Camping without internet

So we love camping no new revelations there but what surprised me recently was how angry l found myself getting when we went to a remote spot with very sketchy internet. I was able to put my phone down and walk away until….

I look over and there’s the Bloke playing his Clash of Clans game!!

So l quickly grab my phone to see if l can post photos yet and no! I don’t have any access.. he had some but l didn’t.

So l grew angry. And then l grew sad because how angry l got at not having internet, l shouldn’t be so reliant on it.

We were in a lovely deserted part of wild Tasmania we had a camp greeter we named her Ethel and we saw a wombat and it was peaceful and quiet and l was getting annoyed at having no internet.

I thought she was going to sit on my lap!
Ethel is a Bennett’s Wallaby

It dwelt on my mind “Oh l must text this person” or “I’ll go and write a blog post” or “l wonder if my carrots have grown in Township!” Silly trivial things. So in the end l refused to turn on my phone.

The weather turned bad and got windy so we decided to leave l could have KISSED those weather Gods!! We moved in land and had internet and all is again right with the world… for now!

St Valentine’s Day

We don’t normally bother, so no gifts exchanged but this year we’re camping wild in Tasmania so The Bloke used that as an excuse to book us a table at the Bayside Bistro pub in St Helens for lunch.

Before lunch we did some exploring on the other side of the bay where we were able to get out and walk along the breakwater wall.

It was crazy windy

We realised today that this is our 21st Valentine’s Day together but our first with no children involved. Just us, it was nice.

Pub for lunch l chose Roast Lamb because when we’ve been camping a while l miss the vegetables

Cheers to 21 years of St Valentine’s Days

When The Bloke and l first met online, we were both single parents and it turned out he worked not far from my house so one random day he called and said “I’m going past your street on my way to another company for a meeting can l stop in?” I nervously said “Yes” my cousin was over anyways so it was all good. He pulled up in his business shirt and tie with a box of mint slice chocolates and a chocolate mud muffin he had made. That first meeting was maybe 10 minutes and he was going away soon on Christmas holidays with his son. So l thought, that is that!

New Year’s Eve the phone rings and it’s him telling me he’s camping on a hill in Queensland and just wanted to say Happy New Year and maybe when he gets back to work we can go out for coffee. So l agreed.

Mid January 2001- comes and he calls saying “I’m working Saturday morning, how about l pick you up for coffee and home made mud muffins?” I agreed.

And that my friends is that… at first we were friends only and so different, like chalk and cheese! He’s a business man with a shirt and tie and a company car and he lives in the country. I mean l didn’t even know where Sunbury was!! And l was just me a single parent of three young children who’d want me?! I remember l told my cousin “Oh we’re just friends it won’t last six months”

But The Bloke- because underneath the business clothes and company car, he was “just a Bloke who likes rock n roll music and the Phantom and beer” he had a son and a black Labrador called Blue and he showed me new sides to life. I didn’t know there was this whole Rock n Roll/ Rockabilly life style going on in Melbourne not even far from where l lived. When he said “Rock n Roll” l said “Oh Elvis?!” But oh my girl there’s so much more..

Suddenly l was listening to HIS music, he grudgingly listened to my country and we met in the middle with Rockabilly. Soon he had taught me some dance moves and before long we were going to Rock n Roll dances and seeing bands and where had l been all my life?!

Then in April of 2001 l got really sick and ended up over the Easter weekend in hospital with gall stones and needing surgery, he rang me, he visited, and he went to that dance withOUT me! But as a consolation prize he brought me a signed poster into my hospital room!

It was soon after, that we realised “oops we were expecting” so not planned and not part of the “It’ll only last six months” deal.

We welcomed our “Rockabilly baby” on January 23 2002 born into the world to the Janis Martin song “Billy Boy” l sent Janis Martin an email just before she passed away and told her about our Star Son William John named “Billy” and her Grand daughter replied and said “My Grandmother was over the moon to hear from you” so l sent her back a photo of our Rockabilly Boy. The Grand daughter printed out the photo and took it into the hospital to give to Janis Martin.

When Star Son was Six months old, the Bloke decided that having five children wasn’t enough and that l needed something else to do, so he put MY hand up as Secretary and Treasurer of the local Rock n Roll Appreciation, but fair enough because he was named President. So our lives got busier!

Writing a monthly column each, mailing off magazines all over the world and generally having a blast, bands would send us CD’s in the mail and we’d do reviews and write articles. My favourite one l wrote was on Chuck Hughes and the Hillbilly Hellcats! This also meant that we went to a LOT of dances almost every week, we’d be there with the five children and dance the night away. Star Son almost got kidnapped by Texan Rockabilly singer Marti Brom who fell in love with him and wanted him as a souvenir!!

I remember one show we went to l was doing a review on this concert and so l was in this pack of “Grandmothers” all going crazy for this guy l’d never heard of, The Bloke had played me a few of his songs before hand but l’d still never heard of him, so lm innocently snapping away photos and this lady asks me “What are you doing?” I replied l was writing an article on Merv Benton and so l was taking photos she continued to watch me and every so often she would say “Oooh that’s a goodie!”

Finally she says “ Come with me!!” And she drags me to the front of the stage so now l’ve got a super clear view of not only Merv but also the screaming wild crowd of Grandmas! It turned out to be a great night and we got back stage passes and went back to meet Merv, he asked me “Did you get any good pics?” I nodded dumbly. I got the idea to do a “Then and Now” article we had an article of his last tour and so l contacted his agent and asked if l could speak to Merv in regards to the article. I must confess by now l too was smitten with Merv Benton! He was big in the 60’s in Australia and then he moved to America where he lives now in Arizona. Anyways long story short, he called me a week or so later and we talked for two hours and he came up to our radio program and did an on air interview. He still calls me occasionally!

Radio programs was another thing the Bloke convinced me we needed to do so once a month we went into the city to do a show called “Shake, Rattle and Roll” for the Rock n Roll club and then we decided to approach our local radio show and host one there, we called that one “Shake, Rattle and Roll” too but when we eventually gave up being involved with the rock n roll club and magazine we changed our radio show to “Rock Therapy”

When The Bloke turned 50 l made him have a party, that was one of the things l brought into this partnership Parties!! And convinced him it was time for him to start enjoying himself some more and so he brought himself a 1969 Triumph Trophy and l had to learn to love it or miss out! One particularly hairy ride we met one of his friends a huge bear of a man who took me aside and said in his deep booming voice “ Now listen here! It doesn’t matter how much he loves you he loves that bike more! So he’s not going to do anything to hurt the bike, if he leans, you lean, just hold on and relax” I nodded that made sense and then he added “Besides love! He doesn’t want to be stuck with five kids!” 🤪

And he we are twenty one St Valentine’s days later, it’s been a wild ride, ups, downs and a very bumpy ride, l’ve brought the “Business man” down a level and l’ve certainly climbed up about three levels to meet him in a comfy place.

At the end of this month we celebrate our 17th Wedding Anniversary, we have a 19 year old son over 6 foot tall. It’s The Blokes 65 birthday AND his first Anniversary of Retired life.

Yes Bloke it’s been a wild ride, but l wouldn’t do it with anyone else!

Oops my regular blogging didn’t last long

I’m so bad!

Ok we are camping in Tasmania now. We made it on our long awaited trip and as we boarded the ship we got a text saying due to a Covid out break our check in pass had been canceled and we had to reapply while on the ship before we could get off 😬 So we reapplied of course!

The latest out break is actually in our neighbourhood but thankfully we have a large family and had spent time with them all prior to boarding the ship- so Thursday we spent all day with our Star Son at hospital appointments. All safe there!

Friday we had spent half a day with our eldest son and Grandson in the country at Castlemaine, so all good there.

Saturday our daughter in law and grandson came down to visit so my eldest daughter and her three children came over and we all walked to the end of the court and went to the park to play, so all good there and then finally Sunday we spent all day at home and we walked the dog, prepping for our trip, so all good there!

I thanked my D-I-L for visiting us because otherwise it’s probable that we WOULD have gone to that shopping centre and possibly have been exposed to the virus hence ruining our trip! Instead here we are in Tasmania enjoying everything it has to offer!

Monday we were on the ship at 7.00am and we opted for the day sailing with no cabin so that we could save money, we prefer to spend it here. We had breakfast and then walked around the ship- masks were required until you were out on deck, it was chilly and grey we didn’t stay out there long. We read our books in the lounge on level 9 and at 12:30pm we went to see a movie “Rams” an Australian comedy. Then we had a casual lunch, wrote in my journal and read our books. Ship docked in Tasmania at 6:00pm but we were in the exit line for an hour and forty minutes, each person had to be temperature checked and processed, and my Bloke has NOT got a patient bone in his body! Finally we drove six minutes down the road, where we had pre-booked an overnight cabin to stay in. So we went out and found a KFC and got dinner, shower and bed, exhausted 😴

Tuesday dawned fine and sunny so we quickly popped down to the supermarket to buy our fruit and vegetables and bread, you cannot take any of that stuff interstate with you, they check before you get on board! We knew that so we don’t bring any. By 10am we were on the road to start our six week trip.

We got to our first spot called South Croppies Point about lunchtime. I was nervous because a review l read said “4Wheel Drives only” yes we have a 4WD BUT that doesn’t mean l want to use it lol when we got to a particularly sandy churned up piece of track l suggested the Bloke let me out for this bit and l walked.. l mean Fitbit says l should do 250 steps an hour anyways so lm just getting my steps! The Bloke found us the spot and l very nervously watched him back in the camper, l really should give him more credit he’s never failed us yet!!

Us on the rocks!
He’s part Billy Goat l think!
I spy Ursula and Priscilla
What a view!

So we stayed there two nights we would have stayed longer but bad weather was coming and you know that churned up sandy track?! Yeah well l didn’t fancy being bogged in that.

Thursday we moved to a little seaside town about an hour and a half away called St Helens. We’ve been here before to the same caravan park simply because we are allergic to bad weather! So we booked a cabin, brought pizza, did some laundry, had a shower and a reasonably good night sleep.

Today we awoke to bright sunshine and blue sky, there was a lot of rain and heavy winds overnight so we made the right call there. Today we moved to Doras Point it’s a free camp, no direct water views or water access but we can hear it and we have a lovely serenade of frogs! Today the weather has been stunning and we’ve been out and about exploring. We’ll stay here until Monday and then move on.

I’ll try and update more frequently but if l am missing too long feel free to pop over to our Facebook page and follow along there.. https://www.facebook.com/ursulasultimateadventures/

I am much more active there, loads of photos and videos as well. If there’s anything you’d like to see or know about Tasmania let me know and l’ll do my best to share it!!

Day 5- Grand Children

Yes l am a Grandma.

In the year 2013 l became a Grandma three times! None of them planned but all very much loved. Number one- we currently have no access to but l pray when she’s older she might come looking for answers to her questions and we’ll be here with open arms. Number one was born in July 2013.

Number two- “Sweetpea” was born in November the 21st. Three days early. I was with her Mum, my youngest daughter, she had some issues during the birth so the Midwife handed me a bundle wrapped in a towel and said “Here Grandma watch this for me” l spent the next two hours welcoming her to our family and making sure she knew how loved she was. I spent the first night in the hospital with the girls and then we brought them home on day three.

Grandchild three – our first born Grandson, was born exactly two weeks later 5th December 2013. l didn’t have a nick name chosen for him until l saw him! He was born via Caesarian section and l was with his Mum, my eldest daughter, when he was born his little face was so chubby and he was chatting away he didn’t stop talking, his little face was so “Squishy” that was his nick name. I stayed in the hospital with them for the first night too.

Number two and three grew up almost like twins until Squishy got a baby sister in August 2016. Oh that little face, she has the most adorable little mouth she became my “Faery Girl” too delicate and sweet to belong to this world.

So suddenly we had three hands on Grand babies to love and spoil.

Then Mother’s Day 2017 l unwrapped a present from our Eldest Son and there was a beautiful wooden bowl which is used to hold your yarn while you crochet, and a ball of pink and a ball of blue yarn and a cigar. Hmm weird.. l thanked them and continued to get lunch ready our Son asked “What can you make with that yarn?” I said “oh l don’t know l’ll think of something” he said “You’d better think quickly” and then l understood, Pink and Blue yarn and a cigar for my husband! We were going to be Grandparents again!!

Mean while my eldest daughter husband and their little family were on holidays, when they got back l had permission to share the latest news but before l could share it 4 yr old Squishy says “Grandma!! Guess what?! Mummy’s got a baby in her tummy” she flinched.. they hadn’t planned to tell us yet!

So then Grandchildren five and six were coming one in July and one in December.

Number Five- our “Little Dude” was born July 2018. His Maternal Grandparents came from Netherlands for his birth and we celebrated the happy news together.

Number six- My “Prince Charming” was born Christmas night 2018. He was overdue and my daughter was so desperate for him not to be born on Christmas Day, alas, babies come when they will, he didn’t let her eat her desert though! He has those same kissable lips as his “Faery girl” elder sister.

Isn’t it funny- when you have your children you think your heart is full to bursting, no more room to love anyone else. Then you become a “Grand” Parent and suddenly your bursting with love again. Each one is so different but all deeply loved.

Now we are awaiting Grandchild number seven it’s a little girl and she’s due end of April, she will be Sweetpea’s baby sister seven years age difference, she will have to adjust to being a Big Sister and not having her Mum all to herself. She’s excited, when my daughter found out she was having a girl we made a little display of pink things on the dining room table and brought her in to show her, her little eyes got wide and she whispered “Is it really a girl?!” We said “Yes” she cried “Why are you crying?” We asked in shock and l wrapped her in a hug her little shoulders shaking she whisper “I’m so excited Grandma!”

And so are we!

Day 4- Life..

April 2019- my 17 year old son was playing football and hurt his knee. Hurt is an understatement he did the trinity of Knee damages, his ACL, his MCL and his Meniscus it couldn’t be much worse. That simple fall in the first 20 minutes of the first game of Football for the season. Seemingly innocent and yet.. here we are almost two years later dealing with that bloody knee!

The first time (yep l said “First time” it’s getting worse!) there a blog on my page somewhere about the horror, l still feel sick when l think of it and all the emotions of those six months come back easily. He ended up having three different surgeries and then got Golden Staph blood poisoning. Horrific!

He had a pic line in his arm to deliver drugs straight into his system, he had weeks in the hospital and then six more weeks at home with “Hospital at home” nurses in every.single.day!! As a result he missed time off school and was unable to finish his final school year, another crushing blow.

April till August we dealt with his #bloodyknee as we all fondly called it. MRI’s, surgeons, Dr’s, blood tests, X-rays, heart scans, my poor boy had them all and l was with him every step of the way. My husband would drop me off at 7.00am and he’d go to work and then get back at about 6.00pm we’d supervise his dinner (or go buy him something to tempt him to eat!) and then leave at around 8.00pm and drive 45 minutes home. We were all wrecked!

Finally he was off the crutches and almost walking normally, he’d gotten a temporary job with The Bloke’s company to make himself some money and decide what his next steps should be. He decided he’d like to be a Builder and so we found him a man who was willing to give him a trial and he started working. We wondered how his knee would hold out and the answer was.. it didn’t!

In April 2020 his knee collapsed on him and he came hobbling home, it swelled up it was hot and l was more vocal this time! The first time l let my husband and my son and the football coach make decisions l didn’t agree with THIS time l did not! I called the physio and got him in l told him “l think he’s done it again” all three of them tsk tsk’ed me and said “it’s probably nothing!” Until the Physio started working on it and l saw his face fall and l knew!! He was in X-ray pretty soon after. He saw the Surgeon the next day!

This time he had torn the ACL because the Surgeon suggested that the graft had been weakened by the infection. So immediately blood works were done to make sure there was no Golden Staph present and he was booked in for surgery in March.

And then Covid came! Star Son gave up his dream job because his knee buckled as they were carrying a window and he almost dropped it! Surgeries were cancelled and then he was downgraded to “Elective” and he ended up having to wait until October 2020. And due to very strict covid conditions we had to leave him at the door to hobble into the hospital and be admitted for surgery, all by himself!! That was the hardest day of my life waiting to hear how it went. The surgeon called us to say all had gone better than expected and he would be gone in two days. My husband was his nominated visitor so he went in and sat with him for only an hour and we face timed so l could see and speak to him. I was in the car in the car park!

So from October until today he’s been back and forth for appointments and physio. He started his dream job he’s doing an apprenticeship with my Son in law as a builder and because his boss (our son in law) has followed the drama every step of the way he understands about the appointments and physio and everything needed for Star Son to heal. Today he had an appointment with physio who said he’s doing really good and a bit above where he should be. Then he saw the surgeon this afternoon he is also happy with his progress and so for now we can breath a little easier.

We went out for lunch to celebrate we had to kill a few hours between appointments.

Lunch here!
Lentil Burger and Wedges
Labyrinth at the hospital, with the constellation “the Southern Cross”
Every time we come here l walk the labyrinth and pray for good results!

As parents do we ever stop worrying about them? I think the older they get the more worried l am. Then of course you become a Grandparent and the level of worry goes up a notch!!

Day 3- Books 📚

Ahh my favourite subject. I love books l could talk about books all day.

My love of books began at a young age. My Father was one of those parents who lead by example he “always had his head in a book” as the Mother would loudly complain!

Now l look back l wonder was he using his reading to escape from us- his family? Did he read so much to clear his head after a day of hard physical labour? he was a Bricklayer, that’s hard work. But he also read to learn things like how to make mud bricks and sustainable living so that he was able to build his own mud brick home.

When l was about ten or eleven years old a library opened in our town. Dad had watched them building it and so we were in there when it first opened in line to get our library cards. I was too young for my own so Dad would borrow on his card. On that first day everything was new and fresh and shining. Dad asked the Librarian where to find the books for his “Baby Doll” she lead us to the Children’s section.

Dad went off to find his own books and returned to help me choose some books. A week later we were on a drive somewhere and l was reading my book there was a very sad part and l had tears streaming down my face, Dad happened to look over and was alarmed at my tears asking “What’s wrong?!” I told him l was reading a sad bit, he asked about it, l told him about my book about the character Poll and what was happening to her. We chatted for ages about my book and then at the end of the book he decided that he should read it too. I recently re-read that book “The Peppermint Pig” by Nina Bawden for a reading challenge with Dymock’s Book Stores. It was under the listing of “A book that makes you nostalgic” and yes! I cried again!

My first library book

It began a tradition each Saturday morning we would go off to the library and spend an hour or more there borrowing books we learnt our way around all the sections and learnt to use the microfiche and Dad would encourage me to look at other sections of the library, encourage me to read from the adult section.

Once l had a school project to do on the Book “Storm Boy” l wanted to focus my project on the Pelican, so Dad was home it was a raining day no work, he says “Let’s go to the library and find some stuff” off we went we borrowed library books photo copied pages, a drawing book on birds, whatever we needed and back home we went to do “our project”

Each day we would work on this project and Dad did the final spell check and suggested some tweaks. I was so proud to bring that school project home with a giant A+ in red ink on the front cover to share with my Dad!

As l grew older my reading habits changed but the one thing that never changed was my love of books and reading. When l was a young teenager l saw Gone with the Wind on TV it was so long l missed the end of it but l was talking to Dad about it and he said again “Let’s go borrow it from the library” we both read it, and discussed it and this became a reoccurring theme, either of us would borrow a book discuss it with the other and most times swap it. Dad really opened my reading choices!

Many a time he would tell the Librarian “l need to re-borrow this please my Dolly hasn’t read it yet!”

We were never lost for gifts to buy Dad a book here, a book there, usually something he couldn’t find at the library.

I miss being able to share books with my Dad. Luckily l have a husband who is a reader and so he quite often says “I reckon you’d like this one Sheila!” And quite often l’d take him up on that challenge which has lead me to try new authors and genres.

We were trying to return some books to the library just before the pandemic struck and l started reading the first page of one of his books “The Great Zoo of China” by Matthew Reilly an Aussie author. It’s about dragons how good could it be? But let me tell you l re-borrowed that book and read it quickly! Which in turn lead me to discover Matthew Reilly writes in an easy to read way that l liked! I’m working my way through all his books!

In 2007 l did a challenge with some one on Instagram “The Year of reading Australian Authors” unfortunately l forgot to stop which means l have a bookshelf full of books which are written by Australian authors and honestly l love reading about places we might have been camping to or places l want to go to!

Last year l read 85 books because during lockdown l struggled with my emotions so l chose to escape in a book. I laughed and cried with characters, I saved the President of USA with “Scarecrow and the USM”. I travelled all over the place all from the comfort of my bedroom! This year lm aiming for 90 books and this morning l started book number 12. Turns out this author is from Melbourne like me!! This is her first novel AND the book has a red spine. I just ticked off three different reading challenges criteria- winning!

My Dad once told me “Always bring a book with you because if you have a book you have a friend” l wonder if perhaps my Dad was lonely. Maybe he didn’t have anyone to share his love of reading with except me. Mother was not a reader and would get cranky with us she always used to complain “always got your heads stuck in a book” in the end she decided if she couldn’t beat us she’d join us. She read a book slowly, not as many as us and she never really loved it or discussed it, we never shared books with her. I wonder if she felt left out.

My Children are not book lovers, not one of them, and it’s NOT from lack of a good role model they’ve watched me read and write in my journals their whole lives, they’ve watched The Bloke and l swap books, maybe l turned them off reading, but lm trying hard with the next generation. I read to my Grandchildren l talk about books, l’ve started a journal with one of them, the eldest three- are seven l’ve got time!!

Do you like reading? Do you stick to a certain genre? Do you stick to an author? Is there anything you won’t read? If someone tells you a book is bad do you believe them or read it for yourself to find out?

I love books l’m a bookaholic let’s talk about books!! Let me know your favourite author and book suggestions!!

Day 2 of 2021 Blogging- Camping for Corina!

Yesterday l set the intention to get back into regular blogging and l put the question out there “Is there anything you’d like to read from me?” My blogging/Facebook friend Corina mentioned that she had ever been camping and was interested to know why l liked it so much. An easy topic to start me off!

Camping.. let me count the ways! Why do l love camping? I love the wild l love the freedom of being out there and exploring l think also l love the fact that we are limited with what we take, practicing minimalism.

When l was a little girl my parents would load the panel van- they slept on a mattress in the back l had the front seat, and we would drive to a river and meet friends with other children and just camp, cooking over fires, the men would fish, the women would bitch, the children would run free. I have many memories of falling asleep to fireside shadows and voices telling stories, and waking up in a different place and starting again!

So then l was a teenager and camping was a cheap cheerful way to get out and have fun, like that one time two cars full of us took off on a whim six of us in a three man tent with a wet dog that adopted us and decided to spend the night. It rained the whole time the boys went surfing, us girls sat on the beach miserably, we ate junk food by torchlight and spent the night very snuggly top and tail in this tiny tent with this wet sandy dog spread out along all of us, no blankets needed! It was a great weekend despite the weather and that one girl who went camping with a hair dryer and five pairs of shoes.. clearly she had never been camping before.

We asked her “What’s with the hair dryer?” she replied “if we go out for dinner l’ll need a shower and to do my hair” the rest of us laughed so hard tears streamed down our faces and our stomach ached “Where do you plan to plug it in?” We asked in between fits of giggles “a gumtree?!” We, the rest of us knew there was no power and certainly no “going out for dinner” going out for dinner consisted of walking to the kiosk and ordering steamed Dim Sims and Chocolate Big M’s! And if that wasn’t enough to shock her, breakfast the next morning was a meat pie with tomato sauce! Needless to say SHE never went camping again and she tried to change the guy she was dating so he’d stop hanging out with us- she didn’t succeed and she also didn’t last long.

My next camping experience was as a young adult, we decided to go camping to a popular beach side town about four hours drive away. I was with my fiancé and we took my friend/Neighbour and his partner. Loaded up the car and off we went. We had a huge tent, mattresses and doonas and not much else we planned to cook on the caravan parks bbq’s. We set up easily enough, everything was going smoothly, the next day we decided to go exploring so we cleaned camp opened the windows to let some air in and off we went. While we were out we watched huge black clouds gathering and joked about needing an ark it was going to rain that much! But the joke was on us!! The storm had already been through our camp site and our bedding was floating on a puddle of water… the feather filled doonas were soaked and soggy, our bags with clothes drenched, the pillows and anything else inside the tent were water logged and we spent the next two hours trying to rid our tent of water. We had to put all our bedding in the laundromat driers. We were very wet unhappy campers and l swore “Never again will l go camping!”

Of course l did! When my two daughters were babies, we packed up and went camping with my Bestie and her husband, our husbands were Besties too and were on a “hunters” jag complete with loud guns! We didn’t get rained out as spent a fun weekend.

Then there was a long break about maybe 15-20 years of no camping, instead there were mortgages, babies, commitments, divorces and tears and then there were houses needing to be sold and moving children to new neighbourhoods and life was crazy.

My next husband loved camping and when we first met he was going away interstate camping he rang me on New Years Eve 2000 from the top of a mountain which was the only place he could get reception to tell me about his camp and the critters he saw and he said “One day l’ll bring you here” in my heart of hearts l thought “not with these kids you won’t!”

Eventually we were a family of five blended children which comes with its own set of difficulties, five VERY different personalities and The Bloke and l wondering how to survive this mine field.

Fast forward ten years, the eldest four have grown and got lives and if not moved on at least able to fend for themselves and so the camping subject got raised again. The Bloke is persistent not in a mean pushy way but like a gentle stream of water that wears down your defences and soon enough l agreed “Ok let’s try it!” He had the gear and so we squished it all into our car with 10 year old Star Son and headed for Swan Hill about five hours drive from home on the border of Victoria and New South Wales.

The skies were grey and broody the whole time l was on edge remembering that one time when we spent a soggy wet night not excited for a repeat of that! We stopped for lunch and then the rain began uh oh!

The further we drove, the closer we got to our destination the HEAVIER the rain fell. To the point the wipers couldn’t keep the windscreen clear. Unlike some wives l don’t yell or argue l get silent even my tears are silent and l was NOT HAPPY!

As we drove into the town the rain started lessening and l voiced my fears about camping in a puddle, The Bloke said “if it doesn’t stop l’ll book us a cabin” Me “What if there are no cabins?!” Him: “I’ll find us a motel” Me: “Can we JUST go home!!” Him “No!!” So l stayed in the car when we got to the Caravan Park, the rain had lessened, he got out to check in and suddenly the sun came out.. no word of a lie! The sun came out, steam rose from the roads and out came Star Son and the Bloke like they’d planned it all.

Our first camping trip was perfect, warm days, cool enough nights to sleep, loads of adventures, tent was named Tamara and she was a dream and suddenly l realised l was enjoying myself! I liked camping! I’d forgotten the fun of living like a gypsy!

We have camped 3/4’s of Australia in Tamara, we quickly figured out what worked and what didn’t, what made us comfortable but didn’t add bulk! That first trip Star Son and l started a journal about “The Adventures of Tamara the tent” we all three of us wrote in it we added leaves, feathers, stickers, ticket stubs, we wrote about adventures and things we’d done like the day Star Son taught Mum how to do a front flip on the jumping pillow!! I don’t know who was more shocked me that l tried it or him that l did it!! Camping brings out a different carefree me!

Eventually The Bloke decided it was time to upgrade from the tents, Star Son soon got his own tent he called it “Trent” and we added a trailer to the list of camping supplies “Matilda” we went waltzing around Australia with Matilda keeping our camping gear safe! One trip The Bloke’s hip started playing up and he struggled to get up off the floor where our inflatable mattress was, we had to find a Dr and stay in camp a few extra days until the pain pills kicked in. He decided we needed to get off the ground and so he began researching caravans and campers!

We decided on Ursula Ultimate, an Australian built camper trailer, with a leather couch and an indoor kitchen in case we need to cook out of the rain! https://www.facebook.com/ursulasultimateadventures/

There’s the link to see Ursula and all our adventures! Next Monday we are putting Ursula and her tow vehicle Priscilla Prado on the ship and we’re off to Tasmania for six weeks! I’ll share that trip here.

This post is turning into a book but we are passionate about camping we love it. When The Bloke retired last February our goal was to spend all our time camping but Covid stopped that. This year we are aiming for 100 nights (at least) camping.. watch this space to see how we go!

Ursula Ultimate in the wild where we now prefer to be!

Now what else would you like me to write about?!

Happy 2021

Here we are first of February already.. wow where did that first month go?

It’s been a crazy few years and l’ve not been good at blogging l need to get better so l’m adding this to my “to be done” list. I’ll aim for weekly but we’re about to go for a six week camping trip to Tasmania so it might be more frequent.

Firstly let’s do a quick up date…

2020 the year of Corona it was also the year that The Bloke aka my husband retired from his job. His plan has always been to retire when our youngest finished school which happened abruptly when he did his knee the first time.. yes you read that right “the first time” because he did his knee a second time albeit a slightly less vicious way! Still required surgery which was put off due to Corona until October and he’s still having physio for it.

So February 28 2020- The Bloke retired and to celebrate that AND his leap year birthday AND our wedding anniversary – yep l married him on a leap year (method in my madness because now every four years we honeymoon again!) this triple celebration took us to Bali for 9 days of bliss. While we were in Bali my adult children kept us up to date with “home stuff” including the need to bring home toilet paper because the shops were going crazy. We laughed how ridiculous until we stepped OFF the plane to an almost deserted airport and it was quite eerie. We were one of the last flights to make it back before mandatory quarantine. We found toilet paper and went about “retired life” a camping trip, then another one, the plan had been to meet friends from QLD and do a camping trip along the Murray river… and then Covid hit!

First to suffer was our weekly visits to my M-I-L in her nursing home facility. We had planned to go more often now that The Bloke was retired. Of course we understood the reasoning but l don’t know if she ever understood. In April she left the world, my Sister-in-law and niece were with her, My husband got to see her briefly and l got to peep at her through the window. So heartbreaking and of course new Covid rules meant no funeral. One of my Star Son’s friends offered him consolation in the form of a puppy and welcomed Roxy the Staffy into our family.

Then #lockdown became a thing and the start we had a 8.00pm- 6.00 am curfew and a few shops closed. Worse was coming. We camped in the front yard for Easter! We were able to walk an hour each day so we walked with the puppy l really think this girl saved my mental health during lockdown. I really had a hard time being locked in the house with two adult children a Grandma daughter and a newly retired husband, my art failed me for the first time l couldn’t even escape into Art, I’d go to my studio to do art and then sit there and cry or clean in the end l just stopped l haven’t done any art since April 2020. Instead l got a note book and took up journaling again because my head was so full of conspiracy theories and rubbish Covid stuff l also deleted Facebook and just curled up with my journal and my books.

In June they released us and at 8.00am we were gone, we went up North into New South Wales and toured and visited some friends near the Queensland border. We had to be home for my Daughter’s 30th birthday on July 6. So the closer we got the worse the news got. Finally she called and said “My party is canceled we might have to go back into lockdown” at that point we were back on the Victoria/ New South Wales border it was day 16 of our trip and we literally tossed a coin.. do we go back up to our friends in Northern NSW or go home and risk lockdown again? The Grandma in me yelled “Home and Grandbabies” and so we went home.

Lockdown2 came quickly and more severe, one hour a day to walk outside, only one household person could do shopping, everything closed and no one allowed into your homes. I couldn’t even see my Grand children, thank goodness for FaceTime. In the end we would meet out the front of the house and walk to the park. But even that was limited in the amount of people allowed to gather.

June- November such a horrible time. We camped in the front yard, we ALL distance educated a very active 6 year old, we gardened, we read LOTS and watched heaps of Netflix! We could only go 5 kilometres from home so we got to know our neighbourhood very well walking the dog.

November we got unlocked but we were only allowed to travel within our State and so once again we packed up and ran away!

We came home again for Sweetpea’s birthday and our Grandsons birthdays in December. We still had rules about gatherings and how many people in our homes etc. We are STILL wearing face masks it’s certainly now how we planned to spend the first year of The Blokes retirement.

But Australia has been here a long time and will be here a long time still so we have time.

January we stayed home to spend it painting the inside of our house, taking three or four day breaks occasionally to clear the paint fumes and go camping.

Our first big trip is to Tasmania on 8th February until March 20th. Then we’re on baby watch as we await the birth of Grandchild number 7!

My word for 2021 is FREEDOM…. (I will never take the ability to walk out my front door for granted again!)

My New Years resolutions (Yes l make them every year!) is ….

* Do yoga every day ( I hurt my back so I’ve had a week off – already broke this one!)

* Read 90 books (last year I got 85 done)

*Camping Goal is 100 nights! That’s a minimum number!

Then l added one more challenge for #the100daysproject I’ve decided to do #100daysofme it started on January 31st and I plan to do something special and nice for myself every day for one hundred days and I’ve just decided to document it right here so that I can be accountable… will you help me by reading and commenting to keep me on track.. maybe suggest some ways I can spoil me..

Day one #100daysofme #the100daysproject l restarted my yoga after hurting my back a week ago, I did #YWA for back pain and I did a workout for back pain with my new friend Pahla B who does workouts for Women over 50. I had been going great and was on day 12 of her Walk off the weight series but I guess I pushed myself a little too hard workout with Pahla in the morning and then Yoga with Adriene in the afternoon. Ouch! After my exercise I also gave myself a foot soak with listerine, apple cider vinegar and hot water.. lovely! I hit my 2.8 litres of water goal and kept my calories under control. Day one was a success!!

So if you are still reading… l hope you’ll follow this new adventure, share ways l can spoil myself. Also l am currently doing three reading challenges l’ll do another post about that later but feel free to share your favourite book l am always after book suggestions. I’ll do some book reviews too!

Here’s to 2021! Did you make any resolutions? Did you start any new habits? Come on tell me all!!

My Granddog Roxy we took her camping last week! She’s such a Grandma’s girl!!