Love & catastrophe

It’s a funny world we live in. No, that’s not quite right. Actually, it’s an amazing world – it’s the age we live in that’s ‘funny’.

The age of a ‘traditional’ beginning to a relationship is just SO far behind us. We are no longer limited to meeting someone in our neighbourhood any more, or finding a connection only through our immediate ‘real life’ network of friends and colleagues. The internet is so deeply intertwined in our work & social lives now that it has become a socially acceptable dating tool. I’m not entirely ashamed to say there was a short period of time I had a profile on a ‘dating’ site. I had been single 5 years and, although mostly that was a great thing at the time, it became fairly  depressing.

Now we have things like ‘Tinder’ – the really pre-fabricated off-the-shelf fast food version of cyber-love. I’ve watched people using it, flicking people away… I spend more time choosing an avocado at Woolies. I can’t say a single nice thing about it, but I’m sure it suits the needs of some out there. Personally, I can’t fathom it, but I’m old and am more likely to enjoy a night in and weekends with no plans than out bouncing at the discoteque (they’re still called that, right?). Tinder wasn’t designed for me, and I’m very comfortable with that.

Yet somehow, with all of these resources, finding the right ‘someone’ to love is difficult  in this funny age we live in. I feel like, perhaps, we just meet a lot more ‘wrong-ones’. Which makes the following fact even more amazing – I met my ‘someone’ online.

When all this scribblegraph stuff grew online as it did, I met a hell of a lot of people in a small amount of time. A staggeringly huge amount of people wanted my attention, most of them looking to see if they could make a bit of cash out of me and what I was ‘achieving’ on social media. It was hilarious to me, because none of them realised I wasn’t making any money, and I wasn’t really trying to. A small number of people ‘got’ what I was trying to do, which was just to enjoy drawing and spread a bit of joy around the world. One person in particular really got it, and that was Flea. We met on Google+.

A very long and dreamy love story follows, with lots of international flights, Google Hang-outs and icky romance. We have now been together over 3 years, and Flea has relocated from London to Perth without issue or complaint (except for those relating to the bone-melting heat. She really loathes the heat). Flea will have been living here 2 years in February.

That is: if she’s still here.

Last week I was in Sydney for a bit of a mixed work/R&R week when Flea called to let me know her application for residency had been refused. We experienced the first 12 months of our relationship living apart; that was barely survivable. Not being together when we got this news was completely shattering. She received a simple email with “REFUSED” in the subject line, followed by instructions that she should be out of the country within 28 days.

The provided explanation was brief and required a lot of follow-up work before we fully understood what happens next. There are several paths and avenues open to us, none really more positive than the other. We are lucky to have very supportive family around us who will do everything they can to help. We know there are a lot of people around the world cheering us on (thank you!) – particularly those who know us from Google+. We have countless offers from people to write comprehensive stat. decs. for the review process we’re undertaking. It is helping us stay sane, knowing that there is so much support & love out there.

ash & flea

So – that’s pretty much where we’re at. Catastrophe. We’re only ‘fairly sure’ she won’t have to leave in a couple of weeks, and then the appeal process can take months. AND we’ve been told to expect that to be refused, with near certainty. It just buys us time to find another solution.

The whole point being: this ‘funny old age’ we live in hasn’t caught up with itself. We can find love pretty much anywhere, but it’s so bloody hard to keep it in your life.

A Sunset for the Salmon

This week I have been a bit shattered by overnight work, and I wanted a bit of time out of the house. A walk down by the water is always quite therapeutic, particularly at sunset, and particularly in my little part of the world. Well, any beach on the west coast of Australia, really. Watching the sun set over the ocean is a pretty special thing. It is very common to see dolphins playing in the bay here, but this was a bit more special. We arrived just as a pod of dolphins had finished rounding up what must have been an enormous school of Australian Salmon into shallow water. Here, they would likely feed to repletion. If you look at the photo below, you will see the ripples over the water where the salmon wallow, exhausted from being chased. I could often see dolphin fins arching just out past the school, waiting for the occasional salmon to try desperately flee back to the safety of deeper water.

Surrounded on one side by dolphins, one by swarms of hungry, pecking gulls and another by humans, the salmon had no chance. We watched people crowded shoulder to shoulder along the waterfront with rods and reels, pulling salmon out of water no more than 2 or 3 feet deep at most. They hardly fought as they came ashore. The dolphins must have been chasing the school into shallow water for some time.

Followed by a seafood basket from one of Perth’s very finest Fish & Chip shops, it was a pretty special afternoon… so long as you’re not a salmon.

For them it was pretty bloody brutal.

Roll on the Honeywagon


Flea & I were enamoured today with the job title of one Bobby Galliher, credited in House Of Cards as the “Honeywagon Driver” (right after Dot Supervisor, Linda Luckeroth). Flea has yet to discover what the person does, and it is a fun game to play. Included in this list, amongst several of our guesses, is the real job description of a Honeywagon Driver. What’s your guess?

The Honeywagon Driver is the person who:

  1. Delivers selected sweet treats for the cast & crew,
  2. Delivers the Gift Baskets to A-List crew members,
  3. Delivers a selection of high class escorts to A-List crew members,
  4. Drives the lead actress about town between takes, usually in a sporty red coupé,
  5. Transports the lead actor’s entertainment and personal comfort items, usually in a small truck,
  6. Transports the lead actor’s meals around the set, usually on purpose-adapted Segway,
  7. Drives the cast & crew’s poo around town, usually in a poo-carting truck, or
  8. Delivers the finished film/digital files to the Studio after the day’s wrap, usually in an armored Humvee.

So, what’s your guess? Tweet me.

We’re also currently enjoying Fresh of the Boat, Archer and iZombie. Yes! And patiently awaiting Game of Thrones on April 12th. Impatient.


Perth Summer

It has been a long Perth summer of fires already, and February is only halfway done. It seems the majority of them are deliberately lit; PolAir is overhead most days on the lookout for the little pricks. Yoon-Mi is coping with the heat, despite how much she tells people she isn’t. She’s a lot braver than she lets on;) It has been confronting for her at times; smoky, hot days where she can’t turn on the air conditioning despite the mercury hitting 40°C – it’s a totally different life for her, I’m sure.

This place also has its pros – it’s a pretty special little summer spot, our Point Peron. We’re down there often and in the water by 8am. It’s far from the maddening crowds, and surrounded by reef so it’s often glassy and calm. Perfect for snorkelling, sunbathing and just generally getting our peace on. Then, of course, there’s the wildlife. The nudibranch pictured above; what a beautiful thing these are in their habitat. And so much more! Flea was pointing out a little fish to me yesterday, just a wee thing by the reef she found pretty. I pointed out the enormous octopus sitting below it to her.  She nearly walked on water. Camera: Olympus Tough TG3

An octopus garden: unkempt things at the best of times.

An octopus garden: unkempt things at the best of times.

A juvenile flathead. Very pretty, will be tasty!

A juvenile flathead. Very pretty, will be tasty!

And Flea loved swimming very fast in the opposite direction with a stingray.

The Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasselti)

Australia – Snakes, Spiders, Bone Melting Heat

Flea has had to do some adjusting since she moved here to Australia. A year ago she was safe in London, wrapped securely in a festive reindeer Christmas sweater. Snow fell gently outside her office window as she pondered her next cup of tea and (more importantly) which biscuit to have with it. Sometimes she might have 2 biscuits, but then she risked falling asleep on the tube on the way home. That’s about as dangerous as life got for her in London, England.

Although she’d visited Australia previously, I think she has found living here to be quite a different experience. She has loved discovering my favourite beaches and swimming/snorkelling spots, but I’ve had to explain that I’m absolutely NOT joking when I teach her how to avoid stepping on snakes.

The Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasselti)

A Redback Spider (Latrodectus hasseltii) found guarding our shoes from flies at the back door. What a lovely chap! Photo: © 2015 Ash Nathens

Her first and most passionate hatred this summer was for the Daddy Long Legs spider. As the weather warmed and they began to proliferate, she went on a frenzy with a straw broom attempting to destroy them all. After a few days of this, I explained I personally tend to leave the Daddy Long legs alone. I like them about the place.

“Why?!” she asked, pleading desperately with my apparent manly lack of general household cleanliness. “How can you stand the webs everywhere? It’s a horrid mess!”

“Well that’s quite true, my love,” I explained, “Their webs are quite annoying. But they do wonders for the Redback problem.”

“What problem? What’s a Redback?” she asked, not at all convinced.

I gave a brief run-down on the Australian Redback and explained that currently we didn’t have a problem because of the Daddy Long Legs. And when, two or three weeks later, the Redbacks started showing up (in shoes & behind the couch etc) she got a decent look at one and she’s been befriending Daddy Long Legs ever since. How Australian!

How very dangerous this place can be was highlighted to us all just before Christmas when my family visited from New South Wales. We were enjoying a stroll down by the beach in a popular area; families with children running about the place everywhere. We had stopped briefly along the waterfront to enjoy the view of pristine white sand and clean surf. Half a Brown Snake writhed furiously at our feet, the other half trying with desperate vigor to squeeze down a small opening in the footpath. What was causing it problems was obvious: its last meal. A large, mouse-shaped lump was prohibiting its escape; the large bulbous shape causing a blockage half way down. After a few moments it abandoned its escape and decided to just bask in the warm afternoon sun with us. Right there at our (rapidly retreating) feet. It wasn’t quite an adult, probably only about 3’6″in length, but at any size a Brown Snake has a bite that requires rapid medical attention. (nb: One onlooker believed this to be a Tiger Snake; he could be right. The similarities in juveniles of some species are subtle, and I’m no herpetologist. Regardless, either of these snakes nibbles on your ankle, you need to get to a hospital).

Brown Snake

Our gluttonous friend the Brown Snake

Last and arguably the most deadly of all: the heat. I suppose it’s like any other climate: if you grow up learning how to cope with it, you forget how hard it can be. Flea has just gone out for a bike ride – granted it’s only a very pleasant 29°C today  – but regardless, one does not go out cycling at 2pm during a Perth summer. She’s tough and doesn’t complain anywhere near as much as she’d like to, but I’m certain she’s also coming slightly unhinged in the heat;)