. They were conducting interviews, filming and taking photos. However, I was able to mention  1000 Voices for Compassion  and my blog. I also found out that they’re coming back in November for a series of talks in Gosford. I’ll be there!

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The Monks have changed into beach gear and life vests ready for a surf.

It was remarkable timing running into these Gyutan monks from Tibet after my disheartening fall this morning. It gave me such a such a sense of yin and yang. There was the physical pain, shock and disappointment of the fall followed by the excitement of seeing the monks but also feeling touched by meeting them and being reminded about peace and the goodness of God and the need to look up instead of down.

Perhaps, I was meant to learn to trust God. That even when I fall and feel incredibly alone, that God is still there with me and carrying me forward to something better. And I know that if we didn’t have the rain, we’d never appreciate the sun and the plants would never grow.

That said, getting hurt still hurts.

“Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

— Nathaniel Hawthorne

As you may recall, I’ve mentioned  in various posts before, about how I see better when I’m looking through my camera lens. That I see things I miss with my own eyes.  Well, photographing and meeting these monks was confirmation and I really appreciated these added insights.

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The Monks blessing the Beach as their feet get wet.

It turns out the monks haven’t had much, if any, exposure to the beach and, for example, didn’t know that the water would be salty. I noticed that they flinched as the waves rolled over these feet. Perhaps, the water was cold but I saw this as an unfamiliarity with the waves.

However, while they were meditating and the very same water whooshed over their feet, they stood completely still. They didn’t flinch.

That touched me. That gave me an insight into the depths of their meditation and its power. That it’s something deep and very real. Not only that, I would love to reach that level of peace in myself…especially in stressful situation. It was such a powerful testimony.

“We must begin our search for meaning when things are going well. A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow roots just as the storm appears on the horizon.”

Dr Howard Cutler: “The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living” (which was co-written by the Dalai Lama.) […]

So, after photographing and meeting these inspirational monks, I was back to Parenthood 2.0. Watching the end of their surf lesson and taking them to Maccas for lunch on the way home…a special holiday treat.

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, we have a way to go too!

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By the way, you may be interested in a previous post I wrote where I reviewed The Pursuit of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and Howard Carter. You can check it out here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/the-dalai-lama-and-the-psychiatrist-converse/

xx Rowena

PS Tonight my husband was catching the train home from work when he spotted our dear neighbours returning prematurely from the trip. They’re in their mid-80s and the wife had had a nasty fall and had spent the night in hospital. I received a phone call on my “death bed” and the next thing I was driving to the station picking them up and helping her back into the house… past their tribe of about 8 duckling and a single parent who were missing them terribly along with their “pet” magpie. It felt nice to be useful and to be able to help them and be part of community instead of sitting on the edge! This couple have been a bit like grandparents to our family and today it was our turn to look out for them instead.

Walking Along Bleak Beach.

Yet another storm…

Once again, Mother Nature has ravaged our precious beach, savagely ripping our embattled Banksia trees out by the roots. I could feel their pain but as a mere mortal up against the sea, there was nothing I could do. No kiss of life was ever going to save them. It was all too late. As their bedraggled corpses lay discarded on the sand, I could only express my heartfelt sympathies after the fact.

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High Tide…the rough surf has turned the foam into whipped cream.

Perhaps, I should write a eulogy or an ode? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you lose someone you love to such heartless destruction?

I don’t know. What else is there?

Build Hadrian’s Walls to keep the Barbarians out? Construct an eyesore to preserve its skeletal remains?

Send the storms somewhere else?

Yet, we all know this isn’t just about the storm, don’t we?!!

That someone’s turned the oven up way too high and someone needs to turn it back down again before Mother Nature blows her stack completely.

When there’s so much more than my precious beachfront at stake, isn’t it about time we revisit how we cook?

I have no doubt and I can only hope that we’re not too late.

Otherwise, what are we going to say?

Am I willing to take the blame?

What about you?

What’s been going on in your neck of the woods? Do you hear climate change knocking on your door?

xx Rowena

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Despite dangerous surf conditions and warnings, there’s always a surfer willing to risk it all for the thrill of the wave.