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:




Black Dog Institute

Young people





Culturally and linguistically diverse and Aboriginal backgrounds

Multicultural Mental Health Australia

Local Aboriginal Medical Service

Outdoor Type: The Essential Ingredients

Why do people describe themselves as “the outdoor type”? Because they were brought up to be? Because its cool? Or is it because at some point, when they were young and impressionable somebody took them under their wing and into the great outdoors? I could be wrong but you don’t hear about that many adults who are self confessed “indoor types” one day and climbing Everest the next.  It all starts much earlier….

As a little tacker I was lucky enough to live in a beautiful part of the world with lots of space to run around and let my imagination run wild, thanks to the life choices my parents made.

Godolphin Hill...where many happy hours were spent

I also had some rather good company in my older  and younger brothers and sisters. My parents set a good example; they gave us a loose rein when it was safe (which was most of the time) and banned TV when it was sunny, a habit (or a rule?!) that they’ve passed onto me as a parent. They kicked us into the outdoors. I also got taken to some fabulous places by some generous adults. Having no close grandparents we adopted a neighbour, called Bob, who used to let us build stuff in his workshop and who took me on my first proper overnight hike with his granddaughter. We did one particularly memorable hike when I was about eight years old to Nanjizal, a beach at the bottom of a rugged Cornish cliff that you can’t get to unless you walk 8km (also not labelled on google maps yet :)); this struck me as rather special at the time and is a benchmark I use to this day. Then came sailing. My best friend Polly took me out in her Mirror dinghy and taught me how to sail.

Capsized off a turning mark in Carrick Roads, spinnaker pole overboard, Jib Halyard stuffed, cacthing a tow home! Falmouth Week 1991?

Her parents then let us loose on their 25 footer. And so began a long line of mentors and benefactors who taught me, inspired me and gave me the opportunities and the resources to lead an outdoor life. This ultimately led to sailing adventures far away from home…and ten years later I’m still at sea so to speak…sorry mum…

Reg, playing in Temptation Creek, oh..sometime back in the 70's

So to answer this question “why do people call themselves the outdoor type”? I think there are a few ingredients that shape the outdoor type, young and old:

  • The right environment. You don’t have to move to the wilds of Africa, just regular visits to a place where trees outnumber people or the river runs a bit wilder than normal
  • The right catalyst: Great outdoor mentors. Many people I know who are self described “OTD’s” began their journey when someone showed them the way.
  • The right company: solitude is lovely but a real love of nature comes from sharing the love with someone else. For kids this is often just being allowed to play together outdoors, unsupervised.
  • The right freedom and opportunity: If you’re a parent, find a way to let your kids loose, if you’re an adult give yourself permission and unplug from the matrix.

This month is Get Outdoors month. If you and your family are already self confessed outdoor types and are planning adventures for the Easter holidays, why not invite a little friend along and show them the great outdoors? Are you an outdoor type? Who showed you the way?

Training for the Cole Classic…2025

I can do this

I’ve always fancied trying my hand at an ocean swimming race, however, on occasion I have been known to harbour a little too much confidence in my own ability in some areas than is good for me.

The sport of open water swimming has undergone a massive surge in popularity in recent years according to a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald.  Before reading this article I hadn’t really given much thought to what would actually be involved other than (of course)  being seriously fit.  So last weekend I dipped my toe in the water and headed out for a bit of a doggie paddle with Rhubarb along Port Hacking. Before long I realised my goal of competing in the 2011 Cole Classic (next week) is more than a little ambitious, and we werent even in the ocean yet. But there are lap lanes with worse views than South West Arm and you have to start somewhere. Are there any serious ocean swimmers out there with some advice for a complete amateur?

Rhubarb and myself in serious training mode

One Man and His Dog…and his Board and his Boy

Secret Water has gone Aotearoa. The land of the long white cloud lived up to its name last saturday as we drove down into Matauri Bay, with mist shrouding the islands and hardly a soul on the beach, just the way I like it. We were greeted by a very bouncy friendly dog who we realised was waiting on the beach for his master who was giving his little boy a surfing lesson. A really heart warming sight, especially when the boy caught a great wave and stood up all the way into the shore.

One eye on the waves

Father to Son

Happy Dog

Are you sure that's safe?

Home in time for lunch

Remarkable Bare Green Patch and Other Favourite Places

Maritime undertones with a hint of windy weather

An acquaintance last weekend with a pleasing bottle of pinot got me thinking about how evocative and meaningful place names can be, reminders of people and places we’d like to go back to. The vintage in question was a pinot noir called Storm Bay, made of course from Tasmanian grapes.  Reg and I, having both sailed past that exact spot on the South East corner of Tasmania numerous times, had to pass over less imaginatively named (and priced) wines on the list and have a taste. Funnily enough my memory of the place and the taste of the wine, whilst both wonderful, were a bit mismatched; the wine being refreshing and light, and the place more wild and windswept, perhaps more suited to a boisterous shiraz!

Making his way along uncharted waters along the coast of Australia, Captain Cook and his crew must have had a lot of fun coming up with suitable names for the bays, headlands, landmarks and hazards they encountered. Whilst many tell a story about the voyage itself, others just state the blinding obvious. I imagine for Aboriginal people these names seemed superfluous given most of these places had names with significant meaning already. For me they are reminders of my travels and the people I shared them with. Here are a few of my favourite location names on nautical charts:

 “Remarkable Bare Green Patch” which is indeed a remarkably bare patch of grass on the cliffs near Diamond Head on the northern coast of New South Wales.  It reminds me of a Sydney to Southport race when we were becalmed and had time on our hands to ponder the origins of names on a chart.

 “The Wrigglers” a group of rocks not far from the Lizard Point in Cornwall. This is a favourite just because it sounds silly and makes me think of home and the Cornish tendency for unusual place names (think Mevagissey and Ventongimps).

“Sow and Pigs” on Sydney Harbour, because, well it really is a pig if you hit this one!

“The Iron Pot”, a landmark hailing from Hobart’s whaling days which stands at the entrance to the Derwent River in Tasmania, signalling the end of a cold wet voyage and the vicinity of a well earned and welcome rum!

What’s your favourite place name (nautical or not) and what does it remind you of?

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