Last weekend seems such a long time ago now. It has been one friggin’ bad week for me. It is just not right that I failed to let the good vibes of one happy short holiday linger for longer. The laughter, the good food, the good wine and great company all have so quickly become a distant memory. What happened? Life got in the way. Nasty customers spewing their bile, remonstrating with their anger-laced impatience at me for the pandemic-caused delays – their severe remarks and demands for immediate refunds have anchored me at the bottom of what feels like a muddy, toad-infested well. But, they pale into insignificance when compared with the vicious people and their hurtful views about why I should stop writing. A few days ago, someone echoed that which was said to me last year. When a person says something hurtful, we can choose to ignore it. But, when the same criticisms are dished out by another person close to us, we have to pause and reflect. It is very likely there must be some truth for us to face up to and some honest deliberations should be endured in order for us to correct and improve ourselves. The whole process can be rather painful. Why must they think they need to be cruel in order to be kind?
“You should read more before you write! It is embarrassing to write about matters you know so little about! Why don’t you do some research?”
“You’re not a good story-teller! You don’t know how to make a story interesting.”
“You’re simply copying the words of historians and philosophers. Nothing original.”all by one person
Alas, I am no colourful raconteur. No! I shall write this week off. Let me cast my mind back to the weekend that was filled with sun and fun. COVID-19 has erased our forthcoming 3-week cruise ship holiday to Rome and Barcelona. There was so much I had hoped to see and many giant footsteps to trace, like those of Alexander the Great’s and Leonardo Da Vinci’s. Barcelona was one great city I enjoyed on my own many years back and I was keen to share with The Mrs the many highlights that I know she will want to visit. The one highlight I knew I had to forgo was Camp Nou. The Mrs does not share my adoration for my football god, Barcelona Football Club’s number 10, who else but the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi. The other two couples who were meant to be travelling with us had confirmed a few months ago they had already got back their money from Regent Seven Seas Cruises. I merely nodded when asked by The Mrs if we also had received our refund. “Been too busy to check my credit card statement” would be an irresponsible and feeble excuse. That would have earned me a deservedly stern rebuke from her. But, how did I pay for it? With which credit card? With whose credit card?! Before I post this story, I must confirm the refund is received. Otherwise, there will be no peace of mind for many days to come.
Last weekend’s short holiday was organised by Little Sis. That is the kind of holiday I enjoy. Just pack a bag and turn up. Everything is arranged, paid and provided for. The destination was Victor Harbour, a mere 90 minutes from Adelaide CBD. The last time I visited that resort town was almost seven years ago. Then, the Southern Expressway was the world’s longest reversible one-way highway. In the mornings, only travellers heading north could use it and after 2 p.m., we could use it to travel south only. It was quite odd for the infrequent user, I never could remember when it was southbound or northbound. Today, it is an impressive (normal) seven-lane freeway, and we no longer have to think if it is opened or not for the direction we are travelling. Victor Harbour has become Victor Harbor. I was quite disturbed by that. When and why did they change it? Why Americanise an old Aussie town when our roots are most definitely English? I expected it would be a nice getaway, holidaying in a quaint small town. Instead, the gateway to Victor Harbour was flanked by the ubiquitous and very suburban stores such as Bunnings, Aldi, and Repco. So, it felt like we travelled 90 minutes to just another suburb. I suppose that’s nothing unusual in most parts of the world. But, the South Australia I fell in love with in the 90s was where the outback was just some twenty minutes out of the city! My spirits lifted a little when I saw a shopfront that had a faded and paint-peeled signage that read Victor Harbour Bakery. It was proof that my memory of the town’s original name was correct.
As soon we arrived at our destination, our mundane, routinely predictable world magically transformed into a paradise. There were traffic signs warning whale watchers to be careful but the only humpbacks we saw were two humpback islands. There were no mother and calf pairs, none were loafing about, or blowing fountains of seawater into the air. We were just a few weeks too late to witness the tail-slapping and flipper-waving antics that wow us humans. Nonetheless, it was a well-deserved holiday. The COVID months had dragged most of our mood down, and the very long hours of hectic work and incessant telephone enquiries from customers for the past six months have definitely drained me of energy and mental strength. A good dosage of the freshest, cleanest air from the Great Australian Bight did wonders to my system. The worn-out, grumpy old me vanished and was replaced by a chirpy and happy youngish larrikin. A hearty lunch at the local pub with a commanding view of the ocean was followed five hours later by Little Sis’ sumptuous roast beef paired with knife-cut Shanxi noodles for dinner. Magically served at the dining table, without fuss and seemingly without much effort, the Shanxi meal was a memorable one imbued with lots of local red wine, laughter and love. The night continued with much frivolity and fun. We all had a great laugh looking at ourselves masked with facial masks – the ones used for skincare, not healthcare.
The next morning, we woke up early, eager for another fun-packed day at the beach. The rest of the family do not practise Intermittent Fasting. So, much of their morning was spent preparing and having breakfast. I didn’t have to eat till 1 p.m. due to the late dinner the night before. My spare time was spent studying the notes I prepared from ma’s stories related to me the day before. It was well past 11 a.m. by the time they were ready to leave. At the beach, we came across a massive pile of fresh kelp washed to shore earlier in the morning. “Help me, free kelp!” The Mrs yelped excitedly. We were totally unprepared for such an easy harvest. None of us had any empty bags with us to stash the kelp in. Seaweed is expensive, a popular ingredient in Japanese and Korean dishes. High in iodine and anti-oxidant, it is a natural multivitamin and is amazing for gut health and the thyroid. Kelp’s benefits are almost endless, used in skincare, cosmetics and animal feed, and can be used as an agricultural fertiliser. Perhaps, it can be one of our greatest tool to help us fight against global warming. Kelp absorbs carbon dioxide and nutrients from the water. This process helps de-acidify the water, enabling a healthy environment for shellfish farming. Scallops, oysters and mussels need clean water to thrive – kelp farming and bivalves farming would be great companion industries. In 2012, Dr Antoine De Ramon N’Yeurt reported that if 9% of the ocean were to be covered in seaweed farms, 12 giga-tonnes per year of bio-methane can be produced as a substitute for natural gas and at the same time capture 19 giga-tonnes of carbon dioxide. The cleaner water is estimated to potentially provide 200 kg of seafood, per person, for 10 billion people. It is a no-brainer for urghhlings to invest in kelp farms. Where is the help when we need it? In 2018, CGTN reported that China produced over 58% of the world’s seaweed. Why do the rest of the world lag behind so badly?