Monday, 28 December 2015

happy birthday

Heidi has an unenviable birthdate - Christmas Day. We usually celebrate on a different day, this year we choose the 27th. We packed a picnic lunch and drove for a very long time to one of the most beautiful places in Tasmania, the Bay of Fires. We walked and climbed and ate and a few brave people swam. We found a cove in an out of the way spot and had the place all to ourselves - pristine white sand, lichen covered rocks, clear blue sea...

I forgot to pack my camera (sigh.... too busy packing the picnic lunch!) so we had to make do with iPhones (very unsatisfactory for such a stunning place)

Heidi and Alex


Lunch in a cove all on our own

Heidi - taking it in

big brother lends a hand

group selfie for those who made it up the rocks

Saturday, 26 December 2015

tis the season

....for family and food in our house...

Christmas eve tradition - pasta making

homemade ravioli ready for the pot

Family Christmas  gathering at Greens Beach

An abundance of food

a spot of beach cricket

the whole clan

This is us - (Alex don't think you have gotten out of it again, we are taking another when you arrive)

Monday, 21 December 2015

west coast

Rachel's arrival last week heralds the beginning of the festive and holiday season for us. The rest of the tribe arrives in a few days.

In the meantime we decided to head to the West Coast for a couple of days. Being a 'Hydro kid', I grew up in Gowrie Park, Strathgordon and Tullah; rugged, remote and mountainous areas of the state. I remember a lot of rain, bush and being surrounded by mountains. Living up close and personal, mountains were not just distant towering shapes, they loomed immediately above and cocooned the villages where I grew up - impressive and imposing, secure and timeless. It doesn't matter where you are on the West Coast there is a mountain somewhere nearby.

Mount Roland, not officially on the West Coast, but Gowrie Park was nestled at its base
My mother came with us and we visited the places and houses where we used to live, the bush having reclaimed much that was taken from it. It really is a different world down there and thirty odd years seems like a lifetime ago. My girls could not fathom such a lifestyle, "but what did you do here?"

We stayed the night at Strahan, a lovely little place on the coast. It is strange that my mother had never been there and I, only in the last ten years. We had lived an hour or so away and yet had never come to this place. In Strahan, mining gives way to fishing and other coastal pursuits, it is a tourist hub now and gateway to the famous Gordon River wilderness.

breakfast time
The Ocean Beach was wild and spectacular.

Colin in joyful anticipation of a very cold dip (Johanna was brave enough to join him)
We drove to Macquarie Heads. Macquarie Harbour was an infamous penal colony "a place of extreme physical and mental torture". Hell's Gate was the name given to the narrow entrance to the harbour.

We walked to Hogarth Falls.

what you do when you arrive at a waterfall
And picnicked at Henty Dunes

Some memorable bits:
eating locally grown Kentish cherries and spitting the pips out the car window
listening to Colin, Rach and Johanna belt out some tunes
warm wind blowing a gale through the car as windows were wound all the way down (going up windy mountain roads and having the air con on at the same time is a bit much for Pat)
sitting by the water at Strahan Cove, sun setting and pizza eating

Looking forward to lots more memorable bits over the Christmas break...

Sunday, 13 December 2015

deja vu

Colin had an appointment with a specialist in Caloundra, a follow up from our time living here. It was a good excuse for a long weekend. We booked ourselves into the apartment complex where we used to live, finding ourselves 3 floors up and a little to the left. The apartment is just like the one we used to live in, the furniture is different, that's all. It feels so weird to be back, like being home, but not quite. From the balcony a reminder of what we left behind...



We walk the familiar boardwalk to Kings Beach, Colin swims, we visit our favourite cafes, we notice the changes as one business replaces another, I catch up with a friend, we go to the movies for $7.50 each, we wander the Sunday market, we sit on wooden seats and watch the world go by...

We love the warmth and remember that December is the beginning of the rainy season when two out of our three days are grey and drizzly. We are reminded of summer storms as the clouds roll in late afternoon and we watch an electrical storm from our balcony. There is a brief moment when the clouds part and the setting sun creates a little magic in the sky. Such a beautiful place and such happy memories from our two years here...

Sunday, 6 December 2015

summer series

The summer series of cycling events has begun. My nephew, having turned 17, now rides with the elite men. Today he participated in the University of Tasmania Stan Siejka Launceston Cycling Classic, a 45 minute ride around a circuit advertised as the toughest and most technically challenging since the event began. This time the 1.1km circuit also happened to include 'a bit of a hill'. Only about half the riders completed the race. My nephew managed to stay with the pack for 30 minutes, making the most of an opportunity to race with such experienced and professional riders.

(My little point and shoot struggled a bit too)

Sunday, 29 November 2015

the familiar road

The 100km drive from Launceston to Devonport has become a familiar one the last six months. It has become a weekly journey, sometimes more than once. Friday will mark a turning point, the last time I will visit my father in his own home. Friday is moving day. A room has become available at The Manor (an Aged Care Home here in Launceston where my father was on the waiting list) and he has accepted. With resignation and sadness he has made his decision, choosing to embrace the inevitable before he has no choice at all. It was with sudden realisation that my father remembered coming to this country almost 60 years ago with one suitcase and to him it feels that he will leave his home on Friday with one suitcase. He wonders about the meaning of the years in between, the accumulation of possessions, what he thought was important and what really matters. He started with nothing and it feels to him that it is ending with nothing, a very difficult 'truth' to swallow.

Of course there is family and he will take literally more than one suitcase of possessions to his new 'room' and he still has money, although it is now all tied up in a deposit managed by The Manor that pays for his care. But those are not the things that he is thinking about. He is feeling, not thinking, and he is feeling the loss all that he spent his life working for. All of his life compacted to one room and 'all' of his money no longer in his name or his account, his unit to be sold and the proceeds to complete the deposit he has made.

It is going to be a rocky week and a rocky month, a roller coaster of a ride with grief and loss and regret. Each of my sisters and I are impacted by his pain and the journey ahead feels long and sad.

Monday, 23 November 2015

click go the shears

My sister rescued some baby lambs last year. They have grown fat and woolly. Today the 'sheep barber' paid a visit.

one fat woolly sheep

round em up

mobile shearing, from the back of a ute - the old fella and the young fella

the audience

you have got to be kidding

did it hurt?

playing dead

Oh the indignity

I can't look

a pedicure to finish off

how do we look?

Aww I look stupid