This is the beach at the end of my street in Melbourne, Australia, where I walk and swim and find solace on sad days.

This has been A Difficult Week. I am tired and sad. I am in Shock. I look in the mirror and find a million new lines and droopy bits. I think ‘Plastic Surgery’ then I think ‘Traitor’; I will NEVER have plastic surgery, it is against my Principles. And a little voice says: Principles are all very well BUT…

I walk the dog on the beach and take photographs on my Smartphone which is not so smart because my photographs never turn out half as smart as they look through the Not-Very-Smart lens.

(The photograph above is not one of mine and the colours look so horribly doctored that it could almost be a painting. I don’t think it is!)

I cheat with my Smartphone photos by straightening horizon lines and trimming edges and lightening and brightening their color. Then I think: Doctoring photographs is probably a form of Plastic Surgery. So is Airbrushing which is all the rage these days. I feel tired and sorry for myself for having So Many Principles. I wish my brilliant photographer friend, Peter Derrett, was here to take beautiful bathing box pictures for me.

Later in the supermarket, I meet an old lady who is busily apologizing to the Checkout Man for buying chocolate to eat while she watches TV at night by herself. I tell her it is Medicinal and we become instant best friends. As we walk to the car park, she tells me she also has a little glass of Marsala with her chocolate. I tell her that is definitely Medicinal and we laugh ourselves silly.

Marsala, I think as I drive home, wasn’t that the mixer in the Pimm’s I used to drink in the lounge of the Darwin Hotel overlooking the Arafura Sea when I was a young teacher posted to the wilds of northern Australia? (Which is where I wanted to be because I was Escaping My Mother, but that is another story.)

In those days, Pimms was a Suitable Drink for Young Women and it was served in long frosty glasses full of pineapple and lemon slices and maraschino cherries and maybe a cucumber swirl. And little paper umbrellas. Remember them?

The Lounge in the Darwin Hotel (not the Bar, no Proper Woman ever went there, it was probably even Illegal, though I may not be That Old) had wide open, louvered walls and frangipani and red hibiscus poking their flowery heads inside. And I remember the sound of palm trees rustling and just a peek of turquoise sea.

Not to forget the Geckoes that used to shoot across the ceiling, shrieking ‘Geckoe! Geckoe! Geckoe!’ I was totally terrified by their transparent white bodies which I feared would drop off the ceiling into my Pimms. And how could they run upside down anyway?

Though, to be honest, at the time I probably didn’t let myself think any of this. I probably sipped on my Pimms and tried to act cool and sophisticated because I was terribly young and horribly innocent and knew Absolutely Nothing. Who does at that age?

Sometimes I think life is easier if you Know Nothing.

Back to the beach. This is a Not-Very-Good photograph of a young tourist whose mother wanted her to pose with Barney in front of a bathing box. I am not sure what the young tourist is doing with her fingers. It looks like a ‘V’ for Victory sign but maybe it means something else in Chinese? Perhaps she thinks Barney is a big Australian rabbit.


Here are a few more bathing boxes on the beach at the end of my street. I like them up close and not doctored.




Mind you, these bathing boxes need a lot of upkeep—dare I say surgery. They were first built in 1862 and frequent storms saw them damaged and destroyed so they were moved above the high tide line where they are now.

In the 1970’s our State Government tried to have them demolished but the local residents fought back. Imagine that! Picket lines and beach sit-ins and police horses charging Flower Power people wearing long hair and flares.

Probably not. My suburb was never a Flower Power sit-in type of suburb. Letters and petitions would have been more its thing.


This is another photograph of Barney. He thinks the beach belongs to him, but then a lot of people think that. A lot of people like me.


This is me finding solace on the beach at the end of my street after news this week that my sister-in-law had died tragically and unexpectedly at the not very old age of sixty-three.

Vale Augusta (Gusti) McCourt.

And Blessings to everyone having a Difficult Week.


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