25th February – Brookvale/Huskisson, Jervis Bay, Australia

With James at work and Becky and Finn at a swimming lesson I eat a breakfast wrap and watch tv. This morning I pack my bag for our camping trip to Jervis Bay. James is finishing work early so we can hit the road by 3 to miss the Sydney rush hour traffic. When Becky and Finn return they have Katarina and Talia in tow. We all decide to go to the beach as it such a beautiful day. We stop to buy some salad lunch at Banana Blossom, then make our way to Little Manly, a cute little cove where James and Becky got married. I’m happy again as they have a netted area for sharkless swimming. Finn and I enjoy the cool water, watching the fish swim below us and the daredevils climbing up onto the net supporting pillars performing back flips, somersaults and dives into the clear blue water.

Back home we get ready to leave, packing bedding and toiletries. James comes home, connects the trailer and we load it and the ute with all of the necessities, hitting the road early to avoid the traffic. No such luck. It takes us nearly two hours to get out of Sydney, turning our predicted three and a half hour journey into five hours.

On arrival at Huskisson Beach Campsite at dusk we set up the impressive trailer and my tent. To be honest, compared with camping for 8 weeks in Africa, this is less camping and more glamping. I have a double blow up mattress, duvet and pillows in my two man tent, we have booked onsite ensuite so have a brand new bathroom with a shower, toilet and sink on our plot. Beck and James also have built in cooking facilities, sink and fridge. We get the rig set up, get Finn to sleep and celebrate with a glass of wine or two before climbing into our tent/trailer to get some well deserved sleep.

24th February – Brookvale/Manly, Australia

Weetabix with activated almonds for breakfast this morning, a protein shake with added LSA, turmeric and cinnamon and a cup of coffee with almond milk (whatever happened to an aj’s bacon sandwich!). I spend the morning writing, sunbathing and sweating on the balcony before showering and cycling to yoga.

Unusually at yoga this morning it is just Becky and I in the class. We enjoy our exclusive hour session with the impossibly beautiful Isabel, who gently corrects our posture for maximum effectiveness. Usually, in a larger class, I just plod along hoping I’m getting each posture correct, it is difficult to be sure without any mirrors in the studio but with Isabel to ourselves verbally encouraging us to push ourselves, she physically manipulates our bodies to show us where we should be making corrections to our poses. At the end of the class, in Shavasana (laying flat on our backs, palms facing up, totally relaxed) Isabel treats us to shoulder and head massages and places a weighted bead eye mask over our eyes – so lovely. I almost fall asleep.

After yoga, Becky, Georgie (and her tiny baby) and I go for lunch at a local cafe. Becky has a break in clients this afternoon so invites me to have a Reiki session at the clinic. We begin with a chat over a herbal tea about what I hope to get out of the treatment, about my life and love, my past, my present and my future. Then I lay on my back on her comfortable bed, covered in a sheet with an eye mask, listening to the relaxing music and with the aroma of burning candles in the air I totally chill out. Becky lays her crystals and then her hands, that are incredibly hot, at different points on my head and body and, as instructed earlier I visualise what I want in life. I wake up 45 minutes later! Becky had suggested earlier that I may well fall asleep, I didn’t disappoint. I feel so relaxed afterwards. Becky tells me that she has balanced and activated my seven chakras, working particularly on my sacral chakra connected to my creativity, my heart chakra to remove blockages so I’m ready to give and receive love and my base chakra to encourage abundance, in all forms (hopefully financially!).

On my bike ride home I remain mostly on the pavement, the afternoon traffic is pretty busy and the sidewalk is quiet. When I notice a schoolgirl walking towards me, who doesn’t see me coming, I ride up onto the grassy embankment. Unfortunately the slope is steeper than I anticipate and my pedal digs into the mud bringing the bike to a sudden complete stop that sends me flying over the handlebars. In what I imagine to look like a supercool ninja roll, but is probably actually more like a drunk clown, I end up in the roadside gutter. The young girl comes running back, “are you ok?”, she asks concerned, I reply in a mixture of shock and total embarrassment, “I think so. I’m good, I think I’m good. Yeah I’m good.” As I scan my body for bleeding and broken bones a fellow biker pulls up. “You ok man?”, “um yes, I’m good thanks”. What an idiot I am. I manage to walk away with only a very small graze on my left shin and a stone stuck to my arm that I brush away leaving a harmless dent in my skin. The bike however has bigger problems, the pedals spin freely. On investigation, and with limited bicycle knowledge (where’s your big brother when you need him?), I discover the chain has come off of the big cog (I’m sure that that is not it’s technical term!), on further investigation, and to my delight, the chain is spring loaded and easily put back onto the spokey dokes that stick out of the big cog like sharp metal teeth. Problem solved, bike fixed and, with a new respect for the pavement and it’s users, I cycle home practically unscathed.

James comes home and we drive to pick up Becky, then pick up Finn and head down to Manly for dinner. There’s a brilliant website called 1st table, certain restaurants offer the first table of the evening at half price off the food. We enjoy a lovely Italian dinner together. Stuffed we stop at Coles for camping food supplies for our big trip tomorrow.

At home, with Finn in bed, we watch the three final episodes of The Affair. Brilliant. Need to download series two now.

23rd February – Brookvale, Australia

No massive plans today. Becky makes scrambled eggs and we chat over breakfast and coffee. Then we go to work. Becky to her office and me to my balcony. They announced on the news this morning that we are due to have a heatwave over the next 3 days and could see temperatures rise above 40 degrees. The balcony is a sun trap and within minutes of me sitting down to write I can feel my skin cooking. I apply factor 30 so I don’t burn and move my little table into the shade to escape from the rays. But the temperatures soar and I sweat. I move my iPad under the table into the shade as it has a tendency to switch to cooling mode when it overheats – wish I could do the same. When it is unbearably hot I drink lots of fluids, sit on the bed or go and bother Becky.

I am dripping by 11.30 so take a shower before yoga. Today’s class is really good, a different teacher, Teagan and a different teaching technique. I can definitely see progression in my flexibility but my knees still protest in lots of the kneeling and seated positions. After yoga we drive to the post office and supermarket, pick up a coffee and head home for lunch. Wraps on the balcony and a gossip is followed by lots more writing. I’m finding it easy to write here, inspired and creative. When my brain starts getting tired I sit on the landing and build the shelving unit that we bought for Becky’s office in IKEA last week.

James comes home from work with Finn, Becky goes out for dinner with her mum pals and I cook for me and James. Finn goes to bed and James falls fast asleep on the sofa so I take a shower and watch tv in the front room. When Becky comes home we watch the Affair with a cup of tea and a slice of cake.

22nd February – Brookvale/Manly, Australia

I wake up early, not quite as early as James and Becky who have already driven to Manly to collect the car we left there yesterday. Becky takes Finn to daycare while I do some laundry then, on her return, we have coffee and protein shakes over FaceTime to home. I spend the rest of the morning on my bedroom balcony writing, moving to the bed to continue when the iPad overheats in the bright burning sunshine.

Yoga at midday concentrates on our biggest organ (don’t be rude!) it’s our skin. Becky and I pop for a coffee at a new shop that has opened just across the road from the yoga studio. I accidentally buy us some banana bread to share! It’s not on our healthy eating plan. At home we enjoy healthy wraps on the balcony.

After lunch Becky reads my angel cards. They are spookily accurate. I pull my past card that says my concerns have faded away, my present card suggests the end of one phase and a time to move on and my future card predicts good news in the form of public recognition and even mentions a book deal. Fingers crossed!

I continue to write for the rest of the afternoon spurred on by Becky’s reading until James phones me to say he’s finished work and is passing by to pick us up and take us to the beach. Result! We drive to Shelly Beach. A pretty little cove near Manly protected from the crashing waves. We walk up to the lookout that provides views of the northern beaches. They show me the spot where he proposed to Becky, very romantic. On the beach we lay out our towels and get straight in the water to cool off, it’s another hot one today. The water is incredibly clear, fish swim close, it’s nice to be in the calmer waters compared with Manly beach where the massive waves crash into you. We dry off on the beach then walk back to the ute in time to pick up Finn from daycare. He is such a happy and smiley soul.

Becky and I make chilli for enchiladas, then we all take it in turns to shower and while James puts Finn to bed I rustle up fresh guacamole and a tomato salsa and we sit down to eat. Dinner is followed by another episode of the Affair before bed.

21st February – Brookvale/Manly/Sydney, Australia

Scuppered by the weather this morning, I receive a 6.30am text in bed from Becky informing me that beach yoga has been cancelled due to the incoming storms. Our planned day out picnicking at Watsons Bay too is thwarted. But seeing as we’re awake already and eager to do something Becky, Finn and I clamber into the car and drive to Manly. I push Finn on his scooter to the nearest coffee shop then, with a stimulating cup of caffeine, the three of us stroll along the beach path under the threatening dark clouds. We watch, beyond the break, the bobbing pack of surfers out in the ocean waiting for their perfect wave, the inspirational early rising runners fixated on their fitness pursuits, the collection of older gents meeting for a Sunday morning chinwag over coffee at the park bench, dog walkers and pram pushers. Becky points out the hundreds of tiny splashes out in the water between Manly beach and Shirley beach, it is the Bold and Beautiful Swim Squad who, come rain or shine, swim the 20 minutes from one beach to the other (Becky and I discuss whether we may or may not do it – watch this space!).

Next week is the Australian Open Of Surfing which will be held here at Manly beach. We watch the labourers build the towering scaffolding structure that will serve as the viewing grandstand for the huge skateboard bowl erected on the sand. Then it starts to rain.

We drive home for breakfast, then back to Manly, catch the ferry to Circular Quay to wander around the Sydney Rocks Sunday markets. The clouds break and the sun makes an appearance, we stop for a beer, then walk to the ECQ bar for lunch with a view. Looking out at the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, the busy harbour and the harbour bridge, we eat delicious food and drink wine. After lunch we walk to the Opera Bar and sit in the shade under the Opera House for more wine and people watching, taking it in turns to follow Finn on his explorations around the bar.

We catch the ferry back to Manly, whizz around Coles to grab some essentials, then catch the bus (Finn’s first!) north to Brookvale. At home I shower, put on my pj’s and settle in the lounge to continue watching our favourite new box set the Affair.

20th February – Brookvale, Australia

James and I have big paddle boarding plans today. So much so that I even set an early morning alarm to be sure that I’m downstairs at 7am. I make us adults porridge with fruit and Finn pancakes. James announces that he hasn’t had porridge since he was 6 and then it was white and sweet, not pink (from raspberries) with chewy bits (coconut)! I explain that what I have made is more like porridge on steroids but he has problems swallowing it – literally. Anyway, I digress, we strap the paddle board to the roof of the ute and hit the road bound for Little Manly.

The wild wind blows, the boats bob on the choppy current, we begrudgingly back out of boarding. We look for alternative locations that could be sheltered from the whipping winds with no luck. Becky and Finn follow us in the car up to the Arabanoo Lookout with the dramatic stormy view across the water to South head. We seek refuge in a much needed cup of coffee at Barefoot in Manly. While Becky goes to get pedicured and waxed, James and I shop for flip-flops (humorously called thongs here!), then take Finn to the playground where we meet Katarina, Adam and their little one Talia. James leaves to go pick up his trailer from the garage and we finally give in to Finn’s emotional demands to play in the water fountains. He gets absolutely soaking as I battle to stop him drinking the dirty water protecting up and out from the pavement. We walk to Manly’s Saturday market, complete a quick circuit before returning home for lunch. After our tuna and avocado melt pittas the entire household naps – for 3 hours! Bliss. It probably would have been longer if Finn had not woken up.

James orders a takeout from Yok Thai in Manly, then Becky, Finn and I drive into town to pick it up via a swift shop at Coles. Finn loves me pulling him around the supermarket in the wheelie basket. I can honestly say that tonight’s dinner is the most delicious take out I’ve ever eaten in my life. Lightly battered soft shell crabs with a satay dip, choo chee curry of prawns with coconut and beetroot, Thai basil and wagyu beef, chicken and prawn pad Thai, chicken with cashew nuts and jasmine rice. I eat and eat, each dish equally as yummy as the last. With full tums and a full glass of wine we slump in front of the tv to watch another episode of the Affair then Hall Pass the movie before bed.

19th February – Brookvale/Manly, Australia

I wake up at 9 to deliciously healthy homemade blueberry and oat pancakes, Becky has been up since 7 with Finn. I eat and get ready as this morning Becky’s clinic has an open morning. Becky leaves in the car and I opt to push Finn in the pram on a walk to the clinic in the hope that he will be asleep after a 20 minute stroll – how wrong are we? He refuses to fall asleep as anticipated and to add insult to injury, when crossing the top of what could be the steepest road in the whole of Australia, Finn decides to throw his empty milk bottle out of the pram. Thankfully the 4×4 coming up the street sympathises with my predicament and stops long enough to allow me to retrieve the rolling runaway bottle while desperately grasping onto a laughing wide awake, should be asleep, toddler in the pram.

We arrive at Lifestyle Working, the innovative complex where the clinic is situated. It is such a cool place to work. Inside the ultra modern building are 3 floors of variously sized office space that all look out onto a central courtyard that runs through the entire length. This roofless space is mostly decked, creative use of planting gives a very natural outdoorsy feel, a central lift, staircases and catwalks link the floors where informal meeting spaces and eating areas create a real community feel encouraging the social intermingling of the different businesses.

I spend a lot of the morning following Finn as he explores the space, climbing up and down the stairs and running around on the decking, giving mum the opportunity to offer mini Reiki healing sessions to the visitors of the Health Conscious Clinic. When Christie arrives, one of Becky’s friends, I also offer to watch her little boy Harry while she enjoys a Reiki stint. I set up my little crèche in the yoga studio where Georgie, the owner, has found some toys to occupy my expanding collection of kiddies. The homemade chocolate brownies come in very handy as diversion bribes when either boy starts to get teary.

After the open morning, and with Finn finally sleeping, Becky and I enjoy the midday yoga class.
Next we walk over to the Warringah shopping mall for a sushi train lunch and necessary nappy purchasing. Finn enjoys the play area as much as Becky and I enjoy the bottle shop! We pop home for a change of clothes, drop James to the Bavarian bar at Manly wharf and find a spot on the wharf beach. We take it in turns to watch Finn or take him in the water. I like it here as there is a huge netted area to swim in – shark nets! Keeping us water users safe from harm, stress free swimming. Finn loves splashing about and knocking down the sand castles I attempt to build. We have a quick beer and pretzel at the Bavarian then head home. Becky makes homemade pizzas and we watch a film, but I fall asleep before the end!