Saturday, 30 January 2010

Now I'm old all the fun has gone out of me - or am I just wiser?

This morning I was talking to 13-year-old Miss Hissy about ocean swimming. I told her if the waves were too big and rough at tomorrow's annual Big Swim from Palm Beach to Whale Beach I wouldn't swim it. I wouldn't subject myself to the battering I received last year just trying to get out beyond the breakers.

Miss Hiss looked at me with a mixture of disdain and pity. She said she loved the thrill of tackling the big waves.

She said: 'When you grow old all the fun goes out of you.'

I could have explained that it's more about becoming acutely aware of your own mortality. In addition, there's that question I ask myself more and more: 'Do I really need to prove anything to anyone - even to myself- anymore? Then, why the f%$# am I doing this?'

But I didn't. Miss Hiss deserves her fun, and my older and wiser perspective is a dampener.

And you know what, I'll end up doing the bloody thing anyway, in spite of myself.

See you in the surf - but please don't wave as you swim past me!

PS: I just checked the 2010 Big Swim home page and tomorrow there's meant to be a nice 1.3 metre swell and a NE wind (doesn't that bring in the blue bottles? Yikes). Overall, it's looking promising. Fingers crossed. It should be FUN.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

The right time to write is 2010

I always think of Australia Day as the official last day of the summer holidays.

During the Christmas break lots of Sydneysiders leave town, most for the coast, and it's not until January 26 that they're all back and poised to jump onto the treadmill for another year. In the interim Sydney has a relaxed laid-back feel to it as if those who've stayed around have infused it with their good-holiday vibes.

Sadly, it's all come to an end. I heard a traffic report on the radio this morning and it's back to normal already - endless traffic jams and accidents signal the return of the peak hour (which runs into hours and sometimes all day).

I've got another week before I return to work, which is a relief as I've been delaying the inevitable preparation work. I did quit my job at one of my workplaces last year but was asked back to do a less-stressful job. I couldn't say no. Money is a strong motivator. Sigh.

But I'm determined to write, so I've moved my office and computer into the spare room. Now it's time to sit down at the computer and do some serious writing. I wrote a short story and entered it in the Little Gems contest, so that's a start.

Next on the list is ironing out all the rough edges on my ms and entering it in the Valerie Parv comp.

It's all systems go. Stress is back big time.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Swim report: Warriewood to Mona Vale Mighty Marathon Swim

So, brother-in-law Davo and I arrive at Mona Vale nice and early, just after 8.30am, to be confronted by a dog's breakfast.

The surf was all over the shop. In silence, we watched a surf boat almost get dumped causing the guy at the back to fall overboard with the tiller.

I was a cranky little Vegemite as the gods of flat seas had failed to deliver yet again. Yesterday during a shocking heatwave the ocean was flatter than my singing in the shower. Today, after stormy weather, was another story.

We drove around to Warriewood for a squizz. This was where the swim was to start, and fortunately conditions were calmer.

Davo carried on about being ambivalent, but he always does (are you reading this Davo?).

Of course we would do it. We were there, we'd paid and bragged ad nauseum to anyone who'd listen about our ocean-swimming feats. Also, my friend Mrs Love-A-Chat was there with a cheer squad to meet us at the end.

There was no room for ambivalence.

We drove back to MV, parked and caught the shuttle bus to Warriewood.

Davo and I are older codgers so we were in the last wave of swimmers to enter the surf. A couple of the younger groups copped several big breakers as they strode in over a sand bank.

When the starter gun went off for those aged 100 and over, Davo started swimming immediately. This was a smart move as I doddled about and had to duck under several waves before reaching the first can.

The Warriewood to Mona Vale swim is what's known as a destination swim - you go from one place to another. These are the 'funnest' swims to do. It was lovely out the back of the breakers, just swimming along and enjoying the north-flowing current. When my goggles weren't fogged up (I must get a new pair) I could see the ocean floor, it was that clear. I could also see the bubbles streaming from the kicking feet of my fellow swimmers. Bliss.

But then we had to get back to shore. It was rough and the current was no longer my friend. It was still trying to push me north. I got sucked under a couple of waves, but finally made it out.

Davo beat me, as usual. Watch out mate. I know where you live.

To summarise: It was an excellent swim, but there were a couple of cheaters - at the start some of the sly dogs in the older age groups started the swim to the right of the official starting line. A small advantage as the current was pushing north. For me, the bigger issue (if you can call it that) was at the end of the swim when some of those swimmers who were physically assisted by the surf lifesavers still ran over the finish line to get a faster time than they would've.

Them's the breaks... and karma is a powerful force.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Constitution Dock and swimming at Bridport in Tasmania

Here's a couple of my pics from our recent trip to Tasmania. I took the photo on the left at Constitution Dock in Hobart - where the Sydney to Hobart yacht race ends.
The fishing boat Annie B had just arrived back in port from a week at sea. If you look closely at the boat you can see what looks like rows of Cianti bottles. They are actually lights, which attract squid. The fishermen, a terse uncommunicative lot, were hauling off squid by the bucket load. I might try and put up a couple more of the pics of the boat in the next few days. I think the file size is making it hard for me to load them simultaneously.
Constitution Dock is an amazing place. I live in Sydney where old things are often pulled down. But Hobart is a true snapshot of Australia's colonial past. Recommended.
The photo on the right was taken at Bridport, a holiday town on the north-east coast. Tassie has a reputation for being a cold place. After all, it's not that far from the Antarctic. But it was stinking hot the day I drove to Bridport. I swam there - my first swim ever in Bass Strait - and I reckon the water temperature was around 23 degrees Celcius. Gorgeous.
And geez, don't the beaches get crowded in Tassie?
I don't know about you, but life has its heavenly moments and my swim at Bridport was one of these.
Time slows down a little bit in Tassie.
But that was last week. Back in Sydney, I'm off to swim in the Pacific tomorrow with a horde of mad ocean swimmers.
Deep breath. Visualise floating like an otter in Bridport...

Monday, 18 January 2010

She's back... from Tasmania

Welcome back blogsters.

I have just returned from an epic journey to Tasmania (one week actually) the smallish island at the bottom right-hand corner of Australia, which is separated from the mainland by Bass Strait.

A lot of mainlanders disregard Tassie, but it's a beeee-uuuu-di-full place.

No traffic (asset), but heaps of roadkill (drawback). The latter phenomenom is because the poor hapless wallabies, possums and wombats hang out on the roads at night only to be scrunched and squelched by the poor hapless drivers who spot them too late to swerve.

Deadset, the only wildlife I saw in Tassie was one echidna (probably about to be scrunched by a car) and zillions of rabbits (vermin that seems to be thriving on the golf course near our accommodation). No Tasmanian Devils (maybe one squelched). And definitely no thylacines (I reckon the last one standing was run down by a car).
I was down south with Spanner and Miss Hissy, as Miss Hiss was in a big sailing regatta in the north-east of the island.

Once I got over the proliferation of dead meat (dinner for the crows), I had an abfab time.

I'm having trouble loading my pics, so this one will have to do for the time being - it's a promo pic taken from the internet of Cataract Gorge in Launceston.
More soon, then back to swimming and romance. XXXX

Friday, 8 January 2010

Off to watch sailing in Tassie

We're off to the Apple Isle for a week to watch Miss Hissy sail, so I'll miss out on two Sydney ocean swims.

The first is this Sunday at Bondi. Apparently there's been a record number of entries, so I don't really mind that I won't be there. It could be a bun fight.

The week after is Avalon, which is a beautiful beach on the northern peninsula. I must admit I prefer the northern beaches to the eastern suburbs. Bondi might be iconic, but it's always crowded - heaps of Irish and English trying to get a sun tan (there's a laugh) - and too showy for mine (A-list celebrities hanging out at Icebergs).

When I return I plan to start another blog specifically dedicated to writing. It's too hard to juggle ocean swimming and romance writing in the one blog. Some people just aren't interested in ocean swimming and others don't care two hoots about my writing goals and all the other trivia concerning life in the 'burbs.

I'll be back on board after January 18. See you soon and take care.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

A rant on silly tattoos and tongue piercings

My eldest daughter, Precious Princess, returned from a three-day music festival in the wilds of Tasmania with a piercing. It's only small and it's in her ear (that little bit of cartilage in the front) so I can handle that. At least a piercing can be removed.

But I have told her, in my headmistress voice, that a tongue piercing is banned. One of her friends has one, a silver ball that makes her talk funny. It's easy to become distracted when chatting to someone with a tongue piercing because you catch occasional glimpses of the ball as it rolls around the mouth.

Tattoos are also on my fuddy-duddy banned list. That same friend has the word gentleness tattooed on her lower abdomen. It sounds like an ad for an antacid to relieve indigestion.

Whatever, she's going to have to keep toned because gentleness could very well sag into a gentle mess when she's 40.

PP mentioned another of her friends who has All things must come to pass tattooed on her lower back.

Even PP concedes that one's an unfortunate mistake.
Girls just can't get away with tattoos, especially as they get older, the way boys can.
PS: I admit it, Hamish Blake does look adorable with his tiny tatt. Cheeky boy.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Newport Beach Pool to Peak: first swim for 2010

It's the middle of summer in Sydney and today it rained. Thank god. For locals, this is a welcome respite from the sweltering heat that so often leads to bushfires.

The rain didn't stop 450 people from turning up to Newport Beach for the Pool to Peak 2 km swim. When I arrived at around 9.30am it was drizzling, a wee bit chilly, and the surf looked like it was building up.

I was without my swimming mate, Davo, who had promised me he was going to enter a swim down south at Gerringong. I phoned him when I arrived to discover he'd reneged on his end of the deal. His excuses didn't wash with me - too rainy, too miserable, chores to do around the holiday house. Big sissy. Mummy's boy.

But I hadn't driven all the way to the bloody northern beaches for nothing (also I'd entered the swim online, so I'd already forked out $25). I was committed.

The swim started bang on 10am, with the under 20s heading out first and the old codgers last.

Fortunately, the conditions weren't as shocking as those at Bilgola in early December, where the chop was so rugged it was impossible to establish a rhythm.

Once I was out beyond the gentle Newport breakers it was easy to get into the swing of it. I did the usual - too many pauses to look around - which always slow me down. Plus, I have a habit of swimming wide of the buoys. I have no sense of direction. But today the buoys were easy to spot in the distance and I managed to stay, mostly, on course.

There was a really nice part of the swim, heading north parallel with the beach, where a favourable current helped everyone along. Getting out of the water was as easy as getting in. The waves rolled in and I swam with them.

The last swimmer was an elderly woman who came in way after everyone else. The surf lifesavers on the rescue boats stayed with her and encouraged her to finish. By this time the drizzle was blowing about on the wind and everything was grey. From the clubhouse people clapped and cheered as she was helped up the beach.

It was one of those feelgood days. (Oh, except for the microscopic sea creatures that got caught in my cossie. Now my tummy is itchy)

Friday, 1 January 2010

Happy New Year: Sydney fireworks as seen from Balmain

My new camera wasn't set up, so I used my old one - a bit blurry.

These are the 9pm fireworks. I didn't stay for midnight.

The fireworks were spectacular and went for 10 minutes. The fireworks on the western side of the harbour were replicated on the eastern side.

I should have put this pic first. This is the harbour as seen from the Sydney inner-western suburb of Balmain. If you look at the right-hand side of the pic you'll notice people on the rooftop of one of the houses. They had a perfect view.