health and wellbeing


At some point, most of us turn our thoughts to uninhabited islands, more specifically being able to exist on one – alone. The prospect of being in a defined space where all that happens is decided by you, where external forces cannot reach and the time spent there yields incredible personal benefit, is well, the stuff of fantasy. Or not. Not actually. I have access to one and can escape to it at short notice. It unfolds in a trice. It’s my pilates mat. For a relatively small outlay, you can invest in your own island, and for reasons I will explain, I encourage you to do so.

As living creatures, we need to move, most basically because we must find our nutrition, organise our shelter, maintain our hygiene and nurture our young. Fortunately we have been provided with a musculo-skeletal system to enable us to do such things. When this system is compromised, so then is our life. There are a range of options available to care for our movement system and it’s wonderful to see so many people adopting them. Purposeful ramblers, runners, cyclists, swimmers and dancers are a common sight, since the automation of our world has all but made these forms of movement redundant as natural actions within our daily lives.

Of course, with repetitive motion, does at times come injury and the very issue we are aiming to avoid we may have encouraged. As a runner, I have welcomed a few of these issues! So to engage in movement that will nurture your system, safeguard or repair it in times of high intensity activity and require a level of concentration so focused that external thoughts are impossible to entertain, has got to be worth undertaking. And it is. Pilates or Contrology (as Joseph Pilates coined it) can be your way of moving throughout the stages of your life in a strong, flexible and centered manner.

You may have come to the understanding, as I have, that there is very little in life we have, or really need to have, ultimate control over. But to have a sense of mastery of our own movement is ultimately very rewarding – both practically and intrinsically. Whatever point you are at today in terms of age, injury or level of flexibility (or inflexibility) you are ready to begin a Pilates sequence.

Postscript: I shall leave Joseph Pilates to make the final point today.

”A body free from nervous tension and fatigue is the ideal shelter provided by nature for housing a well balanced mind, fully capable of successfully meeting all the complex problems of modern living.’

And with that, I shall sling my island over my shoulder and escape to mastery of the mind and control of the body.

family · health and wellbeing


“There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”  A claim made by Ratty to Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s classic tale, The Wind in the Willows, that would be firmly backed up by every minor in our household.

To be the captain of your craft, or as an extension of that, the master of your own destiny, is something so foreign to a child who by necessity, must live on a daily basis by the rules and commands of senior figures. To navigate one’s own way without obligation to seek authorisation, is something the young can only dream of. Unless of course, there is access to a paddle and a boat.

Immediately, without warning,  decisions concerning enemy, invasion or location of buried treasure fall on young shoulders – and throughout, they must ensure the craft is on course and their stability within it is maintained. Strategic thought develops. To ensure the success of the mission, the relationship between captain and crew must be one of consultation, negotiation and inclusion. Team players emerge. And finally, if by chance, unforseen circumstances such as a capsize or leak should arise, reflection upon events with recommendations for future quests will be identified. Appraisal and evaluation in its infancy.

As the significant adult, your role is to remain by water’s edge, as silent sentinel, witness to the life skills that are maturing in the best way children know how – with play.

Postscript: whilst writing this post, I recalled, as a 7 year old, being passenger on a ‘tinny’ (like the one above) with my 8 year old friend and her brother on the Murray River at Wentworth Caravan Park. A regatta had been held on the water the previous day and the surface was littered with rubbish. As the brother (maybe 11 years of  age) hurtled us along (without life jackets), we leant over and scooped up cans and assorted debris, emitting shrill squeals at each successful swipe. Could not understand why my friends’ father summoned us furiously from the riverbank and forbade us from returning to the boat for the rest of the holiday ……