Fixit's work refused to give him any time off over the January school holidays, so I asked him to apply for something in the April holidays so that we could go away somewhere. I wanted the beach, but I also wanted a social holiday, like our lovely Mothers Group stay in Rosebud. Circumstances weren't right for Astrid, but Jenny was keen so we started trying to find a big house. Originally I wanted to go towards the west and the iconic scenery on The Great Ocean Road, but the prices down that way were exorbitant - we think because they double-loaded them with a school holiday plus an Easter tariff - so we looked to the east, and at a friend's suggestion decided on Walkerville, a small coastal town, once the site of a limestone quarry and kiln, located about 3 hours drive from Melbourne
The ruins of the historic limestone kiln, with Fixit and Nell for scale.
We arrived on Good Friday and brought with us the home-made hot cross buns that Jenny and I had spent a day slaving over earlier in the holidays. Nell came with us too, because she hadn't had a beach holiday for over ten years and we had a spare bed, owing to Climber being off on a 10-day outdoor education program in the mountains. We were also joined by Betty the Dog.
On the first day the kids went off on their own to explore. It didn't take them long to find the beach, although they didn't go down without us. A bit later we all walked round to the campground kiosk at Walkerville North. We found icecreams, lollybags, a stunt kite for Nell and a stinky shark's head.
Group selfie (or groupie) at Walkerville North Kiosk, closest source of milk, bread, papers and more importantly, coffee and ice-creams. Taken on our second day.
This is us walking from Walkerville South to Walkerville North.
Sometimes the tide came right up to the rocks so for those of us not wearing swimmers and water-friendly shoes, there was a lot of clambering over rocks to do. Actually, even the children quite often took the clambering option. Rock climbing is fun.
If we weren't visiting nearby local towns or beach-combing, we would laze around in the holiday house.
The kids and Nell played Monopoly, or Monotony as Jen referred to it, the other adults most definitely didn't. Fixit had his puzzles, the rest of us read books or added pieces to the jigsaw, or fixed meals or chatted. However one night we all had a go at a game called Riotous Applause which involved timed guessing challenges, like charades, twenty questions or continuous talking on a theme (Nell and Bella were stars at that category). And many patiences/solitaires were laid out. But there was a lot of Monopoly. In this picture below Cherub has all the $500 notes. He's pretty happy with himself. Bella had to start a Royal Mint to produce some $1000 notes to deal with this situation.
On Easter Sunday the kids were up very early to find if there'd been a magical chocolate-strewing visitor, and luckily there had, and luckily the kids in the adjoining house had not trespassed because their hunt started even earlier than ours.
Easter Egg Hunt (upstairs)
Easter Egg hunt (downstairs). Cherub had extremely cold feet.
Afterwards the kids divvied up the eggs, making sure that it was all fair and equal, and that there was a stash for the absent Climber. Are you aware when kids do fair and equal distribution that colour is one of the prime considerations? One small green egg for everyone, two medium pink eggs for everyone, etcetera. Once they're all sorted, you then open the trading floor for swaps, which goes more easily with boys in the mix as they will cheerfully relinquish pink eggs and take the green or blue. Cherub acted on Climber's behalf in colour trading. It took a while, but everyone was happy at the end. It was very civilised.
We put out birdseed out on the deck every day and were rewarded by regular visits
from beautiful birds. At night a big possum came and cleaned up the
We had some expeditions to nearby places of interest, such as Cape Liptrap Lighthouse, one the first two automated lighthouses in Australia.
The kids had a lovely run around there, playing tiggy and just generally jumping for joy.
We went to the market at Tarwin Lower, and bought up big on jam and soap, then celebrated with a coffee afterwards.
The Tarwin Lower groupie. Nell stayed home, she was sleeping downstairs with the children and what with Cherub's snoring and all the early rising, she felt the need for some quiet time.
We stayed up to watch the Lunar Eclipse and Blood Moon. Well some of us did. It was very cool.
This shot is staged, because we needed to put on the lights so we could be seen in the photo, but this is actually what we were doing while the eclipse was happening.
Fixit found a cave and took us there. It was very cool. Fixit and Nell and the children were keen shell collectors, despite Jenny and I nagging that some shells ought to be left on the beach for other people to look at.
Find all the preciouses.
On the Tuesday Nell went home and Climber joined us.
Nell and kids and Betty on her last morning.
In between those two things happening was a very tense and unpleasant drive from Walkerville to Warragul (where Nell's train to Melbourne was departing), because of weird accelerator problems in Fixit's car, and bumpy perilous mountain roads taken at speed when it became apparent that we were in danger of missing the train. We actually made it to the station - Nell and I legging it with the luggage over the footbridge - with one minute to spare, but then the train was 8 minutes late. Then there was a moochy wet and cold day for Fixit, Cherub and me in Warragul and nearby Yarragon, both of which were nice enough places to visit but neither of which had a lot to offer over an extended period, and we were pretty desperate to get out of there by day's end. As Cherub put it: I feel like a homeless person, and it wasn't a nice feeling. Climber's train arrived at 7:30 (should have been 6:30 but his train from Albury to Melbourne was late, meaning he missed the 5pm train to Waragul). So we had to drive back over the mountains in the dark and wet, although we took a less mountainous route in consideration of Cherub's carsick-prone tummy. We heard all about Climber's excellent time away at the Mittagundi Outdoor Education Program, and then just as both boys had nodded off in the back seat, an enormous wombat decided to amble out in front of us, making Fixit brake and swerve, and me shriek and then laugh when we missed him. A wallaby also bounded out a minute later so we walked into the holiday house full of adrenaline and pleasure at being home.
clockwise from top left: La Porchetta's for dinner in Warragul, waiting-room at Warragul train station, historic train at Yarragon and Climber in Walkerville at last..
All the chilluns together, having dinner.
On Climber's first day we took him to have an awesome climbing adventure over and round all the rocks, and of course to show him the cave.
He loved it.
Cave at Walkerville South
The kids had a fantastic time exploring, and they were all brave enough to have a little dip in the rockpools. Madness. Neither of my kids even had wetsuits on. Brrrr.
This time when we reached the cave we kept going, and there was much excitement when Betty-dog found a way to follow us, despite mean steep rocks and nasty sea water. Millie guided her.
Come on Betty!
Walkerville is so very pretty.
Millie and Cherub look through the rock window.
Starfish. Still alive when this was taken, not so healthy the next day when we saw it again.
Together at last.
We also revisited Fish Creek, to pick up a signed book for Bella by local author and artist Alison Lester. Both Jen and I could have spent up big at her gorgeous shop, but sadly, we had to abide by our disposable income budgets. We had hopes of revisiting the very cool Flying Cow cafe, but it was closed, so after making the acquaintance of a hilarious goat, who either snorted loudly at us, or made this weird half yodelling, half gobbling noise, much to amusement of the children, ...
... and trying out the op-shop (where Climber bought a Harry Potter board-game for $3)...
This is the Diagon Alley game being played back at the ranch.
... we tried another eatery and took another groupie.
And did some more jumping.
On our last full day we took the kids to Sandy Point beach so they could have some swimming and sandy fun. Sandy Point is well named. Barely a shell to be seen. It's just very sandy. Good kid-friendly beach, even if it was on the cold side.
They didn't stay in long. Fixit -as usual- was the only adult to brave the water.
Then they all got very busy with an enormous fort. It was a gorgeous day and we finished it up with a lovely roast dinner.
Then on Friday it was time to pack up and head home, although of course we needed to drop by the kiosk for a last ice-cream and groupie.
I was so desperate to get to Craft Camp over the Labour Day long weekend. Most of the other girls arrived on Friday, but with a kidtap performance happening the following weekend, it wasn't possible for me to miss the Saturday morning lesson/penultimate rehearsal. But my gear was all stowed in the car, and as soon as I'd packed up at the Tap Hall, I was on the road to Lancefield. I felt so happy when I walked in the door and saw all my lovely friends gathered round the studio table at Sewjourn.
I spent most of my time sewing a dress from a Clothkits pattern, a vintage pattern for a tea-dress with princess seams. Clothkits had had a bit of a special on discontinued Liberty Fabrics, making it worth my while to brave the UK/Australian exchange rate, so I picked a design called Poppy & Honesty and chose the more autumnal colour scheme, which had pops of purple, green and red.
When the fabric arrived it was a lot browner than I expected, and I doubt I would have picked it had I seen it first. But having said that I've received so many compliments about how nice the colour looks on me that I'm trying to get over my dislike of wearing brown, which I owe to uniforms from my teenage years; specifically school from years 5-10, and the Kentucky Fried Chicken tunic from my first job. And it's not a sludgy brown, it's what, as a Melbournian, I would describe as latte-coloured. Which has positive connotations for me.
My kids tried (and let's face it, succeeded) to put the wind up me while I was away by telling me that they'd ridden a mototrbike illegally on a road whilst
on their own little mini-break to the Fixit family caravan-house in
Gippsland. But I saw the photos when I got home and it was fairly
unterrifying, particularly as Cherub never went out of first gear.
During the course of the weekend we celebrated Suse's birthday. Jen and I organised a cake. In that, I said to Jen could you bake a birthday cake for Suse that's gluten free so Kate can have it too? and she said yes and came up with the goods.
Candles and everything. Birthdays are fun at Sewjourn.
My culinary offerings for the weekend consisted of chocolate mousse on Saturday night and apple and pear crumble on Sunday. With fancy poached pears. This is me whipping cream and deafening the girls.
As always we had a gorgeous time together, eating and drinking very well indeed, enjoying each other's company and creativity, and having lots of laughs. I love Crarf Camp. Can't wait til June!
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