Each year now we take a few days off and stay somewhere cheap and lovely and relaxing.
The last 3 years we have ventured too far for the time frame (5 hour drives to Bright and Lakes Entrance, and a propellar-plane trip to Merimbula), so this year we went as close as you can get to the outskirts of Melbourne, to Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula. We were actually aiming closer than that - Mornington or Dromana - but couldn't get accommodation close to the beach there.
One hour after backing out of our driveway, we pulled into the driveway of our motel.
It was a classic beachside motel: 12 little rooms in a row, each with a carpack in front, on the highway facing the beach. There was a poolroom, barbecue, garden with sunlounges, and a swimming pool.
Here is the view from our room:
We were all a little excited that the motel had Foxtel - forgetting that "Foxtel" offered by a motel is Showtime showing three movies on a loop, 3 sports channels and Nickolodean running a Sponge Bob Square Pants marathon.
Of course you don't go on holiday to watch TV (unless you are my husband or one of my daughters, both of whom could quite happily sit and watch TV much of the day), so we only watched it for family-friendly stuff in the evenings, all squished up together on the queen bed in the main room.
But we did see one excellent movie while we were there. No, not Little Fockers - though yes, we watched that too - but Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which is fantastic. We all watched that and the kids loved it and laughed at all the funny bits and seemed to "get" the whole thing, which was fun. I recommend this movie if you have kids dealing with peer pressure or social anxiety, which is every kid in the whole world.
Apart from TV, these were the other highlights and main memories of our holiday:
The Swimming Pool
Being on holiday with kids means spending more hours a day in a swimming pool than you thought possible. For the first two days we couldn't drag the kids away from it. As neither can properly swim, that meant one of us had to be in there with them the whole time, which meant me. (Y is not a strong swimmer, coming from Greece where people do not swim so much as lounge on the beach in deck chairs with frappe coffee. Not coming from our swimmy beachy millieu he is also not quite vigilant/paranoid enough about watching the kids in the water every single second - so it is usually me that minds them in the water; though after two days of almost constantly being in the pool I was starting to rope him into it).
On Day Three we put our foot (feet?) down and insisted to the kids that we were going to the beach before stepping one more foot into the swimming pool, and furthermore that they would like it.
And they did, of course.
My grandparents moved to Blairgowrie on the Peninsula when I was a kid so we spent many summers there, and I have always loved the "front beaches" in the area. Soft white sand, whisper-quiet, and shallow water as smooth and flat as glass. That's how I like my beaches: like a bath. I've always been a wimp with beaches - I didn't even like going to the beach until I hit the Mediterranean in my twenties - and the "back beaches" with their crashing surf, slippery rocks, gritty sand and wind have always scared me silly. I have no intention of ever swimming in one again. Not that I really clocked up much time swimming in the surf when I was a kid. Of our group of cousins at the beach, I was the kid sitting in a rockpool or hunched over on my towel on the sand, head bent against the sand flying in my face and the fat blowflies, miserable from heat, thirst and sunburn, and willing the time to come to go home.
Ah, good times!
So, give me a "front beach" any day. Like this:
The beaches all the way along Rosebud are reached by crossing the highway, walking through the sleepy caravan campsites and then crossing a very small ridge of "dunes" to the beach itself. The beaches are flat, calm and very quiet. There are often not many people, and those are families with little kids and retired people staying in the caravans.
We sat out on towels, helped the kids build sand castles, and watched a bloke feed seagulls and a pelican from his boat. The sound of the gulls and the distant murmur of traffic on the highway behind the dunes were the only sounds. Heaven.
Alas, we did get a little burnt. I was very careful - we all wore lots of sunblock every day, refreshed often, and hats - but Day Two we just spent way too much time in the pool, and the kids and I came away with a (light) sunburn on our arms, legs and (OUCH) hair-part line on the scalp. It was nothing too bad, and I made sure we didn't repeat it, but it was enough to make me feel terrible (and stupid).
Still, I said, trying to pep up the kids, this was nothing compared to the epic, yearly sunburns of my childhood. Bright red noses, new shoulder freckles every year, headaches, painful nights in bed, evenings peeling each others' backs.... They thankfully did not even know what I was talking about. And they never will.
The Rosebud Carnival
Another staple of childhood summers on the Peninsula: the Rye or Rosebud Carnival. The kids were very excited and had a ball, which of course was completely worth the $80 we spent... Yes, $80. That covered 4 rides, one go for each kid at a dart-throwing game, and a bag of fairy floss. The most fun was the Dodgem cars, where Y and I took one kid each and raced each other round the square. Other highlights: tears of terror after the Ghost Train (oops); A., terrified, shrieking "Mama!" when a very odd-looking carnie came up to fasten her seatbelt for the elephant merry-go-round; and a very nice operator of the darts game who gave M. three extra goes until she finally popped a balloon and got to score a prize.
The prizes: spot the weirdness:
|M's prize. So far so normal|
|A's prize. |
Beijing 2008 Olympics logo??!
Mini Golf and Ten Pin Bowling - with Tantrum
Day Three dawned overcast and slightly cool, which was a relief for our sunburn (and for keeping the kids out of the pool). As it was too cool for the beach until later that afternoon, I convinced Y that family mini-golf was the correct traditional pastime on such a morning.
My dad is a very keen golfer, and as kids on holiday or just on random weekends we played our fair share of family mini golf. (Must have been on alternate weekends from those spent "going on a drive" - just what every kid loved doing in the 1970's! No air-con or DVD players in cars back then, kiddies!)
The kids were pretty excited to try mini-golf, but the excitement wore off fast when they discovered they were completely hopeless at it. Interestingly, each child reacted in a different way. M kept going happily enough, gamely cheating her way through each hole by using her club to stop the ball rolling backwards and steering the ball into the cup. A lost all confidence, got miserable and threw a lovely tantrum that included sitting on the green at Hole 10 and announcing she was not going anywhere and not playing this stupid game any more.
As other parents looked at her with pity or distaste I tried the usual three techniques I employ, in this order, when embarassed in public by a child throwing a hissy fit:
- First: Reasonable Mummy: "Come on, A, we're just having fun, it's just a game, look, I'm hopeless too, it doesn't matter... come on honey, people are waiting, you can't sit there..." etc. Usually makes situation worse - child digs in her heels and gets more upset.
- Then: Harsh Scary Mummy: Grab arm, put my angry face in hers and snap: "Stop that this instant!" This does scare the kids but doesn't achieve its aim which is why I don't use it at home. It's purely a panic move aimed at showing bystanders I'm in charge of my kid.
- Finally: use what works for us: keep calm, tell her to come on as we're leaving, and start walking off. This does work most of the time, but I have the feeling it only works when the kid has already worked their way through the emotions of the first two tactics; plus you have an excruciating few seconds where you are turning your back on your child who is still bothering other people.
After this A. did get into the game and enjoyed herself, especially when Daddy provided some comedic relief by constantly putting into water holes and various obstacles until finally getting the weirdest, flukiest hole-in-one at Hole 17.
No doubt due to a combination of fierce golf DNA (my dad and his dad both golfers all their lives) and my childhood experience at mini-golf, I aced the game as you can see from our score card:
A's confidence (and likeability to bystanders) increased when we moved inside to try ten-pin bowling. Once she got the hang of it she was pretty good and we crowned her our family champion. It was a good outcome as I was able to show them that M was "good" at golf and A was "good" at bowling, so you see, everyone is good at different things, and most important of all, we all tried something new and we all had fun! Fun!! Didn't we everybody?!
|Y retrieves his ball from the drink|
|A hopes for a strike|
|M hopes the ball goes all the way to the end|
Day Four - home time. Also Australia Day. Flags fly on more cars each year. I'm starting to get used to it but it still makes me a little uncomfortable. When I was growing up Australia Day was no big deal; now it seems too jingoistic and too dominated by shirtless guys in flags worn as capes.
We were all a little sad to be heading home so soon, but cheered a little by the sight of backed up cars on the other side of the freeway heading to the peninsula - it was chockers and I'm glad we went four days ago and not today.
On the way back we stopped at Dromana to join the Australia Day festivities on the beach. That was a look at some working fire engines, an air show, and two more rides for the kids before ice-cream and back in the car for the short trip home.
So that was our holiday. Best Ever. Until next year!
What did you do over Christmas-New Year break?
And did you read this entire, over-long post?