It’s currently Sunday night, and I’m currently watching Masterchef Junior Australia. So, this week I thought we should try to nut out some way of breaking into the TV set and running off with all their goodies. Sounds good, doesn’t it?!! A serving of lobster mornay, followed by handmade ravioli with lemon tart with berries for dessert followed by Spiced Chocolate Tart. Hey why stop there? I think I’ll add a third dessert and also go for the Masterchef interpretation of Smores using marshmallow made from Davidson Plum. I have no shame. Besides, with this being a virtual meal, we can gourge ourselves without consequence and no fear of impersonating Monty Python’s Mr Creosote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U
How was your week?
Last week, was the second week of school holidays for my kids. On Tuesday, our daughter and I caught the ferry across to Palm Beach where we met up with my Dad and spent a few hours out sailing across Pittwater. It was a really special day, because we haven’t been out on the boat with Dad for a few years , and we also haven’t seen him and my mum for a few months as we’ve been playing it safe re Covid. On top of that, it was also special to snaffle our daughter away from her friends for the day, and time with her has become a precious commodity, especially with all the hours she puts into her dance. However, there were also a few disappointments as well. While we’ve been having some wonderfully sunny Spring days lately, on Tuesday it was grey and overcast, which isn’t great for photography. My favourite fish & chips shop was closed so I missed out on my fisherman’s basket, although I did pick up a tasty and very generous fish burgers next door. Lastly, there was the problem of insufficient wind. Since we thought we might end up without any wind at all and would have to go under motor, the soft 2 knot wind was great. However, it would be fair to say that both Dad and I were left longing for more and were very pleased when the wind managed to get to 4 knots, even if it was as we turned for home. Dad says that often happens.
I’m sure I must’ve done something else last week. Has it just slipped my memory, or was I just trying to keep my head above water? I’ve been doing a bit of research on my WWI soldiers’ project, as well as baking. Oh dear! I’m sure I did more than that. However, I’ve also been trying to clear stuff out of our house, and get it to a point where we can actually entertain from home again. It’s been years.
Lastly, this week school goes back, which also means that violin lessons start up again. I’ve had over two terms off from my lessons, and I’m still a little undecided about whether I’ll go back. I think it would be good to reconnect, and I’m starting to feel it would be a good idea for me to get something back to normal. However, I’ll need to suss out things at the studio before I truly make up my mind and I also need to get in more practice. I’ve been getting back into the piano, and having the keyboard where you can lower the volume and play into the night. Obviously, that’s much harder with the violin, and I try to be considerate about when I play.
Next week, I might have to make up a few activities. I’m feeling like there’s not a lot to report. Hey, I believe that’ll take me into the league of creating “fake news”. The only trouble is, that with all the covid restrictions in place, you’d know I was lying. What a pity!
Monday was all azure blue skies and glorious sunshine. However, of course, when we were going sailing on Tuesday with my Dad, it was dull and overcast, and we weren’t even sure there was going to be any wind.
However, that didn’t really matter. That’s because it’s been a couple of years since I’d been out sailing with Dad, and thanks to being cautious about covid, we haven’t seen him for a while either. Moreover, our daughter was also on school holidays, and I’d finally managed to pry her away from her friends for a day out. So, when you look it at like that, no matter how the sailing turned out, we were in for a wonderful day!
Yet, that’s not to say we still weren’t hoping for a perfect day out. A steady, but not gale force, wind with sunny skies good for photography, great conversation, and I did mention something about food? I was particularly looking forward to ordering my Fisherman’s Basket from Palm Beach Seafoods. Yum. Nothing like a good grease and oil change now and then! I’m now really sure grease is good for my engine, but it sure tastes good.
This all brings me to possibly the most challenging aspect of sailing. You’re 100% at the mercy of the wind. Be that too much wind, not enough wind.
Well, maybe it’s not quite 100% controlled by the wind, because other weather factors also come into play. We get some scorchingly hot Summer days here where I’d rather not be out on the water burning to a crisp. On the other extreme, I know some of you live in parts of the world where your marinas are buried under snow and ice in Winter, and that puts an end to sailing. On this front, we’re pretty lucky. Our Winters are pretty temperate, and you can sail all year round. However, there’s still about a month each year where you’re better off staying home and snuggling up in your woollens in front of the heater.
Dad sails a Catalina. It’s a beautiful boat with everything you need to sleep onboard and it certainly feels luxurious. You can sit up there on the deck and soak up the view without the boom hitting you on the head and throwing you overboard. You can also get in and out of the boat without getting wet. That can be a real bonus.
However, there’s still something thrilling about being in a small craft almost at one with the ocean, even if it is pretty hard work constantly adjusting the sails and ducking under the boom. However, there’s that exhilaration of speed and shooting through the water, which is pure fun.
Of course, catching the wind on any sail craft is problematic, and also seems to require an intuitive sense. Indeed, the initiated, can pick up speed in a relatively light wind and in such a small craft, its absolutely exhilerating!!. Indeed, putting all this overthinking aside, it’s fun. Pure fun.
Anyway, I’ve put the cart before the horse already talking about sailing, because we still need to catch the ferry from Ettalong to Palm Beach. Meanwhile, our journey to Palm Beach on the ferry from Ettalong is always an adventure, and I was really looking forward to that too. It’s been a few years, and what with Covid, we’re lucky to travel anywhere at the moment. However, while we had perfect weather on Monday, it was chilly with grey, overcast skies yesterday, and instead of hanging out outside as usual, we huddled indoors. I took no photos, and sat there wearing mask and gloves…humph.
In additon to the ferry and sailing trips, I was also looking forward to having my fisherman’s basket at Palm Beach Fish & Chip Shop. This has been a ritual ever since I was my daughter’s age, when I stayed at “Palmy” with a friend. I even worked there briefly, but didn’t make the cut. I was more in-tune with baking than the fast food industry. However, I still like to reminisce, especially about nights eating pizza at Palm Beach jetty with friends, while drinking Dad’s second-rate French Beaujolais.
However, they’re closed on Tuesdays, and I was left staring through the window at an empty shop. We sat down and had lunch together at the other takeaway shop. I enjoyed a very generous fish burger while chatting with our daughter, which was probably the most remarkable part of the day. She’d planned to bring a friend along and they were going to head to the beach while Dad and I went sailing. However, the friend was grounded, and our daughter didn’t quite twig that lunch with Papa included sailing. The last time we took her sailing didn’t go well. She was absolutely terrified. However, she was much younger then, and Dad had more of a racing yacht then. It was much more sensitive to the wind and I remember some exhilarating (terrifying) moments. While Dad’s always looking for converts to sailing, he hasn’t taken our daughter or my mother out on the boat since then.
Sailing’s been something I’ve dabbled in as a by-stander over the years. I went sailing with my dad a few times when I was at school. We sailed lasers down at Middle Harbour, and I really loved it. Again, it was more of an exhilarating experience and nothing to stop you from flipping over, which is why my Dad prefers the safety and security of his yacht these days. I don’t know why those sailing outings with my dad stopped all those years ago. That was him, not me. I would’ve kept going. The family also spent a week onboard a yacht sailing around the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater. A few years ago, my parents had a place at Palm Beach and the previous owners had left a laser behind. This was a wonderful opportunity for our family. Our son was doing sea scouts. It was great for him to have access to our own boat, and I went out with my husband. I was really little more than ballast, and he did all the hard work. However, I still loved being out there, and a few times we even took the dogs. If I didn’t have my health difficulties, I could see myself as a sailor. I can sense the waves in my soul, which could also be what makes for the poet in me.
Meanwhile, to get out to the boat, we caught a ride from the marina. This is fun too, because this guy gives us an entertaining tour of the houses. He knows who owns which massive waterfront mansion, and always throws in some incredible stories to boot. His feet also told a story, and wished I could make a portrait. They were definitely sailor’s feet… tanned, weathered, a few jagged broken toe nails and dusted with sand. This is his second life, and he used to be more corporate. However, he clearly belongs here now, and could well be a very good friend of Hemingway’s if he was still alive today and found his way Down Under.
Dad was not happy when we pulled up at the boat. It’s only been a week, but the seagulls have pooped from one end of it to the other. Indeed, they’ve even left a nest, making themselves right at home. Fortunately, there were no eggs and Dad unceremoniously cast that into the water filled with disgust. As he cleaned the deck, the seagulls were circling like vultures. They weren’t about to give up their perch without a struggle, and no doubt their squawks of complaint acknowledged Dad’s impertinence. Meanwhile, my daughter and I waited down below in luxury. I was becoming pleased that she’d come. She was admiring the Catalina with its plush interior, and she enthusiastically raised the curtains and peered out through the portholes. Phew! It was starting to look like we had a convert in our midst, and that the terror was gone. That she might actually enjoy sailing after all. Wouldn’t that be great?!!
As I said, Dad was thinking that we weren’t going to get any wind, and we’d be under motor. However, the wind managed to get up to a trifling 2 knots, which wasn’t enough to ruffle the water, but we did get under sail. It was very relaxing , quiet and peaceful. I had a go at steering, which according to my dad was “having a sail”. To be honest, it all felt pretty calm and timid. Moreover, of course, it was only when we were heading back that the wind managed to get up to around four knots. Dad said that often happens, and I could see that he also liked a faster sail. A bit of an adrenalin rush. However, we managed to keep my daughter happy, and that was the real success of yesterday’s voyage.
Indeed, I was reminded of the importance of little things yesterday. That just sitting together is enough. You don’t need an action-packed, adrenalin-fueled adventure to have a great time. Indeed, we don’t even need to have words. We can just be.
Yet, of course, it was also pure magic to be out there again. I love experiencing the enormity of being out there on the water, even if we weren’t out at sea and far away from land. I loved soaking up this vast enormity of water all around me, with the rim of the coast snug around us. Indeed, from the comfort of my desk, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to be onboard one of those triangles of white sail you see far out on the horizon. It looks so peaceful from a distance, even though I know it’s like the proverbial duck floating on the water. While it’s all grace above, those feet are paddling like fury, working hard down below. Moreover, it’s dangerous, and I don’t need to look far to see someone who has lost their life onboard a yacht out there. Indeed, it reminds me. There’s much to be said for dreaming, but not all dreams are meant to become real.
So, in my mind’s eye I’m hovering around the horizon in my little white yacht. There’s wind in the sails, dolphins jumping past and life is all blue skies and sunny days.
Have you been sailing? Are you a sailor? I’d love to hear from you and more about your adventures.
“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.” – Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows a children’s book by Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932).
It seems Rat knew a lot about sailing when he shared this piece of wisdom with Mole. When the uninitiated looks out and sees that lone sail moving swiftly across the water and is usually green with envy, they have no idea how much work has gone on behind the scenes to get out onto the water.
We’re a family of sailors, non-sailors and a couple of in-betweens, and my mother the non-sailor speaks of my father saying he’s going “down to the boat”, which usually means he’s fixing something rather than actually going out for a sail.
Moreover, even if you’ve done all of that and your boat is in good working order, you’re still at the mercy of the wind and it simply has a mind and will all of its own. Indeed, I’m sure willing the wind is even beyond the power of prayer, and there’s nothing, nothing at all, you can do to “make it happen!”
All you can do is apply a bit of humour and remain philosophical.
Today, we tried one boat ramp, but it was closed for repairs. Geoff rigged up the boat. Found a few issues, and by then the wind had disappeared and the sun was gone.
So, unfortunately, the laser made it no further than the park. Ironically, the boat just happened to be parked within eye shot of the Imagine sign, leaving Geoff to imagine what it would be like to get the boat out on the water for a sail.
Hopefully, he’ll get to find out next weekend when the Winter Series opens up at the Sailing Club. The club has been closed for a few months due to the Coronavirus, but has been cleared to re-open, at least to some extent. It will be great to be back.
Have you been out sailing lately? How did it go? I’d love to get out there again soon, but in the meantime, we had an enjoyable paddle on the kayak instead.
Welcome back to my series: Places I’ve Been for the 2020 Blogging From A to Z April Challenge.
Today, we’re jumping back into our time machine and re-setting the date for the 13th December, 1982. We’ve just arrived at Mangrove Creek, where we’ll be picking up the yacht and sailing down onto the Hawkesbury River. Of course, you’ll be meeting my Mum and Dad, my ten year old brother and my 13 year old self. By the way, you might notice that my Dad bears an uncanny likeness to British actor, John Cleese. I always used to wonder why people used to say to him:”Nudge, nudge wink wink, say no more”. However, the world’s full of so many mysteries for a kid, and this was just one of many which were never sufficiently explained.
My apologies for the lack of photos. My 13 year old self wasn’t much chop with the camera, and the camera wasn’t much chop either. I’m pretty sure I was still using my Kodak Instamatic, which had the cartridge of film you put in the back which you dropped off at your local chemist for processing. My parents and brother have also requested not too subtly, that I don’t post their photos on Facebook or the blog, and I mostly honour that request.
Anyway, on the 13th – 18th December, 1982 our family spent five days onboard a yacht slowly sailing from Mangrove Creek along the Hawkesbury River into Pittwater. Mangrove Creek is a tributary of the Hawkesbury River which flows into Broken Bay not far from where we now live at Umina Beach on the NSW Central Coast. We also stopped off at a picnic spot called The Basin where they have a shark net set up for swimming. My Dad flew over the Hawkesbury River once when he was young and saw loads of sharks in the water. So, beyond The Basin, swimming was out.
My Dad’s had an almost life long interest in sailing, and has since become a fully-fledged sailor. That is, even if he hasn’t completed the Holy Grail…the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.
However, back in 1983, he hadn’t quite gained his stripes. So when the bloke hiring out the yacht asked Dad if he could sail, he could give an honest “yes”. However, I only found out a few months ago, that Dad didn’t actually know how to stop the boat. Of course, this was only a minor detail, and thankfully, everything went swimmingly well. My Dad in his typical try his hand at anything fashion, pulled it off and we were right.
By the way, “she’ll be right, mate” is something of an Aussie creed. It’s more or less the reverse of catastrophizing where you just take everything in your stride. Of course, the little Aussie battler who’s even had it harder than most, will always triumph in the end. If they don’t, they’ll probably just find their way down to the pub.
One of the things I clearly remember from the trip, is that the yacht came with a dingy out the back with a pair of oars for rowing out to shore. While Dad took us out for a bit of exploring, clearly the idea was to go out by yourself. However, Dad had this thing about needing to pass your rowing licence first. Of course, my younger brother who was more sporty and better coordinated, received his licence straight away, and was able to scoot off without me. However, it took me a few goes, which I was naturally unhappy about. Indeed, I was a ball of angst…sad, angry, jealous, disappointed…every intense emotion you can think of under the sun. Of course, being 13 and the eldest didn’t help either. Well, eventually, I also managed to get my rowing licence and loved exploring the little bays and beaches along the Hawkesbury River as well.
Another indelible memory, was when we sailed across the heads into Pittwater battling against strong winds and a larger swell. Indeed, I still remember the slap of the salty wind in my face, and my hair taking flight. As the yacht keeled right over with the gunnels in the water, I was helping Dad with the ropes and loving every minute. The exhilaration of speed and flying into the salty, ocean wind was incredible. However, my mother and brother were both below deck and couldn’t stand it. After my difficulties getting my rowing licence, it felt particularly good to be outdoing my brother at this point, even if he was younger than me. This was my moment of triumph, but I also truly loved sailing.
Above: we went out sailing around much the same area on the 19th December, 2010 with my parents and our kids almost 27 years to the day after our family sailing holiday and now, even that’s 10 years ago.
Although we’re now mostly a sailing family, we’ve only ever had that one family holiday sleeping onboard the yacht. Indeed, we still haven’t christened Dad’s current yacht, which is quite a shame. It would be rather magical to fall sleep on nature’s water bed, don’t you think?
Have you ever been out on a yachting or boat holiday where you’ve actually slept onboard? Or, perhaps you’re more of a day sailor? Or, you love your land legs. Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power.”
– Lao Tzu
Yesterday, the sailing season launched again for our son and this was his first time out on his new-to-him Laser. For the last two years, he’s been sailing in a Flying 11 along with a crew member. However, the two 15-year-olds were weighing it down. It wasn’t competitive and quite simply, they didn’t fit. That’s what happens to a lot of things with teenagers, and I don’t believe ours has had his major growth spurt yet. We’re expecting him to be around 6ft-6ft2 so he still has a way to go and he’s only just taller than Mum and Dad.
“One can choose to go back toward safety or forward toward growth. Growth must be chosen again and again; fear must be overcome again and again.”
Of course, the cobwebs had set in over Winter and they were compounded by the new boat and the current situation of having to store the boat at home instead of the sailing club. So, that also meant Dad was driving with the trailer out the back, which I guess really took us into the league of serious sailors. We weren’t just part of the champagne set who keep this yacht thing on a mooring so we can boast to people that we have a yacht, even though we never take it out. Oh no! Our son is a sailor and he’s out on the water at every opportunity and my husband and Dad are the same.
“Self-transformation is not just about changing yourself. It means shifting yourself to a completely new dimension of experience and perception.”
As you could imagine, taking the new boat out for the first time, there was going to be some teething problems, potential nerves and drama even before the boat hit the water. We had a packing list for the Flying 11 and I should’ve twigged that this needed updating for the new boat. Moreover, taking the boat with us, that included the proverbial kitchen sink.
I saw my role yesterday as observation and potentially a second pair of hands. However, that all changed when we started rigging the boat and Tweedledum and Tweedledee had not communicated well and a sail was left at home. Although Geoff knew how to rig the boat and would’ve been more useful there, he also knew what needed to be found. That meant I stayed put. helping Mr set up the boat…Yikes!!
He makes it out onto the water and on time. His boat is called “Enjoy” and as he set out, I hope that would sum up his sail.
“A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.”
– Albert Einstein
If you know me at all, you’d know that means trouble…unless, of course, he could do it all by himself. He did most of it himself. After all, he’s new to this boat, but not new to sailing and he’s sailed Lasers before. However, there was the difficulty of attaching the sail to what might’ve been the boom, and we didn’t have the right gizmo to tie it on. This meant he was trying to tie a fiddly piece of rope, while I was simultaneously holding onto the boom and trying to pull back the sail with the limited strength I have in my hands. I am not Tarzan. Indeed, as many of you know, I have a disability. However, it’s usually an invisibility, and even though my son knows all about it and has lived with it most of his life, he doesn’t always understand its practical application and simply expects me to pull my weight. Be the parent he needs me to be, and I usually try to fit the bill and ignore the personal cost. Besides, I must admit that there’s a lot of pride when I can do whatever it is, and I’m really chuffed. I’ve not only come through for our son, but I’ve also stretched myself and had a small win. A can-do experience, which obviously feels so much better than the “I can’t”.
“A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.”
– Marcus Aurelius
While Dad was off fetching the missing sail, we were welcomed into the Laser fleet by the other sailors. So far, it appears that our son is the only youth sailing a Laser and the “oldies” were very welcoming and we had three enthusiastic helpers with rigging the boat. This was fantastic. There were a lot of subtleties with the rigging and the sort of tips you learn first hand, not in a book. A few years ago, I was made aware of the “you know what you know”, “know what you don’t know” but there was also this square in the diagram for “what you don’t know you don’t know.” I’ve since kept an eye out for this stuff and when I’m listening to someone and it doesn’t make sense, it’s a pretty good indication that I’ve plunged into this territory and it’s time to use my two ears and only use my mouth for questions and clarification.
“What holds most people back isn’t the quality of their ideas, but their lack of faith in themselves. You have to live your life as if you are already where you want to be.”
– Russell Simmons
Needless to say, I fell deep into this camp yesterday as these experienced sailors were offering advice and I dearly wished Geoff would hurry back and pick up the conversation. However, at least I came prepared and had my notebook and pen in hand. That’s my unofficial brain.
We got the boat rigged. Bought him his pie to sustain him through the race and he was off to the briefing to sign in. Apparently, he needs to finish three races to get a handicap. So, the idea was for him to simply do three laps yesterday. I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing though, and was just trying to get a feel for the boat. That was a more realistic objective.
Downstairs at Gosford Sailing Club
Once we got him out on the water, Geoff and I retired to restaurant upstairs and enjoyed the view over wedges and a divinely creamy Chery Ripe Cheesecake.
Then, Geoff saw a boat being towed in and since we didn’t have our binoculars, he went off to investigate. It wasn’t Mr but while he was down there, he managed to get us a ride onboard a powerboat. Wow. It’s not often I get to go out on the water, let alone onto something fast. Remember, we’re a sailing family.
My husband Geoff was also enjoying a bit of speed.
We spotted Mr and tried to rough up conditions just enough to challenge him, without knocking him over. It was great to see him up close and I’ll also reiterate to be out on the water myself!
Unfortunately, he didn’t finish. He had a sore knee and I think he capsized a few times. However, as I said, I don’t think he was particularly focused on finishing and was more concerned with finding his duck feet.
“What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny.”
Now, I’m back to thinking about learning to sail myself. There’s a group called Sailability, which takes people with disabilities out for a sail. I figure that’s a great place to start and start I must. I’ve been procrastinating about this for over a year now. Time to get on with it.
Are you a sailor or have you ever been interested in sailing? Do you have any adventures to share? I’d love to hear from you!
As I walked through the familiar doors of Gosford Sailing Club for the Australia Day Regatta on Saturday, I pulled out my camera and thought: “You’ll do. That’s Thursday Doors done and dusted.”
When you visit Gosford Sailing Club, you’ll find the front door is located at 28 Mason Parade, Gosford and the back door and marina, is parked on Brisbane Waters, a vast expanse of stunning blue water ideal for sailing, water sports and the oyster industry.
Gosford Sailing Club started out in 1932 as the Gosford Rowing, Sailing and Motor Club.
By the end of the 1932/33 season the club was referred to as the Gosford and Brisbane Water Aquatic Club and in 1941 it changed its name to the Gosford Sailing Club. It was not the first sailing club to be formed on the Brisbane Water but it is the only club that has survived. If you’re interested in maps and sailing, you can click through HERE/ to a map of Brisbane Waters put out by Marine Rescue.
Rather than focusing on doors this week, I thought you’d all appreciate experiencing the Australia Day Sail Past, which took place before the Regatta.
Our son took part in his Flying 11 and when we last caught sight of him, he was on the boat. However, as they say: “never turn your back on the ocean” and our son and many a teenager has much in common with the sea. The next time we see him, his boat is being towed past by the rescue boat with his crew member steering and he’s out the back being towed along on an inflatable donut printed with the Australian Flag. Just to add to the overall look, he was wearing the Australian Flag top hat my husband had bought him.
Happy as Larry…Our Junior Aussie Larrikin.
However, what I noticed most about him was his smile. He was absolutely beaming. Happy as Larry. That’s something any parent of a teenager is also thrilled to see. After all, life with teenagers can be a bit like life at the top of Enid Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree. You can never be sure who you’re going to run into.
By the way, our son received the Junior Aussie Larrikin Award at the Awards Presentation later in the day. Parenting a larrikin can be a mixed blessing and it’s not the sort of thing that attracts awards. They’re usually awarded to the kid who can sit still the longest, not the one who climbs the walls. An adult larrikin award was also presented. That character was throwing water from a water bottle at the crowd going past and managed to get both the Commodore and General Manager of the club.
A Fire in the Sky… taken from Gosford Sailing Club November 2018.
Quite aside from sailing, Gosford Sailing Club is a fantastic vantage point for photographing magnificent sunsets. Although I have bucket loads of sunset photos stored up on my hard drive, I can’t resist and stand their soaking up all those magnificent golden rays through my lens feeling like I’m in heaven.
Sea Mists Gosford, Australia Day 2019.
However, last Saturday afternoon, the sea mist rolled in instead for quite a different and beautifully mysterious experience. Nature is so incredibly beautiful and so ephemeral. Never the same.
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our visit to Gosford Sailing Club. This has been another contribution to Thursday Doors hosted by Norm 2.0. Why don’t you come and join us and share a few of your favourite doors. It’s a lot of fun and helps you see parts of the world you’ll never get to visit.
I hope you’ve had a great week and being the Australia Day long weekend, I’d better offer you a Vegemite sandwich along with our choice of beverage. Please don’t all run for the hills. I won’t force you to eat it!
We have had a busy and interesting week. It was the last full week of the school holidays and so there’s been that desperate urge for the kids to squeeze as much fun as they can out of those shrinking hours, while all the organizational nightmares of “Back to School” (Golly, why hasn’t anyone made a horror movie out of the return to school for the new school year? Or, perhaps, they have and I just haven’t heard about it. Anyway, for those of you scattered around the globe, the Australian school year starts after the Australia Day long Weekend and that’s what’s wrapping up today. There’s a bit of variation between the schools. However, teachers go back tomorrow, our son on Wednesday and our daughter on Friday. So, come Monday, my New Year begins in earnest and all those best laid plans of mice and mum, need to swing into action…and I definitely need a good breather too! After all, all work and no play makes Mum rather dull and cranky too.
Last Tuesday, my daughter and I attended Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical at Sydney’s historic Capitol Theatre. Our dance teacher, Miss Karina Russell, has a lead role and is playing that horridly spoiled brat, Veruca Salt. Miss Karina wears the most incredibly poofy and gorgeously delicious pink tutu, which reminds me of fairy floss and is straight out of a ballet girl’s pure imagination. She also has a double-decker tiara and pointe shoes and she actually does quite a lot of ballet throughout and her dance with the squirrels is simultaneously hilarious, terrifying and… (No spoilers here!) Anyway, we met up with Miss Karina and Willy Wonka played by Mr Paul Slade Smith at Stage Door and that was so much fun. We had the best day.
Above: Meeting up with Miss Karina Russell at Stage Door to get our programs signed after the performance to to say hello.
It was interesting for me to revisit Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and I can see that I’ll be having to read the book yet again so I can shake out what I’ve seen in various versions and get back to what exactly came out of Roald Dahl’s head. You see, while the action is set with the sweetly delicious context of a chocolate factory and I’ve read that it was based on Roald Dahl’s childhood experiences as a chocolate taster at a chocolate factory himself, there is a very dark and almost sadistic side to Willy Wonka and there is no doubt in my mind that this book really delves into the dark side, questioning why bad, greedy people usually win out at the expense of the good. Indeed, I feel Roald Dahl takes matters into his own hands and turns things around, ensuring that Charlie Bucket a boy growing up in grinding poverty but with a great brain triumphs over all the brats. You can read more about that in: Our Visit to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory…the Musical.
The front doors of the historic Capitol Theatre, Sydney.
I also wrote about the musical and more specifically about the historic Capitol Theatre for Thursday Doors.
Saturday took us off on a very different trajectory. It was Australia Day and Geoff and our son both took part in the Australia Day Regatta at Gosford Sailing Club. We had a wonderful day and a real highlight was the 11.00am Sail Past where skippers decorated their boats in as much Australia Day gumph as they could muster. It was a lot of fun and while someone else’s son was the obvious winner for the best decorated boat, our son won the Junior Aussie Larrikin Award. Instead of staying in his boat, he was towed along behind on an inflatable donut while his crew member steered and they were actually towed along because their wasn’t enough wind to compensate for the big lump of a teenage boy out the back. I must admit that his father and I were not impressed at the time, but it’s hilarious in hindsight and he was quite a hit. After all, you can’t really expect an entertainer to just sit in their boat counting knots, can you? Moreover, I really have to admit, that he’s very much my boy. I’d love to do something like that even now!
Above: Our son the “Junior Aussie Larrikin” with his Flying 11.
Well, they’re very much the highlights of the last week. I should also mention that it’s been very hot and that the heat could make for a post all on its own. However, I don’t want to become an Aussie whinger so I’ll keep my mouth shut and head for the air-conditioning.
This has been another Weekend Coffee Share, hosted by Eclectic Ali.
Yesterday, our family headed off to Gosford Sailing Club for the Australia Day Regatta. The Australia Day Regatta is the oldest continuously-conducted annual sailing regatta in the world. It has been conducted each year since 1837. While based on Sydney Harbour, races are held around the coast and apparently our winner is off to receive their medal from the Sydney Lord Mayor.
Our son with his Flying 11 ready to set sail.
By the way, if you know anything about boats, our son was competing in his Flying 11, a small sail craft and Geoff was sailing in a Magic 25 (as in 25 ft) as part of his sailing course. Meanwhile, yours truly was armed with her Nikon D3100 and left on dry land.
“There is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing as simply messing around in boats.”
However, before the race got underway, our son was part of the Australia Day Sail Past. This was a real extroverted parade of sailors with most of the boats decked out in the most garish and ridiculous Australia Day gumph they could find. There was an inflatable boxing kangaroo and a plethora of flags and the one thing which was missing was our unofficial Australian National Anthem Down Under by Men at Work .
Above: We have my son’s boat being towed along by the support boat and his crew managinjg the boat while he (the skipper) is pulled along behind. Not the plan, but he clearly enjoyted himself, created a spectacle and won an award.
Our son had Australian Flag bunting on the stays, was wearing an Australian Flag Top hat and out the back of the boat, they were towing an inflatable plastic donut again bearing the Australian flag. For a brief time, our son managed to convince his sister to ride along behind in the donut. However, she baulked and the next thing we see is our son’s boat being towed by the support boat under the command of his crew member while the skipper was being towed along out the back with the biggest grin you’ve ever seen. He’d broken just about every convention in the book, but that’s entertainment and when it came to the award presentation at the end of the day, he took out the Junior Aussie Larrikin Award along with a $5.00 cash prize. As you may recall, our son recently made quite an impression wearing his ghillie suit at the Australian Scouting Jamboree won the dance competition winning backstage passes to see the band Justice Crew. He’s been busy!
“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.”
-Vincent Van Gogh
Our Junior Aussie Larrikin.
Meanwhile, at 2.00 pm the Regatta was off. Geoff tells me that there were 50-60 boats ranging in size from the juniors in their baths tubs (Optimus) to 40 footers, which looked like giants next to the fingerlings. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who missed the start of the race. Geoff’s boat couldn’t hear the start gun and had to scramble to get away. Unfortunately, our sailors didn’t place. However, I’ve heard tales from our son of waves from the bigger boats crashing over the side of his tiny Flying 11 and the boat filled up with water. The spinnaker rope also slipped under the boat putting the spinnaker out of action and slowing them down. Apparently, spinnakers are known troublemakers. They’re known unaffectionately as “the divorce sail” and “prawning” is when you’ve spinnaker drags along through the water. There was a complaint yesterday that one of the sailors had go prawning but hadn’t shared his catch. They have a good sense of humour at Gosford Sailing Club.
Here’s the “Senior” or adult Aussie Larrikin at work shooting water out at the crowd, including the General Manager, who is wearing the hat in the foreground and the Commodore.
“The sailor sits by his tiller, waiting and watching. He knows he isn’t sovereign of earth and sky any more than the fish in the sea or the birds in the air. He responds to the subtle shiftings of the wind, the imperceptible ebbings of the tide. He changes course. He trims the sheets. He sails.”
– Richard Bode: First You Have to Sail A Little Boat.”
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the photographs of the line up. We had a lot of fun and loved being a part of this great event.
We would like to wish all our fellow Aussies a Happy Australia Day, while mindful of the concerns of Indigenous Australians. What, if anything, did you do to celebrate? Any sailors out there? Any great stories you’d love to share? I’d love to hear from you!
PS Here’s a few photos of the sea mist which floated in at the end of the day. It was scorchingly hot.
Yesterday afternoon, I was on duty as the sailing parent while Geoff was out on the water doing his sailing course, and our son was sailing his Flying 11 with the Juniors. It was an absolute scorcher of a day. So, after they launched off, I retreated upstairs and bought myself an iced coffee, slice of cake and started reading a fantastic book exploring life after trauma…Leigh Sales: Any Ordinary Day. More about that to come.
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.”
John F. Kennedy
I am finding myself on a steep learning curve at the sailing club. Geoff is working next weekend, so I’ll be on my pat malone with the lad putting all the bits of his Flying 11 together, which is making assembling my old Ikea desk with instructions and an Allen Key look like a walk in the park. While I wasn’t a complete failure on the DIY front and doing anything practical, I’m become something of a space cadet after almost twenty years of marriage to a guru. Of course, he’s written nothing done, so passing on the baton is going to be depending on the lad and his trusty crew member and his Dad.
“On life’s vast ocean diversely we sail. Reasons the card, but passion the gale.”
Sometimes, I wonder how I became the parent stuck on dry land. I’ve always loved sailing but my mobility’s an issue and at this stage, I’m waiting for Geoff to get through his sailing course so we can get out there in the Laser together. Ironically, after not being able to sail because I had no access to a boat, now I can’t seem to get the boat down to the waterfront which is less than a kilometre away. Ditto with the kayak. Sometimes, you have to wonder how having a Nike moment and just doing it can become so complicated.
“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.”
Louisa May Alcott
By the way, a year or so after getting his Flying 11, the change in our son is phenomenal. They’re not an easy boat to master what with their more complex rigging and they’re also a faster but more tip-able boat than the bathtub Opti he’d been using before. I think every rookie on the Flying 11’s has a few rough weeks of despair and digging deep as they spend more time in the water than upright, but then after a few months it slowly starts coming together. Then, before they know it, they’ve outgrown it and they’re onto the lasers and something new. That will be our son next season.
“To reach a port, we must sail – sail, not tie at anchor – sail, not drift.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Have you ever been sailing and have a few stories to share? I’ve love to hear from you!
Meanwhile, here’s a tribute to my Dad who loves his sailing:
Hey, so what’s been going on in your neck of the woods this week? I had a virtual visit to London catching up with Geoff Le Pard and Dog who ventured out for a walk in the snow where Dog was a bit sensitive about show getting in between his paws. Next, I scooted off to Birmingham with Suzie81 Speaks and froze through Snowmageddon. Meanwhile, it’s been hot and sunny here in Sydney, but not as scorchingly hot as it has been.
I know it doesn’t sound very exciting, but I am still fighting off Fergus the phlemmy cough and sinus infection. Consequently, I’ve been sleeping a lot and trying to stay home as much as possible to fight it off. It has been making me a bit grumpy, but it’s given me the chance to read.
Atticus (played by Gregory Peck) and Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird.
Read…That’s right I am re-reading Harper Lee’s: To Kill A Mockingbird. Have you re-read it since you studied it at school? Or, perhaps you haven’t read the book at all. I’d been meaning to re-read it for a few years, as one of my favourite all-time quotes comes from the book:
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
However, it’s simply been phenomenal to re-read the book and read the action around the quotes and truly understand what they were fully intended to mean within context. That’s so much richer, yet perhaps more limited, than when the quote appears all by itself drifting through space without a base.
Another quote also really resonated with me:
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.- Atticus Finch”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
This quote appeared in reference to Mrs Dubois who’d become addicted to morphine and was went through the horrors of withdrawal not because it would save her life, but because she wanted die free of the drug. After Atticus explained what she did, Jem and Scout came to respect her courage and understand somewhat why was she so cantankerous and difficult.
I also relate to this quote myself in terms of my health. I keep on fighting and keep staying a few steps ahead. This doesn’t feel like bravery or courage, but those qualities aren’t born out of hardship and mess and not a bed of roses.
This week has also had a few triumphs for the kids. Our daughter has an audition coming up which requires playing a musical instrument. However, she hasn’t touched her violin for over a year, but fortunately she has another week up her sleeve and much to my pride and irritation, she’s already playing Fur Elise better than me…the good old reliable tortoise. Meanwhile, at sailing our son was helping another young man who’d just got his Flying Eleven and it was his first time out. I was really stoked that the club thought Mr was good enough to go out with him. That was a really positive sign of confidence and respect. Better than winning a race…Well, almost!
Mr at the Sailing Club.
In terms of my writing this week, I participated in Friday Fictioneers again. This week I based my flash on the story of Australian boxer, Les Darcy who tragically died young at the age of 21 in Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve added some bio details as well as a link to an excellent piece of writing by Australian author, Ruth Park who wrote his biography.
Oops. I almost forgot to mention that we had had a bit of local excitement this week. A small sailing boat was beached during some heavy rain and with it came all the questions of how did it happen? Who owned the boat? And, perhaps the ultimate question…could she be saved? I know how much our boats have meant to us and this boat was vintage with timber trim and had character. Since there are no secrets around here, it didn’t take me long to find out who owned the boat and how it came to rest. Beached Yacht, Ettalong, Australia.
Anyway, that’s about all for now. How has your week been? I hope it’s been a good one.
This has been another contribution to the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Eclectic Alli.