Sunday, December 23, 2012

Back home from the beach ... the final verdict

We left for our beach holiday with one sick child, and five days later returned with another. While the symmetry appeals, the experience does not.

On the way up the coast, The Big Fella lay slumped in his booster seat. Rarely does he succumb to something as minor as illness, but this time he went the whole nine yards - fever, sore throat, spots, warts.

(He had no spots or warts, but it sounds bad, hey?)

While the big unit is rarely ill, The Complicated One is rarely well. So we shouldn’t have been surprised when he started shivering and sweating on the drive home. My driving isn’t that bad (although my fellow road users on the Pacific Highway were particularly annoying).

The eldest child had gone several days with no apparent symptoms transferring from the least eldest child. Foolishly, we thought we were in the clear.

The Complicated One arrived home sick and grumpy, and then got worse. We sighed with relief when he finally adjourned to bed at 4pm.

He slept on and off until 6.30am (with the emphasis on ‘off’ – we seemed to spend more time walking between our room and his than we did in bed).

So the question ‘Was the beach holiday worth it?' is now decidedly more complicated to answer.

Not only must we consider issues that arose during the holiday: sharing a bed with cockroaches, mice in the ceiling (a minor annoyance really), and sunscreen and sand that never washes off.

We also need to factor in post-holiday issues such as illness (which hasn’t yet migrated to me or Sherrie), washing the car, and cleaning the grout above the stove and kitchen benches.

Yes, when I return from holiday, I am frequently overcome with a need to clean. Today I cleaned the house, washed the car, and used bleach and a toothbrush to clean the kitchen tiles. They now look splendid!

I guess if the house looks cleaner thanks to the after-effects of our beach holiday, then maybe that ties it up – Civilisation 3, Bush 3.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Random moments on a beach holiday 4 ... the last afternoon

It's the last afternoon of our beach holiday and the boys are lying prone on the lounge. They’re alternating between hyperactive and listless, grumpy and manic, mildly exhausted and exhausted.

Even I see the sense of making one last trip to the beach, but the boys can’t be convinced. They’re buggered.

We’ve only been here for 4 days, not 4 weeks. You’d think they’d have a bit more stamina.

I’d understand their lack of energy if it was 1966 and they were sleep deprived from 4 weeks camping in a tent, their bodies wasted from a nutrient-deficient diet of baked beans and Spam, and dehydrated from electrolyte-rich Passiona.

But it’s 2012. They’re in an air conditioned cabin. They’ve eaten like kings in restaurants. They’ve imbibed plenty of water and precious little Fanta.

The best we can do is convince them to make one last visit to the pool (or leisure centre, as it’s been quaintly re-named).

We wrestle them into their sagging and stretched rashies one more time, lather on some more sunscreen over the stubborn residue of the last batch, and trudge once more back to the pool. Well, Sherrie and the boys do – I’m back here writing my blog in air conditioned comfort, a beer at my side and a blonde on my knee.

(Actually, I'm drinking mineral water, only the ceiling fan is on - I have at least attempted to acclimatise - and the only blonde is the yeasty one I’m looking forward to with dinner at the local bowlo.)

The boys return exhausted but elated from the pool.

Yep - you can’t beat summer holidays by the beach!

Civilisation 2, Bush 3.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Random moments on a beach holiday 3 ... is it easier to stay at home?

Here’s a list of things we do on a beach holiday, roughly in order from most to least often:

1.    watch cricket on TV
2.    watch ABC 4 Kids on TV
3.    watch golf on TV
4.    eat in our room
5.    eat out at restaurants
6.    play putt putt golf
7.    play tenpin bowling
8.    play Scrabble
9.    swim in swimming pool
10.    collect shells at beach
11.    wash sandy shells at cabin
12.    line clean shells up on table
13.    swim at beach.

We’re well into double figures on that list before we do anything that we couldn’t more cheaply, easily and comfortably do at home.

In fact, we seem to do just about everything on our beach holiday - apart from go to the beach.

Maybe it’s because I’m from a non-beachgoing family.

Maybe it’s because the sea is fully of deadly creatures that will kill us.

Maybe it’s because even our cabin opposite the beach still seems so far away from the beach.

Maybe it’s because it takes forever to lather on sunscreen and collect all our stuff.

Then there’s the weather - too hot, too cold, or too windy.

Then there are the tides. Low tide is good for keeping the waves low and sharks farther out to sea.

Then there are lunar phases to consider (surely there’s a preferred phase of the moon for beachgoing?)

Maybe next year we’ll stay at home at do everything on that list from 1 – 9.

Or maybe we’ll head back to the beach so we can enjoy all those activities with the added bonus of doing so coated in sunscreen and with sand stuck in unpleasant places while sharing our bed with cockroaches.

Civilisation 2, Bush 2.

(NB. I really had a much better time than I'm making out, but that's our secret.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Random moments on a beach holiday 2 ... I want the top bunk!

“I want the top bunk!” yells The Complicated One.

“No, I want the top bunk,” counters The Big Fella.

After much tedious negotiation, everyone agrees that:

a)    the eldest child will scale the dizzy heights of the top bunk (since he’s the best climber) and

b)    the least eldest child will lie safely nearest the ground (since he dropped like a sack of potatoes from some monkey bars the previous weekend, landing on his backside with a shuddering thud that demanded chiropractic care).

Fast forward six hours to bedtime .... “I feel sick and dizzy up here. I might fall.”

The Complicated One has lost his nerve.

“Would you like to come down?”

Sad little nod of head in reply.

Further negotiations are required about who should have the bottom bunk. The Complicated One reckons he should sleep on the bottom while The Big Fella moves to the less salubrious adjacent single bed. The Big Fella does not agree.

Eventually peace is restored when the least eldest brother agrees to make way for the eldest brother in the bottom bunk.

Five minutes later….thud.

It sounds suspiciously like The Big Fella falling like a sack of wet cement out of a tree.

Then screams.

Which sound suspiciously like The Complicated One stubbing his toe.

Which brother is it?

Of course, the eldest brother has fallen out of the bottom bunk, and managed to badly (he claims) hurt his knee in the drop (all 45 centimetres of it).

Lucky he wasn’t in the top bunk, or he’d be in hospital. At least his little brother only needs chiropractic care.

Civilisation 1, Bush 2.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Random moments on a beach holiday 1 ... cockroaches

My wife is from a camping family. I am not. We compromise by holidaying in cabins at caravans parks (or holiday parks, as they are quaintly known).

She gets to maintain a family tradition of roughing it (no 5 star resorts for her). I get the creature comforts I am accustomed to (like plumbing, and a bed with a mattress, and hot water for showers and cups of tea).

But Sherrie got her wish of roughing it these holidays. We shared our bed with at least one large brown cockroach.

It was bad enough that on our first night in the cabin we got up to the kids three times between 11pm and 3am, but when I returned to bed for the third time, I spied a cockroach scampering gaily about in the sheets.

I swooshed at it ineffectually several times, only succeeding in chasing it under the bed. I briefly turned on the lamp, in the vain hope I may be able to crush the life from it with my bare foot. But it was quick, and I was sleepy.

Sherrie muttered something that sounded like “What’s happening?”

“Nothing,” I replied, quickly turning off the lamp. The cockroach was still on the loose.

While She Who Likes to Camp lay dreaming sweet dreams of bush latrines and camp ovens, He Who Dislikes Discomfort lay waiting for a cockroach to scamper across his face.

The next evening, She Who Likes to Camp retired to the bathroom for a relaxing spa bath, but emerged a few short minutes later, damp and still looking tense.

“The spa’s too noisy – I couldn’t relax.”

Like I said, roughing it.

Later the same evening I killed that brown cockroach as it came charging out of the bathroom. Clearly the spa bath is also too noisy for coackroaches.

Civilisation 1, Bush 1.