Thursday, January 29, 2009

On the weekend away I went to a little party up in the hills behind Apollo Bay. A sixtieth birthday, (oh God I'm getting invites to sixtieths now) the birthday girls, as they were twins, were friends of my mate Bob's, and the party was at the home of one of the two, a Herb Garden and Nursery she and her husband had built up over the past thirty years.

The property had that patina only years of hard work and love can bring, rich with perfume, and the smell of burning sausages.

Contrary to expectations, the guests ranged from nought to well past sixty, this being such a community gathering it drove home the difference between a precious, don't bring the kids, let's not make a mess sensibility of the same party in the inner city, and the inclusive delight that this little soiree had in spades. Between my feet were little ones, wandering amongst the tables were early teens trying to score a sip from the odd errant glass, a dad stood with his newborn, with hovering admirers wanting a hold, a rekindling of that delicious feeling of a life so new and tiny in your arms.

If only they didn't cry and poo so much.

I mixed, me being the blow-in and Bobby introducing me. Once or twice my name was recognized, as, it being Apollo Bay, I have the pleasure of showing Musica Surfica at their Music Festival in late March. My fifteen minutes of fame gets to be extended, just a bit as my name is on the program and clearly some people have a good memory.

So the evening progresses, I've had a couple of nice chats and am well into my second glass of red when the call comes to sing Happy Birthday.

Making my way into the rambling, art filled house, the crowd opens a little to allow me a passage to a spot right in front of the cake, just behind a gaggle of four year olds, awestruck by the candles, and the Birthday Girls, one resplendent in a pink tutu just so you could tell them apart. The song was sung, candles out and then the band lit up for a few songs.

Joining them was the non tutu wearing twin, the lady of the house, who happily whipped out her flute from who knows where, and off they went, with a little set of songs that had the tiny ones in front up and prancing.

They went unnoticed at first, but then I looked down and realised that the show going on at just under three feet was the Best Show in Town. Five very little girls were in the groove, fairy arms with delicate fingers tracing cloud shapes and circles as they tippy toed about in the tiny space that they owned.

Above them we all stood smiling, cameras were out trying to capture the moment, we laughed, we watched and the songs kept coming. A couple of the photographing mums abandoned the snapping and had to get tapping, so soon the little ones had company, the floor got crowded and the moment happily dissolved as they all joined in.

I'd left my camera in the car, so no pics to accompany this little yarn, but I began the winding drive down a star roofed Wild Dog Road with a smile a mile wide.

The pic is a drawing I did of Tommy when he was about the same age, yet to evolve into the Devil Incarnate, and probably just before he fell off the fence and broke both his arms. The little wretch couldn't keep out of trouble, even then.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

This past weekend here in Australia has been the Australia Day holiday, when cars fly the flag, people get awards, honours are bestowed and others get sunburnt, or drunk, or fall over.

Happily none of the above happened to me, I just took a couple of days down the coast with the boys, cleared out to give Sue some free time as she had to work on the holiday, and getting rid of the three beasts is as good as a holiday anyway.

So I packed up the ratbags and we headed south for some waves, skating and just a bit of relaxing.

My old mate Bob has managed to carve a niche for himself and his family at a place called Apollo Bay, the view from his house you'd kill for, and the surf in the region is pretty damn special. Unfortunately, because I was catering for the kids, I had to avoid those spots that would have done my heart some good, and opted to go for the softer, easier spots that make learning a more enjoyable experience.

We had some fun surfs, the skate dude always itching to stop at the local park when we'd finished with the salty stuff, and I kept a lid on my frustrations as the swell was pumping and the number of spots going off before the sea breeze beggared description. My saving justification for missing most of it was that the crowds were beyond belief, and the three surfs I had, though in onshore conditions and less than optimum shape, were only the three of us, having a laugh.

They both got a few good ones, while I for the most part rode the finless, much to Tom's embarrassment, but I made some more progress and actually spun on one wave. Why I should find it so hard, well try forty years of muscle memory telling me you shouldn't be going backwards and you'll have an idea.

Today's shots... the view from Bob's place, Tommy exiting the water as taken by Joey, while carrying my board as he'd busted the nose off the board I'd just bought. Ouch.

And me goosing it on the finless. The guy is still alive.

This week we stare down 5 consecutive days of 40Cplus, so as half the world freezes, we melt.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Back from holidays but with no bragging rights whatsoever.

Usually when I go on my holiday up the coast I score in one way or another but this time round from a quality surf point of view I was well and truly skunked. Not that I didn't get the odd fun wave, but where usually I would score a three hour session at least every other day I was in the end dragging myself into the water just to get wet.

Well not quite as the big plus was that instead of me going feral as there were waves everywhere waiting for me, me, me the relative low quality had me spending a lot more time with my two lumps as they seemed to really get it together this trip.

Not that they were ripping or anything remotely similar, but they discovered they really enjoyed just being out there.

I never had to convince Joey, but Tom, the argumentative Hell Boy, always said... "Naaaa, skating's way harder to learn, way better to do and water is just soft compared to concrete and... and...and...."

You get the drift.

So imagine my joy when we're sitting out the back and Tom's just sitting next to me and observes.." you know Dad, it's really nice just being here isn't it?"


The Light Went On.

To the point where after watching him in dreadful onshore conditions force himself through the shore break time after time, and really work for a wave... well - I went down the local surf shop and bought him a second hand board more suited to his still diminutive stature so that he had half a chance at duck diving the thing and something that would allow a decent learning curve.

An early birthday present and one of the few times I was grateful that these days with the influx of asian boards the resale value of surfboards is the pits. For a snap I picked up a very nice little 6 footer that floats him fine, has no dings and should see him through some of the impending growth spurt.

Joey is happy with his old board thank God, and so I hope to have them with me on more trips through the year.

The joke now is they argue like there's no tomorrow over who did the best re-entry, or has the best style, or "my carve was better than yours", when the truth, as we all know from our own self reflection is that they never look as good as they feel.

For now though I'll let them enjoy the journey and try and encourage them and enjoy watching them grow in all ways as I slide relentlessly toward pathetic little splashes.

As for the rest of my time there, I ran (plodded) a fair bit, walked a lot, gazed at fishies, took photos, drove Tom to the skatepark more times than I care to mention, patched scrapes, caught up with friends and read two books.

Fortunately I didn't have to work but first day back and I've been up to my armpits and really could have had a lighter day to sort myself out.

The shots?

Tommy on the onshore day on one I snapped from a long way away as he tried to connect to the shorey. He was totally in awe as was I of a young guy out there who was absolutely going nuts, with the topper being a huge 540 air thing that ended with him landing it with the tail pointing shorewards, so he just did a shove it so that he remained in his natural stance ... but with the nose now pointing the right way. Unbelievable as he had a lot of power too. No idea who he was.

The other, a shot of two guys doing what I did a lot of.

Waiting. Hoping.

Oh yes... and I had a lot of finless surfs in the slop. Getting there very slowly but the kids begged me at times to ride my normal board as they were sick of people thinking I was a complete wood duck.