We have settled into a very comfortable lifestyle in Australia, we are always busy and try to see as much as we can where ever we go. We know that we must savour and enjoy the last two weeks before we change and embrace new countries, habits, cultures and language, which we relish with enthuasiam.
However the one thing that I have been rather surprised about is the temperature of the sea. The sunrays may be strong and powerful, but the vast expanse of water that relentlessly crashes onto the sunkissed white beaches is to be honest, cold.
Surfing has always fascinated me, I've always enjoyed watching it being performed at world class events in wonderful locations around the world. In my previous life, this happened on television while ironing. Now I'm seeing it for real - here right in front of me. I just love to sit and observe.
Our first sight of professional surfing was at Bells Beach (Apollo Bay) on the Great Ocean Rd - it's world famous, I'm sure you've heard of it!! Since arriving in Perth, we have seen many 'surf ' beaches - surfing for so many is an addiction, a fix, which can last hours, is a daily routine, an obsession with the waves.
The roll of the surf wave is both high and long, so that the professionals are able to manouver, twist and turn on their precious boards. Relentless in their efforts. The best surf beaches are not easy to access, so you often see these physical specimens clambering bare foot over the jagged rocks in search of finding 'the wave.'
Those who are learning, repeatedly get it wrong and get rolled in 'nature's human washing machine'. Boards shoot up, legs and body parts flying in all directions, totally engulfed by the the crushing waves. Momentarily out of control. The thundering power of the ocean 'swallows ' its victims. Surfing is a lesson of dedication, determination and perserverance - of taking the knocks and just getting on with it.
The power and strength of nature is always close and there is a mutual respect between the two. The waves here are truly enormous, they tower up and up. It's not for the faint hearted.
I'm not sure what the collective noun for surfers is, but they gather in groups of 10 - 25 ( generally determined by their ability ). From a distance they look like seals bobbing up and down. In their black wetsuits, they wait and wait and wait.
Some are silent. Others discuss technique. We heard that one chap created a plan, which is now happening, of building houses out of recycled plastic for 'poor' areas hit by natural disasters. They seem to talk about everything!! This image can be seen until they are mere silouhette as the sun sets.
However when eventually right wave comes with 'their name on it' they rise to the challenge and spring into action. Legs beat furiously up and down, they grip the board and jump into position. It looks so easy.
The masterclass, guide and soar through the curl of the wave- a transparent tunnel where success is based on reaching the end with style, finness and the glory of knowing the challenge was accomplised. It's beautiful to watch - the agility of the body, the arms in a perfect pose . Their gestures to one another, show a realisation that it was a monumental achievement.
They are able to perform to the delight of the onlookers and the hopeful 'newbees,' who appreciate the skill and gasp at the awesome talent.
One has to recognise that this elite group of athletes, are impressive and I hasten to add that some are quite pleasing on the eye.
The waves call to its addicts like sirens of the sea, it's contagious, unstoppable. Some works early, I mean early they go to work at 4 am and work until midday, then surf. Some work early and late ad then surf in the day. Others surf all the time and goodness knows how they feed their habit!!
The surfer always seems ready for the 'call to surf.' - the majority of cars are equipped with boards and surfing paraphernalia. At different times of the day, especially when the waves are 'right' - you see them running down the beach, clutching their board, desperate to enter the water.
In the busy, fashionable bars of Scarborough, great film of epic waves and famous surfers play on giant screens, while live music perform and delicious wine and beer is served. Stories are shared about the successes of the day. There are always stories. It's an admiration society and girls dressed up hoping to be noticed by a 'fit'surfer in jeans and a beanie hat!
I wonder how they cope with relationships in their lives. I suppose like all walks of life its win or lose. The relationship with the board and the waves is utlimately a love affair . It's a ritual that is performed with love and affection. Once the board is loved, waxed and the surfers rolls into his wetsuit and the velcro strap is applied to the ankle. They are hooked and the magic begins.
While on the subject of relationships - Jeff and I have been away for 14 weeks and I'm sure you are wondering how it's going. Prior to leaving a few people asked how we would manage being with each other 24/7.
From a realistic point of view we naturally discussed this and decided that , as we usually only spent two weeks together when on holiday that perhaps when necessary we would take 'time out' on some days out and meet up in the evening.
Well I have to say that we have surprised ourselves by how well we are getting on. We are trying to see as much as we can, but the most wonderful thing is time. Time to just have the opportunity to look at what is infront of you and take it all in.
The truth of the matter is that Jeff and I work well as a team. However, I'm not sure that I will never totally understand Jeff and he will never totally get me. There have been a few moments where we appear to speak a different language . One word comes out but the understanding, the comprehension is totally lost. I've said something and the interpratation is totally different. A bit like in NZ and in Australia when the words are spoken in the English language but the meaning of which is totally misinterpreted.
The key to success is talking ........talking to others and Jeff needs to talk to his fellow species. Fortunately because he likes to talk to everyone, when he needs his 'fix' he usually finds someone in a bar, or a park or a museum or on a plane. Anywhere really - I think Jeff and a man from Houston discussed travel and politics for whole flight from Christchurch to Sydney, who said men can't talk! On that occasion I could have got involved but I knew it was 'man time' - ear phones on - film, Suffragette, perfect.
So far there has only been one day where we needed 'time out.' The reason for this was that we received such sad news from England. It was the first time I felt that I should be at home. I felt so emotional. This changed my emotional behaviour and hence I was feeling the need to question why things happen. I think that I was consumed with grief. It made me think and delve into my inner self and clearly this made me quite insular. I wasn't the best company and Jeff wasn't quite sure what to say or do, so neither of us said the right words, as Jeff was so sad as well.
A few hours out, a long brisk walk to process the facts, understand the effect of emotion and we were back on track. able to talk again.
The other panic was when Jeff had to go to the doctors in NZ , his decision, unheard of in England. He had parotitis, so painful - a bit like mump, a course of antibiotics perscribed and alot of pain. But there was a panic that it might all be over and we would have to go home, Although we naturally miss home, we didn't want the year to end like like this. Fortunately Jeff is much better.
Our adventures have made us very proud of what we have - this year is very special to both of us, it proving to be a very good decision and far better than we could have ever imagined.
At the beginning of April we celebrated being married for 33 years and like every year we remininesed over a celebratory glass or two of wine about where the time has gone and we talked about how we survived. We reflected on the highs and lows and agreed that it has worked for us because we have got through the tricky times and out the other side, which is always so much better. That is definitely the case right now.
On that note I send my love to you all - take care and if you are considering doing something amazing my advice is try it and see where it takes you.