I write on behalf of my father and all the other patient, purse-holding, door-opening, shopping-carrying men of the world. The men whose wives you market to, who like their couch and their remote control but somehow inexplicably find themselves on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean. (And by inexplicably, I mean their family begged and cajoled and hid the remote in desperation. Their poor browbeaten shoulders slumping in defeat as they give in and agree to a family cruise just for a moment’s peace.)
These are the men whose daily lives revolve around dust and sheep and fixing that-gorram-heap-o-junk that keeps breaking down. The ones who have no interest in climbing to the top of a fake rock wall unless there is a sandwich at the top (and even then there had better be bacon in it); who attend shopping trips, wine tasting and dance lessons under duress; and would consider jumping to a watery grave before attending napkin folding lessons. The men who have been raised in a generation where idle time is wasted time.
It is for these men (and indirectly for the happiness of their wives and children) that I am petitioning you to remove the casinos on your ships and install a Bunnings instead.
Now I know that casinos make money, but hear me out. I’ve put thought into this and the potential for this idea is big. By my calculations it could net your cruise line anywhere between $7.43 and $3,400,000 per year. They’re rough figures you understand, we can get your accountants to flesh out the finer points when we meet to discuss my cut of the profits.
Five Reasons Why Your Cruise Line Needs to Immediately Replace the Casino with a Bunnings
Provides a creative outlet.
Each day they will be able to attend woodworking and home repair workshops in store. At the completion of this class, the participants will get to exercise their creative genius in justifying to their wives the exact reason why they needed to buy a circular saw whilst in the middle of the ocean.
Terrigal. One of the most overrated spots on the Central Coast in my opinion. Now that’s not to say there isn’t a good reason that tourists and locals alike flock to the beachside town at the merest hint of sunshine. And it isn’t to say that I don’t venture out to see what all the fuss is about on the odd occasion.
My 17-year-old daughter was starting work early, so to save her an extra hour travelling on a bus, I offered to drive her to work. Figuring I may as well pick a picturesque track I haven’t set foot on for quite some time for my morning walk while I was out, I settled on going the long way home via Terrigal.
I parked well away from the beach near the Marine Discovery Centre on Terrigal Drive and set out towards Terrigal Beach. My aim for the day was not so much to walk as far as I could, but to enjoy the journey getting to The Skillion. In my memory, The Skillion was a considerable amount of huffing and puffing up a short but steep slope, followed by a view that made each huff and puff worth it.
I wandered through the beautifully maintained Terrigal Lagoon Reserve, to the banks of the Lagoon. Ripples abounded on the surface of the water as fish darted away on my approach. It struck me just how beautifully the local Lion’s Club keep this area, it would be a lovely spot for a picnic or barbeque on a sunny day. The barbeques were spotless and there are public toilets just across the road next to a well-fenced playground.
Continuing on along Terrigal Drive, my walk treated me to an unspoilt view of the beach over twisting floral vines winding their way through trees and fencing without regard to which side they belonged on. In the distance surfers and paddle boarders enjoyed the calm of the morning.
The barrier between road and footpath was decorated with ‘dot paintings’ by talented artists from the local schools. (And I don’t mean that in the indulgent manner of a parent proud talking to neighbours about their four-year-old’s finger painting, these are actually lovely works of art.)
(or how I sat in a tangle of tentacles and made fun of a white man’s winkie.)
Warm and sunny greetings to you, my Beach Loving Vagabonds
For the past year my daughter has been talking about wanting to revisit Sculptures by the Sea @ Bondi one day. And a slight miscalculation in how early we needed to get up in order to make it to the Opera House in time to see a screening of Neil Gaiman short films, coupled with all the road closures in the city afforded us the opportunity to turn the day into an unplanned adventure.
We arrived starving and parched having left the house without breakfast and quickly found a cafe to please us all amongst the myriad of eateries along Campbell Parade. It was a blustery day, however the chance to eat in the sunshine and fresh air won out over nature’s plans to keep me indoors.
Ash: “It’s hard to believe we’re so close to the beach”
Me: “Yeah, it’s quite busy and touristy.”
Ash: “No. It doesn’t smell right.”
…and you know what? She was right. The smell of salt and seaweed was curiously absent from the air. It was almost unsettling once we noticed its absence.
Fed and watered we headed towards the iconic Bondi Icebergs Club to begin our arty adventure. I had never done this particular coastal walk before, but I could soon see that this walk would be stunning at any time. While I think that beaches like Bondi, Surfers and Manly are overrated due to the sheer volume of people trying their best to find personal space in an outdoor sardine tin, I have to admit that the small town South Australian girl in me was thinking ‘how cool is it that I live so close to somewhere so iconically Australian’ as I walked towards the Bondi Icebergs Club. I still get excited by the sight of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge as we drive into the city.
Flanked by craggy rock formations and jaw-dropping ocean views, the two-kilometre cliff-side walking trail played host to over a hundred public artworks. Scattered throughout grassy parklands, rocky cliffs and sandy beaches between Bondi and Tamarama Beaches, artists displayed their talents in one of Australia’s largest free public sculpture displays.
Or Does Anyone Know if I Should Order Dinner for My Children from the Seat of an Outback Toilet?
I’m sitting here watching a series on Netflix called Very British Problems. The episode in question is discussing how to deal with other human beings. What is and isn’t acceptable and how discomfiting any interaction with other members of the human race is. Thankfully I was born in Australia and am not nearly British enough to have had all of this social awkwardness passed down to me through genetics, I do harbour enough of this Very British Problem that anything outside of the social norm is a veritable nightmare for me.
Listening to these droll, British comedians navigate the minefield of social niceties sparked a memory of living in Outback Queensland for me. About twelve years or so ago, give or take, I spent a short time living on a station out past Adavale in Queensland. Not sure where Adavale is? You know The Gold Coast? It’s not there. Head to the middle of nowhere in Queensland, open the gate, turn left and keep going. Or, if you’re in Brisbane, point your car towards the Northern Territory and drive for over fourteen hours. Once you get to Adavale, it is only a two hour drive north to the station we lived on. I like to call it a working holiday. My (then) husband worked, I holidayed.
When you live that far out in the Outback, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is something you rely upon heavily. If something goes wrong, that is the only ambulance you have access to. So every month at the Adavale Pub there is a pot luck fundraising dinner for the RFDS. Now, I’m using the term Pub loosely. Think place where you can buy booze and a can of beans in the same place. The Outback is a wondrous place, and if you ever have a chance to visit the Adavale Pub, I highly recommend it. The people are friendly, the beer is cold and there is a surfboard hanging out on the front verandah emblazoned ‘Adavale SLSC’. Only in Outback Australia will you see a sign for a Surf Life Saving Club 900 km from the beach and not think it out of place. But I digress. Back to the Pot Luck Dinner.
So here’s a thing I discovered last Thursday night.
In an effort to combat the violence our binge drinking culture has created, 2014 heralded the beginning of Lockout Laws in Sydney. In the interest of public safety hotels, clubs and nightclubs in the entertainment precinct of Sydney’s CBD and Kings Cross were no longer permitted to allow entry to patrons after 1:30 am, with last drinks for those inside needing to be called by 3am.
Now, I would like to be able to say that I discovered this while sitting behind my computer reading the plethora of articles on the pros and cons of this legislation from the perspective of emergency workers and business owners. I really would like to be able to say that. However, I cannot.
The reason I know about lockout laws is because I got lost down a rabbit hole of wine and geeking out about Firefly and the new Voltron reboot while chatting with a friend in a pub on Angel Street. By the time I struggled out of that blissful warren of tipsy, nerdy comradery I was brought back to reality by an unfortunate coincidence that changed the carefree direction of my evening.
The lamentable coincidence I encountered was that at the exact moment our feet hit the rain soaked pavement outside the pub, the last train out of Sydney for the night pulled out of the station. Not ideal, if I’m honest with you.
Or how Ryan Reynolds came to be waiting in my bedroom in a Sydney Hotel.
Toodle pip, Happy Hobos
Today I am home sick in bed and to stave off the frustration and whiny-ness that comes with suffering from a mutated strain of Man Flu, we are going to reminisce about a particularly wonderful moment during a short wandering to Sydney last year.
Tip for beginners: Hotels want to create the best experience possible for you. Run with that.
My good friend and I had planned a trip to the city to see Nickelback (don’t judge. I love them and nothing you can say will sway me in my undying affection for all things Nickelback.) She bought the tickets for us for my birthday and it was my job to book the accommodation. So I jumped online to find us a place to stay in the city. I ended up booking a mystery hotel in an area that was suitable to get us the nicest accommodation at the best price.
With the concert on a Friday night it was an almost interminable wait to get through the work day to be able to leave. Not even the torrential rain that had set in could dampen our sprits (see what I did there?)
Straight on to Facebook to send my excitement to Lois.
J: “I have tickets!”
L: “Wooooo I love tickets!
Also pants if they are dry.”
L: “I can’t leave without pants, can I?”
J: “Pants? Where weren’t going we don’t need pants.
…..I may have gotten my Back to the Future quote slightly wrong. But the sentiment still stands.”
Long story short: Torrential rain. Wet pants. Left late but still in fine spirits.
I’ve seen the articles. We all have. I see pins saying ‘Travel the World for Less than $50 per day’, ‘How to Travel for Free’ or ‘I Woke Up One Day, Packed My Dog in my Backpack and Never Came Home’ and think “Wow. That would be great. If I could travel for $50 per day I’d never stop travelling.”
Every time I have a weak moment and click through wanting to emulate the freedom I see in the picture I quickly realise I am so *NOT* that person. Now don’t get me wrong, if you’ve read them and thought “Hells yeah, that’s the thing for me,” that’s great. Pack your backpack and off you go. Live and love that marvelous adventure. But while you’re off waiting in airports for cheap last second fares, stuffing toilet paper in your backpack and relying on the kindness of strangers I will be earning the money to be able to sun myself on cruise ships and hand over fistfulls of cash for exciting, interesting or relaxing experiences.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for making budget friendly choices and getting as much as I can for my money. Heck, I can spot a free thing at 50 paces, – but a budget of $50 per day just isn’t going to happen.
Or ‘In Which We Tried to go to the Jenolan Caves and ended up Visiting a Stranger’s Long Departed Grandmother’
Hellllo My Cherubic Vagabonds
One of the things I love about living where I do is the amount of amazing places I can drive to for a day trip. Sydney, Canberra, Blue Mountains and Heatherbrae Pies to name a few. Though Canberra is for those special occasions that you feel like driving 3 hours each way.
As I’ve said before, I love giving a good surprise. And with 2 of my children away, I decided it was time for some surprise quality time with our youngest. (Now I say it like that, it kind of sounds a little bit like it’s…not-quite-welcome quality time I’m trying t force on her by stealth.)
I discussed it with hubby the night before and we decided to take her to the Blue Mountains for on overnight trip to investigate the Jenolan Caves. I booked a hotel (one of the only ones available at such short notice) and packed the car up while our daughter was asleep.
The next morning I packed a picnic and told her that we were going for a drive to explore. Knowing it was a long drive to get out the other side of Sydney where we were planning to stop at an old cemetery (a thing she loooves to do) I had her pack a few things to do in the car in case she got bored.
Off we set.
All was going swimmingly for the first hour of our journey. Then we got to Carlingford.
It is about this point in the story where things go horribly wrong. Both hubby and I looked at each other and said ‘Our car shouldn’t be doing that’. And mere seconds later we were pulled over at a service station with the hood up and looks of this-would-be-funny-if-it-weren’t-such-an….no-its-almost-funny were running across our faces.
Or, ‘In Which We Ran into a Speed Hump in Life, Ordered a Pizza and Accidentally Went on a Metaphorical Journey’
Ahhh My Lovely Vagabonds,
Here I am again in front of my keyboard waffling on. But I call it a journey because it was. Journeys often take you somewhere new, teach you things and leave you with a sense of change. And getting passports for our girls certainly did all that.
Well, that was disturbingly deep. Let’s get on with the part that ultimately leads to laughter and shenanigans.
So, a couple of years ago we decided we wanted to take our kids on a cruise. It had been Bek’s dream forever to leave the country to see new places and discover a whole new world <cue Aladdin music>. On a limited income it was going to be tricky, but we discussed it with the kids and decided that the cruise would be their Christmas(and birthday) gift and we would have a nice quiet Chrissy at home together. We booked a cruise to the Pacific Islands (I was super excited because I had never been to Fiji before) and my parents booked as well. What a family vacation!
I bought new clothes and swimmers, made reading towels for all the girls as they had plans to sun themselves on tropical beaches reading good books. I bought good books. Wrapped them all and put them under the Christmas tree.
Christmas came and went; it was lovely. Everyone was excited about the trip and no one regretted giving up big fancy gifts in favour of our holiday. Unfortunately the excitement didn’t last for long and we had to cancel the holiday.
We had thought there would be no problem getting passports for the girls but sadly after a speed hump in the road of life, their father refused to resign the forms. Frustrating to say the least. Emails back and forth trying to talk it out between us didn’t seem to get us anywhere and after 8 months I knew it was never going to happen.
But I’m not one to give up so easily, so I applied to get passports without both parent’s consent. Seven months (yes, that’s right, 7 months!) and many phone calls to the ombudsman’s office later we had an answer.