Tuesday Chew-It-Over

We’ve done it! The big hand has once again reached the top of our continuous gardening crawl clock leaving the way clear, for a while at least, to work on a few of the projects pending.

Now just to clarify: this does not include the house painting. No, that task is an All Hands on Deck job rather than a Goat Herd-Milk Maid production. What this dynamic duo, ably assisted by The Bean Counter who is enjoying a week long holiday, are now working towards is re-siting and morphing the cycle shed into an easily accessible, preferably spider-free wood shed. Like most around here, this is one of those easier-said-than-done jobs as currently the chosen site for this re-purposed outbuilding is occupied by our hoard of cobblestones and red bricks (they’re sure to come in handy one day). As we clear another space for and transport these stockpiled treasures (some of them for the fourth time), there is a lot of time for chattering, nattering and outright exercising in the art of conversation and we thought we’d share what we’d been contemplating here with you all; a sort of Chew-it-over Tuesday.


Have you noticed how many simple, playful, fun-loving pass-times are slowly being regimented into rule-bound “hobbies” requiring specialist equipment, “accepted practise”, and a great many rules? We say that in light of two recent events in our beloved New Brighton: Kite Day and the Annual New Zealand Sandcastle Competition. Both are wonderful events, the sort of things families much nicer than us make memories to last a lifetime at, and have our humble suburb resonating to the sound of the cash register bell as our cafes and market fleetingly get the patronage their standard deserves. From that point of view, an utter success.


Our beef is more with the actual activities.  Aren’t sandcastles meant to be bucket-shaped, seaweed bedecked, lop-sided creations that, more often than not, don’t ever get to have their moat filled by the incoming tide because your little brother jumps on them?


Isn’t kite flying meant to be all about finding the right bits of wood, attaching the newspaper (in the older Homesteader’s case) or plastic sheeting, filching the pair of tights for the tail from your mother’s drawer, and then running several kilometres, throwing the stupid thing into the air while your sister, at string control, yelled at you for “doing it wrong”?

Oh, happy memories…

Nowadays, we deduced, it seems to be more about money and buying stuff: the kite kit, the moulded sandcastle template, the spatulas and shaping tools and water misters, more kite string, replacement kite frame… Maybe, though, this results in more children enjoying the art of actually flying the kite or building the castle, rather than spending all their time in preparation – that is if the manage to prise the equipment out of Dad’s hands.kite day 2015

The Homestead jury is still out on that one.

We’ll continue to build the same lop-sided, multi-layered, shell windowed, driftwood palisaded mermaid castles we always have. Maybe one day we’ll even manage to get the moat filled before The Farmer or Renovator jumps on it. We’ll still marvel at the flying creations (and their pricetags) as we wander up the beach of a Sunday.

So, really all this pontificating is pointless. But it helps pass the time while your heaving cobbles around.



16 thoughts on “Tuesday Chew-It-Over

  1. Yes, I think you’re making a good point.

    My family takes garden spades to the beach to build CASTLES. As in a series of bulwarks on the seaward side, a seriously big courtyard inside the innermost walls. High walls – about 2-3 feet. This is about keeping the enemy/sea at bay people – for as long as it takes. It is not a pretty construction method. No little shell adornments or sculpting, or getting the consistency just right. This is about getting the job done. Serious stuff. And then, when the tide comes in, the crew stand within their bastion, frantically patching in the last few seconds, until at last the final wall is breached, and a roar and a charge of Braveheart proportions carries the Few back in retreat – battered but not broken. We like to go and visit the sculpting kind of sandcastle stuff, but it’s not for us. Did we turn to our more construction style of castling because of sculpting competitions, a kind of thumbing our noses, or did it come first, and we remain snooty in our confidence that we were first and therefore right or because we felt inadequate comparing our small, scruffy, made with a dollar store bucket type of sculptures to those creations that are as big as houses and take days to build? I’m not sure.

    Kite flying festivals have just created envy – our kites (we have three different ones, not counting my home made one from my childhood, which my father kept for some reason) don’t fly as well, we need different, better ones with more strings or different strings or better tails or…it’s not about the kite, it’s about the fun, but seeing the festivals and competitions does kind of take the fun out of it.

    My father was opposed to my learning dressage and jumping – he didn’t like the idea of getting serious about entering horse shows, as he thought it was getting away from the pleasure one ought to feel riding a horse – the joy of partnership, of exploring together, of working together. Shows he felt were all about the looks, not about the relationship, and he feared I would wilt in competition. He was right. Comparing my Thelwellian grassfed ponies to the cossetted Welsh/Arab crosses in the show ring had inevitable consequences of dissatisfaction and envy. I never did measure up in the show ring as I desired. And I don’t have any amazing show ring memories. What I do remember from my riding days is long trail rides, or playing hide and seek on horseback in the forest near our home, or our traditional Boxing Day ride when we’d take pack lunches and see how far we could get before lunch and turning around, so we’d be home by dark. It wasn’t about our skill as riders, it was our companionship, our partnership with our horses, adventure, mishap and the natural world around us.

    Baseball was more fun when we played scrub – no teams, just whoever was hanging around on the street – and we’d take turns at all the positions in a complicated but formalized pattern – just because it was fun. Little league took care of that. Now it’s frowned upon to use the ball diamond without permission because of the amount of grooming and lines maintenance. Same with soccer fields. There are signs to tell you to keep off the grass. Do you have baseball down there? I suppose cricket has probably gone the same way.

    • We are reeling here! Not allowed to play on the soccer fields??!! Keep off the grass??!! Here we have always respected the cricket block (usually a 20x3ish metre wired off patch of hallowed turf in the middle of most parks) but that leaves a huge amount of park for your scrabbly kick arounds, games of touch rugby (or thump rather heavily rugby in my experience), french cricket or whatever.
      Pah! So many rules!
      Now, if we were in charge…:)

      • There is only one cricket ground that I’m aware of in Victoria, and a few more up Island, but the one here is most definitely hallowed ground and not even to be walked across with the dog. There are plenty of school playgrounds available for scrabbly kick arounds, but yes, it’s true in the public parks, there are often signs to keep off the fields. I admit this time of year it’s probably because they’re so soggy and will become mud wrestling venues if used even briefly, but the signs are up in better seasons too. I’m guessing it’s because even though the parks are public, ie upkeep etc paid for by taxpayers money, the associations that use the fields pay a fee towards that as well, and probably a hefty one in order to be able to monopolize the fields for two or three practices a week and games on Saturday and Sunday. So it’s probably about the money, as it all too often is. Baseball is worse, because here baseball is what cricket is for you.

  2. We’re posting this comment from our Auntie Liz, who was let down by technology and so resorted to private email to express this very salient observation:

    Well I am going to get on the bandwagon about those sandcastles. They have a competition here in Windsor and build all kind of wonderful creations and then LISTEN TO THIS ——-THEY CHARGE $20 a HEAD for the public to view them.Well you know what “THEY CAN STICK THEIR SANDCASTLES UP WHERE THE SUN DON’T SHINE” I travelled to Windsor to have a look and turned right round again after having and icecream… what a blimin cheek!
    So I am with you with the humble sandcastle it is supposed to be fun not a flaming competition ………….
    Yer Aunt or great Aunt

  3. What a load of horse… Paying to view sandcastles? It IS all about the money for sure.
    Kites at our house have been plastic bags (yeah, cringe, I know) with string tied to the 2 handles, joine into 1 then held into the wind. Works rather well WHEN there is wind that plays ball that is. :/

    • Totally agree. There was nothing the younger Homesteaders enjoyed more than riding their bikes around with a plastic bag parachute attached to the back. Yep, definitely a cringe, but also upcycling/recycling/innovative use…maybe??? 🙂

  4. Well, I guess, anybody can have his/her own way of fun at the beach with castles, sculptures and kites or just getting the toes nicely wet and salted…but I draw the line with shocked frugal Dutch heart to pay $20.00 to look at any of it;0) Your auntie sounds like a pretty fun and feisty lady;0)

  5. And even the humble paper plane/dart is being usurped by the remote controlled drone. Bah! Which also reminds me of the humble parachute made with a stone, handkerchief and twine.

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