camping, first days

I had meant to write a post about our trip everyday since I got back but as you all would know, life tends to get in the way of blogging.
Anyway, we ended up having two camp sites at Buchan reserve. The first was one that you can book through Parks Victoria* and it was right on the edge of all the powered sites. Under a street lamp and next to the sewerage plant. Not to mention two doors down from the family with four children whose Dad, despite being a nice guy, played AC/DC loudly late into the night. Walking through the site to the toilet block at night, I was surprised by the number of DVD players and war games I heard. Coming back, I saw a man playing solitaire on his laptop while his wife slouched in a chair nearby. Part of me wished I'd had my camera with me and was game enough to take a picture and document the scene. Electronic games seem to be a new development since we last stayed in a camping ground about five years ago. In the end though, it was the street light shining in our tent that really motivated me to move site.

This site did have some nice points though, a picnic table with a grassy bank behind it. We bought our folding table to sit at and a little table to cook on. In the absence of a picnic table I would normally sit on a milk crate to cook and use the esky to rest the chopping board on. The picnic table was very civilised in comparison and we ending up using our tables for other things.
When we were packing there were some things in the kitchen box that I'd forgotten the function of but dragged along anyway. Like the cake rack that enables the coffee maker to sit on the hot plate. The coffee maker is a beauty. Not only does it make superb coffee but the billy with the coffee tin sits under the spout when it's all packed in the kitchen box. Very compact. It was lovely to get out the night box again, which is the blue box above with the chess board pattern on top. G made that for me after our very first camping trip together (to Adelaide via the Murray to see Carlton play). A peace offering, perhaps. There were some rough edges between us, as I remember. A camping trip being a pretty ambitious first date. The night box has a compartment for the lantern top and a little section for some chess pieces. It also hold candles, mosquito coils, a pack of cards and sometimes chocolate and other night time type treats.
* If I were staying at Buchan Reserve again, I would try to get through to the actual reserve and book a site on Combi flat which is where we eventually moved to and is much nicer.  

so we dusted off the camping box and set forth

It's sad but until last week we hadn't been camping since the great central Australian road trip of 2004. When I took six weeks leave at half pay (hah, try doing that now) and G and I set off to see Uluru and everything in between. It was a fabulous journey, and as a major bonus I came home well and truly up the duff. Camping and car touring have always been something we both loved, we see new things, relax and seem to get back in sync with each other. I'm kind of surprised that it's taken us this long to find our way back again.

Anyway a while ago, we decided that before Grace starts school, we should take her camping. She was pretty keen on the idea and as luck would have it, I had leave during the school holidays approved and so just before Christmas, I cracked the shits with our indecision and booked a site at Buchan Caves. Not exactly bush camping, but somewhere we'd never been (although I think I may have passed through on a feminist collective camping trip when I was twenty), close to some more remote areas to explore and far enough away to give the sense of a big journey. Packing took us at least two days and we had to borrow a tent as although we have two tents, one is very attractive but not at all waterproof and the other is too small for two, let alone three. We also went to Ray's cheap shit Camping and bought some cheap shit lilos to sleep on (more about those in the next post) as our old foam bedroll decomposed under the plum tree at the old house and even if it hadn't, it would no longer fit in the car.
We are slow travellers at the best of times and because it's all about the journey and how many country op shops you can cram into a trip - we stayed overnight on the way. There's a lovely caravan park at Moe but for some reason we pressed on to Traralgon and ended up staying in a cabin rather than an onsite caravan as planned. Nonetheless, Grace was thrilled. She insisted on going for a swim even though it was cool enough for a hoody. She loved the dodgy bunks (except for hitting her head) and whooped it up in the even more dodgy rec room, pretending to learn to play table tennis. That was pretty hilarious. There were boats and motor homes, lots of things to see. It was all rather fascinating and she told us she loved staying a hometel. Later at night, she started to learn to sew!   The next morning, the old car packing mojo swung into gear and we pressed on. Once she got settled, Grace was content to talk, read, draw and play with her toys (they have long conversations with each other at the moment) in the car and eventually fall asleep. She is astonishingly easy to travel with in that respect. 

Tomorrow night, Buchan.

Happy birthday Maeve!

Happy birthday Maeve! You're one now and well and truly walking I hear. Your first year seemed to fly by so quickly and next time I see you, you'll definitely be a toddler rather than a baby. I hope you like your new sock monkey. She's a girl sock monkey and Grace wanted her to have pink eyes, but I thought that the liberty lined ears would give it away.

Sock Monkey is made from an old pair of your Nana's possum merino socks, that were accidentally felted in the washing machine. The heels were a bit thin, hence the darning. In making her I was inspired by Mr Ted Baker. Although I followed a modern pattern, meaning she has stumpier arms and a shorter tail. She is very soft and squishy which all comes down to the sock I think. Happy Birthday, little girl.

more green summer, while it lasts

It seems so long ago since I was here... We've had scorching heat, nights when I've done the bare minimum at the computer because being in the study means being attacked by gnats and sweating from my eyeballs. We've had gastro. Ick. Especially the stinky burps. TMI, I know. I've inhaled a fly and spat it out half an hour later. Even more icky. But all in all, I've been in enjoying summer. There was a lovely dinner at the park the other night, perfect weather, gorgeous company, the kids played beautifully. Even though everything is starting to dry off a bit, there's still lots of green to look at and that makes me happy. And there have been many cooler days. How I love a mild summer.

The picture above is of some of the younger boys of the court hanging around with their older friends, the boom boom boys. So called because of the music they play in their cars that they are constantly renovating. Sometimes they shut themselves in the car on the street and turn the music up as loud as it will go and our windows shake. I find it kind of endearing, it's never at night and they're friendly enough kids if you say hello.
Anyway, we're off for a while. Camping. It's taken us two days to pack but I think we'll be out the door tomorrow morning. See you on the other side.

the day we went to see angelina ballerina

I'm loving this summer. Today was just perfect, warm and sunny enough for summer clothes but not too hot. A gentle breeze and a blue sky. The grass is still green, trees are bursting with new growth, flowers are flowering and everything is still looking beautiful and alive (as opposed to brown and scorched). I think I'd almost forgotten that summer here could be like this, given up hope that it would be again. Indeed at work yesterday, a customer said that she'd been here almost ten years and that she'd never seen Melbourne look so green and pretty. And despite the odd really hot day, it looks like we might still get a bit more rain. I'm going to enjoy the softness while I can.

Today Mum, Grace and I went into town to see Angelina Ballerina. Preceded by a short visit to the art gallery to see the water wall and the stained glass ceiling. Both of which Grace loved. There were little girls in tutus and fairy dresses everywhere. Grace looked like a big meringue in her new fairy dress (in the best and most fun way possible). She stayed pristine until the end of the day when she ended up covered in chocolate ice cream. The ballet was actually pretty good and Grace was loved it, wiggling in her seat to the music and peering over the edge of the balcony. We came home on the train and she talked with some much older kids who gave her a strange bubble made of some kind of plastic which she poked and prodded as it deflated. But there were no tears. A good day all round.

happy new years in the neighbourhood

We spent New Year's Eve with some of our lovely neighbours and friends. It was last minute and perfect. We drank mojitos and had a BBQ as thunder crackled and electricity filled the air. The children bounced naked on the trampoline and adults took turns wearing the silly party glasses. I said, I don't think it will rain, not properly but it poured and we adjourned to Mim's shed. Honestly, I don't think I can remember a summer when it's been this wet and green in late December for years and I'm hoping it's a sign of more to come. Perhaps that's why I quite like this dorky photo, not only does it have party glasses but you can see the rain.

The children played inside mostly, staying up well past the hour and there wasn't any fighting or tanty throwing. When the New Year arrived there was thunder and fireworks all at the same time. I think. Or at least that's my impression of the night, wet, electric yet calm, thundery and lots of fireworks. And it was good to look over in the direction of our house and see our neighbours from two doors up's fireworks in the distance. Walking home, the night was cool and wet with a certain luminescence to it. We stopped to watch some kids let off more fireworks in the street. Yeah, fireworks are big around here. When we got home, the house was still hot but Grace went to bed without a fuss. I sat up for a while, feeling sort of truffle like. As though I'd been cloaked in sweat and then dusted with something gritty but I rolled off to bed and slept the sleep of the happy. A really good New Year's Eve.
Not much in the way of resolutions yet. Except for this, to simplify and make space for the new. In all sorts of ways.
Happy New Year to you and may your year be full of all that is good. And rain if you need it.