Friday, February 03, 2012

A Summer Place

Well, that was fun. Four nights at the coast, as a kind of farewell to the school holidays. We did it last year. Then, it was hot and stormy. This time, it was just cool and damp, not at all boogie-boarding weather, and only barely pool weather. Still, we gave it a go. The place we stayed at was in receivership last summer, and we got a really good deal. This year, it turns out, it is under new ownership, and we were somewhat surprised (not pleasantly) by the rates, and by being forced to pay extra for two children and four continental breakfasts, none of which (ie the breakfasts) we really needed. (Four days of mini-croissants and assorted Kellogs (tm) cereals is, I now know, about my limit.) Since we were there last year they have fenced the pool out from the bar area, which just seems wrong (although we would have missed it more if it had been pool weather). They have also forgotten how to make coffee. In fact, all in all I think I preferred the place when it was being run by the receivers. That can't be good.

Still, the setting is magical: cabins that face right onto the beach, bushland behind. Kangaroos wandered onto the deck, looking to stroll right on into our cabin. We took a few walks, with and without geocaching objectives (kindly researched by friends of ours, whom we convinced to come with us). (One of the caches was, apparently, the first ever "earth cache", which took us to various geological formations that we had walked over previously without even noticing, and a fossilised colony of bryozoa, or something, like I would know.) We found a snake curled up in a hole in a rock, not entirely in a location that I would have expected to find a snake. I had walked right past it; it's a wonder I hadn't blindly stuck my hand in the hole for grip. Snap.

Wednesday night we drove into Batemans Bay for fish and chips. As you do. The last week of January is a good time for this, as New South Wales is back at school and the ACT isn't, so you can get a table at the fish and chip shop, and look out at the boats or down at the many fish that are swimming around below you (and a stingray, which, I swear, waved to us).

With the weather being as it was, there was time for other things.

Like watching DVDs. And T20 cricket. And "QI".

Or like playing some of the games we had picked up at CanCon the previous weekend. Unbeknownst to me, Adrienne had bought a game called Monty Python Fluxx, which was fun while also being head-splittingly confusing (the game keeps changing), and which might well lend itself to long, boozy evenings, if such a thing were possible. She had also, while I wasn't looking, bought another game, called Escalation, mainly for the cover image of a granny wielding a machine gun. (If I'm honest, I would have bought it if I had seen it.) It is fun, and simple, and fast. These are not always things you are looking for in a game, but sometimes they are just the ticket. The other game, Elfenland, is neither fast nor simple. It may well be fun, but that is a conclusion that will only be reached with further understanding of how the damn thing works.

Or like fighting through my reader's block (it's like writer's block, I think, except from the other side of the page: I have for some time been unable to pick up and start a novel, presumably in some not small part as a result of having very little time or energy (on account of the nature of my day job) for reading. So to make a start on Ian McEwan's "Solar" was a bit like finding a favourite old jumper in the back of the cupboard. (Actually, an old jumper would have come in very handy, given the weather. Did I mention the weather already?)

Lesson learned: if you are going to take your Bialetti on holidays with you, make sure you take a trivet for balancing it on the stove. There is nothing sadder than coffee that is on the floor instead of in the cup.

The dolphins we had seen last summer seemed to have deserted us this year. But this morning, as we were packing up to leave, I noticed some smaller fish jumping through the surface of the water. This, last year, had seemed to be a signal that the dolphins were about. So I said to Jules, who is useless at packing up (fact!), to go out (in the rain) to look for dolphins. Whereupon he said, within a couple of eye blinks, "There are dolphins." And there they were. Possibly (but probably not) waving us goodbye. We loaded the car, in the rain, walked over to our final continental breakfast, in the rain, brushed the sand off the boogie boards, in the rain, and drove back to Canberra, in the rain. We passed a still-fresh car accident on the way back, which is always a sobering thing to see.

Georgie the cat was pleased to be brought home from her own summer holiday adventure at the local cattery. Two issues of the New Yorker awaited us. The house was cold. There were 28mm in the rain gauge.

And thus normal life returns.