Sunday, 18 March 2018

Exploring Inverloch: Part 1

As promised, I will be throwing a number of blog posts onto here with very little chronological order, rhyme or reason. Most of these will feature holidays, because that seems to be what I have plenty of photos of currently.

Towards the end of January, we spent a week in Inverloch, a seaside town about two hours south east of Melbourne. I had booked a place on Airbnb that had good reviews, and cute photos. Nothing fancy, but there was a nice garden and decent sized rooms and it all looked pretty cosy. Turns out cosy was a euphemism for not terribly clean which was gross and meant we had to clean out the pantry cupboard and run the dishes through the dishwasher and wipe down the tables and surfaces before we could actually unpack (or touch) anything.

On our first morning there, Immy and I went off exploring, hoping to find Anderson Inlet somewhere nearby (I had seen it on Google Maps when I'd booked the rental unit). We turned left out of our driveway, and had hardly gone ten steps when we bumped into Madeline and Buttercup.

Well honestly. It was love at first sight. (also the reason Immy is wearing different outfits is because this is the horse section of the post, and I took the photos on different days because we had to go see the horses EVERY SINGLE DAY after this day.)

When we eventually managed to tear ourselves away from the horses, we headed down the road, around the corner and found - absolutely nothing. Just houses and the road ending in an empty property with hay bales dotted about on a grassy meadow. We decided to unlatch the gate and explore what lay over of the crest of the slope.

This is what we found. The most beautiful views of the inlet, turquoise water, Nanny McPhee haybales and tiny yellow daisies dotting the green grass. I kept feeling that at any moment Maria was going to spontaneously appear out of nowhere flinging her arms wide and singing 'The hills are alive'.

Obviously this didn't happen because Maria would never trespass on private property.

Highlights of our adventures...

:: Prom Country Cheese. Immy made friends with the sheep that was wondering around outside and couldn't have been happier. As for me - well. Whenever I get to farmy places, I'm always a bit overwhelmed by the flies and the smells and how nature-y everything is, but once we got into the cheese and beer things took a turn for the better.  We got a checklist with the cheeses on our tasting board, tiny fresh-baked loaves of bread and instructions on which cheese to eat in what order (basically working our way through ten cheeses clockwise on the board).

Cheese makes me happy. Sheep make Immy happy.

:: Making friends with random road-side goats. Oh hey - I'm Immy and I'm a goat whisperer.

:: An estuary walk at sunset. I felt terrible because I made my parents walk through the most enormous camping and caravan park in the world to get to the beginning of the estuary walk. Turns out we could have driven straight through, parked right at the beginning of the trail and saved ourselves approximately three kilometres.

I don't know why they still agree to my adventuring plans and schemes.

:: Sunsets on the beach. She found this 'shelter' and Snippy the crab. We walked and talked and played Tic Tac Toe in the sand. It took some negotiating, but eventually she surrendered Snippy back to the sand and the ocean, and we made our way home without the crab.

Looking at these pictures, this holiday already feels like a lifetime ago. We're almost at the end of Term 1, weekends filled with gymnastics and hip hop and playdates. Part 2 of our holiday will involve a lot of pictures of blue skies and seas.

And incidentally, another item ticked off the Victoria  Top 100 Bucket List. More to come.

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Puffing Billy: a steam train adventure

Last night I stayed up until midnight reading through blog posts from previous years  - getting lost in the memories and the photos and the stories that make up this big little life of ours. I didn't blog nearly enough last year - so many adventures and small everyday moments that have gone undocumented in this space.

We're two weeks into the new year, and I've been thinking about my intentions for this year. How I'd like to shape my days and weeks, doing more of the things I love and less of the things that siphon off my time without any return for the investment. Blogging is so important to me - taking photos, choosing the ones I'd like to form a story, weaving the words in and around them. I've missed it, the creative release that comes with hitting the 'Publish' button, knowing that another chapter in our story has been preserved for a time when memories will have faded and details will be a hazy blur.

I've decided to blog all the adventures that we had last year, the ones I missed out on, the ones I was too busy/tired/lazy to finish. They'll be in-between our current adventures, and that's okay. Because at the end of day, it matters less that everything is in the correct order, and more that I can look back and and remember the love and adventure and moments that make this life of ours so extraordinary.

And so, to start: a steam train adventure. On a cold, blustery day at the beginning of April 2017, we bundled up and headed for Belgrave station, headquarters of the Puffing Billy railway and the start of our train journey from Belgrave to Lakeside. The locomotive steamed and hissed, while the conductor checked our tickets, rang his bell and made sure that everybody was safely on board.

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:: Trestle Bridge. This is the must-have Puffing Billy picture, hands and feet dangling out of the carriages while the train curves it's way over the wooden bridge, billowing steam.

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A quick stop at Menzies Creek, where I almost missed getting back on the train because I was waiting for nine thousand people to take their photos and get out of the way so that I could get a picture of the front of the train. I was in trouble with the conductor, and my mom thought I would be sleeping there that night, but it was worth it for this.

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:: Train snaps along the way...

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Every person who works on the Puffing Billy railway is a volunteer. Station masters, engine cleaners, conductors, signalmen, guards - the list goes on. I read up on some of the stories, and discovered that some of the volunteers have been there since the 1950s. Entire families that volunteer, married couples, old (one volunteer has been there for 61 years!) and young.  I loved reading about every single one of them (if you're keen, you can read some of their stories here).

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We ended our journey at Lakeside, where Rob and I took Immy to the miniature train exhibition. It's basically one huge room filled with miniature train tracks running through different scenes: city to town to pasture to hills, trains zooming around over and up the tracks and through the tunnels. Tiny chickens pecking at the dirt, little water wheels turning, a thousand small things to look at and enjoy.

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And so back to Belgrave, and then to lunch. We found a cosy cafe close by, where we sat - half-frozen and starving - in a warm corner. Immy befriended a massive dog on the porch, and ended up eating lunch with a stranger in the gardens while I wandered around taking photos.

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We're halfway through summer, and my parents' visit. We've enjoyed hot weather, lazy days, movies, swimming and bike riding. Next week - a holiday at the beach, in a beautiful airy house with wooden floors. I plan to catch up on blogging, reading, long walks, and quality time with my girl who is just getting so big.

To end - words to live by (and a good way to kick off 2018)...

Read good books,
have good sentences in your ears.
Be by yourself as often as you can.
Take the phone off the hook.
Avoid too much noise.
Protect your time.
Feed your inner life.

-- Jane Kenyon

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Thursday, 28 December 2017

Celebrating December

December for us is a month-long celebration, a whirlwind of birthdays, end-of-year functions, parties, Christmas preparations and endless eating and drinking.

The tree has already been taken down, decorations packed away and the corner of my living room reclaimed from the giant tree for another year. My parents are visiting, and to have them here with us celebrating Immy's birthday and Christmas feels like the luckiest thing. 

A roundup of favourite pictures from our celebrations.

:: She had her party at Bounce. Ten kids, and a chocolate mousse mud cake. She declared it 'her best party ever'. And afterwards, we headed to my place to open presents and read all the beautiful handmade cards from her friends.

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:: A Christmas Elf, helping to put the tree up. This necessitated an entire rearrangement of furniture because last year when I bought the tree, we had no furniture so I bought the biggest one in the shop. I'm not sorry. 

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:: We celebrated with a Christmas Eve traditional dinner. For the fourth year in a row, I assembled our table runner, a beautiful ethereal paper creation I bought in 2014. Painstakingly connecting corners and weaving paper through holes, it's a labour of love that is part of the fun of decorating a beautiful table. We kept it simple this year - candles in mason jars, a tiny jar of flowers, some sparkly lights.

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:: Crackers and conversation starters, Boney M on in the background.

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:: We started a new tradition this year. Opening one gift, selected by the giver, from under the tree.

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Finally, it was time to read 'Twas the night before Christmas' by the light of the tree. Stockings laid out, Immy put to bed and then tackling the mammoth task of wrapping her new bike. Santa snowy footprints, cookies and milk, the scene set for Christmas morning. I couldn't help wondering if this time next year she'll still believe in the magic of Santa, and North Pole snow scattered on the presents and the floor. With all my heart I hope so.

Our days are rolling by playing board games, card games, cycling. We watch old movies. I'm determined to have a few adventures, but so far I'm almost a third into my holiday and afternoon naps and reading seem to be about as good as it gets.

Another Christmas, come and gone.

From our tribe to yours - Merry Christmas.

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