Monday, 16 July 2012

switching modes

The long drive south was therapeutic ...

After pulling away from Clark's Beach late Wednesday, we decide to stop at Grafton for the night. With left over gyoza filling from our Japanese cook up, Maria had grabbed some casings before we left Byron so we enjoyed extending the Japanese theme an extra night. From Grafton to Goulburn on Thursday, and the windscreen wipers only got turned off as we neared Sydney ... a wet and dreary drive. But the boring road between Sydney and Melbourne offers lots of space for thinking and talking. And with some adventures and decisions ahead of us over the next 6 months we had lots to do.

So now I'm sitting at my little desk in the corner of the bedroom back in Brunswick contemplating the work week ahead. Its been a good weekend to prepare to switch modes. A lap swim in the chilly morning air, croissants from the Abruzzo Bakery out our bake gate, an expresso made on my machine, and I know its Sunday morning. Ferrying Heidi to parties and babysitting jobs, Rachel to work and friends' houses, and I know I'm home.

I have a nervous energy about the next six months. Three of our children use their passports for the first time; Rachel to Fiji in late August to do volunteer work for 3 months, Zac to China and Hong Kong with Jan in late November, and Johanna with Maria and I to the Middle East in September. Heidi is contemplating another south east Asian adventure in January ... scattering with adventurous intent.

... and circumstances around our little business mean that things will change significantly. How we don't know, but the ending of some long term contracts has offered us opportunities to reshape that hadn't been planned for. Adventurous intent.

Every day is a gift. We anticipate many more yurting excursions, but if we've had our last, we are thankful. We know that what matters most is inner peace and joy - the external realities of life in and of themselves don't offer satisfaction. The challenge as our little mob faces the circumstances and opportunities of the next 6 months will not be to manipulate or control the circumstances, but to cultivate the inner condition that enables our spirits to thrive.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

the best Japanese in Byron Bay

The best place to eat Japanese in Byron Bay last night was under our tarp. In a little annual ritual, we stretch our culinary muscles and take on a cooking challenge with friends, once some regulars start to disappear back home.

This year, following on from our Moroccan curry theme last year, Jules suggested we should give Japanese a whirl. Big call we reckoned given some of the limitations of caravan kitchens, but we grabbed it with both hands a great night followed. Gyoza varieties included pork and prawn, then tempura, salmon, fried rice, teriyaki chicken, sweet and savoury nibblies and some home made cherry liqueur all contributed to a veritable feast.

Lots of laughs, happy days.

Melbourne looked pretty dreary as I came in this morning, but looking forward to a productive workshop this afternoon before I head back to Byron Bay briefly.  My reading on the way home will include a couple from a series I recently latched onto called School of Life: How to Change the World, and How to Find Meaningful Work, as well as the Annual Report from PNGSDP which I helped edit.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


Mum recently wrote a blog about the absence of my contribution to the blogs this Byron Bay trip away, this is not because I do not want to record and express our experiences and our journey, but more the fact that I like to be inspired before I write about something, this trip has been a more, in the moment experiences, and it seems wrong to try and express them in words hours later. But I wanted to recap on one day that I would consider my favourite so far, because the memory is still fresh in my mind, and the words are already starting to burst from my fingertips onto the keyboard, and into the computer.

Two days ago, on Zac and Jan’s last day, the sun was out, sand was soft, and life was good. While Zac and Dad took their boards straight out the front, Jan and I decided to walk around to about halfway to the pass. The waves were small, clean and peeling smoothly from the glassy water’s surface, nice. We splashed in and prepared ourselves for the incoming waves. The feeling you get when you see a perfect wave forming in the distance and slowly rolling towards you is one that is unique, a mixture of excitement, and hope that you will get on it and have a good ride. As I saw the first one coming towards me I paddled, was up and riding along before I knew it, gliding over a smooth, transparent green ribbon, with foaming white broken water in a thick trail behind me. The feeling of riding a good wave could be described as something almost like flying, you feel weightless, gliding over smooth water, blue beneath you, and a clear sky, blue above you. Then the wave brakes in a crash and you dive off, the water engulfs you and you quickly reflect on the ride you just had, and either think, “that was friggin awesome!” or “mmm, not so good” or you punch the water and groan a “Bummer, bad ride”. This first wave of mine was a “that was friggin awesome” with two exclamation marks, it was a small ride, but my first good one all this trip, and it gave me that feeling where you remember something incredible.

The rest of the afternoon was spent catching wave after wave, laughing and talking with Jan and exchanging, “Good wave” or “Bummer, didn’t quite get on that one”.  After what could have been an hour, or more, maybe less, it’s hard to know when you’re surfing, it’s like a period of timelessness. We decided to go and see how Zac and Dad were going and paddled over to where they were. After I caught one wave where they were and went straight over the top of a large pile of rocks, only remembering then that they were there, I was renewed with a strange fear of smashing into them and cutting / braking some part of me, I ditched the surfboard on the beach and rejoined the others in the water to body surf. It ended up that we had been in the water for three to three and a half hours, the end part of which was done in a light rain, making it all the more fun.

After we had all come back, showered and eaten lunch, we headed up to the Gold Coast, an hour north from Byron Bay, to drop Zan and Jan off where they would stay the night then fly out early the next morning. The drive was a rewind, listen to music and regain energy time. After we arrived, Zan and Jan checked into their hotel and we separated, Mum, Dad and I heading off for a walk on the beach. After we had surveyed the differences of the beach from out last visit and a short walk we came up and wandered around in various streets where Dad collected a hamburger which he considered ‘entre’. We decided to go for a Thai dinner in which on the way there, found ourselves in a colourful night market.

At dinner we sat at a bar sort of seats at the front of the restaurant where we could look out onto the street and watch passers by. For dinner I had a sweet and sour stir-fry  which I thoroughly enjoyed. The drive back to Byron Bay was one of those, almost asleep but awake enough to know what’s going on, journeys. We stopped to get some groceries, and some nice ice cream and then came back home, did our usual evening stuff and then went to bed. Good day.

Monday, 9 July 2012

The missing bit

Colin is working and Johanna is doing homework, so I find myself with some free head space.

Two things have changed this time away – Johanna will no longer let me take photos of her (boo hoo) and she has not wanted to write any blogs. Colin and I have embraced it as something of a discipline and Johanna, this time, has not felt like writing, which is OK but..... I have been thinking about our blog site and how the absence of her ‘voice’ makes a difference. The three of us usually write fairly consistently, with our other children occasionally adding a post or two. We each have a different style and write about different things. Our intention is to record our journey, to tell a story, to put words and pictures to our experiences and to have something tangible to look back on. It is memory recorded.

Our writing reflects our personalities and roles to some degree. Colin likes to think and reflect, it is a means of processing his thinking and experiencing. I tend to focus on the what and where. We want to have a record of our journey and when no-one else wants to blog, or wants to record the what and where, it falls to me. Johanna does both these things from her own perspective and I have missed her contribution. There is something missing from the story this time, it does not feel complete. There are three years of recorded observation, perspective, story and feeling, capturing the world of a ten year old through to an adolescent.

I am hoping this is just a hiccup, not the end of something that is so precious. Johanna loves to write, would one day like to be a writer….so there is hope that her voice is not lost, just absent for a bit.

Last Days

With the departure of Rachel and Nic on Friday and Zac and Jan on Saturday we are back to three. It is always sad when the kid’s leave, we miss having them around.

It is strange that wherever we are we tend to develop rituals, ways of doing and being. Now that we are three again we have returned the caravan to its ‘three people set up’, with our stuff in particular places inside and out. Yesterday was spent washing and drying, clothes, towels and wet suits. Luckily there was sun until the late afternoon. We packed away stuff that will not be used now the kids are gone. Colin and Johanna surfed out the front enjoying the slow rolling waves. We walked along the beach and sat on the deck, soaking up the warmth of the sun while it was out.

Late afternoon we headed over to Brunswick Heads, always dear to us. We walked again on the jetty and were treated to a beautiful rainbow,

we stood and watched the waves roll onto the long stretch of sandy beach

and I watched the sun set

as Colin and Johanna headed back to the local pub with friends from here to catch some live music and soak in the ambience that is Brunswick Heads.

We are into our last days now, another sojourn coming to an end.

Sunday, 8 July 2012

the ease seeps in

It’s been a really good couple of days. Hard to put my finger on why but feeling more of the Byron Bay ease.

Funnily, a work trip to Sydney yesterday helped. A short workshop in the morning using a great tool called the Business Model Canvas, then a stimulating session with my mate Trevor Thomas wrestling with an approach to strategic planning that is relevant for organisations where the team will ‘die in the trenches’ for the cause – traditional vision and gap analysis often seems to do violence in these contexts.

Home to Byron Bay in the torrential rain where a large and noisy group of friends where having dinner at Earth ‘n Sea. Great night, and made better by the football result.

Today was Zac and Jan’s last day, after Rachel and Nick returned to Melbourne yesterday. They and Johanna had a 3 hour+ session in the water with lots of rides and lots of fun … I also had a good time catching waves out front of the deck … as the wind died the breaks became beautifully smooth. All tired and satisfied.

We drove them up to Surfers paradise this afternoon where they will stay the night before catching a rude o'clock flight back to Melbourne. We wandered up the beach for a while and then along the streets where we stumbled onto a night market and then thanks to Urban Spoon found a wonderful little Thai restaurant to fill our bellies for the night drive back to the warm and cosy yurt.

On the plane home yesterday I read the latest Monocle. It’s a ripper; the theme is quality of life in cities. The read left me feeling inspired and refreshed … there is something about the mix of global affairs, business, culture and design that touches something deep within me. Pretty big call for a magazine eh?

One more weekend day before work focus begins to waft in …

Friday, 6 July 2012

happy sounds, crappy waves

As per Maria's recent post, our time in Byron Bay this year hasn't had the same sense of blissful peace that normally accompanies being here. But its all relative; having the opportunity to process and work from here is a privilege we don't take for granted. Every morning as I sneak out of the caravan, don the beanie and make my way to the 'office', the solitude of the table overlooking the beach while I wait for the Cafe to open, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Our worries, in the scheme of things are trivial, trivial. I know I'm in good shape when the thing most worthy of complaint today was the crappy little waves we've had over the last few days (see below).

Most of the morning I was working and/or on the phone, but this afternoon I switched modes and made the most of the sun and water. I love the sounds of happy voices, and there were lots today ... the screams of delight from the girls as they splash around in the surf, the dinner time (Kasbah chicken curry tonight) banter and fooling around ... and now the laughs that go with poker - M&Ms providing the betting fodder ...  soothing noises.

... and as my mind bounces between the happy chatter in the yurt and the business dexterity needed to keep all the balls in the air, my mate Gav reminds me of our yurting mantra ... "don't rush, don't complain, what happens happens."

Tomorrow I'm commuting to Sydney, the alarm going off at 3:30am will be an unhappy sound!

It use to be Cool

Last night we donned our ‘it use to be cool’ clothes and joined with friends to eat, drink and watch the sun go down. Between us there had been numerous visits to op-shops and reaching to the very back and forgotten recesses of wardrobes – needless to say there were some beauties.

This was followed by State of Origin, obligatory watching up here. Watching blokes smash into each other wasn’t compelling enough to see me beyond half time, although Colin says it was a close and exciting match.

Today, I sat near Main beach watching Rachel and Nic get smashed by the waves on their boogey boards. It looked like 90% getting smashed and 10% getting awesome rides. Johanna ran and somersaulted behind me practicing hand- springs and the sounds of a didgeridoo drifted up the beach – it felt like Byron Bay. (on a side note, on my wanderings to take photos at sunset I have seen people surfing, swimming, running, walking, riding bikes, hauling canoes, doing yoga, meditating and a bloke doing a nudie run to commune with nature in the bracing waves – I made sure to have my camera facing away from him!)

This afternoon I laid myself out on the bench seat on the deck in the sun and watched the clouds float by and when the tribe headed back out for one final surf/boogey board/swim I tagged along to take some photos and watch another day draw to an end.




Rachel and Nic

One thing that is always cool is the sunsets.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

A challenge or two

This year at Byron Bay it has been a challenge to remain present and in the moment.

Colin has had a lot more work to do, which of itself would generally not pose too much of a challenge, he seems able to transition from one space to another fairly easily.

It has been other things which have crowded in and consumed our thoughts and emotions. Heidi caught a bad dose of the flu and had to get a friend to take her to the doctor. It was hard to be up here when she was so miserable down there. (I sussed out flights back, just in case, but she got through it)

We had some expected, but the none the less, sobering news on the business front. The next few months will offer some challenges. Colin, ‘the cup is half full’, is viewing it as an ‘opportunity’ to rethink and reshape.

Also on the work front, once we return from Byron, an already jam packed next 7 weeks for Colin continues to get busier. He is at the point of allocating evenings and weekends to cover the work he needs to complete before we head overseas in September. And still the work load increases.

Challenges all round that clamor for thought and attention, time and energy taken from the here and now to manage the soon to come. This is a learning curve we are muddling our way through. It feels distracting and disorienting at the moment. They are, however, challenges that have arisen from choices we have made – combining a small business with our yurting aspirations. It is not always smooth sailing!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

The Pass

Blue sunny skies but small waves. Never mind, we spent a lot of time at The Pass today.

Jan, Rachel and Johanna all go for the same wave,

Zac and Nic,

Colin and Zac trying to catch the wave, along with the rest of them!

Trying to get warm - Johanna on top of the car and the others leaning against the sun warmed metal,

Another surf later in the day.... And then the sun sets

Monday, 2 July 2012

Highlights of today

Breakfast - where Colin outdoes himself

Byron Bay market – where Johanna bought a birthday present for a friend and her usual organic doughnut (I think they still remain in the unhealthy category though!) Colin and I purchased our usual honey, peanut and lime dip and fudge, but dipped out on the coffee beans (sold out)

No photos here

Beach – where Johanna and her friends had a lot of fun, Colin caught some waves (well attempted to do so) and I took some more photos.

And best of all tomorrow Zac, Jan, Rachel and Nic arrive for a few days, sadly leaving Heidi home to recover from the flu, look after the animals, work and attend a 21st

Sunday, 1 July 2012

now I remember

True to the forecast, mid afternoon yesterday the rain stopped, and before you could say ‘where’s the sunscreen?’, the sky was blue. We felt sorry for the many people who had to pack up and leave today, but on the plus side, in the changing of the guard, more of our friends arrived today – perfect timing. The swell dropped, and by afternoon the wind had gone and the view from the deck was dominated by glassy banks, dotted with board riders and the famous Byron Bay sun set against clean mountains across the bay.

The last few days have been OK, but as I stood alone on the deck and surveyed what lay before me, my soul sighed as I remembered why we come here. This is a special place.

Yes, the people are an important piece of that; what a wonderful mob it is that gathers here in the winter. But there is also something about the place … it invites you to consider what really matters. Yeah, its kinda rainbow-y and all that, and that’s part of it, but there is a reason that people who are creative, alternative and peace loving congregate here east of everything. The walk to the lighthouse on the most easterly tip of Australia is more than leisure, its almost pilgrimage.

Tomorrow is market day. It has become a happy ritual to wander through town and soak in the colours, smells, ambiance, and maybe grab a coffee and sit in the grass while Juzzie does his one man band thing.

Check out some of Maria’s shots from this afternoon;