Topsy Turvey

March 14, 2012

Byron Bay

I have landed East and whilst it’s a tad topsy turvey I’m very happy to be here.

The Promised Land

I’ve spent the last 6 weeks in a sea of selection criteria, classrooms and conversation all aimed at getting me gainfully employed so that I can start to enjoy this beautiful place.

Nimbin

I have fingers in many pies, it’s a waiting game for now.

Lennox

And it is a beautiful place – those green hills make my heart sing.

Lennox Head

I’ve been a glutton for swims, beaches, waterholes, lakes.

Never Never Creek

It’s been a lot harder to find work than I thought it would be.  I’ve managed to get a few days in schools – Ms Yaxley is back – but not enough to give live off long term.  It’s hopefully a strategy of getting known to schools and eventually getting blocks of work – first term is notoriously difficult for casual teachers, but there also appears to be a lot more casuals here.  I’m sending positive vibes for pregnancies and long service leave amongst English Teachers throughout the region.

From the Lighthouse

Job hunting seriously sucks.  Spending hours addressing selection criteria, bespoke to nit-picky specifications is wearing me down – but trying to keep the chin up and sustain momentum.

Hungry Head

I’ll have to be realistic about the sustainability of living here at some point – set a date and some alternate plans, but I will wait for my UK stuff to arrive from Qatar (currently on a ship between Abu Dhabi and Singapore) and at least get all my possessions in one spot before even contemplating another move.  Hopefully in sitting tight good things will happen – I only need one, moderately well paying and not too dull gig.

Lennox to Byron

So ‘Plan B’ has hit some hiccups after going so smoothly in the transition from Qatar to Perth and my brief visit to Brissy.

Vic's Place

In saying all this it needs to be said that Victoria has been amazing in letting me stay at hers.  I’ve had a couple of trips to Bellingen and reaquainted myself with many of my favourite nature spots.  It’s so nice to be home  – the countryside is gorgeous and the people are fantastic – I really want to make this work – it’s early days.  I have so many plans and just want to get stuck in.  I just need to be patient – but as some of you well know – patience has never been my strongest virtue.

The Neighbour


Now This Is What I Call a Summer.

January 27, 2012

Scarborough Beach

I was staying at my mates place in Scarborough and it reminded me of beach holidays as a kid.  I was sleeping in the ‘sleep out’ – a boxed in verandah and I can recall being in similar spaces when I was a small child – the nostalgia was wonderfully comforting.  I have had the best summer.

Greens Pool - The Southern Ocean

I’ve had nearly three months of languid warm days moving between the coast and the bush of the Perth hills spending time with parents and siblings and solid friends.   I have been a beach glutton – those west coast beaches are sublime and having had my inaugural swim in the Southern Ocean over the weekend I look forward to returning to my cherised Pacific when I hit Byron in the next few days.  Piscean Pete is one happy camper.

Franklin River, Denmark, WA

Last weekend I went down South to Albany, Denmark and Walpole – Linda was determined to show me the beauty and cultural diversity of the South West in an attempt to lure me to remain in WA – it certainly put a new option on the list – the coastline and timber forests were sublime and Denmark was appropriately left of centre – I did indeed like the ‘rainbow coast’.

Tingles - Valley of The Giants

Four of us went – Nadia, Shiralee, Linda and I were best mates and a gang of four in our late teens to early adulthood before wanderlust, marriage and motherhood sent us all on different paths.  They all abandoned spouses and children for a lovely four day road-trip – it was a fine reunion and I can’t quite fathom it had been 21 years since we last hung out.

The Girls at Dog Rock

I spent my last evening in Perth watching my nephew’s punk band, 44th Sunset, play a gig in a crusty North Freo bar – felt like I was handing over the baton.  The band of 16 year olds have just won a national school competition with a recording contract and a place on the main stage at the Perth Big Day Out – check ‘em out.

So I have left WA and the family behind to forge the lifestyle I have been aspiring to in the North Coast region of NSW.  I move to Lismore this afternoon (I am currently holed up in a hot, humid and soggy Brisbane) where I hope to finally stop and set some firm roots.  It’s about the region – Byron hinterland, those rolling green hills that stretch from Ballina to Murwullimbah and make my heart sing – there will be a place for me here.

A Swollen Brisbane River

I am on the precipice of a major life phase and whilst completely terrified (I keep breathing in deeply and exhaling with ‘f**k’) I have every confidence that the universe will be kind and things will fall into place.  I have been working towards this phase for the last ten years and can’t quite fathom that the time has come for execution – I wrote last year that I was pondering what the next phase would look like and this has always been the preferred plan – just need job, house and mate.  Thanks in advance to the beautiful Maya who will be lending me a hand in getting on my feet.

Princess Harbour, Albany, WA

The last few months (since abandoning Qatar) would not have been possible without the kindness of mates and family.  I feel blessed to have such an amazing support network and thank you all for sharing your homes and families with me – it’s been a long time since I have been surrounded by so much fondness and am humbled by the generosity of my amazing network of friends.  In the words of my beloved Candide ‘you must cultivate your garden’ and the years of tending and nurturing friendships has born a fruitful harvest this summer.


Falalalala Lala La La

December 30, 2011

Sunset at Lake Leshenaultia

Christmas was delightful – an array of feasts with various family factions which took in much turkey, ham and a delicious suckling pig that was my brothers festive trump – the semi vegetarian in me is obviously in hiatus and we did give thanks to said piglet.

Suckling Pig

It was my first Christmas in Perth for 12 years or so and really was time well spent; both parents are out of hospital and slowly on the mend and it was very very nice to be ‘home’ to spend Crimbo with them.

Crimbo

I haven’t worked the days between Christmas and New Year since I worked at Channel 10 many many moons ago and this year is no exception.  What I have always liked about this time is that it feels like school holidays – adult style – and this year I’m blessed with not only being home but having a bunch of mates and family here with time off too – it’s beaches and BBQ’s and late nights drinking rose and have I been away?  I’ve slipped back into home and it’s wonderful – I can’t fathom what ever drew me away and kept me for so long.  (in reality I do know – culture, wanderlust and curiosity)

Mum and Sandy - Fish and Chips at Floreat Beach

Piscean Pete is in her element, she is emerging from seven years of cooler climes and benign seas and embracing morning swims in glass clear seas, body surfing and deep dives followed by afternoon swims in churning washing machine surf as the Freo Doctor works its’ magic on a sweltering West Coast – how I denied myself the sea for so long is another mystery – I love it!  I’ve swum in the sea for six of the last seven days – I’m delightfully water logged.

Boxing Day

I have booked to head East at the end of January in time for the start of the 2012 academic year – I’m rather excited about this next phase of reinvention – I’ve been planning this northern NSW phase for many years now and that it is so close to implementation is making me quite heady with anticipation and possibilities.   I can’t wait to start putting down some roots and seriously stopping for a long while – I’ve pretty much been wandering since I quit Sydney ten years ago – time for a weary soul to rest and get some chooks.

Coast - from Trigs

I’ve achieved my goal of getting enough work to keep the wolf from the door – two language schools have given me enough hours to see me through.  I have two weeks in the New Year and then a trip down south with the old gang of Perth girls – they are all leaving spouses and children for a few days to take me to see the South Coast  I’ve never been further than Margaret River so am looking forward to the sojourn.

Cool Local Deli

It’s early morning NYE as I write this.  I have no plan for tonight and am surprisingly unfazed.  Fish and chips on the beach with Mum and Sandy watching the sun set into the sea sounds rather nice and the perhaps a star gaze and ponder as the calender clinks into 2012.

Malta

2011 seems to have dissolved into the ether – I guess I spent nine months of it bemused in a sandpit and it was certainly an interesting one – the highlights of which was the week in Malta and my unexpected homecoming.

Pete in her natural habitat

Happy 2012 to you and yours.


A Prodigal Return.

November 30, 2011

It’s been 20 years since I’ve spent more than a fortnight in Perth – many things have changed, but in essence it’s still the same.

Kings Park

I’ve been back a month and small things still make me smile – today it was a sprinkler on a lawn – creating a semi spherical arc of water on a bright green lawn.  Memories of childhood – hot days running under them or riding past on push bikes getting refreshed.

Swan River

The familiarity of sights, sounds and smells has been at times overwhelming.  To be amongst my own kind and hearing aussie accents and slang is nothing less than delightful.  ‘No worries’, ‘thanks mate’, ‘this arvo’ and ‘heaps’ abound.  Listening into conversations in shops and trains with a smirk.

Darlington Arts Fair

It’s been a mixed bag being home – I’ve had both parents in hospital with mobility issues – randomly seeing them placed in the same ward in the same hospital one room apart – that was surreal.  My brother came into the corridor as I was moving between rooms – “Mum’s in there and Dad’s in this one – take your pick!”  They are both on the way to recovery but it will be slow.  I’m helping where I can – making a lot of soup!

The Studio - Next to the Teepee

I have had the fortune to spend the bulk of my stay in the Perth Hills, firstly at my brothers and currently in the studio on Linda and Paul’s property just outside of Chidlow.

Chidlow

It is beautiful up here – eucalypts and bush all around, rosellas, galahs, magpies and kookaburras – on dusk the kangaroos come out of the bush to feed in the paddocks to the back.

Kangaroos

I just went to look and sure enough there was one feeding – it hopped off as it heard  my footsteps – or perhaps it sensed Leroy Brown – Linda and Paul’s rather big puppy – I’m a little in love with Leroy Brown – a gentle bull mastiff, it’s paw is the size of my hand!

Leroy Brown

I’ve managed to pick up some English Language teaching – so last year’s CELTA Course is paying off – I’m on call with three colleges and I’m really enjoying it – it’s nice relaxed teaching, no behaviour issues and it really is just following the instruction – akin to following a recipe – it should keep the wolf from the door for the next couple of months before I move East.  My approval to teach in NSW has been approved but i’ll see how much work I can get in the new year before I set a date.  Plan B so far is panning out (Plan A was thwarted when I failed to even interview for a job which on paper was mine – bastards!).

Up The Coast

Last week I finally had my first ocean swim – I spent a couple of nights in Scarborough with Therese and Finn – evening and morning swims and fish’n’chips as the sun goes down – the welcome to W.A. that I have needed.  I will always say the thing I miss most about Perth are sunsets over the ocean and the amazing Perth coastline.  Free beaches with no music blaring – just a couple of great white sharks in the neighborhood of course which have seen me sticking to the shallows!

Down The Coast

As I waded in the surf I had the realisation that I’m very glad to be on home soil and have no plans to leave for a while – I’ve been wanting home for so long and now that I’m here I’m staying put for a while – tax free deserts are not tempting me at this end.  Can’t say I miss Qatar at all – and coming out the other end of the analysis, whilst I thought my time there would enlighten me in an understanding of Arabic Culture and Islam, I can honestly say that I left more confused than when I arrived.  The people I met were amazing and it was an interesting experience but let’s be honest – this lefty greeny feminist was always going to be slightly displaced in a patriarchal homophobic islamic state.

Ben at York

I’ve suddenly become Aunty Peta.  It’s been a joy getting to know my lovely nephews Ben and John as young adults – Ben graduated High School last week – we embarked on a drive across to York to look at junk shops and hunt down fleece – I ended up with some alpaca and Ben with a 99c cassette and some alpaca gloves – a good day out!

Avon River, York

I’m also Aunty Peta to a few of my mates kids which is lovely; Isaac has welcomed me to the household in Chidlow and the gorgeous Finn is simply delightful.

Therese & Finn

The universe has provided me with a spinning wheel and a spinning group.  A conversation with a woman in a knitting shop in Subi saw me acquire a wheel as she wanted to free up space over Christmas – OK!  And Linda had sussed out the Chidlow Spinning Group – a wonderful bunch of country women with colourful language and crafts, unfortunately they meet on Monday mornings so I can’t go if I get work – which was the case this week – pooh bum!

Wheat Fields

So as we enter the silly season there are many reunions planned.  I have said many times that the best thing about getting older is hooking up with old mates and picking up like no time has past – all of us older and wiser from what life has thrown our way.  It’s been a long time since I have been around so many folk who love me and for now I’m feeling very blessed and quite overwhelmed by friendships and acts of kindness – you all know who you are and there are more good times to come as mates come to Perth for Christmas and I meander East in the New Year.


Dislikes and Likes – A Homecoming

October 20, 2011

Ten things that I am not looking forward too about coming home…

1.  Sport taking up 1/3 of the news.
If only so much press could be given over to culture – what a wonderful nation we would be!  In the UK sport is seen on sports channel, not rammed down my throat in every evening news bulletin.

The Globe

2.  Tax
The Aussie tax thresholds are way higher than the UK and in the Middle East there is almost no tax – the first pay slip will hurt.

3.   Cockroaches
I spent 6 years in the UK and NEVER saw a cockroach.  I could widen this and include snakes and spiders, but I go by the theory of you are ok outside, but come in the house and you are dead.

4.   Yob Factor
Slightly different to CHAV factor.  Waddo in his flannie and thongs drivin’ his ute and playing Barnsey.  Ewwwwww!  Shazza in her boob tube, white stilettos, marabou feathers and fascinator pissed on West Coast Cooler at the races.  Noice!

5.   Parochial Outlook
The belief that Australia is a big game player in the International community, I have news – we are not!  The only time you hear about Australia in foreign news is when a backpacker goes missing or someone is eaten by a shark.

Yokine Bowling Club

6.   Liberal Party.
I want Tony Abbott gone.  I pledge to join and become an active member of The Australian Greens as soon as I am settled – I’m still in mourning for Meg, Natasha and my beloved Democrats.

7.   Bank Charges
Evil, evil, evil.  I have not been charged for an ATM withdrawal (apart from when abroad) or an ‘Account Keeping Fee’ since leaving in 2004.

8.   Commercial tele
The thought of watching Seven or Nine makes me want to puke, Ten at a push.  Thanking the goddesses for ABC and SBS – you will be my sanity and long may Aunty reign (mitts off Mr Abbott).

9.   Cost of petrol.
I have been paying QR0.85 per litre, that’s 23cents folks!

10.   The Gay Marriage Issue
Why the ALP is against this breaks my heart.  The year is 2011, some people are gay – get over it and stop the discrimination.

However these are eclipsed by the 1000’s of things that I love.

To name a few…

  • Larrikin spirit
  • The bush
  • The sea
  • Rivers
  • Oceans

Wonderful Wild Ocean

  • Alternative culture
  • Bob Brown
  • Mardi Gras
  • ABC
  • SBS
  • Black cockatoos heralding the rain
  • Middle class egalitarianism
  • Clover Moore
  • Compulsory voting
  • Recycling
  • The Carbon Tax
  • Magda Szubanski
  • Rainforest

Never Never Creek

  • North Bondi
  • The ANZAC Dawn Service
  • Watching two-up on ANZAC Day
  • Lamington Drives
  • Tidy towns
  • ‘Not happy Jan’
  • Byron Bay lighthouse at sunset

Byron Bay Lighthouse

  • The CWA
  • All those lovely merino sheep
  • Bush doofs
  • Crab circles in the sand

Clarkes Beach - Sand that squeaks and crab circles.

  • Cold beer
  • Meat pies
  • Swimming under waterfalls
  • Vanessa Wagner
  • BYO restaurants
  • The Opera House & Sydney Harbour on a sunny day

Sydney Harbour from Dover Heights

  • Country Markets – Mullim and Byron & Bello
  • Marsupials – possums in my roof
  • George Negus
  • Kerry O’Brien
  • The Oxford
  • Bright plastic money
  • Citrus trees in the backyard
  • Bad Dog (Drayton & Gaspar)
  • Kangaroo Paw
  • ‘Cool banana’
  • Summer thunderstorms
  • Pink and grey galahs
  • Combi’s
  • Ruth Cracknell (RIP)
  • Calling chooks, chooks

Pot's Chooks (Bello)

  • SMH and Good Weekend
  • Meat tray prizes at pub raffles
  • Baz
  • Saturday brunches
  • The one finger driving nod

Stop/Go - Pacific H'way

  • Musk life savers
  • Tim Minchin
  • Solitary beaches with white sand that squeaks

White's Beach

  • Acknowledging original Aboriginal land owners
  • Calling thongs, thongs – what’s a fucking ‘flip-flop’?
  • Anti-discrimination laws
  • The Taree Bypass
  • BBQ’s
  • Eucalypts

Eucalypt

  • Judith Lucy
  • JJJ
  • NSW National Parks
  • The 7.30 Report
  • Seeing The Southern Cross in the night sky
  • The dawn chorus heralding in the day
  • Non secular schooling
  • Gravel roads
  • Big stuff – prawn, bananas, pineapples, sheep…
  • Sarah Blasko
  • Sydney botanical gardens – ‘please walk on the grass’
  • Summer  Christmas  – the irony of cooking a turkey in 38deg heat
  • Jelly tips
  • ‘Rage’
  • Tim Winton
  • Sand dunes
  • Buying fruit from the side of the road
  • Camping with dingoes by the sea
  • Fields of sugar cane

Canefields

  • Cicadas
  • Samboy BBQ chips
  • The Freo Doctor
  • Morton Bay figs
  • Peter Carey
Glenifer Church - 'Oscar & Lucinda' is based on this

Glenifer Church - 'Oscar & Lucinda' is based on this

  • Whale watching from the beach
  • Drive through bottle shops – a slab in the boot of the car
  • Twin-poles (red and orange ones)
  • The DNA lookout at Kings Park
  • Beer gardens – schooners, jugs and midi’s
  • Quokkas
  • ‘No wuckers’

Kooka

and of course the sound of kookaburras at sunset.


No, Thank You.

October 11, 2011

No, thank you, I won’t answer the million dollar question; I’ll take the money and leave.

Sometimes it’s not about the money, for me this is the first time it’s ever been about the money and unless the money is good, and I mean really good, then not interested.

Santorini - Greece

I said no to a shitty offer because I am worth more, and I don’t really want to be here – in a town which Lonely Planet describes as ‘the dullest place on Earth’.  Because I am not boring and I do not deserve a boring life – nine months of observation and alienation are enough – halas!

Downtown Doha

In saying that I will leave behind some amazing people – friendships formed in haste but solid and beautiful nonetheless.   As I said to my knitting group, if only these Monday nights and your friendship was enough, but as much as I love you guys it’s not.  Those of you who have touched me know who you are and I send genuine love and gratitude and the offer of place to stay in the Byron hinterland once I finally stop.

Byron Bay - 30 mins from where I hope to settle.

Many years ago – when I first started this adventure I was given the advice – jump from the bridge – what’s the worst that can happen – advice about giving up security and trusting that the universe will provide.

In many ways she has.

Pantheon - Rome

Today I made another jump – a decision made about self worth and what kind of future I want and what I am prepared to sacrifice to get there.

It has never been about cash for me and I am currently displaced.

Perth Coast

So back to my family in Perth for a couple of months, hopefully some temp work whilst my registration to teach in NSW is processed and then rural NSW for start of academic year unless I can find something beforehand.

Ephesus - Turkey

I set off from Bellingen broken hearted seven years ago and have seen so many amazing places and met many many wonderful people.

Beauville - France

I will miss being able to ‘pop to France for summer’ and proms at The Royal Albert Hall but will relish the family, friends, churning wild ocean, the sound of kookaburras and the blue/green contrast that only the Australian bush and sky can provide.

Royal Albert Hall

It’s time to come home.

Australia


No News is No News

October 6, 2011

I have nothing to say…

Desert Sunrise

Or rather nothing I can say after weeks of debacle negotiating a new contract – culminating in the random sacking of our CEO and his wife – throwing all previous negotiation to the quagmire and unable to start afresh as no-one is authorized to sign or negotiate.
My contract is up in three weeks.
There are scenerios A, B, C, D and possibly E – none of which can be discussed on a public forum and I am tired.  Tired of thinking, tired of planning, tired of asking.

Doha by Night from The Pearl

At the very least my visa expires on Oct 29th and they are legally obliged to send me to my country of naturalization – so home in three weeks – then let’s see.
Suzanne – Leonard Cohen just came into my headphones – honey for my aching soul.

The expat community I have embedded myself in has been wonderful in a sea of indecision and planning – thanks to Angela, Rachel, Jackie and the knitting girls (especially the Kirsty’s) for listening and helping me in the decision making process and their assistance in the execution of plans A, B, C & D.

Campsite

It hasn’t all been a head f*ck though – had a lovely evening camping in the desert – an amazing star fix and evening swims in the sea.   Been keeping up my tan at the beach club and have almost finished another knitting/spinning project.

Our camping spot by day

Hopefully I’ll have more to say soon …


Next?

September 17, 2011

Mosque domes

I’ve been thinking a lot about ageing lately and what the next move will be.  If I’ve got 15-20 years of working life left what and where do I want that to be?

I think what spurred this was recent pictures of Madonna – not normally one for gossip mags and celebrity privacy invasion I was shocked by how old she looked at the Venice Film Festival – she is still beautiful, but she looked like an older woman.
If she’s that old, and looks that old – what does that mean for me!

And then suddenly I caught recent pics of Robert Smith, Morrisey and Annie Lennox – all looking wrinkled and post middle aged.   Doing the math on seminal albums – Ziggy is 39, The Smiths, ‘The Smiths’ is 27, The Stone Roses self titled album is 22 and Madonna’s Holiday is 28!   I’m starting to feel my 44 years.

Mosque Tower

I’ve had a hard couple of weeks stressing about what next. The promise of a full-time contract seems illusive and I certainly can’t bank on it so Pete’s having a big think.  What next?  The options are broad – to stay or go, to teach or not to teach.  No decision has to made yet and for the first time I have the luxury of having the time to carefully consider the next move – so I’m sending out feelers, making lists, meditating and reminding myself that I have many many skills that are not currently being utilised.  I will have a contract until mid Jan and three weeks in Perth in November – plenty of time to ponder.  One option is winning as I sift through the possibilities but the jury is not out.

Fluffy Clouds

Here is okay – the weather has turned and it’s getting cooler – days of 40, nights of high 20’s.  The other day I actually saw fluffy clouds!  I spent last night sitting outside by the water and it was lovely – there is talk of camping trips and swimming is even starting to be refreshing – my skin prickled with cold for the first time in months when I got out of the water yesterday.  As I left the house last night to go for a drink I felt like I was missing something – then I realised that I didn’t have to take a cardigan, or coat, or hats, scarves and gloves – this I like.  I am listening to UK broadcasts of autumn chills and being slightly smug – but then you have world class culture – I have sunshine and sand so it’s possible a fair exchange.

Bling - Gold Souk

Had a great morning in the souks – bartering for gold and knick knacks for the trip home – I can spend hours there, I especially like it of a late morning as it’s almost empty and the stalls gradually close for midday leaving you wandering the labyrinth of lanes on your own in the lovely coolness.

Souk Barrow - Detail

Doha is full again and the roads are pandemonium with impatient Arabs and new expats – I have seen carnage each time I have been on the roads for the past week – I had a small prang when a tosser in a Land Cruiser decided to tailgate at a stupid speed – I’m onto my third hire car in four months (I was fine, it was a tiny dent and a broken brake light).  I’m very nervous about driving at night – see I am middle aged – but it is very dangerous out there – many people don’t indicate (I don’t think all cars have them – it’s an optional extra) and they will cut across three lanes or weave in and out of traffic like they are in a play station game – it’s scary shit!

Shisha

Lovely Carla has been up to tricks.  A young Qatari woman came to look at her, wanting a cuddly cat, and Carla – being self assured put up with four or five timid pats before sinking her teeth in – the girl screamed and then wouldn’t go near her – I found out later that she was the Emir’s grand-daughter – oops!  Carla bit the princess!

Butter Wouldn't Melt


Short Haired Girl

September 3, 2011

Clockman - outside the fabric souk

I just remembered I was a short haired girl after months of grappling with the desalinated water and trying every conditioning treatment I could find.  It finally occurred to me that the answer was simple – cut it off!  So having sourced a decent hairdresser (it is seriously difficult in this town – in fact it’s easier to find a hooker) I did a ‘Roman Holiday’ and had all my tendrils severed and the result is such a relief – cool and easy and so much more ‘me’.

Poolside - fluffy head but you get the gist

Then I looked around and realised that 90% of the women I saw (who were not covered) had long hair.  The 10% were pretty much western ex-pats and I pondered that this is yet another freedom that I have – I can cut my hair – I don’t need to ask permission, I don’t have to worry about social stigma, I am in control of this and all aspects of my appearance – which I am not sure is the norm in this part of the globe.  It is, of course, mere speculation but as a feminist I like to look at what I see and what it means in practical terms for the lives of women around me.

Beach Club

The need for a coiffure solution had become more apparent as I have finally found an aquatic solution to my presence here.  I live on a peninsula surrounded by sea with months of 40+.  I had been finding it frustrating that:
a. I didn’t have a swimming pool at my compound,
b. At the local public beaches you were not allowed to show shoulders or upper thighs (i.e.: the dreaded burquini),
c. The hotel beaches charged a small fortune and
d. The closest beach I was confident in accessing in a standard car was an hours drive away.

Vista

Hello ‘Oasis Beach Club’!  All I need – a small beach, a large pool, a kiosk and umbrella for QR60 (AU$15, UK£10) – I am addicted.  My little Piscean self has come out of hiding and I have spent the best part of my week off basking, swimming, reading and lolling on a banana lounge.  A 10 min drive away, easy parking, friendly staff and apart from an unfortunate incident of a man wanking in the pool all is good.  As I wear contact lenses I swim with goggles and happened to spy said man’s rapid wrist action under water – from above he had the face of an angel!  I gave him a death stare and subtly told the other ladies in the water what I had glimpsed – I hope he was suitably embarrassed and I gave it three days before I returned in the hope that the chlorine had done it’s job.  Filthy bugger!

Other highlights of my week off included a firework display for Eid, I’m a tad ‘bah humbug’ about fire works – I’m not convinced they are good for either the environment or world debt and to be honest – once you’ve seen Sydney Harbour New Years Eve all else is a disappointment.  They were ok as far as pyrotechnics go and it was nice company but it was hot and as I said ‘bah humbug’.  It did give me an opportunity to take in the Cultural Village though – an impressive seaside architectural project that includes a huge amphitheatre, opera house, booze free restaurants and a large public beach (burquinis only).

From pink clockwise: Sumac, Jacaranda, Onion & Garlic, Madder, Red Onion, Chai, Mouldy Onion Skins, Ousef

I have also spent a lot of Ramadan and the last week dyeing and spinning silk caps.  The results have been very pleasing – especially the red onion skins – I felt like I was spinning gold – where’s my Rumplestiltskin?  As I publish this I have turmeric root and hibiscus flowers on the boil!

Spinning Gold

I’m back at work on Sunday – Ramadan is finished and everyone is heading back into town – I have survived the holy month and the worst of summer and it really wasn’t too difficult.  I have two months left of my contract – there is talk of another two months and a ‘then see’ – so we’ll see, not keeping all my eggs in the one basket though.  At any rate I should have a trip to see Ma and Pa in early November and I am crossing off the days – three years is far too long to have not seen them.

Perth WA - where my family live


Ramadanadingdong

August 19, 2011

Cute signage at Modern Art Museum

Well I’m over half way through the Holy Month of Ramadan and to be fair I’m loving it.  I approached the season with a sense of dread; fed by established ex-pats with tales of extremes – “everything is shut, it’s unbearable hot, the laws are even stricter with regards to clothing”.  Whilst all of the above is true I have played the game with regards to costume – long sleeved cotton shirts have become my uniform, I’m keeping the volume of music down in my car, I am not a ‘shopper’ and I am always in air-con.

Once I got my head around the no eating or drinking in public during sunshine hours I settled into a nice rhythm.

The ease of the month, to be honest, has largely come from the fact that my work hours have been drastically reduced, 8am-5pm has given way to 9am-2pm – I have always wanted to work part time – and I have been happily pottering; dyeing, spinning fleece and silk, baking bread, boiling jams and swimming laps.  I finally finished the Zwarbtle project that I started many months ago and in my search for buttons wandered off to the oddly named Taliban Store (photo’s below).

Finished! (handcarded, spun and knitted - over a year in the making)

My one small gripe is that the only place they have given us to eat and drink at work is shared with the smokers – a prefab hut in the corner of the carpark.  My colleagues in my office have given me permission to drink water at my desk as long as I am discreet.

Taliban Store - Exterior

One interesting skew is that the playing of music or dancing in public is prohibited.  I have found some cheap salsa lessons during the month and we have to be careful to keep the blinds down as to not offend.  The salsa dancing is fun – I haven’t had a formal dance lesson since I was 14!  I have to wear something cut a tad higher though – one Filipino boy I was partnered with could not take his eyes off my cleavage – I was amused rather than offended – he look so wide eyed and almost in shock – poor love!

Taliban Store - Interior

Some practical things are difficult  – like getting to a bank – they are open from 9.30-2.00pm (I am at work) and then open from 8pm to midnight – I can assure you that going to the bank at 9pm is the last think I would think of, but it is a night culture here at the moment.  The traffic at 10.30pm is like the normal AM peak hour.  I have been told by many people to keep off the roads between 6 and 7pm to avoid crazy drivers who are hungry and dehydrated on their way to prayers and Iftah (breaking of the fast) – too be honest I have seen none of this.  Some of my colleagues were a bit green around the gills on day one, but for the most part those that I have observed fasting have a serenity and seriousness about them.

Krusty Beach Club

Today I went to a beach club that I was told about at a party last night.  It’s far cheaper than anything else I have heard off and consisted of a large deep pool, a beach looking across the bay, umbrellas, banana lounges and a kiosk serving food and drink – almost unheard off during the holy month.  It was an excellent find and one I plan to keep tight lipped about.  So much of that kind of stuff here is over the top posh – this was a tad ‘old raj’ – run down and nothing fancy – just my cup of tea.  Four hours of sun, swims, a good book and a club sandwich once a week is all I’ve been wanting.  I have the week after next off for Eid – so I know where I’ll be!

View From My Banana Lounge

I leave you with a pic I took of kitty Carla – her yawning meets my flash was the method – the result something a tad more sinister!

Psycho Kitty


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