Is anyone out there?
I have left for a while and now I sit here with ten minutes up my sleeve and I can’t do the thing I really want to do and I don’t want to do the thing I really should be doing?… So I am left in the middle of this and that.
I’m out of practice and so I waffle.
So peeps here is a little of Australia for you. A piece you may find interesting and a piece that you may not believe.
This weekend was a long weekend, meaning Monday is a non working day for most workers, except of course the poor supermarkets, petrol stations, cafes, etc. We have the Adelaide cup on Monday, but other states still get the day off, they just call it something else! We went on a road trip to Stawell Victoria. Stawell is about 6 hours from where we are. Over 600 kms away. To see some friends.
We hopped in the car Saturday morning and travelled through one small deserted town after another. We stopped for lunch, walked the dog around and ran the kids around the playground for a bit.
We arrived in Stawell about half past two; hard to say the exact time as there is a half hour difference in time zones. Immediately our kids run off with their grandkids, jump in the pool, play in the rooms, talk minecraft. They are not to be seen again until there is food. The friends we are visiting are busy roasting two sides of pork, two of lamb and about six chickens. They are helping cater for tonight’s shindig (party). That is why we are here. We were invited to their daughter’s thirtieth birthday.
We have been friends with Bree and Rod for years. Stu lived with them for a while before I met him. They looked after him and Stu was good fun and helped out when he could. They had teenage children then, three from Bree’s first relationship. Nice kids. Rod was Stu’s best man. So it’s nice to catch up now and then and what better excuse than a party?
So they are cooking and cutting meat to get ready to take down to the pub where they are holding the party. It is then that they remind me of my parents. They want to help, they want to do whatever they can, but they get stressed doing it. At the last minute before we head off to the pub Brenda has a shower and puts on her dress. I have been ready for a while, but she has been busy with the food. I tell her to relax, she doesn’t but smiles anyway. We run the food down and then come back to get the rest of them. Stu and I pile the kids into the car and head off to the pub.
The pub is the only one still running on a full time roster in the town. Once upon a time there were over seven working pubs in the town, now it seems there is a shift as the town is decreasing in population and popularity. There is still a community there, still an industry, but something has certainly changed, even since I lived there.
Inside this pub I am pleasantly surprised at the state of the interior, not that I stay inside long, they have booked the beer garden. Now what I didn’t mention is that this was to be a surprise party. Okay. I asked before we left whether she knew. Apparently her kids had told her when they complained about not being invited. Her brothers kids. Anyway, she knew, but didn’t know that we knew. And the plot thickens…
We stand out the back and drink on the fake grass. The weather is nice and the garden has been decorated well. I sit and talk to their other daughter who’s husband just left her for a much younger woman. Arse.
It is not long before the guest of honor is announced. The blinds are shut so she can’t see us. Ooooh the drama. She unzips the door and flounces through in a wedding dress and flowers. It is not a surprise party after all, but rather a surprise wedding. The celebrant call her and her partner of ten years to the front of the garden. He goes through the vows, rings, kisses etc. There are cheers and smiles, kisses and “did you know?””Oh my God! That was such a surprise!””You guys” etc.
For a while I can hide in the chaos of it all.
I see Stu buzz from one guest to another. I hover between people I don’t know at all and people I know a little. I would like to find a corner to hide. Instead I hover. I smile. I take children to the toilet and listen to grandparents and friends talk about people I don’t know and events I was never at. I would like to just get drunk, but I have said I would drive Stu and the others home if needed. I want a drink. I don’t, because I want to be stuck here less. It’s nine and time to take the children home. The pub won’t allow them to stay any longer. I wonder if this is the law or whether someone just wants the kids home. Either way I don’t mind.
I get lost on the way home and end up growling like a wounded bear as the kids sit in the darks silenced by my anxious grumbles. In my defence it is dark and Stawell is known as the worst engineered town in Australia as it was a Gold mining town, still is, and the roads were established through the the bullock tracks. At least that’s what Stu tells me and I am just not interested enough to to check up on his story, so I believe him. It sounds plausible.
I get back to the house and put the kids to bed. They go to sleep like angels and I stay up drinking. A drink at last. I make a cocktail out of their spirits and break an ice maker. Oops. I’m not even drunk, just stoopid. I don’t drink anymore after that. I have a coffee and listen to stories that I hear Stu tell every time we are with them. He reminisces. It’s funny. For a bit. He is making some of the other stayers laugh. I start to fall asleep so I leave him there…
I sleep. The next day starts again, but this time it starts and stays at the house. I go for a walk early.
I have been on this walk before, but I have to share with you what it was like. I also have to admit that I had forgotten how long and hard this walk is. Bree and Rod’s place is almost in the shrub. They have a bit of land around them and then there is park land around the corner. I walked up the road towards the gold mine. I took our dog with me. I didn’t take my phone with me. A couple of times I wondered whether I should have. In total I saw about seven cars in my hour walk. I went past the mine, which was working. Noisey with a few trucks and things churning. Part of me is curious, part disgusted, part guilty. I look at my golden wedding ring and keep walking.
Up the hill. I am heading, I think, to Big Hill, the lookout of the town. I know it’s up here somewhere but I keep walking and I feel like I am never going to get there. Sparse thinly planted gums pepper the acres around me. It is here that I think I really need to get fit! I keep going. I see the radio aerial that indicates it’s just down here. We spot a kangaroo and Ollie jumps forward. A car hasn’t passed in a while. Here is when I think I should have brought my phone. On my left are large dams that have been dug for the mine. The earth looks sad. A solitary duck swims on the surface.
I am there. Big Hill. There is a car parked here. An old classic car that whirs when it starts. The view is stunning. I sit for a moment and breath it in. My legs pulsate and I think I should just keep going. The clouds sit low on the mountains. The Grampians sit in dark blue peaks. I can almost hear them. Teaming with wildlife and greenery. Every year or two it goes up in flames. Sometimes it threatens close towns. Today it looks happy. There hasn’t been much rain and things are dry, but there is moisture in the air.
I head down the hill. I think this is the way I cam last time, although I can’t be too sure. I still feel nervous as I know the closest houses wouldn’t hear me if I screamed. I kid to myself that my shin high puppy would look after me… I feel a little better. I take a short cut by the back of some houses. I immediately regret my decision as I feel more vulnerable. Two more kangaroos. I am somewhat reassured by their presence. At last I see the house, but can’t walk quicker to get there. I am panting. I think I need to do this more often, not here, but home (walk that is, not feel scared and anxious!)
Well at least I have wasted some time. We head off down the street for some food for lunch. The supermarket is the same chain as the one in Victor and that is comforting. We are drinking before we eat. We watch the kids in the pool until others arrive and do the same. We eat and chat. I catch up on all of the gossip of the family. It is easy to listen. I ask questions, do dishes, comment on the food and cake. I drink another as the weather heats up. I dive under the water and swim with the kids. They play badminton and I watch my thirteen year old listen to their stories and I think that I should have a talk with him when we get home.
I put the kids to bed and eventually everyone leaves. We sit in the lounge and vaguely watch the end of a movie that we’ve never seen. I excuse myself after Bree does. We have another six hour drive tomorrow.
And so we are home. I slept, dreamt and drove the way home. We barely spoke. I am sure the other knew what they would say. The wait at the ferry meant a u-turn and back track that added an extra hour to our trip. In the last part we played games and laughed, we were back.
I should be putting on washing and emptying my suitcase. I’m not.
Maybe this is just a diary entry, sorry about that!