The Gathering has Begun – Yay!

The Annual Gathering of the rainbow bee-eaters has begun. They are flying north from their breeding grounds in our south-west to rest and eat up; they are preparing themselves and their new young for the long flight north to New Guinea and beyond, where they will spend the winter.

It’s always a joy to see the flocks of them, growing bigger by the day, wheel past as we walk through the bush nearby. Their calls are very special; actually everything about them is very special!

Tristanโ€™s 31st Birthday

This is Rob in his dinghy, bringing Tristan and his precious family over Shoalwater Bay to our yacht anchored there, Dusky Dolphin.

See the story below. Every year, on Tristan’s birthday on 13th Feb, we are grateful that Tristan and I survived his birth. It was so traumatic that he was the last baby to grow in my womb.

Email to our family:

Hi Everyone!

This is the first of the pics of Tristan’s 31st birthday party on Sunday 13th Feb. It was a very different party, starting the day before when we packed up Dusky Dolphin with birthday cakes, drinks and other stuff for an overnight trip. Then we sailed from Freo to Shoalwater Bay (4.25 hours) and stayed the night. Up early the next morning to pump up the dinghy, set up the food, check the dinghy motor worked, haul out the life jackets, etc. Meantime Tristan, Blaine, Tom and Thea drove to the beach carpark at Shoalwater Bay. Then we sat waiting for Tristan’s call to pick them up in the dinghy. Also we knew the Jeanette and Christopher and 2 friends were kayaking in Shoalwater Bay at the same time!

10:30: Jeanette called to say that she, Christopher and their 2 friends were setting up their kayaks on the beach at Shoalwater Bay. They would paddle their kayaks over the bay to Penguin Island and meet us there.

10:40: Tristan called to say that they were waiting on the beach. Rob climbed into the dinghy, fired up the outboard motor and raced off the pick them up. The dinghy was already loaded with the usual emergency gear plus extra life jackets so he could leave at speed! I finished wrapping Tristan’s birthday pressie while I waited for the arrival (it was a very good book – so good that I’d had to read it first!)

11:00: The little family arrived at Dusky Dolphin (see below), with many “Hello Grandma’s”. They settled in the cockpit and enjoyed a late morning tea, while Rob took off in the dinghy to Penguin Island to make sure that that landing spot would be safe from waves and other dangers for his precious family.

11:15: Rob arrived back just as morning tea was finished. He pronounced that the landing spot was OK, so took his first load of passengers across to Penguin Island (Tristan, Tom and Thea).

Blaine and I got into the galley and prepared the food for lunch.

11:30: Rob arrived back just as we finished. We loaded up the dinghy with the food, drinks and ourselves. Rob took off again towards Penguin Island. As we approached the beach, we saw an orange kayak approaching. We knew that Jeanette’s new kayak was orange, but the kayaker didn’t look like her…there was the loud hawaiian shirt…it was Tristan! he raced us into shore and almost beat Rob (but not quite!). Tris said that the kiddliwinks had enjoyed a good play on the kayak in the shallows, before he was allowed to have a go with his big sister’s new toy:-)

12:00: We settled on the lawn outside the penguin sanctuary, under the lovely shady trees as it was quite hot. Jeanette’s and Christopher’s 2 kayaking friends (Rob and Leece) became unexpected guests for the little party:-) They said they would watch over all our bags so that Jeanette and Christopher could join us watching the little blue penguins’ feeding time in the sanctuary.

12:15: Rob went to buy the tickets to watch the 12:30 penguin feeding. We all trooped in shortly after, with lots of other people – the feeding space was packed! Sunday I guess.

12:30: We’d all found each other amongst the throng, and put Tom and Thea in the front so they could see. We watched the delightful little penguins “flying” through the water in their pool, chasing the small dead fish that were thrown to them. As we watched, one of the guides told us all about them. Many of them are rescued and brought here. My favourite is the now-17-years-old “Piggy”. I know his story from last time Rob and I were here: he holds the record for eating the most fish in one day at the sanctuary!

12:50: We gathered back on the lawn to have our picnic lunch, with Jeanette and Christopher’s friends. Then they helped us to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tristan:-) Unfortunately Tristan couldn’t blow out the candles because the wind kept doing it for him! After this a dolphin gave us a lovely display, chasing fish right across the bay!

1:20: We packed up, and Rob took Blaine and I back to Dusky Dolphin with all the left-over food. While Blaine had a well-earned rest after getting all their things packed up, Rob dinghied back to Penguin Island to pick up Tristan, Tom and Thea. We did it this way so Tris could take the kiddliwinks part of the way along the walk around the island, looking at the many birds’ nesting sites and lots and lots of birds.

2:00: Rob came back to Dusky Dolphin with Tristan, Tom and Thea, picked up Blaine and their bags, and took them all into the shore. They would have a swim and relax, before going home and cleaning up to be ready for the next birthday party at a Thai restaurant for dinner.

2:15: Rob got back to Dusky Dolphin in the dinghy, along with some more ice so we would have cold drinks during the sail back to Freo.

2:30: While we were cleaning up we heard someone calling from outside. It was Jeanette and Christopher and their friends on their kayaks! Just saying “Hello”.

3:00: After we’d packed up the boat, and emptied, hauled up and stowed the dinghy on deck, we set sail back to Freo.

6:00: We arrived back at our pen in Fremantle Sailing Club – it was a nice fast trip back.

7:00: Having finished cleaning up the boat and setting her up in her pen, we left the club to go home and get some dinner.

It was a very good way to celebrate Tristan’s birthday! Especially since we didn’t ever get around the celebrating his 30th!!! Thanks everyone:-)

White Wine in the Sun

I just sat and listened to the song “White Wine in the Sun”, which he wrote for Christmas 2010.

He is such a powerful writer! He evocatively and sensitively sings of family; ageless family where each family member is safe and loved.

Rob and I envisioned this for our children, their partners and their children in the first few years that we knew each other. And we have worked and worked to make this space happen ever since.

Here’s to Tim’s song, and to Fiona’s special place in Tasmania, “Tunapi”, where this lovely photo of the sun was taken:-)