Farting frogs, fake boobs and the perfect use for thongs. All in a day at the beach.

April 10, 2012

He didn’t look like the sort of person to make a life-long impression.

Older without being old. At the beach on his own. He had the appearance of a man who’d grazed in a decent paddock for some time.

He was wearing a terry-towelling hat, similar to the one Dad owned. And those tight, colourful bathers, popular at the time.

We were plonked just a few towels away. Pimply teenagers with ocean-bleached hair and cancerous tans. Back in the days when summer was spent in the surf, or on the sand.

He was paying no attention to us, and we wouldn’t have known he existed. Until that fateful, ear-splitting second.

Our coastline companion let one rip. Right there on the beach. A fart so loud it surely registered on a nearby Richter scale.

We all heard it. After quickly establishing that the guilty party wasn’t among us, we scanned the surrounding crowd. And found our man.

He sat, grinning. No attempt to hide it. And then a line that has stayed with me forever.

“I believe I trod on a frog”.

With that, four immature teenagers collapsed into fits of uncontrolled laughter. Tears ran down our cheeks. The cackling continued for an age.

All the while, our flatulent friend sat with a smile. He thought it was a hoot. Thankfully, he didn’t work up an encore.

It’s funny what you see at the beach. And what your hear. A smorgasbord for the senses.

Ever since, I’ve been acutely aware of what those are doing around me. No-one has come close to Farting Fred. But there are still sights and sounds to delight.

The girls and I spent Easter Sunday enjoying a rare Autumn dip. Along with a great many others. Such a lucky country.

Not so lucky, those international tourists who arrive for their day at the beach wearing Warwick Capper’s shorts. Usually in black or navy blue.

Someone is doing a roaring trade in Korea, selling these fashion atrocities. Where are the boys from Billabong when you need them?

What makes such attire worse, is when the offender strides onto the sand singing. Like the two happy blokes who wandered past us on the way to a swim outside the flags.

Loudly, too. They were obviously so excited about the bargain they scored on their new Korean short-shorts, that they just had to burst into tune. I didn’t recognise it, but it obviously made them happy.

So too, the young Aussie bloke who’d been buried in the sand by his mates. Up to his neck. They’d given him slender legs, and a most impressive set of breasts. Almost lifelike in fact. His girlfriend seemed less than impressed.

On our walk up the beach, we encountered two games of cricket. My favourite was the group using two upright thongs as stumps at the bowler’s end. Genius. You wouldn’t see that anywhere else in the world.

There are the non-swimmers, who stand on the edge, gazing at the waves. And the Whiteskins, who turn a bright orange before they get out of the car.

I particularly like the kids who run towards the ocean, dragging their boogie board, while kicking sand over anyone within fifty metres.

Their cousins would be the ones who gallop through the shallows, spraying icy cold water over those of us gently dipping a toe in.

But my favourites are the first timers. Tourists, and bushies, and the very young, making their beach debut.

It’s something special, to see that smile, and hear that excited scream, when the first wave crashes into them. Pure delight.

Next time you’re at the beach, keep an eye out for all of the above. Join in the fun. Make your own list. And listen out for any stray frogs.

Give us a wave. How life only gets better after a holiday surf.

January 10, 2012

Dad loved being out the back. He’d been in the surf all his life. I never saw him swim anywhere but the ocean.

He’d get through the white water with ease. The old man had that wiry, Australian build of the day. So many war veterans seemed to look that way. Not big, but slim and powerful.

My father had a deep tan, from long hours on building sites. His costume of choice was popular at the time. Not Speedos or board shorts. Somewhere in between. I still see old blokes wearing them. And I still cringe.

He’d catch wave after wave, surging to the shore, with his baldy head protruding from the wash. And me watching in the shallows.

I can remember when he taught me how to body surf. One of the best times of my young life. Even better than when he taught me how to whistle.

Work out where the waves are breaking. Don’t waste energy getting there. Pick the one you want. Swim hard. Once you’re on, keep one arm straight. Look up, and don’t crash into large women or kids.

I’ve loved the surf ever since. Thanks to him. If you’ve never caught a wave all the way into shore, you haven’t lived.

It all came back this week. We’re at the beach, spending every available second in the wide blue Pacific.

The girls decided they wanted to learn how to ride a surfboard. Not from me, interestingly enough. Instead, it was decided lessons would be better from Johnny the surf school man, who could take large sums of cash from us.

Between us, this was probably a wise choice. I surfed as a teenager, like all my mates. Even had a trailer for my board. A few of us would take the day off school, if a decent southerly was blowing. But I was no champion.

None of us could afford wet suits, so when the water got icy, we wore footy jumpers, somehow thinking the thick wet cotton would keep us warm. It didn’t. But we provided plenty of laughs for anyone watching.

Anyway, our wads of money this week meant the girls were fully equipped when they entered the surf. Not a Titans jumper in sight.

And guess what? They were naturals. Both up on their feet after their second lesson. One more and they’ll be teaching me.

The lessons did more than allow them to stand up on a surfboard. More importantly, they now feel comfortable in the ocean. Not scared by waves anymore.

I’ve noticed it already. They want to come out the back with me. No fear of the boomers crashing in front of them.

Dad and Johnny were very different characters. Although they shared the same hairline. And both are responsible for something wonderful.

They passed on a love of the surf. That will stay forever. The girls have been smiling like I was, on that weekend all those years ago. Best money we’ll spend this holiday.

Let the Magic begin. Why only racing’s bravest survive the Gold Coast’s biggest week.

January 7, 2012

It’s Magic Millions week. I hope you’ve been in training.

Seven wonderful days. Eight, if you joined them for the Sportsman’s Lunch at Northcliffe Surf club yesterday. Thank the Lord I didn’t know about that one.

Now, you need to forget all about those piddly one day racing events. Or the so-called Big Weekends. This festival of fun lasts a full week. Like that fancy one in Melbourne come November.

There are some highlights, that everyone will attend. The main race day of course. This time next week. Millions on the line, at a jam-packed Gold Coast Turf club.

The sale across the road attracts buyers from all over the world. Four unique days. Cashed up lovers of young thoroughbreds. Most of them will be wearing shorts.

Others will spend a few hours around the sale yard, enjoying cool drinks. There will be banter, and dreaming. Thinking of a winning purchase next year. I’ll be in that category.

True Magic Millions fans, however, have plenty more to do. No rest days. A survival of the fittest. With fresh tans.

Are you up for it? Of course you are. That’s the beauty of this week. Everyone is on holidays. Ready to play.

Today is Ladies Day at the track. A taste of things to come next weekend. With a tough eight race card.

The highlight is the Bat Out of Hell, a 900 metre scamper. I have never backed the winner of this race. Ever. Let’s move on.

Sunday and Monday are a little quiet. Good chance to inspect the yearlings at the sales complex. And for the girls, Monday’s ‘Magic in the Clouds’ luncheon is a must. Apparently.

Tuesday is when things gets hectic. Up early for the Barrier Draw, now being held at the beach. Good chance for a swim to shake the cobwebs off.

The Carbine Lunch starts at midday. At Jupiters Casino, of all places. Pat Welsh hosting. Don’t tell anyone, but he would actually pay them to do it.

Somehow, the party set must stay tidy, for the official launch that night. Invitation only. Mine must have been lost in the mail.

The boys get a sleep in the next day. Not the girls. They have to back up for a Sparkling Ladies lunch, at Palazzo Versace. Another must. Apparently.

Thursday is my favourite day at the sales. Day One. Always a buzz. The cool drinks will be icy, shared by some characters. Often into the evening.

The fairer sex get to show off their best headwear, at the Marriott’s Hats & High Tea. An annual favourite. I’ve been tempted to buy a fancy lid just to join them for a quality cuppa.

There’s a gala dinner on the Friday night. The rest of us will be doing the form. Trying to find some winners to pay for the previous few days.

Saturday is Race Day. The toughest will cross the road after the last, and finish things off at the sales. I’ve only ever made it that far once. Something about a false bid that caused a minor stir. I believe the ban might still be in place.

Is the week done? Who cares. That’s enough for most of us.

Let me know how you fare. If you make it to everything, I’ll push for some sort of award. Maybe a nice hat. It could be handy next year.