It’s my new favourite out-of-town place. Stanwell Park.
Just an hours drive south of Sydney and just as the Wollongong sprawl starts, there’s a beach that I’ve visited a few times in the past four years, but for some reason it is now cementing itself as one of my favourite weekend destinations.
It’s hardly a secret place, so there’s not a lot new I can tell you – apart from these days I have a baby in tow. Now, this is the important part: For any mum or dad out there that has a passion or hobby that they love to do, a baby can easily put an end to you partaking in said activity. Ever again. I can totally see how people end up giving up on things they love. It’s not easy to balance life with a pooing and sleeping machine that needs total supervision. But I, like many before me, are determined not to let this happen.
So this trip to Stanwell Park is a ‘test the water’ moment. I’m taking Katie and Theo on a surf trip.
I suck at surfing. And I have ears that don’t really like getting water in them. In fact you could say that I shouldn’t even try. But for some reason the sport and lifestyle has appealed ever since I put posters of Mark Occhilupo and Kelly Slater on my bedroom wall over twenty years ago. In the past four years, I’ve managed to get myself to a standard where I can actually make a few waves and have the pleasure of standing up. Like a complete kook I have bought myself expensive surfboards in a bid to feel more like a proper surfer and because of this I can’t trust myself (or others to be fair) to surf in busy conditions. I guess living in Bondi was a silly thing then right?
Getting out of town and hitting the NSW coastal road with the lads has been one of the great enjoyments of my existence since moving to Australia. Whenever not working on the weekends I’ve jumped in the car and headed off to explore the great expanse of wave filled sandy beaches on offer. But life catches up with us all, with a heavily pregnant wife and now a baby to look after these trips have dried up. And if you can’t leave the baby, then take the baby with you!
I am determined this will work!
Here’s the schedule:
6am. Wake up. Breakfast. Put boards on roof. Wish that everyone else was up and ready to go.
7am Wake baby up. What a legend. I still love doing this – he takes it all with a smile on his face. Wake wife up. Not quite the same vibe.
7.30 Baby has been fed. Pack family into car. Drive for one hour. Make sure baby is awake the whole time (he has to nap at 8.30 sharp)
8.30. Baby naps whilst I wax my brand new surf board. So excited. Wait, I forgot the leg rope. FAAAAAAAAARRRRRRKKKKKKKKKKKKK
8.45 Get in the water. Small waves. Perfect. Surfing with no leash and a new board, not a great combo. Having said that I actually surf better. Winning.
9 – 10.24 Look at the beach nervously hoping wife isn’t screaming and signaling me to come in
10.25 exit water.
It turns out that everyone’s had a good time. Theo hasn’t gone mental and Katie’s enjoyed herself. She even says, “next time we do this I should bring the shade so we can chill on the beach a bit more comfortably.” Did you see that everyone? “Next time”. Quote.
We quickly grab a coffee at the busy and impressive 16 Feet Espresso cafe (cool vibes, man) and head home in time for Theo to sleep during the car journey.
That, Ladies and Gentlemen, and especially for surfing Dads, is my new schedule of Greatness. Hopefully I can use these timings for a long time to come. We all know that it only takes Theo being ill or him not feeding properly to completely screw with this timetable, but for now at least, I’ve got myself a plan.
For “next time”.