Sulphur Crested Cocky Two Year Olds and Other Less Common Foreshore Species

Howdy strangers. Where did winter go? Its been all work and not much play here for a while. The occasional tinny trip. The lounge room at the Heron’s Nest has been strewn with companion way steps, stripped out bits and bobs of the insides of the Endeavour 26. Much sanding and varnishing. More on that in another post.

Last weekend, A few weekends ago, having reluctantly given up on the idea of fitting a camping trip in we headed down to Jibbon Beach, campstove, chairs, breakfast and lunch in tow. It was a glamour day, perfect for testing out a new camera.

Heron in a Gum Tree

The reason you go to the beach….

The sulphur crested cocky two year old….

sporting her new muddy buddy

…and other less common foreshore species…

laters….

Rock Pooling

Muddy, brown swirling flood waters. Semi submerged flotsam and jetsam from way upstream. Deceptive currents invisible on the surface but strong enough to sweep away the humble tinny. Best head to the coast then, beyond where the rivers expel their coffee coloured dregs and where the magnitude of the Pacific surf has the power to wash away and dilute the murky masses of water that empty into it. Floods punctuated the close of a Sydney summer that never really was. Thank goodness for Rock pools, their crystal clear waters renewed daily by a fresh tide that inundates it. Perfect for exploring whatever the weather.

Mesmerised….

Emerald city….

Pretty shells all in a row…

King Neptune’s necklace…

A rose petal bubble shell (very exciting find!)..

Pipeline..

Sea urchin…

Sticking…

Potholes…

Mr Pincy…

at the kiosk..

Someone else’s sandcastle

What did you do last summer? :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Tide Wait for no Blogger

There just hasn’t been time for blogging these past few months. If I took a photo everyday you’d be looking at a whole pile of cardboard boxes and a lot of sweat and swearing. Here’s what the good bits looked like instead (whilst I relocate my writing mojo…)

A trip to Bundeena to escape the packing…

wave watching

 Chart reading

Heading Home

 Lots of takeaway…

A wedding by  the sea…

Norah Head

 

cake love

More cake love

 

Flannel flowers and kangaroo paw

Farewell to Brighton Le Sands…but we’ll be back..

Kiting 2

She sells sea shells…a 4th birthday..

Getting stuck into the George’s River..

Rhubarb after her first foray into the mangroves…

Something we’re pondering (because we don’t already have enough renovations in the pipeline)

The last few months have passed at break neck speed and we are now finally looking forward to a long lazy summer holiday (if the summer weather ever decides to make an appearance!). I will be mostly eating cheese and cherries, heading out in the tinny, catching up on some good books and dipping my toe into some ocean swimming like I promised. Oh and finding my blogging mojo from under the packing boxes :). How will you spend yours?

 

 

A Rant About Sandy Bottoms

Bob on The Beach

Or lack thereof. I rarely rant here, but I think I will today. After all, what’s the point in having a personal blog if you can’t off load the odd bug bear now and again? Especially if its on topic. Sort of. I am desperate to get out in the boat but remain hindered by matters of moving and real estate so as usual a local beach with the kids for a few hours is the next best thing. Well actually its equally good and logistically easier. I wrote about this here , last autumn and today headed down to the same spot. We hadn’t really planned for an actual beach day so we were ill equipped; a few wipes, some suncream and one clean nappy. After a coffee and a rumble on the constructed stuff we headed for the little beach with the intention of giving the kids a quick play in the sand before heading home. Within seconds Miss four was down to her daks and Miss 15 months was speed crawling to the waters edge fully clothed. Not for long. I let them have at least ten minutes sans suncream to absorb some Vitamin D and then slapped on some factor 30 and a hat each. Bad mummy. They had an absolute ball with my friend’s kids and we got some time out from swing pushing and incessant questions. When I next looked up Miss four had scaled the low sea wall and was practising balancing skills by scaling the railings, above about a foot of water. She was safe. I was watching. A small child on the grass on the other side of the railings spied her and came over. He begged to be allowed on the sand but was told several times over they had not bought spare clothes. I respect his mums choice to keep him off the sand but it did make me a bit sad. After all taking a child within a few metres of a beach but not letting them on it is like taking a labrador into a butchers shop. Was the water too cold? The sun too strong? Sand harbouring dangerous rubbish? People, it doesn’t get much better than spring in Sydney. I grew up in the UK and while you may be surprised to know there are beautiful beaches there, the water is still fricking cold. People actually have babies in Siberia and they survive! Before we know it the Australian summer will be on us and we’ll be snatching beach time before the mercury hits 30 and the sun hits the yard arm and making a dash for the aircon. And how many cities have these kind of spaces within striking distance of the CBD?

We seem to have reached a point where even play outdoors has become very orchestrated. We’re inadvertently encouraging in our children an intolerance of the slightest discomfort at the expense of truly natural experiences. It really struck me that my children and the little boy were within feet of each other in the same beautiful spot but having an entirely different kind of day. After drying Miss 15 months with a spare nappy I sat her on my lap and wished I had my proper camera to capture a macro shot of her salt encrusted downy cheek and wet eye lashes. A little chunk of beachy baby to take home. My friends three year old squeezed into his baby brothers spare dry clothes and gave us all a good laugh.

As much as it annoys me to see children completely reigned in by their parents my issue is as much, perhaps more so, with the minority of horrible humans who have made it taboo for children to run naked on the sand. I’m interested to know what others think about letting the kids get naked on the beach.  And indeed sand. Is it just me or is a sandy bottomed baby a nightmare scenario? What about the suncream; is my ten minutes without it neglectful?

The Royal Treatment

Buying and selling houses is a bit stressful. So to give ourselves a break we moved in with the inlaws last week to minimise “show home” stress whilst an army of potential buyers marched through our home in the lead up to the auction. Reg’s family live in an enviable spot right on the edge of the Royal National Park, with a bush track that leads to beautiful lookouts with views across Port Hacking to Cronulla and the sea beyond.

Grays Point Spring Morning

It turned out to be a great decision in more ways than one as not only did I avoid the ridiculousness of creating home beautiful 4 times in seven days with two children under three and a half, but I benefited from being within a few seconds reach of this beautiful piece of Sydney each and every day. An extra pair of hands enabled a daily dog walk, skirting (Ok it was a quick skip through) the park, crossing the oval and down to the beach with Rhubarb for a swim and a roll in the sand.

Doggie Spa

We went on several bushwalks with the kids, woke each morning to a chorus of rawcous cockatoos and fell asleep each night to the calming hoot of the powerful owl. The week ended on a very high note when at 7am down at the point I witnessed a sea eagle swoop past me on the beach, grab a fish and fly off across the water up into the gum trees. My heart almost skipped a beat and it turned out to be a good omen as we sold the house the very same day. I love this little pocket of the world. Where did you escape to this weekend?

 

Throw Someone A Lifeline Today and ask “R U OK?”

This week I’m going slightly off topic for a good cause and linking up with Gemma from My Big Nutshell for RU OK Day.

This post isn’t going to be a long one and the contribution I’m looking for won’t cost you a cent. There are lots of other people writing about their own personal experiences with depression and its devastating impact on their lives and the lives of those around them. When I first considered taking part in this link up I didn’t think I’d have any really  direct personal experiences to share. Life’s been kind to me so far, with more of life’s ups than downs to have to deal with. As I mulled over the topic during the last few weeks I started to count up the number of people that I and my family have known over the years who have been affected by depression and I started to realise they really did reflect the statistics. One in five of of us will experience depression at some point in our lives.

The symptoms of depression can manifest in different ways for different people and I am in no way an expert on the topic. The common thread that runs through the situations that have touched my experience of depression is that these people, despite significant challenges in their lives presented outwardly as very positive and bubbly people with everything to live for.

Today, Thursday 15 September, 2011 is R U OK?Day. It’s a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.

On that day we want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: “Are you OK?”.

Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.

It’s so simple. In the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life. You don’t need to leave a comment here. Just pop next door, hop in the car, pick up the phone and ask someone “R U OK?”

The R U OK website has some guidelines on how to start this conversation here

The following are some recommended help and information contacts:

General

SANE www.sane.org

Beyondblue www.beyondblue.org.au

Black Dog Institute www.blackdoginstitute.com.au

Young people

headspace www.headspace.org.au

ReachOut! www.reachout.com

Youth

beyondblue www.youthbeyondblue.com

Culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal backgrounds

Multicultural Mental Health Australia www.mmha.org.au

Local Aboriginal Medical Service www.vibe.com.au



Sydney International Boat Show (if it was 1911)

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of Darling Harbour, with the significant exception of the Maritime Museum which is amazing. Its mainly the crowds, the uncosy food outlets and dare I say it, the tourists. Of course I have never been one of those. Add to that an additional gazillion people on their way down to gaze at things they can’t afford (including me) its the stuff of nightmares. However, the good people at the Boat Show ran a great photography competition and exhibition which I entered…

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at_the_wheel-500x375

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on_the_wharf-375x500

uteikah_ii_reflection-500x375

I took my camera down in case there was anything of a nautical nature to catch the eye. Happily the Sydney Heritage Fleet (a truly lovely bunch of people) had a few vessels tied up on the exhibition wharfs. Perfect. Many of the photos that follow are what the whole exhibition would have looked like if they’d run a boat show in 1911. Plus a few other bits and bobs that tickled me.

Crazy things like buying and selling houses and poorly chiddlers have kept me from the tinny lately, a situation that will hopefully be remedied very soon now that spring is around the corner :)

Swapping Trash for Treasure

Lately I’ve been reading a lot of fantastic blogs by other ladies (and gents) who are in a similar phase of parenthood to me. They write very honestly about their various trials and tribulations, warts and all, which got me feeling just a little bit fraudulent. I’ve always tried to keep my blog fairly easy on the eye by including nice photos and encouraging tales from the outdoors. In this post I’m going to write the warts and all version of today’s expedition to a slightly less accessible beach with a three year old and one year old on the hip. Hopefully it will still be an encouraging tale. So here it is.

This morning I contemplated for a millisecond the thought of cleaning up this…..

But opted instead to head for this…..

It felt like a bit of a mission to be heading into the depths of the Royal National Park, not quite being able to remember whether it was pramable down to the sand or not. I was glad in the end that I packed the kiddie carrier as it was a bit steep and rough even for the mountain buggy. Just as I’d lugged myself, a 12 kilo one year old and all our paraphernalia almost to the end of the beach track, with Miss Three trailing behind with her bucket and spade, beach ball and her “work things”, we bumped into an old couple who told me there was no way I’d get across the lagoon to the beach. It was high tide and the sea had broken through to the lagoon which was apparently “flowing fast”. Not wanting to look like an irresponsible mother I heeded their advice and turned around and walked all the way back, thinking there must be a shallower section further back that we could wade across. We ended up finding a small patch of sand on this side of the lagoon, not quite as nice but actually the perfect size to contain the little people and in full view of the stunning Wattamolla falls.

Just as we had disembowelled our beach bags onto the sand (buckets and spades, water, flasks of tea, morning tea, lunch, towels, picnic rug, changes of clothes etc etc.) I saw a couple with a small child walking along the sand on the other side which meant it can’t have been that hard to get through there (grrrr). Where we were now plonked was definitely too deep to attempt carrying/swimming them both across at the same time. Anyway, nevermind, there’s always next time when I will come better prepared (i.e. minus the kitchen sink). Miss One was totally mesmerised by the waterfall and Miss Three was running around naked squealing with delight at the feel of the warm winter sun on her  back and the chilly lagoon water on her skin.

I did have to spend the first ten minutes harvesting brown broken glass from the sand, which some thoughtless party people had left behind which was very disappointing and in complete contradiction to the stunning beachscape laid out before us. The next hour passed happily, digging in the sand, rolling around at the shallow edge of the lagoon all with the complete absence of mobile phone reception. We had a lovely picnic and a cup of tea from the thermos and a mince pie (leftover from Christmas in July). In hindsight I should also have brought the bottle of sherry. By the time Miss One had hit the “I have sand up my bum and I should be in bed” button our belongings were spread far and wide. Once I had her cleaned up and put her in the pack I realised I had not got shoes on yet, so I completed that tricky manouver only to find Miss Three having a fit that her Diego ball was floating off across the lagoon. So after retrieving that item with shoes on I finished packing up, to discover she’d now stepped on an ants nest and had them all over her legs biting her. At this point she dropped the Diego ball again and it bounced off the rocks into the lagoon. She then alternated between ant panic and ball panic while the couple on the sand across the lagoon just stood and watched, presumably falling about laughing after we finally trudged back up the hill, zzzz;s coming from the back pack.

At times like these I wonder why I go to such lengths to get out of the house but I only think this for a split second. It was worth every minute of the not so easy bits just to see your one year old transfixed by a waterfall and rolling happily in the sand like a little crumbed prawn and being able to point out from the lookout above the falls, the water spouts of migrating whales as they passed us some distance off the entrance to the lagoon (yep). I wouldn’t swap that for quids.

So there it is, the photos look lovely but sometimes they don’t always tell a thousand words. Getting outdoors past the suburban swing park can be really hard work. But I think its always worth the effort. Miss Three is already asking to go back. What’s your worst and best at the same time story in the outdoors?

Here’s the rest of the pics in a gallery :)

 

 

All At Sea; A Place to Call Home

 
 

 

This post comes with a philosophical warning label.

Writing about my adventures on the water motivates me to get my children outdoors as much as possible and develop (hopefully) the same love for the briny that I have. In his book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv talks about how fundamental is the human need for a sense of and connection to place. Indoors alone we can’t arrive at this sense of belonging. We need to get outside and connect our senses beyond sight to encompass the other four. I realise how true this is when I return to where I grew up and the smell of the damp soil and oak trees is suddenly palpably different in comparison to eucaplypt bushland in a way that I wouldn’t have recognised as a child. Perhaps thats just a consequence of travel and not age? I don’t know. A sense of place has been on my mind a lot lately. Recent upheaval in my family home has made more urgent my desire to put down roots and create a home and a sense of place for my children. At times lately I have felt like running away to sea (or at least the non-mother part of me has). Why do people run away to sea? The sea is a constant. Yes, there are tropical seas, icy southern seas and everything inbetween, but they are all salty, changeable, calming, comforting, stormy and menacing all at the same time. The way a boat harnesses the wind is the same wherever you are on the ocean. The wind blows from all the angles of the compass (and there are always 360). Going to sea is one of the last refuges from modern life. Stress is pointless unless it is urging you to put a reef in. Once you’re out of sight of land, whatever troubles plague you there is no point worrying while you’re at sea. A well equipped ship on a well planned voyage has all your basic needs met.

The sailing community has always been a global village. People talk about common interests binding people together but I do believe that the universal bond shared by sailors and seafarers stands alone. When I’m at sea or amongst these people I am in a happy place. This is why I’ll teach my kids to sail and encourage a love of the sea, because wherever they are in the world, if they are near the sea, then they’ll never be far from home.

 

 
 
 
 
 
Do you agree or am I off with the sea fairies? :)

Skating on Thin Ice…

I always wanted to ice skate as a child but living in temperate Cornwall, “warmed” by the Gulf Stream, we occasionally got a frozen puddle on which to slide but never anything expansive enough for an impersonation of Torville and Dean. So it’s quite ironic that my first outdoor iceskating experiences have been in Australia. Beside the sea.  I left it until the last minute this year to head down to the Winter Festival in Bondi, so of course it was not the bright, sunny, photographic day I was hoping for. But whatever the weather I can’t resist the chance to soak up a bit of midwinter charm. Unless I get to Thredbo it really doesn’t feel like winter for long here, if at all.  As always, my skating skills weren’t as good as I remembered from last year, but we got round and had a bit of fun. Followed by some “apres skate”. Yearnings satisfied.

I’ve been experimenting with a new gallery plugin for displaying my photos. It doesnt seem to show a title so if you want these, just hover your mouse over the photo. You can also view as an image browser or a slideshow. Let me know what you think! Did anyone else get their skates on down to Bondi?

Have a great weekend everyone and a Merry Christmas in July to everyone in the Southern Hemisphere…mince pies and sherry on the menu over here :)

 

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