Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb!!!

cherries, summer fruit, wooden bowl

Summer fruit is to die for and when the weather is hot I can think of nothing else but eating cold delicious fruit. Whenever I’m nearing the end of a particularly scorching run, all I can think of is eating lots of cold oranges, grapes and mangoes!!!

The one thing I’ve been indulging lately, however, is cherries. Yummy, gorgeous, ruby red cherries. Christmas cherries!

cherries, summer fruit, wooden bowl cherries, summer fruit, wooden bowl

I usually don’t eat many cherries as they can be quite expensive. This time, however, I was lucky enough to come across a large punnet of cherries for six bucks, which was much cheaper than grapes have been lately.

Just look at how gloriously luscious they are!

cherries, summer fruit, wooden bowl

I’ve also been mixing them with some other fruit for a little work snack to pick at.

cherries, blueberries, strawberries, summer fruit, refreshing

One tip I’ve found with fruit? When you’ve bought them, take a little time out to rinse under some cold water (and pick them off the stalks, say, if there grapes) before popping them into a large bowl (or bowls) in the fridge so they’re there, ready for eating whenever you feel a bit peckish. I find that makes a major difference between reaching for fruit or for some instant packet of processed foods when you’re feeling lazy but in need of a snack!

A Reason for Being: Chapter Eight

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

Chapter Eight

 

The next couple of weeks remain among her clearest memories, as radiant as sunlight gleaming off miniature ships dreaming in glass bottles. Tyler took Meredith to the beaches where they spent long hours swimming and snorkelling. He taught her how to surf, encouraging her as she continuously wiped out in the beginning, and cheering the first time she successfully caught a wave. They went out every night, sometimes to dinner, sometimes to the local bars. Some afternoons, they stopped to talk to the ubiquitous old men who sat under large shady trees by the roadside, playing dominos and checkers. Skinny and tough as old chickens, they smoked incessantly and discoursed in slow, gravelly tones on everything under the sun from the latest political scandal to where you could find the best pair of tits on the island. Meredith discovered she was a mean dominos player. Not that she was good at calculating her hand, but she was great at slamming down the tiles and swearing with the best of them.

One morning, they struggled awake at three o’clock to make the climb up the volcano at the centre of the island. To Meredith, it felt as if they had entered another world. First, there was the drive through the almost-empty island roads, winding through muggy rainforest with glimpses of black ocean between the trees. When the road gave out, they left the bike and hiked up a landscape seemingly devoid of life, rugged up in jackets against the freezing cold. The rock beneath their feet was black and smooth at some points, sculpted into frozen, flowing waves at others. They reached the top of the volcano and waited along with several other tourists to watch the sun rise over the rim of the mountain, turning the crater before them into a lake of liquid gold and bathing the alien landscape with scarlet and amber fire.

One day, he took her out on his family’s boat to one of the uninhabited islands close by. When Tyler had spoken about the family boat, Meredith had envisioned a small motor-powered craft of some kind, perhaps a small runabout. What she had not expected was the elegant thirty-two foot white sloop waiting for them at the end of the jetty. Meredith raised an eyebrow at him as he pointed out the boat.

“Don’t you need more than one person to crew this kind of boat?” she asked.

“You’ll be my crew,” he told her. “I’m going to teach you how to sail.”

He was as good as his word, spending a good hour going over the rigging of the boat and deciphering the mysteries of wind navigation and sailor terminology before they even cast off. Soon, he had her assisting with the tacking and keeping an eye on the jib to ensure it didn’t flag. There was a strong breeze that day, and the sea was not calm, but she loved the rollicking feel of the ocean beneath them, that sensation of flying once they crested each wave before settling back with a satisfying thwump on the sea. The wind swept through her tangled hair and fluted against her face, and the sun shone down hot on her shoulders which were coated with sea salt and sweat. She loved it.

After an hour, Tyler directed her attention to a dark spot on the horizon. As they drew closer, she watched the island take shape like a pudding on a plate, a dark mountainous centre clumped all over with thick forest, surrounded by a ring of white sand.

The water around the beach was too shallow to bring the boat in all the way so they dropped anchor and Tyler rowed them ashore in a small dinghy. They dropped their feet into the cool blue waters and dragged the boat far enough up the sand that it would be safe from the evening tide.

“Well?” he asked eagerly as he watched her look around. “What do you think?”

“It’s beautiful,” she said. “Why doesn’t anyone come to live here?”

“It’s too small. That mountain in front of us is solid basalt, and it’s not worth the time or effort to clear the forest for buildings or agriculture. I’m kind of glad of that. I would hate to see this place urbanised into a resort or villas for the rich or something. Come on, let’s take a walk along the beach. It curves around the mountain without stopping. You could circle the island in one, maybe two days.”

They spent most of the day exploring the island. Further up beyond the tree line was a natural path which they followed into the forest, scrambling over huge knotty roots and uneven hillocks, careful of loose pebbles under their feet. It was humid in the forest, and they slapped constantly at the mosquitoes that bit their arms and legs. Glistening pearly webs hung between trees, presided over by furry yellow, orange and black spiders as big as Meredith’s hand. Enormous yellow toadstools sprouted among the ferns.

The path led them to a small waterfall trickling fresh spring water from some unknown source on the mountain above. They scooped the water to their mouths and dipped their feet in the icy liquid while Tyler told Meredith about the lore surrounding the island.

“Legend has it that a long time ago, a magician fell in love with a princess of the Fey Host. Their people disapproved of the union so they ran away and took a boat across the ocean to a far-off land where they could be together. But faeries are earthen creatures and they cannot remain long from their trees, their grass and good rich soil. They were barely halfway into their voyage when the princess grew so ill, the magician feared she might die before they came in sight of any land.

“Now it happened that they were sailing over a volcanic hotspot far below the ocean floor. Do you know about hotspots under tectonic plates, how they’re full of magma which erupts and rises to eventually form islands above the sea? The process takes ages, but the magician decided to try and use his magic to speed things up and create a natural rock island right then and there for his princess.”

“Is that possible?” Meredith asked. “I mean, I’m no magical or geological expert, but that sounds like hell difficult magic to me.”

“Practically impossible,” Tyler agreed cheerfully. “But according to the story, this unnamed magician was one incredibly powerful guy, that his powers surpassed even that of Ferdinand Galhardo’s.”

Meredith snorted. “Now I know it’s really a myth. If this magician was so accomplished, the whole world would know his name.”

Tyler shrugged. “I’m just telling the story as the locals told it to me. And think about it, what a spectacular sight it must have been if he had succeeded! Picture it, hundreds of years of slow geological processes sped up in the space of a few minutes. The sea must have been churning and boiling from all that magma spewing and cooling within its depths, building up like a goddess rising. Tidal waves must have ensued for miles around! Anyway, according to the story, the magician was successful in his spell. The seawaters drew back, the ocean floor built up, and an island in the shape of a hump was formed. The magician dropped anchor and carried his princess to the very centre of the island while the rock was still cooling under his feet. He laid her upon the topmost peak, as far as they could get from the ocean. But alien volcanic rock wasn’t enough to revive his princess. As a faerie, she needed the intrinsic magic of her native forests. So the magician tried to use the last of his strength to conjure up a forest for her.

“As you can guess, that’s another near impossible spell, magicking a full-grown forest out of pure basalt. He tried and tried, but he was so spent from his creation of the island itself that he just could not summon the energy required for that one final spell. The poor magician was near driven to tears of desperation and frustration. At last, the princess took his hand in hers in an attempt to join her waning magic with his, to add her strength to his to work the spell. The magician closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and tried again with all his might. And a forest did spring up about them, this very forest that we’re sitting in right now.

“But because the magic of the Fey Host and the magic of humans had never – should never be joined in this sort of desperate last-ditch manner, something else happened. The magician opened his eyes and found he was no longer holding onto his princess’s hand, but to the branch of a tree. For she had expelled her final strength into the creation of this island, and in the process had become a part of this land they had created together.

“The magician was heartbroken at the loss of his princess. He felt he could no longer continue on his voyage alone and made up his mind to spend the rest of his life on this island where his beloved’s spirit still lived within the trees and earth. Eventually, the Queen of the Ocean took pity on him and she used her powers to change him into the white beach circling this island, and there he has remained forevermore, protecting his princess from the sea that almost killed her.”

Meredith cast her eyes around them. It must have been her imagination, but she thought the whole forest had fallen silent, listening to Tyler’s story. She thought she heard an otherworldly sigh between the trees, like the sigh of a Fey princess.

Tyler paused, as if he too had felt what she had felt. Then he went on. “They say that was how this chain of islands came to be, that as the magician’s spell created the island, it pushed up the surrounding ocean floor into a mid-oceanic ridge that eventually led to the formation of other islands close by.” He added, “Until today, this story has a certain credence, for even geologists have admitted the seafloor spreading in this area is unusual compared to other parts of the world.”

“It’s a good story,” Meredith commented. “Kind of sad too.”

Tyler reached for her hand. “Come on. Let’s go back to the beach.”

They spent the rest of the day swimming and exploring the beach. They took the dinghy out to sea and Tyler tried to interest Meredith in fishing, but she found it too boring, just sitting and waiting for a bite on the line. “If you’d just sit and wait, instead of constantly twitching that line and scaring away the fish, you’d actually catch something,” he told her severely.

“But I don’t like waiting,” she answered peevishly.

“You’re too impatient a creature,” he said, and ruffled her hair.

What did interest her, though, was the cleaning and filleting of the two fishes Tyler did catch. He placed the knife in her hand, demonstrating the way of making a quick, clean cut along the belly of the fish and up toward its head.

They marinated the fish with the lime and spices they had brought with them and cooked them over a driftwood fire. Once they had eaten, they lay back on the beach and watched the clouds drift across the sky, obscuring first this star and then that one, rolling aside to reveal glittering constellations.

It was quiet and peaceful on the beach with just the sound of the waves and the crackling of the fire.

“What are you thinking of so hard?” Tyler asked.

Meredith moved a little. She had not realised how lost she had been in her thoughts. “I was thinking about that story you told me earlier,” she answered. “About the magician and the faerie princess.”

She felt, rather than saw, his smile in the dark.

“It’s an interesting story, isn’t it?” he said. “It used to be one of my favourites when I was a kid.”

“It’s … kind of sad. Don’t you think?”

“They’re still together,” he said. “I think that makes for a happy ending.”

Meredith wondered. But she stopped wondering the moment Tyler rolled onto his side and bent over, giving her a quick kiss on the lips before rolling onto his back again to look up at the stars. She caught a glimpse of sea-green eyes – the soft, sudden kiss which smacked of so much tenderness – then he was gone and all she could see were the stars.

She lay there for a moment, trying to catch her breath. She could feel the acuteness of his presence beside her in a way she had never before sensed any other person in her life.

Without thinking, she turned and bent over him. Her hands fluttered lightly, delicately against his shoulders as she returned his kiss.

She wasn’t exactly sure how it happened, but suddenly they were rolling over the blanket, their hands fumbling, tugging at fabric and zippers, yanking urgently at knots. They couldn’t get out of their clothes fast enough, they couldn’t stop touching one another, exploring each other’s bodies. Hands, lips, hair, skin, breath. Meredith forgot herself completely. She was lost in desire, in that urgent sense of need, in that sense of abandonment, as if he could free her completely from the bonds of the world, and she could free him too.

The ancient Greeks had theorised that a man and a woman were once the same creature separated by the gods, and only the action of sex joined them again. At that moment, under the stars on that warm summer’s night, Meredith felt this to be inherently true. They moved in unison, their bodies fusing so perfectly with each other til she was struck with the sense of having arrived home, of finding the place where she truly belonged. She gasped at this sensation and Tyler moved further within her, fitting in with her, intensifying that dizzying, wondrous feeling, and then they were lost, lost in the freedom of each other.

The tide roared against the shore, the stars burnt in the sky. The fire was a dim red beacon of warmth upon the dark beach.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered, gliding a hand down her back.

She could hear his heartbeat, still thundering as fast as hers. She turned her head and kissed the warm skin there, then slowly worked her way up to his lips. Her hips brushed against his, she felt him move in response. Then they were melting away into each other, back into their completion.

 •

Meredith awoke with the sun hot on her skin. She could hear the sound of sea birds and the crash of waves close by. The driftwood fire had long burnt out.

For a moment, she lay in Tyler’s arms, savouring his warmth and the memories of last night. Then she began to edge out slowly from under him.

His arms tightened around her, and his eyes opened, sleepy green eyes looking straight at her.

“Where are you going?” he murmured.

Meredith paused. “I thought I might do a quick run down the beach.”

Tyler opened his eyes a little more and he gave her a half-disbelieving look. “You are not going for a run this morning.”

“Why not?” she shot back, a little defensively. “I do it every day.”

“You are unbelievable,” he said. “Come back to me, sweetheart. Leave the running for another day.”

She hesitated, and he cajoled her until finally, a little unwillingly, she lay back down beside him. He kissed her on the shoulder, on the neck. With the sun’s fire warming their bodies, they closed themselves around each other again.

The Importance of Kindness, Empathy and Compassion

Kindness

I was flipping through the NY Mag’s The Science of US (which offers fun bite-sized articles on human psychology and sociology that keeps you clicking from one article to the next – I bet this addictiveness has something interesting to say about the way we behave too) and I came across this article entitled You Are Built to be Kind.

Basically, the point of the article is encapsulated in a short video about how human beings are built to be kind and empathise with each other. The video also made a very interesting point that rather than Charles Darwin’s concept ‘survival of the fittest simply meaning ‘every woman for herself’, what he really meant was ‘sympathy is the strongest instinct humans have’ and ‘communities with the most sympathetic members will flourish and raise the greatest amount of offspring.’

But what really struck me was how scientists were interested in the vagus nerve which is activated when someone is feeling compassion. They also found that lower class individuals have a higher vagus nerve response when they see someone suffer than when wealthier individuals witness suffering. As psychologist Dacher Keltner puts it, it ‘literally is a compassion deficit that’s produced by lots of wealth.’ He also goes on to note that poorer communities tend to give more to charity than wealthier people. READ MORE

Monday Motivation: The Power of Imagination Makes Us Infinite

The Power of Imagination

Week in Training: December 1st to 14th:

Evening moon

As I pretty much foresaw earlier, December’s been so busy I haven’t managed to get in much exercise at all. In fact, I decided to call a halt on the Kayla Itsines BBG, even though I’m down to the last four weeks, and have a little break before resuming the BBG in the new year because I’d rather do it properly than not do it at all. So please keep checking in early next year for my complete review of the Kayla Itsines BBG 2.0!

In the meantime, it actually feels kind of good to be doing something else instead. Every now and then you have to change up or you’ll get bored! I’ve just been doing lots of running in the meantime as it’s the quickest way to keep fit without much fuss. In between our weekend away at Bunker Bay and last week, where I had a Christmas engagement nearly every day, there wasn’t much time to do anything else. The weather has been fantastic for working out as well. I’ve been loving my evening runs and who wouldn’t with a moon like that overhead?

This week, however, I’m going to try and get a workout in each day so I won’t be feeling too badly ahead of Christmas!

Also, in other BBG news, Kayla Itsines has just released updated versions of her BBG 1.0 Guide and HELP nutrition guide for Christmas! The updated versions are free for those who have already purchased her guides (you will get an e-mail sent to you with a download link for the new version).

HELP guide Kayla Itsines

I’m especially loving the new improved HELP guide. The first HELP guide had lots of informative guidelines on portion sizes and how to make a meal of various portion sizings of grains, carbs, fats and vegetables – however it didn’t have a lot of meal ideas and was pretty abstract about just what kind of meals you should be eating daily.

In the new improved HELP guide, Kayla has included a far more specific meal plan with recipes for all the meals you should be eating each day – I love that she’s got a lot more meal recipes rather just ‘for lunch, have one portion chicken with one portion vegetables and one serving of grains.’ I know for some people, that offers them a lot of flexibility and they can quite easily think up some fantastic meal idea out of that but for me, that just makes my mind go blank and I give up and just head out to buy a takeaway pasta dish or something! So I can’t wait to try out all the new meal recipes Kayla has in the new HELP guide – they look so yummy! I’m going to start this in the new year as well so stay tuned for a more comprehensive review of the HELP guide in the new year as well!

Oh, and one other thing – her new HELP guide has a far more improved look with more pretty pictures and an easier to follow format which I love!

December 1st to 7th:

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: Run 8km
  • Wednesday: Run 7km
  • Thursday: Run 3km, walk/run 3km
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: One-hour yoga class
  • Sunday: Rest

 December 8th to 14th:

  • Monday: Run 2km
  • Tuesday: Run 8km
  • Wednesday: Rest
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: Rest
  • Sunday: Rest

Recipe: Lettuce Cups

Lettuce Cups

With warm weather on its way, I wanted to create a simple yet healthy lunch and I thought… what about lettuce cups? Light, refreshing and really easy to make!

However, it always takes a bit of trouble convincing J to try something new. Because I had to work late, I prepped the lettuce cups and took some with me to work then texted J to let him know what was waiting for him for dinner.

To put it mildly, he wasn’t too impressed. READ MORE

You Are What You Do

You Are What You Do

The other day I sat down at my laptop to get some writing done.

Only I wasn’t really writing.

I was surfing the net. I was looking at blogs, watching videos on youtube, reading free stories off the ‘net, reading news articles and features.

And this is something that happens a lot with me.

I’d set aside time for writing. And then I’d get distracted. I’d sit down to read a page or two of a book and then I’d find myself reading chapter after chapter as time ticked away.

Or I’d set aside time to exercise. And before I get up and into my workout gear, I pick up my phone to check out fitspo pics on Instagram. Just one or two, just to get me inspired. And before I know it, I’m scrolling down and down and down and half an hour of just looking at Instagram pics has passed.

I’d had enough and it was time to give myself a pep talk. “What are you doing?” I demanded with myself. “Do you want to write? Or do you just want to lie on the couch for the rest of your life, surfing the net and reading magazines?”

And that was when I realised: We Are What We Do. READ MORE

Travel Journal: Bunker Bay, Day Four

wildflowers, western australia, margaret river, bunker bay

Day four marked the final day of our (way too) short stay at Bunker Bay. We had plans to skip breakfast and instead hit the beaches once last time before check-out time at 11am but when we woke up, the weather was a little cloudy and incredibly windy so we decided to forego the beach and drop by Sugarloaf Rock to check out the view. How cute is the name Sugarloaf Rock? It makes me think of the bread-and-butterfly in Through the Looking Glass!

Sugarloaf Rock, Dunsborough, Yallingup,, Margaret River, Western Australia, down south

Sugarloaf Rock, Dunsborough, Yallingup,, Margaret River, Western Australia, down south READ MORE

Travel Journal: Bunker Bay, Day Three

Lookout, Bunker Bay

We woke up on our third day at Bunker Bay to sunshine and blue skies again. Gorgeous!

On our way to Caves House for lunch, we took the Eagle Bay Road turnoff and drove by the coast, checking out the gorgeous beaches. We stopped by Gannet Rock and took a couple of pictures then went on to Caves House with a plan to come back later for a swim.

Gannet Rock, down south, Western Australia,, dunsborough

READ MORE

A Reason for Being: Chapter Seven

Point of Negation, A reason for being, death to stock photos

Chapter Seven

 Fifteen months earlier.

 

Berhansen. Magician. He’s a magician.

The thought pounded through Meredith as she ran up the beach, leaving a puzzled and sand-splattered Tyler staring after her.

She didn’t stop running until she reached the Guesthouse, a cheap hostel situated right on the beach. She nodded hello to a couple of surfers smoking in the tiny, scrubby garden and went up to the room she shared with four other girls. She grabbed her sponge bag and headed to the communal shower to scrub the sweat and salt and sand from her body, then dressed and headed for the tiny mess hall whence she could smell eggs and coffee and toast.

Halfway down the stairs, she paused. She could see a familiar dark head standing at the desk, talking with Peggy Sue, the freckly redheaded receptionist.

“I know,” he said, displaying a charismatic smile. “I know it sounds strange that I don’t even know her name, but I was hoping if I described her, you could maybe tell me if she’s around. You know everyone who goes through this place. About average height, athletic build, runs every morning, dark hair, fierce face?” He glanced up and caught sight of Meredith on the stairs. A smile came over his face and he turned back to Peggy Sue. “On the other hand, Pegs, looks like I’ve found her. Thanks for all your help, anyway.” He moved to the bottom of the stairs and stood there, looking up at her. READ MORE