musings from a walk down the beach

Mon 17th, Dec, 2012

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Morning from Down Under!

First off, apologies for the confusion on jelly, jello and jam on the trifle recipe the other day– me having a headache while writing it and the fact that I normally do the trifle with my eyes shut meant for a recipe that wasn’t clear.  Sorry.  It’s been edited now – if you make it let me know how it goes.


So, yesterday, Sunday on the beaches and pretty busy at our local beach, we had one of our kiddos off at sport up the coast and headed down the beach in the morning with one of the other two – Mr BC was doing some surf life saving and I, still getting over a bad cold, had planned a coffee and an easy, but not short, walk on the beach, shorts, no shoes and to get some fresh sea air into my lungs to get rid of the nasties.

The beach had all sorts going on – it’s building up here for full-on tourist season (being a short ferry ride to Sydney a lot of people come here on holiday from all over the world for a Christmas Down Under style) plus there was a local ocean swim which attracts all manner of Sydney-siders who like to rock up over this side of the bridge, get a number emblazoned on the side of their arm with a marker pen, don a swimming hat and take to the seas…

So I started the walk dodging littlies in Nippers uniforms, Europeans sunning themselves without hats, umbrellas or rashies and weekend sand runners.

It truly was a sensational morning, the colours, the air and the surf were spectacular, as only the colours can be here.  The surf was pumping and when we first arrived the water was closed to swimmers as it was on the dangerous side…


As I walked along with the ocean I whipped out my phone and began to take some pics and then I just stood there looking out to sea, amazed that these days, this is my life.

I watched the surfer boys (ahem),the surfer girls, those on surf skis and the body boarders and there was a guy body surfing too…a few minutes later he emerged nearby to me from the bright sparkling blue ocean and picked up a towel left on the sand and began to dry himself off.

As he did that he turned to me gazing out to sea and said…

“trying to decide whether or not to go for a swim??? take it from me the water is amazing!”

I smiled and said

“there is no way I’ll be going in the water up this end of the beach today…that is unless you want to see the lifesavers doing a pretty good rescue this morning!  Actually I was standing here thinking just how beautiful this is”

“ahhhh I think by the sound of your accent ,yes you had better stay in between the flags” laugh and smile

I nodded in agreement and laughed but said I had better ring home and tell a certain teenager that the surf was good…

He asked how long we had been here and I told him when and how we had arrived in Sydney.

“It’s pretty special here isn’t it?” he said “I’ve lived here all my life”


We chatted some more and I gushed about my love for this oh-so lucky land and how we had been on quite a journey to get here and it had not been all roses but right then just before he had spoken to me I had been thinking that this view and the amazing colours, well, it still gets me every time.

And then off he went with a friendly cheerio and how nice thought I.

I carried on with my walk and further up the beach getting towards the end at a set of flags were a couple of littlies about 3 or so playing on the sand and as I approached them I gasped…they caught my eye for a few reasons, firstly they were wearing very European swimmers (meaning tiny and with ruffles, I can’t really put my finger on it but they weren’t Aussie style), secondly they were nut brown/deep red/sunburnt and thirdly they were not wearing hats or sun protection tops and had strap marks from the day before…there mum called them in Spanish…clearly on holidays here


In a flash, for some reason those swimmers with the ruffles took me back to our house in England when we were trying to get a job over here (unlike a lot of migrants here we did not come on a job transfer and did not have a skill that was on the list so the only way we could come was to find employment that would sponsor us with an employment visa)…we had orchestrated a big plan from the Christmas we landed home to Heathrow and grey skies to be living in a new country by the end of the year…

…and so in those first few months of a cold English year Mr Beach Cottage would wait for the time difference to be right so that he could call his business contacts in Australia…we had to wait for them to get to work, get settled into their day on this side of the world… and normally that would mean the middle of the night or thereabouts for us…

This went on for months…at that stage it wasn’t just Australia that we were looking at, we were also considering the States and Europe, mostly France…but in the evenings it was Australia’s turn…we would close the house up, lock the doors etc for bed and get everything shut down and then Mr BC would hole himself up in the study to make phone calls and I would go upstairs to bed with a hot water bottle, wannabe Oz migrant books and information on the internet about living in other countries…

Sometimes Mr Beach Cottage would be down there for hours and I would find myself suddenly awake after having fallen asleep in bed sitting up surrounded by travel books…I would look over at the clock and see it was not far until morning and bang on the ceiling to the study underneath for him to come to bed…



One of the things that always sticks in my mind about those books about living in Australia was about beach goers and what to wear on the beach…I can’t remember which book it was but it explained the beach culture, the climate, the high incidence of skin cancer and how Aussies have Slip Slop Slap about tattooed on the inside of their foreheads…on beach attire it included information on brimmed hats, rashies, sunnies, sunscreen, umbrellas etc…it described how here it was quite different to the Euro holidays Brits go on where the main aim is to get in the sun and bake in it for two weeks…

I distinctly remember the reference to European children and their swimwear – it was something along the lines of…

‘if you walk on an Australian beach with your kids dressed just in a bikini and not properly protected from the sun, watch the whole beach stop, turn around, stare and hear the Australian’s gasp in disbelief’

And as I walked along that beach yesterday with the Aussie sun beating down, a hat clamped to my head, sunnies, my shoulders very much covered and the sea air in my hair, I had done that very thing, not the Brit Abroad on the beach with her kiddos in itsy bitsy togs but the Aussie doing her morning walk in the sun, gasping at the sunburnt kiddos in disbelief.

In one swift second it took me back to that house in England that I loved, to the little park around the corner, the fields I drove through to get to school, the allotments I sat in with a book that no-one knew about and the pubs we loved to go in on a Sunday arvo for a beer…but walking back I ruffled up my feathers and thought wow I am literally a world away from that life….and though it has said it on the certificate for quite a while…I really am one of them now .. 20121217-07-IMG_5432

And then I got home and coming in the door of this old cottage wondered why my neck, chest, patches of my legs and upper arms were feeling a bit odd, a bit on the sore side…a bit, oh my giddy aunt, sunburnt!

…not even fire-engine red, no, the next stage on from that…the burgundy stage…the burngundy stage is only known to those with skin that naturally errrrrs on the side of blue-white…I have had this kinda sunburn once and only once before in Australia, when we were fresh off the boat and I very nearly ended up with a little trip to ER…

It’s not quite as bad as that episode and only in patches but as I examined it in the mirror and then went out to the garden to cut some Aloe Vera I smiled to myself.

Once a Pommie, always a Pommie.

See you next time, I have to fly, Mr Beach Cottage is going in for a minor surgery today, he said he’s a little bit nervous about it, which has totally floored me because he has never in all the years I have known him said he has been nervous about anything ever…off to play Nurse BC – not one of my better skills so wish me luck


p.s. All pics from my new iphone5 – the top one is one of my first shots using Panorama feature…still fiddling with it but so far so good

p.p.s. I forgot to say, I scored a fabbo vintage find over the weekend, to say it’s white, shabby with an aged patina and has my name all over it is an under-statement, pics coming soon, I loveee it…yes I really should have been Christmas shopping, no still not panicking yet

p.p.s Barls blogging over here today xo


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31 Responses to “musings from a walk down the beach”

  1. It’s funny how ingredients are called different things (or just completely unavailable in another country) – I miss custard – I have to go to an English food importer when I have a craving for custard. I had a friend asking me for my pavlova recipe last week, and I had to translate (or substitute) at least half the ingredients. :)

    Great beach pictures!

  2. sarah says:

    yes it’s weird…I had completely forgotten that jelly is jam in other parts of the world…

    I am able to get everything I need here really in terms of food though we miss English tea, and I don’t mean Twinings lol!

  3. Miriam says:

    We went to Ireland (hubby’s home town in Co. Donegal) last May. It was freezing! One day it hit 17′C and my brother-in-law raced outside in a t-shirt to get a tan. I thought he was mad. Until you have been to both parts of the world you can’t understand the difference between the two suns and the two types of warmth and cold.
    There’s a shop called Taste of Ireland that has loads of British food including tea, custard, crisps and sweets. They have online shopping as well. and are based in Mascot, Sydney.

  4. Karen says:

    Glad you like our beaches, being a beach girl since I was a kid, the go was to get as brown as possible, no hats no sunscreen. These days I try to stay well out of the sun and that means being inside, because no matter how much you try to protect yourself from the sun it still gets to you. Still get urges to be near the ocean we were even on our way out to Cronulla beaches this past weekend but hubby has had back surgery recently and wasn’t up to the drive, ho hum maybe one day soon I may get to go for a beautiful stroll along the promenade at Cronulla or down the coast.
    Have a Great Day

    • sarah says:

      oh I love the beaches down that side of Sydney too! I have been there quite a bit b/c of sport and love it… I hope you make it there x

      • シングレットを着用した後は、快適に感じるはずです。ジャージもあなたの体に固執するべきではありません。また、身体から離れて滞在する必要があります。それは水分を浸しても軽傷からあなたの体を防ぐために持っているとして、それは完璧でなければなりません。あなたの最寄りのデパートからもオンラインスポーツ衣類ショップからジャージを購入することができます。オンラインで購入することだけでなく、より経済的で便利です。 ナイキの多数の拡張機能に加えて、ナイキにとって最も重要な製品の開発の一つは、自社製品のカスタマイズです。ナイキはマス·カスタマイゼーションのために、それがよりアクセスしやすくなりました。靴からアクセサリーまでアパレルに、顧客は、彼らが購入することをほとんど何をカスタマイズする機能があります。それは顧客がより関与することと、彼らが実際に購入から欲しいものを達成することができますので、これは重要です。 2013超人気の アディゼロ F50 プライム, アディダス サッカーシューズ 展示品大特価

  5. Melinda says:

    Great story Sarah, really enjoyed reading it. I really do gasp at unprotected beach goers – CRAZY FOLK in our very dangerous sun – I just cant get over how dumb it is ( harsh but true)

    anyway in between your nursemaiding would you have time to give me some feedback on the Iphone 5 ( email me if you’d prefer not to put it in the comments) I am out of plan on a 4S and wondering whether to upgrade….have heard battery is an issue with 5 but otherwise is very quick – would really appreciate if you had a minute as dont know many others with 5 ( well accept for my 71 yr old mother but its her first Iphone so she cant compare ;) )
    have a great day – lovely photos as usual xx
    ps do you have an email address on the blog – I can t see one?

    • sarah says:

      in one quick answer I would say go for it if it won’t cost you any extra $$$$ – I have had lots of questions about this, who knew iphone5 was on a lot of people’s minds, so if I get a chance I will write up my thoughts…xx

      abeachcottageblog at gmail.com

  6. SmithShack71 says:

    I love your beaches. Hate the sunburns. Best wishes with your man’s surgery.
    Thanks for the mellowness of the post. It’s a good break away from the horror from Friday.
    I appreciate you.


    • sarah says:

      Yes I hear you, I didn’t want to mention it on here, I think there has been enough coverage of it and everything I started to write didn’t sound good enough if you know what I mean…

      cherishing my kiddos here today xo

  7. alison says:

    Ahhh, lovely post. Love your cultural comparisons.


  8. Maureen says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Posts like this one make me love your blog even more, thanks for sharing it and
    for your husband I hope he will be better soon.
    Maureen xx

  9. Kat says:

    Love your stories and your beachy pics.
    I think you should write a book, oh yes I do.
    Beach cottage coffee table book with beautiful pics, tips and some of your lovely stories about your life so far.
    What do you reckon? Could be a best seller! ;) If you ever do it, you can thank me in the credits, lol :)

  10. Ha ha……yes we did just about get the slip slop slap tattooed on us as kids……..it worked though, I’m now slip slop slapping my kids!! x

    • sarah says:

      yes I wonder if they ever did a survey on how effective it was? every Aussie of my age is super sunsafe…I actually think it should come back x

  11. Jos says:

    Brilliant post and ohhhhhh so true. I almost feel compelled to go up to Pommie backpacker strangers on Bondi Beach and act like a nana with them about sunscreen. Often they are so red raw it is painful to even look at. And you know they’ll be back there the next day adding burn to the burn. The sun is fierce here and even more so in NZ – that hole in the ozone is nasty down these parts!!!! Love the pics Sarah – I need to get me one of those 5s!!!!

    • sarah says:

      yes Jos I do the same to people with sunburn…it is very strong here and for someone as fair as me it’s not a joke! I can burn in minutes if not properly sunsafe hence what happened this weekend… x

  12. Fiona says:

    I’m a fair skinned person myself despite living in Australia all my life. I managed to get seriously burnt at a funeral when the wake was held in a garden in the Blue Mountains last December. When you burn yourself burgundy it is wise to check it out with your doctor as it could well be 2nd degree burns. Watch out for blisters.
    Much like yourself I use Aloe Vera on sunburn. However if your skin still feels hot when you’re apply the Aloe Vera – Stop! The heat from your skin means you’re still burning. I’ve recently done a first aid course and the current school of thought is that you follow the first aid procedures (see link below) BEFORE you apply the Aloe.
    When skin is affected, sunburn will show within two to six hours and continue to develop over the next 24-72 hours. Mild sunburn, which causes skin to redden, is called first degree sunburn. More serious reddening with blisters is second degree sunburn.


  13. Jo says:

    I’m not panicking yet either Sarah. I haven’t missed a Christmas yet..teeheee. ;)
    I use to burn and burn when i was younger growing up swimming in the rivers,billabongs, in the N.T. I hated wearing sunscreen. The Slip Slop and Slap campaign came out in the 80′s, and when they came out, my parents had the ammunition then.. and they were right.UGh.

    • sarah says:

      yes I don’t like the sunscreen feeling either…especially after having read stuff about it…thinking about changing things by using clothing as sunscreen etc…

      I love the sound of your childhood…x

  14. Love your story today Sarah! I haven’t been Christmas shopping anymore yet either. Not panicking yet…but I’m sure I will be as time moves on. Hope Mr. BC does well and you take care of that sunburn. I love the beach but I have to watch my sun intake as well. Have a lovely Aussie day!

  15. Claire says:

    Sarah we just arrived in Colombia to spend Christmas with my other half’s family. The attitude here to the sun is similar to Oz, they just don’t get the British ‘lie in the sun for hours and turn into a lobster’ thing. We’ll be at the beach for New Year’s so I shall watch with interest again who’s wearing what! I’ll also check out the panorama feature on iPhone 5 as I just got one too and didn’t know about that, so thanks for the tip : )

    • sarah says:

      my pleasure, I think you will LOVE it…I must say the first time I used it I couldn’t believe it x

      oooh lucky duck to be in Colombia for Christmas, we have some Colombian friends here in Aus and I have been interested to learn about the culture…very interested x

  16. Alo says:

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!
    ! Finally I’ve found something that helped me. Appreciate it!