musings from a walk down the beach
Mon 17th, Dec, 2012
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 ..
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