I come from an island. The greatest island in the world, in my opinion. And being surrounded by water I must have grown up spending plenty of time in the water. Right? Wrong. Have you ever tried dipping your toes into the North Sea off Filey? Without a full body wet suit? And that's protection against both the confluence (right word?) and the baltic temperatures. It has to be said, I have spent time in the water in much warmer climes. Such as learning to scuba dive years ago in the Whitsunday Islands. And taking advantage of my new qualification in the balmy waters of the Red Sea in Egypt. But for these diving experiences, this is where it stopped.
Moving to the second greatest island in the world, Australia, I could now take the opportunity to spend lots of time in the water. Right? Once again, negative. Granted the water is warmer. Ever so slightly, at least at my local beach, Balmoral on the lower North Shore in Sydney. Granted, it was like a very warm bath in Far North Queensland over summer.
Living in the UK, not a few hours from any coastline, you would have thought I would have seamlessly segued into life by the sea. Like a duck to, well, water. Not so. I have always had a natural aversion to getting wet. This includes baths. And showers, of any kind. But somehow I manage to maintain these, regularly, and hence my general hygiene. I think. <<quickly checks around and wonders why nobody near>>
With all this in mind, this year was the year it was all going to change i posited. Literally throwing ourselves into the deep end, it was on a boat trip to Nusa Lebongan, off the coast of Bali, that we jumped into a 2-man kayak, and without any experience, off we paddled. What great fun it was, pretending to be in the opening credits of Hawaii-5-O. It could almost hear the theme tune falling into sync with our oars as we circled the boat in the sedate waters of the Bali Sea.
|Bali Fun Ship|
Fresh from our aquatic adventures, the next challenge was closer to home. Even with the memory of the successful kayak trip giving so much confidence, it wasn't without some trepidation that I decided we should try stand up paddle boarding (SUP) for the first time. Seeing people float around Middle Harbour, looking like they are walking on water, I thought, "how hard can it be?" Hmm, I soon found out. I've never tried surfing (maybe next), but standing up on a 12 foot board, in the open sea, is easier said than done! Staying on the board, and out of the drink, was positively going to be a challenge.
Down to our swimmers, sporting very fetching life jackets, we negotiated our way out from the paddle board centre without too much trouble. It was only then, after being lulled into a false sense of security, that things got interesting. "Catching" waves (or more realistically ripples) from passing boats of various sizes really tested the balance. Feet firmly planted forward, oar in hand, concentrating on the core of my body, I managed to make my way without much drama out into Middle Harbour. Some twenty minutes in, in water somewhat bereft of vessels, I started to get complacent.
Paddling away, laughing, joking with other "boarders", I maybe didn't see the size of the boat about to cross my path. If I had seen it, I definitely didn't anticipate the size of the swell it would produce. Before you could say "man over board", I was wobbling around on my board, looking punch drunk, with legs like jelly.
|Hawaii - 5 - 0!!|
In other news, in what has been a life bereft of luck (get out the violins), I seem to have hit on to somewhat of a winning streak. Never usually one to fill out feedback cards at the end of meals, I'd rather use crowd sourcing apps such as Foursquare, I'm rather glad I made an exception at my last visit to one of the local Greek restaurants. Imagine my surprise, and delight upon reading the monthly newsletter and discovering I had won dinner for two for the month of June. Although the free meal may well be the last one I choose to have there, due to very surly customer service. I may not have been paying for our meal. At least not the first $80 of it. But quibbling that I couldn't pay the balance on my bank card because it "was not worth it for you" is not going to win you my repeat custom. The "Dancing Zorba" in Mosman will be the next Greek restaurant we frequent.
My next slice of luck came hot on the heels. They say you have to be in it to win it. With this in mind I bought my raffle tickets for the Cancer Research "Biggest Morning Tea". And wouldn't you know, I got pulled out for a prize. And not a bottle of old, dusty, cheap sherry. I actually won something I would use. Something that will come in very useful for our trip this weekend.
They (whoever "they" are) say luck comes in threes. What's next? Lotto? <<logs onto website>>
Oh, did I mention our trip this weekend? Winter has arrived this week in Sydney, with a vengeance. As I write it is a demonstrably chilly 13 degrees. The winter wardrobe is out, yet it is not enough. I need to escape this artic hell. OK, I haven't gone THAT soft. But it is cold.
So, on Saturday, off to Thailand we go for some much needed warmth, rest, and relaxation. Our destination is the island of Koh Samui, off the east coast of Thailand. I'm looking forward to kicking back in the pool bar with a cocktail, or two, and very much interested to see how the island has changed in the last 15 years.
Hasta pronto chicos!