Surfers

Stayed overnight at Surfers Paradise while in Australia over a year ago. It was epic. The beach itself is truly amazing, fully deserving the hubris. Pity about all that though, can’t quite believe just how many super high buildings have been constructed just meters from the Pacific Ocean. Speculation. Property boom. Investment. Expectation. Policy. Employment. Momentum. Tunnel vision. Storms. Erosion. It isn’t so strange when you remember that these high-rise buildings are made with concrete and glass, which is just sand after all. Sand castles.

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Surfers looking towards the south – eroded dunes on the right

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Surfers looking north

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Surfers Promenade

I think that living in Surfers would give you a weird sense of being on holiday everyday due to being cushioned by sunshine, soft white sand and serviced apartments.

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Surfers swash

This photo makes me feel a little dizzy. That moment has gone. The water is still there but no longer arranged in that way, the particles have shifted, as they are always shifting. Like sands through the hourglass.

Didn’t actually swim in the Surfers surf though, I wasn’t obsessed with swimming back then like I am now. And, speaking of now, things are warming up and I’ve been swimming regularly for the last month or so at Pt Chevalier beach. Twice yesterday and the day before (early and late tides). Haven’t been taking any photos though. None. Can’t be bothered. Plenty from the recent past to wrangle with. Too many. It’s ridiculous.

Just realised I haven’t edited any of the photos in this post. Usually I would alter the brightness, contrast, saturation etc to polish up the details. Particularly to the swash photo. Perhaps I will do that and then post it next time (for comparison) and then link it to this. Perhaps I could do a post about swash.

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On time

This photograph reminds me of the Odyssey. Or something. The little boat is all by itself, yet appears to have several people on board. Alone but not alone. Perhaps these are Ancient Greek waters. The dingy could be a small Ancient Greek fishing vessel propelled by Ancient Greek oars. The people on board could be wearing Ancient Greek robes and carrying Ancient Greek spears and shields – just in case. Or this little boat could be transporting a few furtive Vikings from Norway to England as they survey the coast and plan future battles.

High tide is getting later and later in the day. This was taken yesterday just after 5pm. These late tides are a bit of a challenge with shorter days and cooler temperatures. Daylight savings ended at the beginning of April so it is dark by about 6pm these days.

Solitary little boat floats near Pt Chevalier beach on the upper Waitemata Harbour April 16 2015

Solitary little boat floats near Pt Chevalier beach on the upper Waitemata Harbour April 16 2015

Daylight savings gives us a tiny taste of time travel. A whole hour. Reading is time travel. Any reading. The older the text, the further the travel. This blog has two time-threads running through it. The present, and the past. Present swims, and past swims that I have photographed but haven’t written about. Both of these threads are chronological. The present is always chronological and it gets mixed up with the past which is also chronological but only sometimes. I’d like to catch the past up to the present so there are no past photographs and swims left in the past. But they are all in the past. Even the present is in the past by the time I write about it. So, it is all in the past. And who cares about chronology. Well, I do. I love chronology. Cause and effect. The order of things. This happened, and then that. Events influence each other. Experiences shape us. Life seems to be a conflicted position a person sits in and is both being moulded by external forces and attempting to mould them.

Chronos is the father of Zeus, the father of all Gods. Time is the father of everything. Time marches on. Time is linear and time is circular. Trauma alters the relationship with time. Time is constant but to the traumatised it is excessively fast or excruciatingly slow. The head spins. Moments become hours. Hours disappear. Time is pain. The wish is for time to rewind back to the idyllic conditions before the trauma.

In relation to the thread detailing the swims of the distant past, the next batch of photographs were taken at Surfers Paradise in Australia. I’m going to write about that in the next blog then come back to this one and create a link that will travel forward in time. Kind of. Another thread I left hanging was mentioning that the Cricket World Cup final was currently being fought out between New Zealand and Australia. Well it didn’t turn out to be much of a fight. The Australians wiped the floor with the New Zealand cricketers. A game like that is not particularly pleasant to watch. Not so much because ‘my’ team lost, but because there was very little tension. I really felt for the New Zealand team when the inevitable loss became evident. I felt their pain and felt for them a bit more as they had to stick it out right to the end.

April swimming and the end of the Odyssey

There has been a cold snap as we fall deeper into autumn but somehow I have still managed to swim every day. Yesterday I was suffering the third day of the worst headache ever (complete with nausea) and was quite unsure about whether to brave a cold swim but despite the odds it completely cleared out the aches and pains.

Still swimmable

Still swimmable but there weren’t many swimmers at Pt Chevalier beach on April 15 2015

I am particularly proud of the swim I had on Monday the 13th of April. When I arrived at the beach I discovered there was an incredibly strong wind blowing straight onshore and no one in the water so I decided not to swim but walked along the beach instead. My jacket was virtually useless in the strong cold wind. I was about to go home when a fellow swimmer arrived and encouraged me to give it a go. It was more difficult than usual to get into the sea but worth the effort. I was tossed about the waves in a manner that reminded me of a west coast surf beach but this felt a bit safer because there wasn’t a dangerous undertow pulling me out into deep water.

A stormy day with strident westerly onshore winds kept most swimmers away from Pt Chevalier beach on April 13th

A stormy day with strident onshore winds kept swimmers away from Pt Chevalier beach on April 13 2015

Prior to the cold snap from Monday to yesterday the weather has been surprisingly warm and calm for this time of the year. Here are a few photographs from the last couple of weeks.

Autumn paddle boarders at Pt Chevalier beach

Autumn paddle boarders at Pt Chevalier beach in early April 2015

Looking north west as the sun goes down.

Sun is about to set at Pt Chevalier beach

Sun is about to set at Pt Chevalier beach in early April 2015

The composition of the following photograph could be said to be somewhat boring as it is very static and based around the rule of thirds but I quite like how the sky/air sea/water and sand/earth contrast with each other and have different textures, and how the light/fire interacts with each part.

A very calm morning at Pt Chevalier beach

A very calm morning at Pt Chevalier beach in April 2015

The following photograph reminds me of pictures I have seen of the coast in England. It could make a lovely watercolour painting. The red and white sail seems to erase everything behind it and takes on the appearance of a (triangluar) door to another world.

Love the red and white sail on the small yacht.

Pt Chevalier beach in autumn 2015. Love the red and white sail on the tiny yacht.

Oh, and I finished reading Homer’s Odyssey. It is surprisingly cinematic. A beautifully written action movie. Odysseus is the (original) hero. The ultimate, prototypical hero. The parallel action sequences are quite striking and remind me of parallel editing in films showing two (or more) things occurring simultaneously building towards a climax. Plus there was the added tension of dramatic irony where the reader knows things that the characters in the story do not. ‘We’ know that the beggar is actually Odysseus, but the characters don’t know it for a while. And it totally amazes me that we can get inside the head of someone who was alive almost 3,000 years ago.

Yesterday and Today and a bit of World Cup cricket

Yesterday was a showery day and when I visited Point Chevalier beach it was calm and intermittently sunny with storm clouds on the horizon.

Sunny foreground with rain clouds on the horizon on a calm Saturday at Pt Chevalier beach

Sunny paddleboarders in the foreground with rain clouds on the horizon on a calm Saturday at Pt Chevalier beach

Here’s another photograph from yesterday.

Yes, that's a dog on a paddleboard

Yes, that’s a high viz dog relaxing in the autumn sun on a paddleboard at Pt Chevalier beach

Today, however, was quite a different story weather-wise.  A strong wind was blowing in and whipping up unrelenting waves. Freestyle swimming was still possible but it was a bit of a hectic mission.

Choppy waters at Pt Chevalier beach

Choppy waters at Pt Chevalier beach

The waves may not look too big in the photograph but there was quite a swell. I felt a bit like a sailing vessel being tossed around as I swam along parallel to the shore. The New Zealand cricket team might feel a bit like this at the moment as the run rate is a bit slow 33 overs into the first innings of the Cricket World Cup final against the fearsome Australian cricket team currently being played in Melbourne. But there is hope as NZ batsmen Ross Taylor and Grant Elliot have just made 100 runs in their partnership.

Te Henga June 22 2014 and the influence of a photography class

Went for a beach walk with friends at the west coast beach Te Henga / Bethells on June 22 last year which is during winter, so, too cold for a swim. But who knows, perhaps I’ll have a midwinter swim this year.

It’s been bothering me that the beach experiences are being told out of order. There’s been so much jumping around. Recent posts have consisted of a previous beach visit that is combined in a post with a beach visit that occurred on the same day as the write-up. I wanted things to be strictly chronological but it seems that the interaction between storytelling and life events just isn’t like that. The process of remembering is not chronological. I latch onto chronology as a way to organise my memories, my past, but this is really just a filing and shelving mechanism. Today isn’t today for very long. But, equally, every day is today. Today is all there is but I’m constantly finding myself in the past. Past experiences influence and filter the present. Zeus is the most powerful of the Greek Gods, and isn’t his father Kronos? The God of time? Or something like that. Perhaps if you control time (chronology / history) you control everything and become the ultimate God of Gods.

Walking at Te Henga, Bethells beach in winter

Walking at Te Henga, Bethells beach in winter

The people in the photograph are probably not still there, at the beach. Photographs give the illusion of permanence even thought we know they capture just a small slice of time. A micro-second, but this depends on the camera setting. There will be footprints on the beach right now, but not the ones in the photograph as those imprints would have been erased and replaced by wind and water many times over.

A while ago – several years, in fact – I thought of a calendar as markings in the sand. Some days of the year have special significance, particularly those that remind us of loved ones who have departed. We remember these days and mark them in our own sand calendar, but when we are no longer able to remember those special days they are erased by windblown sand. Memories of children who die fade with every passing generation. Imagine all the losses that are no longer thought about because those who thought about them can no longer hold thoughts.

Perhaps this needs a bit of cropping to delete that funny bit of rock at the top

Oh yes! These photographs were taken just after I joined a photography class and became a bit more adventurous, perhaps, although you’d have to work pretty hard to take bad photographs at Te Henga.

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Wedding photo shoot in the distance

Piha 6 April 2014, Pt Chev today, google translate

Looks like this was my last swim in the 2013 / 2014 summer. It was at Piha, with friends. The photos aren’t great, which can be what happens when beer is consumed. Probably shouldn’t have gone swimming but there was a group of us (safety in numbers) and we didn’t go out too deep. And the Piha surf has a sobering effect.

Early evening at Piha in April : Aprilis in prima vesperi ad Piha : νωρίς το απόγευμα στο Piha τον Απρίλιο.

The rough and tumble of a west coast beach swim is awesome, but these days I seem to prefer the restrained inner harbour experience at Pt Chevalier. This afternoon the water was particularly calm, which gave it a noticeable temperature gradient. The top 10 to 15 cm were lovely as this top layer had been warmed by the intermittent sunshine, but just beneath that it was increasingly chilly as the depth increased. Definitely refreshing. Definitely thinking about the advantages of a wetsuit. Apparently they can make you more buoyant so swimming requires less effort.

Mid afternoon high tide on a calm day at Point Chevalier beach. Mid síðdegis háflæði á rólegu degi á Point Chevalier ströndinni.

Mid afternoon high tide on a calm day at Point Chevalier beach : Mid síðdegis háflæði á rólegu degi á Point Chevalier ströndinni.

Speaking of effort, I’m still reading the Odyssey. It’s taking me a while but I like it a lot. There are words and phrases that jump out – like this:

‘For as I detest the doorways of Death I detest that man who under constraint of poverty babbles beguiling falsehoods.’ Book XIV

These are the words of ‘long-suffering great Odysseus’ who is disguised as a tramp, talking to his swineherd Eumaios who doesn’t know whether Odysseus is dead or alive and has talked at length about how he misses his much-loved master dearly. The bit about a poor man babbling isn’t particularly interesting, but the phrase ‘doorways of Death’ mixes the everyday (doorways) with the tragic (Death), and also serves as a reminder about how ever-present death was for people ‘back then’. Telecommunications and modern medical practices hadn’t yet arrived. If someone went away, there was no knowing whether they would come back. There is still an element of this these days – which is why airports have that eerie feeling of melancholia mixed with hope – but we are permitted a great many more fulfilled hopes than the ancient Greeks were.

I absolutely adore what Brian Eno – the inventor of ‘ambient’ music – says about his Music for Airports.

“… Whenever you go into an airport or an airplane, they always play this very happy music, which is sort of saying: ‘You’re not going to die, there’s not going to be an accident, don’t worry!’ And, I thought, that was really the wrong way around, I thought that it would be much better to have music that said: ‘Well, if you die, it doesn’t really matter.’ You know. So I wanted to create a different feeling, that you were sort of suspended in the Universe and your life or death wasn’t so important. …”  Part of an interview that can be found about halfway down this page

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Ambient photography : Ambient consequat. Interesting that there is a Latin word for photography.

Reading the Odyssey is like swimming freestyle along Pt Chevalier beach. Each little piece of effort is added to the next little piece of effort and before long you get there.

Each little piece of effort is added to the next little piece of effort and before long you get there – Nummum singula opera addantur quae paulo post modicum labore perveneris – Works apiece added that shortly after arriving a little effort – Works addidit singula , ut paulo post cum venisset a labore – Works added by one, that a little later, when he was come from the labor – Opera additum est, qui paulo post, cum venisset a labore – Was added to the Opera , who, a little later, when he was come out of the labor – Additum Opera, qui paulo post, cum venisset a labore – Be added , who, a little later, when he was come out of the labor – Accedit, qui paulo post, cum venisset a labore – Add to this, that thought a little later, when he was come out of the labor – Accedit, quod paulo post, cum venisset a labore – Add to this, that a little later, when he was come out of the labor – Accedit, quod paulo post, cum venisset a labore – Add to this, that a little later, when he was come out of the labor.

Not sure how accurate these mechanical google translations are but have reached a stasis after going backwards and forwards translating the same (but transforming) phrase into Latin, then into English, then Latin, English… Digital bilingual chinese whispers. Looks a bit like Language Poetry.

Why the languages? They give an illusion of movement to stasis. My ambient staycation involves escape to foreign countries of the mind.

Each little piece of effort is added to the next little piece of effort and before long you get there – Κάθε μικρό κομμάτι της προσπάθειας προστίθεται στο επόμενο μικρό κομμάτι της προσπάθειας και πριν από καιρό φτάσετε εκεί – Every little bit of effort added to the next little bit of effort and time before you get there – Κάθε μικρό κομμάτι της προσπάθειας προστίθενται στην επόμενη λίγη προσπάθεια και χρόνο, πριν φτάσετε εκεί – Every little bit of effort added to the next bit of effort and time before you get there – Κάθε μικρό κομμάτι της προσπάθειας προστεθούν στην επόμενη κομμάτι της προσπάθειας και του χρόνου πριν φτάσετε εκεί – Every little bit of effort added to the next bit of effort and time before you get there.

The google translation relationship between English and Greek appears to be more accurate (or consistent) than that between English and Latin.

French Bay last April, and…

Looks like I had a swim on April 2 last year at French Bay. That’s almost a year ago. I was still with ‘him’ at that time, but he wasn’t at the beach with me. Not sure whether that makes sense but anyway, the ducks were friendly.

Ducks at French Bay on April 2 2014

Ducks at French Bay on April 2 2014. Love the tiny little wave that is in the process of breaking onto the beach. 

In the middle of last year (so, after this photo was taken) I started attending a photography class. Then, towards the end of the year, started attending a writing class. We write short stories (fiction or non-fiction) then read them out. And then joined a poetry class earlier this year. We read a poem then write one in response then do it again, producing two poems each class. I have had quite a lot of trouble reading for the last couple of years, for several reasons, but at present I’m a bit obsessed. The Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales. Emily Dickinson. Susan Howe. It is incredible that we can get inside the heads of people who lived many years ago. Reading is time travel.