Pass Perfect

Do you have a favourite cafe or eatery? A place to catch up with friends while you sip  a latte or cappuccino  or perhaps a peppermint green tea while basking in the sun? A place which delivers a delicious bite to eat if you wish to indulge? A place, perhaps with a deck or veranda overlooking a beautiful view? There are many such establishments in Byron, but one of my favourites is the Pass Cafe.  (www.thepasscafe.com.au)

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The path leading to the Pass Cafe from the Lighthouse walking circuit. The elevated deck is to the left.

 The cafe is situated in the Arakwal National Park, overlooking the iconic Pass Beach.  You can get there by car: drive along Lighthouse Road, turn left into Brooke Drive and park in the adjacent car park. It is a paid parking area. But my preferred option is to walk to the cafe following the circuit which eventually leads to the lighthouse. A little bit of exercise, lovely views, nice people to encounter, what more could I ask for?

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View from the deck, looking into the rain forest of the Arakwal National Park

There on the deck you can enjoy a leisurely breakfast while you watch the birds or admire the view of the ocean through the trees. I love their brekkie burger but have suffered acute menu envy when others have ordered the Spanish omelette.  As a reward for walking  even part of the lighthouse circuit,  morning coffee  and cake is a must.  I can recommend the gluten free brownies and the Middle Eastern orange muffins in particular but really it is always so hard to choose which delicious calorie laden morsel to have! In the name of research,  I should work my way through the lot!  (it would be a service for my fellow man)  It goes without saying that the coffee is very, very good.

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My skinny cappuccino! Love it.

 The staff are amazingly helpful and always make you feel welcome. The cafe is also open for lunch but not for dinner. Lunch servings are generous, seasonal, varied and very reasonably priced.  They also have a takeaway menu for those who fancy a picnic on the beach, only a few steps away, or a snack to tide them over as they tackle the steps to the Lighthouse.

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Service is quick!

The Pass Cafe is simply Pass Perfect.

Winter Walks in the Bay

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Matilda making her first snowman in her Grandmother’s garden in Woodstock.

As the weather man predicted, much of Eastern Australia is in the grip of an Antarctic vortex. It has snowed in places where it hasn’t snowed for fifty years! My family and friends down south have posted instagram pics of gardens and paddocks adrift with snow. I peruse fine details. Are those Jenny’s sunglasses on that snowman, I wonder?  Mmm, it has been too long since I played in the snow. I would love to be there with Jenny and Monique, sloshing around the garden in gumboots and thick socks helping little Matilda to build her first snowman and … landing a snowball or two on unsuspecting victims!  It would be a perfect winter walk.

But envy isn’t good for the soul. And Winter brings its own marvels to Byron Bay. It is usually delightfully warm and sunny during the day, around 22 degrees Celsius, with low humidity. Perfect walking weather. When the winter tides move the sand back around The Pass, it is possible to walk from Main Beach to Little Wategoes along the sand.  The sky is winter blue as Kenn and I stroll along Main Beach.

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Main beach at low tide, heading for The Pass

Soon, we’re at The Pass. I can’t believe that there is so much sand. Not a rock in sight on the path.

Walking through the Pass, no rocks to stop me!
Walking through The Pass, no rocks to stop me!

Rounding the headland, we negotiate the inlets. Who doesn’t love to run around a rocky outcrop, beating the waves? Occasionally, our feet get wet.

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Can I make it? Yes I can!

Then we’re at Wategoes Beach and the going is easy. Strolling past the Pandanus palms, I follow the curve of the beach around to Little Wategoes. There are more rock canyons to negotiate.  We feel like explorers. There is no one else here except the starfish in the rock pools and the whales in the bay.

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More rocks to negotiate.

We make it and there is a treat in store!

Spray-tacular
Spray-tacular

At the end of the beach, we watch as the ocean puts on a spectacular show. We are so lucky to be here, at this time, for free!  We sink onto the sand and rest awhile. Before the tide changes, we make our way back to Main Beach where a perfect scene awaits.

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Surfing anyone?

This warm winter walk has been  memorable. But I have a confession to make: right at this moment, I’d rather be a’snowing with little Matilda and Jenny in Woodstock.

Jenny and Matilda snow it up!
Jenny and Albie snow it up!

Yoga in the Bay

My view across the bay from the Beachside Yoga Studio
My view across the bay from the Beach side Yoga Studio

June 21st was extra special this year. Not only was it my birthday and the winter or summer solstice depending on whether you live in the northern or southern hemisphere but it was also International Yoga Day.

Not so long ago, I looked in the mirror and saw one too many lumps and bumps. Gazing at my reflection, I found it difficult to visualise myself doing cartwheels in the sand, something that had seemed so easy when I was younger. So, I decided to give yoga a go, as I’d been reliably informed that if you want to improve your flexibility while strengthening  and nurturing your body and mind, then yoga is the go.

But, I encountered a problem.  What kind of yoga should I attempt?  Here in Byron Bay, you can practise downward facing dog in various styles including Vinyasa, Kundalini, Ashtanga, Hatha Flow, Yin Yoga, Power flow, Purna and Bikram just to name a few.  Now I know my limitations: didn’t want to break anything nor did the thought of sweating myself into the perfect body shape appeal.  My friend, Annie came to my rescue.  “Join me at Beachside Yoga,” she urged.

The Daily Bulletin at the Surf Club
The Daily Bulletin

I check it out. Two words stand out: slow and gentle. Then there is the location. The  Beachside Yoga studio. is upstairs in the Byron Bay Surf Club  and all equipment is supplied.   I decide to give it a go. Classes are 90 mins long  and the cost is $18 per class. There are regular specials so check out their website.  http://www.beachsideyogaandmassage.com.au/

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Our mats await.

 The teachers are great especially Grace Benn. Under her guidance, Annie and I  have traveled some way along our yoga journey. The view of the ocean  seems to illuminate our practice.

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Salute to the sun!

 I have had found that the body awareness relaxation or shavasana really does make you feel relaxed and stress free. (I  fallen asleep during shavasana – lavender eye pillows and a soothing voice can have that effect. I only hope that I haven’t  snored!) Afterwards, I seem to float my way to coffee at a nearby cafe.

Fishheads Cafe, just a stones throw away from the surf club
Fishheads Cafe, just a stones throw away from the surf club

My yoga class has become a weekly ritual. I hate to miss a class! Have you given Yoga a go?  If so, what has been your experience? I would love to hear from you.

 

Kitten has new family gasping!

I am ready to be admired
I am ready to be admired!

Our latest addition to the family, little Calico, is exceptional in every way.  She is a pure bred rag doll kitten who already knows that she is stunningly beautiful. Although only fourteen weeks old, she seems very happy to  lounge on a cushion and be admired by all and sundry. She has an engaging, gentle purr and loves to snuggle.

She likes to practise her hunting skills on her scratching pole and she is very determined to demolish a microwave box that Kenn has thoughtfully added to my living room decor.

It's here somewhere, I know it is!
It’s here somewhere, I know it is!
callie creeping
I will get it, I will.
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Take that, you pesky … exactly  what kind of mouse are you?

 

 

 

 

 

 

But she is clearly related to Superwoman. She is able to leap prone humans at a single bound and run faster than  a speeding bullet when I want to put her to bed. I have never  spent so much time under my dining table in cobra pose, something that will please my yoga teacher I’m sure. I am sneezingly aware of my housekeeping shortcomings.

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You’ll never catch me under here

But sometimes Callie clearly wants the place to herself. You can see her plotting as she stretches out her paws. Her eyes glaze over like that baby in the Mammia disposable nappy ads and … she lets loose. The most incredible aroma wafts towards us. It is the most excruciating smell I have ever encountered in my life. Definitely a Eureka moment!  They say nerve gas is bad! Give me the trenches any day! We run outside closing the door to prevent an escape. We fill our lungs with life giving air and gaze back at Callie. She is smirking at us while she surveys her kingdom with satisfaction.

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We could put the tent in the corner … maybe?

Kenn and I begin to panic. Will we have to live in a tent in the backyard? Then the pet shop and Google come to our aid. Confinement in the laundry and the provision of new soft, fluffy paper kitty litter entice Callie to adopt the feline cleanliness code. Co-habitation is now possible.

Life should be purrfect from now on.

To be or not to be… Nanna… Nonna… Grandma… Granny…. Grandmother

Genevieve Grace has arrived!
Genevieve Grace has arrived!

 For years now, I have been a closet GIT.  Not a  “silly, incompetent, stupid, annoying, senile, elderly or childish person” which is the Wikipedia definition of git ( though I’m sure at times I have been all of the above) but a “Grandmother In Training.”

I have undertaken my training diligently yet stealthily. After all, one doesn’t want to be perceived as  putting undue pressure on one’s  children or as wishing for early entry to a retirement home.  As my nieces gave birth to adorable children, I practiced my knitting skills. These were quite rusty. Living for fifteen years in a sub-tropical climate will have that effect. So in a good cause, I knitted baby blankets and  little jumpers. A certain speed and dexterity returned. I now had a legitimate excuse to hang out in the baby wool section of the craft shop and stock up and knit some more … and secretly put some aside for … later. Then my youngest sister, Tanya, fell pregnant. She knew she was having a little girl, so now I could  peruse the baby  wear sections of department stores. Did I like this little dress or was it a just a little too pink, I’d ask myself. Of course I had to cast my eye over the boys’ section as well. After all,  something blue might be needed … one day.   Younger work colleagues  had babies too. Surreptitiously, I listened to their baby talk while I was supposedly marking essays and when given the opportunity, practised burping and rocking a  baby to sleep. I hadn’t totally lost the knack.

My training has not been in vain. On May 6th 2015, Genevieve Grace entered the world. Kenn and I flew to Perth, Western Australia to meet her. She is without doubt the most beautiful baby in the world; a sentiment I’m sure, shared by all new grandparents.  After her very first bath, she was angelically peaceful.

I feel so clean now!
I feel so clean now!

Watching Kelly and Christian cradling Genevieve brought back such happy memories for Kenn and I.  It didn’t really seem that long ago that I was nursing and playing with Christian.

Christian at two months
Christian at two months

And now he’s nursing Genevieve!

Genevieve with Daddy
Genevieve with Daddy

It’s like ‘the circle of life’  in The Lion King – minus  Mustafa!  All I had to do now, was decide on a title. In the end, I followed my family tradition and chose Nanna. I have very  fond memories of my Nanna Lewis and Nanna Hayden. Hopefully, Genevieve will be able to say the same of me.

One day I will be big enough to play with Nanna Sealey
One day I will be big enough to play with Nanna Sealey

Souvlaki and chai energy muffins

Until  relatively recently, my culinary  skills could, at best be described as rudimentary.   This I attribute to my childhood.  The kitchen was a place where I had to mop the floor and peel potatoes. It was the place where my sister Jenny always got to wash up, while I had to wipe up and put away the dishes, a much more time consuming task. To this day, I don’t know how she managed to convince our mother that she was the superior washer upper when she completed the task in a time worthy of an Olympic 100 m champion.  So,  in protest at my unfair treatment (and a desire to finish my current book), I avoided the kitchen as much as possible. As a result, I  left home  knowing how to pour milk on cereal, boil an egg, cook toast and open a can of baked beans – real survival stuff!

But one  of the joys of living in Byron Bay and the Northern Rivers is the foodie culture.. There are an amazing variety of restaurants and cafes to sample. This week, I revisited The Cyprus Tree, our local Greek restaurant. This restaurant never fails to deliver memorable and delicious food,from souvlaki to scrumptious seafood, perfect for a birthday dinner for my friend Annie.

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Champagne not Ouzo was the order of the night!

 

As well, the area is full of  really knowledgeable, capable people willing to share their skills and help you develop yours.  This week saw the inaugural meeting of Byron  Library’s  Recipe Club.  The club will meet on the  third Tuesday of the month at 2pm,  at the Library. There was a very promising roll up of interested parties. The guest speaker was the bubbly, Julie Ray.
I had met Julie before when I had attended her seafood paella class in Lismore at The Pepper tree Kitchen.  I shared the photo of my success on that occasion with as many friends as possible. My culinary efforts had never looked or indeed tasted so impressive!  So I was looking forward to listening to what she had to say. I was not disappointed. She came laden with ideas about interesting ways to use macadamias,  a totally decadent recipe for a passionfruit cream curd cake and her chai energy muffins which we shared for afternoon tea. The muffins were delicious and you can find the recipe at Julie’s website,  julieray.com.  I noticed that she also had a great recipe for Gramma Pie on her website,  that she had sourced from Bangalow grandmother, Mrs Jarratt. I love trying heritage country recipes.  Maybe it’s because I love to daydream about all things historical.

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Super healthy Chai energy muffins