coastal offerings

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Easts Beach, Kiama
Easts Beach, Kiama

In seeking the sea for our weekend away, the best option I came up with at short notice was a beachfront cabin at Easts Beach Holiday Park, located a few kilometres south from the centre of Kiama. It suited us as our aim was R&R rather than the touristy-restaurant dining thing. And, it was a good opportunity to further our nifty thrifty October and locavore endeavours.

To this end I packed a selection of goodies on hand from our fridge into a cooler bag with a couple of bottles of wine so we could have a leisurely picnic after our dinner time Friday night arrival.

Online reconnaissance indicated an Easts Beach Holiday Park Kiosk with good offerings including coffee, which covered off our needs for early Saturday morning.

When I discovered our visit coincided with Kiama Produce Markets an exception to the R&R rule was made and after walking the beach drinking coffee and exploring rock pools, we ventured out mid Saturday morning into Kiama.

Produce Markets at Kiama Harbour
Produce Markets at Kiama Harbour

The markets are in the park around the harbour walk. A nice surprise was Mr Apples from Batlow, usually at my local Eveleigh Markets in Sydney, who upon seeing me put aside the last half dozen pears the G.O. has become very fond of, and wouldn’t accept payment.

As our last stop for the morning was to be the Kiama Fisheries co-op, we bought Lime Infused Dijon Sauce and gluten free olive & rosemary bread to accompany our planned seafood dinner, and lemon curd cupcakes for afternoon tea with the kiosk’s excellent coffee.

Foraging put us in need of brunch. The gastronomic selection of market offerings made it difficult to choose but we settled on a homemade rabbit pie for me, and 2 duck pies for the G.O. which we ate sitting on the grass under a Norfolk Pine gazing out over the harbour. Read the rest of this entry »

seeking the sea

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The G.O. and I came up with a plan to sneak off for a quiet a couple of days away. At least that’s how we thought about it until an inspirational daily quotations message “Going for guilt-free play” popped up in my In-Box.

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do. The fun is in having lots to do and not doing it.” ~ Mary Little.

That, last weekend, we only drove an hour and half south and were gone just under 48 hours doesn’t reflect how happy we were to have a change of scenery and time together.

We’ve just emerged from the worst part of our year, winter months with few public holidays or 2 day weekends for the G.O. The dry season weather meant production in full swing.

It’s a fine balance to encourage the G.O. to take a Saturday off for no other good reason than to have a break. His work waits for him, often augmented, upon his return and he never departs without exhortations of are you sure you can’t change your plans

When I utter the words I’m worried about you, they are met with why? A couple of weeks ago having not seen him between daylight and dark 6 days a week I risked expressing my concern. It may be that when I responded to his predictable why? with I need a new hobby to fill my time, the G.O. took the not-so-subtle-hint, and arranged the following Saturday off work. It may also be that his feet are still bloody sore, and he is tired.

Kiama, NSW Australia
Kiama, NSW Australia

Lack of notice and only a single day conceded gave me carte blanche to book somewhere nice. I tossed up mountains vs. beach and luckily came up with beach, given that bushfires began to rage around the Blue Mountains shortly after.

As we still haven’t fulfilled our outstanding visits and spent much time with our nearest and dearest we didn’t broadcast our excursion. It seems along with the wine and sunscreen I packed, some guilt snuck in there too.

lazy hazy crazy days of Summer

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Nambucca Heads, NSW, Australia

Sea shells along the seashore

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Shelly Beach, Nambucca Heads, NSW, Australia. Christmas evening.

it’s always ourselves we find in the sea

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Roughseas via her Everypic blog recently posted re Islay which she notes is one of the most beautiful places she’s ever visited (yes, it is worthy of the rap) and a couple of the photos intriguingly reminded me of the beaches north of Broome WA, Australia. Thinking maybe I was hallucinating and in need of a holiday, preferably back there, I consulted with the G.O. who concurred there was an interesting similarity in some of the photos and landscape.

As well as being one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited, this stretch of coast is also similar to the Islay post yet again, although we don’t have the photos, in that the northern beaches of Broome are a popular location for casual campers, and we envied a couple who were set in front of their caravan with books and cool drinks.

I commented on the Islay post “No matter how lost I am I can always find myself on a beach.” Beaches have been salve for my soul and joy for my spirit ever since I was a little kid tagging along with my Dad while he fished. At various life crossroads I’ve spent many hours walking off my troubles barefoot along the sand. I’ve wandered beaches in good times too; the day trip to Columb Point was one of those for the G.O. and me.

We’d been in Broome for a few days and done as many of the town sights as we could, so decided to go on an adventure that wasn’t strictly allowable for our hire car but we exercised our own judgment on the matter and set off with a mud map from our B&B host:

Head north out of Broome on to Broome Road, turn left onto Beagle Bay-Broome Road, turn right onto Manari Road. Follow Manari Road for about 40 or so kms.

In total the drive is about 70 kms north from Broome. We drove it in a little red Daihatsu Terios AWD. I would recommend a 4WD but all was well. All three of us returned intact, safe and in time, at least for the G.O. and I, to watch another sunset over Cable Beach while sipping glasses of wine.

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“For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it’s always ourselves we find in the sea.”
“maggie and millie and molly and may”
E.E. Cummings (American poet 1894-1962)

“Fair winds and fallowing seas”

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Late in August the G.O. and I made history. In the eight year epoch of our relationship within a twenty-plus year friendship, although a few have been planned, we’ve never managed a romantic weekend away to celebrate the anniversary of the day it became apparent our ships had the potential to dock at the same port…

…But, not too early on the Saturday morning, we set off for Port Stephens, a couple of hours drive north of Sydney, our destination The Anchorage at Corlette, located on the opposite side of the bay from Hawks Nest, so beloved by my family.

Enroute we stopped briefly at the Port Stephen’s Winery and Murray’s Brewery. The brewery began its existence at The Pub With No Beer at Taylor’s Arm, so we were interested to see its new incarnation. It’s no better than it was, so we moved on.

Arriving at Nelson Bay, we drove around to Fingal Bay, and strolled at Shoal Bay, before it was time to head to The Anchorage.

Shoal Bay

We’d been warned the hotel was slightly shabby. However, only the bathroom showed slight evidence of its age. Otherwise, The Anchorage accommodation is true to its website word:

“Nestled between rugged bushes and built in the style of a cosy fishing village, Peppers Anchorage is a boutique resort offering luxury seaside accommodation in the beautiful New South Wales region of Nelson Bay, Port Stephens. Overlooking the Anchorage Marina, Corlette Beach and the unspoilt waters of Port Stephens, allow the sea to soothe your soul with a seaside weekend escape.”

Even had the room been less than we’d expected, we would have forgiven it anything as the view rendered the lodgings more than satisfactory.

our piece of paradise for the evening

Being the time of day for a late lunch, we reconnoitred with the aim of locating the café/restaurant. Prior, I’d done the online research de rigeur to a weekend away, and we were anticipating :

“Nautical High Tea on the waterfront. The English tradition of High Tea is a wonderful way to enjoy an afternoon with good friends or family, whatever the occasion.
With stunning views of the 90-berth marina, Corlette Beach and the sparkling waters of Port Stephens beyond, enjoy High Tea in the Verandah Tea Room, Main Guest Lounge or in Merretts Restaurant. On warmer days, you are welcome to indulge in the outdoors with a table set on the deck. With a distinctive seaside ambience, unrivalled views and the attentive service of the Peppers team you’ll be assured of a delicious afternoon.
Includes Chefs selection of finely cut finger sandwiches, a range of delicate pastries and petit fours and freshly baked scones with jam and cream, plus a cup of tea or coffee.”

Sadly no. Merretts restaurant was undergoing refurbishment. A set lunch (2 courses for $35) was on offer in the conference room operating as the restaurant, but at 2.35 pm, we’d missed it by 5 minutes, not that we’d have taken it up, as diners were agonizingly confined to the “restaurant” interior with no tables set up on the terrace on a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon.

Room service and a BYO bottle of Chardonnay provided the solution.

wine and mezze with a view

The obligatory post lunch stroll entertained us, and fed day dreams of a boating lifestyle.

messing around with boats

The clear waters of the bay offer fish viewing but not angling, as within the marina it is prohibited, other than by local dolphins partaking of a late lunch also.

a distinctive seaside ambience

After quick visit to the local Salamander Bay Shopping Centre, where Woolworths and K-mart impinged on our respite from reality, we settled on our patio with cups of tea, and later glasses of wine, to appreciate the nautical view.

indulge in the outdoors

At 8pm we adjourned for dinner to the makeshift restaurant to find it also meant a makeshift menu, rather than the anticipated:

“Relax and savour the delicate flavours of the ever changing menu at Merretts Restaurant, complimented by an extensive wine list featuring local, Australian and wines from around the world. A typical three course dinner might include citrus cured salmon or Redgate farm quail followed by pot roast belly of pork served with granny smith puree, summer slaw, peanut and chilli dressing and shrimp wontons. And to complete your culinary journey an apple tasting plate of jelly, crumble ice cream, tarte tatin and delice or caramel parfait with flambéed bananas.”

The meal was more than adequate but uninspiring, so no photo’s of our repast but our choice of wine to celebrate our anniversary speaks volumes.

Barking Mad Reisling, Reilly’s Wines, Claire Valley, South Australia

“There’s no thrill in easy sailing when the skies are clear and blue, there’s no joy in merely doing things which any one can do. But there is some satisfaction that is mighty sweet to take, when you reach a destination that you thought you’d never make.” – Spirella

Note for Ship’s Log: I would like it documented for the record, my patience in this instance (not always evident), as I have been desirous of sojourning at this particular establishment for over 25 years.

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footprints in the sand

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“The things which the child loves remain in the domain of the heart until old age. The most beautiful thing in life is our souls remaining over the places where we once enjoyed ourselves”  Kahil Gibran

Hawks Nest is a small coastal town on the coast of NSW, Australia, linked over the river to the equally small town of Tea Gardens, now via a bridge, 40 years ago by ferry.

You’ll often find me in spirit at Hawks Nest. When I do a meditation journey exercise, my special places might be Main Beach or Jimmy’s Beach. If I’m daydreaming at my desk, I may be walking along the beach with my dog Bo, searching for shells or starfish in the rock pools. Hawks Nest has a long history with my family. My grandparents were farmers, and the few holidays they took with their children were to Tea Gardens & Hawks Nest. Some of my earliest memories are weekends spent at Hawks Nest with Mum & Dad, and later trailing along with Dad searching for bait pippies as he fished. Winda Woppa/Jimmy’s Beach was the location for several years of family get-togethers infamous for the amount of food and liquid refreshments consumed. I don’t get to Hawks Nest so much as I’d like these days but it’s never far from my thoughts.

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Gorgeous One, Happy Valentine’s Day

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I dream of a wider world: deserts, beaches, rivers, red dirt, rocks, trees, grass and sky. I dream of feeling the heat and the rain. I dream of smelling sunshine, damp earth and campfires. I dream of you holding my hand in these places. We’re not quite there yet but at least you’re holding my hand. ♥