Cape to Cape is traditionally a 4-stage mountain bike cycling classic race which takes place annually in Margaret River, Western Australia. The race attracts over 1200 cyclists, the largest contingent including Aussies of course, but cyclists from other parts of the region including Singapore and New Zealand and even as far as Ireland, Scotland, UK and Brazil make their way to this challenging event every year to test their skills and endurance, secretly hoping to move further and further up the ladder to become one of the top participants – the black dots. Riders can vie for top spots as a solo rider or pairs and mixed pairs.
This year, a lone Trini (Trinidad and Tobago) joined the group of enthusiasts. Having successfully completed an Ironman in 2019, I guess the sky will always be the limit.
The job of supporter this time was a lot less demanding both physically and emotionally. And why would it be anything else when the location is simply one of the nicest in Western Australia. Margaret River is a small town south of Perth and is known for its craft breweries and surrounding wineries – and I could stop here, but there is more. The nearby coast boasts of beautiful beaches including Surfer’s Point, a favourite spot to capture the imposing sunset.
Margaret River is located between two lighthouses north and south of the town and the Cape to Cape race skirts around the limestone caves and sea cliffs of the Cape Naturaliste National park. As you meander in and around the town the roadside is spotted with native flowers at this time of year and the majestic wooded areas take your breath away.
The race itself takes place over four days and tests the cyclist’s skills at world class single track, rough road, sandy hills, and sheer gut and determination. The camaraderie encouraged and practised is testament to the participants’ love of the sport and the fellowship that is built therein. Supporters are happy to hang around exploring the beauty that surrounds, or just relaxing with a coffee and a good book (laptop/mobile – whichever), meeting new people and sharing their own stories.
While the races were in motion, I took the opportunity to stroll along the rugged coast where the Southern and Indian Oceans meet, lose myself in the beauty of the Barval Wines winery, explore the surrounding forest trails in Margaret River and catch up on some local shopping of course. Wine tastings, beach strolling and cave exploring were icing on the cake.
“So what do you do every day?” – the number one question I receive at least once a week. I am touched that so many people are interested in my whereabouts now that I am retired and it always brings a smile to my face, especially because I am really not sure if the person is baffled, worried or simply interested in how I am managing this thing called ‘retirement’.
It is an important question, mind you – what you do with your days after 35 years of being consumed with your job, children, hobbies and life in general. There is a major gap to fill when you retire to an empty nest. And I strongly believe that you need to prepare yourself mentally, physically and financially for this new stage of life. But I was genuinely never worried about filling my days with ‘busyness’ because quite frankly I wanted them as empty as possible so that I could fill them with what I wanted to fill them with. That was my goal, and my mantra – nowhere to be and lots of time to get there – continues to guide me.
My answer to this question is oftentimes – ‘Whatever I want to do’. It really doesn’t answer the question and may sound rude but in essence it simply means that I am free to do as I please, that flexibility rules my day.
Today I thought I’d document my every move – because sometimes I too, am not quite sure what I’ve been up to. So here goes, for those who are really interested in my sometimes-daily routine.
5.00 – Internal alarms goes off – meaning that my eyes can no longer stay closed which I am told is a mature person’s curse. I have not set a morning alarm since I’ve retired, and you have no idea how ‘freeing’ this is. I get up and start my day and I’ve chosen to fill my early morning with exercise. So, I quickly feed the dogs and I am out of the house by 6.00 to take a leisurely 8k run.
The sun is rising, lights are still on in my neighbourhood, the air is cool, the birds are already up and searching for food. As I stroll down my hill, I take in the lush views of the mountains and begin my run slowly, enjoying the peace and quiet on the roads. I am smiling.
The route is quiet at first but as the rest of the world begins their daily commute to school and work, the sound of the birds chirping is drowned by the noise of vehicles rushing to get where they need to be. I am still smiling – I have nothing to rush anywhere for. I feel at peace even with the hustle and bustle around me.
As I finish my run in my favourite park, the squawking of the parrots come back into focus, the squirrels are scurrying from tree to tree, and I share the usual morning pleasantries and chats with my morning exercise buddies. As I pass the school on my way home, mothers are frantically doing last minute homework with their kids, quick hugs and kisses, and they are off to start their day. I remember those days and I smile.
This particular morning, the traffic is thick. I slowly walk back home engaging in conversation with at least four drivers who are at a standstill. I laugh and jokingly thank the traffic for letting me catch up with some friends on the way.
8.00 – I peruse my garden – feeding the wild birds and the pond fish. There’s nothing like walking through your garden, trimming, pruning, chatting with the flowers and wildlife along the way – picking the fresh produce of the day. It’s peaceful and rewarding. As I sit having breakfast, the hummingbirds are darting back and forth from the flowers to their feeders, the wild birds are having a blast with the fresh seeds, the butterflies flitting gracefully from flower to flower. The morning is cool. The rest of the day looms ahead.
10.00 – Hobbies are cast aside today as I have some last-minute shopping to do readying for my big trip next week to see my boys. At the mall I meet up with my sister unexpectedly. With nowhere to be and lots of time to get there, we catch up on the last days’ events, laugh and even reminisce, forgetting that we have anything else to do. Then, oops, we do have things to do and continue on our merry way, all the better for having met up with each other.
1.00pm – Lunch while catching up with the BBC and some other personal messages. However, a day is never complete without succumbing to the call of the sleep gods. And it is raining. YES!!! A movie and a nap are in order for the afternoon quiet time. This was always a must on my retirement list of ‘things to do’ – nap time, relax time, meditation time, me time – call it what you will – the only flexibility about this time is its length, but it happens every single day.
3.00 – I thought I had set aside my hobbies for the day, but my sewing machine is clambering for some attention, and I dutifully answer the call – finishing off some projects before my impending vacation next week. I am still smiling.
But by 6.00, the sun is on the verge of setting and I prepare myself for the end of another beautiful retired day with a glass of wine.
It was a good day. I am blessed and grateful. Looking forward to tomorrow ….
I discovered the Avocat Falls two years ago during the Covid lockdown. Even though we were forbidden to visit any water sources, beaches or otherwise, the outdoors beckoned, and my husband and I ventured to this quiet part of our rainforest to soak in a bit of nature. I was enamoured with the silence of the forest, the magnificent roar of the waterfall and the clear clean water filling the many pools we crossed as we made our way down to the mouth of the Marianne River.
The Avocat village is located off the Arima Blanchisseuse road, and you can trek to the Falls the easy way (20-minute walk both ways) or the more scenic adventurous path (2.5-hour turnaround). And well I am sure you can easily guess that we took the longer route.
Since then, this hike has become our go-to when looking for a ‘quick’ outdoor fix. It begins with a 15-minute uphill climb through the lushness of the rain forest. The birds are always nearby calling out to each other and the sound of the river fades at you move further away. The descent into the river is gentle and you are soon serenaded once again with the rush of the water flowing down river.
There is a slight wade through the river and a quick swim across a pool before you feast your eyes on the roaring waterfall. What a sight to behold. The world stops. You are in a sacred place that nature has provided for all to enjoy. You sit and ponder the strength and beauty of the water gushing over and thundering into the pool below. Tempting for the brave to jump in and enjoy the cool refreshment the water brings. Serene enough for those who just want to sit and enjoy the beauty that surrounds.
You are mesmerised and want to stay a while, and only pull yourself away because you know there is more to experience as you make your way down the river, swimming through the many pools of water, soaking up the natural rock formations, breathing in the sweet scent of the white peace lilies that line the river bank.
We have since taken many friends on this hike with us. And always, but always, it’s a joy to see the smile on their faces. The sheer delight in visiting one of the best waterfalls in Trinidad and Tobago.
As a child, Bermuda was synonymous with the legendary Bermuda Triangle, also known as the Devil’s Triangle, a place somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean where planes and ships were reported to have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Even though this myth has been dismissed by the experts, it is still ever present in my mind.
Bermuda is in fact an archipelago consisting of over 150 islands with the most significant being connected by bridges, making it appear as one landmass. You can literally run from one part of Bermuda to the other in just over 8 hours depending on your level of fitness. Or if you prefer, you can simply drive around at your leisure in less than a day. But what it lacks in size, it certainly makes up for in beauty.
It is located out in the middle of what seems like nowhere, approximately 1000 km to the west-northwest of North Carolina. Even though I live on an island myself, it’s still kind of scary living so far away from any other landmass, considering the increasing number of hurricanes recorded annually off the east coast of the US. But in essence Bermuda, even though it has experienced the wrath of hurricanes over the decades, receives some protection from a coral reef, and its position at the north of the hurricane Alley limits the direction and severity of approaching storms. As safe a place to be I imagine, as any of the other Caribbean islands.
Bermuda remains one of the British Overseas Territories. With a population of just over 71,000, its inhabitants reflect its rich history of slavery, colonisation and migration with descendants from Africa, Britain, America, Portugal and the mixtures in between. The buildings whether commercial or residential share a similar paint pallet all with white roofs, giving it a feeling of unity and purpose. A very warm and welcoming people greet you and you immediately slip into the vacation-I’m-gonna-have-a-great-time mode. With an ocean view at your every turn, you remain calm, relaxed and always with a smile on your face.
We were fortunate to spend our time with some long-time friends or ‘locals’ as you would say, affording us the privilege of visiting every nook and cranny of this wonderful island by land and sea. From St. Georges at one end to the Royal Naval Dockyard at the other end of the island and all the beautiful beaches, hilltop views, walking trails and restaurants in between.
Thanks to our very generous and gracious hosts, I’d say a time very well spent.
In my humble opinion, there’s not a bad spot, view or beach on the north coast of Trinidad. Not all beaches are accessible but the views are certainly there for everyone to enjoy. The drive is long and winding but the lush flora and the oceanview makes is all worthwhile.
This is just one little beach with so much beauty to offer. Enjoy the pics.
I’ve been going to Tobago annually for the past 30+ odd years. Since my boys were toddlers and infants. It’s such a lovely place to spend your holidays with your children. Beach, sun and fun. That’s all children really need to have a great vacation. And friends of course. And we are fortunate enough to belong to a group of friends who have weathered the test of kids, time and growing pains so that our children were surrounded by what they have grown to call their ‘normal friends’. Friends who have been with them always.
As a form of entertainment, we have toured Tobago by land and sea. It’s a small island after all. So that’s an easy feat to accomplish year after year. But by far the most enjoyable times have been our adventures by boat and of course hiking.
Our kids may no longer be with us as they are grown and growing their own families, but that hasn’t stopped the adults from continuing the exploration of Tobago without them.
Argyle waterfall, located on the northeast side of Tobago just past Roxborough, is one of the highest falls at 54m cascading down 3 levels officially. And I say officially because that’s what is told to you by, well, the officials let’s say. But we managed to hike up the sides of the waterfall to seven levels of pools and rocks. Each level taking you through the lush green woodland that surrounds, and affording you the opportunity to relax and refresh yourself in the cool water of the rock pools that greet you.
The hike begins with a short 20-minute walk through wide paths adorned by huge trees and the lush flora. The silk cotton trees were in full bloom and we were somewhat mesmerised by the seeds floating across our path. You can hear the roar of the waterfall in the distance and your first impression upon reaching the falls is that this cannot be it. But as you climb further you realise that that was just the beginning of what is truly Tobago’s finest waterfall.
I constantly boast that there’s not a bad spot, beach or view on the north coast of Trinidad. And even though I’ve driven along this coast hundreds of times, I am still in awe of its beauty. The rugged coastline, the small, isolated islands embellishing the ocean view, the lushness of the flora lining the road and cascading down to the beaches.
There are many beaches that are easily accessible and some that take a bit of a hike to get to. But all are beautiful, peaceful and welcoming. The Marianne beach and its river mouth are no different. Frequented by beach lovers daily, this spot has become a much-loved location for weekenders and those seeking a quiet getaway anytime during the week.
We simply intended to take a quick refreshing swim in the river, but lingered on peacefully until the sun set. Highly recommended to relieve stress and put a smile on your face.
I suddenly felt that I was in the middle of a dream, floating gently down a body of water, not quite sure exactly where I was, for the beauty that surrounded was like no other. The clear turquoise waters, the lush green forest, the babbling of the water running over the rocks, pool after pool after pool.
As a group of avid hikers, we were in search of the Mystic pool – one of the many pools which form the Matura River in the north-eastern part of Trinidad. The nearby Matura beach is known as one of the best turtle watching sites in Trinidad, but I can assure you that there are other natural resources which make this small village spectacular beyond words – a dream for nature seekers.
The hiking trail is by no means challenging, except maybe for the short decline and ascent to and from the river, but the trek through the river, with its numerous waterfalls, picturesque gorges, and amazing swimming pools will more than make up for any discomfort you may endure.
We had ample time to swim, dive off rocks (mainly the teenagers in our midst), swing from the ropes hanging from the trees (not only the teenagers but the young at heart as well), snack, capture the natural beauty in our heart and mind and cameras, wade through the waters and, of course, loll in the many babbling brooks.
Did we have a great time? We certainly did. A must visit for all nature lovers.
An early morning start with a drive to the beautiful Caura Valley to begin our hike. Honestly our small twin island state abounds with such natural beauty, it is a shame that I don’t explore it more often.
Already as you drive through the Caura valley you can envision the peace and quiet you will be trekking through. The mountains now awakening still covered in mist, the calling of the birds as they start their day, with the distinctive ‘tocking’ of the Bearded Bell Bird also known as the Campanaro, native to the upper regions of the northern range, and the peekaboo views of the Caura River as you near the beginning of the trail, all contribute to building the excitement for your journey.
The Brasso Santo Trail is home to hikers, bikers and hunters and much thanks must be given to our bikers who have made the trail passable with their ongoing efforts to keep it clear of fallen trees.
The beginning of the 13.5 km trail takes you along a meandering path criss-crossing the Caura River several times before making your way up the mountain. The water is clean and refreshing, the river shrouded at times in Bamboo, and the banks are lined with the white peace lily giving off its characteristic scent. You begin to relax and smile not realising that you will soon begin the gradual ascent to the top of the ridge traversing the northern range. Your elevation gain will be a total of 777m with a maximum height of 500m.
Along the trail there is evidence of hunters as you pass a makeshift shed and if you are a keen observer, you will notice our local version of ‘sentry posts’ created to spot unsuspecting animals all along the path. These are strips of branches laced or nailed between two trees so that the hunter can either sit or stand unseen for hours awaiting their prey.
The forest is not dense and allows just the right amount of filtered light for you to enjoy the beauty of the natural flora keeping you cool along the way.
There are several check points on this trail – the ‘Belly of the Beast’ lets you know that you have reached what seems to be the lowest point in the trail. The ‘Bathtub’ – a very welcoming small pool of refreshing water filled by an endearing waterfall. And ‘Base Camp’ – an arbitrary meeting and look out point where you reap the rewards of your climb with views stretching along the north coast with Las Cuevas beach to the west.
It is undulating territory as you leave Base Camp, primarily downhill along the path when you finally exit the forest and enter the open landscape where you can catch a glimpse of your final destination La Fillette bay. You’re almost there. And after a 4-hour hike, you are content knowing that you have just spent a relatively short time crossing but a small part of our beautiful northern range experiencing nature at its best, shedding some of your worries and anxieties. I would say a morning well spent.