My favourite photos

 

The southern part of Western Australia is beautiful.  There are so many natural wonders.

 

These photos are from a permanent exhibition at the sculpture park behind the Visitors’ Centre at Northcliffe “Out of the Ashes” created after a huge bushfire in 2017.

Some of my favourite trees from Walpole.

Green pool and elephant rocks in Denmark.

And my favourite place – Margaret River.

WHY YOUR KIDS SHOULD PLAY TENNIS

I played on the tour between 1967 and 1973. When I first went to England, where all the tennis was played in those days, we played in the tournaments as amateurs. There was no prize money. We only received our train fares between tournaments calculated to the penny and were billeted with local families who provided lunch and dinner. We ate lunch at the club.

After a few years they changed us from amateurs to registered players and introduced a small amount of prize money, usually only for the winners of the tournament. I remember I won 10 pounds for winning the tournament at Tourquay. It was a mammoth effort. It was a grass tournament initially, then it changed to loam after rain. It kept raining and we were transferred to cement courts. After still more rain I ended up playing the final indoors on wood at the Palace Hotel beating Judy Congden 14 – 12 in the third.

During my 6 year career I won 30 singles tournaments and 25 doubles tournaments. My total prize money was $5,000 most of which I won at one of the last tournaments I played in at Barcelona. We were now professionals.   This is equivalent of $37,500 in today’s money.

What a difference it is today. First round losers in the Australian will receive $90,000.

However, I do not feel hard done by or that my career in tennis was a total loss. I learned so much from playing tennis which certainly has proved invaluable during my life, in my career in real estate and other activities I’ve undertaken. I ended up starting my own business which I ran successfully for over 30 years and was in the top 10% in sales in Australia, I wrote “A Spanish Love Affair”, speak Spanish and can sing and play the guitar.

THE BASICS

  1. Racket back. As soon as you see the ball and decide which side it’s going to early preparation is essential.   Whatever you undertake, early preparation is absolutely necessary.
  2. As is Follow through – If you don’t follow through with your strokes in tennis, the ball goes all over the place. In real estate it definitely applies. I was always surprised when I rang back people who had been through an open inspection to see what they thought about the property, when they told me I was the first agent who ever called them back.
  3. Hit the ball at the top of the bounce. This a great lesson about procrastination. In tennis the ball actually stands still at the top of the bounce so it’s easier to hit although many of the top players hit the ball these days on the way up. If, however you leave it until the ball is on the way down it is much harder as the ball is going twice as fast.
  4. Practice makes perfect – To become a reasonably good tennis player requires practise. My brother, John and I practised before school and after school until it got dark. Learning about practice was a great staple for all other areas of my life and skills I wanted to develop. Learning the guitar and singing, public speaking and learning to speak other languages and writing my Memoir “A Spanish Love Affair”, to name a few.
As a former girl guide I am prepared for when the neighbours read “A Spanish Love Affair”.

SOCIAL

  1. Tennis gives you the ability to relate and communicate with all kinds of different people. Tennis players come in all different colours, may have different politics and creeds, be from a different social strata, speak a different language but on the court we are tennis players. I noticed racism didn’t exist among tennis players on the tour. It was whether someone has a great serve and you just have to try and get it back into play or a poor backhand which you are going to hammer especially on tight points, that counts.
  2. Tennis is played by both sexes and is very helpful for learning to interact with both genders.
  3. Relationships with your tennis partner definitely teaches communication and the ability to give and take.
  4. Mixed doubles is especially helpful especially if you don’t have brothers and/or sisters.
  5. You can turn up at a tennis court anywhere in the world, if you can play a reasonable game of tennis and be accepted.
  6. It’s fun

LIFE LESSONS

  1. PERSISTENCE Probably the best lesson I learnt from tennis is persistence – to never give up until the last point. You never know when the game can change. The recent Federer v Millman match comes to mind.
  2. THINK ON YOUR FEET – You’re on your own on the singles court especially in the early days of playing so you have to work out your own tactics.
  1. STICK TO A WINNING GAME – If something is working for you stick with it. There’s absolutely no reason to change.

4.CHANGE A LOSING GAME – If you’re losing it’s another story. You’ve got to make a change.

You also may have to change a stroke or your grip in order to improve your game.

  1. CHANGE The process of change is exactly the same in other areas of your life and having gone through it in tennis is a great precursor. Changing something is never easy. I remember changing my backhand. At one stage I couldn’t hit the old one nor the new one. Just like in life.
  2. COURAGE AND SELF RELIANCE I’ve learnt both of these playing tennis matches.
  3. TURNING UP ON TIME – If you’re late for a match you are forfeited.
  4. QUICK REACTIONS especially at the net.
  5. CHARACTER BUILDING – We all lose in life. Learning to lose is a great life lesson. Learning a lesson from a loss and making changes so it won’t happen again. To quote Barty after her match with Kvitova today.
  6. LEARNING TO DEAL WITH LIFE’S UPS AND DOWNS Some days the ball is like a pumpkin and other days it’s like a pin head. Learning to roll with the punches, to adapt and make the best out of those off days is a great life skill.
  7. SELF ESTEEM Becoming competent at playing tennis is great for your self esteem. When I was sexually abused by my tennis coach when I was 11, I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. My life fell apart. I lost all confidence in my self. I struggled with my emotional life all through my teens as a result. Tennis was always there steady in the background and undoubtedly helped pull me through.

 

HEALTH BENEFITS

  1. Improves your metabolic function. Depending on your weight playing doubles burns between 288 to 365 calories an hour and singles burns between 414 and 524 calories per hour. Exercise is great for counteracting the obesity crisis.
  2. Increases aerobic capacity
  3. Lowers resting heart rate and blood pressure
  4. Increases bone density
  5. Lowers body fat
  6. Improves muscle tone, strength and flexibility

 

  1. Tennis requires you to be creative and it involves planning, tactical thinking, agility and the coordination of different parts of the body. Aerobic workout like tennis are especially good for improving your mood.
  2. Research on depression, anxiety and exercise shows that the psychological and physical benefits of exercise can help improve mood and reduce anxiety.

AND BEST OF ALL

  1. People who regularly play tennis have the longest live expectancy compared with people who do other activities such as jogging, swimming or bicycling. Tennis players live an average of 9.7 years longer than people who don’t do any exercise. (Copenhagen City Heart Study) Feb 20 2019.

Happy Christmas and a fabulous New Year

We are currently in Margaret River, which I love and could easily move into one of the lovely little cottages down Willmott Street – just a short walk to the river and the National Park with so many beautiful bush tracks and a couple of minutes the other way to the village which has lots of interesting shops. We are experiencing unseasonably hot weather. My research indicated that the weather at this time of the year is normally 25 – 27 but yesterday it reached 40. I spent most of my day sitting in the van with the air con on. Today smoke was in the air as the West Coast fire season kicked off. I will be developing a fire evacuation procedure in case we have to leave one of our camping sites in a hurry. I just hope if such a situation eventuates, we’ll have time to pack the wine and that bottle of French Champagne which Markus bought on Black Friday.

 

As this will be our last camping trip, before Markus sells the  van, we’ve decided to make the most of it and won’t be home until mid-May. It will be the first Christmas I haven’t spent in Narrabeen with family and friends for over 40 years and they will be sorely missed. But here we are in Margaret River, WA just about as far away from home as you can get without going overseas. Denmark, Esperance, Albany and Augusta all beckoned however, Christmas this year will be in Myalup, the only place we could find to stay after making more than 30 phone calls. All the best spots are booked a year in advance we were told.

Markus and I have been on the road for 8 months already. The time has just flown – so many interesting places to see and explore. Australia is such an amazing place and our history is so fascinating although somehow, they succeeded in making it deadly boring at school.

I’ve been keeping a journal every day which will no doubt be invaluable when I sit down to write “The Reluctant Camper”. I’m not such a reluctant camper these days as I’ve learnt to adapt and adjust. I’ve also been working on “Another Spanish Love Affair” the sequel to “A Spanish Love Affair”. We will be home for a year from May and I intend to really put my head down during that period in order to satiate the curiosity of my readers about what happened next. I’ve also typed up the notes for “Walking the Camino Backwards”which I took while walking the Camino le la Mozarabe in 2014.

I’ve had a wonderful year of reading – I brought 17 books with me and have knocked the lot of them off. However, I’ve managed to pick up some very interesting ones at the various book exchanges at the camp sites – Judy Nunn’s “Floodtide” which is set in WA in the late 70’s early 80’s, “Fraud” by Anita Brookner one of my favourite writers and “Proof” by Dick Francis one of my Dad’s favourite writers which I didn’t think I’d like because they have a racing background but that particular one also has a wine background. My two favourites reads from the books I brought with me have been “Sapiens; A Brief History of Mankind” recommended by Markus and “Captain Cook” by Peter Fitzsimmons, the latter I haven’t been able to put down. Leigh Sales book “Any Ordinary Day” came in at a close third.

We’ve had our trials and tribulations with both the car and the van. We got stuck in Cairns for a month, after having been towed there from Georgetown, waiting for parts to come out from Germany for the Toureg.   We then had to hotfoot it over the top of Australia (7,000 k’s in 10 days) due to the extreme heat – over 41 degrees. Such a shame as we both love the “red dirt” part of Australia and had hoped to do the Gibb River Road again. Then the tyre on the van shredded a couple of 100 k’s out of Exmouth. Fortunately, a young bloke stopped and helped Markus change the tyre.

Once we turned the corner and got down to one of our favourite camp spots Barn Hill Station, the weather became more reasonable. We loved it again at Kalbarri but unfortunately were too late for the wildflowers. Markus fell in love with Geraldton, especially a top floor unit overlooking the harbour until he heard about the Strata Levies, but the wind drove me berserk. I couldn’t keep my hat on and when I took it off my fine hair stood on end. It looked like a hairstyle I had in my late twenties when I had a very adventurous gay hairdresser. Not such a good look for a 70 year old.

We both loved Mandurah and I really like Margaret River and if we were younger we’d probably move over here. Markus loves the lack of humidity, they’ve just introduced euthanasia in WA which might prove handy in the future, the natural wonders here are just fabulous, there’s only 2,500,000 people in the whole of western Australia which is a third of Australia in size, the people are more laid back, no traffic even in Perth, the roads are excellent and there’s lots of very clean public toilets where ever you go.

I wish you a very happy Christmas and the best year ever in 2020, the start of a new decade.

 

THE STORY OF A LITTLE BROWN FIELD MOUSE

 

A little brown field mouse raced across the back of my chair last night

I got such a surprise I screamed out loud in fright

Markus said it was all in my mind

That it was a moth or a cockroach or something of that kind

 

It was definitely a mouse I saw I insisted

Not a figment of my imagination – it really existed

He must have hitched a ride from Woomeral Station Retreat

Somehow stowed himself away in our van – no mean feat.

 

It was a decision that little brown field mouse will regret without doubt

Markus was hot on his trail, although that little fellow gave him the run about

That little critter led him a merry dance up and down the camper van

Before disappearing behind the toilet pan

 

We don’t really know where he went but as there was no smell the next day

He obviously didn’t get caught in the vent

And fortunately managed to get away

 

I wonder what that little brown field mouse will do in Kilbarri.?

 

 

THE RELUCTANT CAMPER – A SECOND CAMPING DISASTER

Subsequent to this early experience with my brother John, although on occasion I slept rough when I was playing tennis in Europe, (see page  64  of “A Spanish Love Affair” where I spent the night sleeping on the bench of the Spanish/French border) I managed to avoid any further camping trips until I met my husband, Markus. Without prior consultation, he organised our first holiday away together sailing between the Whitsunday islands on a 1920’s schooner, camping on a different island each night.  It promised to be “like nothing you’ve ever experienced in your life.” And it certainly was.

It may have sounded romantic to the uninitiated, but the realty was far from that. It was decidedly down and dirty and I hated every moment of it.

Apart from the fact that I’m prone to be seasick, having at times even felt woozy on the wharf, there were many things which I didn’t enjoy.

To start with 25 out of 30 of our fellow passengers were English nurses who had worked in Australia for a year and as part of their deal, received this sailing holiday. Unfortunately, this gang of nurses were worse than any unruly football team you could ever imagine. They drank up a storm and partied loudly all night. They puked with a full range of sound effects and smells seemingly right behind our tent. Even in the day, despite no doubt severe hangovers, they kept their drinking up becoming more were rowdy as the day wore on with extremely colourful language.  Apart from Markus and I, there were only three other passengers – a very serious Swiss Doctor and an extremely portly, middle-aged husband and wife combo who were Canadian professors.   All three were decidedly unimpressed.

The tents were of the very small and low variety that one had to crawl around in. Getting dressed was a nightmare. I don’t know how the Canadian professors managed quite frankly. Our inflating bed burst in the middle of the first night without warning, not due to any activity on our part except trying to grab some shut eye. There were no mosquito nets or coils and all kinds of insects were constantly on the attack. The pit toilet was most part of a kilometre down the beach and you didn’t have to ask for directions.

There were no showers. This was my first experience of “real camping” and I didn’t like it one bit. I have very greasy skin which breaks out if it doesn’t get thoroughly cleaned twice a day. I also didn’t enjoy cleaning my teeth with seawater.

I had to do without my morning cup of tea, a sacred family tradition, which is normally totally non- negotiable.  The food was awful and the wine, which they served in large plastic beakers at a $1 a slug was cheap and nasty. One of the nurses managed to rack up a bill of $99 over the 5 days and that was without shouting anyone a drink.

So you can imagine that when retirement was looming and Markus started talking about taking a camping trip around Australia for a year, I was horrified. I ignored these ramblings and fervently hoped these ideas would go away.