Oh my GOODNESS – we all went away TOGETHER as a FAMILY this weekend!!! Can you feel me happy dancing? It was lovely, for the most part, to be all together. It was also MUCH easier for me to be able to share the parenting duties with. We journeyed, in the slowest car in the world, down to Binginwarri – stopping for lunch in Leongatha.
Of course, all through that area is where my dad’s place is, and I was thinking of him very much as we drove through the hills and the roads that he used so often We were driving down to visit his brother – my uncle – and so he was on my mind even more than usual.
We stopped in Korrumburra Op-Shop – and my new minimalist self held herself back from buying a three dollar full size Kenwood milk-glass mixing bowl… Ohhhhh. Stupid minimalism. I consoled myself by thinking that someone who actually still owns a Kenwood mixer might find it and be completely thrilled.
M found jumpers, I found a top and the Smalls found headbands – we were given free lemons on our way out Then onward to Leongatha. This is a town that has changed considerably since M and I lived down at my dad’s place for almost a year in the late 1990s – it has cafes now – good ones! An amazing homewares shop where I got a new kettle (50% off) and a fantastic kitchen clock with a timer on it ($15)…
There is current dissent between M and I when it comes to cafes. I am labelled a stresshead because I interrogate staff about what is available – he, on the other hand, ducks out of the whole thing, stewing, and then says he could do it better. I said, “By all means.” And went to the homewares store while he ordered. There were many lovely things there, it was quite soothing.
There were apologies. The Smalls got excellent gluten free food and we were all consoled. We later repeated the whole thing in Fish Creek… It’s hard work at the moment. But we persevere. After shopping for bits and bobs we continued onward via a short detour to Toora. We like Toora – it is small and there are some SERIOUSLY old shopfronts on its main street. There’s not a lot there, but somehow, it is just a pleasant place.
The last time I was there was a few months ago – a lunch and get-together in honour of my dad. I had hoped, this time, to take the caravan – but our sedan with the towbar is short a radiator at present, so we took over the spare room and the Smalls were on the lounge room floor…
It has been a year since the Smalls were up there, and the eyes of A.K and U.R were wide when they saw how much taller they have become. Last time we were there I was on my own with them and felt that I spent much of my time pleading with the to SETTLE DOWN – this time they were less crazed, more mature, and had parents in stereo.
A.K took them on a walk and found them wild orchids, animal bones and beautiful feathers.
U.R taught Small Z how to do Sudoku (and has bred an addict) while M cranked out a killer bolognese for dinner and we all sipped wine.
It was VERY civilised. And so lovely to see The Relics (I think I am allowed to call them that…)
Our time there was full of food, chatter, making and birdwatching – the most beautiful birds land on their birdfeeder – they sit in the trees and look like Christmas decorations.
And I watched U.R hand feed a shrike thrush on Saturday morning on the verandah *swoon* – he then let the Smalls tend his vegetable garden…
And we were gifted two leeks…
On Saturday afternoon U.R and M took the Smalls on a wander to see Agnes Falls and the wind farms at Toora, while A.K and I partied wildly in their absence (i.e. talked each others heads off). She created a baked potato extravaganza that we all polished off – the key to easy gluten free being meat, veg and fruit…and liberal amounts of sour cream and cheese!
Sunday morning we packed up and our hosts chef-ed us a cooked breakfast. We were heading out with some members (A.K included, for she is a longtime eco-warrior, troublemaker, naturalist and propagator) of Binginwarri Landcare – to go on an orchid-spotting walk. The Smalls were thrilled, because she had wisely educated them a little on the topic when we had first arrived.
It was a great way to end our visit – and so interesting to visit a state forest and walk around with new eyes – ones that looked at the ground, examining for tiny blooms.
We learnt the names of different native orchids: white-fingers, pink-fingers, nodding greencap, donkey orchid, cougar orchid and dragon orchid. Someone saw a snake!
The mosquitos were there in clouds, but didn’t seem too bitey (we had liberally doused ourselves in insect repellant). We accompanied the group to two different sites and then made what we hoped was a graceful exit.
We toured homeward via Port Welshpool op-shop and park. Something tweaked at my memory and I asked the Smalls to stand on the anchor for a photo. Later I checked on Flickr – I had exactly the same one from about 16 months before…
We drove via Foster to Fish Creek – somewhere that has always been dear to my heart, but kind of let us down because the best cafe there only serves cake and the other two were both generally woeful. The only place we didn’t try (and should have) was the pub.
However, since our last visit (which was to attend her exhibition in the art supplies shop/gallery) Alison Lester has opened her own shop/gallery there. Her illustrations are just sublime – if I had a house with wall space, instead of a boat with none, I would be much poorer. We spent quite a while in there – I love to look at her preliminary sketches and see what they eventually blossomed into in her books. So. Many. Books! And a lovely couch and copies to read, copies to buy… It is very much worth a visit. The woodworking place ‘ride the wild goat’ next door is also excellent…
We stopped again in Leongatha – much quieter, it being a Sunday – and found foody consolation at Sweet Life – where we could eat pretty much EVERYTHING on the menu. The Smalls heads exploded when they realised they had actual gluten free ice cream cones. I heard Small Z saying, “I have been coeliac for so long and I have to always eat ice cream out of CUPS. CUPS. Are they REALLY gluten free, those cones?” They had one each…
Onward, through the countryside. Green hills, blue skies, bright sunshine and shadows. Sheep, cows, llamas. Chocolate plowed fields and then flat coastal plains with sandy tracks leading to unseen houses far off the road. I will never be able to drive around South Gippsland without part of my mind being with my dad.
The sun was still out when we got back to the boat, and a big moon was hanging low and white in the sky. We had a good weekend.