Sunday, 13 November 2016

Ocean Grove Trip

I hadn't done much preparation for our camping trip (we've been quite busy lately, and I'd just spent the weekend in Sydney for my sister-in-laws 40th), so we packed our clothes the night before, I put the awning canvases and the tarps back on the trailer the night before, then we did the rest on the Tuesday morning before we left and were away by 11. We got petrol and came back for a few things we'd forgotten, then were properly on the way by 11.30.

I stopped just out of Geelong because I was feeling pretty tired. I had a snack and walked around a bit, then the kids got frozen slushies from Hungry Jacks and we bought some fruit and veg from a little shop at the roadhouse. We continued on and reached Ocean Grove a bit after 2.

3 of the other homeschooling families we were camping with were already there, and another family joined us each day then went home of a night (they only live half an hour away). I set up the tent while the kids played with their friends, then the kids all did the watermelon challenge - putting rubber bands around a watermelon until it explodes. The top of the melon cracked and popped open and it felt like a bit of a let down, so the kids kept putting rubber bands on even though we thought it probably wouldn't explode now that the pressure had been let out. They put a few more on and it suddenly exploded upwards, covering one of the girls completely in watermelon and hitting everyone else, and spreading many metres out from the blast zone. It was hilarious and a lot of fun.

The kids rode their bikes and played in the playground and after a while LiAM and another boy went over to the beach (his mum and I went too). They built a big wall with a hole behind it that they tried to keep filled with water, as the tide was coming in the waves were filling the hole and knocking down the wall and things became more challenging. It was cold and windy on the beach, quite grey. The boys had a lot of fun and came home a little bit wet and very happy. The boy's family went home after we got back, they were only staying the one night as they had things on for the rest of the week, so LiAM was a little disappointed that his friend had left, although we will see them again soon.

I went to the shops to get food for dinner, we had hotdogs for tea in the camp kitchen. The others were around too, getting their own dinner and we chatted and played. After tea Caitlin went for a walk to the beach with the older girls, and the rest of us went to bed and read for a while, Caitlin came in not long afterwards.

It was sprinkling in the morning and I hadn't put the annex up because I thought it wasn't going to rain. I moved things that I didn't want to get wet and went to the camp kitchen for my cup of tea. Gradually everyone else woke up and wandered to the kitchen and we had breakfast, the kids played games and we had a nice easy morning as the weather cleared up. There was more playing in the playground and lots of bike riding, then in the late morning we all headed over to the beach. It was sunny by now, but the wind was still pretty cold. 2 of the older kids went out surfing, and I went in the water with my 3 kids and Amelie's friend. It was very cold, and the 2 younger girls soon went back to play in the shallow waves at the edge. Caitlin, LiAM and I went out a lot further - it was shallow for a very long way and the waves weren't big, it was fairly easy surf to swim in, just really really cold. The kids had wetsuits on so they coped with it a bit better than me. Eventually I felt like my reflexes were getting a bit slower because I was so cold so I went back and sat on the sand in the sun to warm up. The kids played in the sand and after a while Caitlin went back in with the older kids and was able to go out further to where the water was a bit deeper (and it wasn't as rough there as I'd feared). They had a go at boogie boarding but the waves weren't quite right.

Amelie had had enough of the sand after a while so she went back to camp with some of the others. Her friend's mum had brought kites along, and LiAM and the other younger kids flew them on the beach for a while, the wind was strong and the kites flew really well. We wandered back to camp and had some lunch, the kids played in the playground and rode their bikes and the mums sat and chatted. In the afternoon we went strawberry picking at a local farm, the strawberries were fresh and delicious and it was a lot of fun. Afterwards LiAM sat with me and the other mums and dipped all his strawberries in cream - very enjoyable.

We all had dinner together that night, a few of us went to get roast chickens and hot chips, and we had a bit of salad and stuff too and we all ate in the camp kitchen together (it was really well equipped, and had lots of little tables and a great big table which fit most of us around it (there were 13 people altogether). After dinner Millie's friends went to bed, and once it got dark the rest of us walked over to the beach to see if we could see the Aurora Australis - it was supposed to be a good night for it but it was cloudy and so not possible to see anything. The kids had a play on the sand in the dark and it was cool to be there watching the surf and the night sky. When we got back Amelie and I wandered off soon afterwards, everyone else went back to the kitchen for a games night and played cards and other games until about midnight.

It was raining again in the morning, a bit more heavily this time, so again I had my cup of tea in the kitchen and the others wandered in one by one. We had breakfast then played Racing Demons, which the kids had learnt the night before. After a while we switched to playing Burn, and some of the others joined us. Amelie went to play with her friends in the playground, and everyone else played Burn for a few rounds (9 of us) which was a lot of fun.

By now it was midday and quite sunny again. We all went over to Barwon Heads to get ice-cream - it was delicious! We wandered around the shops for a while, while Millie and her friends went to the playground, then the rest of us met them there. The playground was right on the river, overlooking the bridge between Barwon Heads and Ocean Grove, a beautiful spot to play. Caitlin and LiAM explored the sandbanks in the river then LiAM and I walked back into town so he could buy something from the bakery.

The older kids wanted to go to the lolly shop in Ocean Grove, and Amelie chose to stay with her friends on the condition we could go to the lolly shop again tomorrow. Caitlin and LiAM selected their lollies and I grabbed a few too, then we headed back to camp (with one of the other boys in our car, he'd been with us all day). The mums sat and chatted again at our campsite while the kids rode their bikes and climbed trees, and when Amelie and the others came back they played in the playground.  The others (except Amelie's friends) were leaving this afternoon so they finished packing up then we talked at the car while the big kids rode their ripsticks.

LiAM wasn't feeling well and had a nap and Caitlin crashed on the couch in the kitchen once everyone else had left. I cooked some dinner and the kids played, LiAM had a shower and then joined us as well. We had a relatively early night and read Harry Potter for a while.

It was sunny on our last morning so I went for a quick walk near the edge of the river then had my cup of tea at the tent. As the kids woke up they had breakfast then they went down to the kitchen to play cards while I packed up. Amelie's friend's Mum packed up as well, then she took all the kids down to the other playground while I finished off. We all met in the kitchen for lunch and then headed off. We drove over to Portarlington to the lolly shop there and met up with the family who'd been coming over each day. We bought our lollies then sat outside at a cafe with them in the warm sun and had the most magnificent milkshakes we've ever tasted. I reversed the trailer out of the tricky spot that I had parked in (feeling much more confident about my reversing now) and we headed to Geelong where we called in to see Amelie's friends again. The kids all had a wonderful afternoon playing with all their games and activities and I had more time to chat to their mum. We left around 6.30 which meant we missed the traffic on the Ring Road and had an easy trip home, arriving just after 8.30.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Half-lap Day 110: Camperdown -> Home

There was heavy rain overnight and once again we were very grateful to be inside a house. We got up and had breakfast and chatted to our hosts, Millie had a shower and Caitlin made more videos on her iPad. Tony and his uncle had stayed up quite late the night before so Tone had a bit of a sleep in. It didn’t take us long to pack up as we’d brought even less inside this time than the night before – the only time consuming thing was the extremely steep driveway that we needed to walk down and up to get to the car and back (we’d left the car and trailer down on the street, there was no way we could go up the drive with the trailer on).

LiAM in particular was very keen to just get in the car and head home. We were on our way just after 10am, very excited to be on the very last leg of our trip. We drove through the beautiful and familiar countryside around Camperdown, with the stone walls and windmills and cattle and sheep. Driving through the little towns between there and Geelong we saw lots of tractor and harvester equipment. Mainly we noticed how often we came across a town – we’d become used to driving all day to get to the next town, and here they came up every 20 minutes or so.

We stopped near Geelong to get petrol and some hot chips from Red Rooster. The roadhouse was a bit a of a culture shock – the service station, McDonalds, Red Rooster and several other food outlets all shared the same building, and there were SO many people. We got our chips and were happy to be back in the car.

It was raining pretty hard for a lot of the way into and around Melbourne. There was more traffic than we had seen – well, since we’d left. One thing that stood out to us was the low number of caravans – we were used to seeing almost nothing but trucks and caravans, and here it was mainly cars and utes, we only saw 3 caravans between Geelong and the ring road.

Traffic was slow on the ring road, first because of lane merges, and then because of a very nasty looking accident near Sydney Rd. Eventually the traffic cleared and the last 45 minutes flowed easily. On our way we drove nearby several friend’s houses and gave them a wave as we went past.

One by one the kids recognised roads we were driving on and realised how close to home we were. Coming through Christmas Hills it was very exciting to see Yarra Glen spread out on the plain below – really felt like coming home. As we drove through Yarra Glen we noticed lots of houses had been built in the estate they were just starting when we left. It’s cool to live in such a beautiful place too – driving along the road to our house we could appreciate the beauty and not feel so much like we’d left all these fantastic places and now we were just at home – home is fantastic as well.

We arrived home just after 2pm and everyone felt happy and bit of disbelief – we’d made it! We were going to back the trailer in to the carport first so it was in position to unpack – then we saw Buckley and everyone tumbled out of the car to go and pat him. He was excited to see us and we were all so thrilled to see him. We let him come inside with us to check out the house – it looked so neat and familiar and strange and felt much bigger than I’d remembered. We hadn’t been home long when Winky came out to see us. The kids were so excited that she ran straight back in under my bed in fright – but did come out and gave us all a cuddle then hung around with us all afternoon, I think she was pleased to see us too. Later in the afternoon we saw our 3 remaining chickens and the kids reallocated ownership and names (they’ve grown since we left and we weren’t sure which chickens these were – they’ve got new identities now so it doesn’t matter). The mountains that are normally our view were obscured by cloud at first, then the clouds lifted through the afternoon and we could see Mt St Leonards and really felt at home.

We lit the fire, went through our mail, slowly brought things in out of the car and moved things around the house to make it habitable for the 5 of us (I’d put a lot of stuff in the kids’ room so that our house sitter had more space, so I moved some of that back out so that the kids could get to their beds). LiAM and Millie put the PlayStation on and played with their new Skylanders, Caitlin rang her friends to tell them she was home.

It was a lovely, relaxing afternoon and I resisted the urge to rush around trying to get everything unpacked and in place – there’s plenty of time for that and I am going to try very hard to stay relaxed as I have been on the trip. Tony went to get pizza for our Friday night dinner – a great way to celebrate arriving home. While he was out he visited some friends and met their new baby – the kids and I are keen to see her soon too (born while we were away).

Caitlin started working on a photo slideshow of the trip to take to Girl Guides this week, then on tidying up her room – we’ve all got a new perspective on space and belongings I think after living in the tent for so long. Tony watched the football and the others watched some TV, I pottered around and we all felt very happy and comfortable (even though it felt a little weird as well).

Friday, 19 August 2016

Half-lap Day 109: Naracoorte -> Camperdown

The beds were so comfortable and the temperature of the house just right, and we all slept really well. I got up and had a shower then worked on the computer for a while, the others gradually woke up and played on the iPad then went out to have breakfast with our hosts. We had a relaxed morning, watching the Olympics and chatting some more, and I finished the 8th Harry Potter book. We packed the car quite easily as we’d taken very little out, then spent quite a while saying goodbye to the dogs. We were ready to leave around 10am.

We drove straight to Naracoorte Caves and bought tickets for the Bat Cave tour (how could we resist!?), then we had an hour to wander through the fossil centre and look at all the animals that have been discovered in this cave system, and learn about how old the caves were and how paleontologists figure this stuff out. Seeing the megafauna that used to live in this area was pretty cool and exciting. The fossil centre had a cave in it, with a tunnel to crawl through – we all had a go and it was just slightly claustrophobic for some of us. Caitlin loved it, and is keen to come back here to do some adventure caving one day (in the real caves, not the manmade one in the fossil centre). We had a sandwich and the kids bought commemorative coins of the fossil centre.

We started off on the tour and went into a room set up with TVs that display the footage from infrared cameras in the bat cave. We could see little bats on the wall of the cave, and then found an area where lots of them were flying around. It was cool to be able to see them without disturbing them at all. We also got to look at pictures of bats and at a couple of real bats that have been preserved. Nice to be able to see the actual size of them (these guys are Southern Bent-Wing Bats).

From there we went into Blanche Cave. The guide had offered the kids one of the torches to carry, so there was fierce negotiation about who would hold it when and for how long, which resolved itself fairly well. Blanche cave started as a large open chamber, with entries at both ends. It was quite light and airy inside, it was more like a massive open room. There were lots of columns, and holes up in the ceiling (caused by carbon dioxide bubbles when the cave was full of water in ancient times), and interesting patterns on the walls – there were places where we could still see shells and coral and tubeworms making up part of the limestone. There were also a coulple of preserved animals who had died down here, a possum and a turtle, adding to the depth of knowledge that the animal remains are providing to the scientists around here.

We went further into the cave, through a little garden area and into another chamber that only had the one entrance, so it was quickly much darker. The temperature dropped significantly as we walked in. There was another preserved possum here, probably 150 years since it died, and it still had a full pelt of skin, the cold dry air and darkness helping it decompose very very slowly. There were areas of the ground here littered with tiny little bat bones, which will eventually turn into fossils. I was impressed with the way we were allowed access to safe areas of the cave, and they had cordoned off any areas where people walking would harm the history or heritage of the cave. We went off the main path, with the guide, into the Bat Chamber – no Batman here, and we only saw one little bat, hiding in a crevice. Cool formations on the walls and floors though, and some very old graffiti – burned into the ceiling with candle smoke, or carved into a column in the middle of the chamber – dates as old as 1885!

Leaving that chamber we went further into the cave and found where most of the bats were hanging out (the Bat Cave is their breeding cave, the one we were looking at through the infrared cameras, and no one goes in there. This cave is one of the places they hang out during the winter when they are in torpor and not going out to feed much. We were allowed to shine shuttered light at them unless they started chirping then we needed to leave them alone. We found 4 clumps of bats up on the ceiling, all huddled together. They were cute, just moving around a little bit and checking us out then deciding we were no threat. (I think LiAM and I, and maybe the girls, were the only ones who thought they were cute. We loved them.)

We walked back out, chatting to the guide, then did a quick toilet stop and got on our way. Today we drove through the Coonawarra wine region, very prettyy again and quiite different from home or the Barossa that we saw yesterday. The vineyards still stretched as far as the eye could see, but they seemed to be owned by more wineries, lots of small allotments of vines rather than just a few big ones owned by few companies.

We turnd left at Penola and were soon back in Victoria. After most of our border crossings on the trip – either quarantine stations or at least big signs and rest stops and a bit of fanfare, this one was very tame. Just a blue sign along a winding country road saying ‘Welcome to Victoria’. Everyone felt quite comforted to be back, and home is seeming ever closer.

The drive was beautiful once again. The land was very green, at this end of winter. Areas of massive gum trees throughout the fields (and low lying areas full of water, there’s obviously been a lot of rain here this season) soon gave way to rolling hills, with few trees, covered in green grass. We saw lots of cattle, and sheep, and windmills. The road was much windier than most of the roads we’ve driven on in this trip, as well as hillier, and Caitlin felt a little carsick.

We drove through Casterton and Coleraine which were beautiful little towns. We stopped for petrol in Hamilton and Tony and I remembered it from when we were here before Caitlin was born. The last bit of the drive to Camperdown went fairly quickly – Tony was in familiar territory now and we all felt a bit like we were nearly home when we reached Camperdown.

We went to Tony’s Nanna’s first. She had just popped out to see the nurse so we chatted to Tony’s uncle until she got back, comparing travel stories and catching up on family news from home.  Nanna came back and we had a cup of tea with her and Tony’s aunt, and ate some of Nanna’s sausage rolls. It was great to see her and she was thrilled to see the kids again, it’s been a couple of years. The kids played with her dog and her cat and it felt so cosy and comfortable to be there.

Eventually we said goodbye and went to Tony’s uncle’s house (a different uncle). We met their dogs and had a drink and settled down to chat while dinner finished cooking. We watched some Olympics and caught up on everyone’s news. We had a delicious roast lamb for dinner, then Tony got out the computer and showed his uncle some of the old photos we’d copied over from his cousin in Perth, he really enjoyed seeing them and they reminisced for a good while.

Millie was tired so w the kids and I went to the bedroom and we read the last chapter of Inheritance, so fitting that we finished it on the last night of her trip. I stayed with her until she went to sleep, then went to bed myself. The kids stayed up a while longer, LiAM did some drawing in Paintbrush and made an awesome picture of a horse, Caitlin played on her iPad and showed Tony’s uncle how to make videos. Eventually everyone headed to bed for our very last night away.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Half-lap Day 108: Port Parham -> Naracoorte

There was very little rain overnight, and when we woke up some of the puddles had started to recede, so it was a bit easier to get to the car. I went for a walk over to the beach and the tide had gone out – the water was out further than I could see, and the beach was a long expanse of wet, flat sand and seaweed. In the far distance I could see the darker blue of the deeper water of the gulf.

We had breakfast and the kids played, then Caitlin went out on her bike again and rode with the guy from last night for a while. Tony and Millie played a game where she was like a Hobbit and he had to find her. We packed up, wanting to move things around a bit as we weren’t sure if we’d be setting up the tent tonight or not – we were staying with friends and hadn’t decided whether we’d be staying inside or camping in their yard – so I set things up so that they things we’d need would be accessible either way. There were shells and bits of mud everywhere so there was lots of sweeping and shaking out to do as well. The kids explored the beach a bit and then LiAM and Millie played with their new Skylanders in the car.

We left around 11 and headed back out to the highway the way we’d come in – realising later that there was an easier, sealed road that we could have taken. Looking at the map, there were 2 ways we could go to get to Naracoorte, one through the centre of Adelaide and one through Gawler and Mt Pleasant. We’d never been to Mt Pleasant so decided to go that way even though it was a bit windier. The countryside we drove through was beautiful. Mainly farmland, and hilly, and so so green. We saw great big gum trees, the biggest trees we’ve seen in a long time. Lots of horses, and sheep farms and some cows and even a deer farm. There were vineyards as well. After a while there were less trees and the hills were covered in many rocks. It was a very pleasant drive.

After winding through the hills for quite a while we eventually came to a point where we could see the plains spreading out below us, and drove down a steep hill between the rocky slopes. We got to Murray Bridge and got petrol, then continued along the main highway, the road we drove towards Adelaide on when we started the trip.

We turned off the highway just before Keith and headed towards Naracoorte. More green farmland and big trees, which after a while gave way to vineyards. The bare vines and poles looked so beautiful and symmetrical, which felt exciting when I remembered that that’s what our place will look like! The vineyards each seemed really huge, partly I think because the land was quite flat and I’m used to the full size of the vineyards being obscured by hills. It was another great place to drive through.

We stopped in Naracoorte to get some beer and were impressed with the stone buildings and houses. It looks like a very pretty town. Our friends live a bit out of town so we headed out there – we are staying with the parents of one of Tony’s workmates. The kids were excited to get there – they had met one of our host’s dogs when he was 8 weeks old and really loved him, he’s now 6 months old and they couldn’t wait to see him again. He’s much bigger now, still fluffy and playful like a puppy but big enough to jump up and nearly knock Millie over. We stood outside and met our hosts and played with the dogs, before going inside to have a drink.

They had made up beds for us in their spare rooms so we agreed to stay inside. It was a beautiful house and there was a room for the girls, one for Tony and I and a sofa bed for LiAM in a room with a TV. The kids watched TV for a while and Tony and I chatted with the other adults. LiAM played cards and the girls watched him and talked to us. They cooked us a magnificent dinner, lasagne and then Lemon Meringue Pie – great food and a really easy atmosphere to eat in. After dinner we watched some Olympics (including the horse jumping, Caitlin was thrilled) and chatted some more. It was warm in the house and we’d eaten so much food – I was feeling really sleepy. Caitlin had a shower and then we went in to the girls’ room to read the second last chapter of Inheritance – looks like we’ll finish it before we get home! The girls went to sleep and I went and sat with LiAM for a while until he was comfortable, then we went to bed in an extremely comfortable and warm bed.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Day 107: Kimba -> Port Parham

It got quite windy overnight, which kept the temperature a little higher, it was still cold but not freezing. We were able to sleep in less clothes and still be comfortable. LiAM had a better sleep up in our bed, and Tony was comfortable enough in LiAM’s. I got up and had my cup of tea and enjoyed a crisp, sunny morning, and the others followed soon after. We had a bit of breakfast then LiAM wanted to play soccer. He and Millie and I went over to the tennis courts, Millie watched (and helped occasionally) and LiAM and I played for a while. He’s getting quite good. We played to a 1-1 draw then went back to the tent so we could start packing up. I pulled all the snack food out of the tubs in the back of the trailer so that it’s more accessible over the next few days – we might not be camping for the last 2 nights of the trip so I don’t want to have to pull everything out of the trailer because I need stuff from the back – better to have it closer to the front.

I helped Millie have a shower and wash her hair then we started packing up in earnest. The wind had meant there wasn’t much dew either, so the tent was dry which made packing it up a bit easier than the last several days. The kids played over at the playground, tennis courts and football oval while we got everything organised. Before we left we made a donation towards the upkeep of the facilities – it is a free camp, with a box to donate if you want to. We were happy to put in a small amount to help maintain this excellent campsite.

We were on the road around 11 and detoured through the town to see the Big Galah – a large statue of a galah, outside the ‘Halfway Point Tourist and Gift Shop’. It was cool to see the big silos in town as well. A truck was being filled with grain, it was a bit odd to see a smallish, single trailer truck being filled, after becoming used to the road trains.

We drove through a mixture of farmlands and wooded areas. In the distance to our east we could see large hills and a mountain range. As we approached Iron Knob we could see that the hill there was terraced – obviously a mine. We got closer and could see that the bottom terrace had a railway line along the top of it, with a long train waiting there. It looked like a precarious place to put a trainline to me, but I’m sure they know wha h yare doing…

As we got closer to Port Augusta the mountains got bigger. We’d driven along the side of this range when we headed towards Coober Pedy, it was exciting to see something again that we saw so long ago. Even more exciting was when we drove through the intersection we’d gone through in mid-May, where we turned right to head up t the middle of Australia – now we have completed the loop all the way around the western half of the country!

We got petrol and then Tony went to Woolworths to get lunch, dinner, milk and strepsils (Millie, LiAM and Tony have sore throats), while the kids and I went to Big W to look at car seats. On the way we popped in to EBGames where the kids bought the last of the Skylanders games that they didn’t have (Spyros Adventure, the first one) and some Skylanders to go with it. At Big W (which felt more like a warehouse than a Big W) we found a carseat that Millie was happy with so finally bought something to replace her broken one. The kids also bought a birthday present for their aunt, whose birthday was earlier this week.

We met Tony over near the foreshore where we’d played last time we were in Port Augusta. It was cool to be in a town that we already knew our way around. We installed Millie’s seat, and figured out how to fit the old one in the car somewhere as she really wanted to keep it – by taking it out of it’s cover and putting the 2 broken parts separately we squeezed it in.

I drove for an hour or so from Port Augusta. WE went past th turn off to Flinders Ranges where we’d come in last time, and then we were on new road again. We’d considered driving straight home in fewere days from here, maybe going through Mildura – but then we’d miss seeing people and things we’d planned to see, and I didn’t think it was fair to our housesitter to turn up early on short notice, and long long days in the car really exhaust me and I’d prefer to get home with a bit of energy left. So we stuck to our original plan and headed towards Adelaide.

The countryside here was startlingly green. Lots of crops and obviously lots of water available. There was a range of hills to our left, and for a while the gulf was to our right, until we drove across the top of the Yorke Peninsula. There were also more wind turbines than we’ve seen in one place before. I counted 53 then we saw more and more. There were large tracts of water beside us at one stage, with barriers built across them at various stages, eventually we realised they we salt lakes.

We were hoping to catch up with the family we met in Katherine, and they had recommended a free camp at Parham, not too far from where they lived. We were a little worried about the weather as the forecast was for rain overnight, then figured that since we’d decided to come this way there was no way we could avoid the rain, so we headed to Parham, on the shore of the Gulf. There was a well made dirt road in to the camp, and it was a well set out campsite. We set up in a bay and the kids went to check out the beach – it was covered in piles of seaweed in between sand with lots of shells on it. The water was grey (we could see the rain heading across the Gulf) and calm. We chatted to a few of the others staying here and then finished getting the tent up, pleased to have it done before the rain started.

Caitlin got her bike out and rode around the campsite, there was a circuit she could do. Another guy had a bike and he joined her, riding round and round and chatting to people and patting the dog next door to us. LiAM wanted to ride too and the guy lent him a bike but it was a bit big. Caitlin gave LiAM her bike and he managed to ride it, so she rode the guy’s 2nd  bike and the three of them rode around. Millie wanted to join them so first Tony and then I walked with her and helped support her bike. I let her go a couple of times and she rode a short way before freaking out. The guy offered to take her around for a lap, he held her handlebars while he rode next to her and it was easier for her to balance, she did really well.

Our friends got in touch and said that the girls were unwell so they wouldn’t be able to meet up with us. We were disappointed although it was nice to then be able to just settle in to our camp. Tony put the awning up in time before the rain started, then we were able to sit in shelter while he cooked tea and we read Harry Potter.

We soon realised that our car was parked in a low point and it was surrounded by a large puddle of water, which made getting things out of it a bit tricky. It ws still hitched to the trailer and we thought about unhitching and moving it, but there wasn’t anywhere obvious to go where there weren’t more puddles, so we just worked around it. We got the beds ready – LiAM back in his own bed, Millie with us again, and got into bed as the rain started to ease off. We read a little of Inheritance and then went to sleep.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Half-lap Day 106: Kimba

LiAM woke early, feeling cold and unwell. He and I got up as neither of us were likely to go back to sleep, and discovered a thick layer of ice over everything outside. We’d left one waterbottle on the table and the water in that was not frozen solid, but was mainly ice. We sat in the car as it was the warmest spot and played on the iPad until the others got up a couple of hours later. By now the sun was up and the ice was starting to melt, it wasn’t too bad to stand in the sunshine.

We took our time over breakfast and decided not to try to see or do anything today. Kimba is the mid-point between Sydney and Perth, and has a few interesting things around town to check out, and it’s not far from here to the National Park with lots of interesting rock formations – we decided a rest day was way more important than seeing more things for the sake of it (there was nothing here we had been looking forward to or even knew anything about before we arrived).

Caitlin checked out the coin-operated showers and came back happy and clean. We read some Harry Potter and played on the iPad, then Tony and Caitlin rode their bikes into town to get food for dinner and a pump attachment to blow up the balls we’d bought with us. Millie, LiAM and I played cards until they got back.

With the balls pumped up (including a new football that they’d also bought) we went over to the tennis/netball/basketball courts. We were trying to figure out how to play netball with 5 people (Caitlin really wanted to play netball) when Millie fell and hurt her knee and elbow and didn’t want to play anymore. She was happy to lie in the sun and watch us, so we played a very tricky and exhausting version of 2-a-side netball. Lots of fun though. Once everyone was too knackered to play anymore we had a bit of a play in the playground, then Tony and the kids went out on to the football oval to kick the football around, and I found a powerpoint in the tennis pavilion to charge my computer and catch up on days worth of blogging, email, banking etc. It was warm in the sun and still a bit cool in the shade, a lovely day though to just enjoy and take our time over things.

We had a late lunch and hung around the tent and playground and tennis courts, a very relaxing afternoon. LiAM and I had showers (the water here is full of chlorine, it felt like I was showering in a hot swimming pool) and we played more iPad and read more Harry Potter then had hotdogs for dinner. I talked to a friend on the phone for a while and the kids played in the playground, then we got ready for bed. It was a cold evening but not as cold as the previous few nights. We still did hot water bottles and rugged up, and as LiAM had been feeling unwell all day he slept in my bed with Millie and I, Caitlin slept on Millie’s bed and Tony slept in LiAM’s. It took us a while to rearrange all the blankets again but eventually we were all ready and in bed for a bit more of Inheritance. Tony did the dishes then came in and read more of the Harry Potter book – we’re all trying to read it as fast as possible so we can talk about it, and I’m trying to read it aloud so that everyone can keep up – so we’re all up to different stages and some bits have been read by everyone and we’re getting to know the story really well.