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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Slinky Head Bailing!


What a weird/cool place! Loved our time here, but it was a very confusing place, for many reasons, but mostly geographically due to the river wrapping around the cbd! After extensive research of our accommodation options and checking every hostel we moved into a hostel with views out over the city and river and it even had a pool! It seemed tho mother nature decided we weren't going to get to enjoy our pool and decided to throw torrential rain showers at us all week. Being used to a wee bit of rain this didn't stop us getting out and exploring the river banks, and city. Our tactic being to spend the first day or two scoping out the city to see where we want to work and what's available. 

This was a good plan and would have worked I think if we had stuck to it, but one three days in we stuck our heads into a backpacker travel place and ask if they have any jobs going. At first we were promised mango first reaction was I  like mango! Then, how do mangos grow? Turns out you need to free climb a tree and pick them and drop the carefully down...We were not too impressed by this idea, but then we remembered our less than comfortable financial situation. 

Just before we were shipped off to our bleak new employment the boss came over and asked if either of us had ever taken photos and if we liked kids. Jumping at the opportunity we both confirmed his suspension that we would be the PERFECT candidates for a job he had just got in that day. The job was to take photos of kids, one of us would have to make them smile the other capture the special moment with a camera...what could be easier/more suited to us. 

The next day was one of the most stressful days WE have had...trying to find cheap smart clothing. STRESSFUL. Anyway we got what we needed and the next day we turned up at the trail with GOTCHA and were asked to pr some people. We got a good few in each and were told we could go. On the bus home the head office called, wondering who we were and what we were doing?! After explaining the situation they offered us the jobs and asked us to come down to head office the next day. So up early and dressed up all smart again we jumped on the train down to Surfers Paradise (from the look of it, it had been named wrong-surfers hell). A quick tour and introductions made, we were ushered into a conference room and given contracts to sign. After signing our contracts we were told we would be going to Western Australia in 2 days...Yeah cool! 

That threw the proverbial spanner at our plan of going up the coast to visit Mairi's cousin Calum. So not wanting to disappoint we rented a car, threw the boards in and headed up the coast the next morning. Before meeting Calum we decided to go check out the local beaches and stumbled across a sensational long right point break with big big heavy walls rolling through. I've never surfed a wave that transforms so many times on each ride, and which goes for so loooong! At times it was so fat it was almost dull then it would suck boil off the rocks and rear up and race off ahead of you. To get ashore I was faced with the choice of dumping my self and board on the punishingly sharp and intimidating rocks or try swim up the river which the wave passes by...I took the river which I was sure would be full of sharks and crocodiles and snakes and other evil things.

Hanging out with Calum, Jill and the kids was really nice, and a good laugh being away from the dirty daily grind of smelly backpackers and dingy hostels. Promises were made to come back and spend more time and explore the area and maybe get some surf on our return to Brisbane! 

If work doesn't work out, maybe we should just start chasing rainbows!

One of the longest waves Ive ever just kept going and going!

Must have been a bit emotion I though I could see a saltier in the clouds! haha

Monday, 18 June 2012

Byron Bay

After a 'miss understanding' with the short sited, over weight, spade faced dictator lady in the train station we jumped aboard a train heading north. The rest of the trip was highly uneventful, borderline dull, until we reached the bus stop in  Byron. The first thing you notice when the pneumatic doors hiss open and the warm air rushes into the arctic like interior of the bus is the defiantly distinctive pungent of weed. A quick dash to grab our bags before the senile bus driver unleashes his form of pay back by dumping your bags on the pavement in the most destructive way possible. Seeing his eyes light up as our board bag appeared from behind a small mountain of abused backpacks I seized the opportunity and dived retrieving them and denying him his revenge!

Only then did we start to think about the more than slightly suspicious situation we had got our selves into. Calling the man for a lift to our new accommodation we realised how vunerable we actually were and personally my thoughts went to where potential weapons could be in my bag and the best way of utilizing them.  (Euan the MANTOOL was in pocket, but i wasn't sure what sort of damage I could inflict with a 2cm blade so concluded using it as knuckle duster would probable be the most effective application for the first round, well until I used to slice open my bag and retrieve the kitchen knife and pot lid (shield) stored at the bottom of my bag).  The man ended up sending his guy who turned up in a Mk2 V.W. long wheel base Van-white with a broken sliding door-and his very uninterested/ing girl friend, he seemed just as thrilled to see us and silently drove us out of town...At this point im trying to work out which fingers would fit better between the man tools legs to make the most effective knuckle duster, all this while smiling and nodding while Mairi made small chat with the socially inert in the front.

At this point I'm going to describe what we were told to expect on arrival to our new accommodation. We would have our own room, in a house with 3-4 other young people. Bills would be included and rent would be paid once a week to the socially inert Swedish guy other that that all was good. House rules seemed reasonable no drink or drugs on site and no loud music after 10 as some of the house mates have uni/jobs early in the morning.

On arrival, our friendly driver tryed to lift my bags and failed...just shows that the big tanned Swedish frame had nothing on my super lean peely wally scottish a body! haha Anyway he led us past 5 or so shaggy and very stoned kids sitting around a table stewn with papers and empties and a badly leaking bong and into the house which seemed fairly nice. Maybe a wee clean up and it would be pretty cool and we could hear waves breaking somewhere so assumed we must be near the beach. Only then did he decide to tell us to we had to pay a weeks rent up front. 20/20 hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was late we were tired and didnt really know where we were. We paid he then left and we found out we were staying in a box room crammed with 2 bunk beds and mattress on the floor. Bummer. Anyway live and learn and we would be working soon and be able to afford something nicer.

Employment...Up at the crack of dawn and a 45 min walk into town armed with glowing CVs and bubbling with enthusiasm for our potential new employers to see. For at-least 48hrs we pushed our cause talked to everyone explored every opportunity. At the end I had an offer for Wicked Campervans as a sales position, which sounded ok, but they called litterly as i was putting on my leash and applying suncream standing at the point looking out over the pass looking the best we had seen it...the conversation brief
-Can you come in now? sorry im a bit buisy for the next couple of hours.
-Would you be willing to commit for a minimum of 6 months?
-Er...what?! > MAIRI did you see that! emm...what was that?!
-I cant really hear you...
-Yeah sorry I'm on the beach, I was really looking for more like 3 months, my visa wont let me work for more than 6 months for one employer.
-We are aware of that and if you were suited to the position we could look into sponsorship.
-Sorry I don't think I'm up for sponsorship, well not unless my girl friend finds something. In fact I really have to go. Thanks for getting back to me, If you find a position for my girl friend too then call me back...MAIRI lets go! did you see that last set!!!!!!

And so our outlook went from finding employment to enduring the week in the house and surfing. Which was going exceedingly well until the last weekend when the lads we lived with (oh yeah there was 8 of living in the house) decided to invite 30 or so of their mates from Brisbane down for the Easter weekend. Now I and im sure Mairi too pride our selves in being able to say we survived uni, had the occasional wild night, seen a few messy hungover morning after wreckage in flats. What went down in that house that weekend was on a whole new level. Its not possible to describe the carnage, and it wasn't even in the funny oh my god we were so dunk and broke something last night type. All I'm going to say is we did what we had to do to survive. 

On a more positive note we had our own Easter Egg Hunt! Which I was spectacularly humiliated by Mairi's superior hunting skills!  (I'm still claiming shes had waaay to much experiance to make it fair)

After surviving our week in the hovel of a house we finally moved into a backpackers...NOMADS it seems is the place to be if you have a British passport! On our first night we abuse the complimentary drinks and got press ganged into a pub crawl-was meant to be 30 bucks in...we managed to miss that bit and enjoyed our free drinks all round the crawl. The last stop they decided to see what they could get their drunk 18yr british kids to do. Mairi's competitive side came out and along with the only other couple we took the dance floor where we were instructed it was musical statues...ahem...statues of sexual positions. The competition was fierce, but when it came down to the final it was the 2 couple left and a really awkward looking pair who had both had 'partners back home' (aye right!) The final was crazy and very close and our competition...well we pretended they had a chance but realistically it was over before it started! We won a trip to Nimbin, Weed Capital of Australia, (the less said about that probably the better other than i was very tired and hungry for a few days after), but the night wasnt over...well it was for 90% of the nomad kids who were shipped off back to the hostel, but we headed out to a surf pub on sound advice they gave away surfboards on a raffle. We were disappointed to hear it was skydive night, but bought to pints anyway...(was that kinda night) and found a seat, one where i could see the screens showing retro surf movies and Mairi could see the band. The band finished their song, and some idiot started talking on the mic, next thing i know Mairis head down sprinting across the dance floor. Assuming she was away for a tactical chunder I go back to the film, but next thing shes on stage and the guys giving her a free skydive voucher!! 

The sky dive...why did it take us this long to do it...oh yeah cos its really really expensive for something most sane people would pay to avoid the privilege. That was kinda the approach I had taken up untill it was half price...It was FANTASTIC I really cant stop thinking about it, even now! We were the last 2 out of the seemingly very small and rickety plane, but i forgot all about that when the dude thrust into my lower back and attached our harnesses. Feeling very awkward with this new grinding a man position we shuffled forward and watched Mairi fall disappear out the open door.. The acceleration as we tumbled out was unbelievable and looking back at the plane the weirdest surreal feeling passed over me, where everything seemed to slow and I relaxed. The free fall was meant to the from the highest allowed in Aus and so the longest, but i could have free fallen for alot longer we didn't seem that close to the ground when we opened the shoot, but i was glad when he did because once he did we hit some turbulence and I really felt the harness...and his crotch. For the rest of the decent I questioned him extensively on the type of shoot, flying techniques and the differences between paragliding. Not sure who was happier to be unattached on landing!  We were very lucky as all jumping had been put off due to strong winds all week and we were the first to jump that day and the second flight was cancelled and no more were scheduled for the rest of the day. 

Nimbin...cookies are stronger that they look! lesson learnt

is it deep enough? i dunno...well you go first then!

what my vision was  a bit like

i just feel out of a plane!

mini harmonica

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Coffs Harbour

Coffs well it wasn't quite as were expecting! It was...ahem... pleasant?!
We were staying above the worlds loudest bass speaker ever which made our room jump like there was a earth quack, this lead to dreams of a giant bear shaking the room, that combined with the absolutely mental tropical style monsoon rain storms it really became a test of sleep deprivation! Having said all that we did get to surf most days (after walking an hour and half with boards through the searing heat and monsoon rains!) The waves were actually pretty fun with some fun wedges coming off the harbour wall and next to the river mouth. We even saw our first turtles out back and in the evenings some pretty cool bands in the venue down stairs! A favourite being a Reggie band which ended up having a after party in the room next door. We stayed 5 days looking for work  then decided we didnt really want to be there anyway so headed up the much talked about Byron Bay!

MCA opening

Sydney 2.0
Touch down and I’m rudely awoken from a dream where I had surfed a wave so long that when I kicked out I had crossed a boarder into another country and because I never had my passport in my board shorts the officials on the navy ship (which had somehow sneaked up on me and trained their guns on me) wouldn’t let me back to the beach. After reestablishing I wasn’t in a interrogation room aboard the navy ship and in fact on a plane rolling gently along the shimmering black tar of Sydney’s International Airport the panic started to subside. After a quick skip and dance through customs we exited the terminal to be brutally assaulted by the wall of heat and after a quick recalculation we retreated back into the air-conditioned bliss to find a train into town.

Arriving back in Kings Cross we headed down through the madness that only ‘The Cross’ can create at 9am to find our hostle. It turns out the name was very fitting-Asylum Hostel-and it took all of about 2 seconds to realize the decision to ‘up grade’ (HAHA) to private room was money well spent!

Oooo the bridge and opra house AGAIN
Euan this ones for you there were hundreds and HUGE. :D 
Being back in Sydney was weird it felt like coming home and somewhat comforting seeing familiar sights and not being constantly checking maps and signs. The topic of what to wear to the ‘wee doo’ at the MCA the following day arose and it was decided a new pair of heals a shirt were required to transform our selves from the cool edgy “ I've seen it all before” travelers we were fast becoming to the slick sleek perfect demi gods of upper society we were going to be required to impersonate the following evening. To further our transformation we decided a run was required to tone up our scrawny bods/give us something to casually throw into conversation that evening. Again my poor packing effort came to surface as Mairi casually slipped on her running shoes I was standing there apprehensively in my bare feet. Apparently when I was leaving Scotland running shoes weren't important and I must have had a good reason not to pack them so I wasn't about to add another packing failure to Mairi’s growing list. On our return we were both feeling (not looking FEELING) demi god like and it was only in the shower the first signs of my mortality came to light. Blisters are no big deal right?! Everyone gets them from now and then but these were no normal blisters these were full on war wounds, but they had nothing on what was to follow.

Oblivious to the impending suffering headed off to the opening of the MCA dressed to impress and wondering what sort of chat we would have to come up with to be able to mingle with the upper echelons of the art world. The building-well there’s not words than can describe it fairly its pure genius with beautiful and brilliant design features and looks out standing defiantly the coolest new building I've ever been in! The highlights being two glass walls making the corner over looking the bridge and opera house and the roof top terrace (but mostly the FREE bar). Where WHEN I win the lottery I fully plan to buy and make the roof top room my apartment with the best views over Sydney.

The next couple of days we spent lazing around the Botanical Gardens and trying ignore the temptation to go out and get pissed along with everyone else in The Cross!  Getting invited back to posher opening of the MCA was really cool and we reasoned it was because we must have been such a hit at the 'soft opening'. This time round the heavy weight celebs and important people were going to be out in force, but more importantly another chance to hear my amazing auntie talk. She had surprised me last time by turning out to be an amazing public speaker and pretty cool in front of the VIPs! By now my feet, ankles and knees felt like I had lost a fight with a sledge hammer but this was not going to stop be making it to a free bar!

The next day we headed up the coast to Coffs Harbour on a strong recommendation from some blurry rich gentleman who was buying a lot of drinks at the after-party...probably trying to chat one of us up not sure who tho! :-/ haha

Feeling very special

mad ironing skills...or not!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Back to Raglan…A Life Changer and The Last Last Supper!

Arriving back in Raglan we were started to notice a lot of young men with really bad facial hair cutting about in all the latest surfing fashion atire. At first we thought nothing of it, and assumed it must be the time of year, but after a quick check of the surf next morning we were confounded by the same youths. Only this time busting out airs in the small morning beachy mush. It should have clicked then, but didnt it was only once we drove past Manu Point and saw the compition on we realised these weirdos were actually semi/wannabe pro surfers and they were there competing for the regional title. Although the surf was still fairly small at Manu the youths were ripping it to shreads and doing things on waves as far as I'm aware go againt all the laws of physics/luck.

 After watching for a while i was getting pretty pumped up for a surf in some proper waves so we headed on round the coast to Whale Bay. It was packed with all the pros not competing and breaking fast and hollow real close to the rocks. So I plucked up the nerves to make the paddle over to Indicators and see what all the fuss was about. By the time I got into my suit and waxed up the sun was getting low and the wind had died off. During the long paddle across the bay my nerves started tingling as wave after wave spat surfers out of long clear glassy tubes into the channel infront of me. Reaching the point my perception of the wave went from oh s#!t this is a intesne wave to HOLY C@#P their getting multiple tubes and I've still got along way to paddle. Taking it wide round the point i fell in behind the last surfer as we paddled south down the point. On reaching the take off point i flashed my smile at a few of the older grumpier looking dudes sitting deeper than any one and sat back accepting I was going to get snaked for the first few sets. Despite the crowd being small the level was high and the take off point small, but after a while I got called into a wave, a quick look gave me the impression it was a close out and being real close to the dry rocks and the sets being over head the sphincter started twitching, but instead of passing it up i put my head down and dug deep, popping up and looking down the line I was greeted with one of the most beautifully scarry images I've ever seen. Sun shining through this over head clear glassy wall which had lined up as far as i could see and looking down seeing the rocks all sharp and angry looking whizzing past below me, one big pump and I knew why the guys had called me into it. The section ahead of me threw out and I dived head first through the shimmering wall. After paddling back out past all the older dudes who had called me onto it and who were now laughing i kept paddling and sat further out and deeper. The first wave of the next set was mine head down and arms going like the clappers I paddled past them on the inside and popped up behind the peak, a big retro hand drag bottom turn got me past the lip and onto the face and again I was again presented with the same view only this time I wasn't looking down at the scary rocks or the sun set through the wobbly wall but on the lip and concentrating on getting a good few pumps in. Reaching the 2nd section I was so realived I took my eye off lip and the face and looked at boiling water just front of me as i bounced over it I noticed the sound of rushing water and spray hitting my head, ducking down I grabbed my rail and looked up to see the lip race on ahead and throw out landing in the flats in front of me. Getting low and trying to force my front foot through the deck i aimed for the window into the outside world and held on. The spary caught up with me and when i opened my eyes again i was out on the open face. A couple of victory carves and then a grab rail cutback into the white water as the wave backed off then my heart started racing again as I saw it line up again...

Indicators over behind that headland, surfing all the way through to the inside with that section out of view behind the headland being a barrel section, I made it as far as the end of the point...
Only this time I felt invincible. I wasn’t HaHaHaHa

After driving back through Manu to see if there was any free stuff going we got waved down by Richie…our new best Maori mate. Only we thought he was going to give us grief, maybe he was mates with the old git from my last visit. No he wanted us to stay in the night parked next to the judges tent and have a premier spot the next morning to watch the comp. the only catch we had to guard the tent. Make sure no one runs off it with it in the night. However in agreeing to this and through some very clever layering of guilt we ended up cooking him his dinner, and helping him set up the next morning. We laughing about what muggs we were and if there was a limit to what we do to get away with not paying for a campsite when he came round with a big box of nature valley bars.
The next couple of days were spent surfing around raglan and paying for camping and wishing we were up at 4am helping set up a surf contest and not paying. The last night we had in the van Niall and Anna offered for us to go round to their house to share some of our adventures and have a home cooked dinner. Anna cooked a sensational Indonesian meal and it wasn’t long before boards were being pulled out and debates on what was the perfect wave. One of the boards Naill had hidden away was a Cambell’s Brothers original Bronzer 5 fin. Meeting Naill at the beach the next morning we were disappointed to see that any shape or form from the previous days had left the surf and after checking everywhere else decided to go have a play at the beach. With much board swapping and over dramatic dismounts it was finally time to head back and quickly give the van a last clean and pack up. Naill kindly gave us a lift back up to Ian’s house where we had our last last supper in Nz.

Manu Bay

this wee guy was on fire