Tag Archives: vacation

At Home in Byron Bay on Australia’s East Coast.

Ever since I first stepped foot in Byron Bay, it’s felt like home. Not that I’ve ever been able to live here in a physical, geographical postcode sense. Rather, I’m perpetually “just visiting”, and my sense of belonging is more metaphorical. More about finding my tribe here, rather than owning real estate. After all, I am beyond the flow and it’s perfectly normal to think outside the square here. To extend your horizons so far beyond the norm, that all your inhibitions melt and flow away. There’s no ridicule. No one’s laughing at you. It’s creativity personified and you can be whoever you are with that same liberating freedom, as diving off a bottomless cliff and finally learning to fly.

Kombi Byron Bay

In it’s heyday, Byron Bay was Kombi paradise with rows of Kombis parked beside the each with boards on top.

At least, that’s how it used to be.

Every time I come up here now, I see less and less of old Byron as the surviving remnants of her golden hippy era, are increasingly consumed by “progress”. Indeed, these days Byron is starting to look more and more like Sydney’s Double Bay and dare I use the word “posh”. I don’t mind posh and posh has its place. However, for those of us who actually remember old Byron (and even I came along fairly late in the piece), posh can go someplace else. Instead, I say bring back the Kombis all lined up along the beachfront with their surfboards perched on top…trophies celebrating freedom, sun, surf, sand and eternal Summers. The gateway to the inland hippy heaven of Nimbin, Byron was full of hippies, rainbows and a Mecca to the thriving counter-culture.

Byron Bay unicorn

That’s the Byron I first visited in around 1994. At the time, I’d sold out on my creative side and had gone fully corporate myself working as a marketing executive in the Sydney CBD and living nearby in a trendy, converted warehouse apartment in Sydney’s Broadway, a stone’s throw from Glebe. I’d graduated from Sydney University. Hung out in cafes writing and performing poetry while searching for the meaning of life. That’s before I headed off backpacking through Europe on what was meant to be the last hurrah before finally growing up and settling down to a real job, a career, a husband, mortgage, kids and a dog in the burbs. Implicit in all of this, was that I would personify the values of my parents, my school and the almighty North Shore. Of course, that had absolutely nothing to do with running away to Byron Bay and doing the happy dance barefoot on the beach.

That’s probably why I experienced such a jolt when I first came to Byron Bay. That despite having all the trappings of the corporate life, it wasn’t me. Or, at least, it wasn’t fully me. I was staying at Jay’s Hostel in Byron Bay and a group of us hung out together in the way that travellers do, almost bonding immediately in a way that’s impossible back home. I bought myself a hippy dress, hung out at the beach and in cafes philosophizing about life the universe and everything. No doubt, I also scribbled away in my journal, and wrote poetry. I felt so alive.

I don’t know what happened. However, it was like I’d been struck by lightning while I was in Byron Bay. When I arrived back in Sydney, my life there both at work and at home felt strangely unfamiliar. It was like I’d stepped into someone else’s life. It no longer made sense.

In hindsight, it’s no surprise. I was working long hours stuck in an office without any windows doing number crunching and database analysis of all things. How does a poet end up doing that? That is probably my greatest folly. The job description had changed, but I persevered trying to get some stability on my CV. They might as well have handed me a shovel, because I was rapidly digging my own grave. Coincidentally, it was while I was in this job, that the unchartered harbour in my head (known medically as hydrocephalus or fluid on the brain) was starting to make its presence felt. I was becoming seriously ill, although I wrote it off as stress at the time and moved to Western Australia.

I didn’t make it back to Byron Bay again until I came up here with my now husband, Geoff, in 1999. Geoff’s mother was living at nearby Nureybar with his sisters’ family and I was on my best behavior. It was very different going back to Byron Bay with him. He works in IT, and it’s not that he isn’t creative, but he didn’t connect with it in quite the same way I did.

Over the years since then, we’ve generally come up to stay with his sister at least once a year as a family and we’ve explored Byron Bay and the lighthouse with the kids. This has also been a very different experience…ice creams up at the lighthouse, stopping down at the Railway Park in town for the kids to enjoy our climbing tree…a fig tree which was damaged in a storm and fell over onto its side. By some miracle, it survived and grows along the ground, enabling even young kids to climb up into its branches and explore. The tree also has a special place in the local community. We’ve seen ribbons and scarves tied around its branches. A milk crate suspended upside down by a rope. A few times, a local woman known as “Mamma Dee” has done community art projects in the park. She had a heartfelt concern for young people and wanted to fill the park with love and connection and for young people to believe in themselves. Too many young people she knew had taken their own young lives, and she doing what she could to make a difference. Well, at least, she touched me. We’ve also met Christian groups giving away free food in the park and across the road, the Adventist Church runs a soup kitchen. All these things are acknowledgements of the darker remnants of old Byron…the many lost, broken and searching people who flee to Byron Bay in search of answers to life’s imponderable questions or to simply simply escape.

During these years when the kids were young, my sister-in-law would often mind them to give me a break and I’d disappear over the hill and into Byron. Once again, I’d found my wings and had that same sense of creative liberation, I’d experienced on my very first visit. Byron Bay was very much “my place”.

Fast-forwarding to 2020, we’re back at Nureybar again for a family holiday. It’s been three years since we’ve all be up here for an extended family holiday together. Geoff and the kids came up without me two years ago when I was sick and Geoff and I were child-free last year, when the kids were away at the Australian Scouting Jamboree in South Australia. So this means, the kids are three years older since we were here last, and the family dynamics have changed quite a lot. Indeed, the kids are no longer kids, and have evolved into teens. Indeed, our son is about to embark on his second last year of school.

So, instead of finding myself shooting off to Byron Bay solo, it’s been me and my girl…Miss 13. This has launched me into yet experiencing yet another perspective of Byron and I am a 13 year old girl buying bikinis and reporting everything back to my friends back home. Well, maybe not. I did turn 50 last year and I clearly can’t squeeze my feet back into a 13 year old’s shoes or even her bare feet. I would’ve loved to take her back to my Byron Bay, which was much more philosophical and reflective than commercial. She remembers some of it, such as the ladybird shop which used to pump clouds of bubbles down the main street. However, even the graffiti on toilet walls was good up here and it’s all but gone.

Yesterday’s trip to Byron Bay culminated in the Twilight Markets which are held in Railway Park around our climbing tree. We were wandering around and I bought a cards with prints by local artists. My daughter wanted to buy this candle thing where you poured scoops of wax beads into a glass container to make your own candle. I bought our son a kangaroo skin bracelet. We spotted Nutella donuts and they were an immediate must have just in case they sold out. Yum!!! They were divine. However, while we were soaking up the ambience and running back and forwards to the ATM across the road, the clouds were playing nasty tricks in the sky and it seems that all these national prayers for rain to extinguish the bush fires and ease the drought, were suddenly answered while the prayers of the market stall holders hoping to make a living, went unanswered. The heavens opened. Just a little at first and the stall holders valiantly persevered. The band moved back undercover and played on. The food vans stayed put. However, the rain had other plans and I just managed to buy some CDs from the band before they packed up and called it a day. The food vans were made of tougher stuff and we bought a plate of gado gado and by this stage, there was no hope of eating it under our tree. Rather, we hot-footed it back to the car as fast as we could with a plate of foot threatening to escape. While sitting in an almost generic white Subaru Forrester might seem rather ordinary, it was strangely atmospheric. We put on the new CD and as the rain fell all around up, we were making memories. It was so much fun and I felt 21 again.

Despite the rain, we headed back down there again today. Needed to stretch our wings.

More fun lay ahead, which started out trying on sunglasses and outfits at a vintage shop. How do you like our red sunnies? We didn’t buy them. I could hardly get multi-focals for the pair I tried on, but they were a lot of fun. We explored shop after shop and worked our way up to the beach. Still wet and overcast, we didn’t even consider swimming, but we did enjoy listening to the band at the Byron Bay Hotel who was playing Eagle Rock. We crossed the road and walked down onto the beach where we spotted something like 200 surfers hit the surf and formed a circle. Initially, I’d thought it was a surf school, but then I wondered if it was a funeral or memorial. There’s always something at Byron Bay you can’t quite explain and I just remembered that included a guy we spotted on the street corner known as “Cool” who was about 70 and swirling a hoola hoop while singing along and shaking maracas with a difference…one was a pineapple and the other was a banana.

Our holidays aren’t over yet. So, I’m interested to see what else Byron Bay and this incredible region have in store.

I’ll come back and add more photos once we’re back home. Our Internet connection is not the best here and is frustrating to say the least.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Byron Bay Continued…Walking Through Bangalow’s Past.

Our adventures around Byron Bay continue today as we visit the village of Bangalow. However, this journey is going to be a little different. You see, instead of simply walking up the hill and seeing what’s there now and exploring all the irresistible nooks and crannies, I’d also like you to think of yourself slowly walking through the doors of perception into a kind of time warp. Indeed, if you look at the main street, you’ll observe a red phone box, which for our purposes will act as a form of tardis. So, please step onboard and welcome to Bangalow past and present.

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The Magic Red Time Machine AKA Red Phone Box.

Self-described as “a bit above Byron”, Bangalow is a historic rural town located 13 km west of Byron Bay, 758 km north of Sydney and 165 km south of Brisbane. Moreover, just in case you have absolutely no sense of direction or geography whatsoever, we’re in Australia. I try never to take that for granted. Just because I know where I am, it doesn’t mean you’re in the know.

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The map above shows Newrybar where were staying with Bangalow at the centre and Byron Bay top right.

As you may be aware, Geoff and zipped up to stay at nearby Newrybar with his sister  last week, while the kids were away at the Australian Scout Jamboree and I’m now endeavoring to drag you along with me in a virtual blogging sense.

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However, rather than confirming how well I know Bangalow after coming here nearly every year for the last 20 years, this visit actually showed up my ignorance. Have you ever had that experience when you think you know a place, but then you suddenly see it from a different light, and you realize that you barely knew it at all? Indeed, you might even call this place home or your home away from home, and yet there are these mysteries. Those walls and corridors which are silent, and yet they speak. The trick, however, is finding a way to tune in and actually listen to their stories. Chip away at the layers of paint to find out what’s hidden underneath and the old newspapers are very good for that.

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Modern newspaper headlines outside the newsagency. I’m intrigued by “Ghost Hunters on a Mission”!

My ignorance suddenly jumped out at me when I met a member of the Bangalow Historical Society while I was photographing the museum (which used to be a brothel in nearby Brunswick Heads and it was transported to its current location.) I’d noticed that one of the shop fronts was clearly dated 1911 and I had wondered whether there was any significance to the date. As it turned out, a dreadful fire destroyed three wooden shops:


Fire at Bangalow.

All that remained of that range of comparatively new buildings from Garvey’s hotel property to the Commercial Banking Company’s premises in the main street on Friday morn ing was a strongroom, two chimneys, a tankful of boiling water and a confused mass of burning remains. Miss Dye first gave the alarm about 4.30. She states that she was awakened by the sound ,of burning timber, and, looking out of the window, observed flames rising from the building on the opposite side of the street. Calls awakened the Messrs Savage, who spread the alarm, and the ringing of the Convent and Pub lie School bells aroused the whole town. The building discovered to be on fire was owned by Mr W. Barby. It adjoined Garvey’s Hotel, and consisted of Mr W. Martin’s hairdressers, tobacconist, and fancy goods shop and billiard room, Messrs Ferguson and Torrens’ office, and Mr W, H. Perry’s tailoring establishment. Between this building and Blackwell and Sons’ store was a lane only 9ft wide and the flames quickly spread to their premises. The next building was the Commercial Bank, but be fore the fire reached it, the manager had time to remove valuable documents to the E.S. and A. Bank on the opposite side of the street. Fortunately the morning was calm, otherwise the houses on the opposite side of the street must also have gone. Savage’s new shop caught fire, but wet blankets and a copious drenching of water saved it. The telephone lines were fused, and telephonic communication was suspended. The damage is estimated at about £5000. Mullumbimby Star (NSW : 1906 – 1936), Thursday 10 August 1911, page 8

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Another detail I noticed walking up the main street on this visit was the War Memorial Clock outside Bangalow Post Office. It was unveiled on ANZAC Day 1937, just two years before Australia and the world were back at war. In place of numerals to mark the hour, the words “Lest We Forget,” are placed around the dial.Although I hadn’t really noticed and embraced it before, this time I paused to remember those who had made the ultimate sacrifice and all those young lads, especially from our country towns who went to serve our country.

bangalow war memmorial clock

It’s interesting how these small details you can easily miss walking up the street, open a window in Bangalow’s past. Yet, of course, I’m not here to provide a comprehensive history of Bangalow. Rather, I’m here to share MY Bangalow, which is no doubt a different Bangalow to the one someone else experiences. After all, each of us is selective, plucking out the things we love and are relevant to us, while ignoring and perhaps even being totally oblivious to the rest. We couldn’t possibly take it all in and wouldn’t want to either.

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Personally, I’m drawn to Bangalow’s historic architecture and quaint village feel as well as its artistic and creative flair…and of course the monthly markets when they’re on. As a visitor, it can be a bit hit and often more miss, as to whether the markets are on while we’re in town. Food is another drawcard and I always head up to the Choux Choux Cafe and love their Chocolate Saffron Chocolate Mouse Cake. I also buy a few Yum Cha treats at Red Ginger and sip on complimentary Chinese tea, while I write in my journal.

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Doing what I do best in Bangalow…Iced Coffee, chocolate cake and my journal at Choux Choux Cafe.

Bangalow has also been my escape hatch, especially when the kids were younger. Geoff’s sister used to do family daycare and would mind the kids while I escaped to spread my wings. Back when they were small, these escapes were my salvation. My creative side was actually able to draw breath and I know that I’ve already mentioned spreading my wings. However, when the bird escapes from her cage, that sense of freedom and being able to enter an artistic realm can not be under-estimated. That’s not to say I don’t love my kids and that we didn’t do creative things together. I don’t believe a parent should have to apologize for having a breather. Indeed, I believe it’s healthy. A short leash can have a stranglehold.

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You never know what you’re going to see round Byron Bay and Bangalow. I spotted this ute pull up across the road while I was at Choux Choux and was rather gobsmacked spotted a flamingo in the back of the ute. A loving Dad, it was a gift for his daughter’s birthday.

Yet, when you visit Bangalow today with its relaxed boutique village feel, it’s hard to believe that the notorious Pacific Highway used to roar through town and the very buildings where you now relax over a chai latte or peppermint tea, once rattled as the semi-trailers and trucks ploughed through. That all changed on December 14, 1994, when the Bangalow bypass was officially opened. The highway now bypasses most of these smaller coastal and country towns and while it’s dramatically reduced travel times and created quieter and safer local hubs, the trip is nowhere near as interesting as it used to be. It’s an A to B run with a fast food stop along the way. Or, for the wanderer at heart, detours off the road most traveled.

cwa bangalow

The CWA is the Country Women’s Association and has been an institution in Australian Country Towns for generations. Well known for their cookbooks and baking competitions.

 

 

My explorations through the newspapers also reminded me of Bangalow’s dairying heritage. A relic of it’s dairying past can be seen at The Buttery,  which in keeping with the changing times, is now a drug rehab centre. This newspaper description from the Farmer and Settler , Friday 22 July 1927 recreates  this Bangalow well:


BANGALOW.

Bungalow, in the early days the centre of the ”Big Scrub, is to-day a district of broad pastures and successful dairy farms with over 40,000 milking cows on its 8,000 acres, Laid out In 1891 by Surveyor J. B. Kelly, it was first known as Byron Creek. The first settlers in the district, who arrived about 1882, wore Messrs. Robert Campbell and J. P Garvan, Mr Campbell’s farm, known as ‘Granuaille,’ consisted of 640 acres, and the town of Bungalow stands on part of this land. Mrs. P. Garvey called the town Bangalow, because of the many palms of that name in the district, and it is known by that name to-day. After finding that sugar-cane growing did not pay, because, of the long haulage to the mill, the early settlers turned to dairying only forty two years ago. A co-operative butter factory was started In Bungalow In 1892, but with the introduction of hand separators the cream was sent to the factories of the . North Coast. Co-oporatlve Co. Ltd., at Byron Bay and Binna Burra. Just before 1900, cow that returned £5 per year, was considered a falr animal, but to-day If she does not give a return of £12 per annum the owner Is likely to dis pose of her. Tho soil of the Bungalow district Is of porous, volcanic diameter. Watered by many small streams and receivlng an average of 70-lnches of rain annually, successful pastures of paspalum and clover are grown, and in many cases the land is ploughed and sown to winter grasses. Illawarra milking shorthorns are, .the most popular dairy breed, due to their steers bringing high prices, but at the present time the Jerseys are coming into general favor, and several fine herds of this breed are found in the Bangalow district. Pig raising, as a subsidiary industry of tho dairyman, is Increasing in the Bangalow district at a 25 per cent, rate every year. In addition to the pigs shipped to tho Byron Bay ‘Norco’ bacon, factory, thousands of pigs are sold at the Bangalow yards each year. No particular breed’ is favored, and the great majority are cross-breds of Tamworth, Berkshire, Improved York, and Poland China breeds. Only bacon pigs are produced In this district.”

 

 

Speaking of pork, these days Bangalow Pork is famous. As their web sites explains:

Bangalow Sweet Pork is supplied by small Australian Family Farms. We promote the use of Sustainable Agricultural Practices so that our farms will continue to provide fabulous fresh produce for generations to come. The Welfare of Animal is an extremely important part of our program as any stress at any time during the life of our pigs can greatly affect the quality of our product. So for Bangalow Sweet Pork to provide the best quality Pork available it is extremely important that our animals live a healthy and happy existence. We have been proud leaders in our industry and since our inception our product has been Antibiotic Free and we DO NOT use any Hormones on our farms.

bangalow flying glass sculpture

Before we leave Bangalow, I just wanted to make one last stopover, which I plan to visit some time in the near future. While I’m not hugely into science fiction, I have a huge imagination and when I spotted these incredible glass sculptures at Zakay Zakay Studio & Gallery, I imagined shrinking myself, climbing inside and somehow taking flight and flying high above the world in this magical glass pyramid along with all of it’s dazzling lighting effects. Hey, would you like to join me and where would you like to go? I’m taking requests.

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Goodness knows where you’ll end up traveling inside this thing.

Anyway, I hope you can appreciate these various incantations of Bangalow and tomorrow I’ll continue the tour and take it into the modern era for Thursday Doors.

Have you ever been to Bangalow? What are your special memories of the place? I’d love to hear from you!

Best wishes,

Rowena

More about the Featured Image:

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Flying Through The Eye…Friday Fictioneers.

As a five year old, Molly’s perspective of their European vacation was very different to her Mum and Dad’s.

While they were engrossed in the minutae of the architectural details, Molly’s gaze wandered upwards, drawn towards the huge eye peering down through the roof. The eye of a friendly giant.

“Molly! Molly!” he beckoned.

Sensing a miraculous adventure, Molly let go of her mother’s hand and started rising higher and higher. “OMG! Mummy! Daddy! I’m flying”

Then, she looked down.There was only blue sky, clouds and teeny weeny rooftops as small as Monopoly houses and the moon lay up ahead.

……

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Running Faster Than A Speeding Bullet…

This afternoon, my son and I took the dogs for a run along the beach and it was absolutely spectacular. The weather was absolutely magnificent with lashings of warm, balmy sunshine and if I was more adventurous, perfect for a swim.

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Our Three Canine Companions….Rosie left, Lady Front and Zac rear. 

Well, here we have our three canine beauties photographed in motion at the beach. Well, the two now fully grown pups are in motion, while lady takes a more leisurely approach to the beach. That’s not difficult considering that the pups view it as a racing track.

There’s quite a knack to taking the dogs to the beach. Although we live walking distance from the beach, dog beach is a little further away. This means it’s a bit too far for me to walk with the three dogs, and walk along the beach as well. So, we all pile into the old car known as the “Dog Mobile” to get there. What with three irrepressible dogs who know exactly where they’re going, the drive is pandemonium and a bit like shouting lollies to a pack of toddlers. You have to brace yourself.

Once we’ve parked, we walk the dogs onto the beach on lead for safety. By this point, they’re truly irrepressible and I really need to remind myself to step into my boss shoes before we all become airborne. Geronimo! Once those leads were off, the pups flew like bullets down the beach and they were truly beautiful to watch. Indeed, they reminded me of thoroughbred horses.

Our son became quite agitated about them and worse-case scenarios flooded his mind like a storyteller. One minute the dogs were going to disappear in pursuit of a seagull. Then, they were going to run out through the shallows onto the sandbar halfway to Palm Beach, in which case it would be my job to retrieve them. There was also a strong rip and this has proven hazardous to smaller dogs and a friend’s had to dive in after his white fluff ball a few times. There’s was also a fisherman and the dogs often end up trying to snaffle their bait. However, today the dogs were more focused on running than prawns and just flew past.

Despite their unbridled energy and a smorgasbord of hazards on every flank, I was quite relaxed. All they wanted to do was run. Run faster than the wind. Indeed, they were built to run fast. However, they weren’t running away. Indeed, whenever I’ve been here with them before, they’ve always had an eye on me.

After all, just like humans, dogs know that as much as freedom is a wonderful thing, so is a sense of belonging. That becoming lost, especially when you’re alone can be terrifying whether you’re a human or a dog. Mind you, I must say that getting lost doesn’t seem to worry Lady. She’s been quite the escape artist and we’ve received multiple calls asking if we’ve lost a dog.

That said, we haven’t had her since she was a pup, and perhaps that explains her apparent lack of attachment. However, she was quite happy to leave her former life behind and come with us in the car when we picked her up. It was only some time later, that she started wondering what was going on and wanting to go back.

I really loved being back at the beach. We’ve had about three weeks’ worth of torrential rain and with the sun out, it was time to do the happy dance. It was magnificent.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Off To Join The Blackheathens…

When I first heard about being a “Blackheathen”, I thought it sounded like joining a Satanic cult. However, Blackheath is actually a town in the Blue Mountains West of Sydney and the locals call themselves “Blackheathens”, while throughout it’s history, visitors have dubbed it: “Bleakheath”. It is freezing. Well, at least by more wimpy standards where 18°C is considered “frozen” and we’re wrapped up in so many layers of jumpers, blankets, coats and overcoats, that we look more rugged up than Eskimos.

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Any way the wind blows, Henry goes with the flow…

Last week, I loaded up the little red car and drove up to Blackheath to stay with a cousin for four days. This was no ordinary “cousin” either. My 4 x Great Grandfather, John Johnston was her Great Grandfather’s older brother. We first met about 20 years ago when I was researching the bridge they built, the North Sydney Suspension Bridge, and I came across her name in a newspaper article in the local history file at the library. We met up back them, along with another cousin who was in her 80s at the time, and we formed a sort of inner circle of this vast outer circle of this Johnston family hailing back to the island of Islay in the Scottish Hebrides.

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Angus Rutherford Johnston my 4th Great Uncle and James Campbell in Seattle, USA. The photo album itself was a work of art.

When I got back in touch a few weeks ago, it turned out that a cousin had dropped off two family photo albums dating back to the 1880s and she invited to to come up to stay, copy of the photos and catch up.

Govetts Leap

 

As it turned out, copying the photos was the tip of the iceberg and I was brought deep into the Blackheath fold and not only taken to local lookouts, but also inside Blackheath. I watched a local musical theatre production on DVD called something along the lines of: “A Hot Time in Blackheath”. Blackheath used to be a popular destination for not only honeymoons back in the day, but also a “dirty weekend”. As I’d toured the lookouts in the past, such history had never crossed my mind. So, it was quite interesting to get this inside perspective.

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Zooming in on a rock face over Govett’s Leap. I have always been astounded by the tenacity of Australian plants to grow in such challenging locations.

Before I left for Blackheath, I had been planning to indulge in food the entire week without any thought of ballooning into twice my size or blowing the budget. I was wanted to indulge. However, while we did stop at the Ivanhoe Pub for a magnificent pie, I actually indulged more in books as I found out that one of my favourite all time bookshops, Gleebooks, had a store in Blackheath and I fell deep down that precarious slippery slope back into book addiction.

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Meanwhile, in the nearby carpark, I spotted an amazing mural designed by Jenny Kee,  a well known Australian fashion and event designer and writer and Blackheath local on the side of the historic Victory Theatre. The mural features bold and colourful representations of Australian plants and wildlife in Jenny Kee’s typical style.

Of course, my time in Blackheath was over way too soon. However, I did spend a few hours in Katoomba, breaking the homeward journey. So, stay tuned.

Have you ever been to Blackheath?

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

Weekend Coffee Share 21st January, 2018.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

You’d better hold your horses and psych yourself up. We’re not having coffee this week. Rather, we’re piling into the dog mobile and heading off to Dog Beach. I hope you’re feeling brave, because you’re taking our 6 month old Border Collie x kelpie pups, Zac and Rosie. They have such raw energy, that you could end up flying along behind them like a kite. On the upside, just think of all the energy you’ll burn off!  Meanwhile, I’ll take Lady, but I will give you a hand.

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Dog Beach: my daughter inscribed this with a stick in the sand.

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a great one.

This week’s been a bit of a struggle for me in some ways. I’ve still been battling The Cough, which I’ve now christened “Fergus”. No offence to anyone named Fergus, but it sort of sounds like wheezy creepings within my lungs. I went back to the doctor again and am on another round or two of antibiotics, but am finally on the mend. Enough to shout a yahoo, but not quite enough to leap in the air yet.

As you could well understand yourselves, something like a cough or cold which is chronically annoying but not necessarily serious, can still be a pain in the neck. Moreover, you still feel you have to keep doing life and stuff, while feeling entitled to your own private nurse and a good strong dose of TLC. I also want to be a part of life and do things with my husband kids, family and friends and not be shut away in the house all the time. So, I feel like I’ve swallowed Dr Dolittle’s classic Push-Me-Pull-You and it’s been hard to juggle it all.

Image result for Dr Dolittle's classic Pushmepullyou

Both of the kids have been away at different camps this week. Our daughter was on a Young Carers Camp at Camp Breakaway and our son has been away with scouts. While you’d think this would’ve given me a breather, I still had to provide some transport and our daughter had to pop back for a dance workshop. So, there was more driving. Packing for Scouts, was also an ordeal. They provide such easy to follow check lists, and yet the kids inevitably leave something behind at both ends. Trying to get His Lordship’s bag packed was also like pulling teeth. Indeed, I’ve seen him more compliant going to the dentist.

As they say, never work with children or animals.

Geoff & Lady 20 Jan 2017

Indeed, it was quite a deal piling all three dogs in the dog mobile with three humans tonight. The pups were so exuberant. Zac even ran over the rocks at a sprint, and I could see how these dogs could walk over the backs of sheep. They’re unstoppable. Meanwhile, Lady has this way of surruptitiously wandering off, and at one point was heading for the sand dunes, which are known to house rabbits and  other critters. This area runs up to the road and as Lady has zero traffic sense, Geoff had to bolt after her. Meanwhile, Rosie started to follow Lady. Humph! Out came the leads!

Amelia & pups dusk Jan 20 2018

 

By the way, I almost forgot to mention that after dropping my daughter back at camp, I went on a bit of a detour. Indeed, I am the Detour Queen. The camp was on the coast about two hours North of Sydney and there are some wonderful beaches up there. So, I puttered down to Budgewoi where I had half a dozen battered prawns for lunch and then spotted a sign for Norah Head. My friend’s family had a holiday house there when I was at school, and I still remember a few very special birthdays in the sand dunes. Those sand dunes were revegetated years ago and have in effect disappeared. However, the lighthouse is still standing. No one’s buried that along with my youth.

Norah Head Lighthouse

Norah Head Lighthouse, NSW Central Coast, Australia. 

With school going back in a week, I’ve been working desperately hard to get the house sorted out. However, progress took a huge step back in a sense today when we finally got the Summer clothes down from the roof. I have been known to frequent the local opportunity (or thrift) shops on a rather regular basis and have spotted more than the odd bargain, especially when it comes to my daughter. She could become a jetsetter and have what looks like a year’s worth of outfits without spending a cent. However, her wardrobe couldn’t possibly house all of this, so we’re having to do a cull and I’m thinking garage sale. Meanwhile a Mt Everest or two of clothes is choking up the loungeroom and my husband’s peering through fabric and crates to watch the cricket.

It’s become very clear that never of us need to go clothes shopping for a very, very long time. On the other hand, there’s some scope for me in the shoe department, especially after Rosie ate my favourite shoe for lunch. They’re nothing glam. Rather, they’re shoes for people who work on their feet or need added support. Or what my daughter condescending refers to as “granny shoes”. But they worked for me and sensible shoes is where I’m at these days.

Speaking about fashion, it’s an exceptionally rare moment that I even think of fashion. However, I was getting to the point of shooting The Cough, and spotted a very glamorous Vogue magazine and decided buy it and stick my face over the top. I haven’t gotten around to that yet but here’s the photo and perhaps it can ignite a few dreams of your own. I’m getting more and more interested in fantasy these days. Reality is over-rated.

Reality is only limited by your imagination!

As I’ve been reading back over this coffee share, I’ve detected a note of melancholy and wondered whether I should zoop it a bit bit. Add a bit of razzle dazzle and make it more positive. But, we don’t have to be all happy happy joy joy all the time and sometimes we do just need to move into what I’ll call a minor key, before we can reach the high note.

So, how was your week? I hope you’ve had a good one. Please let me know what you’ve been up to in the comments. 

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Alli ,  Here’s the Linky Come on and join in!  We’d love to have you along!

Weekend Coffee Share October 1, 2016.

Welcome to another Weekend Coffee Share.

How patient are you? I could get you a cuppa now or you can wait until the Mars Bar Slice has set. Or, you can be like the kids and I can cut you off a piece still dripping with melted chocolate. They were heading off to bed before it set and who can wait til tomorrow for Mars Bar Slice? Have you tried it? It is wickedly good.

I hope you’ve had a great week. What have you been up to? You know there are no secrets around here. Well, there might be a few but no one can dob us in, can they?!!

We have just got through our first week of school holidays and Geoff took the week off work. We are having a “staycation”. Well, three of us had a staycation, while we dispatched our son off to a three day beginner’s sailing course during the day. Next week, both kids will be doing a three day sailing course, despite my daughter’s concerns about Australian wildlife lurking under the waves. It doesn’t help that there’s been another shark attack at Ballina, near Byron Bay this week. To be honest, a shark would be pretty daft to swim around a noisy a group of kids. The din would be enough to send them swimming away to save their own sanity.

Tuesday was a huge day. I had a half-yearly check up with my lung specialist as well as lung function tests, which seem designed to make me cough and cough until I almost expire but then I’m free to go. The appointment and the tests went as expected…no better, no worse. See you in six months. That’s a good sign, considering where I was! Much to be thankful for as well!

After my appointments, we’d planned to go sailing at Palm Beach with my dad and the kids. However, while I was coughing my lungs out in the machine, the wind had built up steam as well and was gusting at 30 knots. There wasn’t even much discussion. The Captain had spoken. No sailing.

“Not happy, Jan!” (This commercial is really worth seeing. It’s hilarious! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2akt3P8ltLM )

Anyway, I compensated by heading out into my parents suburban jungle of a garden with my camera and photographing fallen camellias, a striking tree without any leaves and my feet walking through the forget-me-knots. I ended up lying down in the grass using my camera bag as a pillow and listening to the wind tinkling through  the leaves. I don’t know when I last lay down in the grass and watched the clouds pass by. Most of the time, we don’t have much grass in our garden at home and when we do, it can be quite a jungle.

I must do it more often. I rarely even sit down at the beach. I’m always walking…and throwing Bilbo has ball, of course. You try telling a Border Collie he’s had enough. He doesn’t know the meaning of enough…especially when it comes to chasing balls and food.

Anyway, after roaming through the garden, we drove up to Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River on the way home and played explorers. Funny how we managed to find a fish & chips shop. We only ordered chips but then a couple of chickens and roosters wandered in, giving a different interpretation of “chicken & chips”. Actually, they were all rather fond of eating chips and it’s certainly a much better alternative than being served up alongside them on the plate. Indeed, you could say they were rather demanding…”Chippies!!!!”

You can read more about our Day Trip to Brooklyn

We usually eat pretty healthy food here but school holidays are a different story and surely I deserve a bit of time off as well, especially given the persistence of “The Cough”!

So, after picking our son up from sailing, we headed over to Avoca Beach and had fish and chips and a fisherman’s basket for dinner. Not sure I’m really pleased about finding this place because the seafood was exceptionally good. I want more and I can see myself sneaking back and making  devious detours. I wonder if I keep eating fish and chips, whether I’ll be able to swim like a fish? After all, people keep telling me anything’s possible when you put your mind to it. What do you think?

My husband thinks I’m crazy but he hasn’t had me locked up yet.

Rainbow Lorrikeet

Making the most of where I am. This photo was taken in our backyard…a Rainbow Lorrikeet in a bottlebrush tree. It could so easily be described as just “a bird in a tree”.

Inspiration hit hard last night so I’ve been scrambling away researching, writing and things are coming together well. Stay tuned and I’ll keep you posted but the story is based on my explorations in my parents’ garden. A simple theme but profound about the amazing things lurking right under our nose, while were longing for foreign fields. Making the most of the moment. With my health issues and having the kids and not being able to travel overseas, I am good at this. Blogging has really helped because it’s given me a greater appreciation for what I have here because it is exotic and amazing to someone over there.

I finally watched “Eat, Pray, Love” the movie this week. My husband wasn’t a huge fan and disappeared but Bilbo came and sat on my lap most of the way through it and didn’t complain. Mind you, that could have been because he was asleep.

It’s been a few years now since the book came out and my friends and I were reading it when our boys first started school. That was 7 years ago. We all had young kids and there was no way we could just take off and leave them behind for 12 months. However, I do remember drawing a line in the sand and deciding to explore local places and I’ve followed through on that right up to our day trip to Brooklyn this week. You don’t need a pot of gold or endless time to travel. Indeed, travelling and exploring are a mindset and it doesn’t really matter where you are because you’ll always be turning over fresh stones and looking for what’s lurking underneath.

I also remember refusing to accept mediocrity and that started with moving to a new cafe. We didn’t look back.

BTW, I almost forgot to mention that I joined in with 1000 Voices for Compassion this week, writing Compassion: It’s Complicated. No matter how much I try and help people, I’m forever making mistakes and letting people down and I think we all need to be more forgiving.

The clock here goes forward an hour sometime during the night and much to my horror, this is where we gain an hour to lose an hour. It’s never made any sense to me. By Monday morning, things usually make sense but you need to watch out if you work Sundays or head to Church. You can easily get caught out.

Anyway, it’s time for me to stop rambling and philosophising  and to click on the Publish button and get some sleep.

Hope you’ve had a great week and please share your news!

This has been another Weekend Coffee Share. You can click through to the Linky to read some other posts or to join in yourself.

Love & Blessings,

Rowena

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I’m Not Sailing!

Today, when our sailing trip with my Dad was cancelled due to strong winds, I discovered that even when you have a yacht, going sailing isn’t guaranteed and smooth sailing isn’t as easy as I thought.

Apparently, one of the first things you need to learn about sailing, is that just because you have a yacht or access to one and you’ve made plans, that there’s no guarantee that you’ll get out on the water as planned.

Indeed, it turns out that having a yacht is only a very elementary part of going sailing. Unfortunately, sailing is at the mercy of that greatest of vagaries…the weather.  Of course, you don’t want to take unnecessary risks. However, when you’ve been counting down the days and you can already feel the wind in your hair, it’s only natural to feel upset. Want to fight back.  Ignore the weather report. After all, where there’s a will there’s a way.

It’s good my Dad knows when to call it quits. Moreover, quite aside from risking lives, taking the kids out in rough conditions is counterproductive. We need each and every sailing experience to be a good one when they’re starting out. So, I had to be sensible and find an alternative to lessen the disappointment.

Today, we’d arranged to go sailing with my Dad. I had a routine appointment with my lung specialist in Sydney and sailing fitted in well afterwards. So, I’m sure you’ll understand that while I’m coughing away having lung function tests, that I was picturing being out on the water enjoying some smooth sailing and my disappointment when it didn’t happen. As we were driving back from the hospital, the wind was whipping through the trees and although my knowledge of sailing is pretty basic, it was looking like we wouldn’t get out.

Yet, I’m a pretty determined person and live that old adage: “where there’s a will there’s a way”.

However, you also need to be responsible and know when it’s time to think laterally and find something else to do…especially when the weather bureau is reporting 30 knot winds and making special, additional reports.

Clearly, it wasn’t the day to go out.

Yet, Geoff has the week off work and the kids are on school holidays and I didn’t feel like simply going home. We decided to stop off at Brooklyn on the Hawkesbury River on the way home.

dsc_3499

In the meantime, Dad was taking a few photos of the garden  and I decided  to retrieve the camera from the boot and go hunting. We’re just edging into Spring in Sydney. Lush green leaves are budding on deciduous trees, flowers are blooming and inspiration was everywhere.

My parents have a very established garden, which was initially developed by an avid gardener with then exotic plants. There’s a jungle of azaleas front and back and numerous camellias including the ginormous reticulatas, which Dad planted and more dainty sasanquas. Their garden also has quite a range of Japanese maples and there’s a stunning Crab Apple flowering by the front door at the moment.

If you are also seriously into photography, you’ll know what I mean when I say that I was walking through the garden looking through the lens, trying to pluck things out of the under and overgrowth, which would take on a life of their own in 6 x 4.

dsc_3452

A Twisted Fork in the Road.

I spotted bare branches with a maze of dark sticks silhouetted against the azure sky. I saw that proverbial fork in the road as the branches split and branched out but then as you moved out toward the twiggy ends, there was such a maze of sticks. This reminded me of what it’s like to get lost and how your plans can get so badly scrambled, that you get lost in the maze..where am I? Do I even know who I am?

a-jumbled-path

When your path becomes a jumbled maze…

Fueled by the strong wings, clouds were sprinting across the sky, whisking me out of myself and into their arms. Senses overloaded, I lay down on the grass using my camera bag as a pillow, opening the eyes of my heart up to the sky. White, flossy cloud streaked across the intense blue sky like trails of cotton wool. The leaves were rustling and chattering in the wind and various birds flew by.

DSC_3485.JPG

Scrumptious Clouds!

Indeed, while I was lying there I heard a “Scratch! Scratch!” in the undergrowth and a brush turkey was wandering by.

Despite all these “distractions”, I could feel myself melting into the grass and the full weight of life’s burdens being lifted from my shoulders. I can’t remember the last time I lay down on the grass and looked at the sky and stopped. Completely stopped…my heart rate slowing right down to R for rest.

maple-leaf

So, although we didn’t get out on the water today, I was able to experience the same sense of deep relaxation on land.

This is an important skill for a sailor to learn. After all, just like you don’t catch a fish every time, you can’t always get a sail. So, instead of succumbing to the disappointment, you’re better off keeping an open mind and finding other ways to carpe diem seize the day.

That is, instead of dwelling on the yacht which got away.

Have you ever been sailing? Please let your stories flow!

xx Rowena

Sailing to the Soul- Quotes Day 2.

What can we gain by sailing to the moon if we are not able to cross the abyss that separates us from ourselves? This is the most important of all voyages of discovery, and without it, all the rest are not only useless, but disastrous.
Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O. was an American Catholic writer and mystic. A Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Kentucky, he was a poet, social activist, and student of comparative religion. Wikipedia
Born: January 31, 1915, Prades, France
Died: December 10, 1968, Bangkok, Thailand
Today, we are going sailing so I thought I’d find a good sailing quote to share with you.
opti Pittwater
When it comes to sailing, I must confess that I’m much better at photographing sailing and being ballast than actually sailing the boat. Steering isn’t exactly my strength and I have no sense of direction and when it comes to reading maps, I’m better at turning them into origami masterpieces…paper aeroplanes, flapping birds and the like.
All the same, I love sailing with the wind rushing through my hair and that sense of absolute freedom. It’s fantastic!

I would like to thank Olive Ole from https://travelmuch.net/  for nominating for the 3 Days 3 Quotes Challenge.

Olive lives in Denmark and produces a stunning travel blog with some very striking images. Being Australian, I really appreciate being able to explore other parts of the world with her.  So don’t hang around here – go check her out!Let me talk you through the rules of the challenge:

  1. Three quotes for three days.
  2. Three nominees each day (no repetition).
  3. Thank the person who nominated you.
  4. Inform the nominees.

On Day 2, I am nominating three people who are into sailing or water sports:

Destination Everywhere: https://mrssuvi.com/
I hope your week is smooth sailing.
xx Rowena
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Weekend Coffee Share 24th September, 2016.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

You’ve chosen a great day to join me for coffee. This time, I’m not offering you Vegemite toast with your beverage of choice. Rather, I have been to the bakery and bought a try of delectable Chocolate Profiteroles with a rich Crème pâtissière filling. Trust me! I’m very discerning about anything involving chocolate or desserts and these are to die for. Or, worth paying me an actual visit. They taste nowhere near as good in cyberspace!

How was your week? I hope it’s been a good one but this coffee share also offers a great place to vent a bit about your week and let it go. I had a fairly stressful week with a whole lot of strange things happening, which stressed me out quite a lot. On Tuesday, my daughter’s train was cancelled and a friend gave her a lift part of the way and we were told the trains further up the line were fine but they weren’t. So, this meant my daughter and her friend were walking for an hour to school when I was told the bus company had it covered. That afternoon, her train was running 40 minutes late so she rang me and asked me to pick her up from the station. However, she didn’t say which station so I was waiting for these trains there for 40 minutes and then she wasn’t on there. Of course, I had to leave my mobile phone at home during all of this and her phone is missing. She ended up getting home at 6.00PM and was very rattled. Thursday, I witnessed something rather concerning involving a child on the train and had to report that and follow it up. Friday, I couldn’t find my wallet and searched all around my lounge chair and couldn’t find it but then it only took Geoff five minutes to find it down the side. Don’t you hate that? I swear sometimes my eyes just don’t work!

After all of that, I felt like I needed a long bath but life goes on.

During the last week, I came across a series of interesting dog stories after trying to find out more about a story about a guide dog stealing Pal from the supermarket and winding up in court. So, if you like a good dog story, you might want to check these out:

Judge Reprimands Thief Dog

A Different Type of Rescue Dog-Newfoundland

The Dog and the Omnisient Narrator

The Dogs’ Commandments

The week is finishing up on a more relaxing note. We had stunning Spring weather today with bright azure skies and several of our native Australian plants are flowering. So, it was lovely sitting out in the garden and having lunch.

suncatcher

The Sun Catcher Kit.

Later in the day, my daughter and I made a suncatcher or stained-glass window cat from a kit and baked it in the oven. We tried one of these four years ago when she was 6 and had a bit of a disaster with the metal frame shifting and the plastic crystals spread far and wide and overflowed the frame. I still remember our disappointment and reblogged a post I wrote about it at the time.

stained-glass-fairy

The “Stained Glass” Fairy

Disaster Crafter-our first attempt at the fairy.

The Craft Master- Making the Stained Glass Cat.

Today’s effort went really well after my daughter with her x-ray vision, still found mistakes. I probably don’t notice them enough and have quite a “she’ll be right mate attitude” unless it comes to my writing.

amelia-cat-glass

The “Stained Glass” Cat we made today.

The kids are now on school holidays and we’ve booked our son in for a three day sailing course and they’re both doing a three day surfing course the following week. Sounds like fun to me!

What have you been up to? Do you have any plans?

I’d love to hear from you!

The Weekend Coffee Share is hosted by Part Time Monster.  You can join this week’s Coffee Share on her blog or by clicking on the Linky.

xx Rowena