Hiking the Valley of the Giants

​I have just returned from an amazing 40 km bush walk through the sublime forests of South Western Australia near ​Walpole.They call it The Valley of the Giants, and there grow Tingle trees 75 metres high. My 12-year-old son Jampot, my wife Maria and I  hiked for two days and slept at the huts along the way for two nights. We carried an emergency locator beacon due to the remote nature of the trek and we took all of our food and supplies in packs. We wore gaiters to protect against snakebite but we were not bothered by snakes. I think I may have seen one by the track but I'm not sure.

The Tingle forests of WA are just stunning and to experience them like that with my family was a great buzz.  We met some great hikers along the way and there was surprisingly little whining form Jampot, though he carried about the same proportion of his body weight that we did, and despite the fact that he hurt his ankle and we had to leave the track a little earlier than we thought we would. He must be growing up!

The terrain went from giant trees to coastal scrub as we walked through. The coastal stuff had been burnt a year ago by a bushfire, but here in Australia, the trees need that to regenerate so it was very green in that area. It was a great way to experience the diverse natural landscape of one of the world's most important biodiversity hotspots.​

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Thanks for reading,

Dixon James

Messing about in boats

Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats, simply messing.” 

Kenneth Grahame

I am extremely sensitive to the sun. This means that it's difficult for me to go outside because I have to wear protective clothing to protect myself from the ultraviolet rays. This also means that it's easy for me to stay inside and not see the outside world. I am a writer, so it works for me more than I’d like to admit. I have even modified my exercise routine so that most of the exercise I do can be done indoors. Hello Kettlebells! Luckily, my wife Maria is a dedicated bush walker and canoe paddler, so I will absolutely not. be allowed. To do this.

On the weekend, on Maria's insistence, we had a canoe trip down the Canning River here in Perth Western Australia. It's a beautiful time of year. The white-hot summer is starting to give way to the more bearable autumn and even people who need to wear a bag over their head to be safe from the sun can enjoy themselves.​It was a beautiful morning to be in this spot with a beautiful green grass sloping down to a gentle canoe launching point. There were Falcons, Swans and insect life, and I got to share all of natures beauty with my son Jampot. There are a few of us, some of us rented canoes and others used ours and it was wonderful to paddle down the river talking and messing around with the kids

It's easy to ignore how lucky we are in this part of the world living in the most isolated capital city on the planet which has plenty of parks, wildlife, and water. It was a wonderful day and a beautiful way to spend a Saturday with my beautiful family and I even got to have a go on Jampot new one person canoe and promptly broke it for him. Oh well, I guess Dad is going to have to fix it for him, now.

Is it important for you to ​ stay in touch with nature? Let me know! ​I'd like to know how you do that. Please click the title of the post to comment.

Thanks for reading,

Every family needs a pool

 I'm not sure how it started, but it's usually got something to do with Gumtree, which is like an Australian Craigslist. Anyway, before long we are monitoring all the pool tables out there and going to  inspect dodgy home  made wonky legged tables that someone had made in the back shed, perusing ex pub pool tables at surprisingly cheap prices and discussing the finer points of felts, sticks and balls. Curse you , Gumtree, source of Kayacks, pool tables and tennis rackets.

 It turns out that the shrinking size of houses here in Western Australia has loosed a plague of homeless pool tables on the city, a bit like the Steven Spieberg classic "Gremilns", if you substitute the creepy latex imps with green felt and solid timber legs. In the end, we paid a really good price for a used pub table that was delivered to our home.

​That was great, because the sound the ball makes as it drops into the packet then rolls into the collection tray is a sublime part of the game. Net pockets are not the same, you need that vibrating bass rumble.

So, I've had the pleasure of playing pool with Jampot every day when he comes home from school now. He's choosing it over the TV, over the internet and over gaming. For one game, then he goes back to the tweenage world of texts and T.V.

 That's got to be worth a few bucks.

It's nice to know that the old friend of the pool table is attractive to Jampot, to Maria and to myself. IT;s a lovely levelling force where we all get to forge the everyday stress and tangle of homework, housework and plain old work.

 And play together.   

​Here's a 50% discount coupon for one of my Scifi short stories "Beach Bum". Its available on all devices, ​not just a MOBI file. Just go to my store, where you can see all my short stories, or click here and enter the coupon code J9HD025NRR. Feel free to share it with your friends, but be quick, It expires tomorrow! Let me know what you think: dixonjames@durkis.33mail.com.

Thanks for reading,

​Russian Doll: Empathic, mind Bending.

As posted in Rotten Tomatoes:

Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett star in Russian Doll, a bizzarro drama which takes  “Groundhog Day” to a new level.

Natasha Lyonne’s fiercely selfish and independent Nadia is at her thirty sixth birthday party when she dies unexpectedly. Immediately Nina finds herself back at the start of the night again and lives the whole thing through once more until​, once more, she dies​.

Nina enters a strange life of constantly dying and then reliving the same night again and again. She grows distant from friends who were close. While trying to understand what is happening to her, she meets someone who is going through the same thing: Alan ( Charlie Barnett ) who is young, Obsessive Compulsive and craving some kind of connection. In fact Alan is trying to use his recurring experience of time to persuade his girlfriend to marry him instead of breaking up with him, diving into the conversation again and again, and then diving off a building when she says no.

The two of them realise that they have intertwined lives, and they decide to work out what is going on. They both soon find that their unexamined lives yield more detail than they wanted to know. Alan’s obsession with perfection is not necessarily achievable, even with repeated attempts, and Nadya’s hard won independence is not as sustainable as she would like it to be.

Written by Leslye Headland , Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler , all of whom have extensive acting credits, this series is a real character piece, exploring modern relationships and their entanglements. This six part series newly available on Netflix takes on the entanglements and fears of living in a world which can sometimes seem too much to bear. Funny, achingly poignant and ultimately cathartic, Russian Doll uses the long form of the Netflix series to dive deeply into these issues and display life’s paradoxes and mysteries.

Let me know what you think of Russian Doll.

Thanks for reading,

The Buzz…

My boy Jampot and I have finally brought home some bees and put them in our bee hive that we have been putting together. It’s a cool Aussie invention called a Flow Hive, where instead of getting the frames out of the hive, melting the caps off, putting it in an expensive honey centrifuge, cleaning the resulting gunk of dead bees and wax so that its edible and finally cleaning up all the mess, you just turn a tap and the honey comes out. Check it out here.

It’s good to be using our bee suits for something other than dancing around taking photos for whatsapp. You get bees in a Nucleus hive, the pink box on the right picture, which is put together by queen breeders who put a young queen together with a happy court of workers and drones. Jampot and I brought our nucleus hive home, opened the little door and let them out to explore their new home. Then, after they had been exploring for twenty four hours, we transferred them. I rubbed some grated lemon grass root into the brood box to make it smell like home and we put the frames in. James was very brave and put two frames full of bees into the new hive. With a few hiccups, the hive was populated and running smoothly within a couple of hours. The bees have this unique smell that’s aromatic and slightly astringent and their deep chorus of thrumming wings surrounds you as you introduce them to the hive.

They call the honey bee colony a super organism, a single coordinated community of insects with one identity. The bees make different sounds when they are indifferent moods. When their queen dies they mourn, and they make a particular sound when this happens. truly fascinating. A great thing to do with Jampot. He is keen to start a business which he is going to call the Keeper’s Hat. I am keen to make mead, which is the oldest alcoholic drink in the world, so we’re going to split the harvest.

Apparently bee keeping is growing in popularity. Lots of people are setting up hives. I can understand why, these fascinating little creatures are great!

It’s about Time

The secret of all greatness is knowing what to do with time.
Sunday Adelaja

They used to talk about people being cash rich and time poor. Nowadays I get the feeling that if your heart is beating, you are time poor by default. Forget about being cash rich!

I am a project focused person. I like to have goals and be working hard towards them. When I’m not working on my goals I feel frustrated and dead in the water. Maybe people like me find it harder than other people to manage their time, given that we really want to be attacking our projects rather than living the mundane parts of our life. We want to be tearing down the road, not polishing the hubcaps! I know that I would be quite happy to drop income so that I can write more, but then I run into a little problem of paying bills and putting food in my mouth. How do I address this basically childish problem, comparable to wanting to put my shoes on before my pants? I need to do my projects but I also need to work. I need to spend time with my family and to clean the house and to get out of the house for the occasional beer. How do I get all this stuff done and not disappear into a world of fractured, incomplete projects, housework that needs to be done, neglected children and frustrated partner?

Burnout is a danger for project focused people. All them colourful candies, we want them all! To avoid the disastrous burnout that this will result in we need to take pause. First off I think that one really needs to choose what one wants to do. I tried to build an aquaponic vegetable garden and start teaching piano whilst building a house a few years ago. It did not end well. I started to realize that I can’t just pick up every new piece of candy that I see because before long my mouth will be so full that I won’t be able to talk.

Secondly I think it’s important for me to finish what I start. Taking the time to finish projects that I have already committed to means there will be less bits and pieces, shards and Detritus from half-finished projects floating around my space just asking me to spend more of my precious time on them. In the long run if I engage with those projects and finish them responsibly I will save time. If you really need to take care of another project, stop working on other ones. Multitasking is, in my experience, for computers.

For instance , and this is one that I in particular need to learn, it’s important to have important to have time into which nothing is scheduled. Time in which I am not merely doing, but being. This safety valve allows me time just to… be. That’s hard! I don’t want to bloody be, I want to be running around working on my project, getting things finished and starting new things, stuffing my gob with candy.

But perhaps that’s not really the point. You can be the most conscientious time saver in the world but if you have too many things demanding your time, no matter how much you save it’s going to get spent quickly and there will be noting saved. Burnout will result.

My partner says it’s strange that we are here at all. What are we all doing here, running around in this odd sandbox of a life? Perhaps people like me need to realize that we’re in this strange corporeal place for a limited time and that existence itself should be appreciated. Maybe it’s more important to stop and smell the roses, to have that time actively scheduled in, showing the universe that I value the ability to do nothing just as much as the ability to do something.

And then go and start a project!  (Don’t accuse me of being deep, man.)


Thanks for reading,