Posts Tagged ‘beach’

I do like to see a sculpture by the sea side

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Last weekend I finally managed to head to Cottesloe Beach to see the Sculptures by the Sea exhibition. Every year the beach and groyne are dotted with sculptures made by local and international artists. I really love this exhibition as it adds a dash of unexpected art to an area that is normally reserved for beachy-sporty-types. Of course, Cottesloe beach is located in the super rich western suburbs and so most people who swim here most likely own more sculptures in their own back yards. But the exhibition does provide easy access to sculpture for people who wouldn’t normally dare go near it.

sculptures by the sea

Cottesloe beach covered in sculptures

I headed to Cottesloe at 8am, hoping to beat the Sunday morning crowds. Clearly lots of people had the same idea as me and it was already quite busy by the time I arrived. Having parked in a 30 minute parking zone I had a limited time to explore before the eager rangers stuck a parking ticket on my car.

In general, the sculptures were interesting and it was fabulous to wander in between them, spotting those that blended into the background. However in recent years it seems there is pressure to create pieces that are ‘talking points’ rather than just lovely pieces of art. Instead of creating works that sit magically with the natural landscape, there seems to be a push to create pieces that stand out and just look odd. I’m all for contemporary art, but I also think there is so much potential for creating something that goes beyond being a marketing tool for the exhibition.

sculptures by the sea

Mini-windmills

There were some nice works (I really enjoyed some ‘Twister-esque’ windmills on poles and the red flamingos were nicely built) and it was a great 30 minutes. But I didn’t feel like I was missing much when I headed back to my car when my time was up.

Red flamingos

Red flamingos

Daily Triathlon

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

After being back in Perth for a month, I am now feeling more ‘at home’ as I have found myself a morning routine. I like to say that I complete a triathlon every morning before work but that may be a slight exaggeration.

5.50am – My alarm goes off and I regret having set it the night before. It takes me 20 or so minutes to roll out of bed, wash my face and get changed before going for a run. Most mornings I will do a 7 kilometre run, trying to get back home just before 7am.

7am – I drive to the beach with Mum, Dad and Cali for a quick swim. The last few mornings have been absolutely glorious – the water has been calm and clear and you can spot fish swimming around your legs. After a quick paddle and splash about in the ocean, we get back in the car and head home.

north cottesloe beach

Mornings at the beach.

8.45am – Having showered, dressed and eaten breakfast I quickly throw together my things for work and jump on my bike. The final leg of the triathlon is a 3 kilometre ride on my 3-speed, dutch style bike, avoiding hills as much as possible. Unfortunately the route to work requires me to go uphill, and while my bike is super stylish, it is in no way designed to go up hills.

By 9am I am at my desk having completely a fairly pathetic triathlon. And then I fall asleep.

Seventh Sense

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

I think I have found my natural calling. This morning, while enjoying a relaxing dip at North Cottesloe beach, I was literally struck by a deeply embedded reaction that could potentially save lives. I am a… Stinger Siren.

There haven’t been many stingers at the beach this year which is great news for super-sensitive-skin me. I have had to spend many summers wrapped from head to toe in fashion-faux-pas rashys whenever I go swimming to avoid being stung by the barbed tentacles of invisible stingers. Once stung, I don’t just react that your average human with a bit of a red welt that disappears by the end of the day. Oh no. Why would I do that? Instead, my skin flares up and hops between pain and extreme itchiness for at least a week. It’s extremely attractive, particularly when I get hit on the face and neck.

This morning, however, I realised that my skin is so sensitive to whatever toxins those creatures send out into the water, that I can sense their presence. While swimming in the water this morning, my skin went prickly and my natural instinct was to stand up and get my body out of the water. And as I looked down into the particularly clear water, there he was. A lone stinger, floating oh-so-innocently yet oh-so-invisibly about half a metre away from me. I had managed to find the one stinger in the entire beach (or it had managed to find me. The bastard.)

He had managed to get one of his tentacles on my skin but nothing anywhere near as bad as the time in 2008 when I had a huge stinger drape itself across my neck, back and chest and I had to peel it off my skin.

So I am now thinking that along with the shark patrols they now have at the beach, North Cottesloe lifesaving club should employ me for Stinger Patrol. Protecting the innocent from the invisible evils of the sea.

What You Sayin’?

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

The other day while bobbing around in the Indian Ocean, one of my fellow morning beach regulars said that I had gained a bit of a British accent. My “Gosh, do you really think so?” response probably didn’t help the situation. I have become very aware of how I speak, particularly my intonation and how I ask questions. A year ago, when I was in Croatia with my best friend for my birthday, I realised that I was saying, “Do you want some WARter?” (downward inflection) instead of the usual Aussie, “Do you want some warDA?” (through the nose and ending on an upward note.)

North cottesloe beach

The scene of the “You sound like a POM” crime.

I seem to be doing this a lot and while I have never had a strong Aussie twang, I don’t seem to end every sentence as a question anymore. The pattern and rhythm of my sentences has definitely taken on a British flow and I keep talking down, down, down. I still say that Princesses live in ‘CAR-sils’ and not ‘cass-els’ though.

I don’t think I sound British and don’t think I ever will, but over the last four years, I have been in many situations where people have struggled to pin-point my accent. I have been asked if I am South African a few times, to which I simply respond by walking away shaking my head.

I think having lived in Perth, Paris and Manchester, my accent has evolved into a fairly international hodgepodge of sayings, accents, tones and speeds. Living in Paris meant that I often spoke English to people who had learnt it as a second language. I would therefore change my sentence structure, speed and enunciation in order to help them understand what I was saying. I have to do similar things in Manchester – some of my Australianisms go in one ear and out the other with the Brits.

If ears could cringe, mine have been doing that a lot lately. I have always known that the true-blue Aussie accent isn’t the most pleasant sound in the world, but holy moly. Some people sound like they have pegs stuck on their noses and that they’re imitating the long, drawn out caws of the local magpies. So I’m kind of pleased that I sound a little bit like a snooty-Brit trying to impress the Queen with my rounded vowels. How now brown cow.

I’m Back.

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

This time one week ago, I was squished between a window and a fat woman with a beard on my flight back to Perth. Having just spent 11 hours in the foetal position avoiding any contact with the excess flab hanging over into my side of the arm rest, I was quite keen to get off the plane, collect my luggage, assure Australian customs that I wasn’t smuggling any dead animals into the country and give my mum a hug.

Since then I have spent my time re-adjusting to life in Australia and drinking a lot of ice coffees.

Jet lag.

I thought I had done so well. After arriving home on Saturday afternoon, I managed to stay away until 9.30pm before having 12 hours sleep and waking up feeling relatively adjusted. However, Sunday evening I lay staring at the ceiling until 4am when I finally felt tired enough to go to sleep. It is a strange feeling to lie in bed knowing that you’re supposed to be tired and that now is sleep time, however your body thinks it is still living on the other side of the world.

Anyway, my body clock is functioning properly now and I have even managed to get into the obscene Australian lifestyle of getting up before 6am to do exercise. Who does that? A lot of people around here it seems.

The weather.

I hear it is a bit chilly in England. My plane was delayed by over an hour when I left Manchester as they had to clear snow and ice from the runway. Apparently the canals have frozen and people are complaining about the cold.

manchester airport

From this…

It isn’t cold in Perth. This weekend we’re expecting 37 and 40 degree temperatures which is a little unnecessarily warm. I had forgotten what it feels like to sweat and I have managed to reach ‘beetroot’ level where people gawk at my red face and ask me if I am ok after my morning runs. I had also forgotten that everything melts and all of my lip balms, hand creams, chocolates and pots of Nutella are particularly runny.

Perth skyline

To this.

My family.

I have managed to catch up with a lot of my family since my return and have spent many hours sitting around chatting with my Dad. We have managed to come up with many great plans of things to build, books to publish, jobs to complete and adventures to have over the next 6 months that I may need to extend my stay.

And I am catching up on four years’ worth of Mum hugs.

Mum lasagna

She may not be Italian, but nothing beats my Mum’s lasagna.

The dog.

While I have been living overseas, my parents have replaced me with a dog. My tendency to sneeze in the presence of any furry creatures and the fact that I was terrified of dogs as a child has meant that I have never been much of a dog-person. However, Cali isn’t any old slobbery mutt – she is a guide dog in training and understands the word ‘sit’. She doesn’t jump, bark, slobber, lick (that much), smell or make a mess. She doesn’t even seem to molt which is particularly impressive. While I still dislike dogs, she has managed to convert me into a Cali-person.

Cali

Cali rests her head after a long day at Guide Dog training school.

The beach.

Oh, the beach. Glorious, glorious beach. Tuesday morning saw my return to the early-morning-swim-at-the-beach ritual as Mum, Dad, Cali and I headed to North Cottesloe for a 7am swim. It was nice to see the regular beach-goers again and for them to recognise me and welcome me back. There is nothing like the smell of ocean air and the feeling of being immersed in salty water. Those 15 minutes of bobbing around really kick start a day. Both Paris and Manchester are definitely lacking on that front.

So I am back. Physically, at least. I’m not sure where my head is living and I have no idea where ‘home’ is exactly. But it is nice to know that I have multiple places across the world where people will be happy to see me.

Cold Snap and Lunch in Liverpool

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

It’s a wee bit chilly in Manchester. In fact, it’s really bloody cold. Over the weekend Manchester and beyond had a decent amount of snow – enough to be able to say, “It’s snowing!” without looking like an overexcited Australian.

snow

Look at that snow!

On Saturday I headed to Yorkshire with my cousin Les where we took boring motorway routes and extra caution in order to avoid slippery roads and potential death. I really enjoy driving into snow, particularly at night, as the wind and forward movement of the car gives the snow a ‘speed tunnel’ effect and it appears as if you’re driving into some sort of time warp. If the snow was rainbow coloured it would have been particularly swinging 60s-esque.

The last two days have been beautiful – crisp blue skies and sunshine. Of course the lack of cloud coverage means temperatures are hovering around zero and my nose is a constant shade of beetroot. It did present the perfect conditions for a quick visit to Antony Gormley’s Another Place installation at Crosby Beach yesterday.

Antony Gormley statue

Nice view.

Sir Pubert Gladstone’s dad was in town for a weekend visit and the three of us headed to Liverpool for a bit of culture. After a slightly disappointing wander around the Tate (clearly they keep all of the good stuff in London) and a deliciously cheesy lunch at the Docks, we headed to the beach to check out Antony’s Iron Men spread out down the coast. This is one of my favourite places in England and it was nice to be able to visit before I head back to Australia.

Liverpool docks

Liverpool Docks in the sunshine

Speculaas Induced Memories

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

I am currently sitting at my kitchen table working on my laptop and being easily distracted by Facebook and photographs from last night’s Yelp event. I have just made myself a cup of coffee and am eating a speculaas biscuit that was hand couriered from The Netherlands by Sir Pubert Gladstone when he last visited his Dad.

Speculaas biscuits

Speculaas biscuits – Photo from www.enjoybettercoffee.com

Despite the uniquely spiced flavours of this Dutch speciality, all I can think about when I eat speculaas are summer holidays in Perth when I was a kid. Every day mum would take my brother, his friend, Alan, and me to North Cottesloe beach for a swim. After an hour or so of catching waves on our boogie boards or floating on our backs in the flat water, we would run back to our towels and Mum would give us speculaas biscuits. It would taste of sun-warmed spice, sea salt and sand. After scoffing one or two we would race back for more wave action, squealing a little as our bodies readjusted to the water temperature.

North Cottesloe beach

North Cottesloe beach – photo by Al Black on Flickr

Midday would approach and we would brush the sand from our feet and sit on the hot car seats, the seat belts scolding our bare skin. On the way home, mum would stop at the bakery in Claremont for poppyseed rolls and jam doughnuts. As we waited in the car, Ben, Alan and I would compare who had the most sand in their bathers and think about what video we wanted to watch that afternoon.

It is amazing what a flavour can spark in your memory bank. This week I was fortunate enough to be given a piece of homemade Princess Cake. The making of the cake was inspired by The Great British Bakeoff but for me, Princess Cake means family gatherings at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. Out of date juice boxes, teal coloured floral plates, cake forks and the celebration of one of my grandparents’ birthdays. Green marzipan domes will always remind me of this, and while Princess Cake was never my favourite (I’m not a huge fan of soggy sponge and cream), spending time with my family has always been something I have enjoyed. So while they may all be living on the other side of the world, as I ate the green marzipan I felt like my grandma and grandpa and the Miss Maud’s bakery were just next door.

 

Princess Cake

Mary Berry’s Princess Cake

Seaweed Men and the Elusive Red Squirrels

Monday, April 28th, 2014

On Sunday Sir Pubert Gladstone (see Who is She? blog post) took me on a secret mystery tour. He was slightly disappointed when my first response to his question of “Where have you been near Southport?” was exactly where he was planning on taking me. Not to matter – the sun was shining, the rapeseed fields were out in full yellow bloom, and we were off to the beach. Our destination – Formby beach with an additional side trip to see Antony Gormley’s installation, Another Place, at Crosby. I had done this day trip with my cousin Caroline and her son, Meryan, but we had spent most of our day climbing up and down sand dunes and I was very keen to go back to Crosby to see the sculptures up close and personal.

Our first stop was Formby where we entered the National Trust forest reserve that is one of the few places in the UK where you can find red squirrels. The supposedly evil grey squirrels have taken over and spotting a native red is a rare occurrence. After a picnic in the sunshine on beach and a very disappointing game of frisbee (turns out I throw like a girl), we headed into the forest to look for the squirrels. We had been told it was highly unlikely we would spot any and after wandering around staring at tree tops for 20 minutes we gave up. No squirrels here. As we headed back to the car, I took the opportunity to visit the loo and there, near the toilet blocks, most likely having just stolen some food from one of the bins, was a red squirrel. Tick.

Crosby beach

Crosby beach

Our next stop was Crosby where the tide had gone out far enough for us to be able to walk across the seabed and visit some of the statues. I have such amazing memories of seeing Antony Gormley’s installation at Lake Ballard and had been wanting to see the statues at Crosby and compare the works. These statues are cast from Antony’s body and are spread across along the coast spaced 500 metres apart. As the tide comes in, they are submerged in water and are covered in seaweed, salt and other crusty textures.

Antony Gormley statue

Antony Gormley statue

I found the experience at Lake Ballard more spectacular but the isolation of the salt lake is hard to beat. At Crosby it was interesting to see the different textures that have built up on the various statues depending on their position in the seabed. Some had almost completely transformed into salty sea creatures while others remained relatively clean. They all looked quite content to be standing in the sunshine staring out to sea.

Crusty.

Crusty.

Spontaneous Sunshine, Sea Water and Sand Dunes on a Sunday

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

I have been very behind with my blog updates. As per usual I could rattle off excuses but I won’t. Instead I pretend that I am completely up to date and talk about events of the past as if they just happened.

It seems like just yesterday that my ‘cousin,’ Caroline, and her three year-old son, Meryan, took me to the beach. Sure, it was two Sundays ago but that’s besides the point. The night before I had been drinking beer at a very un-German Oktoberfest in a large tent outside the town hall when Caroline messaged me to see if I happened to be free on the Sunday.  We decided to make plans in the morning.

On Sunday I woke to unseasonal blue skies and a light breeze and Caroline and I decided that we should risk the extremely likely chance that the weather would change by lunch time and go to the beach. Caroline, Meryan and I headed off in the car to Formby – a long stretch of sandy beach near Liverpool.

It could almost be Australia.

It could almost be Australia.

When we arrived and I smelt the sea air I felt this ridiculous rush of excitement that I now get every time I am near the sea. Having grown up with daily sea breezes and easy access to ocean water, I never realised how much my body needs to feel these sensations. I have now spent 2.5 years living in land-locked cities and each time I venture to the sea side I feel an instant kick of revitalisation. It is as if my body sucks in the salty fresh air and I wake up, grow and my hair becomes instantly blonder. I’m not sure who was more excited to be by the sea – myself or three year-old Meryan. I think we were on par.

Formby is known for its receding tides and and pre-historic footprints that can sometimes be found in the muddy shore. I didn’t get to see any footprints but we were lucky enough to have a remarkably sunny day. We had a picnic, sailed the seas on a log boat with Captain Meryan, and climbed up and down sand dunes. I collected an impressive amount of sand in my shoes and my underwear from sliding down sand dune hills on my rear-end (Meryan worked out how to do it and Caroline and I just followed along.)

Dunes. Glorious dunes.

Dunes. Glorious dunes.

Before driving back to Manchester we stopped at Crosby beach to briefly look at Antony Gormley’s permanent installation – Another Place. Statues are positioned down the beach, staring out to the horizon. The setting sun and increasingly blustery conditions made for a very impressive viewing of these statues. I want to come back and explore them further at a later date.

Another Place, Antony Gormley.

Another Place, Antony Gormley.

Wales for the Day

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

As part of my extensive social calendar thanks to my cousin Lesley, I was invited to go to Wales for the day to visit one of Les’s friends. I hadn’t quite realised how close I was to the Welsh border but after only 30 minutes in the car I couldn’t understand any of the street signs. Welsh is amazing! Any language that can string that many consonants together should be strongly encouraged.

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Looking for chocolate in the Pethau melys aisle

Thanks to Les’s friend, I was taken on the scenic route through the Snowdonia mountains where there was indeed snow. The countryside was spectacular – snow covered mountains and forests and then rocky outcrops of grey and green and purple slate. I didn’t even know you could get purple slate, but now I do! My excitement for the word “sea” meant we went home via a coastal road and I was allowed out of the car to inhale salty air. Oh how my lungs sang with joy! And lambs. Did I mention the lambs? For this Paris-ified city-girl it was a massive country hit and I spent most of the journey staring out the window saying, “WOW! LOOK AT THAT!” I now really want to buy a car and just drive. Or live in a tiny town in Wales, learn to speak Welsh, work at the local pub and marry a local farmer boy. Yep. Good plan.

A llyn.

A llyn.

Mountains! Snow!

Mountains! Snow!

The Irish Sea

The Irish Sea