Thursday, 26 April 2012

autumn wonderland

Not a yurting journey, but some excursions over the last few days warrant recording. (Scouting for a location for DoLectures Australia) On the weekend we drove up into the alpine region, Bogong via Murtleford and Bright. Stayed at a wonderful B&B in Bright, run by a woman who had travelled all over the place but decided putting roots down in Bright was a good call.

Then today we went in the other direction, through the wind, rain and cold onto the strange and fantastic French Island where we met the passionate and visionary Mark and his co-conspirator Rendy, who had not travelled far from her home in rural California before she uprooted her life and moved to French Island in Western Port Bay where she helps run the biodynamic, organic farm. Unfortunately, no photos from today ... :-(

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Poor ol' Pat

Our yurting mantra is in full swing tonight while we are cooped up in a dodgy motel room trying to fill in time before we can go to bed.

Don’t rush, don’t complain, what happens happens.

Don’t rush: we certainly weren’t rushing as we drove 80km down the highway after we decided to slowly pack up today and leave this afternoon instead of tomorrow seeing as the weather, nor surf was particularly good.

Don’t complain: as we sat in the car for more than an hour on the side of the road in the pitch black after our headlights decided to stop working, waiting for the RACV, I’m sure we all felt like complaining but none of us did.

What happens happens: Ol’ Pat’s (the car) been having a bad couple of weeks, but that’s okay, I guess, what happens happens.

No headlights = no driving at night = retreating to dodgy motel = not returning home until tomorrow = no comfy bed at home that I’ve been dreaming about all day = Mums not to unhappy because at least we get something back for paying RACV membership all these years

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Surfing, Photo Essay, Port Fairy

Port Fairy

Sunrise Beach

riding huge swell, South Beach

Bridge over the Moyne

lighthouse on Griffith Island

walking track, Griffith Island

Moonlight contemplation

Zac and Jan willing the swell to rise

a splash of colour

I don't want my photo taken

sunset over the Moyne River


I talk to lots of people who tell me they can't get any real work done at the office. Too many meetings, distractions, ad hoc and planned things go on, so it is almost impossible to get blocks of time to think. Our lives, at work and at home get cluttered. And so does our thinking. There is so much 'noise' that adds zero value to our thought lives.

One of the things I love about yurting is how there are so fewer chunks of things to do. Shop, cook and eat. Personal stuff; sleeping, showering etc. Exercise of some form. And when it comes time to work - simple, get on with it.

Today was a work day. Maria and Johanna headed off on their bikes after homework (Johanna) and photography assignment (Maria) and I was left in a vacant 'paddock' near the river, on my own with my thoughts and tasks. I wouldn't have said it was a particularly productive day (some excuse about writer's block) but in hindsight, I got a lot done. The same amount done in a day that also included commuting and other work stuff would have been judged very productive.

It reminded me again how easy to is for us to accept the way things are. Our experimenting with ways of working at Ergo (such as no-one having a permanent desk) have taught us a lot about improving productivity by eliminating clutter. The lessons can be applied in other areas of life too.

When I am yurting, if I've only got two pairs of jeans with me, the choice of what to wear doesn't take too long. There is a lot to be said for minimalism. We get a taste of it when yurting and it's liberating stuff. Have a look here for some great tips.

Anyway, last night in Port Fairy tonight, in Brunswick again tomorrow. Hope the roads are uncluttered on the way.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

5 new yurting tabs

So the weather was ugly yesterday, a good day to be indoors. Maria and I spent a good deal of the day and evening enhancing our yurting site. We wanted to do four things:

1. Make it easier to find posts from the past. The standard archive is too hard to search through.

2. Add some of the background and thinking behind our choices to spend so much time in the caravan.

3. Edit some of the intro material that reflected our expectations (which have now become reality).

4. Include our evolving thinking and dreaming about international travel.

So, for anyone who is interested, our site now is significantly improved ... any feedback welcome.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Comfortable and Cosy

The soft pitter patter of rain on the yurts roof and the whoosh of powerful wind has rhythmed our day. Slowly waking up to the sound of Dad getting up to make a trip to the toilet, then soon after, Mum doing the same. They both settle back down with their computers and the tapping of their keyboards sends me into a soft, dreamy snooze. When i feel awake enough I crawl into their bed and watch as words make neat lines across their computer screens as they type. Then I pull on a jumper and some track suits to brave the cold in desperate need of the toilet. When I get back I sit and play games on the iPad as smells of hash browns, tomato, egg and bacon wafts through my nose and makes my stomach grumble. We eat, then settle back down with computers to do work and homework.

The wind whooshes and howls and the soft shower of rain every now and again are the only sounds other than the tapping of the keyboards or the turn of a page. After I've done some homework I snuggle up on the bed and get lost in the imaginary world that the book I'm reading creates in my mind. The fan of the heater switching on and off creates a warm flow of air through the caravan keeps us all in drowsy, relaxed, comfortable mood. Mum and Dad are still working on their computers and I, about  to go back to homework decide writing a blog would be more entertaining, and just as productive. I will now return to my homework and listen the sounds of this comfortable, relaxing day.

As the bursts of sun now shine through the windows the promise of a good day is clear and bright.

This Day

good tired

Subcultures have their own slang. Surfers have a word that describes the deeply satisfying and exhilarating experience of having had a good session or having caught an exceptional wave; ‘stoked’. I wonder if such a thing as a ‘group stoke’ exits – if it does then Zac, Jan, Johanna and I had one today.

Zac and Jan decided that being their last day in Port Fairy they wanted two surfs. So after a breakfast of croissants and hot cross buns still warm from the oven, fresh fruit and easter eggs, we walked over to East Beach. It was nearly 1 o’clock when we collapsed back at the yurt for lunch. After a couple of hours rest we went back again.

We paddled until our arms completely gave up. Perhaps we’ve never caught as many waves in a single day. The offshore winds served up clean face after clean face, and we gorged ourselves on near empty waves. And now, after warm showers and takeaway Chinese for dinner, Zac and Jan on their way back to Melbourne, the 3 of us left are in relative silence in the yurt. Quiet music, the tapping on the keyboards, and occasionally the fan heater kicks in. Johanna is curled up on the bed reading, Maria is putting some photos on a blog (see next post), and me, having done a bit of work correspondence, am also capturing the day in words.

My shoulders and back are sore, but good sore. My whole body is weary, but good weary. Stoked is a good word, and even though it’s surfing slang, it’s too good a word not to use more broadly, as it often is. It’s not about the surfing, it’s about that deep contented exhilaration that comes when you’ve extended yourself and done well. It’s that feeling that you haven’t ‘spent time’, you’ve actually lived. And it can take many forms … today it just happens to have been riding waves.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

That beep beep beeping wind, part 2

Lesson number 1, if wind gusts around 80km are forecast don’t try and set up the tent. It is not made to withstand such conditions.

Lesson number 2, if aforementioned winds are forecast wind up the awning, a ragged rip testament to the power of the wind. (thank goodness for insurance)

I don’t think we have experienced such fierce and sustained winds as we have in the last 24 hours. At some point in the night they abated. Wind weary campers are slowly emerging this morning, inspecting any damage, and tightening/adjusting pegs and guy ropes.

Zac and Jan spent the night in the back of Zac’s station wagon, just as well, the tent is looking worse for wear this morning. We would have taken it down if we could have.

 Despite the wind, it was a unanimous decision to surf yesterday afternoon anyway. (so I am told, the wind direction was good for surfing, all be it a ‘tad’ too strong) Colin drove the couple of hundred metres to the beach with the boards in the car (too windy to carry them) while we walked. The wind would blast the face of the waves as they formed, sending spray in all directions. Johanna said it was like having sand sting your face. She gave up after a while, mostly due to the seaweed curling around her legs. The others managed to catch enough waves to make it worth the effort (mind you they don’t need much for that to happen!)

While Johanna and I watched from the beach a storm front rolled in and the grey skies opened up. We made a hasty retreat to the car struggling to manage a wind blown surf board. I had to help a bloke put his board on the roof of his car, there was no way he could do it on his own. (he is the guy surfing in the photo above) Johanna and I had a giggle watching Colin struggle up the beach path with his long board. He wavered and lurched his way up. We left all the boards sandy and un-rinsed in the car overnight, far too windy to try and get them out, rinsed and in their bags.

At least we were warm, dry and out of the wind in our van. It lurched, bumped, thudded and groaned through the evening. It took some courage to walk up to the toilet block and some effort to run in a straight line. Our neighbours disappeared for the night, they have just returned to their tent this morning. Colin is outside fiddling with the awning, he just figured out why it ripped, not much consolation but knowledge for the future.

Think it will be a slow and quiet start to the day….

The Bloody Wind

Today has been somewhat trying!  The wind, that which we think of as foe, made its presence felt this morning. The forecast was for even windier conditions in the afternoon so we decided to bite the bullet and put up the tent ready for when the kids arrive. To say it was a test of our strength, patience and marital harmony is an understatement. The wind whipped the tent and made it difficult to keep on the ground, the poles kept popping out and Pat had a nasty confrontation with one and is now sporting a scratch on his door. There were a few muttered swear words and a distinct “I despise this tent”. We both had ideas of the best way to get the dratted thing up and neither of us had enough arms and hands to hold everything down.

Eventually the job was done but one of the guy ropes tore and there was also a small rip in the top of the fly. Needle and thread attached the wayward guy rope and red sticky tape patched the hole. Would it hold? The answer of course is no. The guy rope tore in another place (not the bit I stitched up I hasten to add) and the gusts of wind blew the tent to a 45 degree angle. It strained already taut and fragile poles, ropes and material.

32 degrees suddenly became 22 and the wind whipped from North to South West. The tent looked kind of funny and we realized the back had collapsed – another guy rope broken.

Then part of a pole threatened to pop another hole in the fly. The red tape came out again, unfortunately the attempt to prevent damage actually resulted in a big rip.

At this point we gave up, wrote the tent off as a lost cause and began to think of possible alternatives – just how many can we squeeze into the van, where and how? Maybe Zac and Jan can sleep in the car?

As I write the tent is still standing, well blowing in the wind. The shower of rain doesn’t seem to have made the inside wet. If the wind dies down later we could put a tarp over the tent to keep the forecast showers out. It may not be a total lost cause after all. It might have one last hurray left in it.

Oh and besides our stuff blowing all over the place (not sure If I lost stuff off the clothes line, hopefully the stuff I picked up off the ground was all there was) Colin sat down in his chair to take a well earned rest and it split – so that’s the end of that.

Despite the dramas of the day we have maintained a sense of humor and not even the bloody wind has completely dampened the sense of adventure and fun that is yurting. And with Zac, Jan and Johanna's arrival imminent what more could we ask. (except for Heidi and Rachel to be here of course)

driving a dream

Philip and Nadja sold everything, bought a motorhome and set off from Geneva with their children Lena and Tom 18 months ago. Philip told us that the kids were reluctant for a long excursion, but had agreed to 1 year. At 12 months in, they were ‘converted’ and the foursome kept driving. Iran, India, Cambodia …. They expect to be in Australia for about 8 months. They went to Tassie for 3 weeks and stayed for 6. From here they set sail for Chile. The maps painted on their camper hint at the story.

We love meeting people who have made courageous lifestyle decisions. Talking with them re-inspires us. While we have some significant travel plans on the drawing board for the future, we have never really thought about extending the yurting concept beyond Australia. Maybe … hmmmm.

If you enjoy travel adventure like we do, you will appreciate their blog;

Thursday, 5 April 2012

just 'cruisin'

The last few days have been characterized by a slow, gentle rhythm of an early morning walk, work after breakfast, riding and surfing in the afternoons. We have felt the adrenalin seep from our bodies and long sleeps and slow days take its place – peaceful, quiet, pleasant days of unhurriedness.

This morning we took ourselves to a local café and set ourselves up in a corner, lounge and coffee table our ‘office’. Colin worked and I made progress on an assignment. The hours slipped away in peaceful and productive work. We stayed and shared lunch – barramundi on a beetroot, feta and orange salad.

The caravan park is slowly beginning to fill til the peak Thursday/Friday when it will be full. It has been great to experience the quietness of the pre Easter rush, the peacefulness is being replaced by vehicles towing vans, conversations about the best way to set up and the clanging of tent pegs.

Our new neighbours are into county and western music so we are getting an earful of that, at least it is kind of laid back and slow. It is a strange thing to live in such close proximity to others, there is no real privacy and there are unwritten rules governing behaviour – site boundary lines to be observed, levels of noise tolerated and acceptable hours for such noise, common greetings, usual introductory questions; there is a fine line between friendliness and overfriendliness!

As the park fills, the activity and noise increases but so to do the energy levels. It will morph into a busy, bustling and happening place, everyone intent on making the most of an extended weekend at the beach. And we look forward to some of our kids coming down and joining the throng. When they arrive the music from our site will give Kenny Rogers a run for his money!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

all sorts, common pleasure

Over the road and along a few spots from us is a family who look like they're on a long excursion. I will be looking for a chance to say hi so I can find out for sure, but my guess is they're from somewhere in Western Europe. Their camper has European plates and has maps of 20+ countries painted on it. I wonder if they are on a multi-year trek around the globe in their own vehicle ... fascinating.

Next to us is a couple with a teenage son. They arrived this afternoon, unhitched and the 'boys' donned their wetties and headed for the surf leaving mum to unpack. I saw them in the waves, they were loving the experience of doing something together ... blokes need activity to bond.

A couple of nights ago we talked to a couple on a Harley, towing a little camper trailer. They had been to the Ulysses Motorcycle club AGM up in Mildura and were taking the scenic route home. Real characters.

I'm sitting here about to do some more work before dinner. I've made up the Moroccan meatballs so they can sit and get flavoured up before I grill them.

Maria is out on her bike, camera pack on her back, taking photos in the soft afternoon light.

After a short but good surf, a shower, an ale, and the Waifs singing a Paul Kelly cover in the background, I'm feeling OK about life. I look out the window and see our diverse and interesting neighbours also looking pretty chilled in the late afternoon sun. Nice.

Monday, 2 April 2012

3 years of joy

Early morning walk.

Cooked breakfast: mushies, tomato, exotic sausages …

Meander around town on our bikes.

Score the prime seat at prime café with a dozen mini buses of cyclists sipping lattes and white wine after their competition ride finishes in town.

I surf and Maria wanders along the gorgeous main beach with camera in hand.

Left over rice turned into fried rice for a late lunch.

Lay around on a blanket in the afternoon sun. Talk.

Shop for dinner.

Drive to South Beach where Maria savours the setting sun through her lens. I stand on Pat and she snaps that too.

Back home to try an adaption of Jamie’s Moorish pork chops: stuffed with raisins, oregano and stuff on a bed of butter beans, capsicum, bacon and spinach. Wonderful meal.

Talk to Rachel and Johanna.

Its 8 o’clock and it feels like bedtime after such a busy! Sunday.

Its three years since we first slept in our caravan. Then it was a rainy, windy weekend at Inverlock. So many nights all over Victoria and NSW since. Some decisions just keep on rewarding you.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Come on Pat!

It is strange how easily we slip from one kind of living to another – urban to coastal, fast to slow…. The rhythms are familiar, the transition seamless, leaving one home to enter another, a soulful sigh as we anticipate another yurting adventure.

Within 24 hours of picking up the van we were leaving Melbourne, a busy packing and organizing feat left behind. But first an earlya morning run to the airport so Johanna could catch her flight to Tassie – a long awaited holiday with her beloved Grandma. She will join us in a week. And so it is that Colin and I set off alone for Port Fairy, some 4 hours away. It takes us a lot longer than that with a fair bit of stress along the way. Not far over the Westgate bridge we realise Pat (the Patrol) is not doing so well. The speedometer and another ‘ometer’ are wavering crazily, Pat splutters and stutters whenever we are in low gear, accelerate, or go up an incline. We are not sure if we will make it. We decide to push on and hope for the best, worst case scenario we break down and call the RACV. Colin worries all the way that we will break down somewhere a long way from help or in a place that will be difficult to stop safely, towing a van. It is not the beginning we had imagined!

The sense of relief as we puttered into Port Fairy was palpable. Thank goodness most of the way was flat driving and Pat ambled along at 80km somewhat happily. The worry was stopping and starting, hills and needing to accelerate! A visit to the local garage will be first on the agenda Monday morning, fingers crossed it can be fixed before we need to leave and without breaking the budget. Our yurting Mantra was sorely put to the test today – ‘what happens, happens’

We have checked out the beach, wandered the main street and oriented ourselves a little. Luckily we brought the bikes and everything we need will be in riding distance so it will not be disastrous to be without a car.

A windy and cold day on arrival has turned to calm with the promise of some sun today. Colin has finished pottering with the awning (too windy to put up safely yesterday) and the bikes beckon. Almost ten hours of sleep, a walk on the beach this morning, a cooked breakfast and now the promise of a slow and relaxing day are chasing away the worries of yesterday.