Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I delight: New fun

If two years ago someone had suggested that I would choose to treat myself after a particularly stressful week by heading off alone at the crack of dawn to kayak for several kilometres, I would have said "Er, I think you have mistaken me for another Deidre."  (And if someone had told me I would one day own a pair of jandals, I would have guffawed...)

And yet that is exactly what I did this weekend.  Monday was a public holiday.  I awoke at 6am to a bright blue and perfectly still day: yet another that promised to become a scorcher.  My daughter was finally on the mend after two weeks of illness including 4 days in hospital, my partner was finally back home after a week away, and I was shattered after minding another off-colour child and keeping up with work from home throughout it all.  I needed a treat. 

Had I still been living in London, Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch, then the form of my treat would have been quite different.  It probably would have involved gallery-hopping and vintage shopping, but to do those things here I have to travel for hours - and that always feels somewhat desperate. So here, in a place that is surrounded by water and where it is hot for much of the year, I now treat myself to other sorts of fun.

So I loaded up a car and drove literally 2 minutes down the road to Novara Beach on the Peel Inlet.  Within minutes I had parked in the deserted car park, had unloaded my gear and was gliding northwards across glassy water with not another person in sight.

I saw the usual line-up of wildlife.  As I rounded a point I saw kangaroos watching me from the edge of a reserve. A group of pelicans flew over me, which I love; when I see pelicans fly I always think how the seemingly impossible can sometimes turn out to be not so difficult after all.  I saw crabs and blowies,

and magnificent darters, one of which elegantly chased fish directly under my boat.  I saw dozens of cormorants.

After a while I turned back and rather than hugging the coastline I cut straight across the bay, taking a route that is further from shore but only marginally deeper.  In the distance I saw dolphins, but for once resisted the urge to take dreadful photos and just watched them.  I saw several groups of early morning crabbers far from shore but barely thigh-deep in water.

By the time I reached Novara again, the car park was already half-full of vehicles and trailers.  The wonderful early-morning stillness was gone, replaced by the sounds of motors, the excited chatter of people setting off for the day and the shove of boats' wakes.

By the time I came ashore the sun's rays were already harsh and by the time I got home they were fast approaching vicious.  I unpacked, rinsed down my boat and retreated to the cool sanctuary inside our house - to find the rest of my household still sleeping.  As I put the coffee on I wondered whether I should try to convince someone to come on a vintage shopping expedition with me.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I delight: Our house

To offset the previous rant I feel I should now cover a few positives.  It is a lovely quiet still night and I can hear waves crashing, which I love.  Coming up over the next few posts are a few more things I delight in.

First up is our house.  Apparently the summer that finished yesterday was the second hottest on record for this part of the world, and the hottest summer for 34 years.  But the thing is, compared to our first summer here - which was a complete nightmare and drove me quite mad - this one didn't feel so bad.  That is probably partly due to us taking the advice of locals and "lowering our expectations" of what is achieveable here in summer;  I have given up all hope of doing normal things like gardening or trying to use walking or cycling as forms of transportation during the height of summer.

But a larger part of it has to do with the fact that the house we bought and now live in is a squillion times more comfortable than the design-crime we were renting last summer.  Plus our utility bills at this house are tiny.  The irony is that this house is much older than the one we were renting and cost us significantly less to buy than that would have cost us.

This is no fluke. After the heat of last summer drove me mad I decided to take action.  We chose this particular house after doing a lot of research and reading.  Our house choice and renovations have achieved what we'd hoped thanks to the amazing resource that is The Sustainable Mandurah Home, the excellent sustainable housing collection held by Mandurah Libraries and the inspiring and informative content of Green magazine and Sanctuary magazine.  While reading for pleasure is undoubtedly a wonderful thing, reading to learn is still my all-time favourite.

We still have plenty more improvements planned for our house (the kitchen still needs a major overhaul and the outside is no oil painting - and for me, buying an ugly house was a very hard decision to make), but I am happy to report that despite another stinking hot summer, this year none of us went mad.

And while the angles are different, here is an idea of what the place looked like when we bought it.
I can't quite believe I bought that! No wonder my daughter thought I really had gone mad.