On Sunday night M’s cousin Margaret came to stay over. She lives up near Lake Macquarie in NSW. She’d driven down in her new silver diesel ute to stay with friends in Melbourne for a week, and also to see another one of her cousins over in Greensborough.
I’d almost forgotten she was coming, as M had mentioned it once or twice, but I never had any idea who he was talking about. I had never heard of cousin Margaret – although it turns out I have met her brother, who I liked very much. Anyway, she showed up on Sunday afternoon. She’s a few years older than M – although it has to be said, M is fairly famed for not particularly looking his age.
The first thing I thought of was how much she looked like M’s mum – Faye – who is no longer around. After sitting at the table with her over several cups of tea and coffee I became more and more fixated. I couldn’t get over it. Her mannerisms, the way she said things. I secretly got up and composed myself a few times because I just found it quite unsettling – in a good way. She is lovely, lot’s of fun – and like me, loves her macbook and writing. She works as a subeditor on a daily newspaper, and I looked at her with envious eyes – I’ve always thought I might like to do that!
Here’s a few pictures.
And here is one of my favourite photos – taken probably around 1999 or so. M and I took Faye out to breakfast the day that we were leaving to drive back to Melbourne. She thought that ‘going out for breakfast’ sounded like an extremely foreign and decadent thing to do…. We went to a little cafe by the beach somewhere around Budgewoi, I think, and I jumped into a rockpool for a swim. Lovely.
I don’t want to write the d-word, but nor do I like the term ‘passed away’. So I suppose I’ll just say that my beautiful little Nan left the building today. Thankfully my mum has been over there in Marblehead staying with her at my aunty’s house because her health had been going downhill. Last week the whole family got together for Thanksgiving – including Small Brother who zoomed over from New York. I am so glad.
Small Z, M and I have been in touch via Skype over the past week or so, never knowing that our time to talk to Nan was running out. I am so glad she was at home with her family right up to the endpoint. And I am equally grateful that my mother took it upon herself to get M, Small Z and I over there back in June to spend time with Nan. We have some lovely photos and some video, particularly of Nan and Small Z, that I am so thankful to have.
When I was little I had a Grandma (my dad’s mum) and Nana Joy (her name was Joy). Of course I only saw my Nan every so often because she lived so far away. However, I have always appreciated her humour and her ease in any situation. She came and stayed with us up in Queensland, M and I took her to Daylesford in our HiAce van, and we also went out sailing on the trimaran. This is when my Nan was about 84 years old. She was such good value. It feels so odd. I MISS her. I love you, Nan.
What a week. M’s eldest sister arrived from Hervey Bay on Tuesday, after we had a weekend full of people staying over and then the 2nd birthday of Small E on an action packed Puffing Billy ride. It was great to see M’s sister, who came primarily to make an acquaintance with Small Z – her niece.
We had not all seen each other since 2006. I was in awe of her escaping her committments to her grandchildren and the restaurant and aquarium to spend five days in the arse end of nowhere. It was lovely. Small Z got lots of presents, which helped the bonding process no end! On Friday night M and Jan stole across the road and quickly and painlessly removed a small pine branch, and brought it home to stand in the hall. Small Z’s first Christmas Tree!!
It was odd how quickly she took to it. She cantered around it making us sing Jingle Bells while Jan decked it out in her streamers made from Christmas paper. We hung the two glass angels that she had given Small Z and I, and added in some old fake pearls of my grandma’s and a ‘silver’ fairy wand of Small Z’s for the top. She thought it was heaven.
Saturday we drove to the city via Hampton, where M picked up a slide he had bought on eBay. As Jan had to leave early Sunday morning (7.30am) we had booked a cheap hotel room for Saturday night to avoid driving into the city, back out, and then back in to the airport…and home again. What we booked were two queen beds. We assumed they were in separate rooms. We assumed wrong.
After a day schlepping around. Lots of time in the car. Some time on a tram. We met up with M’s other sister, who happened to be in Melbourne (she lives in Sydney). Small Z got more presents! We hit a cafe and then spent an hour or so in the garden near the fountain near Parliament House on Spring Street. It seems that not only do a lot of people get married on Saturday – they also appear to be obsessed by having their photographs taken right near where we were sitting…
We walked back toward Flinders Street Station via Fed Square and the book market. We stopped for more refreshments and were happy to see the Box Hill Community Arts Centre Choir performing! Small Z was particularly happy with this. (I love the bit at the very last frame where she throws her hands into the air…)
M, Small Z, Jan and I said goodbye to M and Jan’s other sister, Yvonne and her partner and then got a tram back to our hotel. The one with two queen beds. In the Same. Room. Small Z was exhausted from the day and conked almost straightaway. M had brought in some beer and wine, so Jan and I sipped some white as we watched (some very relaxing) trashy television. Small Z slumbered throughout.
However. The night was fraught after we all got into bed. M later reported that he thought Jan snored all night ‘like a banshee’, and this kept waking Small Z up. I didn’t hear any of that, but I was woken by Small Z about a million times, and by 4am we all gave up any pretense of sleeping. M was bitten by a grumpy, sleep deprived bug and said something to Jan like;
“How about I drive you to the airport now?”
“But it’s FOUR in the MORNING? My flight isn’t until seven thirty?!”
“Well, there’s an ISSUE with SNORING and it keeps waking Z up…”
I dived under the doona and pretended nothing was happening. M took himself off to stand under the shower. Jan got up and began getting her stuff together. They left at about 5am. I couldn’t help feeling that after a lovely week together, M had sabotaged the lot with a badly calculated swipe. She ended up at the airport at FIVE THIRTY in the morning TWO HOURS before her flight. Oh, the shame.
M returned bearing fruit salad containing grapes, moments after Small Z (who had deigned to slumber between 5.30am and 6.30am) had squawked, “We go HOME now? We go home? Take Zoe-zie HOME to eat some GRAPES?”
We all ate fruit salad in bed for a while, M and I discussing the extent of his faux pas…
“We didn’t talk much on the way to the airport,” he said, musing over a strawberry.
“What about when you go there and stuff?” I asked. “Did you go for a coffee?”
“Um.” said M, spearing another grape, “Noooo. She told me not to bother parking and I just left her out the front.”
I felt the fingers of creeping doom, and cringed back into the pillow. Evil M. I let Evil M have a hour of sleep by taking Small Z into the bathroom and playing in the bath. Later that day he rang Jan and apologised for being an insensitive sod. Thank god. I was afraid that Small Z would not see her aunty again until she was about seventeen.
We had a lovely Boxing Day at Loch – a feast of wondrous proportions. Champagne. Splodge the cat. Unholy amounts of smoked trout, D’Affinois and soy and honey drumsticks. Followed by a cream cake. Small Z had a snooze in the caravan, and was delighted to receive a new book and some Thomas the Tank Engine shaped… PASTA?! Ha!
People lingered until around 6pm, and Small Z and I retired an hour or so after that. I continue to enjoy waking up in the caravan – particularly at Loch where you can listen to birds and cows beginning their day. It’s nice to then tiptoe across damp grass to the house, where there is often a pot of tea underway. I particularly like the new windows in the bathroom that grants the reflected a sort of smoothed, well-lit, blemish free view. A lovely way to start the day…
We set off to Binginwarri at around 10.30am, hoping that Small Z would sleep. We stopped briefly at Korumburra op-shop, where they were having a sale, and then continued on, with Small Z becoming more and more fractious, translating into raised stress levels for driver M. I relocated to the backseat in an effort to alleviate both situations, and actually managed to READ Small Z to sleep by using a very sleepy boring voice… A feat that has never occurred before. Naturally this occurred two minutes before arriving at Roy and Kaye’s *groan* meaning there had to be a quick transfer from backseat to caravan bed…
We had been unaware that lunch was going to be awaiting us, and had several starving people cursing our lateness, in a friendly fashion. We stayed two nights, with each day hotter than the next and a tiger snake spotted on the final day. On the 27th (Happy Birthday Small Brother!!) we all ventured down to Port Albert, where we got some sublime fish and chips from the tarted up place near the pier. I remembered reading a review of it not long ago…
We left in the late afternoon on the 28th, after Kaye showed Small Z her first frog and we got to scope out the cousin’ssqueeze (Hi KL!) We paused at Port Welshpool to give Small Z a run and to see if we could replicate the fish and chip experience of the previous day. We did! Go to the place nearest to the pier…It’s interesting that only a few days after this, there was an article in The Age discussing the rarity of fish and chip shops that were able to use locally caught fish.
Sated by our food, we decided to call up Loch and ask if we would be able to stay the night on the way back. Glad we did – as it was dark by the time we got there and Small Z was valiantly hoicking her eyelids wide. It was a nice way to finish our post-Christmas journey. In the morning we made scrambled eggs and watched the first episode of Beachcomber Cottage on iView – he reminded me somewhat of Donal MacIntyre.
We arrived back home at around 1pm and I was thrilled to discover the letterbox piled high with all the books I had ordered from the Book Depository. Better late than never. I had warned the residents of Loch that their gifts were in the mail…