Bondi Icebergs

Its getting a bit fancy toward the end of the 12 Beaches of Christmas Campaign….Palm Beach, Whale Beach…and now a dalliance at Bondi Icebergs…Wow wee!!

Beach Number Two, a seaside pool that backs onto arguably one of the most famous beaches in the WORLD…Bondi Beach.

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I spent an afternoon there, getting involved in a seaside yoga class at 4pm. You heard right…I wasn’t at Icebergs to swim, rather to get in touch with the true essence of self and carry that person, kicking and screaming into the new year!!

NYE 2010, I took part in a sunrise yoga class at Coogee Beach….Yoga by the Sea. Looking back with fond memories, I realise that is the ONLY way to herald in a New Year…a bit of yoga, soul-searching and stretching…making peace with the year that was whilst at the same time cultivating good intentions for the year ahead.

With the end of 2012 nigh, I rang around for a NYE yoga class at a number of Eastern Suburbs beaches…Coogee ( No) Tamarama ( No) Bronte ( No)…not even Bondi was operating a class on the 31st of December…Perhaps the East and its yogi’s had got its ZEN on early this year….clearly I had missed the boat.

So Yoga on the 30th of December it was…Yoga at Bondi Icebergs…with the soothing sound of the sea our afternoon soundtrack, and an hour long Yin Yoga class…strong poses, gentle stretches and the bemused faces of hundreds of tourists watching our class as we assumed the position ‘ Downward Dog’ and ‘Baby Cobra’

The practice of yoga flew by…I could have stayed in the ‘ Happy Baby’ posture all afternoon for it was clear to me that I had a lot of baggage to offload, issues to make peace with before the class, the year was out!

The desire to cultivate further good intentions lead me to the pool at the conclusion of class…I would swim my way to inner peace with the Bondi body beautiful….

I did a whole two laps of breast stroke

Did I emerge from the pure Bondi waters a new woman….ready to face the remainder of 2012 with bravado and confidence??…

No, I had swallowed too much sea water, lost a strap from my bikini and rather fancied a hot shower and a quick bus ride home!

But the lure of the sea, in particular Bondi Beach, Bondi Icebergs…has a hold over me….as I bid adieu to 2012, the year I regard as a foundation year…a building block year for 2013 ( which WILL be fantastic as a result of the personal toil and trouble of 2012)…there is no place I would rather be….Bondi I’m coming for you today, you better be ready ! And tomorrow, the  01/01/2013, you now where to find me…I’ll be the girl in the one strapped bikini xx

Five Sentence Fiction: Ending

Ending : a fitting word prompt as we farewell the year 2012, and get ready to herald in 2013.

Happy New Year Catch up with a Mate readers!! xx

Something inside her, at the very core of her being, had died.

She had plummeted into a deep depression, and spent months on end mourning this loss.

The person she had been, the person people had liked, loved even, was gone…replaced by something new,someone new.

When she emerged from her sadness , she was a brighter, shinier, bolder version of her old self…a person who openly expressed opinions, feelings, thoughts and ideas.

Never before had she felt so alive or scared of life‘s possibilities…above all never had she so strongly believed that time old cliché that with every ending, comes the opportunity for new beginnings.

Palm Beach and Whale Beach

It’s a double issue, the 4th and 3rd Beach of Christmas…Palm and Whale Beach.

Why a double issue?…If you are going to drive all that way…you have to revue at least two beaches (quite frankly I could have finished the summer series up there…spoilt for choice!)

My family would think it mad… I had just spent Christmas is my childhood home, Austinmer, the beach a mere one minute walk from the front door…and yet here I was, on a hot summers day in Sydney, prepared to take a 2 hour drive, along with every other Sydney sider, to the Northern Beaches.

As I drove North yesterday,  I had my Mother’s voice in my ear ‘ But you live in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney…only 5 minutes drive from the sea. Remember when you lived in Sydney’s Inner West?’

‘Yes I remember’ ( the long car journey ensuring I could conduct this conversation in my head and begrudgingly respond)

And on it went “ Your Father and I are trying to understand, really we are…but as the beach is now on your doorstep,  why the long drive?…We are truly struggling with this darling!’

To be fair to my parents, they had a point! Yet the long car journey gave me time to think about my actions…and I parked my car at Palmy I was certain there was not a soul that day who’s desire for beach action was as pure as mine!

I reason that as I have grown up by the sea, and know the benefits of a good summer soak, there is no mountain to high, no rive to deep…that will keep me from getting to the ocean.  A two  hour drive is nothing…I would drive 10 hours to get to the sea…Hell, in 2005 I took a 36 hour plane ride to get to Dubrovnik, Croatia, just so I could swim in the Mediterranean!

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And what is not to love about Palm Beach? The photos speak for themselves…and if they don’t do anything for you…hum a few lines of the song from Aussie Soap show, Home and Away, which is set in Palm Beach ( but don’t sing the whole verse….you could end up in Yabby Creek!!)

Hold me in your arms, don’t let me go….I want to stay forever

Closer each day…Home and Away

From Palm to Whale Beach…paying for parking along the way…

Whale beach, I love thee…Complete with well to do kiosk, Ripples at Whale Beach….very La de da….the North doing beach culture with a capital B…not a dagwood dog insight!! Upon review, the Ripples menu costed a bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate topping at $10…it was then that I knew it was time to leave!!

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The journey home was long….My travel companion and I started playing a game with the Best of Fleetwood Mac Album that had played on high rotation on our beach excursion. How many Fleetwood songs would it take to get drive 1km of inner Sydney road in peak hour?

The answer: ‘ Go your Own Way’ ‘ Don’t Stop’ ‘ Dreams’ ‘ Little Lies’ and half of ‘ Everywhere’

Yes, the car ride in both directions was very Fleetwood Mac…cliché as it sounds…sometimes its not about the destination but the journey itself….Not in this case…both were of equal importance!!

Cronulla Beach

When I set foot on the 5th Beach of Christmas, it was if I was stepping onto the set of ‘Puberty Blues’, the mini series set that recently aired in Australia on Channel 10.

Puberty Blues, a show about growing up Aussie style…Cronulla Beach providing the necessary ingredients for the main characters to be able to navigate their way through the tumultuous teen years…surf, sand and the opportunity for teenage sex.

Upon arrival to the beach, in the distance I am certain I heard the series director shout ‘She’s here….ACTION’

And sure enough….on cue, teenage behaviour was in full swing…it seemed everyone aged between 13 and 18 was on HEAT!!

Packs of teenage boys, clowning around, making as much ‘manly noise’ as possible in the direction of groups of teenage girls, in barely there bikini.

Groups of teenage girls, laughing and giggly…swapping hot gossip from the previous day …who looked good, who looked not so good, who was going with who and the like….And then their was me…. a mere observer, yet I realised I was to pay a  crucial role…the director of the mini series had held of filming till my surf side arrival!

I took my role of narrator seriously…and offered up socially commentary, my lines were well rehearsed.

‘Boy in the blue shorts, yes you, your pants need to be pulled up closer to your waistline…the girl in the red bikini that you have been ogling does NOT find the look attractive!!’

‘Girl in the white bikini, if you took your ear phones out of your ears you might notice that the boy standing 5 metres to your right, yes him with the surfboard, is ‘attempting’ to serenade you a One Direction Song….its worth a listen, if not a laugh!!

Cronulla Beach

Cronulla Beach

Filming wrapped quickly, they were only re-recording a few scenes…and I was glad as I really wanted to go for a swim.

But as I swam in the ocean, diving beneath wave after wave, I felt I tinge of sadness…for Cronulla Beach was brimming with youth, beautiful girls and boys without a care in the world except whether they could scrap together enough small change for some hot chips for lunch…

Their world seemed bright and full of adolescent hope for the future. My adult brain was laden down with worry, and I kept having to adjust my bikini after emerging from each wave ( things don’t always stay up when you are old!!)

To top it all off I had a car full of Christmas left over’s ( ham and pork with crackling) heating up some streets away!!

I did not belong on the sand, in the surf with the teenagers…for I had too many concerns, to many inhibitions….Thankfully the director of Puberty Blues had called it a day, and I was free to go…I collected my pay cheque and high tailed it out of there!

Wombarra Rock Pool

Wombarra Rock Pool

Wombarra Rock Pool

The 6th Beach / Pool of Christmas…visited out of sheer necessity…. as Boxing Day lunch was cancelled.

My brother, struck down by a virus, hurling his guts up in the bathroom that backed directly onto my bedroom…Who knew that you needed to bring ear plugs when staying the night at the family home?

Come sun up, my sister-in-law had bundled by sickly looking sibling into the car and was heading South….Far South…Keep going I say…take those germs away!

And Mum, Dad and I were left standing in the house, with the monumental task of disinfecting every hint of germ that my brother had gifted the family for Christmas.

After after the cleaning…well Boxing Day was a blank canvas….The planned lunch with friends…postponed…It would be fair to hand over gifts of champagne, fruit mince pies and a 48 hour spewing virus!!

Somewhat depressed, I turned my attention to my 12 Beaches of Christmas Campaign..I was looking for a stretch of coastline, close by to home, that would fit the bill, ease my sadness.

Having reviewed my home town beach, Austinmer, a mere 24 hours ago…I needed to venture further afield. So I drove 5 km north and ended up at Wombarra Rock Pool.

Never before in my 34 years on earth had I been to the beautiful spot….This induced feelings of shame…Yes, I am an Austinmer girl at heart…but a mere  5 km up the road was this glorious swimming pool..one which I had NEVER given  time of day…Clearly my loss, but shame inducing none the less.

So to rectify the situation, it would seem logical that I would spend hours frolicking in the crystal clear waters of Wombarra Rock Pool…wading in waters to make up for lost time….allowing the cool water to erase the disappointment brought on by the cancelled Boxing Day festivities.

No, not this Austi chick….I took a few photos and then high tailed it out of there!

Why: The weather was less than appealing, high wind, no sun, but more to the point…. I had snuck my parents Les Miserable soundtrack along for the car ride…and I just wanted to be on the road again…Listening to ‘Red and Black’…

But Wombarra Rock Pool, I will be back!

This Austinmer girl needs to get out more!

Austinmer Beach

Dissapointed?…Yes.

Feeling cheated?….Yes.

Christmas Day has come and gone, and most of it was spent indoors, in a jumper / sweater warming my hands with a mug of hot chocolate, whilst huddling around the fireplace toasting marshmallows….I think there was even snowflakes?

Truth be told, I am prone to exaggerate…but Christmas Day was wet and cold…the sun did not shine and therefore the bikini was left in the left on the clothsline…in the rain… along with my beach towel and sundress ( I dared not venture outside to rescue them whilst natures fury was at work)

Again, more exaggeration…I did venture out after lunch, I did don my bikini, arm myself with a fresh beach towel and an umbrella and headed to the beach for the traditional Austinmer Beach Christmas swim.

Austinmer Beach

Austinmer Beach

Rain, hail or shine, despite having eaten too much Christmas Ham, Pork, Lamb, Chicken, Bacon and Turkey….a swim is a swim, and tradition must be honoured.

An Austinmer girl at heart, how could I NOT pay my respects to the beach responsible for my love of the ocean. For me Austinmer Beach is the holy grail of beaches…it is where my love of the ocean starts and ends. All other stretches of coastline, ocean baths and sea pools that I visit…do NOTHING for me.

Austinmer Beach is the be all and end all of swimming experiences.

Prone to exaggerate?….Yes.

Stretch the truth?….Yes, that too.

But my love of Austinmer Beach…that part is true…Prehaps not to the extent recorded, but this little stretch of sand, the two oceans baths a rock pool, the surf club and bathers pavilion hold a special place in my heart.

Ands heres why

‘ Mum, did I take my first ever swim in Austinmer when I was a baby?’

‘ Definitely, you were 4 months old…I have photos to prove it!

My first ever swim…now that is special…a defining moment…Austinmer captured a piece of my heart at 4 months!! And when I am old and grey, and in possession of the knowledge that I will soon meet the good Lord at the pearly gates, Austinmer Beach will top of my list of things to do.

It might be beach number 7 in the 2012 12 Beaches of Chrismas Campaign, but Austinmer beach will always be my first, my last, my everything xx

Mahon Pool

Today is Jesus’ birthday…He was born in a manger.

When he died he went to heaven.

Two days ago, I know I also went to heaven….the earth-bound version : Mahon Pool, in Maroubra.

Heaven: Mahon Pool

Heaven: Mahon Pool

I was at a Christmas party on Saturday night, and started talking about my favourite topic of late : myself. I proceeded to go into great detail about how I was entertaining myself over the summer break with my 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign, when the person I was talking too noticed that I should stop for air and interrupted me mid sentence:

‘ Have you been to Mahon Pool?

‘No’

‘OMG….you MUST….it is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G’

So I did…I was poolside by 7.57am the next morning…and it was everything my friend claimed it to be and more.

I sent my friend a text ‘ I’m at Mahon Pool…I think I’ve died and gone to HEAVEN’

Heaven: Mahon Pool

Heaven: Mahon Pool

The response came not from my friend but the good Lord himself ‘You have indeed my child,enjoy the baptismal waters! p.s Enjoy my Son’s birthday on the 25th”

In shock I sent a text back ‘ Thanks for waiting for me God. Looking forward to your Son’s birthday bash. Kate xx’

And as I dived into the crystal blue waters…I did indeed feel reborn…ready for whatever the New Year has in store, ready to tackle the task at hand, 9 more beach/ pool reviews…and above all, thankful for being let in on what truly is one of Sydney best kept secret swimming spots.

Heaven: Mahon Pool

Heaven: Mahon Pool

Fanny Durack Pool

It must be karma….I bagged out the Inner West in my 1oth Beach of Christmas post ( well kind of)I declared I did not appreciate inner city living on hot summer days…whilst also complaining about the length of time it took to get to the sea…in a car without air conditioning.

Well, I thought it best to go back to my inner west roots…put it out there that summer fun is possible in suburbia.  So off to Petersham I went….to reacquaint myself with Fanny Durack Pool.

In the summer of 2004-2005, I spent 6 months living in Petersham ( on the good side, the favourable side) Tucked away on Palace Street was my sweet rental, a semi-detached home, with 3 large bedrooms, wooden floor boards, ornate ceilings and summer garden.

Close by on Terminus street was the White Cockatoo Hotel, well renowned for serving up Sydney’s biggest EVER chicken schnitzels, seven doors down from my house was a quaint little corner store, The Palace Pantry, from which I purchased my weekend papers and the occasional coffee.

But the best thing about living on the good side of Petersham was its proximity to the Fanny Durack Pool. When I discovered this pool, on an evening stroll around my new hood, I likened the discovery to feeling associated with my childhood, when I found out that McDonalds was opening in a nearby suburb!

My joy was all-consuming, and I happily paid the  $2.50 entry fee to swim in the 25 metre chlorine pool, with other in the know Petersham locals. The Fanny Durack pool, I would discover, was named after one of the worlds greatest female swimmers.

And each time I swam there I felt like a winner too…An inner west chick who had found a way to stay
cool in the summer heat.

Fast forward to 2012, and feeling nostalgic, I take the streets….in my new car with air conditioning. I forgo the opportunity to bathe in the ocean I now live so close too( a Sydney Eastern Suburbs princess needs only spend 5 minutes in the car to arrive at the seaside) and take the 30 minute drive inland.

I arrive at 9am…to a construction site…Ms Durack, is appears, it getting a make-over.

Karma is a bitch…that will teach me to bag out the Inner West!! Nothing I tell myself a yoga class in Newtown can’t fix….I arrive at the gym, only to find that too is cancelled.

Fanny Durack and Newtown Yoga got me good…time to re-group and re-focus on the task at hand…But Petersham I WILL be back…My 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign, 2013 has you on top of my wish list.

Red Leaf Pool

Disclosure: The 10th Beach of Christmas is not really a beach, but a section of Sydney Harbour that has been made shark proof, cordoned off and turned into a pool.

Where there is water…Australians will swim….And Sydney Harbour is no exception.

Red Leaf Pool I love thee…I stumbled upon you by mere chance…In 2007 a friend living in the East invited me to join her for spot on inner city harbour swimming.

Red Leaf Pool

My initial hesitation ( swimming in Sydney Harbour??) quickly dissipated, replaced by feelings of joy and delight…Red Leaf pool was an inner city oasis of pure summer indulgence…a playground where beautiful people got their summer groove on….It reminded me of the South of France…complete with pontoon …small stretch of shoreline, every possible inch covered in bright coloured beach towels…and the unmistakable smell of coconut oil in the air…

And today’s outing confirms that I am indeed lucky to have discovered this Red Leaf…For on my way to the pool I stopped in at my favourite café, Ruby’s Diner, Waverley, for a coffee hit and the barista asked me what I was up to.

‘ I’m off to the beach’ I said.

‘ Which beach?’ came the reply

‘ Oh, its not really a beach, rather a pool…Red Leaf Pool in Woollahra’

‘ Never heard of it. Where did you say it was?’

Yes, Red Leaf Pool really is a hidden gem. As I attempted to explain its location the barista seemed amazed, confused even that such a seaside playground existed.

I felt like I was part of a secret society, the ‘ I have discovered Red Leaf Pool and it is awesome’ Club. The discussion I had with the Barista seemed to imply that perhaps it was my duty to enlighten others of this harbour side oasis…And whilst it would have been lovely to stay at Ruby’s and chat…the call of the water can NEVER be ignored.

Upon arrival at the pool, I started another conversation…this time with a Red Leaf regular…and we both agreed that we felt like we had stumbled upon gold when we took our first swim here.

Is Red Leaf really such a secret swimming spot? It may well be….and as my blog following is small…this post is unlikely to change the fact that Sydney siders, the general public at large, seem relatively slow to catch on to the delights of this inner city pool.

And here’s hoping it stays that way.

Five Sentence Fiction: Vision

Four years ago she would never have dreamed of writing such a story…Back then she had preferred to pretend that it hadn’t happened, and on the odd occasion, when she did acknowledge the change, she professed to friend and foe, that it did not matter

A stroke of the eye, had robbed her of 90% of the vision in her right eye.

True to form, three weeks after the stroke, she returned to work… it was her way of coping with the fact that her entire world had collapsed….it was easier to keep going than to stop and sit with deep sense of alienation she felt from family, friends and herself.

Five sentence alone would capture the depths of anguish, frustration and sadness that enveloped her when finally, one and a half years after falling ill, she had the courage, strength and insight to sit with the overwhelming sadness that had weighed her down for, if she was honest, her entire life.

And slowly, ever so slowly, the passing of time provided a space for healing…and as the anger, hurt and frustration subsided she was left with an awareness that her loss of the sight was responsible for clarity of vision…the event was the catalyst for change, the most tragic event in her life to date was indeed the greatest of gifts.

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