In Which I Am A Nana. And Then Am Not A Nana. And Then Am A Nanny.

1. On Friday evening I was supposed to be going out to meet friends for drinks after getting my hair cut. Haircut reasonably successful and completed early, I went home and lay down for a short nap… and woke up 9 hours later, still wearing my clothes.

That’s it. My Nana-dom is official.

2. Tim and I went canyoning again yesterday morning, and this time I took my diving camera so there is even photographic evidence of how intrepid/bedraggled/ill-equipped we both were…

Thus I am not a Nana, after all.

Above: Tim, just leaving the carpark at the start of the 2 hour hike to the entry point…

A potential entry point – you abseil off the tree down into the hole on the right…

Yours truly, in full swing. Note, if you will, the left-handed abseiling… tricky, cos I’m right-handed, but unavoidable because the anchor point at the beginning of the abseil, about 25 feet above the gap you can see at the top of the photo, is rather awkwardly positioned.

I love to be in the water.


Breathtaking views. And no people ‘cept us.


Enormous trees formed log jams at various points along the river. Thrown about like toothpicks by the mountain storms.



Looking like the wreck of the Hesperus, but enjoying myself thoroughly.

Magical grottoes where the sunlight penetrated the canyon. And given even more of an ‘other-worldly’ quality by the water drops on the camera lens.

“Come on in, the water’s lovely!”

Tiny Tim. The canyon walls sometimes looked as though they were leaning in to have a closer look at us.

This one is especially for healingmagichands, who I know adores rocks in all their natural splendour.

This is how rumours of yetis start…

Rather a lot of fun scrambling over rocks and logs.

Something in the water makes it very yellow, although mostly extremely clear.

Nearing the end of the canyon section.

Tim basks to warm up, lizard-like, before we start the 2 hour hike back uphill to the car.

3. When we arrived back in Sydney we picked up Tim’s heavily pregnant partner and a bag full of nappies and headed over to the local hospital where one of our mutual friends has just had her baby. Mother and child are well – he’s 4 weeks premature and a wee bit jaundiced but doesn’t need an incubator and is feeding and sleeping fine. She’s wiped out – she lost 2 1/2 litres of blood and was anaemic to begin with – but relieved and delighted to have a healthy son after all those weeks of worry.*

Anyway, as soon as I picked him up all my dormant nannying** instincts kicked back in. Broody? Hell, yes.

Well, at least until I remember how much more difficult doing things like canyoning, kayaking and diving are when you have small children to look after.


* This is the friend with whom I had to dash to hospital 8 weeks ago, after she began bleeding at work, and who has been pretty much hospitalised and on bed-rest since then.

** I worked as a Nanny on and off for about 10 years, through University and my first years in London, and then again about 4 years ago when I quit my stressful charity-sector job. I would probably still be a Nanny if it paid decently. Which it doesn’t.

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28 Responses to In Which I Am A Nana. And Then Am Not A Nana. And Then Am A Nanny.

  1. azahar says:

    What amazing photos! Goodness but you are the intrepid one. And you look fit and fabulous in a wet suit. *envy*

    I got broody looking at the “surprised kitty” video that Mudhooks posted on my blog yesterday. Human babies scare me! But glad to hear your friend and her baby are doing fine.

  2. Total envy! What a wonderful journey. More envy.

  3. modestypress says:

    Being a good nanny should pay at the top. Explains our values and our messes. Beautiful pictures. Thank you for sharing the experience.

    • woo says:

      Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. But I remember how shocked and appalled I was when I discovered that the wealthy family whose two children I was diligently looking after to the very best of my ability were paying me less, per hour, than their gardener and cook. That did it for me and nannying, I’m afraid.

  4. 2. You are so completely awesome. In my world, canyon is not a verb. Ever. I doubt I will ever do anything that adventurous outside of a video game.

    • woo says:

      πŸ™‚ Thank you! I don’t feel awesome in the slightest. There were a couple of slightly tricky parts, but nothing that taking a deep calming breath and trusting one’s own body couldn’t handle. Also, knowing one’s limits. I took frequent stops on the climb back up to the car – its steep and I’m not good at uphills! Tim reached the top a good 10 mins before I did.

      But the few aches in my limbs were more than worth it. It was a glorious place and a real privilege to be able to experience it.

  5. pandemonic says:

    I’m left speechless…. WOWZA!

  6. doctordi says:

    Those photos are gorgeous – and I love that observation that the canyon walls looked like they were peering down to get a closer look at the interlopers. Love it. The accompanying photograph depicts it perfectly.

    So glad mum and premature bub are well. So. Glad.

    Nannies, teachers, nurses, okay, carers in general – the list of injustice is so long.

    • woo says:

      Glad you enjoyed them, Di!

      Yes, huge sighs of relief all round for Maria, husband Tom and their baby, Ben.

      You’ve hit the nail on the head there I think – the ‘caring’ professions seem to be among the worst paid.

  7. doctordi says:

    I sure did – just where are these adventures taking place?! I may have to flee the city myself.

    Carers get shafted with a capital ‘S’ – people get paid more to watch over used cars.

  8. piereth says:

    This looks just wonderful. That pic of you in the canyon with only your head out of the water? Instant naiad material. You’re a little freshwater mermaid.

    Good to hear aobut your friend’s baby… BTW FP calls you the Baby Whisperer, and I know why – you’re so brillisnt with children the parents you worked for should have been paying you squillions. xxx

  9. Wow! I love it that you share your adventures with your readers … your photos are always just remarkable.

    I echo the sentiment that nannies, and anyone who takes care of children and does it well, should be the highest-paid people in the world. I wish that people who love doing it could actually make a living wage doing it … the children would be a lot happier, that’s for sure.

  10. I’m in complete agreement about the pay for childcare workers. They should be paid well, and their backgrounds should be looked into. This begs the question of why you would have children, which are some of the most precious things in the cosmos, that you do not wish to raise and look after yourself? I mean, what is the point of producing them at all if you are going to allow someone else to instill their values into them? Besides all that, if you hire someone to look after your children because you feel the need to go out and earn money, what are you teaching that child? Money is more important than (s)he is. Bad bad idea.

    I loved this series, and I certainly appreciate having a picture put up just for me! I feel like I need to get a ticket to Sydney and have Tim take me on a canyoning adventure. I think it would be right up my alley, actually. I love being in the water so much, my mother used to call me the Water Baby.

    • woo says:

      I used to find, when I was nannying, that many parents actually and consciously wanted me to instill my values and attitude into their children. Maybe its a peculiarly British thing, but many people with ‘new money’ in England have rather a chip on their shoulder about not having the ‘right’ accent and are terrified about somehow showing themselves up in polite society by using the wrong fork or something. So, they employ young women with the right backgrounds to look after their children and then send them to the right schools, with the intention of having their children grow up with the right accent and all the social confidence that they lack.


    • woo says:

      Oh, and Tim & I would love to take you canyoning – you’d be the ideal companion, I know: happy to get wet and dirty and interested in all the rocks and plants along the way!

  11. Nothing makes me broody any more. Getting broody leads to having baby animals around that then you have to love, look after for years, and then let go. Very long term process, actually.

  12. OmbudsBen says:

    Abseil? Abseil? I think I’ll abstain, thank you. But I’m very glad you did the abseiling for us, and the pictures are truly gorgeous.

  13. LazyBuddhist says:

    I love that you share your athletic adventures for those of us who, well, aren’t so energetic. Here’s this for a deal: I’ll share my adventures in being owned by animals so you can get a hit of that, and you continue your spectacular adventures so I can live vicariously. πŸ™‚

    By the way, that photo of you in the water? Amazing. You look absolutely absolutely stunning and your happiness is infectious.

    • woo says:

      Its a deal!

      I love to live vicariously through the adventures of Mr Binkles and his furry friends.

      And thank you for the very kind compliment. As a rule I don’t photograph well, which is rather a vicious circle because it makes me self-conscious and gauche when having my picture taken, which then – of course – makes me look worse. So this photo, being spontaneous, was a lucky success!

  14. slamdunk says:

    Wonderful photos–that must have been a great adventure.

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