Ironballs & swimming in the cocoon

by | Feb 2, 2013 | Uncategorized | 14 comments

In the perfect summer weather of the long weekend, the sun was up, melting the hill, while the bach was still sleeping in the shade.
It’s always special when the family comes to share the bach with me. The little one says she loves it, because ‘I can swim in the stream, or the sea, but my favourite is swimming in the cocoon.’

 And here she is, wearing her sunhat and so immersed that she looks like another little rock. We all know that she means ‘lagoon’, but no-one wants to correct her, because we love her version so much.

  The other delight about the family coming out, is that the little one’s father picks up on his childhood discoveries in this very same place. We came to live here when he was two years old, until he was six, and after that on the weekends.
The iron sand of our west coast beaches has special properties.
Soon he got to know some other local kids, and they taught him the art of making iron balls.

The secret is to alternate wet and dry sand, and build the iron ball up in layers,

until you have an impressive ball to throw into the lake or lagoon with a resounding splash.

Continuity: I love the feeling of holding this place for the coming generations, and knowing that my son’s early years spent out here have given him a feel for the land that lives in his bones. I’m swimming in the cocoon.


  1. Diana Drent

    What a nice idea the art of making iron balls. Never heard of it.

  2. juliet

    * Diana, you would probably need to have the right sand. But why not try with any sand?
    Thank you.

  3. anissa

    It’s a wonderful thing…to see your son and your grand daughter there. What a gift it is to have turangawaewae! (and we love swimming in our ‘cocoon’ too.)

  4. Hilary Melton-Butcher

    Hi Juliet – love the memories .. and those childhood mishearings re words – love the cocoon over lagoon – much better!!

    Delighted you had such a happy weekend with the family, and your son remembering his early days at the bach, and then making iron balls – fun!! Big Splash …

    Cheers Hilary

  5. Hotly Spiced

    The area where your bach is looks so beautiful, like a patch of land that’s remained unspoiled for the longest time. How lovely to have your family come and visit and enjoy the area with you xx

  6. juliet

    * Anissa, it’s the greatest joy the have this sense of a 3rd generation now enjoying this special place. You are lucky to have a ‘cocoon’ too.

    * Hilary, those misheard words can be such a treat, and such fun. It’s good we had this beach time as the weather has broken now – great for the garden of course, so I’m not complaining.

    * Charlie, it is an unspoilt place. I was involved in an environmental protection group that started in the 70s and did some really good work. Sharing this spot with the family is the best thing.

    Thank you Anissa, Hilary and Charlie; great to see you here.

  7. Lynley

    I love “cocoon”…..your bach and its environment looks like such a “cocoon” for all.

    Every time I go to the Aotea Lagoon I will think of the “Cocoon”:-)))

    Ironballs look like very good fun!!

    The drought has broken here today and I’m sure I could hear my garden gulping down the rain. I have sighed with relief too after a long hot, dry spell.

  8. juliet

    * Lynley, nice to feel that the idea of the ‘cocoon’ is spreading! Ironballs are great fun; I’m not quite as good at them as my son, but they do make a very satisfying splash.
    The drought has broken here today also. It’s such a relief, isn’t it?
    Thanks for visiting.

  9. Friko

    Iron balls, not something I’d have any experience of personally, but wouldn’t it be fun to make and throw them into water. The resultant splash could be a work of art. Hv a camera handy the next time somebody does it.

    I like what you say about yourself in your profile. I shall come back for more posts.

  10. juliet

    * Hi Friko, thanks for leaving a comment, and I look forward to seeing you again. That’s a good idea to take a photo of the splash. I’ll see if I can get one.

  11. Penny O'Neill

    ” . . but my favourite is swimming in the cocoon.’ – that touched my soul today, Juliet. What I wouldn’t do right now for a swim in a cocoon. This reminds me of the day our Jennifer asked if she could wear a zucchini for swimming. (zucchini is squash). What a wonderful post and a wonderful place to return to for you and your family.

  12. juliet

    * Penny, I love the zucchini story! These versions of the words we thought we knew, how priceless they are. Thank you.

  13. Anne Ruffell

    I’m still smiling at you all swimming in the “cocoon” and I loved the photo of the little one with her hat on! How wonderful to be able to relive some good memories from those days when you lived at the bach. The little one is so lucky to have a place like that to visit as she is growing up. They will be very happy memories for her too.

  14. juliet

    *Anne, I’m hoping that she will be building some happy memories. It’s so important to have these experiences from an early age.
    Thank you.


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