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? :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

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 :)

 

 

Surf’s Up

Oh, where to start? As sad as I am to admit, when I check the BOM website these days I’m mainly interested in whether its going to rain or not (washing). Friday arvo web surfing at work used to be all about the Saturday Nor’ Easter (skiffs) or the Sunday Southerly Buster (CYC Winter series). This is why, having not checked the marine forecast, it was a pleasant surprise to find the surf conditions absolutely pumping off South Cronulla last Friday.

Surf's up!

Blown spume

Flung Spray

One more wave

I took the kids down to the beach to make sandcastles and rid myself of the cabin fever that was still lurking from Thursday and the working week.

King of the castle

Fort Banksia

The surf conditions had created that lovely aura of diffused winter light; rays of sunshine bursting through millions of almost invisible droplets thrown up by the spume.

If you’ve been reading along for a while you’ll know that Banksias are my favourite Australian native tree. I think of them as the oaks of the Southern hemisphere. I especially like them when they are perched in the vicinity of salt water….

Perched

Wild thing

Windswept

Banksia and Boat

Banksia's seen better days

When I’d had my fill of Banksias we made a beeline for the sand at South Cronulla, where there was a body boarding competition underway. Shire mums, if you thought your boys were in school, you might want to take a look…

Scores on the door

The beach and the promenade had that distinct off season feel about it when the locals are out and about soaking up the relative peace and quiet. We joined in for an hour or two…

Bubbles I

Bubbles II

Bubbles III

The salty air effect

Post snooze

End of the day

Did anyone else get to suck up last week’s surf? Here’s the rest of the pics :)

 

 

The World in a Grain of Sand

We’re still at the beach. Classic golden Sydney Autumn days. The easiest time of year for kids at the beach. Warm enough sun for a good dose of vitamin D and the water still at reasonable temperatures. Carss Bush Park is one of our new favourites; a fairly recently discovered little cracker of a seaside hangout.

walk this way

We started off with a takeaway coffee and babycino from the kiosk restaurant and then set up our picnic rug near the swings, with the sand and water sparkling a few hundred metres away.
It was the end of a big week and as always, to improve our collective temperaments we opted for a day outdoors. We make use of a lot of swing parks in our local neighbourhood, and I have to admit they are a life saver. But if proof was required as to the appeal of the natural environment over the built when it comes to play, then Friday was it.
J1 played on the swings and climbing frames for about fifteen minutes. She ventured over on her own and sat for a bit. With dolly. Then she persuaded me to push her on the swings and to go down the slide a few times. But after that things got a bit stagnant. It was only 1030 so I suggested we pack everything up and plonk ourselves down on the sand. Within a minute, the trappings of modern preschooler life had been discarded at the edge of the beach….

4WD and wellies

in favour of…

tools and a spade

private corner

own devices

I've got my stick and I'm sticking with it

contrasting colours (and smells)

Watching wheels

Rainbow lorikeet clothes

Which left me with my hands free to snap up the scene…

Tides out

ripples on the other side

I gotta bite!

Spectator

I really think William Blake was onto something when he wrote:
“To see the world in a grain of sand, and to see heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hands, and eternity in an hour”

Where have you been making the most of the Autumn weather? Or perhaps its Spring with you?

Lets go Fly a Kite

With tuppence for paper and strings
You can have your own set of wings
With your feet on the ground
You’re a bird in a flight
With your fist holding tight
To the string of your kite

Mary Poppins might be in Sydney town right now but she, nor anyone else, was down at Dolls Point yesterday. It was blowing a chilly Southerly so we decided to see if any of the regular kite surfing crowd had skipped work to take advantage of it. Sadly they were all at their desks so instead we shook the dust off ours and sent it up where the air was clear.

We're experiencing some technical issues

 

Ready for take off!

We have lift off!

Fist holding tight

 

Bye bye Bob!

 

Shadows on the sand

Up to the heighest height

 

Feet on the ground you're a bird in flight

 

Mums turn

 

Busy with other stuff

 

Foraging for food

 

Jonathon Livingstone turned up

 

Up in the Atmosphere

 

Just because

 

Feet firmly back on the ground

Wanna go? Put this in your diary

Festival of the Winds

Antidote to the Hallmark Mothers Day

Parked at Redjacks

Yesterday I described to Reg, the fantasy Mothers day that all mums imagine but which I now realise will never materialise. Funnily enough this fantasy was much like the one described by Kerri Sackville in the sunday paper today, which gave me a chuckle. In this fantasy I awake to a sparkling house, filled with fresh flowers, folded clothes, freshly brewed coffee and a gaggle of shiny clean smelling children waiting patiently to present some expensive jewellery and a voucher for the day spa. Previous posts may have unintentionally created the false impression that I lead a charmed nautical sort of life in which my house is kept in ship shape bristol fashion just like a boat, and that we just scoop up the kids and head out to sea to take pretty pictures as soon as the sun comes out and the tides are favourable.  In the interests of keeping it real I was going to post a photo of the carnage that is our lounge room, just to disprove this notion, but luckily for you Reg put his foot down. Instead of the Hallmark fantasy Mothers day we shut the door on the mess and made our way to Redjacks Point to a super special picnic spot we came across this time last year. Jones number two loved her second trip out in the tinny with the arm flapping and squeaking proportional to the increase in speed as we left the 8 knot zone.  The picnic fairy was on hand to look after the food….

Precious picnic cargo

We picniced (is that how you spell it?) on some salmon sangers and leftover roasted veggies with feta, washed down with thermos tea. I was kicking myself for not chilling some champers as the view certainly deserved it…

View to Lilli Pilli

Look up

A spot of fairy hunting to work up an appetite for pudding…..

MUST find fairies

We didnt see any actual fairies but we know they are there because we found these…..

Magic Toadstools

Followed up with a few sandcastles…..

Fort Locks

 

Aerial view

 

…spotted some strange looking jellyfish…

Jelly bean

 

A visit from our friend Percival….

Sir Percival

And time to head home….

Heading for Home

And that…is the last time I ever wish for the Hallmark fantasy Mothers day. How did you spend yours? :)

Maianbar Crab Fest!

Serge and the Soldier

If you really want to impress your overseas visitors, skip the Opera House and Bondi Beach and take them on a tinny tour of The Shire. They’ll thank you for it. Our tinny takes a maximum of four people (apparently maritime regulations consider Rhubarb as cargo) so we left the kids with the outlaws on Sunday morning and headed up South West Arm under cloudy skies and the threat of rain. As always these conditions meant there was nobody else about.  Since I had my hands free (no children to restrain) I took a few movies on the camera which I’ve published to You Tube and included below. Initially I thought it was going to be uneventful with not much of visual interest to write home about, but as usual Port Hacking came up trumps.

Hot Cross bun and thermos stop….

The ever optimistic Rhubarb

The tinny

We stumbled on some sculpture by the sea….

Sculpture by the Sea

Rhubarb in her element…..

When we stopped at Maianbar to give Ruby a burn we came across hundreds and hundreds of soldier crabs. I was sad that the children weren’t with us as they would have loved these pretty little pink and blue “Mr Pincys”. We’ll have to plan a return trip to Maianbar at very low tide again and hope they come out to play. I’m also wondering whether these critters would make a good soft shell crab salad? Can you eat soldier crabs?

A crab in the hand's worth two on the sand

No paparrazzi please

Going...going....

Almost gone

 Soldiers on the march….

Have fun on the water this Easter Weekend, wherever you are. We’re heading to Colo River for a spot of camping :)

The Water is Waiting For You

The Water is Waiting

An unexpected work opportunity, lack of sleep and various other domestic projects of late,  have all conspired to keep me from getting out on the water. We havent had time to get out in the tinny for weeks and  blood salt levels are at an all time low. This was compounded last weekend by the cancellation of a long anticipated day’s racing on Sydney Harbour with some girlfriends.  So by late Thursday afternoon, with eyes on stalks from burning the midnight oil and a pair of restless kids on my hands I remembered that we’re still only a stones throw from the beach at Brighton Le Sands. I didnt have my camera with me so I decided to get in the retro photo craze and test out my recently acquired iphone App “Hipstamatic”, and the results were quite pleasing.

An hour down on the sand late in the afternoon reminded me what this blog is all about: being inspired to snatch some time (even just an hour) away from the rug rat race and make the most of what’s on the doorstep. Once you step down off the boardwalk you can’t even hear the traffic.

Beach Ballet

OK, so you can see the industrial silos at Botany Bay and the planes landing and taking off at Kingsford Smith, but they’re in the back ground. Their visible presence only served to remind me that I had stepped back from the rush for a second and was in respite mode. 

Watching the World Go By
An hour down on the beach was all I needed to recharge the batteries, clear the fuzz and be thankful that, despite its urbanity, I live within close reach of so many soothing places. Where’s your favourite “round the corner” place to unwind?
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