Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Day 13...in which I'm a bitch

On Friday morning we left Canberra and headed towards Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park in Gerroa.

We saw lovely sights out the car window. Hey! We were in Australia! How could it NOT be beautiful?

We stopped in Goulburn for lunch.

We saw the giant sheep.

We ate at another Abe Frellman recommendation, The Paragon Cafe.

Jack had spaghetti and Tim noticed there was no tomato sauce in the meat sauce. Tim had a theory that Australians use less tomato sauce than we do. He had noticed at another restaurant that their pizza had very little sauce.

I forgot what Tim ate. I had some kind of cheese on toast thing.

They had pizzas on the menu including an American one. I'm always curious how America is perceived. Well....in terms of pizza, we're black olives and pepperoni. I thought that was awesome because before I was vegetarian that was my favorite type of pizza! My taste in pizza represents America. How nice.

After eating we walked around the little strip of shops. We found ourselves in a discount store. Each of us found a treasure to take home. Tim found some jasmine rice. Jack found a jump rope. I found an Australian flag beach towel.

We then went to find Jack a new rash shirt for the beach, because I had been careless and left his other one at Tracey's house. Oops.

Yeah, they might come to Sydney to see us. They might bring the rash shirt. But we needed one now! We had a whole week at the beach.

We tried to find one at the Red Cross Op shop, but had no luck. We had to look elsewhere.

We eventually found one.

After our shopping, we stopped in Bryant's Cafe for dessert. Tim got something called a Rock Cake. Jack got a cupcake. I got a caramel slice.

With our tummies full, we headed towards our new home on the beach.

The ride was absolutely awful.


The damn TomTom must have gotten pissed off at us for some reason. His revenge? Dragging us through Kangaroo Valley. This involved mountains and twisty roads. I'm sure Kangaroo Valley is a lovely place. But I do NOT like it. Just hearing the name puts a chill through my spine.

I don't like driving on mountains!!!

Somehow we survived. Tim got us through it. For an hour or so he was my hero. Actually, it was probably for about three minutes. Hey, but that's something. Right?

We made it to the Holiday Park. Tim had the same reaction he had at the Canberra Holiday Park; disbelief that I could have found a decent place. The Seven Mile Beach Holiday Park has two sides. One is near the river and one is near the beach. There's a highway inbetween. The office is on the riverside and we didn't know that the rest of the holiday park was across the road. Tim didn't sense a beach nearby. He thought I had accidentally picked a place that was not on the beach. He wanted a beach.

We soon figured everything out and drove to the other side of the holiday park. I worried a bit that we'd have to cross a busy highway to get to the office if needed. But it turns out they have a nice little pedestrian underpass.

It was a bit of a challenge for us to find our cabin. I could blame the holiday park on that, but frankly we're just a little bit stupid sometimes.

Eventually, we found our cabin. And it was awesome! It totally restored Tim's faith in me. The little cabin was darling. It was clean, comfortable, and cute. The location was great. The walk to the beach was shorter than our walk in Port Stephens. And best of all, we were right across from the playground. Jack could go play, and we could watch him from the kitchen window. A little farther down was a big jumpy bouncy thing for kids.

While we unpacked, Jack went off to play and explore. At home, Jack lives the life of a 21st century child. He can go out alone on our back porch and balcony, but that's it. He can't go out in the front yard alone. He can't take walks down the street alone. It's so different from my childhood. I don't know why our lives have become that way, but I know we're not the only one because I rarely see kids out without an adult chaperon.

In Port Stephens last year, we had let Jack have some freedom. He loved that and we gave him that gift again.

We didn't give him full freedom though. I told him he could go to the bouncy thing and the playground. I didn't want him wandering through the whole park...at least not in the beginning. I figured we could amend that rule in the future if needed. Jack didn't mind it though. In Port Stephens, he had wandered too far once and got lost. I think although he likes being able to go off on his own, he still gets a little nervous.

Tim headed to the grocery store while I was left in charge of Jack. I thought the grocery store was close by and I expected Tim to be back within about an hour. While he was gone, I think I alternated between hanging out around the cabin and checking up on Jack. He was very eager to find children to play with. He had met friends in Port Stephens and wanted to repeat the experience.

There were some children hanging out at the bouncy thing; two boys and two girls. Jack tried so hard to fit in with them, but they were not very welcoming. They weren't cruel. They didn't tease him. They didn't bully him. They just didn't act like they wanted to be friends. They were stand-offish. They were disinterested. As a mom, it hurts to see your child rejected even if it's not intentionally malicious.

I had mixed feelings about socializing at this point. We met people last year and I felt this obligation to repeat all that. But at the same time, I really didn't feel like it. I didn't really feel like talking to anyone. None of the people I saw seemed like people I wanted to be friends with. I felt stand-offish myself. I'm not sure if I was going through one of my asocial stages or if I just didn't feel any type of kinship with the particular people at the park. I forced myself to be friendly...smiles and hellos. A little chit-chat here and there. But what I wanted to do was magically make all the other people in the park disappear. Or at least most of them. Yes, I get like that sometimes.

Some of the kids went to the pool And some of them went without adult supervision. I think that added to my feelings of alienation because I still feel the need to be with Jack when he's swimming. He can swim pretty well, but I feel safer if I'm at the pool with him. I felt insecure. I worried the other parents would see me as overprotective. At the same time, I judged those moms as being too callous.

One mom did come by to check on her kids. I talked with her for awhile. She warned me that there were blue bottles on the beach so we probably couldn't do much swimming. I didn't think much of that. There were Blue Bottles on the beach in Port Stephens. We still swam. I should have considered that this woman lets her kids swim alone. One or two Blue Bottles wouldn't keep this type of family out of the water.

It was cold, so we didn't stay in the pool for long. It seemed some time had passed since Tim had left and I started getting a little concerned. I didn't get too concerned though because Tim is almost always late. I know if he says I'm going to run to the grocery store he really means I'm going to run to the grocery store and then stop at some other stores and then drop by to visit your mom and dad. If he says he'll be home around 5, I expect to see him around 6:30. That's how Tim is. I'm pretty used to it by now.

But after awhile, I did start to worry. It happens every so often. I think to myself this is it. This is going to be the time that something bad happens.

And he didn't have his phone with him. I saw it in the cabin.

I couldn't call him.

I thought who the hell takes two hours to go grocery shopping. I started thinking it would be pretty rude of him to go do other things without telling me and without bringing a phone. I can tolerate it at home somewhat, but not when we're off in another country.

Finally he did come home....home to an angry bitchy wife.

We bickered like good little married people.

He told me he went to Kiama to shop which is a twenty minute drive. That's why it took him so long.

I forgave him somewhat for that.

Meanwhile I was annoyed at him for what he had bought. We were sick of restaurants and one of the reasons was the huge portions. But now Tim had bought SO much food. I felt like we were moving into a new house rather than just staying in a cabin for a week. He bought two loaves of regular bread plus a package of flat bread. He also bought a whole bag of potatoes and multiple bags of pasta. I'm thinking he was having some kind of carb craving thing while shopping. Maybe he was protesting the Atkins diet. I don't know.

Oh! I'm looking at my notes. He also bought this whole frozen garlic bread thing. Yes, that along with flour to make his incredibly wonderful homemade pizza.

He did buy one awesome thing that I can remember---these chocolate covered honeycomb candies. We all loved those.

He bought me a Valentine's Day present. Did it make me happy?

No. I'm very picky about gifts. I'm a bitch when it comes to gifts.

There is a simple rule to follow if someone wants to guarantee that I'll like their gift. Make it Australian. If it's related to Australia, it's VERY likely I'll love it.

Here we are....IN Australia. It's the perfect place to buy Australian stuff.

What does Tim buy me? Belgian chocolate. Guylian. The seashell stuff. What the hell was he thinking? He told me there wasn't any Aussie Valentine's Day chocolate. The Australians themselves were all going for the Guylian. I accepted that excuse then because I actually didn't remember seeing any Australian V-Day themed chocolate. But now I'm thinking the Guylian box didn't have any V-Day theme to it. It wasn't red or heart-shaped.

He should have bought me the Cadbury collection or something. But we ended up buying those later so it's okay. And I was a bitch and didn't buy him anything. I told him his gift was he could share the chocolates he had bought me.

All was well.

Tim buys bad gifts.
I'm a bitch.
Nothing really new here.

We ate dinner, and before or after that we walked to the beach. There weren't one or two Blue Bottles. They were everywhere. Jack and I are both educated enough to know that if there's a lot of Blue Bottles on the beach, it's not a good idea to go swimming. We were a little disappointed, but figured we might still have fun.

Still. Things were a bit gloomy. Jack didn't seem to be clicking well with the other kids. I was feeling socially avoidant. There'd probably be no swimming at the beach.

Then Tracey sent a text that cheered me up a bit. She reminded me the season premiere of Medium was going to be on tonight. We watched it. That was a nice diversion.


magikquilter said...

that is funny...i make a saucy spaghetti bolognese and David does not like the sauce....CJ and I do though. I was wondering at what stage did your rash go away? You were hoping to swim here so I thought it must have definitely gone by then!

The roads down to Wollongong from the Southern Highlands is a little like what you describe...I have vertigo and hate those sort of roads...the one up Mount Wellington in Hobart nearly finished me off!

I hear that in Port Macquarie that there is a similar set up with beach one side and river or lake the other...my friends said that the beach had terrible sandflies which bit them really badly.

BTW my parents once owned a beach house on Anna Bay Port Stephens!

magikquilter said...

oh...am loving the unschooling blog but think i may need to go back to the beginning...whilst reading the new posts at the same time

Dina said...


Yeah. We do a lot of meals for two around here. Tim and Jack like meat so that leaves me out. Tim will often make something like pasta or stir-fry and then add meat to it for him and Jack. It's more of a problem when he makes something full of veggies because Jack isn't a veggie eater. Then one of us will have to make Jack PB & J or Mac & cheese.

I think my rash was pretty much gone by the time we left Tasmania. I don't remember it being a problem in Canberra. I mean we didn't swim, but I don't remember any discomfort by then. Thanks for asking!

You know before we drive places next time, I'll probably need to ask people about which roads are incredibly scary. That way maybe we can avoid them.

The bad thing is it's often the scary roads that are the most beautiful. But I'm too scared to really appreciate anything.

Thanks for reading the unschooling blog! I don't think it goes back that far. Maybe? I'm not sure any of is that exciting.

Louise said...

The drive through kangaroo valley is one of my faves, I grew up down there and drive it every time I go and see Dad, I guess I'm just familiar with it, so don't think of it as scarym, but yes it is pretty narrow. The cafe at the top has a spectacular view though.

Dina said...


It's not scary to you because you listened to way too much ABBA as a teen. It messed with your head!!

No, seriously. I'm always scared of mountains. And the fact that Tim was driving on the side of the road he's not used to...all that made it quite frightening for us.

I bet it's beautiful though.

MsJamie said...

I love the first picture of the tree!!

I want to go to Kangaroo Valley!! It looks so beautiful. I don't like driving on mountain roads if they are right next to a dropoff with no guardrail. Even if there are trees. My dad scared my sister and I when we were little and we both don't like that. But most mountain roads I have been on aren't like that. But I see the way these are described on the website sound like they would probably scare me. If I ever go to Australia I will have to go there. Maybe I could helicopter in.

I never want to meet people when we travel. But I might if it were somewhere exotic like Austrlia.

What do the blue bottles mean?

Stephen Moore said...

It's the little things in language that I find so amazing, in an enjoyable way. Like the use of of instead of to.

Like being being told the time is quarter of nine (8:45). It's still something I still have to think about and process for half-a-second before I know what time it is. Quarter to nine just makes so much more sense! ;^)

And I'm pretty used of it by now was initially read by me as I'm pretty used to it by now, because that's what my Australian English infused brain expected to read.

Language is so cool. :^D

Dina said...


I was so confused when I read your comment at first. I didn't remember taking any photos in Kangaroo Valley or posting them. Then I remembered that I added the link to it.

The helicopter is a good idea!

I think there was a guard rail, but some of them are so small! They don't seem like they'd be strong enough if a car tried rolling over them. Some of the roads were so thin and when another car came in the opposite direction, it felt like we'd be pushed off.

Our neighborhood is like that. It's sometimes hard for two cars to have enough room to pass each other. But we're not on a mountain.

Oh! Blue Bottles are the same as the Portuguese Man O'War...just a different name. We think of them as jellyfish, but they're really not. They're actually a bunch of tiny little animals living together.


Dina said...


You and your "language is so cool".

I think this is your polite way of telling me that I have awful grammar skills!!!

I don't think "I'm used of it" is an American thing. I think it's a Dina thing.

Pretty embarrassing.....

Maybe I should just let you go on believing it's an American thing.

Andrew said...

Dina, if it is as usual, the park manager gives you a map of the park, marks where you are staying, gives you directions and still you get it wrong, just like me! A rash shirt is a shirt to hide the rash?

these chocolate covered honeycomb candies. Maybe a violet crumble bar?

Dina said...


lol. That's exactly what happened with the map.

I think the rash shirt is to prevent rashes. But I guess if you've already gotten a rash you can use the shirt to hide it. It's multi-purpose!

It wasn't a Violet Crumble bar. It was some generic brand. And they were little pieces in a bag.

I totally forgot that's what a Violet Crumble is. The funny thing is we had one last year and I don't remember thinking it was that great. I mean I didn't dislike it, but I also didn't love it. Yet, we loved these. Maybe our tastes changed. I don't know.

Gina said...

When I was a kid and Dad & I used to drive to my grandparents place, we always left really early in the morning, got to Goulburn at around lunchtime, and would stop at the Paragon Cafe to eat enough food to see us through the next eight hours on the road.

I'm not sure precisely what it's a paragon of (probably not haute cuisine!!), but it's been there forever!

Dina said...


I never even knew what "paragon" meant. Your comment inspired me to look it up. I'm now a tiny bit smarter.

The cafe (and Goulburn itself) reminds me of this town in Tennessee. I think we'd stop there on the way to Disney World...and also when we'd drive up to my university. There was a restaurant called Smokehouse something. Cafe? I'm sure they got a lot of travelers.

I know a lot of people live in Goulburn, but I bet a lot of their business comes from people traveling to and from Sydney.

Fe said...

This is so kismtit-y !! The boys and I were in the Paragon Cafe in Goulburn last weekend (my friends' farm is about 30 mins east of Goulburn) and went strolling through Dimminy's and Go-Lo which would have been where you bought your towel!

I adore the road from the Southern Highlands through Kangaroo Valley onto the South Coast! And it is really stunning, but I think your stress came from being in the wrong side of the car and on the wrong side of the road from what you're used to.

And Kangaroo Valley itself is stunning! Filled with incredible flora and fauna and almost it's own climate.

The road from Sydney to the Valley is not nearly as scary... I promise!

I can understand your reluctance to make friends in the Holiday Park. I always feel like that. I have a paranoid fear that I might be "taken over" by people who want to socialise all the time we're on our holiday. They might be the nicest people in the world, but I'd rather be on the beach or curled up with a good book than talking to them.

The Blue Bottles can completely ruin a beach holiday. I'm so glad that you had a pool as back up! My boys won't even walk on the waters' edge when it's filled with those stingy things as you can get severe stings just from stepping on their tails when they're washed up on the shore. Owch.

Dina said...


Maybe one day we'll go to the Kangaroo Valley.

Or maybe not ; )

Jack is the same with blue bottles. He didn't want to walk near the edge of the water.

I vary on trips in terms of being social. Often I'm more social when we're on holiday. Tim and I joke it's because I know I can say good-bye to people. I think my fear is finding a friend that lives near me and constantly wants to make plans. I like to spend a lot of time at home and just be with my family. I don't want a friend who is calling me constantly. "Do you want to have lunch?" "Hey, you want to go shopping?"

My best friend here is like me...not very social. We do something every few weeks. We're not constantly calling each other. It works perfectly.

I'm not sure why I wasn't feeling social those first days in Seven Mile Beach. I guess it just happens to me sometimes. I went through about a year in Texas of not wanting to talk to someone. I constantly hid behind a book.

Now I'm in the opposite stage...feeling more social and eager to do things with people.

I'm sure that will change back again though.

Jayne said...

Crikey, I'm supposed to be going to stay with my bois in Wollongong some time soon and I'll be watching out if they offer to take me through Kangaroo Valley!
Heights and I aren't on speaking terms ;)

Dina said...


So glad to know I'm not the only one!

Stephen Moore said...

Not a polite rebuke at all, Dina. It does sound strange to my ear, but that's not to say it is grammatically incorrect. Be it a quirk of American English or Dina English makes no difference to me; I'm not one of those strict constructionists of language. The use of of in your sentence does make sense, grammatically. It's just a different usage than I'm used to. Or used of.

Mim said...

Kangaroo Valley holds a whole bunch of lovely memories of family camping holidays from when I was a kid.

We camped beside the river in the lower Kangaroo Valley and used our airbeds to float downstream - every one of them "popped", the glue gave way on the connections between the top and bottom layers and they went from being flat beds to huge round bags of air.

We also used to camp in a field which had part time cow residents beside the creek in the upper valley and play in the freezing cold water and fall in cow pats and fall in the creek fully clothed and generally have a fabulous time.

For my 21st birthday I got a collection of stoneware from the Kangaroo Valley pottery, a lot of it has broken now but I was using the big serving dish for our dinner tonight.

If we hadn't done the same trip you did for our holiday in January (though we started in Sydney, not Canberra) I'd be leaping to the defense of the valley, but after all those twists and turns we swore we'd never be using that route to the South Coast again either. Way too exhausting a drive.

Dina said...

Stephen: Well, I'm STILL a little embarrassed
; )

But I'm with you. I'm not strict about language either. I think it's fluid. Words come and go.

Dina said...


So, is getting into Kangaroo Valley less scary than driving through it to get to the South Coast?

There's probably different parts. And the different parts vary in their scariness. I guess?

Cool about going in the creek with your clothes on. I don't think I've ever jumped in the water fully clothed. I actually thought of it in Australia. There's something about it that appeals to me. But I wondered if it was one of those things that seem fun, but just feels gross when you actually do it.