Tuesday, January 29, 2013


This weekend was our "babymoon". Time and funds are a bit tight so we booked a short stay somewhere close to home in order to maximise time away and to allow us a little luxury.
We chose a rather swish two bedroom apartment with direct poolside access at the 4.5 star Sand DunesResort on the Sunshine Coast. The resort is renowned for its huge, fabulous pool and the one minute walk to beautiful, unspoilt Marcoola beach.

We had visions of lolling around in the pool for hours on end, picnics on the sand and Agatha's first experience of the ocean. Buckets and spades were set aside, a beach tent borrowed and new swimming cossies purchased. We were all so excited.

And then came the rain. And the severe weather warnings. This was followed fairly swiftly by that sinking feeling that comes with the knowledge that your best laid plans (and also your plans B, C and D) are scuppered.

But then we decided "ah, stuff it (stuff it real good)!" This is OUR special weekend and we're going to make it wonderful.

On the afternoon of our arrival we swam in the pool as the rain fell and loved it. We set up the beach tent in the dining room and played house. We picnicked in style on the living room floor. We watched “The Muppets Take Manhattan". It seemed like we were going to make lemonade from lemons.

And then came day two. On our second day in "paradise" we were greeted by 125km/h winds and an official exhortation from the police urging people to stay off the roads unless in an emergency. We saw a Dad and his young son get into the outdoor spa at our resort while the storm raged around them. Moments later the boy was hit in the head by a metal chair carried across the pool by the extreme wind (he wasn't too badly hurt thankfully).

That evening we decided upon homemade burgers on the grill since a BBQ was out of the question and a DVD so that we didn't have to venture out. Cue a total loss of power halfway through our dinner preparations. A loss of power that was still in place when we checked out on Monday morning. 

We tried really, really hard to make the best of it, to turn negatives into positives and to focus on fun family times. But sometimes, when things go completely awry they isn't room for serendipity, just disappointment. I felt especially sad for Agatha who pressed her face to the window several times and said "outside!" in the hopes she could run and play and swim. We wanted so much to relax and instead spent the days on high alert and the nights listening to the howling wind and lashing rain. We couldn't wait to leave.

And yet we have it so much better than so many others in Queensland who have lost their homes or worse in these floods. We go to bed tonight knowing that each of us is sleeping peacefully in our beds, safe and sound and that puts us among the most fortunate people on earth.

We never did get to walk on the beach or introduce Agatha to the ocean. But that's okay, it will all be there waiting for us, next time.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Caravan of love

Today is a special day for two reasons.

First, it is exactly twelve years since Andy and I went on our first date in London. We met below the clock at Waterloo Station at midday and proceeded to take in a “Women at War” exhibition at the Imperial War Museum before catching a bus (From Lambeth Walk no less) to Piccadilly Circus where we indulged in a curry and a drink or two. A few more drinks were had in Soho before we met up with some friends of his and hit a nightclub that only played incredibly hip 60s music. We parted at 4am in different black cabs (but not before he’d stuck the lips on me) with the knowledge that something rather wonderful had just happened. We’ve been a couple ever since and I can honestly say that we’ve had a blast. So here’s to you Mr. L, I love you, like you and appreciate you; you’re the cat’s whiskers and the bee’s knees.

Second (and almost as importantly) today is the day I bought my first Vintage Caravan Magazine. Somehow, this publication managed to get up to issue 11 without me knowing about it but there’ll be no more of that! I will henceforth be an ardent subscriber.

Caravanning is cool
I have always wanted a caravan. And by always I don’t mean since it became kind of cool to be into all things kitsch and vintage. I mean that when I was a kid I used to ask for a “Gypsy” caravan for Christmas (I never got one, though I did receive an excellent beanbag and a Womble one year).

There is something magical about caravans; they appealed as a sort of giant dolls house on wheels when I was a child, a home in miniature with cute gingham curtains and sofas that transformed into beds. The extravagantly decorated Romany caravans represented freedom, a life off the chain, filled with adventure and warm nights punctuated by music and dancing, firelight and stars.

As an adult I came to see the humble caravan as a way of establishing a “room of my own” (though I’m fairly confident a van is not what Virginia Woolf had in mind when she recommended it). I’ve long held the dream of buying an old caravan and renovating it, turning it into a study/craft room/reading and tea drinking space, parked permanently in the back garden. And I’ll confess that I know this is where the kitsch would come in as I simply couldn’t resist the pull of retro colours and a vintage fit-out.
But lately I have come to the realisation that the caravan can be all of the above: a miniature home, a mode of transport, a taste of freedom and a special space for the things we love to do. Inspired by this knowledge I have just floated the idea of towing one along the Great Ocean Road, an idea met with surprising enthusiasm by Andy. The thought of our midgets (plural! Only 10 weeks to go…) running in and out of the van while we cook dinner and chat about where we might head tomorrow - knowing that a complete change of plans is only a turn of the steering wheel away – fills me with the sort of joy that makes you squeeze your eyes shut and raise your shoulders a little bit.
Currently we aren’t in a financial position to make the dream a reality but I will make it happen, watch this space. In the meantime there is caravan porn (my new mag even has a centrefold in the shape of an 8-foot 4-inch 1950s caravan called Jellybean) and time to create the perfect van… on Pinterest at least.
Happy travels y’all!