A gift to gladden the heart

Gold coast dolphin
This is a dolphin we saw at Sea World on the Gold Coast

There is a joint memory that Moz and I have from our teens of a house that made an incredible impression on us. I’m not sure why we were there, we only went once. I think my parents were visiting the couple who owned it but I’m really not sure why.

But this house.

I mean, I like dolphins and whales, I really do, but this house went way overboard.

The couple had dolphin wedding rings, dolphin salt and pepper shakers, a whale on the table cloth and a dolphin Doona cover. The mirrors were surrounded by dolphins, there was dolphin and whale artwork all over the walls and dolphin and whale sculptures on every surface. There was dolphin-themed stained glass on the windows and the walls were painted blue.

It was overpowering. There was no getting away from whales and dolphins anywhere.

I really like seeing dolphins and whales. I’ve been fortunate to have two whale sightings right here in Hobart over the past twenty years or so. One at Kingston Beach (close to my house, where I walk nearly every day) and one further up the river where a mother whale had taken her calf.

Dolphins, on the other hand, tend to stay away from me. I’ve been on two wilderness cruises where we’ve seen seals and albatross but no dolphins. I’ve cruised down the east coast of Tasmania on a yacht and seen no dolphins at all, though we did see some amazing luminescence in the water. I’ve spent hours on beaches straining my eyes without the sighting of even one fin.

Ok, as I write this I see that I’m the most privileged and spoiled person out there. My life has been filled with fantastic experiences. I’m not complaining at all. And I did see a whole pod of dolphins cavorting in the waves off Bicheno once.

I wonder whether the way I feel about dolphins is due to the rarity of the sightings, and if I’d become bored with them if I saw them more often. I know that after being in the dolphin house I didn’t want to see anything about sea creatures for months.

On the Saturday just past I spent most of the day sitting in front of the fire and reading. I was taking a day off and loving it. In the afternoon I felt like going for a walk and Moz came with me. We walked to the beach and bought a coffee and then I said, ‘What next? Will we walk along the beach?’

Moz suggested we just stand at the rail and stare out at the water for a while.

And while I was staring something caught my eye. Now, last time this had happened it was a seal enjoying the water and waving his flippers in the sunshine.

But this time … this time it was a dolphin.

I’ve been going to Kingston Beach for forty years on and off and this is the first dolphin I’ve ever seen there. And it was beautiful. It came quite close so we could see it clearly and then it swam away.

Kingston beach dolphin
This is me, and you can see the fin out there in the water. I promise it’s there!

Then a very light shower of rain passed over us, and all that meant was that where the dolphin had been there was now a complete rainbow over the water. The scene would have fit perfectly into the dolphin house art work, but this time it was real.

It totally made my day and I’m so glad we took a few minutes to stand and stare.

I guess there’s not much of a point to my little story, except for the encouragement to take the time to enjoy days off and to enjoy nature. That sometimes when you just stand and stare for a while you will receive a gift to gladden your heart.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

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New blue, nice blue, nice new blue shoes. And a party.

turtles

Part 1:

I am sitting in the apartment listening to Catherine talk to a director about a movie. Some of the conversation I can keep up with (and even contribute to a little) but some of it is in another language.

Today has been delightful (again). We had a slow morning rise, and then went for a walk around the shady parts of Griffith Park. Shady as in there were trees giving us shade from the blazing sun (yay, we got summer today) and we didn’t go to the bare hillside where we would have baked. It was really beautiful. We saw a snake, and some turtles, and some little fishes.

Then we did a little shopping, I bought some new blue shoes, we got groceries. Then after lunch I worked in a café until it closed, and then moved to another café to keep working while Catherine worked at home.

It’s been restful, warm, and productive. And now it’s just about time to party.

****

Part 2:

The party was fun. We were at the Netflix building, which is walking distance from Catherine’s house. We were given popcorn and water and we watched episode 7 of Godless which was a western thing. Lots of shooting. Lots and lots and lots of shooting. And really amazing scenery, which a friend told me afterwards was totally wrong, ‘you don’t get a nice valley like that unless you go 100 miles up into the mountains.’

After the viewing, the composer came out and answered questions. He was hilarious. He kept saying things like, ‘oh yes, this guy, my orchestrator, he doesn’t suck’ and ‘the cellist, just forget it.’ Which were both really high compliments.

He also told us that you can sleep for 20 minutes, wake up for 10 minutes, and then work for four hours and you can do that for, I think he said five weeks, if you’re really under pressure and need to get work done. Not what I’m planning to do.

And then there was the party part where I met heaps of Catherine’s friends. I managed to drop the finger food on the floor but not get it all down my front, so I think that’s a win. Had fun chats about D and D, books and movies, music, all that stuff. And afterwards we found a bar called Know Where and had a bit more chatting before coming home and dropping into bed.

I am obviously writing this the morning after, but I couldn’t have written anything that made sense last night. It was so cool to be part of something like that and to see a window into the film world here.

I’m caffeinated now, and I’ve had a nice plain breakfast, and I’m almost ready to see what today holds. So far, it has held sunshine and a hummingbird.

Holiday Adventures

It is the time of the year that we go on adventures. We take a little time out and see where we can travel to. We’ve gone to Vanuatu, once. And to the north of our beautiful state several times.

This year we went to Adelaide. We thought it was time. My brother has lived in Adelaide for 17 years and I’ve only been to visit him once. There are reasons, I’m not just totally slack, but this summer we decided our holiday would be a trip to Adelaide.

We decided it back in November of course. We sat down and said to each other ‘what adventure will we go on this summer?’ This was back when we were still stressed from work and unsure how the summer would play out. ‘Adelaide’ we decided and we contacted my brother. He was not real fussed about which weekend so we booked one in. I decided to go with Friday through Monday and have just a little extra time.

In the end, the timing was pretty perfect. Losing Kat (our cat) on the Monday before was a whole lot better than having her put to sleep on the weekend of. And the week after has been a great recovery week – Thursday being a public holiday and the fact that I don’t work Fridays meant that I only had a two day work week.

We had a fabulous weekend in and around Adelaide. We had hired a car and most of Saturday and half of Sunday we went driving through the hills and into the countryside. We saw Murray Bridge and the mouth of the Murray River. We saw salt flats, ads for cow racing (yes! Cow racing!), vineyards, dead fish (heaps of them at the mouth for some reason),  bush and paddocks and lovely towns. And that was just Saturday.

Saturday night took us and my brother and his partner into the city. We had a delicious dinner in a Chinese restaurant and wandered around a bit just looking at the various shops and pubs and places where restaurants and pubs used to be but had now shut down or changed to something else. And the big inflatable bike in the square – bikes were everywhere – the Tour Down Under was happening.

Sunday after a gorgeous brunch with our cousin and her husband, DH and I went for another explore. We visited the National Automobile Museum – that is – DH visited the museum and I found a handy cafe nearby and worked on my novel (yes, it’s still coming along, slowly) and then we wandered around the town. After that, we decided to turn the SatNav off and keep going in the same direction for a while so that we could find a new way home. That’s the exciting thing about the big north island/mainland of Australia – there are many roads, many different ways to get home. There’s only a couple here in Tassie.

So we wandered away, making sure we were going in the right general direction. Our road took us past the Big Rocking Horse which I’d only seen on postcards before. Then we were directed to take a detour along Gorge Rd. It was a beautiful driving road. DH enjoyed himself so much. I tried to not worry about the excess on the hire care and just enjoy the scenery. DH knows what he’s doing, but I like to be sure.

The scenery was incredible, we followed the bottom of a gorge, right along a river, hills rising on both sides. Then we came to Kangaroo Creek Dam and ended up going up to the top of a cliff and then driving right back down again to the river. I’m having trouble remembering specifics, there were crazy rock walls, huge heights, complete u-turns, wildlife parks, all sorts of fun driving experiences and then, suddenly, suburbia. We were back to driving through flat Adelaide and making our way back home. It was a fantastic adventure.

So it was a brilliant weekend, and I haven’t even mentioned the food yet. I put on three kilos or so – my brother and his partner know how to provide! It was all good food, very good food, both bought and the deliciousness that was created and eaten at home. And brilliant conversation too.

The final adventure waited for us as we tried to get back to Hobart. We knew we had a very long wait in Melbourne between flights. It was supposed to be about five hours. We had looked into going to a nearby hotel and paying for lounge and pool access just to get out of the airport space, and we were all ready to do that.

We left for the airport in plenty of time to take the rental car back and be in time for our flight. Everything went super smoothly so we had time to eat a bite of lunch as well. We were sitting at the cafe table watching the departures board. It said to go to the gate and we were just discussing whether we would wait where we were until it said ‘boarding’ or whether we would go and wait in line, when the board changed.

Delayed.

Doom.

No problem, we thought, it’s only delayed half an hour or so, we’ll find something to do. So DH went to the newsagent across the way and bought some cards, and with the help of a counter on his phone we played crib. I won.

We’d had enough sitting by that time so we decided to head to the gate, just for a walk, something to do, and see what we could see.

When we got to the gate we watched planes for a while, and we watched people for a while, and then the dreaded announcement came. Our plane was broken, we would need a new plane, that new plane was coming from the Gold Coast and it had itself been delayed and we wouldn’t be going anywhere until 4pm.

So we cracked out the cards again, and I won, again. DH didn’t want to play anymore after that. (He may just have been tired.) So we read for a bit, and chatted for a bit, and then headed down to our new gate and got on our new plane.

Turns out we only had two hours in Melbourne. So the whole hotel plan will have to wait until next time. But we were so grateful for the time between planes that meant there was absolutely no stress about catching our connecting flight.

At the end of the day se were very ready to get home and get into bed. We were simultaneously tired and refreshed. This was a weekend away that we didn’t even bother dreaming about when we were poor uni students with children. It’s the type of holiday we hope to have more of.

Once we got home we knew that this weekend had marked the end of the summer break. It is now time to get back into work with a vengeance. DH has spent all week doing his online professional development courses and I have, well actually, I haven’t done too much work but I’ve also done a fair bit of pottering around the house. I’ll get back into work with a vengeance next week, I promise!

Thank you, brother dearest, for a wonderful weekend getaway. And sister dear, when you’re rich and famous, you can pay for us to come and have a getaway in LA with you (I know you’re on your way after you won that award for the music for Gold Balls – us poor teachers will never be rich!).

Our next adventure will probably be somewhere exotic… like Ouse. Stay tuned!

My Big Break

The following four blog posts were written while I was away on a break and uploaded upon my return, so the tenses may be a bit weird but I hope you find them enjoyable anyway!

Have you all been wondering where I’ve been? The last four days I’ve been away on a break in St Helens at a friend’s shack. It’s been planned for a while – it’s the only time that DH and I can get away together for four days and I’ve felt the need for a holiday for a while so we jumped at the possibility.

A very big part of the idea for me was that I would take a proper break not only from home and from work but from social media as well. That I would concentrate on reading and writing and get some significant work done on my novel. That I would learn how to concentrate for longer lengths of time without having the constant distraction.

What this has meant is that at a time when I am actually doing Facebook-worthy activities I am not posting them. I am not answering messages, I am not even reading my email. I am limiting my internet to checking on DS’s progress in Fiji and my parents progress moving house.

You know, this would be a lot easier if I were actually out of contact with no access to the internet, but my phone is still receiving email, still telling me that I’m getting messages and I am having to actively ignore them. I’m grateful that I can still be in contact especially that I don’t have to worry that I’ll miss big news from Fiji. I think I would have struggled with leaving for four days if no-one could contact me in case of emergencies. However, if you actually wanted my input these last few days, I apologise if I’ve hurt you, but I needed the break.

There is a lot more time on holidays. All that you have to do is read and walk. Walk and read. If you’re not reading, you’re exercising. Or eating. It’s a pretty simple lifestyle!

That’s not quite true. This shack is pretty rustic but it has a TV that we watched last night. The night before, we played scrabble and I reckon there’s a bit of crib going to happen as well. And then, I’m working on my novel – working on an overall plan that shows how each character develops and making sure the the structure of the book holds together. It’s a great project to potter on over a long weekend.

But we’ve done a fair bit of enjoying nature – on the way here we climbed the rock at Bicheno and rock-hopped over to the blowhole. We didn’t expect great things from the Blowhole but it was a whole (hole!) lot of fun. Just when you didn’t expect it the spray would erupt and get the unsuspecting bystander all wet.

On our first evening here, immediately after we pulled up in the car, we wandered down to the water that we can see from the shack windows. We stood on the side of the road and looked down at the crystal clear water and a skate swam slowly past.

Yesterday we walked from this shack into St Helens proper on a little path that follows the road along the side of the bay, past beaches and small cliffs and rocky foreshores, and over bridges and through into the township. In the evening we walked the other direction, along the beach and then almost to the point on the other side. This morning I walked down to the jetty that sits at the base of this property and watched the little fish swim around – some tiny fish and a couple of puffer fish about the size of my palm.

Towards lunch time we went to Binalong Bay and found an amazing rock pool. Tiny shrimps were picking the food off the rocks, tiny stripy fish swam around in schools, then there was the little pink and the little greenish-grey fish lazily making his way around the water in front of us and some other red fish that were very  shy and spent most of their time under rocks. Then occasionally we would glimpse some fairly large fish, as long as my hand, plain grey or with vertical stripes they would zip past and then go out of sight again. Right at the very end as we reluctantly made our way back to the car I saw a large crab scuttle down between two rocks. And all this doesn’t include the pelican that was happily waiting for fish scraps from the men fishing on a nearby jetty.

Binalong Bay

After Binalong Bay we drove up through the Bay of Fires area and stopped for lunch on a white sand beach with turquoise water. Beautiful clear water with gorgeous waves. It was like we were in another country – it was so different to the beach back home. We ate our sandwiches, then drove to the end of the road, stopping for more rock-hopping here and there. One of the other tourists said that there were dolphins, but they ran away when they saw me coming (like they usually do).

Empty beach

This isn’t Binalong Bay but another completely deserted beach that we walked along near St Helens Pt.

The rest and the exercise are two great companions. The view of nature, unspoiled and beautiful, out the window is just a huge refreshment to the soul. The rock-hopping and wandering along beaches and through bushland and all of the nature we’re getting to see, it’s all a joy, a great joy. I knew I needed this break, I needed it so much that I was scared that the four days wouldn’t be enough, but every minute is doing me good and I know I am blessed to be here. I’m unwinding. It is good.