Step #1 – Reassessment

DSCN1359From Everest Base Camp to the south west of Western Australia. Three months, family dramas, a dose of redundancy and a reality check later and I think I’ve begun to understand the luxury of being able to do what I wanted to do and the pleasure of being able to enjoy every day.

Today I’ve driven to the mouth of the Margaret River and watched the waves pounding the rocks as the river surged outwards into the Indian Ocean, I’ve bought a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc from a boutique winery, I’ve eaten a lunch of mushroom risotto on the balcony of another winery surrounded by the lush greenery that is the south west of this state and now I’m heading off to buy venison sausages.

Is this life not a luxury?

Tomorrow I’ll be on my way back home having had a relaxing and thought provoking few days.

Life, as is its wont, is not prepared to let us rest on our laurels for too long and insists on throwing the odd curve ball our way. When this happens we tend to react instinctively, often retreating into ourselves and possibly making rash decisions. What I’ve learned that we need to do though is to stop, to gather our thoughts and to assess how best to move forward, not to rush in where those proverbial angels fear to tread.

A few days, a few weeks, however long it takes.

Only a matter of weeks ago I was existing on a diet of carbs – pizza, pasta and potatoes, I was pushing myself physically and mentally to achieve my goal and I was walking in the shadow of some of the highest mountains on the planet.

After an amazing and momentous experience life then decided to slap me in the face and I was brought crashing down to earth, reality hit me in all its forms.

These few days away has seen a regrouping, a reassessment of my life. Sometimes what we think we want, what we believe we need, is in reality just a pipe dream. Yes, our fantasy life is appealing but is it what we really want or need?

We all have dreams of what we would like our life to be but if we had all that we wanted, would we be happy? Generally, I think not. Life is not about getting all that we want, life is about making sure that there is always something that we are aiming for.

Our future goals are what make our life worthwhile.

Braving the Blue Tongue.

It’s interesting to see how my decision to travel to Nepal next May and trek to Everest Base Camp has exposed me to so many new experiences.

Having to train for this trip has forced me out of the comfort of home and opened up the world of flora and fauna to me. I’ve always enjoyed trips to the country, I used to love camping when the family was young but I’ve never been one to get overly close to nature, particularly when it involves things with scales and sharp teeth. Lately though I’ve become so much more adventurous and I’m taking bigger steps outside my comfort zone.

On my hike around Bells Rapids a couple of weeks ago I came across a veritable menagerie of wildlife. Driving in on the approach road I had to slow down to avoid three turkeys strolling across the road, oblivious to the danger from the oncoming car and the Christmas season. Seconds later and a rabbit shot across in front of me while a couple of kangaroos bounded across the track half way through the hike. No partridge in a pear tree though.

None of those guys hung around for me to take a photo but this little fellow wasn’t quick enough and we managed to get a closer look. I will point out that you should never handle a snake – no matter how small – unless you know what you’re doing. I don’t, so I left it to my training partner while I played the role of photographer from a distance.

This last weekend though was one of my braver moments when we came across a couple of Blue Tongued Lizards sunning themselves on the track. They kindly obliged and allowed us to get a closer look.

Now I should point out that all things categorised as creepy or crawley generally have me in avoidance mode, but my spirit of adventure must be kicking in because I was coaxed into making this guy’s acquantance.

The Blue Tongued Lizard is generally friendly and slow moving so I figured I shouldn’t be in too much trouble. They are often found in backyards in the more bushy areas and quickly become used to humans, you generally have no trouble getting close to them but again, don’t pick them up if you don’t know how.

Posing for the camera and looking suitably viscious

They have a big head and long body with short legs and small feet. Their unique feature is their bright blue tongue and though I’ve seen quite a few lizards over the years I’ve never actually spotted their blue tongue.

And there’s that blue tongue

If you get your finger anywhere near this guy’s mouth he will latch on and it will hurt but his main defence when under threat is bluff. He’ll hiss and open his pink mouth shooting out his bright blue tongue in an attempt to intimidate.

Very impressed with myself – this was the bigger of the two!

I’m feeling very brave after that little encounter.

Water & Wine

Can there be anything as relaxing as sipping on an ice cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc, while sitting on a balcony overlooking a sparkling blue ocean? No, I thought not. I must admit it’s the one thing I do seek out when I go on holiday or even when just relaxing locally around Perth. It’s not always easy to get all three together, wine, balcony and ocean but I am prepared to sacrifice the balcony for a deck or a courtyard. Oh, and very occasionally I have also been known to substitute an ice cold beer for the Sauvignon Blanc.

I’m lucky to be living only minutes away from one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world. This was brought home to me recently when I took a relative, visiting from overseas, on a drive along the coast. Her comment was ‘why would you need to go anywhere else for a holiday?’ and when you think about it she was right. So here are my top three spots for a drink or leisurely lunch whilst gazing out at the clear blue Indian Ocean:

Soda Sun Lounge, North Beach.

Upstairs at the North Beach Shopping Centre, this restaurant, as their website declares, ‘elevates casual beachside dining to a whole new level.’ You can stop by for brunch, lunch or dinner, or simply enjoy a glass of wine or a cocktail. The interior, with a perfect mix of booths, couches and tables offers a relaxed yet stylish atmosphere. Outside in summer, an extended lunch on the deck is an absolute pleasure. The menu offers a variety of options from a club sandwich or goumet pizza to a Black Angus scotch fillet. If you’re there with a friend I would certainly recommend several share plates to allow a taste of a variety of simple yet tasty dishes.

The Breakwater, Hillarys Boat Harbour.

The winner of a swag of awards, this place is a favourite with locals and tourists alike. You have the choice of the downstairs deck only a few metres from the water, or you can take in the view of the harbour from the upstairs balcony at Reid’s Lounge. This is where I personally like to partake of the aforementioned glass of wine, or two. Just a warning, it’s very busy on a weekend so if you can  try and visit on a weekday.

Indian Ocean Brewhaus, Mindarie Marina.

A lazy weekend afternoon can be whiled away in a very pleasant manner at this northern suburbs marina. This microbrewery brews its own range of preservative free, handcrafted beers on site and, I must admit, it’s a tasty drop. The place has a certain vibe to it, with live music in the courtyard on a Sunday and a friendly, family atmosphere. From the relaxing couches and umbrella covered tables, the view over the marina to the limestone breakwater can tempt you to stay just a little longer than intended.