28th December Freedom and travel

So much has happened since I last wrote, Christmas in particular and the ability to travel interstate. Once Victoria had 45 days of no new infections the borders were opened and we were able to travel interstate and socialise more extensively. Masks are only mandatory for supermarkets and shopping or large gatherings inside. It has been a fairly constant whirl of activity. The gyms have reopened. The new freedom to fraternise has highlighted how much energy we expend socialising. It has been quite tiring. I was not party fit! The few Christmas functions I have attended have been delightful though I think I had subconsciously begun to think we would not be having Christmas! I was not prepared and I didn’t get the Christmas cards sent to many people or Christmas presents sorted till quite late. All these things I could have done quite easily during lockdown. Another aspect that reveals the survival mode of living day by day during lockdown.

Over this period my sister-in-law lost her mother after a sudden decline in health. It was an intense time as she and her family kept vigil until she passed. They were fortunate that the restrictions had lifted and they could visit with her until the end, and have a funeral with all the family attending. It was a thoughtful warm service-though no singing. The funeral company employed a professional singer who had a beautiful voice which made up for the lack of communal singing. Choirs and group singing is still not allowed. The funeral was held in the same church in which Peter and I were married. I was somewhat overwhelmed with memories of that time and felt very teary. When my children were young I would visit my sister-in-laws mother occasionally. She was a true Italian Nona. Warm and welcoming and always offering food and hospitality. Her English was broken but was never a barrier to conversation or her generosity to our family. A truly gracious woman.

Ziggy finished school so that motivated me to finish the Christmas shopping and tidy the dining table. My table was buried under a mass of wrapping paper, cards and ribbons reflecting the sudden turmoil of activity in my life! Ziggy came for a day and this year I had bought a gingerbread house kit as an activity. Last year I had cooked from scratch but used treacle instead of golden syrup and though the house was smothered in icing etc it looked burnt! Ziggy promptly ate the chimney for this year’s house and proclaimed it as ‘good’!

We had four goes at trying to get it to stay upright until I hit on the idea of tying the roof on with ribbon and declaring we should go for a swim so it would have time to set. All aspects of that decision worked. We had a fun time in the pool with Ziggy playing surfer on my back while I played the surfboard ( mostly underwater!) He likes to muck about rather than swim lengths ( didn’t we all as 8 year olds?) but that involves a lot of breath holding while he sits on the bottom of the pool or swims through my legs or doing great splashes. I cannot for the life of me sit on the pool floor. Too much fat that floats I suspect! Still both our lungs got a good work out and I finally convinced him to swim a lap of the pool properly. He has always been a fish at heart. Grandma can still earn some kudos for somersaults in the water which he cannot master yet. It was such fun and the gingerbread house was finally set when we returned! In the end we managed a better job than last year with fewer lollies and improved presentation. All that drawing with icing sure requires practice to get a slick finish. Amazing what imperfections a bit of dusted icing sugar covers!

I have played a few lawn bowls tournaments since restrictions eased and surprised myself how keen I am. When I had to cancel out of a game due to childminding commitments I was actually disappointed! The members of the club are very friendly and encouraging and I am starting to feel at home.

The bowling club had a Christmas party that I attended and at which I won the raffle hamper. I haven’t won anything of note for years so I was thrilled. It was an interesting hamper with lots of gourmet goodies and a Ukulele of all things. I once played guitar(poorly) so I am hoping I can do better with this. I think every year needs a challenge, perhaps this will be it for 2021? I have a cousin who plays in a group so maybe I can find a group to play with too. They are quite popular now I think.

Christmas arrived in a rush and I was charged with bringing salad and the ham and prawns. In the meantime I had finally booked to fly to Queensland to visit my brothers and cousins as well as join friends at our annual Flat Rock Beach camp in Northern New South Wales. BUT, in Sydney there was a significant out break of CoVid again which was escalating. The borders were closing with quarantine periods imposed on people returning from Sydney. Flights were being cancelled, Christmas interstate was thrown into turmoil. I was in two minds whether to go north or not. Returning holidaymakers who had been compromised were expected to quarantine for two weeks at their own expense. Our new freedoms were under siege. Tourism that had unsteadily started to recover was once again in turmoil.

New South Wales were working overtime and seemed to be successful in containing the spread within Sydney so in the end I packed my bags and tent and took the plunge. Christmas morning was a flurry of food and bags. I had to get a supermarket trolley to cart it all down to the car. ( The advantage of living above Coles) It is on these occasions I wish I had some one with me to help. Poor Alfie was giving me the ‘ you aren’t going to leave me look’ as I piled the suitcase on the lower level of the trolley and the food on the top.

The Sydney CoVid cluster had caused a flurry of flight rescheduling to avoid going into Sydney and I had elected to fly at the end of Christmas Day rather than Boxing day which is always horribly frantic at the airport. I collected Nick on the way to Clare’s parents where we were to spend Christmas brunch / lunch. Ziggy was super excited with his presents from Mum and Dad-new Nike shoes and top so was not too keen to eat properly till all the presents were handed out! Clare’s Mum Regina is an excellent cook who loves to present her food at close to restaurant standard so we were in for a fabulous feast. We were not disappointed. I insisted on a family Christmas photo this year to mark Marlo’s first Christmas and the beginning of a new tradition. The Leong family always had an official Christmas photo and had sent some from years past. Nick saw one in which he was about 6 and commented that I looked so old! I was the same age he is now, 37! I did have to laugh. We always think our parents look older than us at the same age. I am sure I thought the same of my own mother. Fashion and hairstyles have a lot to do with it I think.

Mufaro, Clare’s brother took the photo so we haven’t got everyone in it.

Marlo the baby was passed around like a little parcel so we all got a cuddle. He was very good. Ziggy was extremely happy and thankful for his presents and finally ate something substantial. The children were actually so well behaved that we all had a fairly relaxed time. It was a lovely Christmas get together. Allie ( Clare’s Dad) was making a super delicious Chocolate tart but had not realised it needed to sit for 24 hours so we had Regina’s homemade Raspberry ice cream. Probably a good alternative because we were all so full anyway. It was stupendously delicious.

Nick took me to the airport afterwards and eventually I boarded a very full flight direct to Brisbane. We were all handed face masks and hand sanitizer and were offered fresh ones if we wanted more during the flight. Arriving was a bit of a shock because we were greeted by police who checked our identity and questioned us on where we had been and if we had been in contact with any CoVid people or places. Once completed it was down to collect the bag and wait for Tim to pick me up. That experience certainly brought home the reality of border control within Australia. Even the campsite and restaurants at Ballina are doing the same thing.

The next morning I woke to the glorious view of the Southport Broadwater stretching to the north and the ocean to the east. All deep blue water, golden sand and bobbing boats. It is one of the most interesting views you can get. There is always activity on the Broadwater with boats, jet skis and trawlers coming and going, while the parkland abutting the water is green and lush and full of people walking and playing. Best of all it is warm and sunny! I am on holiday.

Author: fleetfootkath

I am a keen walker and traveller. I love to explore and learn about new people, places and cultures with a sense of joy and gratitude for this fortunate life. I believe walking is a wonderful way to really connect with the present and the beauty of the world that surrounds us. It makes me happy.

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