Monday, 31 January 2011

In the garden :: Part I - strawberries

sweet bounty

As much as I love heading down the coast for a month each year, I have to say that I knew that I was going to miss my garden this year. So much that I actually snuck back to Melbourne, twice, just for a day trip each time, so that I could observe, tinker and tend to my bourgeoning garden. There was a little fertilising to be done, some pruning and tying, and a little eating too.

enjoying the spoils

When I did finally get home, and back to my garden, there was lots of work to be done, hours and hours in fact. Mostly I did enjoy it, although I will admit to a little 'tomato stress' but more on that later...

The first job was to tend to my strawberry plants, partly because there was some lovely, ripe, juicy fruit {with much thanks to my Uncle who watered my garden {amongst other things} throughout the time that we were away} providing incentive for my little helper to come and join me.

harvest help

With so much rain this season, I was not surprised to find quite a bit of fruit rotting on the plans, so we had two tubs on the go. One of the tubs was for the runners that needed removing, and the fruit that had gone past it's best, but still made a great addition to the compost heap; the other tub was for the ripe fruit, while plentiful, didn't last more that five minutes once it was harvested from the plants... my kids made off with it and devoured the lot in a couple of minutes {very similar, I believe, to the way that they ate your blackberries Dad)

[yum]

I will confess though, before you think me an exceptional gardener, my other strawberry patch, the one where I planted the runners way back in August, is a disaster. The strawberries are just running amok, literally, there are runners everywhere, down the side of the bed, all through it, and none of them are fruiting, not a bloody one. On top of that my herbs are out. of. control... and on the whole, I am still ignoring that bed, it needs quite a bit of work. Maybe next week?

Meanwhile, I'm going back out to see if I can find another little red gem.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Our Shack :: where the living is easy...

Most of my friends who go away at Christmas, go and stay in gorgeous holiday houses over the Summer break, most are owned by their parents, but still, they head on down the peninsula or the coast and stay in a house {possibly} nicer than the one that they live in year round. I've always thought that the digs that we camp in over the Summer holiday is unusual, that maybe we're the only ones who do it this way.

shack :: simon griffiths

According to a new book on the market, this perception that I've been harbouring is not so... Simon Griffiths has put together a beautiful book celebrating the iconic Australian Shack, in it he says:

"... todays shacks are cheery places. Many people choose to live in one rather than a 'proper' home, or to take a break in one rather that a luxurious holidays house. They opt for an uncomplicated life and a place that makes few demands on them. Many also want to help reduce our footprint on the planet - it's an ecological as well as a lifestyle choice to consume less, to reduce energy usage, to make family and friends rather than possessions the centre, and to enjoy the simpler pleasures. Shacks make people happy."

piles of 'good' stuff

tropical shackscoastal shacksfancy shack
{+click image for larger}

I heard Simon talking about his book last week on the radio, and he talked about the years that it had taken to fossick out all of these hideaways, the traveling around Australia and meeting these people who choose a more simple approach to life {or at least a part of their life} and of course it made me think about our 'beach shack'.

Considering that the book has flown off the shelves over the Christmas period, it goes to show that we really do like looking at other peoples spaces, not just the architecturally designed, and designer appointed spaces, but also the more down-to-earth spaces that make us feel closer to nature, where the taste of the food, the sound of the wind and waves, and the converstations with family and friends are what take centre stage.

So on this basis, and before that Summer vibe totally fades away, I thought I'd give you a little look around our 'beach shack'

shack :: this is it

This is our actually camp, there is a toilet and another caravan {the 'back-van' for guests} behind it, but this is the space that we eat in, sleep in, play in and relax in. Our queen size bed is in behind that brick wall, and has a massive mosquito net over it which keeps the bugs out, while we lay in bed with our fluro light on, reading. The kids all sleep in the old caravan, it has two rooms, the back on with two single beds where Angus & Daisy sleep and store their clothes, and the front one which has Mia's full-size cot and her clothes. We bath the kids in here each night, and sometimes hide in here if their is something going on outside that we don't want to be part of {ie: a swarm of bees passing through springs to mind}.

shack :: hang out space

This is where we hang out. A couple of lounge chairs that get the midday sun, a school desk for the kids to draw or paint at, the table {because I must have one} where we eat, read magazines, chat, and dump our stuff on.

shack :: breakfast time

We have a massive fire-place {you can see the chimney at the top right of the photo} that we use for kitchen purposes, a camp-oven roast perhaps. I think we'll use it more in years to come, when the kids are a bit more aware, but for the moment it's just had an overhaul to make it draw better. For most of our cooking we use a three-burner gas cooktop... so cooking at the camp is remarkably similar to cooking at home.

shack :: cooking

Right at the top you can see our dishwashing space, that's the only tap in our camp and carries beautiful cold rainwater in, we boil the kettle on our gas stove for hot water, but the cold is great for drinking, and handy that it's right there. The sink is 'plumbed' so that the water is carried off down the hill when we pull the plug out {so much easier that lugging a tub of water outside to chuck out}.

shack :: helping

We didn't build this camp, I have my Dad to thank for that, but since we took it over we've certainly changed it a lot on the inside to suit our family... and now we are lucky enough to have a totally relaxing space to escape to for a month at the end of yet another busy year and reconnect with each other and with the environment that surrounds us.

shack :: locals

Of course there are always some of the 'locals' that are glad when we finally pack up and leave, I bet they missed their comfy-cozy home that they moved out of the first night we were there.

Friday, 28 January 2011

We're home... in more ways than one.

she wanted a fringe

We're home. A day pottering around dismantling some infrastructure {like the 4 man dome tent that served as a play room}, an evening gathering our things from near and far, and a morning of packing and loading up the cars and trailer. We were ready to hit the road at half-past-ten... not too bad really.

Our drive home was safe, although not without a few scares {namely some moron who pulled across the front of Cam to pull over on the wrong side of the road, with Cam coming towards him at 100km/h....!) and the kids descended on our house like they had been totally toy deprived for a month. It kept them busy while we unpacked.

so she did it herself

... or so I thought.

I looked at Daisy about an hour {or so} after arriving home and thought to myself, gee she looks like I used to. It wasn't until a few minutes later that I jerried as to why; she was sporting a very short fringe {just like to one that I had in grade five}.

Turns out there was one stray pair of scissors in the house {that Angus had received for Christmas} and she'd decided to give herself a haircut {and hide the evidence under the couch}. Of course I did my block at her, but later {much later} after I'd evened it up a bit, I could recognise that it does look quite nice. The chunk out of the side can be pulled back with a pretty hairclip, and the short length of the fringe really does suit her.

.... and she saved me ten bucks at the hairdresser, so really I can't complain too much.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

summer holidays :: all good things come to an end

free to run

Our summer holidays are quickly drawing to a close, even though I'm ready to go home, it's still hard to leave this place. The nights spent listening to the waves rolling in, the wind through the trees, the dog snoring under my bed, my kid sleeping a meter away from me grumbling in his sleep, the freedom to roam, to play in our very own creek, to catch butterflies, to climb trees, to collect pine cones, to see beautiful wild animals roaming free, to walk to any number of different beaches, and not see another soul...

running & splashing

enjoying the warm water

swimming in the shallows

the best tidal pool

We took our last trip to the beach today, and it could not have been more perfect. The tide was really, really low, and had left a tidal pool just perfect for littles to swim in. The sun had warmed to water so it was more like a salty bath, and they splashed and 'swam' and ran between the breakers and the pool for an hour or more. The time just flew by.

teeth chattering cold

warming up in the sun

Eventually the excitement died down and the chill set in, and it was a pale and shivering daisy that emerged from the water to be rugged up in a couple of towels and sat in the sun while I plied her with popcorn. We then played in the sun until their skin was lovely and warm again, a quick dip, and it was time for our final goodbye to the beach {for this summer at least}

last walk home {for this summer}

and back to camp via the very well beaten track...

Sunday, 23 January 2011

summer holidays :: time with friends

water play is better with friends

We were lucky enough to have friends join us for a weekend of camping fun. After nearly four weeks of our own company it was very exciting to have someone new to hang out with, talk with, and show the sights; and not just me either, the same applied to the kids!

joining in...

sandals and sand

We took an outing to the 'surf' beach with Mia in tow, and I was reminded again why we've been doing most of our beach visits while she has her daytime sleep; I mean, really, look at that hair. I've also discovered that my baby is a 'bolter', one word from me and she cracks her cheeky grin and runs the other direction. She's getting pretty fast too.

Normally the bolting is okay, but on the beach, fully dressed {including leather sandals} it didn't take long for my nerves to fray...

the long path home

... doesn't look like Mia was all that concerned though, and she happily walked back to the gate {where our seventies-mobile* was waiting}

bff

Thank-you my friend, for coming to visit. We had a blast and are quite relieved that you came through the experience unscathed. See you on the flip side.

* seventies-mobile is the nickname given to our 2008 Ford Focus as it was used** to cart beach gear, kids and grown-ups alike all around the property. Kids on laps, or hanging out the window feeling the wind in their hair... just like living in the seventies.

** because there was no way that my shiny black 4wd was getting a scratch on it, or getting sand and dirt through the interior. I'm precious like that.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

summer holidays :: after the children fall asleep

waiting

Many a night, after the kids are safely tucked up in bed, Cam will grab his backpack and rod and head off into the night. His earphones wedged in {listening to the latest tune that he needs to learn} he sets off to {sit} on his rock and catch us some fish. The tide has to be just right, and he fishes from his secret spots {some of them divulged from more experienced fishermen who don't have the cartilage to get out there much anymore, but are hoping to enjoy the spoils just the same}.

I never get an invite. It's his time, away from the noise and stress of camp, a place to recharge and replenish his soul. I get that.

caught

So I was quite surprised when he asked me to join him; really both of us don't see me as the 'girlfriend type' who will sit on a rock and watch her husband fish. I don't eat fish {although this summer I finally tried some again and it wasn't too bad} so I don't see the point of dropping a line in myself.

I asked him why exactly he wanted me to come?... In years gone by we've spent many an evening going for a walk around the property or along the beach after the kids have gone to bed. This year that didn't happen. I think that I was just so 'done' after a very busy year, and most evenings I would be in bed before dark, watching a movie on my ipod or reading a book; so he thought that it would be nice to have some time together.

sunset fishing

So out I traipsed, I even sat on a rock for a while and watched him fish, maybe even commentating a little, and reading my book. Then I got jack of that and headed off to make my own fun. A walk along the beach, checking out the tunnel {and trying to decide if the kids are old enough to treck this far down the beach}, more photos, and eventually playing in the beach pebbles...

playing in the rocks

A little late I know, but a happy new year to ya'all... {and a big Happy Birthday to you too Robyn!!}

Sunday, 16 January 2011

summer holidays :: climbing the trees

tree climbing

Someone {who shall remain nameless} was adamant that the gum trees around our camp would not, could not, fall over because of the large pine trees that are planted at their base. Sure they are all rather, um, leaned {?} but the pine is holding their roots in place, so that definitely can not fall.

showing me his tricks

Um, well, the tree could not have been listening, because the very next day I glanced down the hill to see a very low tree {as in fallen sideways, but not quite yet, on the ground} Just leaning? Yeah, right!?!

she can climb too

It didn't take them long to discover that it was pretty good for climbing, and they spent the much time playing... at least they can enjoy it until someone gets around to cutting it up for firewood.

ps: have you noticed that Daisy's not getting her mug on the blog much lately....

such a happy face... not!

It's got much to do with this 'happy face' that she pulls whenever I point to camera in her direction. Hoping this will pass soon.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

summer holidays :: riding like a boy

on the ground

Amidst much encouragement, practice, helmet and bike chucking, temper tantrums {his and mine}, goading, and psychological warfare, my boy has come far and is now riding his bike down the hill.

he's riding

He has to get his pedal 'just so' before he can take off, but once that's done he's very good at pedaling down the hill. He's pretty fast too, and can win a race with us grown-ups {but that's partially because he can't quite hold his line yet, and overtaking him is fraught with peril}

skidding

Of course, being such the boy that he is, it didn't take him long to work out how to use that foot brake to make big skids in the dirt. On ya!!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

summer holidays :: the locked lighthouse

the locked lighthouse

Cam took the kids to have a look see at the local lighthouse today, they were most disappointed to discover that the door was indeed locked. Apparently they tried quite hard to get it open, to no avail.

Later on, when they were back at camp, I had the pleasure of hearing all about the things that they imagined were in the lighthouse. It reminded me of the magical world that I was sure existed under the third paver on the way out to the clothesline, when I was a child.

Monday, 10 January 2011

summer holidays :: just walkin'

let's go for a walk

triple trouble

Some days we just hang around camp, read magazines, shoo the kids away, and then tell them off for going to far, or getting up to mischief. Some days it would be nice to take a holiday from this parenting gig... no reflection on them, or really on ourselves, just life. Some days we just need to get up, get out, get walking, and change our energy.

climbing

collecting firewood

They are always glad of an outing, even though they don't really see the point of 'just going for a walk'. In their minds their has to be a reason, or a destination... so they set about making their own, and collecting some firewood for Grandpa's fire {I'm not sure that he even got it in the end, but hey, they were having fun}

best buddies

and by the end of our walk, we were all feeling a lot happier with each other.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

summer holidays :: water play

head dripping fun

{pretend} hair washing


It was one of those days today, warm enough that you know you should be at the beach, but also warm enough to now want to sit in the blasting sun on the beach... so the next best thing? pull out the wading pool, fill it with water and send the kids in.

There was much jumping in and out, splashing and dunking of heads, but when the fun ran out... who stepped in?

running under the sprinkler

Grandpa of course.

We have two creeks that run through the property, so we are not even being 'wallies' with water here... we pump from one, the kids get to play under the sprinkler, the water runs off and down the hill into the other creek, and then further down-stream both creeks merge to run into the ocean.

We are thinking that next year, if it is as wet as this year has been {ie: so that the creeks are actually running} we are going to set up a slip-and-slide down the hill. Now how fun with that be?