So what have I been doing instead of uploading my school holiday photos and wrting about our big trip? Living and parenting and working and playing on facebook and trying to figure out why we still don't have a school library and talking on the phone and answering emails and working out how merge mailchimp with an edublog to deliver a school newsletter in a digital fashion that isn't an emailed pdf because really, that is so last century. Oh yeah, and learning to how make ice cream.
First I started off with a friends ice cream maker and made a creamy honey orange Philadelphia style ice cream. Grace complained about the fatty mouth feel. Then I made frozen yoghurt and she didn't like the nutmeg bits, can't say I blame her. At that point I rather carelessly allowed the ice cream maker lid to drop on the floor when banging a door shut and it shattered. We gaffer taped it together to make the lemon ice cream which was my first go at a custard base. Grace said it was delicious as a custard but too lemony once frozen. I scoffed the lot over a week or so. Yum. I bought two new ice cream makers over the internet and have since made strawberry ice cream and learnt that it won't freeze properly if the mix has too much sugar. The chocolate was good but had little lumps. The kids loved these flavours and one of the neighbourhood children asked if there was any home made ice cream when they were offered cones this afternoon (that sounds a bit wrong doesn't it?). Anyway, I'm considering doing a ice cream stall at our next fete and given that I can only make a bit over a litre at a time, maybe that's a pretty nutty idea.
Have been feeling a bit nutty myself. As usual. work has been intense with a few little extra dramas thrown in. Oh, and on top of unmentionable dramas I've just found out they're going to introduce a uniform. Not compulsory until 2014 but joy oh joy not only do I get to deliver government policy, witness a fair bit of aggression and explain complex rules to people living on the barest of shoestrings, I get to do it while wearing ill fitting polyester. Apparently we won't have to pay for the uniform but it disturbs me that many of my colleagues think this uniform business is actually a good thing. So yes, I think I should be planning the next stage of my working life. Don't think I'll be able to leave by 2014 but I need to be thinking about what else I could do. Suggestions most welcome.
On Friday I thought I was having a manic attack, after a sleepless night of racing thoughts and a few tears. Now I've forced a couple of good nights sleep and I feel OK. I can still drive and do normal things but I'm taking on extra projects and well, am being just a bit up. Maybe I should talk to my doctor this week. It's hard to tell really. Maybe it's just the onset of spring. I love it when the weather starts lightening up and the days get longer and you don't have to wear proper shoes. Then we get the spring winds and people acting all crazy at work because it's well known that spring triggers mood disorders and well, I have my own issues with spring. So yeah, me and early spring we don't do too well together. It's something I always forget until I remember again. Sigh.
Best show you some spring pictures and go get ready for bed. My camera battery is all charged so I can get packed for the excursion tomorrow. Scienceworks!  Love an excursion and I normally miss out because I can never a get a flex when I want one. This one I can do, so can't wait.

Wider than the Gwydir

Gee, I'm pretty behind with blogging the trip to Queensland, aren't I? (Note to self - no knitting in front of TV  until you have blogged and worked on your photos - you will appreciate this in years to come.) Ok, so where are we up to? After Pilliga we headed to Moree - another visit to Country Target to change some jeans we had bought for Grace in Forbes. They might have been "fashiony" but the size sevens were definitely too tight and too short. We think she might have been growing lately. I also bought a camping guide that I had been tempted by in Melbourne - the Camps 6 guide. We didn't need to use it that night though, other customers in the camping shop told us about some free camping by the Gwydir river (rhymes with wider).
gwydir river
By the time we were heading out of town, the light was fading fast - as we discovered this trip, time pressure to set up camp is much keener in winter. We headed down a likely looking track and came to a fork in the road. Gerard asked me which way to go and I pointed to the one that seemed to lead further away from the road. The track became worse and worse, lots of big boggy holes with nowhere to turn around. Gerard cracked the shits and we had one of those special on the road fights. He was shitty because he had wanted to go the other way because he thought the road would be better and hadn't said because he didn't want to waste time fighting with me and now we were wasting time backtracking. I was shitty because he didn't say what he thought we should do. He did admit that he should have been a bit more assertive in this instance. Like I said, it was quite special.

When we got to the camp site, there was no one else there but there was a shit load of rubbish. Two or three supermarket bags full. Grace didn't want to camp there because there were no other campers and sat in the car reading the camping guide while I picked up rubbish and G looked for firewood. We made a killer fire and I even managed to get it started again in the morning. It was very cold and frosty so that was very welcome. The Gwydir river turned out to be a lovely camp site, other people turned up which pleased Grace while Gerard and I had a cynical conversation about the type of people they might be over her head. In the morning Grace was her cheery self and even enjoyed the view over ant island.
gwydir river
The next day there was much excitement as we crossed the Queensland border. Grace was getting very excited about seeing her cousins and Betty and Cam. Me too. We had a lunch and opshop stop in Goondiwindi and decided that we would try and camp near Toowoomba, leaving a a relatively short drive for our last day. This time I used the new camp guide to locate our camping spot and what a ripper! The best thing is that all the camping spots are marked on a road atlas and the numbers refer to a listing with details. It was much simpler than trying to match what I had found on the internet with a big road map. Or looking for likely looking State forests. Planning when and where to stop suddenly became a lot easier.
yarramalong weir
We camped near Yarramalong Weir - a bit off the highway in the middle of cotton country. The camp site was a bit rough, possibly as a result of the floods, and was better suited to caravans but we found a good enough spot for our tent. A grey nomad gave us quite a lot of wood and once again we made a good fire. Something about the scenery around here, it just made me want to get out my camera. I loved the view over the weir at sunset but the toilet block in the morning was equally fascinating.
toilet block
As was a patch of grass that we later saw being mown. I was stunned to find that not only was the toilet a clean flush toilet, but there was toilet paper. I wonder who provides these campsites and why? Whatever the reason, in my book, free camping is definitely a good thing. Free camping with toilets is even better. The fire issue is a also bit of a deal maker for me and is one reason I don't like most caravan parks. If you are camping in a tent in winter, a fire and a warm bed are what makes it fun rather than a grin and bear it exercise. We certainly appreciated the fire that morning. Once again it was very frosty until the sun came up.
breakfast around the campfire