I was on the phone to a good friend last week, we speak every week to catch up. Often I'll call her and we'll speak for a while before I realise she's not 'at work'. She's the type of person that likes to be anywhere other than her ladypad. Sometimes she'll be visiting friends in the cool forest of the Dandenongs, at the family homestead in the rolling hills in the north east or on this occasion staying with friends at their coastal retreat. "Where are you?" I asked, "I'm down at Lorne" she replied, with that nonchalant tone that she delivers so well. My friend is totally mobile; only needing her laptop, cracked screen iphone, camera and a place to eat quality vegetarian. She could be anywhere in the world. She's an anywhere gal.
She inspired me to do a coast drive, and so when the sun peeked up on Saturday morning I packed the Jeep and headed south (as soon as I'd finished a few weekend chores). Driving on the right journey is therapeutic don't you think? Especially when accompanied by Josh Rouse and old Dylan albums, combine that with stunning coastal views and you have a nice experience en-route. The Great Ocean Road is one of the most beautiful drives in this country, it's really about the journey more than anything.
By late afternoon the clouds turned dark and the rain came with significant gusto. The beach has another personality with the wild cold weather, as I like to say "the ocean can make you feel like a piece of shit". In between the blades clearing the hard rain off the windscreen I could see determined surfers making the most of the big waves off Bass Straight. Nutters. I wanted to be out there, cold, tired and being challenged by the extreme. But I was also rather cosy in the old Jeep, so I continued west along the ocean road.
My head was clearing, the rain metaphorically washing away that adult stuff in my head. You know what I'm talking about? After a few strong coffees the following morning I headed into the temperate rainforest of the Otways, another magical place for anyone needing a bit of a recharge.
The Aire Valley in particular has a stand of Sequoia (Californian Redwoods) that were planted as a forestry plantation test almost 100 years ago, and they remain untouched in this wet valley next to the cool water of the Aire River, which mind you is teaming with small trout (it killed me that I didn't take a fly rod). But it didn't really matter, just being in such a beautiful place was enough. For those moments I felt good. Really good. Even though life didn't turn out exactly as planned, there is goodness to celebrate. The forest has me recharged for the following few days with hope in my heart, encouraged by the beauty of nature once again.
And because I saw trout in the little Aire River I had to smoke some when I got home. One of my all time favourite meals, smoked trout with home grown roasted spuds and spicy green tomato relish.
*NB. I forgot to take a camera. Thank You Steve for the iPhone.