Yo Dudes and Dudettes! The year's terminus draws near and the excitement doesn't show any signs of letting up. Thank you for fantastic update from Pie, and REALLY hope the rain is letting up... sounds pretty damp. Didn't realise you'd had to cancel your trip to the snow, that's really a bit of a downer. Makoto's diving sounds hair-raising, but as you say, if he can rescue someone under those conditions he can pretty much rescue them any time. When I'm drowning, I wanna be drowning where he is, definitely.
Now, I left off at the camping trip. Well, it certainly wasn't free of problems and we might have very low expectations, but all things considered we thought it went pretty well – for a first trial run. We arrived at the site pretty much dead-on noon (which was the check-in time) and timed ourselves – it took us 40 minutes to put the tent up... which is slow, but not too dreadful.
Non on her way to first camping trip, eating banana muffin... and in the pool with Daddy at the campsite.
We later found out that we hadn't put the tent ropes on in quite the way they were intended (well, the tent didn't come with any instructions at all) but it seemed OK anyway. When it was all set up, we mosied off to the metropolis of Nelson Bay and pick up a LOVELY fish-and-chips for lunch (hamburger for the Littles, she's off fish-and-chips at the moment). After that we played in the park there for a good while: they have loads of climbing things and slides and the place was heaving with children. Now, we were going to go to the beach but the Littles had her eye on the pool at the camp-site and was dead set on getting back there as soon as possible. It was also pretty cloudy, and although we were trying to tell her that there was time for both beach and pool, to be entirely honest it was quite possible the rain would be coming down any time soon so we acquiesced. On the way back we stopped off at Bunnings to get a power-cord extension: it's all very well to be on a powered camp-site but not much use if you don't have an extension to make use of it. Not that we did, in the end, but now we at least have the capability. One thing we found would have been useful was an electric kettle: would have made making a cup of tea a pleasant accompaniment to a piece of cake.
"Cheers!": warming up after pool-time, and breakfast the next day outside the tent.
As per promise, the Littles went to the pool and the Mr bravely went in with her. After they'd been splashing around happily for a good long while I finally took of several layers of clothing and had a microsecond-dip – and regretted it instantly. Absolutely freezing. Anyway, lips purple and blue all round but happiness in general. Back in the tent we stripped off, got the extra duvets out and cuddled up in the sleeping bags to get cosy again, while drinking chocolate milk.
Eventually it was time to start thinking about preparing dinner. Now, we'd made a spag sauce so all we had to do was boil some water, cook the pasta, and heat up the sauce. Bob. Ah, yes. We'd checked out the new stove at home, read the instructions, and were now ready to connect it up to the new little gas bottle and get cooking. It was after some considerable fiddling that we eventually realised that when you buy this type of small bottle from Bunnings, it's... empty. Not full. I'd even been swinging the bottle around at home, exclaiming 'it's very light, I wonder if it's really full' but we thought at the time this was a preposterous idea and discarded it as such. Well well. No camp cooking. Luckily, for precisely this kind of reason I'd picked a camp-site with a kitchen, so we took stuff over there and cooked up inside instead. It was all a bit of a pain because there were cooking facilities but they were crappy and minimal, and it took an inordinately long time to get the water boiling and the pasta cooked. However, the Mr was very chivalrous and stood there patiently stirring it, and there was 'Brother Bear 2' on the telly in there so Littles was almost loath to leave once the meal was ready. Anyway, she's opted for taking it all back to eat outside the camp rather than in the kitchen, so we did. Dished out the pasta... and at this point the Littles jumps up and declares she needs to loo. Which is back at the kitchen area, quite a way away. So up she and I go, leaving the pasta to cool nicely.
Astonishingly, it wasn't too cold by the time we got back. Tasty, too. What with that and what with the wine, things were looking rosy. By this time it was pretty late, so I took the Littles to get brushed up and we put her to bed. Very nice and happy in her Scooby bed, with extra duvet just in case. She slept quite soundly.
Our own night wasn't quite as restful. The Ikea bed mat we'd brought instead of the smaller blow-up I hadn't been able to get hold of on Boxing Day was... Spartan. We're probably not as young as we used to be, too, so it really wasn't very comfortable. However, in retrospect I think it was more the howling of the wind that kept waking us up, on red-alert in case we had to jump up and run after the tent floating away in the wind. Once it died down (probably in the early hours of the morning) it was much easier to sleep. Perhaps in the future we'll have more faith in the tent and not be so nervous – or perhaps it won't blow quite so very much so often. Once we'd got to sleep, the Littles woke up and demanded the loo. So it was Family Loo … behind the tent.
Masses of cicada hatching-shells on the huge tree on our camp-spot, and Ibis in the braches above
We weren't at our brightest by the morning, but of course the Littles was in fine fettle. Tripping over guy ropes and bashing into the tent with vim. Vigour as well. After masses of chocolate spread and bread, we packed up and checked out. Chose a random beach to explore – Fisherman's Bay. Very nice walk through beautiful eucalypts to a small beach, where we paddled for a while before heading back home.
By about one o'clock we were back home, first ever camping trip under belt and (despite setbacks) feeling quite satisfied.
We'd barely brought the stuff up from the car when Sophie's mum called, asking whether Lara would like to come for a sleepover tonight. Well, yes, of course. Said they'd pick her up at about 3:30. So we had about an hour and a half to get her ready... I chucked her in the bath, scrubbed the camping muck off her, dressed her, got her in the car to go and get some new pyjamas (she's been needing some for ages and it was a perfect opportunity), got lovely new 'jamas, also got a little dog-toy for Sophie as a thank-you to take with her, got back, put on the pyjamas just to make sure everything was OK, Lara rips them off screaming 'they're too tight' (they're almost falling off her they're so loose) and refuses to go anywhere near them, we pack old pyjamas instead, re-do her hair, get everything ready just in time for 3:30. Boy was I glad to see her go.
What with one thing and another we were by now reasonably tired. Decided to spend a good hour tidying up (place was a bombsite) and then relax for the rest of the day. An hour and a half later things were looking a bit better. We lazed around playing on the DS and the computer, flicking television unmolested by small children. Eventually decided that it was getting late and we'd better make something for dinner, so I started to strip the turkey carcass for some curry. Now, there may be those among the readers who remember a certain boxing day when I was stripping a turkey carcass and chopped a good deal of my left thumb off in the process, and had to take a trip to A&E the next day when it started looking a bit dodgy. This time it was the same thumb, but came in from the other side – nice big slice clean into the flesh and nail. Lovely sharp knives, we have. My, there was a LOT of blood. And you know the combo between me, blood and consciousness – never go together. So next thing I know I'm rather surprised to be waking up on the kitchen floor rather than in bed, and the Mr looking down at me in that particular 'I wonder when she's going to wake up' way. Amazingly, the cut barely hurts at all. Subsequently wonder whether it's because all the nerves in that thumb have already been destroyed. Be as it may, what with background exhaustion and shock, yours truly retires to the sofa watching telly while the Mr makes a delicious curry... of which I manage to eat disgracefully small amount and crawl off to bed at about 9:30.
At 4 a.m. I wake up to find... still no Mr in bed. Go down to investigate to find that he's been installing and playing a new computer game until now. Wave arms in agitation at him, which produces the effect of his materialising in bed after a few minutes.
Next day, with no Littles, wake up with a stunningly late 9 a.m. - with a start, as I said I'd pick the Littles up at 9. Throw clothes on and call Sophie's place, but everything is fine over there and they ask for another 1 hour before being picked up. Phew. Time for shower.
She seems to have had an unmitigatedly lovely time, and when I got there was in full dress-up with hair down and Sophie waving a hairbrush around as usual – I think she regards the Littles as an extraordinarily well-made and slightly interactive doll. Seems to be a mutually agreeable arrangement. Eventually manage to winkle her out and back home, leaving a general and open invitation for Sophie to replay the visit at any time in the near future. (New Year's Eve is entirely a possibility).
What with one thing and another, it's fully noon before we're all on board about what's happening. We've invited Anna and her family over for dinner, and we've nothing in the fridge apart from a leftover bit of turnkey carcass, and no idea what to make. Concerted effort made at planning, after which the Mr takes the Littles to the beach while I go shopping. Tidying and cooking bring us very speedily to about 4:30, which is when they turn up.
We had a lovely time. Had put a very large leg of lamb on the barbie, which turned out very nicely, and served it with three salads (rice and minty, bean and leafy with pine-nuts, and aubergine and tomato). By the time they got to this we were all nicely hammered on cocktails and titillated with tasty olives and dips, so it went down in a haze of tastiness. They'd brought along the desert, which was delicious: Toblerone fondue with lots of fruit to dip into it. Gosh, it was nice. Just sat around nibbling and yabberring until 10:30 at night, with ALL the kids still conscious and playing on the DS and generally footling – they'd been incredibly well-behaved. Anna had brought along some Mighty Beans and chocolate coins, and made a treasure-hunt for them earlier on – great success. They painted their house, they played ball, they ate dinner relatively nicely, in short, it was astounding.
Nibbles, and treasure hunting for Beans and Chocolate
Non was of course up bright and early today a little before 7 a.m.. She's had her breakfast, though we've only had tea due to being too stuffed from last night. The Mr is asleep on the sofa opposite under the fleece, but as the Littles is swaying about in a small cardboard box wearing nothing but a pair a lurid green pants and yelling 'Daddy Daddy it's a Bad Finale' while thumping him in the groin, I suppose he won't be asleep for long. This morning she received the Moose Bag from the Woof and Whale, and, entirely delighted, set up a 'sleigh' with her white rocking-chair as the sleigh, twelve Mooses lined up in front of it (with Rudolph at the head) and her new skipping rope from the Camel as reins, giddying them up and yelling 'dash, dash, Mooses, go NOW!', herself sitting at the helm in the chair in the character of Fat Santa (this still while clothed in the lurid green pants, ribs protruding and pigtails flying out in agitation).
The idea is to go to the beach today, and probably not much else. I'll be trying to hit the shops to find the bits and pieces we were lacking for the camping, but that's probably the extent of the adventures for today. I think we'll be looking into the next camping trip pretty shortly – couple of day's time, perhaps. If we can find somewhere that will take short bookings at this time of year (not many of those around, actually). Anyway this seems to have gone on for ages, so I'll post up and shut up. Love to all, many happy returns of the Old Year!