Friday, May 17, 2019

Fishing at the Southend drain

When I was a kid I remember going fishing here a fair bit. Mainly with my mum, or my Gran. Gran lived in Southend, and we'd spend a lot of time here in the holidays.

It seemed fitting that I ended up here in the afternoon with my daughters on Mothers Day on a whim. I can't remember who's idea that was, but after the idea had stewed around in my brain, I quickly packed the car and we were down the road.

Such a peaceful place despite the sound of motorbikes buzzing about when we got there.

Summer and Brett are not the most patient of fisher people. Isabel and I are kindred spirits when it comes to fishing. As the rain set in around five o'clock, she and I donned our jackets and hoods and would not budge. The other two sitting in the car reminding us it was raining(like we didn't know that), and Summer could be clearly heard complaining in the back seat.

We had already caught two good mullets, and the fish had gone off the bite but I didn't want to spoil Isabel's determination and perseverance. I know that feeling oh so well, she is just like me when it comes to fishing. We could stand there all day. I guess it shows we have hope, faith and persistence. It's not such a bad thing.

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Friday, May 10, 2019

Island stops on the Carnival Spirit

Here we are, the excited cruisers, pulled up in the morning at our first port of call, Mare. We're all wearing our sail and sign cards, ready to disembark onto a shuttle boat.

Sail and sign cards are given upon presenting yourself to board the ship. They are swiped at any of the bars, shops, the casino or anytime you buy anything on the ship. The amounts are charged to your credit card/bank account a couple of days after leaving the ship, in one big holy whack the hell did we spend that on! It's easy to go crazy on holiday.

The cards are also swiped every time you get off and back on the ship, it has all your passport details loaded on it, including your lovely (not!) passport photo. You only need to take you passport ashore if you want it officially stamped by a lovely local . This will cost you $1 or $2 for the privilege. Being the first time the girls and I had travelled overseas, of course we took ours to be embellished with our first stamps.

Mare was my favourite island of all. It seemed more friendly and less commercialised than the other two island stops we made, the Isle of Pines and Noumea.

The locals were so friendly and welcoming, even the local stray dogs. I paid $5AU for a good serving of fish, rice, avocado and fried banana. The food was all cooked on wood fires, even the potato chips(just like Maccas chips) were fried in a camp oven over coals. These people have it down to a tea.

Australian dollars are accepted on both Mare and Isle of Pines, but being a French colony, Noumea required Francs at most places.

Some traders at the market in Noumea did accept AU dollars. The ATMs in Noumea were in French, which we didn't use. There are two ATMs on the Carnival Spirit, and when taking the ship provided bus tour one of the stops is at a money exchange. I would recommend taking at least $50AU each.

The bus stop does a loop of the city and stops at an aquarium also, but we didn't worry too much about that as we'd visited the Sydney aquarium the day before boarding the ship! There are several bus stops and you just get off where you like and hop back on when you want. The cost for the bus tour includes a 50% off drink voucher at a bar/eatery just down from the beachside bus stop.

Most of the photos I took are of Mare, we had beautiful weather there. The Isle of Pines rained off and on all day as well as Noumea. I didn't even take my camera off the ship at Noumea, I really didn't want to lug it around.

A coconut was $3AU to buy. It was truly amazing to watch them using a machete to chop the coconut open, I was in awe they still had all their fingers! After finishing the juice, they were happy to break the coconut and even fashion a spoon from the hull to eat the flesh.

The shuttles to the island of Mare start about 8am til 3:30pm. We were shuttled to Mare and Isle of Pines. In Noumea we pulled into dock at the harbour and could walk off the ship to awaiting buses. Bus passes for the loop around the city were $20 for adults and $15 for kids. You could use the passes all day, in case you wanted to come back for lunch on the ship and head back out again.

Shuttle back to the boat

Leaving the Isle of Pines

It rained a lot at Isle of Pines. It didn't stop us going snorkelling amongst the fabulous fish life.

Leaving Noumea for the two day cruise back to Sydney Harbour

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Friday, May 3, 2019

When in Sydney

If you've missed the goss, we've been away on holiday, spending eight days on the Carnival Spirit cruise ship.

We drove to Adelaide, flew to Sydney and stayed in the city a couple of days. I love Sydney, it's my favourite city. With Isabel being an avid Bondi Rescue watcher, we had to take a bus to Bondi, so she could see it for herself. She didn't exactly meet a lifeguard, but she soaked up just being there.

As we waited for the Bondi bus, the girls and Brett managed to get their mugs on Sunrise, standing outside the Channel 7 studio at St Martins Place.

The Easter weekend looking around Sydney was a bit crazy with every man and his dog out to see the sights, but we did alright. We visited the Aquarium and took our time walking all the way down to Chinatown for takeaway dinner, and back up along Pitt Street to our motel near Circular Quay.

We boarded the ship on Easter Monday and saw the sights from another perspective, aboard the Carnival Spirit.

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Friday, April 26, 2019

Life Writing Workshop

I took myself off to a writing workshop a few weeks ago, hosted by Graeme Gibson. (I would like to add that most quotes and advice come straight from his course pages.)

We are so fortunate to have these sessions made available for free in our local library. I am glad I went to support the chance for further workshops. I'd like to say there were a variety of ages there, but I can say without a doubt I was the youngest amongst my grey haired companions.

We were reminded at the start this was a workshop, we would be doing actual writing and sharing. I knew this, but I guess I hadn't thought about it too much before he actually said it. Thank goodness I took a notebook and pen! I was a little scared about writing real life feelings and memories and sharing them with 13 other people I hardly knew. Which seems totally ludicrous now because HELLO BLOG! Listening to others share, it truly reminded me that no matter what you circumstances, everyone has a story to share. Some more fabulous than others, but no less unique.

I thought I'd share with you what I learnt and wrote, because it's a waste to let the words languish in the notebook forever. But who knows one day I may just write a book!

Our first exercise was to just write, no being concerned about spelling, grammar or logic. It is more quantity, than quality.

Write in reckless fever. Rewrite in a cardigan. - DBC Pierre

The tip he gave us was to have a piece of paper and cover up the previous line of writing so you can't go back and correct. To let the story come out like a vomit, no holds barred. Graeme referred to the above quote. It reminded me of one I had heard before, "Write drunk, edit sober". Generally we had 7- 9 minutes to do each exercise.

The next exercise was to write a few lines or a paragraph that would be the opening of the story. This would be a 'hook' to get the reader to keep reading. This would be quality, rather than quantity.

"I arrived in Alice at five a.m. with a dog, six dollars and a small suitcase full of inappropriate clothes." - Robyn Davidson, Tracks

Our third task was to, as said by writer E. M. Forster, "Show, don't tell". This was to not just tell a story, but to write as you are setting a scene, so the reader can feel the story, like they were there. Showing requires more words than telling, and a balance must be found.

"A good writer describes everything. A great writer only describes what is necessary." - Bruce Chatwin

Graeme touched on  descriptive detail:
  • use adjectives sparingly
  • make the verb do the work
  • question the adverb

Sensory language gives depth, and brings the reader to experience the world that is being written about. Sight, sound and smell are universal, whereas taste and touch and unique to each individual.

Narrative is the fact telling of a story. The plot, using all of the above techniques is story telling.

I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop and would absolutely do another one. I did actually share the last task we had to do, which was to write a descriptive piece about the workshop. I didn't hang around for the last 10 minutes to listen to an feedback on my writing because I had to rush off for school up. Next time I might get the girls to walk to the library after school so I don't miss out on anything. They've walked home from school on their own a few times this year, which is about the same distance, which is a good start.

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