Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills

Hot in the city….

There are no other words! And whilst I had grand plans of trekking to far flung destinations for the final instalment of the 2016 Twelve Beaches of Christmas, due to a heat wave in Sydney, all motivation was zapped from my being.

So the 1st Beach of Christmas is a pool, and the closet watering hole to my home in Waterloo.

The Prince Alfred Park Pool, Surry Hills. Entry fee to this pool is pricey, $6.40 for an adult single visit. But when the heat is on and Sydney’s beaches reach capacity….it’s either the local pool or a cold shower at home.

Hot in the city….

And if I thought temperatures were hot outside, pool side it was hotter still ( see photo evidence)

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And that my friends wraps up the 2016 campaign for another year.
My hope is that it inspires you to dip yourself into largest bodies of water often – creek, river, ocean, pool, bath. When the heat is on it truly is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.

City Beach Wollongong

The 3rd Beach of Christmas is a little meditation on waves.

After an early morning gym session in August last year, I stood atop Flagstaff Hill, looking South towards the Steal Works, mesmerised by the view.

The City Beach surfers were out in force, launching themselves of rock platforms into the big blue sea.The air was crisp, the sunshine plentiful, and large bodies of water propelled the men on fibre glass boards towards the shoreline with effortless ease.

This short clip captures but a brief moment in time, for I stood for many minutes, captivated by the City of Wollongong, the Steal Works in the far distance and big blue of the ocean.

A mediation on waves – a moment in time.

 

The Bombie Bar – CoalCliff

Not so much a beach review, but a bar review – Coalcliff Beach’s world famous bar: The Bombie Bar. The 4th ‘beach’ of Christmas?

A beach bar with the BEST ocean view in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

An outdoor bar, atop the Coalcliff surf life saving club, nestled between cliff and coastline.

 

I first ventured to this magical place in April 2016. I saw my friend band, Brother B, literally rock the socks of the Sunday afternoon Bombie Bar patrons. And yes, while Brother B’s music was sweet, it was THAT view, the sea air and the salt that peppered the breeze that I will never forget.

Alas the Bombie Bar has since fallen on troubled times. Noise complaints has seen the South Coast live music venue future in limbo – presently no 2017 Bombie Bar gigs are in the pipeline.

Bombie Bar Closure

And that my friends is a shame. A real shame.

What is better that a salt water swim, sunshine, a beer and live music as the sun goes down on a Sunday afternoon?

Nothing.

Hopefully my the time the 2017 Twelve Beaches of Christmas Campaign rolls around the Bombie Bar is back, and I might get to review that strip of coast to a soundtrack of hip hop, folk or blues.

 

Consiton Beach

The Fifth Beach of Christmas came as a surprise – as I strolled along the yet to be reviewed City Beach, Wollongong ( hold onto your hats, that going to be a great write-up) little did I know that City Beach was to merge with Coniston Beach.

How do I know this – the holiest of signs, the council sign, informed me.

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There was no fence keeping the City Beach goers separate from the Coniston swimming brigade, no Donald Trump style wall to divide the masses, not even a line drawn in the sand.

The City Beach patrons and the Coniston Beach babes simply got on with one another – it was a sight to behold. Two distinct groups co-existing, smiling, laughing and enjoying natures beauty.

Highly recommend a swim at this divine stretch of coastline, a small strip of sand and surf that sets a bench mark for harmonious living.

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Hicks Point Jetty

The 6th Beach of Christmas has wow factor.

One because I had international guests Jo & Yo along for the ride.

Two because for the past 38 years I had no idea that this strip of coastline actually had a name other than Austi Boat Ramp Beach.

Turns out its offical name is Hicks Point Jetty, and a timber jetty once dominated this strip of coast, and the likes of coal was transported from tram to ship.

Wow & Wow!

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And Jo and Yo ( names witheld as per subjects wish)….catching up with these two souls is so easy and so much fun. Dining at the newly re-opened Headlands Hotel, our conversation dipped and darted from retirement pre-40, the pursuit of a PHD in Kim Kardashian ,the joy of travel, the disdain for the phrase ‘settle down’, Soho bedsits and everything in between.

A well-rounded conversation over chicken schnitzel and beer. It was perfect.

After lunch, we strolled along the shoreline, blissfully unaware that we stood upon, trampled over the remains of Hicks Point.

Thanks Jo and Yo, I will remember yesterday for years to come. It was 38 years in the making for the Austinmer native to finally learn a little piece of local history. So glad you two where there with me.

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Jo & Yo 2011/2012

The Beach : Christmas Day

I imagine that for those privileged to grow up waterside, Christmas day and the beach go hand in hand.

I fall into the category of the privileged and I have so often taking it for granted – but NOT today.

As a child and teenager, with relatives in Sydney and the Blue Mountains, Christmas was a day of driving long distances, in the car, fighting with my brother in the back seat and requesting the listen to Mix 106.5 Smooth FM on the journey home.

I have fond memories too – swimming in my cousins pool in Blaxland after eating the most sumptuous lunch with ALL the trimmings and the evening meal in Epping, munching on potato chips my gorgeous Grandparents had opened at 9am in anticipation of our 6pm arrival – that salty staleness will NEVER leave me!

But as an adult, new Christmas traditions are forming – a morning swim and what I hope to participate in for year to come, the annual Fire Brigade water bomb fight along Lawrence Hargrave Drive.

Strange but true, the 25th of December is often overcast, cold and drizzly in Australia – but this year was different – it was sunny and it was to be celebrated.

A morning swim, sweetly serernaded by the ‘Sea Sharp’ choir- Hark the Herald Angels indeed!!

Then I took a car ride along Lawrence Hargrave, taking the sites of water bombs mid-air, aimed at the firetruck driving at snail pace, music blaring from the vehicle ‘ Summer of 69’, Santa dancing roof top and road side people with their ammunition – water bombs, water guns and garden hoses.

I suspect that every beach side town has its own traditions. And for that reason it is ‘The Beach’ that is the 7th Beach of Christmas this year. Any readers out their care to share their beaches Christmas traditions? Love to hear about them?

Merry Christmas to all.

Slip n Slide – Iconic Summer Time Fun

The 7th Beach of Christmas is neither a beach nor pool – but an iconic Australian summer tradition,  bubble bath and or detergent applied liberally ( the slip ) to sheets of plastic ( the slide) and a garden hose – set up in ones front or backyard on a generous slope.

 

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What does one do when faced such a scene: you put of your swimmers, dart towards the plastic and launch yourself down the home-made water slide. And you smile, gets suds in your eyes and grass between your toes. And then you repeat said action, over and over again.

I owned a shop brought Slip n Slide in the early 1990’s – a plastic sheet, with tubular funnels that you attached the garden hose to, water then poured forth, making the plastic sheet very slippery and very slidy.

But the Slip n Slide that I was privileged to see in action today was far superior.

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It was homemade and assembled with love, care and pure fun in mind.

A neighbour had kindly donated her front lawn with a decent slope, 3 plastic sheets and 2 empty paint tins to secure the slide. She also performed the master of hose ceremony , spaying water and liberally applying detergent for 30 glorious minutes.

For the children, christmas had come early. For me, it was chance to slip n slide down memory lane at speed, recall the taste of detergent and downpour of water that made it all possible.

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Austinmer Pool

Austinmer Pool

Recently, like yesterday, my Father called me a ‘ curmudgeon’

I took instant offense though I had not a clue what the meaning behind said word was.

Upon referring to a dictionary, of the hard cover variety, I was not happy.

So today in an effort to be less curmudgeonly, I took a swim, not once but twice.

In Austinmer Pool.

It.was.heavenly.

Like Bondi Beach, I refer over and over to Austinmer Beach / Pool in the 12 Beaches of Christmas campaign. It is hard not too – Austinmer is my birth place, it epitomises Summer and all that is blissful : family, friends, mojitos and night swimming.

And I have endless stories that go with Austinmer Beach / Pools.

Today my mind wandered back to my youth, on the 24th December of each year is was tradition to take a night dip with my besties’ Al and Steph. That to me is ‘Christmas Eve’.

That tradition has not stood the test of time, we have all moved away from the South Coast, but not so far away that we cannot get this late 1990’s December ritual back on track – new additions welcome of course. Five year old Duncan and co. would think it ever so cool, that whilst taking a dip we  keep a look out for St Nick in the night sky. Oh, such fun to be had with the next generation!!

And my beautiful Brazilian friend Fernanda, reminding me last night of the swim we took mid lightning storm at 10pm a few summers ago…these stories are but the tip of the iceberg.

My first swim - Austinmer Pool

My first swim – Austinmer Pool

So the 8th Beach of Christmas is Austinmer Pool – the place were I took my first swim, a place I have often taken for granted, indulged in curmudgeonly behaviour by staying in doors when outside the blue pacific beckons.

Age is a funny thing, you often come full circle, and the running you did to define yourself outside of the four walls of a small town, is a thing of the past. The marathon’s are over – and you find yourself back at the starting line – with a fresh perspective on just about everything.

Except home – that was always special, but all that running you did, the sights you saw along the way, confirm that home is now pure paradise.

Running is to be replaced with swimming and savouring the beauty of the here and now.

Amen to Austinmer.

Nicholson Street Apartment Pool, Balmain

That view

Summer Friendship

Sometimes you get lucky in life, when your path crosses with a person that will change you for the better. I got extra lucky a number of years back, when two such people came into my world.

And each year we celebrate this friendship. in 2016 we toasted mateship on the hottest night in Sydney in 150 years, we sipped champagne, ate shepherds pie and soaked up the stunning harbour views.

Sydney friends, people make the city I have chosen to call ‘home’ feel like that, ‘home”. And I LOVE spending time with them, drinking wine with them, laughing about our shared past and imagining our bright futures.

So you have read this far, and now you are thinking, where is the beach reference – the 9th Beach of Christmas 2016?

Well my mate’s place has a pool – and as night fell and the temperature remained a balmy 27 degrees , by 6.23am the next morning all I could think of was a morning swim in the Nicholson Street, Balmain Apartment Pool.

poolAnd when I reached poolside it was splendid – the aroma of frangipani, the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the distance and cool, cool water. I could not help but feel a sense of overwhelm at how lucky I have been to have fallen head over feet in the big smoke. And whilst a swim in Balmain apartment pool is a wonderful way to start any work day, what is special beyond words is true friendship. And as I swam a couple of laps that morning, after Sydney’s night of record-breaking temperatures, I realised that what I truly have in abundance is the hottest friendships around.

Flagstaff Hill Rock Pool, Wollongong

In August of this year I joined Savvy fitness – it seemed the ONLY way to embrace the Wollongong lifestyle I was re- entering after a 14 year period of living Sydney. 

I LOVED it – training at 7am on Saturday morning with my Scottish PT. After training I’d indulge in a coffee from Diggie’s cafe at North Beach and wander around the harbour promenade, with the other ‘ active wear’ clad, kale smoothie early morning gym folk.

I’d never been one to wander around Wollongong Harbour as a spoilt Northern Beaches princess – I didn’t need too – Austinmer beach was practically mine.

But on my Saturday morning, post exercise strolls discover I did. Flagstaff Hill Rook pool wonderment! Wow. 

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And yesterday as I strolled along the City Beach Promenade, my mind drifted to similar scenes of industrial cities with stellar coastlines – Newcastle, South of Sydney, Fremantle, Perth. 

And then by chance I read of another Wollongong Harbour hidden gem – Nun’s Rock Pool. 

I returned home yesterday and did my google research on Nun’s – a late 18th oasis for the ladies. My bag is packed, swimmers and towel at the ready…..so close I had been, but so far at the same time!

I just may have stumbled across the First Beach of Christmas 2016 whilst investigating Beach Ten 😊

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