Ours was the only city or town the Olympic torch was coming to in Australia. So politics aside, I wanted to take the kids to see the culmination of the torch relay, at Commonwealth Park, where Ian Thorpe would be lighting the community cauldron with the torch.
Commonwealth Park is only 12 minutes from here, and I anticipated that, plus added an extra half hour to park and walk across the bridge to the Park. We ended up leaving home an hour and 10 minutes early.
Several things slowed us down:
1. The gifted hand signals from a myriad of gloved policemen, directing us through many and varied detours.
2. Being disoriented from the many and varied detours. we couldn't see our landmark, the Captain Cook Memorial Jet anywhere. It was only after parking; getting everyone out; the backpack on; setting up the pram; navigating several blocks of heavy, detoured traffic and taking a long hike over a bridge, that we saw the jet. But oh the horror! It was to the left of us, not where it should be, to the right. We were crossing the wrong bridge!
Back we trotted, over the bridge; navigated the several blocks of heavy, detoured traffic; found our car, dismantled the pram, stashed backpack, and buckled up ( are you getting a visual? Well, you should have heard the us! No swearing, of course, 'cause we don't, but we were not a happy bunch. I was not a popular mother at that moment.) But at least we now were longer disoriented! :)
3. Due to all the added security measures, getting to the Park was a long slow process. See the backs of Roly and Spindles? Well, moments earlier, that little path had been three lanes.
Thorpie had been and gone, and the cauldron well and truly lit by the time we got within earshot. Visibility was poor, because of all the crowds of pro-Chinese supporters who had arrived at the right time.
We basically took a couple pics and left! This makes our exit sound like a fast one. It wasn't. At one stage I had to stop and let over a hundred police cross the road. We went along Commonwealth Park's scenic drive a couple of times, due to unfriendly traffic not letting our lane merge into the real exit.
Nearly at the cauldron...
Beijing Games supporters
Could just make out the cauldron with as zoomy as my little digital would get. See it in the middle of the pic?
So if you are going to embark on a camping tip, some prior planning and preparation need to take place. I knew we had left it to the very last minute when we were crazily assembling the two tents in the living room the night before, to make sure that all the bits and pieces were there. We had two tents that went up obediently, but the poles for both flysheets (the extra layer that comes with some tents to protect the inside of the tent from rain.) were damaged since our move.
Otherwise, the rest of our packing went smoothly, and I had everything packed into the car the night before.
See, this was our big jaunt (sans Hubby, who is not on holidays) to the city of Melbourne to see my sister in law K,her Hubby, their two little girls and their new gorgeous baby. The kids and I thought we would camp at a nearby carvan park a couple nights, spending the daytime hours with our family, and then spend one night at their home.
The good news was that we got to the Big 4 park without a map, and without too much hassle.
The bummer was that in our tent assembling, we discovered that all the poles for Roly's tent were still in the living room at home!!!!! Roly was hugely disappointed, as the tent was a Christmas present that he had been hanging out to use.
Without the poles to set up the flysheet on our tent, I just draped it over the tent to hopefully give us a bit of added warmth for the night ahead.
On the way to and from the heated pool, I noticed two differences between us and the very few other campers. 1. Their sites were all on soft grass, whilst we had been allotted a big patch of hard pressed earth that had bent several tent pegs despite us wetting and softening it first. 2. Their tents all had neatly stretched flysheets, while our drooped sadly over our tent.
The great thing was that our tent was roomy enough for all of us, including the portable cot for Topsy.
Not so great was the fact that our camping collection lacks any folding chairs.
After buying a ready-made dinner and eating it on a busy Melbourne street, to absorb the Melbourne culture, we came back home and settled down for the night.
Roly insisted on sleeping in the car, as he had been deprived of his tent.
The fantastic thing about not having a folding table, chairs, and more than a dim lamp for lighting, was that we went to bed really early and told stories to each other for ages.
Not so fantastic was the reality of one's back being bruised by the hard ground. (note to self, take ourcamping mattresses next time!) Diva and I just about froze as well, as we had chosen not to layer.
I found the night so physically uncomfortable, I woke up resolved to tell K and A that we might come stay with them a night early. (By the way thankis Mom and Dad for your offer to upgrade us to a cabin. Much appreciated.) But the boys shouted me down. They loved the whole experience: grilling our toast over the little portable gas stove, toasting marshmallows, changing and getting ready for bed in lamp light, and the storytelling. They wanted theirvpromised length of camping time.
Diva, not so much.
She opted to have a sleepover with her cousins, and that was good, as she developed croup that night.
I plundered her sleeping bag and pillow, wore many more layers, borrowed some extra bedding from K and A. It was a much better night.
So, it could have been disastrous, but it was actually a really fun and memorable time. The fact that Topsy took to it so much surprised me. Every time we were away from the campsite, looking at the sights, Topsy would be asking to go back to sleep in the tent.
And the time spent with precious family was joyousl. We see them far too rarely, and I loved watching the cousins all interacting so naturally; loved cuddling new beautiful baby Alice; loved waching her two older sisters be simply their gorgeous selves; and LOVED 'gasbagging' with K. Too short, but lots of lovely memories fresh in our minds.
We had a staff meeting at the Botannical Gardens this morning. I took the opportunity to continue to take the digital off 'auto' and experiment with the settings. It sure is fun, but my main complaint is that sometimes when I am outside it is so bright I can't see how the photo really turned out till I get home and check it out on my computer.
The wedding we went to was lovely. here is the groom (Hubby's cousin) waiting for his bride to arrive. And here she is after the ceremony. And the food at the reception was so scrummy. Lovely to catch up with lots of Hubby's family too. :) Here are a couple pics of our family at the reception. Roly is on the right below. Note that he and his sister used the ribbon on their table decoration as head pieces. Spindles was not around at photo time.
( And yes, she has got both a sausage and a toy in her mouth in the photo above. Vintage Lucy....)
Today, a quick drop- in to the vet with Lucy turned into much more. Her ear was obviously bothering her; I thought it must be a flea. The vet found a grass seed, but also found that Lucy had a serious heart murmur. He said she would probably only last another year, being at least 12 in his estimate, but that she could start an intensive treatment once she stopped being capable of going for walks.
I nearly let my jaw hit the floor once I heard him mention that the surgery for the grass seed would coast $400, specially as she was now scratching and rubbing hard at the other ear as well!
I signed the consent forms for her surgery, then left.
And then I began to do the math of how much the two ears and her heart treatment would cost. to keep Lucy alive for an extra year. And we could not do it, in any way.
With a churning gut I called the vet, and said there was no way we could get Lucy treatment for her heart and that we felt that euthanizing her was the only option. How guilty I still feel about making that decision, even though we could not have footed the bill to keep her here the extra year. It still feels awful
So at lunch time, the kids' faithful friend was put to sleep.
Here are some pics of her and the kids saying goodbye at the vet's. She was overjoyed to see us, but distracted by the irritation in both ears. (she did have grass seed in both, it turns out)
Understandably, it has been a surreal and terribly sad day, with a great many tears. Diva was especially close to Lucy; her heart is shattered.
It's funny; I called her 'dumb dog' more than I called her "Lucy', but so much of our day is linked to her, and it keeps surprising me when I don't see her little face pressed against the window, looking in hopefully for her walk.
By the way, any who are photo minded and are keen to give me constructive criticism, check out the photos at
If you needed a translation, all you non-Aussies (and let me say, this is a country singer so he is pretty liberal with his 'Aussie' accent), let me know!
I have started an online photography course. I want to become really adept with my basic digital, so that I can justify getting a digital SLR sometime this year. So I am reacquainting myself with aperture, ISO, shutter speed etc; skills whichI don't get to practise on my digital. Instead I am fine tuning these skills thanks to Shutterbee, a website that simulates an SLR camera,where you can fiddle with the aperture and shutter speed to learn what works best in what setting. Pretty cool.
Here are a couple of my practise,experimental shots.
Of course it WOULD be the day of school photos that Diva is sick. There really is no way I could even bring her in just for the photo. She is simply too ill. Wednesday night it all started with her vomiting. The next day there was much vomiting in the morning and diarrhoea the rest of the day. I thought she was improved last night, but she stumbled in to us, hot and shaking, for a glass of water at midnight.
The boys got the 'School Photo Talk' on the way in the car. You know the one. It goes something like this:
Before the photo session, one must go to the bathroom and check:
1. that one's hair is neat
2. that no morning tea remains lodged in one's smile, and ...
3. that the aforementioned smile is photoworthy!
Petty you might be thinking? Then background information is necessary.
A couple of years ago I opened up the school photos envelopes with relish, only to see a horror before me. I had spent a lot of time that morning on Diva's hair for the photo day, and she had gone to school looking divine! But after taking off her school jumper, then having to pull it back on for the photo, one braid stuck out at a Pippi Longstocking angle. And the front of her hair was a halo of static hair from all the pulling off and on of the jumper!
Spindles hair was fine but for a cowlick at the side that stuck up like an unfortunate 'do from a certain movie. Ironic isn't it, that Spindles has not had a cowlick either before or since! Grrr. He still insists that the photographer wet his hair down with a comb, and that it was an unfortunate itch on his scalp (that he attended to at the last second) that caused the particular offence! spindles has a delightful smile in real life, but sometimes it doesn't translate for the camera. He looked a bit pained and strained, sadly. And as for Roly... well, with my careful fixing of Diva's hair, and wetting down of Spindles', Roly seemed ready to go, with his hat on and bag by the door. I gave his teeth a look over, but in the pre-school rush I didn't take his hat off to give his hair a look. Well I got a look, when I saw his school photo! The front had been done, but the back was all bedhead and messy. And he was all shrugged down in the picture, so he didn't even have a neck!
A real waste of $75.
The pics were not even worth keeping, though I never threw them out because I am sure they will have use as collateral at some stage! *wicked grin*
Overheard: Topsy to the policeman who was at our street to look at the damage to the next door neighbour's car: 'A naughty man broke my Mummy's car.'
Ummm, not so much need for speech therapy, methinks. :)