Well, we’re back. For those interested, this is where we spent the last ten days.
It’s a spot I’ve holidayed at since I was quite young, but I must say it was something of a different experience with two quite small children in tow. There was far less time for reading and general relaxing than there used to be, but the beach, the playground with huge jumping pillow and the pool were lots of fun with the girls.
The highlights were:
1. Days (or at least mornings or afternoons) spent on the beach, jumping the waves, splashing in the shallows, digging holes in the sand, building sandcastles and burying either Miss Two or Mr Good in turn. Somehow we would head down in the morning and before I knew it Baby Good was beyond tired, Miss Two was STARVING and it would be hours later than I thought. Thankfully our cabin was only a short minute or two stroll from the beach so bed and food weren’t too far away. Though there were only three days of good beach weather we definitely took advantage of these.
2. Squeezing in a little reading time everyday. I would have loved a little more time for this especially as I had hoped to get at least half way through Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, but I did manage a few hundred pages which is much more than I would have got through at home. It seems this book has already made it into several posts (remember, it’s the 1400 pager) and I’m sure it will appear a few more times before I’m done. While I enjoyed it from the start, it just gets better and better and I’m desperate to know what happens next.
3. Learning a thing or two. I love a good useless fact to tuck away in the back of my mind, you just never know when it will come in handy. I picked up two such facts while we were away. Firstly, octopuses (or should that be octopusi) are real escape artists and can squeeze through a space the size of their EYEBALL. I leaned that at the aquarium in Meriumbula – where I also discovered that a couple of clown fish can entertain a toddler for ages on a rainy day (Thank you Nemo). Secondly, Koalas and humans are the only creatures that have fingerprints. I discovered that while patting the absolutely gorgeous baby Koala at Potoroo Palace. This was a wonderful little not-for-profit wildlife sanctuary that filled in another cool and cloudy day. We were almost the only visitors there at the time so we got a very personal session with the keeper who introduced us to their two echidnas and their four koalas. And after a great deal of patience and trying to convince Miss Two to stay quiet we actually saw a Potoroo – had I known they were so rat-like I’m not sure I would have persisted.
4. The lovely market at Candelo, the perfect way to spend a Sunday morning. I was on the look out for home made jam having finished the last of my fig jam before we left. I opted for some gorgeous dark blackberry jam (Mr Good was disappointed it wasn’t raspberry) as well as some local honey, though the variety was quite impressive. I also bought two small buckets of fruit, one of peaches and the other of amazing blood plums – almost as good as I remember as a kid. My one disappointment was that I couldn’t buy any plants, they had some great stalls selling vegetable, herb and flower seedlings. I was eyeing off a couple rhubarb crowns, but Mr Good assured me we couldn’t fit them in the car (we were packed to the hilt).
5. Seafood, seafood, seafood! This part of the country has great seafood and I am an absolute seafood lover. We had fabulous fish and chips from the pier, we bbq’d fresh flathead fillets, enjoyed prawns served simply, cold with a little lemon and home made seafood sauce. As well Mr Good enjoyed freshly caught and shucked oysters (not my favourite) from Pambula Lake and we bought home some smoked local mussels and trout.
6. Eating out. Lately I’ve found eating out with the family more stressful than enjoyable. We ate out several times while we were away, and they were actually nice experiences on the whole. The two dinners out were both at local ‘clubs’ which isn’t somewhere I would usually choose, but I found them to be perfect for dining with small children. They had large dining rooms, so we weren’t so close to other diners that Miss Two’s antics would disrupt them, the menus included more local seafood (I had a very yummy seafood Thai green curry) and the staff were very tolerant of children. Miss Two ran around, danced and generally behaved like a monkey, but no one seemed to mind so we let her go for it and enjoyed our own meals – of course she ate virtually nothing, but what’s new there. As well as these we had a couple of nice lunches including one at the beautiful Seahorse Inn (where we had the whole dining room to ourselves).
There were lots of other nice things about our holiday, but there were also a few lowlights.
1. The journey (there and back). Miss Two was carsick for the first time just outside Melbourne, and so we had the first of our unexpected stops. We had to wait half an hour for the medication we had for her (and had forgotten to give her before we left) to kick in and as it was pouring we ended up sitting in a McDonalds, drinking coffee, reading the paper and watching Miss Two taking advantage of the indoor playground or Baby Good working her charm on everyone who walked past. That was the first of four stops we made on the way there, making a seven hour trip into a ten hour one with a very windy final leg – not good for a frustrated and nauseous toddler nor for a baby who didn’t sleep for more than forty minutes in total and was desperate to get out of the car. The way home only involved two stops (we remembered the medication this time), but severe thunder and hail storms stopped us in our tracks four times and for several hours we were restricted to about 60-80kph due to the atrocious weather conditions. This made the return journey 11 hours long, though the saviour was a portable DVD player I had borrowed which kept Miss Two happy for the last two hours.
2. Baby Good was very unsettled for most of the holiday. We were out and about a lot during the day which significantly disrupted her sleep, she just doesn’t sleep when we’re out and would go for up to ten hours without so much as a catnap. She looked constantly exhausted with red eyes and big bags under them, I felt terrible for her. She was also restless at night, waking frequently and sometimes taking hours to go back to sleep. As the girls were sharing a room, this also disrupted Miss Two who ended up swapping beds with either Mr Good or myself several nights. Thankfully, Baby Good slept through the last night we were there. Either that or I didn’t hear her crying over the torrential rain we experienced that night (it was so loud Mr Good and I had to watch TV with the subtitles on).
3. Ants. They were everywhere and in everything. Not in massive numbers, but just everywhere.
4. Sunburn. Remember how I said I had become quite paranoid about sun protection, well I’ve learnt a new lesson – don’t get distracted while you’re putting on your own sunscreen! The girls were slathered in sunscreen, hats, t-shirts etc. I, for some reason, managed to miss one shoulder and the front of both legs from the knee down. Ouch!
That’s it, and as the highlights outweighed the lowlights I would say that equals a very successful holiday. Of course the first thing I did on our return was to check out the garden (in the dark last night and first thing this morning) and was pleased to see things looking green and healthy, but more on that later. Our return also spells a new phase in our lives with Miss Two heading back to childcare for one day a week and me heading back into the classroom as an emergency teacher – Baby Good will spend the days I’m working with Granny until she’s a bit older.