Saturday, 15 October 2016

Beach Days & Birthdays

View from the shore of Brighton Jetty and beach with the sun setting on the horizon.
Jetty sunset.

I've always loved the beach. It is one of my favourite places. Sadly, it is not always the best thing or the easiest thing for me to go down to the beach. Nevertheless, I managed to get to the beach twice: to watch sailing and see the sunset.


My lupus traits combined with medication do not allow me to spend much time in the sun because exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light triggers fatigue and the side effects of medication make my skin burn easily.

For years I could not understand how I could do an entire morning of vigorous housework and still have energy to spare, yet I could spend just 20 minutes in the garden only to be absolutely exhausted.  I am now certain that the UV exposure is the cause. I'm not sure how it works but it has something to do with liver function and the way my body processes (or has difficulty processing) different forms of vitamin D.

Looking southwards along a wide expanse of sandy beach at Largs Bay, South Australia. The sky is clear and blue, a line of pine trees and grasses can be seen along the edge of the sand where there used to be dunes.
I love the beach but it isn't easy to enjoy it any more!
This is a view of the beach at Largs Bay, Adelaide, South Austraila.

My children have been forced to give away some outdoor sports because of my stupid condition. 'Little Athletics' is a good example which involved 3‒4 hours outdoors every Sunday morning. Parents were required to be with their children as they went from one activity to the next such as sprinting, shot put, long jump etc.   I couldn't do it but the club rules were the rules.

A 'Cadet' class two-person sailing boat on a trailer parked on the lawn getting ready to sail.  A bundle of buckets, bags and belongings are on the lawn inthe foreground. A white line on the horizon is the Largs Jetty.
Cadet class two-person boat.

Even without the sunlight and UV  issues, it isn't easy to wheel a manual chair across a large oval of thick kikuyu grass to get to the shot put field. As a parent, it is great to be able to watch my children as they learn, develop and have fun. It is important to be there to encourage and support them.  It was very frustrating for me to be left alone on the sidelines while my children were so far away on the opposite side of the oval that I couldn't see them or have them hear my cheers. There was no going around it either: the only access was across the playing field.

Despite this, one of my children has taken up sailing after trying it with a friend and is absolutely loving it.  Luckily, the friend's family is happy to take my child and doesn't need me to accompany them. It is important to have a sporting interest so I am thrilled that my child has found 'her thing'. It makes me sad though that I cannot go out and enjoy it with her.

It is usually a half‒whole day activity and I don't have the stamina for such a long outing or for travelling the distances involved to get to the regattas etc. Being out in the elements really takes its toll on my body but when the sailing was relatively close to home and all the other factors were amenable, my friends took me with them; I sat on the jetty and (when the weather was too much) in the clubhouse to watch the children carry out their sailing manoeuvres.  I absolutely loved it and I am so proud of the children's capabilities on the water.  It was a joy.  I am so grateful to have lovely friends around me who are tolerant of my limits and are willing to make allowances.

View from the Largs Bay Jetty looking northwards. A line of sails can be seen just below the horizon on the left hand side. The sun is glistening off the top of the grey-blue swell. The dark shadow of the coastline trails into the distance towards North Haven and Port Adelaide. The sky is mostly clear with a few wispy clouds above and cloud cover on the horizon.
The view from the jetty.
A line of sailing boats can be seen on the left hand side towards the horizon.
The sailors are practising playing 'follow the leader' and going around a marker.
On this particular day, we spotted at least 9 kite surfer kites in the sky further down the coast.
They were there when I took this photo but they were too far away for the camera to capture them
in this photograph.

A cream, filigree-patterned, porcelain cake stand rests on a yellow filet crocheted mat. On top are three crocheted cupcakes with white bases and tops of yellow and pink. Each cupcake holds a birthday candle. The pine wood in the background is the cupboard on which the cake stand is displayed.
Crocheted cupcakes.
Designed by Priscilla Hewett.
Crocheted by Jodiebodie
(May 2010)


I hosted a birthday gathering at home. It is very taxing to put on a big luncheon these days so I prefer smaller affairs.  Extended family joined us for afternoon tea and it was so lovely to catch up with people in person over a cuppa.

It was the first sunny afternoon after weeks of dark, damp weather. Spring breezes from  the north were warmly inviting us to go outdoors.  As much as I enjoyed everyone's company and love them dearly, when 4 o'clock rolled around, I realised that the day would soon come to a close and I might miss an opportunity to get out and about. It was almost a relief when everyone decided it was time to go home at 4:30 p.m.

As soon as everyone had left and we had cleared the table, my immediate family and I jumped in the car and drove straight to the beach!

View of Brighton Beach, South Australia from the foreshore, looking southwards. The water is calm with a few ripples only. People and dogs are walking along the beach which can be seen beyond the rock wall and tufts of grass in the foreground. In the distance one can see the headlands of Marino and Port Stanvac.
Views of Gulf St Vincent from this Adelaide beach, looking southwards towards Port Stanvac.
As the youngsters walked and played along the beach, I sat on the esplanade, with my crochet to keep me company, while the sun set behind the jetty.

We were still walking on the jetty at nightfall, still in short-sleeves;  no chill in the air at all. The evening was rounded off with ice cream cones for everyone, 'al fresco' style.  These simple things provide good quality of life.

View from the shore of Brighton Jetty and beach with the sun setting on the horizon. In the foreground is a rock wall.
A beautiful sunset over Gulf St Vincent. Due west across the water is the Yorke Peninsula.

A hank of what looks like hand-spun fibres in varying shades of greens and browns. Light threads tied with red buttons have labels which are handwritten with the dye source and mordant.
Plant-dyed fibre.
Gifts of Birthday Fibre

I received a most intriguing yarn-related gift.  One of my beloved op-shoppers gave me a bag of 'finds':

  • A collection of fibre samples which had been hand-dyed with natural plant dyes. The samples have little tags attached describing the dye source and the mordant used:
    • Tuart* leaves / alum
    • Tuart leaves / bath 2 alum
    • Peppermint gum** bark / dye bath #1 no  mordant
    • Tuart leaves / copper
    • Tuart leaves / no mordant
    • Tuart leaves / bath 3 alum / copper
    • 2 samples seem to have lost their tags, having been tied with thread sporting only frayed ends

    I have no idea about the fibre content and thus the future care requirements for anything that I make with this yarn.  Perhaps I will make a shawl and return it to the gift-giver who can appreciate the process from raw spun fibres to finished product.

A hank of multi-plied yarn is hung onto a black wall hook by  crocheted 'handles'. This is a front view of the hank.
Hanging hanks, Batman!

  • A hank of a multiple ply yarn which was finished with a handle!  I have never seen anything like it before.  I am wondering whether it was once an open-mesh market bag that had become unravelled or whether the handle was created after winding the hank for easy storage.  Can anyone enlighten me on how to approach this item? 
Top view of the hank with a closer view of the handles.
Close-up of handles.

Have you seen such things before?
What would you do with them?

Any ideas or advice will be greatly appreciated.

*Tuart is a type of tall tree found in south-west Western Australia: Eucalyptus gomphocephela

**Peppermint gum is another type of Eucalyptus tree that produces oil with a peppermint scent, commonly the Eucalyptus nicholii (from New South Wales and a threatened species in its native habitat) or Eucalyptus dives (New South Wales & Victoria) but there are too many Eucalyptus trees with 'peppermint' in their common names, that there is no way to know which type of Eucalyptus bark was used to dye these samples.
Reference: Australian National Botanic Gardens:

Pattern Details

A cream, filigree-patterned, porcelain cake stand rests on a yellow filet crocheted mat. On top are three crocheted cupcakes with white bases and tops of yellow and pink. Each cupcake holds a birthday candle. The pine wood in the background is the cupboard on which the cake stand is displayed.
"Cupcake Pincushions"
pattern by Priscilla Hewett 2000
crocheted by Jodiebodie 2010

Pattern: Cupcake Pincushion by Priscilla Hewett 2000 (free pattern)
Yarn: remnants of pastel baby-weight yarn (acrylic or acrylic-nylon blend)
Hook: 3.5 mm
These cupcakes were fun to make and perfect to whip up as a quick gift at short notice.
The recipient loved them so much that they now reside in a display cabinet with other favourite items.


  1. Just being near the beach brings a sense of peace and calm ... you certainly got some great photos. I can't be out there too long as I have an allergy to the sun. When I was younger, I would get horrible cold sores on my face. I outgrew that but around 40 started getting itchy sores on my chest, legs, and arms so my beach days are over, except for fully clothed walks early morning or late afternoon. It sounds like you get out and about and do the very best you can even with your limitations. That bag of yarn bits you received sounds very interesting. Do you weave? It would be great for that sort of project. Whatever you decide, have fun with it.

    1. Ah! Thank you Tammy - weaving is the perfect idea. I don't weave (yet) but I know someone who does... I did get a little loom kit one birthday so maybe I can use that to experiment with this yarn. I will need to work out how many metres there are and then decide what to make.

      How awful that your body disagrees with the sun. Do you know why that happens to you? I wish there were answers for you. I try to keep my outdoor activities until late afternoon or early morning too. Driving can be a problem because the sun intensifies under glass. It is so easy to forget that we are being exposed to the sun on our faces, neck and arms when we drive. In summer I have some light, long-sleeved kaftans which are easy to throw over to keep the sun off without getting too hot.

      Thank you Tammy for your compliments and encouragement. I hope this reply finds you well. :-)

    2. P.S. I love your blog post about sea-themed creativity where you have some beautiful photographs of your crocheted shells etc. It surely is an artistic inspiration for anyone wanting to work with a sea or beach theme:

      I just want to take those pictures and paste them on my wall to look at every day!

  2. Despite your limitations you certainly do the best for your children and are giving them a good life. Looks like a beautiful beach to be together for a short while. The bag of yarn sounds wonderful, I would love to know what you end up using it for. Take care.

    1. Hi Lorraine,

      Thank you for your support. I work extremely hard to do the best I can for my children - I don't want them to feel as if they are suffering because of my illness as well! It takes most of my energy but as they are getting older, I'm finding a little more time to pursue my own interests.

      Tammy (above) made a great suggestion for the yarn - weaving. Either that, or something in a plain stitch that will highlight the variations in textures and colours.

      Adelaideans are very lucky to have many beautiful beaches so close to the city. One of these days I will dedicate a blog entry just to beaches.

      So many blog ideas, too little time! ;-) We'll get there eventually!

      Have fun. :-)

  3. I am so sorry your health prevents you from participating with activities the way you would like. I know it can be so exhausting and take days to recover when you do join in and the day is long and sunny. I live near a beach and just can't seem to get there very often, it is only 30 minutes away but life is just so busy. The yarn is really fascinating, I am not sure what you could make with it, well it depends on the yardage and the feel of it. The colors are beautiful.

    I wish you a wonderful week my friend, filled with peace and energy.

    1. Thanks you Meredith but don't be too sorry. While chronic illness is a bummer, I know, I am grateful to be able to get to the beach at all because there was a time when I was housebound and not even able to sit at the computer for any length of time.

      It is a nuisance to have one's activities restricted when there are so manay things I would like to do. Instead of trying to do everything, I focus on one thing at a time and make the most of that by trying to enjoy it in the moment.

      The great thing about crochet (and any creative activity really) is that when the body cannot 'do' the mind can 'dream, design and think about it' all ready for when the body is ready to go again!

      Take care, Meredith, and thank you for your kind words. xxx