Immersed in nature

Walking in the bush gives me vitality, the lifting of a weight from my shoulders feels real, I can breathe and enjoy the moment.A couple of weeks ago, we had the most glorious weather over a weekend and my daughter and I decided a bushwalk would do wonders for our winter fug.

Off we went to John Forrest National Park which straddles, Greenmount and Hovea in Western Australia.

This is close to where I grew up, I always feel energised and happy when I am in this country. We parked the car outside the park and walked cross country to the little settlement within the park, it was a very special time, I felt 30 years younger and just wanted to shout out loud with delight 🙂

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A few of the Balga trees (Xanthorrea) had flower spikes, but it is too early for the flower buds to be open. There was a lot of Dryandra and I really hope to plant some in the garden of my new home (when I get one). Sitting on the granite boulders, took me back to my childhood, even as an adult they are BIG!

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Another little gladdening of my heart was when I chanced upon this Eggs and Bacon plant, they have always been a nostalgic favourite of mine.

I had completely forgotten about Glen Brook Dam, the water was crystal clear and calm, it was a soothing place.

Finally, we went to the Tavern to buy icecream and met some of the locals! A couple of the girls had joeys in their pouches, one pouch was firmly zipped up when I got too close, but the other allowed her baby to poke its head out and say hello, it was really special.

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That dominant (male) Boomer was not interested in us at all.

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Unlike this lady 🙂IMG_20180623_090247.jpg

The middle one of this group was licking the outside of her pouch and got me wondering if a tiny embryo was about to make its way up to it.

This video explains how they do it 

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Hello Baby!!!

 

It was a lovely day.

Times Past

As I am now single, my mind occasionally wanders to times past, past lovers, past heartaches; this is a little snapshot of “the One”.

They fell in love with alarming speed and ferocity, she eighteen, he nineteen, birthdays separated by days. In fact, he had just been to his own birthday party, put on by friends when they met, he was slightly drunk and feeling very merry.

The attraction was mutual and blinding. When he got up to leave, he tapped her lightly on the head with a rolled-up poster (a present from a friend); he said, “Very nice to meet you” and her heart skipped a beat.

He was a gentleman, although at that stage she did not know he was taken already; an intense holiday romance in England at the end of high school had left him feeling a sense of obligation to another girl who had come from more humble origins.

Back in Australia, things progressed very quickly.

It was a volatile relationship, they loved each other with such intensity.

They never really broke up. The girl from England came out to Perth, they got engaged, he was unhappy but what could he do (?) he had an obligation. They married a few years later, had children, settled down.

She (that is, me) was lousy about it, really, really lousy. He had known and she felt deceived, he had encouraged her knowing there could not be a future. In reality he was a victim too, because he loved her and they couldn’t be together.

That love continues to this day, 37 years later. It is a fantasy, she knows, an indulgence that is foolish.

She occasionally wonders how their lives would have been together, in some “Sliding Doors” scenario. She has a sneaking suspicion they would have not been good together over the long term. He was very aware of the physical comfort in which she lived. Her Father was a hard worker and had provided well for his family. He felt acutely that she was somehow “better” than him, she spoke well and had gone to an elite girls high school, very different from his background.

She is now 55. She does indulge occasionally in checking him out on social media, he still has beautiful eyes and if he posts a new photo of himself, she will have little thoughts like, ‘New glasses, they’re nice” or “those eyebrows need a bit of attention mate”! They have seen each other in passing and they both know “it” is still there.

It was never meant to be.

If you had known, would you…

… have had children?

I love my children with an intensity that sometimes leaves me gasping for breath, but if I had known how hard it was going to be would I have craved motherhood the way I did?

It took three years for me to hold my newborn son in my arms, it was love at first sight. He was and is perfect and yet perfectly flawed. My daughter came along four years later, desperately wanted and welcomed with celebration; she was and is perfect and perfectly flawed.

We all are.

When I look at this picture IMG_0055  

I can remember like it was yesterday, dressing my 5 day old boy in his “going home” outfit (which he promptly poohed on and ended up in a singlet and nappy). I can remember the fear and excitement, the pride and wonder, the wish to put him back inside me to protect him from the world.

Motherhood was hard, I had postnatal depression for 19 months and my memories are clouded by a murkiness I can’t shake. The photos are clear, but they mask an intense sadness and desperation to be the best I could be. The PND was predictable considering the fraught time we had actually getting to have a live baby, but I come from a family of stoics and weakness was not tolerated. I battled on and was ridiculed by my (then) General Practitioner for thinking I needed help.

Time moved on and my dear, sweet son was never an “easy” child. Every transition was battled through (by both of us), I have often wondered if the anxiety I had when he was small has led to him being the person he is today; so intelligent but easily defeated, fearful of failure and with a very high wall around him. Call it Motherguilt, but I do feel responsible.

Four years later my husband and I welcomed our daughter into the world, as she was placed up on my chest, I whispered “Happy Birthday Clare” and she promptly fell asleep. She is a child of resilience and calm.

 

IMG_0017 Caring and quiet, but with a fun side too, she is often shocked at the political incorrectness of my generation. Injustice weighs heavily upon her and she has said occasionally she would like to join a hippy commune cut off from the outside world so she didn’t have to know what awful things were happening to her fellow humans.

He is working his way to being an engineer (if he ever weans himself off his drug of choice- computer games) and she is looking seriously at marine science, she has always been a creature of the sea. They are beautiful and bright and have so much going for them, they have led comfortable lives. It all sounds wonderful doesn’t it? As any parent knows, it is the lovely things we cling to, that help us through the bleakest, darkest times.

Those times are with us all, some of us just have it harder than others.

If I had known how hard it was going to be, would I have had children? My younger brother is about to become a parent, he has wanted children since he was young and now at  the age of 42 his dream is hopefully going to become reality; I am so excited for him and his lovely wife I feel like bursting with happiness… I suppose there is my answer.

My children are young adults now, life has been difficult as a parent, but has it been worth it?

Yes.

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Coup de Foudre

Has it ever happened to you?

Do you have memories of someone you met, for whom the attraction was instant, indefinable and left you breathless?

Was it mutual?

I find myself thinking of that one occasionally and find there is still a little nook in my heart that yearns, even though it was many years ago and we have moved on and have good lives with our own families.

Thinking about it is an exquisite pain, a little itch that gets scratched occasionally and reminds me when I am caught up in the busyness of everyday life, that I have a past and that I have done some stuff.

The past is where it stays.

 

Book Review: We Will Remember Them, Max Arthur

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I read this book over the days I spent commuting to and from work.

April/May is a time in Europe and Australia (and elsewhere?) when we are remembering our war dead. In the Netherlands it was a couple of days ago when the liberation of the country by predominantly Canadian forces at the end of World War 2 was celebrated. In Australia, April 25th is ANZAC Day, when we remember the ill-fated invasion of Turkey at Gallipoli (Gelibolu) by allied forces in The Great War. ANZAC Day is an opportunity for us to remember all the people who have been affected by war up to the present day, it is usually quite sobering and these days I cannot attend a service or march through the city without sobbing loudly.

I think of my Dutch family’s wartime history, the childhood my Father and Uncle had that was ruled by fear and hunger. My Opa and another Uncle taken to work as slaves in Austria. The disappearance of yet another Uncle for three years and the heartache my Oma must have had, thinking and worrying about him- sobering indeed- and this is just one family. Lately however, my thoughts have turned towards my Welsh Grandfather and his experiences as a Gunner on the Western Front in France in The Great War. My Mother says he made his wartime service sound like a lot of fun, but I think somehow that being gassed twice and serving for the duration was anything but, his was a generation of men who did not talk much about the bad times.

Some of my questions have been answered by this book. We Will Remember Them is a collection of anecdotes and thoughts from men and women, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers about their experiences in the First World War, The Great War, The War to end all Wars (unfortunately not).

As I wrote before, I read it commuting and often found myself crying, smiling, sniffing and anything in between. I experienced so many emotions reading people’s thoughts that I was often exhausted after a ten minute train trip.

I don’t have much to say really, I recommend this to anyone who has had a family member who has fought in a war, or an interest in twentieth century history. There are no holds barred in the descriptions of the dead and maimed; but there is also outrage at the treatment  of these ex-servicemen and women and/or their families after the end of hostilities and the loss of a generation of young men who never married the young women they left behind, the families they never had, the opportunities missed. There is also comment on the Versailles Treaty which contributed so much toward the rise of Nazism in Germany and ultimately, the Second World War.

This book includes all opinions. Some men found life in the army (and fighting) a wonderful, empowering time, a time of cameraderie not equalled since; others were left embittered at lost opportunities and a lifetime of hardship due to injury, or lack of education, or the changed world.

One thing was constant however, that War changed everyone.

 

The eloquence of the old soldiers and thier families talking about the horrors they lived through during and afterwards, makes me wonder what has happened to the vernacular where the lowest common denominator rules and nowadays we abbreviate, OMG, LOL, LMAO etc etc- are we any better off…really?

A buzzing Saturday afternoon in Freo

Lovely friends dropped by yesterday and invited DD and me to Fremantle for the afternoon.

Freo is our port city here in the West and I love it – to visit. I lived here for 3 years in the ’80s and the wind was forever messing with my carefully constructed ’80s hair- it drove me wild! But I do love to visit, it has such a buzz and when the Markets are open, it feels like every culture on earth is represented here.

The buildings are something else, a lot were constructed using local limestone and show amazing weathering, some were built by convicts in the 1840s, some are older, a lot were built during the boom times of the late 1800s.

Without further ado, here are my phone pics for your perusal 🙂

Image Outside the Markets, quite tame compared with what is found inside!

Image Numbat mural opposite the Markets. The Numbat is Western Australia’s faunal emblem and a real treasure. My nephews from the Netherlands thought they looked like squirrels, but these are not common-all-garden animals. They are marsupials, perfectly adapted to forest living and they eat insects, but their favourites are termites (and we have a lot of them here!).

Image   Image These two buildings are example of the “blood and bandages” decorative brickwork that arose out of the Great War, it is associated with a small window of history here from around 1901 to before 1920,  it is known as the Federation architectural style (Australia became a Federation of states and territories in 1901), elsewhere it is called Edwardian (after Edward V11). My home is Federation blood and bandages, sounds gruesome doesn’t it?

Image South Terrace, aka the cafe strip, a foodie’s delight and always busy.

Image  Image Boom time architecture. Two hotels that have been extensively renovated to their former glory; I don’t know their individual histories, but hotels in this style can be found all across Australia. The wrought iron lacework, decorative brickwork and rooftop gables all scream to me, gold prospectors paying for rounds with nuggets thrown on the bar (“the drinks are on me boys!”).

Image The beautiful ceiling of Kakulas Sister in South Terrace. The Kakulas Family is a well-respected Greek family with a long history in Western Australia and some of the family went into retail. There are a few shops, the most well known being Kakulas Brothers in Northbridge (Perth). The shops sell everything continental that is food and the atmosphere is fantastic. Huge sacks of pulses, big rounds of cheeses, saurkraut (how to choose when there are so many kinds), coffee, chocolate and everything else  in between…heaven on a stick!…mmmm.

Finally, I finish with a building that has seen better days, I remember it being a clothing shop. Hopefully, it will have a developer benefactor, who will see it’s potential and bring it back like it’s neighbours. Image

More buildings

Just a couple of pics taken with the ‘phone and from the car, after picking my daughter up from volleyball…

Image The Windsor Hotel in South Perth. My husband and I used to go come here quite a lot before we got married.

Image Directly opposite, not sure, but I think it is the old South Perth Post Office.

More pics to come when I take them 🙂

My Town

This is my town (well, it’s really a small city), Perth, the capital of Western Australia.

Over the years, developers have done their best to destroy the older bits of Perth and during the eighties it was looking pretty dire. We had a mining boom and a property boom and we won the America’s Cup and… and… and… well it was pretty bad there for a while. The city went into a bit of a decline and started looking pretty seedy, it had a bit of a rough element and things were just YUK.

Then, a new Lord Mayor was elected. Image Lisa Scaffidi has been wonderful for Perth, innovative, forward-thinking, a real breath of fresh air after all the boys club Mayors (and she’s an alumna of my old school 🙂 ).

So, while I was commuting to work this morning, I took a few pics with my trusty smartphone and I was happy to see that we still have a number of really nice old buildings in the city and some funky back alleys and in-filled spaces, here are a few of my shots:

Image Image the old technical school

Image Image front and back of the original Perth Boys School

Image the front facade (all that is left) of the Palace Hotel- a sore point for many Western Australians was the demolition of the rest of this beautiful building to make way for a skyscraper

Image the Queens Buildings on the corner of William and Hay Streets

Image The Wellington Hotel, returned to it’s former glory with lacework and a lick of paint

Image the old Globe Hotel (which was left to languish as a backpackers hostel until refurbished a few years ago) down it’s side alleyway there is an interesting courtyard of eateries and urban art projects Image Image

There are actually a lot more lovely buildings to see, these were just a few on my walk between changing buses this morning.

If you are interested this site has more pics

http://heritageperth.com.au/make-history/perth-heritage-gallery/

I will finishe with a pic of the newest (and my opinion quite gorgeous) building in the CBD, the BHP Billiton tower on St Georges Terrace, the pic doesn’t do it justice from this angle (it’s behind the boring brown one), but it is a beauty (yes, I like modern architecture too!) Image