Above the shifting eucalyptus there is boundless blue. I peg the washing out. Clothes and tea towels are clean. Clean. The kind of clean only achieved by a two hour front loader wash cycle. Clothes are generally washed in suspect coin laundries – maximum cycle time: 34 minutes, if you’re lucky. The alternative is submersion in a bucket of soapy cold water and being stamped on by a generally reluctant Small. Neither approach gets anywhere near the front loader in this holiday house.
Out the window – gum trees, scrub, sand and then salt water shallows. No roads in between me and the sea. Our normal is the reverse; sea, sand, scrub/roads/houses. Living full-time aboard a boat does makes me appreciate the perks of modern life.
Hot water on tap. Not having to boil the kettle to wash up the greasier pots and pans. The aforementioned washing machine. A DISH WASHER. I’ve figured out that the dishwasher works well everywhere but the front row of the lowest shelf. I still consider it miraculous; my mother and sister roll their eyes and wash up by hand. They both have dishwashers at home.
The toaster enchants the boat-people. The Smalls don’t even know how to use it, trying to use the temperature dial to ‘turn it on’. They jump when the toast does.
“Why can’t we have one of these toast machines on the boat?” questions one of them, desperate eyed.
“Because they need too much power.”
They slump, modernity denied.
The younger one fulfils a year-long dream of making a pavlova. We beat the egg-whites toward glossy solidity, with enough sugar to make your teeth ache. After the decoration (whipped cream, apricots and plums), the presentation and consumption, she confides;
“I think I liked making it more than I liked eating it.”
The older one has a revolting sounding cough and is fighting against a case of tweenage ennui. Stuck with two kids three years her junior, she’s making a good go of it – inventing games and being leader of the pack, but longing to play games of darts (“too dangerous for the younger ones!”) and missing interactions with her dad. She decided to try and make a pie – the oven is another novelty that we’ll miss once we depart.
The holiday house itself could not be anything other than a holiday house – full of weird quirks, too many doors, and everything a visitor might need (with the exception of a slotted spoon, cake cooling rack and a spatula). The loudest noise here is generally the trees or the occasional thunderstorm.
Out the front today, the wind kicks up the water. I am thankful not to be a boat-dweller right now. The holiday house, even with the addition of some necessary family diplomacy, is a balm to my soul – set free from tiny-house walls. The kids are in love with the ping-pong table. ‘Double Happiness’ is printed along a supporting beam at both ends.
The chlorine scented spa requires vigilante forethought – taking six hours to warm up. Once warm and bubbling, it’s a child-minder/child-poacher – each of them want solo-spa time and take 15 minute shifts. Their disappearance into spa-land invariably leads to me craving a kidfree gin and tonic.
Gin, ice, splash of tonic, sip…
I don’t run anymore, it’s more of an exhale and saunter.
“Muuuuuuuuum. I think a SPIDER touched my FOOT. Can you see it?”
The bubbles are inpenetrable, I hypothesise that if it indeed was a spider, it would now have suffered a watery demise. I go and sit down again, two sips in…
“Muuuuuuuum.” It’s a different kid. I cannot imagine why I had more than one. It wants to show me the varied an hilarious expressions it can make using bubbles as a hipster-style bushranger beard. I take my G&T in with me and sit on a chair to watch.
We go to the 2019 Cygnet Folk Festival. Well, we don’t really go – as in pay for tickets. We go and wander through the throngs, listening to the buskers and the performances in the park. It’s vastly more lowkey than it was two years ago and it felt different – something that was summed up admirably in this letter to The Cygnet and Channel and Kingston Classifieds which I thought was pertinent enough to repost here…
Despite how different it was, we all still had fun… The Smalls plus Cousin spent time under the huge spreading branches of a tree in the kid’s area… painting, drawing, making…