Story Blog

Codine's off for the moment, but if you haven't read 'Turning Stones' it's still up there - free read!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

30th January 2011 (Sunday)

Who would've thought it. I've just found out today's the last day of the holidays. I thought school started on Tuesday but turns out that was erroneous.

Gosh, I do so love to be proved wrong. How marvellous.

The poor little Mr has been groggy all weekend, so for a change I took the Littles to Nippers this morning. Hot as usual, but I somehow managed to avoid getting into the water – thank goodness, as that would have been one small lump and one large lump of shivering ice sitting on the sides towards the end of the proceedings. Lara did quite good paddling on the surfboard and even some pretty acceptable diving under them, but for some reason absolutely forgot everything about her actual swimming. Floated along in a just-about-making-it jellyfish sort of way, you'd never believe the nice swimming she's been doing. No idea why. Anyone would think she hadn't a clue and was in imminent danger of sinking.

Saw a lot of houses yesterday, but most of them were overpriced and not quite answering to our requirements. The last one we saw was nice, but in retrospect we reckoned it was easy to be bowled over by the lovely outside landscaping, which in fact is not that hard to do. It was here.

… By the way, it was a while ago but I think I've failed to mention, I actually won my first ever cash prize a while back in a short story competition. Wooo hoo! Mind you it's all old news by now but I did promise to post the link so here it is – you'll have to scroll down because I didn't actually win it, but came runner up. Still, I was pleased.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

“My pants came off.”
“My pants came off.”
“Wad’you mean, they came off, what happened to them?”
“I took them off.”
“But I’m wearing my shorts.”
“Why did the pants come off?”
“Because. Nothing.”
“What do you mean, nothing? Is that them lying in the corner?”
“Uh hum.”
“Well what happened?”
“Nothing. I’m wearing no pants.”
So saying, she pats her bottom approvingly, and walks off.

Trouble, that one.

Friday, January 28, 2011

27th January 2011 (Thursday)

Party preparations warming up. Date set (Feb 12th), venue booked (the community Arts Centre, in a room ominously entitled The Black Box), and invites printed, ready for the first day of school. In the meantime I'll be emailing all the parents because it'll still be short notice. I must say they're the most gorgeous party invites.
It's a whole different kettle of fish from previous events as we'll be having all 40 first years... the time-honoured 'pass the parcel' must finally bite the dust. On the bright side, 'musical statues' will no doubt still be appropriate and popular. Amazing how they always love doing that one, always seemed such a stupid game to me. Still, if it works, use it.

For once, yesterday we didn't go to the beach. In fact all we did all day was various little chores. Ended up going to Cartridge World TWICE, first to get the black in refilled and rapidly afterwards for the yellow and cyan, as they ran out about 12 pages into printing. There was a empty fridge to fill, and trips to the gym to get Lara signed up for next term (paperwork at start of year). First lesson's on the 4th.

Oh, another thing we stocked up on yesterday was the birthday Pinata and absolutely OBSCENE quantities of sweets. You should've seen her face. That pinata is now stuffed with probably about two kilos of wrapped sweetites and is waiting downstairs in the garage, together with the paper plates and cups. We've got some super masks and hats as winners' prizes for all the games we'll be playing. I think for goodie bags we might ditch the usual bag-o-junk and instead bake some giant cookies, I'm sure the parents will be pleased not to have the houses filled up with more tat and kids always love a cookie if it's big enough. They wrapped up really prettily in some coloured cellophane for the Halloween party. I need not mention at this point that Lara is by now constantly vocalising the wish that her birthday might come soon.

I'd best get going on today's events now. The poor Mr seems to have been up most of the night feeling a bit unwell, so I doubt he'll be in to work. I might try and get The Girl out somewhere to be out of his way. She's currently talking to herself about the Mario Carts game she's playing on the DS, but I guess it's going to have to be Work Time soon so I'll just have to get the right hand out and shove it up Grandfather Moose. Gets really sweaty in there but she refuses to do any work without him these days. Who would have thought a hairy puppet would be so motivational.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Once again, Australia Day has brought heat exhaustion, UV exposure and that mix of back-country tameness and outright insanity that is peculiarly Australian.

How can one better illustrate this than with the example of the 'Ducks for Dollars' annual 'race' at the Foreshore: part of the general celebrations. It's a fund-raiser for the surf lifesavers, really just a water tombola and all very laudable. It also involves surfboards carrying giant rubber ducks, and several thousand rubber ducks being heaved into the harbour and 'raced' to the other side of their little pen (purely tide-propelled). Personally I had trouble scooping my jaw off my sunburned chest as I saw this going on, but it all seems to be perfectly accepted and not even vaguely amusing to the local populace.

There was also the 'tugboat ballet' (which we also caught a brief glimpse of) where 'tugboats perform in an incredible display in the water.' Well thank goodness it was in the water, at least. Would have hated to see them stuck on the side of the hill. They got one bit right: incredible. I mean, don't get me wrong, tugs are pretty amazing but dancers they ain't.

On the other hand there's the Stockton swim. 700 meters one way, 1,400 (oh yes, we've been honing our maths) both ways. We watched the 700 as one of Ian's students was in it. Now, I take 25 minutes to swim 1km at the Ocean Baths, and reckon myself quite OK. The very last, last person who came in today had a time of just under 17 minutes... which is about 30 seconds faster than what I can do. The winners do it in about 7 minutes. In the hordes and bunches of people who did a lot better than this were grannies with long white hair and children who looked no more than about 13 – which I don't understand because I thought you had to be about 15 to enter. I wonder if it's like faking your age to join the army used to be. … Mind you, it wasn't all grannies and children. I did see a few pretty … um... honed specimens breeze past. The kind you think 'gosh, they really make them like that, it's not just airbrushing techniques.'

We took the opportunity to have a harbour tour on one of the ferries, as they're free on Australia Day. I think it might have been a bit dull for the Littles because it was crammed full of statistics and 'interesting facts' about the coal exporting and other mercantile business in the harbour. It might possibly have been verging on dull even for the adult contingent. I mean, it's all very impressive and of course very important... but so is bacterial action in decomposition of organic matter. Doesn't mean we necessarily want to watch it for a whole 45 minutes. Actually, come to think of it, I might even prefer the latter. The Non did however get a freebie water-bottle (seems to be the thing to give away round here) so she was pleased. Is by now building up a fine collection.

Another opportunity we took, on account of the zero-cost factor specially for the day, was a tour of Fort Scratchley. …. As even the Mr said, glad we didn't pay to see it. Mind you, it was obvious what it would be, and it turned out to be exactly that. An 'old' fort which had never seen action, run by exclusively male volunteers with a minimum age of 96, who were the perfect hybrid between trainspotters and Dad's Army recruits – several decades after the curtain fell on the production. Probably didn't help that we were by this time almost falling over with the heat. However, we have now 'seen' Port Scratchely. I think that's one ticked firmly off the list of things to do. Lovely view from the top, though.



Back at home, the Mr somehow managed to conjure up a wonderful stir-fry from an apparently completely empty fridge, and then much later on in the afternoon, Merewether Baths. 

Merewether Baths were packed and hot even at 4:30, and we ended up rolling about on the sand until well gone six. Very reluctant to go back to that heat-trap of a house. Honestly the insulation here is absolutely nil, the place is freezing in the winter and oven-like in the summer, it's frequently a relief to be outside in both extremes. I guess the place keeps the rain out but that's about it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Clawing way back to normality today. Summer holidays are drawing to an end, less than one week left now. Less of this lying-around-the-house-like-fleabitten-curs-with-no-vocation. Mind you it is damn hot. Last night it hit a mere 26 degrees even at the coldest point of the night, and I think was still up at 38 at about 8 in the evening. With no AC and no insulation to speak of, the house is pretty toasty. Kinda encourages the fleabitten-cur syndrome.

Well, after a nice spot of work with Lara in the morning, we picked up Lillian and went off to New Lambton Library this morning. Rainbow Fairies party, one of those things the library lays on during the long holidays. Was absolutely spot-on for them but nearly turned into a complete disaster. Walked into the basement, filled with little girls dressed up as fairies and eager to set off, and Lillian wobbles a lip and declares I want to go home. What??? Lara looks uncertain, then after a rapid three minutes of escalation there’s a general explosion and they both have to be taken out of the room because they’re howling so much. Ugh. It was touch and go but finally a library lady came by and persuaded them that they would be OK going on in, so they did – about ten minutes late. They were both a bit of a pain in their own ways (Lara was being manic – I’ve never seen a fairy dance quite so violently, and Lillian was mainly sitting at the sidelines refusing to join in) but eventually they came to and started colouring in and decorating … well, they simply couldn’t help it, it was too enticing. Made magic wands, decorated biscuits with icing and sweeties, coloured in butterflies, listened to stories, etc. All the proper things a fairy should do. As Lillian put it later to her mum, ‘crying first, then, happiness.’

Afterwards, having obtained permission, we brought Lillian home for a playdate… and indeed this was a boon for me because they kept themselves amused with the very mildest of supervision, which meant that I was able to catch up on some paperwork, something I’d never have been able to do if Lara were there on her own. Ready-packaged pizza entirely acceptable for lunch, preparation time approximately 5 seconds. If only more things were like this.

We didn’t get round to returning Lillian home until almost 3:30, by which time it was pretty tight to get to the post office before swimming lessons. Post office, because we had to send off some MORE forms for our visa. Have I told you yet? Ah, the wonders. Well we submitted our visa application sometime back in September, and as one of the many, many requirements we had to provide criminal checks for every country we’d lived in for the last 10 years for over 12 months. Which was just the UK. So we did. Now, by mid-January the visa was just about due to be ready and processed, but instead we got a call from someone at the visa office. Ah, how are you. Now, it seems that you’ve been in Australia for over a year, so we need a criminal background check. But we weren’t in Australia for a year when we submitted, nor nothing like… it’s just because the form has been sitting with you for so long. Well, yes. We now need a check.

Well, what can one say. So, police check it is. We filled in the forms but I wanted to send it off registered, hence the little trip to the post office. They say it’ll come back within 15 working days. I guess that’s about three weeks.

Swimming lessons were, as usual, enjoyed. She was flailing a bit and I can’t say there seemed to be massive progress from last time, but she was grinning as if her cranium were about to split in two for a flip-top effect so I guess one can call it a success.

I realise at this point that I’ve missed out a significant number of days in the tally here. I think I left off on about Thursday last, which was when we went for the fishing jaunt. On Friday, we spent most of the day with Indiah – she came at about 10 in the morning and we went straight off to the beach before it got too hot. They did pretty good swimming and diving actually. Then back home, lunch (the by-now-traditional pizza, oh so easy and appreciated), and an afternoon of play. I left them to it, it’s bliss now that they’ll just get on with it rather than having to be directed the whole time. As she left at about this took up most of the day, and I think there wasn’t much to report on after this.

On Saturday we mainly took it pretty easy during the day (and BOY it was hot) but in the evening we went over to one of Ian’s colleague’s house for a BBQ. He has three kids (all a bit older than the Non) and most importantly BUNNIES. Well, his daughter has bunnies. And a large back garden. Non spent the early evening running up and down on the grass and being pandered to and encouraged to kick a football, then eating nothing but sausage sandwiches for dinner (can you imagine the bliss?) and THEN when she got tired tucked up under a comfy blanket in the sitting room which, rather bizarrely, was mainly filled with the pen of a couple of lop-eared rabbits. They also had a brace of long-necked turtles, very small, about 3 years old. Beady-eyed little things that regarded one with the deepest suspicion. While the girl was tucked up, we were having a very nice time talking to everyone there who were all without exception extremely affable – there were two other couples invited so it was a pleasant little party in all.

If you look right in the corner of her arm you'll see the tiny lop, snuggling

On Sunday there was of course Nippers, and Non was eager to be back after such a long break. I stayed at home and put in some small amount of much-needed work in the writing field. They came back good and tired as usual, so we had a quiet heat-of-the-day-hide-in, with tortellini and Mario Carts on the DS. In the afternoon went out to one of the ‘livesites’ events that pop up occasionally: today it was kites on the foreshore. Not a huge number but very impressive in any case, there should be some pics to come. Glorious day for it, breezy as hell and blue as sapphire, sand and wind everywhere and kites flapping like mad.


When we got back there was a call from Anna asking whether Lara would like to come for a sleepover… would she ever. So of course, off she went. Unfortunately by the time she left it was pretty late anyway, and we hadn’t planned anything special like a trip to a restaurant of the cinema, so we just stayed in as usual but I have to say the next morning was rather pleasantly quite.

Picked her up on Monday at about , and spent the rest of the (again) VERY HOT day doing not much more than woozling. I’m not even sure we went to the beach. That hot. Really can’t remember.

Anyway, it’s all more than a bit slapdash but tomorrow is Australia Day, so Daddy will be home and there will be Stuff going on. I think we’ll try to get down to th Foreshore for early races (one of Ian’s students is doing the Stockton swim, so we’ll go and cheer her on), and try to get back home before the real terror of the heat sets in: last year it was pretty intense and we were zombied for the next couple of days.  

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Shoulders gently smouldering from unwonted exposure to UV, generally befuddled and dazed. All through a few hours in the sun in the middle of the day – not something we'd normally do. However, today was the Fishing day.

Oh yes, I'd signed up to fishing classes for kids at the Maritime museum and had persuaded Anna and family to come along as well. Started at 11 and finished at 2 – heat of day on a very hot day.

As it turned out, we'd booked but it was ONLY us turning up. Seems the Fisheries Association (or whatever official-sounding body it was that I can't remember) usually came along to these classes with lots of bumf, but they'd pulled out this year so most of the classes had been cancelled, but as we'd booked they didn't like to disappoint, bless their sweet Australian cotton socks with added durability for bush-walking. So we had the little geezer all to ourselves, instead of the usual 30 odd kids milling about. Spent a pretty long time going through a booklet of instructions like where to get your fishing licence, rock fishing safety, bag limits and acceptable fish lengths, types of fish, etc. Then he got out a mullet and put a hook in its mouth, and tried to get the kids to take it out. Unsurprisingly, they all failed signally... however I think it's acceptable to parents to be doing that bit of things for a little while. We even learned about 'fish resuscitation', would you believe. (Involves sort of 'whooshing' a groggy fish through the water to get the water flowing over the gills.) The things one learns. Don't get a landing net with knots in it as it damages the scales, get a smooth plastic one. Don't handle a fish with dry hands, but wet ones (or it appears a towel is fine). Don't throw a fish back into the water, place it in. Mind you, when Lillian actually caught a fish (the only one to do so) the instructor handled it with dry hands and threw it back in the water. Also it seems that although you're not allowed to catch fish under a certain size, with many you can catch small ones as long as you use them as bait. (Ah, fishing laws... the domain where logic simply does not reach).

In the meantime, we also learned how to string a rod, tie hooks on properly, and (ahem) cast a line from a fishing rod... that is to say, if you use the term 'learned' in the very, very loosest sense. I actually managed to catch the Maritime Museum on one occasion (by the roof) and for the rest of the time the line seemed to drift uncontrollably with the wind. Frankly, the distance those rods get the lines I think we're better off just using the old fishing line rolled onto polystyrene and throwing it out, never mind all the palaver of the rods. Plus he didn't use an floats, so the hooks kept sinking to the bottom and snagging on the seaweed. And I'm sure the hooks we used would have caught a small shark at the very least - why we were using those monsters to angle for tiddlers off Newcastle Quay is a small mystery but hey, we had a good time. The Littles was, incidentally, surprised to learn (as I was) that you're allowed to bag one tiger shark per fishing trip. I tried to reassure her this wasn't a problem we would be encountering in the near future. She still seemed a bit worried.

Anyway, we were good and cooked by about 2 p.m. and went off to get an ice-cream at Scratchleys (W&W will remember the place that we got fish and chips and took it home). Surprisingly, the Littles chose a flavour and actually ate quite a bit of it. I probably ended up having about a half because it was running everywhere, and half of the rest ended up on both me and her but the rest she actually ate. She might finally be turning into a normal child. Rarely have you seen (or felt) anything so sticky.

Not entirely sure what happened to the rest of the day. It was the kind of day that was so hot I filled up the bathtub with cold water and jumped in. Encouraged Littles to do so as well but she refused, deciding to go round the place in a constant sheen of sweat. Kind of like body glitter in the right light, might become the next celebrity look, like puffy lips. 'Get your false sweat applied here. Guaranteed to last for 3 months. As worn by Brittney Spears. Only $599 per face, $1,500 for whole body makeover.'

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Camping Trip the Third - Sydney Lane Park

Now, before Morpheus puts his firm hand on my lug’ole and drags it pillow-ward, a skip and a dash to tell you about our camping trip to Sydney last weekend… our FIRST official pretty-much-totally-successful camping trip! Yes, it was. No torrential downpours, no howling gales. No deafening cicadas or idiotic neighbours. No surprisingly empty gas canisters, no pieces missing from the tents. Water and amenities exactly where they said they would be, no shortages. No leeches crawling up the tent, no spiders in the bathroom. (Well actually Ian did report on what might possibly have been a tree-dwelling funnellweb in the men’s bathroom, but we’ll leave that as a mere possible). Glorious weather. We did cut short on the third day but that was simply because we were so tired out from walking about and seeing so much exciting stuff.

Once again, on the Saturday we didn’t manage to set off before – in Australian terms, an absolutely laughably late time to be setting off on a camping trip. They generally get up and go by about 5 at least, mainly because of the distances involved, usually. Still, we made it to the site by about , which is good time. It was Lane Park camp, near Chatswood, and it was quite the most pleasant place we’ve stayed in so far. Very nice and clean, of course quite packed but what do you expect in the middle of Sydney in the middle of the summer holidays. Everyone was very nice and quiet, the kitchens and facilities were nicely laid out and clean. There was a pool too, but we never got round to using it. We arrived at (as aforementioned) , and after a VERY sweaty hour of putting up camp, we had both the main tent and the brand-new eating tent set up nicely. (I’ve got a pic somewhere, I think – will try to post). Not bad – though this still didn’t include blowing up the beds and so on but hey, it was the first time we set up the eating tent. Sandwiches and much-needed drinks followed.

Our two tents: main and eating: with the second in action (actually this was breakfast the next morning)

I think even the Littles is getting better at camping. She’s finally given up stepping all over the tent in the wrong way, waving her arms about quite as much, and has a good eye out now for the guy-ropes. She sat on the picnic rug playing with her Beanies really very nicely while we put the tents up. Becoming part of the known routine now, so she’s not so tempted to rush up and jump on us from behind just as we’re trying to hammer pegs in or tie ropes. Makes things a hell of a lot easier.

Well what with tents and lunch it was by now nearly 2:30, so we made our way in to town and chose to go to the attractions we didn’t have to pay to get into any more – namely, the Wildlife world and the Aquarium (next door to each other… we have annual passes. They are after all the biggest thing in Sydney as far as Lara is concerned).

They happened to have a rather bizarre Lego 'theme' on while we were there so there are a lot of Lego pics... Lego caveman...

Lego camel...

Lego shark (absolutley huge)... and quite real octopus

I believe it was damn near 7 before we were out of the aquarium – the nearly had to kick us out. Then of course there was the trip home, which all in all took a good hour, what with waiting for trains and the walk back to the campsite itself. Which in turn meant that we were warming up our pre-cooked stew at about , blowing up beds in the meantime and showering the Littles. Everyone was pretty tired.

The lateness of the meal did have one side-effect. Pretty much everyone else had long finished eating, but it was by now dark, the possums were out and we were making all sorts of enticing smells in our cooking tent. One intrepid possum (immediately named Blossom after the book) toured round and round and round the outside of the mosquito netting, climbing the adjacent tree in the hope of gaining access from above, and generally not taking no for an answer. We watched her and talked to her as she prowled around the place, trying to instil a sense of both the inappropriateness of the endeavour and its futility, but the message didn’t seem to be getting through as all she did was redouble her efforts. We did however manage to finish eating and pack up without her actually breaking in, and packed the Littles off to bed safely. She was very happy to go.

The Mr now went off for a very richly-deserved and refreshing shower (I’d been lucky and had mine earlier with the Littles, while he’d been slaving over a small stove) and I sat in the eating tent with my book. It’s a great boon, this new tent, gives us a great sitting room to be in after the Littles goes to bed without fear of being eaten by mozzies. Well there I was quietly turning pages when a little hairy sniffle comes past my legs. Blossom! She’d finally nosed her way in under the netting. Looked up when I admonished her, but showed no signs of taking fright or of retreating. Put hand in front of rubbery nose to stop her – she gave me a quick sniff and moved round further into the tent. After several more attempts finally had to take her by the armpits, turn her bodily round, the push her like a reluctant donkey back under the netting. She was really digging her haunches in, but eventually gave up and left. I’m sure it’s not an advisable thing to do and I was probably lucky not to end up with another chewed-off finger, but she just didn’t seem to be in a combative mood, I guess, so I made bold.

The next morning the Mr serenaded up with a full cooked breakfast of eggs, bacon, beans and toast. Boy that sets you up or what. Had trouble standing up straight, waist was under such duress.

This was the designated day for going to the Natural History Museum – or as they call it, the Australian Museum. Usual assortment of bones, dinosaurs, taxidermy and minerals. We spent ages there, there was of course loads to see, and Littles loved it. Have to say, their labelling was on the very skimpy side, and the least said about their taxidermy skills and the state of the specimens the better, but the whole museum was geared as much as at all possible to being accessible to children. They could pat masses of the exhibits (who were in a shockingly loved state), the could climb under gigantic turtle shells, they could look through microscopes, wrap themselves up in snake-skins and kangaroo skins, read storybooks about animals, touch rocks and minerals, draw pictures of rock formations, play around with casts of all the famous hominid skulls, juggle bones (again, totally unlabelled, quite impressive though) in a random higgledy piggeldy pile. In fact, dare I say, even the adults enjoyed actually feeling a real echidna, and finding out just how soft a platypus’s fur really is (at least, the bits that are still there and not entirely worn away by thousands of little hands stroking it).

By the end of the museum we were quite flagging, and left in the full knowledge that there was more to be looked at. Next time. We took a short walk to the Sydney Tower.

Now, normally this isn’t the sort of attraction we would be paying to see. However, it was the fourth thing on our annual pass, and we’d never seen it, so up the elevator to the umpteenth floor we went.

It really was surprisingly pleasant. Beautiful clear day, and you really can see every bit of Sydney. They have binoculars positioned at plenty of points round the place, with startlingly good magnification. It’s both intriguing and slightly off-putting suddenly to zoom in to someone parking rather badly at one corner of the park, and then someone juggling in front of a small crowd at the other end of it. People lifting cups of coffee to their lips in the cafes, children running round and round the waterfeature fountain in front of the Convention Centre. All in one swoop. … Plus, it was air conditioned and didn’t require much walking. Always a bonus.

Well eventually we tore ourselves away and now went for the main feature the Littles had been looking forward to: a ride on the monorail. Why she was so enthralled by this we don’t know, the fact remains that those few stops seem to have been some of the most memorable moments from the trip as far as she’s concerned. Off it went, and we got off at Chinatown to have a mosie.

The much-anticipated monorail and the first lion in Chinatown

Non doing a Gregory Peck impression from Roman Holiday at the Mouth of Truth... and riding the weird semi-caucasian lion


Mmm. We’ve made a mental note of the ambition to arrive at Chinatown ravenous and unencumbered by a child, and eat our way down the street. There were tasty-looking things on sale EVERYWHERE, but we’d just had a rather bland and very filling lunch rather late in the afternoon so there was no chance at all of indulging. Littles rode on no fewer than SIX lions (four Chinese, two rather weird half-Caucasian ones), after which the Chinatown escapade was considered closed. We retired back to the campsite.

We considered going for a refresher in the pool once we got back, but the whole effort of it seemed more than it was worth, even to junior members... so you get an idea of how tired we were by the time we hit camp. Had a shower instead, and dinner as fast as possible. The second night we used (or the Mr used, as he did the cooking throughout) the camp kitchen ('ooh a'say....') instead of our burner, and it was much easier. I think I'd still quite like to get hold of a table, we can probably just about fit it in (the car, that is). Facilities seem to vary a lot at the camps so sometimes it's easier to use one's own stove – for the first time this time round, the kitchen was easier. I guess one just has to play it by ear.

To my regret, as we were early and moreover ate in the kitchen, Blossom didn't come visiting: I hadn't had my camera to hand the night before and had been counting on it being a recurring episode. So no bush-tailed possum pics. Bed, though, bed!! For the first time camping we actually slept soundly... nice mattress, no rain keeping us awake, no wind about to rip off the tent... just delightful, wonderful BED. Finally. Perseverance pays off. Well, the odds are that if you're camping in the summer in Australia it should be sunny most of the time but we seem to have avoided it quite successfully so far.

Parrots up close and personal at the campsite, and Non and Daddy enjoy playing the DS in the evening.

Monday morning was bright and lovely as ever, and the Littles wasn't at all averse to the idea of spending the day at Tarronga Zoo but we decided that would be overegging the custard so packed up and called it a day. Just too cumulatively tired to be traipsing about a zoo all day. Drove home very pleasantly, absolutely beautiful day. (There was, of course, the surprising little incident where Ian's mobile phone ran – a rare occurrence in itself, even more surprisingly it was the W&W on the other side. Where were we? No weekend Skype call? We must be dead, maimed, abducted, and generally rotting in a ditch. Even MORE surprising as it was by this time probably about 1 in the morning over there. Oh dear.) Unpacked and cleaned up over the course of the afternoon while intermittently falling asleep in the heat. It was SO hot. Had to unroll and repack the tent (and quite a few other things) because it was still dewy when we packed up, so they had to be dried off. BOY did they dry off fast on the lawn. Toasted more like. So bright it was painful to open one's eyes outside without sunglasses. Put the tent out to dry tarpaulin-side up and within seconds it was too hot to stand on. And I'm really talking seconds here, perhaps 15.

Late in the afternoon the heat ebbed enough for us to venture to the beach. Had good time. Returned slightly on the late side, particularly as I was putting on a spinach and tofu lasagne and it always takes some little time to cook. Boy, we were hungry and ready for some veggies after loads of bacon and eggs, I've rarely seen Lara tuck in like that. She barely said a word until her plate was empty, must be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.