If you live on a low income, there are 3 options when it comes to summer holidays away:
(1) Don't have one.
(2) Go camping.
(3) Hope nice people invite you to share their beach residences with you.
We've actually been rather blessed on the Option 3 front, which is good as no-one wants Option 1. As for Option 2, well, it hasn't really been an option for us seeing as we lack the equipment and the expertise, and, let's face it, the inclination. I'm sure the boys would adore it but you know, outdoor toilets, not a fan.
This year though, with money less tight, I decided to splash out and book us a week at a holiday house in January. After several summers of a weekend here, a night there, I really, really wanted our own space, for a good length of time, for just our family; rather than us always being grateful guests. So I found a nice looking house in our favourite seaside town, Queenscliff. Fixit nearly had a heart attack when I told him how much it was, poor love. I probably should have lied. Peak rates are pretty frightening to the modest income-earner. But he had a couple of months to get used to it, and by the time we arrived the four of us were all very excited, and ran around the house exploring it happily, working out where to put everything and everyone.
We had a perfectly lovely week, walking, eating, reading, lazing, card-playing and of course, swimming...
not to mention jigsawing...
... and of course, good old fashioned sand-play.
We also enjoyed several walks. Fixit in particular was always heading off for a walk, sometime with us all, sometimes just with Climber, sometimes just alone. This has meant he came back to Melbourne with quite a good sea-shell collection, which is, unsurprisingly still in a plastic bag waiting for I don't know what.
One day we rode the ferry across Port Phillip Bay to Sorrento on the other side, for lunch. It's a lovely trip, even if you don't see any dolphins. Sorrento has a surprising number of clothes shops for a seaside town. We had to walk a long way to find a cafe.
We celebrated Climber's 12th birthday while we were away, and organised lots of friends and family to send him birthday messages on his main present, his very own phone. He enjoyed that very much.
Although we love Queenscliff, we actually spent more time at the nearby beach at Ocean Grove, where the waves are ideal for boogie-boarding: shallow, long-lasting and predictable. The water there was warmer than at Queenscliff too, meaning I could get more than my feet wet even if the day's temperature was below 30 degrees. I love the surf, and I love riding waves on the boogie-boards, even more, I think, than the kids do. I ended up buying myself my own board, and leaving most of the water supervision to Fixit, while I rode wave after wave, sometimes with the kids, sometimes not. It's such a brilliant feeling, when you've judged the wave exactly right and you are carried along on the crest. The kids and I laughed and whooped. Next year I've promised myself a wetsuit, so I can swim every day like the rest of the family.
On the last night, Climber's birthday, we were joined by my sister and Cherub's best friend, because the nice thing about renting your own holiday house is being able to invite people to visit.
On our final day, the weather was cold, with a fierce southerly gale, but obviously we still had to go to the beach. The kids and Fixit braved the water, but my sister and I wrapped ourselves up in sarongs and shivered on the sand.
Then it was home to Melbourne - via the Queenscliff Lolly Shop for trip provisions - to rinse off all the sand, greet the kitty and deal with the frightening amount of laundry.
Can't wait until next year.