Thursday, March 09, 2017

Australia Friend or Foe

This story is one for the parents out there who face the marvellous glories and the challenging trials of having children.  This story is about the ups and the downs of embarking on a trip of a lifetime.

(Hanging out at Prevelly, Margret River right before a quick dip)

Stalking Kangaroos, chasing parrots, first ever ice cream at Cottesloe, fish n chips at sunset, kiting in Augusta & Lancelin, swimming in Fremantle and Margret River, watching wild dolphins play.  Road trippin' through Western Oz with just myself and my son who is now 15 months old was an incredible and complete 3 week adventure that we have just returned from 1 week ago.

(Hanging at Safety Bay)

The idea of travelling alone with my son somewhere so far from home felt like something so overwhelmingly great that I had a tattoo lined up in my mind to mark the achievement of this momentus trip, but Im going to tell you from the outset that there will be no such tattoo, just words emblazoned on the inner eyelids shouting NAIVE!!!!!...  

The reason for our trip was to go to the infamous Western Oz to check it all our and figure out a brand new kitesurfing coaching holiday to hit Jo Wilson Coaching for 2018.  We wanted to experience  Woodies, Safety Bay, Australind, Yallingup, Margret River, Augusta & Lancelin first hand. We wanted to meet the locals, visit the beaches, coffee shops, restaurants, winery's, breweries, parks & accommodations.  With Finn under the age of 2 and still able to travel for free I did not want to miss the opportunity of scoping out the Western Oz Kitesurfing Experience.  Clearly travelling with just Finn I would not be able to do too much actual kitesurfing, but that did not stop me from taking my ideal set up of 2017 North Dice, Hadlow Bar, 133cm North Jamie & my old faithful Ronix Bindings!!  (Brilliantly you can blag this as Finn's high chair & 'stuff' with the airline and that does not even get questioned!)

(Thats me in the background Kiting Augusta - this one kite alone made the whole trip worthwhile)

Travelling through Westerm Oz, was not quite the dream trip that I had imagined!!  We did all those things above, so on paper the trip was as brilliant as it could be, but the reality was quite different!

Initially I had been dreading the 19 hour flight...   this bit was not that bad at all.  Lots of children sharing books, toys and food and many parents agonising over the difficulties of getting their child to sleep in an over stimulating environment was a shared experience.  Although travelling alone, I was far from alone!  One glimpse over to another mummy sat a couple of seats away was reassuring enough to know that the good times and giggles were shared along with the tears and tantrums!  The flight was the easy bit.  Over coming jet lag was easy to!  I had planned 3 days of small adventures, so that we could have some fun, but get with the time zone!   Flight & Jet Lagg complete with no drama, epic!!

(stunning beaches everywhere)

The 4th day - the day where I thought we'd break in to the land of Australia and its time zone is when we took our nose dive!!!  Poor little Finn caught a bug!!  His temperature was through the roof and I will save you the gory details of vomit at the worst time in the worst places, tears, lack of sleep etc etc.  He was as poorly as he has ever been with me and I was 9,000 miles from home!  The time zone made me feel even more alone and despite my best efforts to be a strong, independent, capable mum I  had to call home 3 times in the middle of the night and multiple times at 6am (viable calling time in my mind)...   Im sure my husband was doubly thanking me for 1. leaving him in the midst of the UK winter for sunnier climes & 2.  Calling him at 4am in a floods of tears!  

As all mums know there is not a lot you can do for your poorly child other then wait it out!!  6 days later, Finn started to become himself once again!!  Halleluhlah....    or as it turns out not so halleluhlah!! The following day it was my turn to be hit by the virus!  For the next 6 days it was my turn for my bones to ache, feel too weak to function, struggle to sleep, freeze to the bone despite the 28 sunny degrees out side!  I seriously have a new respect for mum's!!

(Crisis Time)

In 2008 I took part in a documentary series called Dangerous Jobs for Girls.  (Funny that this is also an Australia story - the only other time I have been to Oz).  Alongside 2 other girls we had to train with a crew to be able to run a commercial trawler boat for 24 hours.  Training took 3 days on various boats tossing tonnes of feed in to salmon farms, bobbing in the ocean collecting crayfish pots & fishing for calamari.  We then went on the trawler boat for an initial test to see how it felt (code for getting us sea sick).  After all that we then spent 8 days on the southern ocean far from land rotating jobs between emptying nets, gutting fish, icing the catch and taking watch on deck at night.  We wore the appropriate protective clothing and were not spared from any of the hard graft.

(finishing up from 1 of 42 catches)

To give you an idea of the workload...    There was no day or night...   just 42 x 4 hour long fishing periods.  Every 4 hours around the clock we had to pull in a very large net, off load the fish, throw the net back out again then gut, sort and ice each catch before the next net was due to come in.  We did this 42 times over 8 days and in total we caught 22 tonnes of fish.  For the TV show the girls had to do the role of the crew without their help for the final 24 hours.  Spines from fish in our feet, blisters on the end of our fingers and the bruises from dropping heavy equipment out of weariness took its toll!  It was the hardest thing I have ever done and never got more then 90 minutes of sleep in any one period of time in well over a week.

(2am on the job)

The show was called Dangerous jobs for girls and for anyone who wants to look it up its a 4 part series for which I took part in the trawler fishing episode.  The significance of this trip is quite something for me.  Whenever I feel as though Im having a tough time I remember back to this trip and remind myself that if I can do that then I can do anything...  But entering the world of being a mum in Western Oz put this to the test for the first time.

(My very own Kuala, post kite cuddle)

While in Oz there were some crucial friends from years past that popped up at just the right time.  I met up with Mel who run a kite centre in Egypt many years ago while I visited with my sister, I spent several days with Russ and Carrie who now live near Margs.  I basically learned to kite with them when at university.  They were total saviours and took care of us at our most difficult stage. We then met up with Nick, a client who completely crosses the line in to friendship just at the end of my illness!  Without these people on our trip Im not sure what we would have done.

(Nick in shred town)

Fortunately for both Finn and I there is so much stimulating things to see and do that as long as we could get in the car we could find something that required little effort to perk our day up and get us through!  

(Getting barrelled at Yallingup)

We made our journey from Lancelin to Augusta and I was able to kite 3 times!  Finn swam with new mini friends, climbed at many parks and chased birds all unusual to us, so together we bumbled our way through, but I will say that I am so happy to be back with Chris, at home following our usual routine and looking forward to our next big adventure to Morocco together as a complete family!!

(Heading out at Lancelin)

For now I think I will hold off getting the tattoo and continue marrying our way through the trials of parenting!  To all you mums and dads out there!! You are amazing!! You are achieving far more each day then those who visually look like they are achieving great things.  Being a mum (or dad) is far more testing then being a participant on the Kitesurfing World Tour!!

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