In a binary world, a world were the only options were thumbs-up or thumbs-down, I’d have to give beaches a thumbs-down.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot to like about beaches… the beauty, the serenity, the sound of waves gently lapping the shore or crashing on the rocks. The cool waters, and cool sea breeze offer sanctuary from the oppressive heat of summer.  There are plenty of reasons that beaches are popular with locals and tourists. However, there’s plenty that I, personally, dislike.


First, a negative without any positives… the sand.  I hate to sound like whiny Anakin Skywalker, i.e. “I hate sand. It’s coarse. It’s rough. It’s get’s everywhere.”  Personally, I don’t have any issue with the texture of sand… I quite enjoy playing in the sand, but at the beach, in combination with the water etc. it does get everywhere. While Anakin had an issue with the texture of sand, he failed to mention the little matter of the heat that sand retains. Have you ever walked barefoot on the beach in the middle of the day… not the wet sand… that’s okay… not the sand that one needs to traverse to get from car park to water. George Lucas should have had Anakin fall onto this dry, hot beach sand, rather than lava, during the Duel of Mustafar in Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith… it would have been more poetic (with Anakin’s aforementioned hatred of sand) and perhaps more accurate (i.e. who in their right mind duels in a lava field, but a fight on the beach… they’re common in history and film).  While the thermal properties of sand can be mitigated by wearing shoes, sand gets into shoes… slowly filling them to the point where they need to be removed to empty the shoes of sand… thereby exposing the bare feet or buttocks to the searing hot sand. “What about thongs (aka flip-flops)?” you may ask. That my friend is yet another reason to hate the beach… footwear that isn’t footwear… the single point-of-failure-footwear, the “flip-flop” sound… the discomfort as the skin between your big toe and its neighbour blisters and then form calluses.  

Next, the amount of effort required to visit the beach.  For example, sunscreen, which is a significant contributor to the aforementioned sand issue.   You can’t go to the beach without applying sunscreen, especially here in Australia where we’re affected by the hole in the ozone layer.  Merely spending a handful of minutes in the direct summer sun will result in sunburn, and put you at risk of developing skin cancers. An alternative solution to sunscreen, rashies, may be acceptable for toddlers and little kids but look ridiculous on adults. Or you could just spend your whole time under a beach umbrella… but that makes it very difficult to enjoy one of the major drawcards of the beach, the water. Speaking of umbrella… that is yet another thing that needs to be packed into the car, and lugged down to the beach each and every time you go to the beach… along with towels, esky, changes of clothes, beach toys, and whatever other paraphernalia you’ve bought so you can “enjoy” yourself at the beach. 

Then there’s the matter of crowds.  Beaches are either overcrowded or remote and desolate.  They’re rarely something in-between… definitely true for the beaches near large metropolitan areas, and especially true on the hottest of days when one is most likely going to require the cool waters and breeze.  On these days you’re likely to be battling with everyone else from the city and suburbs for a slither of sand to put down your towel… then when you venture down to the water, you try to avoid the syringes and broken glass hiding in the sand, or the dead puffer-fish whose venom can still kill you… then when you make it into the pollution-ridden water you’ll have to keep an eye out for the jet-skiing hoons, seaweeds, stingers/jellyfish, and blue-ringed octopus.  “All clear”… you’re in the water… enjoy yourself a little, but make sure you swim between the flags, avoid the rips, battle the undertow etc. Time to get some sun, you head back to your towel, reapply the sunscreen (because it’s probably time to reapply this toxic substance full of nanoparticles), and kick-back and relax to the serene sounds of the sea, assuming you’re able to hear it over the screaming jet-skiers you avoided while you were in the water, the screaming kids nearby, the mother screaming at the screaming kids to be quiet, or the screaming Bluetooth stereo pumping out tunes nobody, other than the speaker’s owner that is, wants to listen to.  Oh, the serenity.

If you’re willing to put in a little more time, money, or effort, you might be able to find yourself an isolated, clean, peaceful beach, away from the unwashed masses populating the beaches near the cities.  And if you’re lucky enough to have access to a beach house on a quieter beach you can avoid many of the logistical issues of a trip to the beach. But there’s still the sunscreen, and the sand, and sandflies… 

On a 5-star rating system, I’d probably give the beach a score of 2.5… a pass.  Lots of beaches would get higher… maybe as high as 3.5, or even as high as 4 if we’re scoring in 0.5 increments and rounding, but there are beaches I’ve been to, swimming beaches, that I’d give a zero to (or 0.5 if a zero rating isn’t allowed/recognised as a rating)… but on a binary scoring system, there are just too many negatives to the whole beach experience that would allow me to round that 2.5 up… so… beaches, get a thumbs-down from me.



Athens Antiques

11th of December 2015 – after a day exploring Athens with the clan, mainly in the Plaka area, we started to head back towards the hairdresser we pass earlier… we made an appointment for haircuts for all, as it had been 8 weeks since our last trim and we wanted to look presentable for our return home to Australia. As we walked east along Emmou Street, I saw an antique store across the road. This image is probably the highlight of our time in Athens, which was unfortunately spoiled by a dodgy taxi driver ripping us off, not being able to find a decent souvlaki, and a minor flood in our apartment due to dodgy plumbing.

Balandra Breakfast

Balandra Breakfast was my entry for the “Art of 2014” challenge on DPChallenge. While it finished a respectable 20th with the voters, the real achievement was the Honourable Mention & accompanying “Green Splat” it got from the Jury, and the comment from one of the most respected artists on DPChallenge, posthumous.

The Last Supper reimagined as an absurdist working class cabaret. The indifferent Jesus, the stares into camera, the ridiculous interaction with a miniature tennis racket. As with a great Renaissance depiction of the Last Supper, we can only marvel at how much is going on, at the excess of beauty that we can appreciate so much better than the actual participants in it.

This is the third “Art of” challenge on DPChallenge that I’ve done well in. Back in 2011 “Christmas Day” took out the Blue Splat, and in 2013, I got a Green Splat for “Tight” (I really need to blog about that one too to give people the background story).

“Balandra Breakfast” was taken in Trinidad back in June 2014. We went down to Balandra on the east coast of the island to spend some time at Uncle Bruce and Auntie Marguerites’s holiday home… relaxing with family. During the few days there, many of the extended Trinidad family, uncles and aunts, cousins, and their kids came down to spend some time with us, relaxing… or as they say in Trinidad, “limin’“. One morning, I captured this moment at the breakfast table. Uncle Bruce, head in the newspaper (actually was probably a tablet) checking the football and cricket scores, surrounded by my six kids and three of his grandchildren at the table. The moment happens to have captured the expressions on the kids’ faces just as killed one realises she’s killed a bug with the mosquito bat.

Kennedy Space Center

Kennedy Space Center (KSC) was one of our “theme-park” stops in our Christmas and New Year trek down to Florida.  We needed to get away from the cold of Southern Maryland, and wanted to take the kids to the see the Harry Potter worlds at the Universal theme-parks… but that’s a discussion for a different post.

So… we made our way down to KSC on Boxing Day, 2014, hoping to avoid the crowds that were expected to visit Universal.  We’d been to Universal on Christmas day, and speaking to the staff, they ALL said they were not looking forward to work the next day because it is the busiest day of the year for them… “wall-to-wall people”… “Black Friday for theme-parks”.  Anyway, that was somthing we were keen to avoid, so thought we’d explore KSC as it was less kid-orientated, a little bit of a drive for Orlando, and a nice way to break-up the trip and avoid theme-park overload.

We got there a little later than we’d hoped, and by the time we did arrive, all the special tours had sold out, so we were limited to the standard entry package.  Though a little disappointed at the time, given the crowds, the time it took to see what we could see, we were probably lucky we didn’t spend extra for the other tours.

The kids seemed to enjoy themselves, though, not as much as they did at the other theme-parks, but I had fun, and was very pleased I got to see so much great NASA stuff.

City Lights & Blurred Reflections

City Lights & Blurred Reflections

This photo was taken for the 30 Seconds or More II Challenge over on and finished a respectable 9th (of 63). So, when #RoCur curator, Sarah @Stokely, put out a call for a photo of Melbourne for a blog for the @WeMelbourne, I was more than happy to offer it up… the least I could do to repay her for the honour it was being allowed to tweet under the @WeMelbourne handle for a week back in April.

Note: having a look at the image on my computer (as opposed to my phone), I really need to give Sarah a larger version of the photo.