Just a couple of weeks ago a good mate called me and asked me to help him fix his reticulation. It was his rental property and it sounded like a pretty straight-forward fix.

When I got there I realised it was a much bigger job than it sounded. How often has that happened?!…

I began to feel stressed, partly because I had only allocated an hour or so to the job but more because I knew how much it was going to cost my friend if I charged him as a normal customer. I ended up leaving him to do some of the grunt work and agreeing to come back at another time to finish it off.

As I drove off I was reflecting on the strange anxious feeling that I was experiencing and trying to make sense of it. What I realised was that for me my ‘money making days’ are Tues-Thurs and I was using some of that time to do a job I didn’t want to make much out of – and it was turning into a big BIG job…

I don’t mind charging people for my services, but for real good mates I’d prefer to help them out and charge much less. As I was driving to the next job I made a decision. I won’t do those kinds of jobs on my ‘money days’. Instead I’ll wait till the weekend and then go around and work with them. That way they get the job done by a friend for less than they would pay normally and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on $$ that I could normally make.

Funny how a small moment of awareness changes the way you can see something. So tomorrow afternoon we go around and get it sorted. And it really doesn’t matter how long it takes now as Sunday afternoons are for relaxing and that’s what I’ll be doing.


I know I haven’t blogged much on here in the last few weeks, but I have actually been blogging quite a bit – over at my reticulation blog. I’m working pretty hard to get the content up and hopefully see it shoot up the google rankings a bit.

We had the pleasure of hosting my old mate Andrew Jones and his family for lunch a couple of weeks back and Andrew helped me understand some of what I need to do for the blog to be useful.

My goal is a simple one – to write enough relevant stuff so that when people google their reticulation & turf questions I am right up there on the top google listings. I’ve tried reading problogger and some other sites, but I get a bit lost in all of the tips and strategies so it was good to have Andrew summarise what I need to do simply. Now I’m just getting on with it.

Someone asked me if writing a blog isn’t actually counter-productive as it shows people how to do what I could be getting paid to do. Not so I’d suggest. In fact what it does is introduces people to someone who actually knows a bit of what they are talking about and might actually be able to do the job.

Last week I had two customers directly from the blog – people who had gone there to seek answers to their retic questions but ended up just calling me and asking me to do it.

I doubt its going to be an overnight hit, but in time I imagine it will be another valuable ‘hook’ in the water to snag some customers and develop the business.

WA’s Best Beaches

I was watching Getaway tonight and they were going around Oz choosing the best beaches. There were some pretty fair picks too.

Wineglass Bay in Tassie is stunning, Rainbow Beach on the Gold Coast is pretty speccy and of course Bell’s Beach in Vic is an icon. It was good to see Cresent Head in there as we missed going there on our big lap and its in my diary for the next time as a priority.

When it came to WA the top 3 picks were Cable Beach Broome, Meelup in Dunsborough and Cottesloe in Perth. What do you reckon about those for our top 3?…

I think the hard thing is that there really are so many to pick from.

Just a drive down to our local Quinns Beach on a sunny day is enough to make you feel like you are in paradise. So anyway I thought I’d list a few of my own favourites and maybe a few lesser known ones that might not make the well known A list. I will only list the one’s I have visited but I’m sure you will be able to add plenty more.

If we start at the top of WA and work down we find:

Cable Beach – absolutely stunning and ought to be up there as one of the best around. White sand, warm water and stunning sunsets make it a classic.

Barn Hill – about 150kms south of Broome – similar to Cable Beach but remote and with great huge red cliffs as a backdrop. We’ll be back there for sure.

Turquoise Bay – near Exmouth and famous for being part of Ningaloo. Sensational snorkelling!

I know there are plenty between Exmouth and Cervantes, but I haven’t been to too many real stand outs so I’m moving down close to home.

Wedge Island – powder white sand and stunning blue water. Its beautiful before the sea breeze comes in but after that watch out – she blows! Its also a part of WA history as a classic shanty town.

Yanchep Lagoon – a local favourite that gets real busy in summer. The lagoon is protected by reef and a safe beach for kids.

Scarborough – this is my pick of the city beaches. A long white beach that occasionally gets a wave. I spent many a school day on Scarborough beach!

There are great beaches everywhere in the city and in the stretch down to Busselton so I’m going to keep going to a few beauties down south.

Meelup – yup – a stunner so long as the wind is blowing from the south west. Otherwise stay home.

Yallingup – beautiful, rugged and expansive – not a place for a swim usually, but the view from the platform is priceless.

Indijup – personal favourite! Love the waves and the set up. I doubt it will win any prizes except with surfers.

Boranup – a beautiful remote sandy beach just north of Hamelin bay. Occasionally gets surf too…

Ocean Beach Denmark – a favourite as a kid and one I still love to go to. I’d love to be a local and see it when it breaks, although I’ve heard it gets pretty crowded.

Goode Beach Albany – another lesser know beach that in the right weather can be quite beautiful.

Cape le Grand – ok all the way to Esperance (and I know I left out Bremer Bay!) but this one’s a beauty. Remote, rugged and beautiful much like most of Esperance’s beaches

Ok that’s 13 and I reckon I could easily add another 20 without much effort but if you’re looking for a great beach in WA there are some starting points!

Change in Seasons

As I sit here tonight its cold outside. Its windy and wet and it doesn’t feel like Perth. Perth is hot, dry and it doesn’t rain here… I think we all felt like that over summer and we’re probably all glad for the rain and the cooler weather. Its been a long time coming.

I’m not sure if its the weather or just the male version of PMT but today I feel unusually demotivated and irrititable. My mind keeps seeing a long open road somewhere in the northwest with a camper parked beside it and no responsibility anywhere close. No sermon to write, no retic to fix, no wondering if work is going to pick up or dry up, no wondering if I’m going to get another dodgy email from someone who wants to vent their spleen…

Some days I feel very weary, not just physically – although there is definitely that – but emotionally and spiritually.

The last few months I have noticed it moreso – the need to sometimes drag myself out of bed when usually I can be up and at it. The mind wandering to new ideas – new challenges. I see new business possibilities nearly every day, but I’m not sure I have the emotional energy to actually invest in them let alone the $$. I am conscious of the weariness and the need to address it.

Some days I really enjoy being a Christian pastor and other days I really want to give it all up. After 20 years of leading churches in one form or other I think I would like to know what its like not to carry the responsibility of leading a Christian community. I don’t think I have permission from my boss to do that yet, (my boss’s name is not Danelle by the way) but I’m curious as to what it would look like for the Hamiltons to not have the ‘pastor’ tag (which doesn’t fit very well anyway…) attached to them. I think Danelle and I both wonder what life would be like in that space – who we would be – how people would see us… We actually lead a fabulous bunch of people so I’m not weary of them – more just the ongoing constancy of the responsibility and the need to lead. I’m sure some of you know the feeling.

I don’t think I am enjoying ‘middle age’ much at the moment. As a person used to being focussed and moving from project to project I seem to have hit a steady patch – a period where the main task is to keep going. My problem is that I tend to equate ‘keeping going’ with losing a sense of adventure. I see it as ‘settling’ rather than stirring, but I’m reluctant to arc up something new unless I know its something more than a way of sating boredom. It’ll just require more energy.

I can’t say I hear God in this space much at all. I do meditate, pray, study etc, not particularly well, but I do them so I’m trying to put myself in a space where the ‘still small voice’, or the loud booming voice can be heard. But there isn’t much to be heard. Don’t you hate that?

For now life looks like ‘more of the same’. But I’m not actually satisfied here. I am grateful for the incredibly good life we have – no question there – but I feel like I have lost some of the more adventurous spirit that I had 10 years ago and I’m not happy about it. But part of the reason I’m not happy is that I don’t think I can simply ‘call it back into being’. I think I’d be faking it to try and be that person today and I find that a bit hard to understand.

I realise some of you are probably thinking that this is a little too raw for a public blog… but that’s the kind of blog I have been writing for the last 8 years now, so that isn’t changing.

So either I just need a really good holiday, or there is a change in seasons in my own identity. I think it may be a bit of both, but I’m finding it hard to figure out just who I am in a different space. I find myself both drawn to the desire for stability, comfort and an easy life and then just as equally repelled by it.

I find myself wanting to quit paid Christian ministry and yet unable to. I find myself wishing I was free from my business but then sparking with new ideas of how to develop it.

So that’s where my life sits at the moment. This post isn’t a preparation for any dramatic changes that are lurking – at least not that I’m aware of. Its just a ‘think out loud’ about what its like for seasons to change and for me to figure out who I am in a new space.

The Birdman Rally

Yesterday Sambo and I took a drive up to Yanchep so I could show him around and he could get a feel for the place. He has been a little apprehensive about the possible move so I thought if we went and had a bit of blokey fun then it might ease his anxiety.

So we jumped the fence and went for a walk along the controversial skybridge, headed up to the beach that is just by our doorstep and went for a swim, checked out the surf at The Spot and then drove up to Two Rocks to look at the remains of Atlantis Marine Park.

It was a beautiful morning, swimming with dolphins and generally having a lot of laughs. I even stopped in a quirky garage sale where a bloke was selling about $300.00 worth of reticulation cable for just $20.00 so that was a cool score.

While at the Two Rocks Marina I began to tell Sam the story of the old Birdman Rally that stopped in Perth sometimes in the late 70’s (much to my chagrin). In case you are too young to remember the Birdman Rally was a charity event that involved people launching themselves off a 10 m tower into the marina in a self designed and contructed flying machine. Most were feeble and hilarious, but the odd one did glide just enough to possibly constitute ‘flying’.

I was disappointed when it ended and often wondered what it would take to get it resurrected. (Probably a truckload of insurance money) I googled it and saw that there is a version happening now in Victoria, but its sad that such a fun and crazy event got lost. At least I loved it…

Here’s a pic of the original at Two Rocks. If anyone wants to resurrect it then let me know and I’ll lend a hand!

Apart from the Birdman Rally Yanchep was well known for Atlantis Marine Park, that also died a death due to lack of custom and ‘Grass Skiing’ an activity that involved what looked like skiing down a large grassy slope. Again (I’m guessing) the distance from customers meant it wasn’t a profitable business and it also shut down.

Here we are 20 years on and I’m curious to see what develops in the ‘far north’ as the rest of Perth expands to meet it.

The Finance Clause

Last weekend, after having two weeks off the market we opened our home for sale again and snaffled a buyer immediately.

The big change to our ‘plan’ was that we began to advertise on realestate.com rather than solely in the local rag. We knew our price was competitive so we figured that although the market is still very bad, it must have been our advertising that was letting us down.

The bloke we are buying the Yanchep house through offered to do us a sensational deal and be our agent. Compared to what everyone else is asking by way of commission his deal was such that the amount we pay him is negligible. More to the point he’s a good bloke and a good agent. Having dealt with a couple of shockers in the last couple of months he is a breath of fresh air. He was happy for us to sell it, but offered us an alternative at a price it simply wasn’t worth refusing.

Since then he’s done a heap of running around, been in regular contact and has been working hard to pull off the deal for all of us. FWIW his name is John Bloomfield of John Bloomfield Real Estate – a no bullshit operator who tells it like it is and doesn’t schmooze or mess you around.

So in a couple of weeks we will know for sure if we are moving once the young couple who have the offer on our house get confirmation of finance. Pre-approval has been in place, but these are strange times so we aren’t calling it a deal just yet.

Its interesting the emotions you go through in a deal like this. We have been initially excited and watched that enthusiasm wane as we realised how tough the market was. Then I began to feel more enthused about staying – seeing the benefits of a small mortgage and avoiding the pain of moving home. When the offer came in (I was the one negotiating it) I had just about lost interest. I almost made the price unattainable for the people so that we could stay! But since we’ve hit the ‘green button’ my perspective has shifted again and I’m really looking forward to the adventure again.

As much as we try to stay uninvolved and objective its pretty difficult in reality. I can’t control the way my emotions ebb and flow. I can only control how I respond to them.

So in 2 weeks we will know. Is it Butler for a bit longer or do we make the big move north to Yanchep?…

I’ll let you know…

Accepting Responsibility

If your business doesn’t go to plan then please don’t blame your customers. Accept responsibility for your own actions.

Perhaps you didn’t advertise well enough, perhaps your product was too expensive, perhaps you just really suck at what you were trying to do…

Recently a local business closed in our area – one that I used fairly frequently – one that I valued. I was disappointed to see it go and didn’t know why it had suddenly disappeared. I saw the ex manager today working in another business and asked the question, ‘So what happened? Why aren’t you guys still in business?’

She responded ‘because you guys didn’t support us.’

Wrong answer.

Pissweak answer.

Copout answer.

In fact it was an answer that had me livid. Who on earth blames their customers for their own failure?! I let her know, ‘oh so it was my fault that your business folded…’ (Because that is what she was saying)

She began to offer other reasons and excuses, some of which were no doubt valid, but the first response was to blame the customer – and one of the regular ones at that.

If your business fails then please take a look in the mirror and ask ‘what did I do that was wrong?’ Accept responsibility and don’t blame others for your own failures. It is very bad form and is unlikely to make them ever want to support any other business you may start in the future.

Ask the question – was it my price, my service, location, timing etc etc… but don’t blame the customer. They are unlikely to be impressed.

Rant over.

20 Years

Well, this week it will be 20 years of marriage for us and co-incidentally 20 years of working as a local church minister/pastor/leader. I don’t know which is the bigger achievement…

On a steamy April 6th 20 years ago I was dressed in a black suit waiting for a girl to show up at the church. I had got ready in 10 minutes – as blokes do – and was reading the newspaper to kill time. The quote for the day in Saturday’s West was ‘Marriage is an adventure. It is like going to war’.

I laughed. How appropriate… and how fortunate I am not superstitious.

Most of the time marriage has been a wonderful adventure but I honestly haven’t ever thought of it like war. Ministry on the other hand… Sadly it has been both an adventure and a battlefield and I am happy to have survived this far.

I was thinking about speaking next week at church about what I have learnt after 20 years of marriage and ministry but I’m not sure there is too much rocket science in either. There is a lot of dedication and resolve but not too many ‘tricks’.

So tomorrow afternoon we head off to Margaret River for a few days away – back to where we had our honeymoon and we will be looking forward to enjoying the space but also reflecting on what we have learnt and giving thanks for what we have been able to enjoy together.

Love Definitely Didn’t Win

So I’ve been wondering how do we know who is a heretic… and who gets to make that call about another?

With the universalism debate taking place lately spurred by Rob Bell’s new book I have been reflecting on what has been disturbing me and I think its the stark way in which a ‘brother’ has suddenly become a ‘heretic’, when he happens to raise questions and possibly even come to the ‘wrong’ conclusions.

I have heard Bell specifically branded a heretic in various places and while I haven’t read the book (and am still in no hurry to) I am intrigued by the way we have handled this issue.

Not well… Not well at all.

Let’s assume Bell is completely totally wrong on the issue of Heaven/Hell. Does that then make him a heretic? Let’s allow that the view he holds may be heretical, but is the man then a ‘heretic’. That’s an enormous slur to hang on someone. If he is right about absolutely everything else but wrong on this is the label actually fair?

Even NT Wright when he speaks says ‘80% of what I say to you today will be true and accurate – 20% will not be true – the problem is that I am not sure which is which’. (I guess he gets the heretic label by certain folks too…)

Geez we’re a nice bunch aren’t we?…

I would tend to assume that by the definition used to make Bell a heretic, we are actually all heretics – we just don’t know what our heresies are – or maybe more importantly, others don’t know what our heresies are, otherwise they would be able to brand us and ‘out’ us.

I’m for truth and coherence in what we believe, but I think the casualty in this debacle has been love.

Love definitely didn’t win…