Pam's Journal for March 2006

Wednesday 1st March 06
Lay day today. In the evening we went to Bev and Greg’s for dinner. It was a really nice evening.

Thursday 2nd March 06
Lay day, all this enjoying oneself is very tiring.

Friday 3rd March 06
We had a few errands to do today and then we were off to Brian and Marjorie’s for dinner. Brian is Peter’s brother’s wife’s brother. Did you manage to work that out? We had a really lovely evening with them, Marjorie cooked an excellent meal and we really enjoyed their company. We learnt a lot more about the history of Sydney from Brian who seems to have a memory like a computer, not only for events but for dates as well. Anyway, as they say, all good things must come to an end, so we said our goodbyes and set off home. We hadn’t gone far when the mobile phone rang, I had left my glasses behind. Back we went and then set off again. The phone rang again. Peter said “Now what have you left behind?” But I hadn’t it was just Brian ringing with some information he had very kindly looked up for Peter.

Saturday 4th March 06
We were on the move early this morning as we were travelling into the city to watch the Mardi Gras. We were told by our neighbours to get there early otherwise we wouldn’t see anything. So we did; we caught the bus, then the ferry into the city. We then walked to Oxford Street, had some lunch and found a good position near some toilets inside the fast food outlet, Hungry Jacks. We then had to move across the street as Hungry Jacks closed the toilets. We weren’t fazed by that though as now we were outside a pub. Toilets plus drinks, who could ask for more? What we didn’t take into account was that as it got nearer the time for the parade, the crowds grew dense and we were well and truly blocked in. Anyway the parade started and we enjoyed some of it but most of it was in poor taste or too political or just plain disgusting. Some of the costumes were spectacular and some people made a big effort but we won’t be going again next year. We arrived home about 12.30 a.m. and were very, very tired.

Sunday 5th March 06
Bev and Greg joined us for breakfast at a local café near the caravan park. I have to say Pete Mate and I were still tired from yesterday. Anyway we drank copious amounts of coffee and began to feel human especially after devouring bacon and eggs as well. We finished off breakfast by a walk on the beach. We had a bit of a rest and then it was off to Kirrabilli to meet up with the Fisher family. Not Kirrabilli House (where the Prime Minister of Australia lives) but the grassy banks under the bridge.

A happy reunion with friends of long standing.

We met Rosalie’s 'intended' as well as family members and friends. It was so good to see Dot, Rosalie, Vanessa and Andrew again. It was a very pleasant evening eating our Thai takeaway with million dollar views.

Monday 6th March 06
Apart from doing some shopping and washing we didn’t do a lot during the day. In the evening we went to Sue and Sam Goosen’s for dinner. Very nice it was too, I hadn’t met them before. Peter worked with Sue and hadn’t met Sam before. We enjoyed their company and of course, good food and wine.

Tuesday 7th March 06
It was 'get ready day' today. I got on with my chores and had pretty well finished by lunch time. Pete Mate started well after lunch and hadn’t finished when Bev and Greg called round to have a farewell drink. Drinks and nibbles turned into dinner so any jobs remaining will have to be done in the morning. It was another pleasant evening and very difficult to say goodbye.

Wednesday 8th March 06
We tried to get away early but so many people came over to chat and say goodbye, it was 9.45am before we left the caravan park. We had an uneventful trip to the caravan repair place. We had a leak in the roof near the air-conditioner, and now, hopefully, we don’t. We had to wile away a couple of hours whilst the repairs were being done. We found a very large shopping centre, had some lunch and a wander around the place. We then got the call to collect Bessie, which we did and then continued on to the caravan park. It seems a pleasant enough park, the ablution block is clean and has soap. Once we'd set up camp it was Happy Hour - a perfect end to another perfect day.

Thursday 9th March 06
We decided to walk into The Entrance from the caravan park. It was only 3 kms but it was very hot and my foot wasn’t the best. Anyway once there we had a look around and then had lunch - the worst Caesar Salad ever. After lunch we found the town centre and had a look around there and to our dismay discovered that Gloria Jean’s (coffee shop) has not arrived at The Entrance. We found a mediocre coffee shop then headed back down the road home. Our first impression is that The Entrance is very pretty but there is a lot of litter caused by free newspapers being delivered to unoccupied holiday homes. The locals were not over friendly either.

Friday 10th March 06
We went to Bateau Bay to do some shopping and found a Gloria Jeans. Yes, I know we are sad but we are addicted to their coffee. After dinner we headed off to our first concert of the festival. It was at the local Golf Club, the drinks were cheap and the concert was free. Country music it wasn’t but it was still very enjoyable. It was music from the 50’s and 60’s. It must have brought back happy memories for Pete Mate as he bought the CDs . . . or could it have been that they were so cheap! ($10 for 2). Anyway the Golf Club drinks are not only cheap but very strong too - I felt quite squiffy when I left there.

Saturday 11th March 06
We had a full day of concerts with some really good music. There are so many talented young people out there. One of our favourites was performing, Kirsty Lee Akers. We saw and fell in love with her in Tamworth. We saw a young chap of about 12 play the banjo and boy, was he good! The main attraction of the day was Adam Harvey who was excellent and Beccy Cole did a surprise guest appearance with him. Once that was over we went home for dinner before setting off to a RSL club to watch Smokin’ Guns. They were so good and very funny. Overall we had an excellent day.

Sunday 12th March 06
First event of the day was a Poets Breakfast. It was very good . . .

. . . male and female poets kept us entertained with their amusing rhymes.

Then it was one concert after another until 5.00pm when the closing concert started. The idea was that any of the festival's performers could walk up and do a couple of numbers but only three turned up. The band running the show had do more numbers than they'd anticipated so it became very spontaneous with a lot of requests. They were very good and it was an enjoyable concert but by now we were very cold. I was anyway. When the concert has just about finished we absconded to the local Thai restaurant for dinner and to get warm.

Monday 13th March 06

We had a very pleasurable time with Margaret Drewitt Smith. (Mother-in-law of Pete Mate’s brother Andrew). Margaret lives in a retirement village which she proudly showed to us and it is very nice. We enjoyed a nice lunch and it was lovely to chat to Margaret about places we had visited as she had also visited them many years ago.

Tuesday 14th March 06
We are due to leave tomorrow but I have started with a streaming cold so we decided to wait a few more days and leave on Saturday. We didn’t do much as I spent most of the day lying on the bed.

Wednesday 15th March 06
Felt a bit better today so we went to do the shopping. I was very glad to get home and lie down again.

Thursday 16th March 06
Oh no, looks like Pete Mate is going down with the dread lurge! So far it is only a ‘mild’ version. I feel I am over the worst now so Pete Mate suggested we go out for lunch and have a wander around The Entrance, which we did. I have to admit it did me a lot of good, I felt a lot better when we arrived back home. More than I can say for Pete Mate as he is now lying down. The mild version has now turned into the ‘male’ version. No need to explain that to all the women out there!

Friday 17th March 06
Looks like we will be here at least until Monday. Pete Mate is worst and I am a lot better. Apart from that it is a beautiful day, warm not hot and sunny. We were hoping for rain before leaving here so we could test the roof repair. Well, we had rain all day Wednesday and so far the repair is a success.
Must get those maps out today and get a bit of a plan going!

Saturday 18th March 06
Well, we are a pair. Pete Mate is no better and I feel worse than yesterday. Another lay day.

Sunday 19th March 06
We are still a pair of miserable buggers so we took ourselves off to The Entrance for a coffee, thinking fresh air and a change of scenery will help. We also sorted out a few pending paperwork issues - tax and stuff.

Monday 20th March 06
We didn't feel the best so we have extended again for another two days. We had to do some shopping but as soon as we got home we both had to lie down. I cannot believe it is taking us so long to shake this bug off.

Tuesday 21st March 06
I feel a lot better today, Pete Mate is better but still feels rotten. We have decided to move on tomorrow but if, when we get up, Pete Mate is not better then we will stay another night. One good thing is the trip tomorrow isn’t that far, only about 47 kms. I did all my chores and still felt pretty good. We then went for a short walk on the beach and I mean a short walk, but by the time we got back I had to lie down. Overall though, I reckon we are now on the mend. The beach, by the way, is a nice surfing beach but as we are not into surfing it didn’t do much for us. The Entrance is a nice place and we wouldn’t haven’t a problem coming back here next year for the festival.

Wednesday 22nd March 06
We finally moved on today. We only had a short journey to Belmont, just outside Newcastle. We set up camp, Pete Mate had a nap and I went for a walk. We are very close to Lake Macquarie which, according to the brochures, is bigger than Sydney Harbour. I had a very pleasant walk along the waterfront and then, lo and behold, found some shops. I had a look around and then returned home. I was very glad the weather remained fine as I didn’t take an umbrella.

Thursday 23rd March 06
We had heavy rain during the night and we now have a leak on the front window. Well actually there has always been a bit of one there but since the caravan repair people had a look to see if they can repair it, it is worse. Pete Mate is confident he can repair it. We went into Newcastle to do the touristy bit today. I quite liked the city. At first you notice buildings that are badly in need of some TLC but if you look beyond that Newcastle has some fine old buildings that have been beautifully preserved. I especially loved the terraced houses, one in particular has just sold for over a million dollars. Mind you, it is now detached as all the adjoining houses have been demolished over the years. Even so it wasn’t that big. We did the tour of the city on the tram, it was a really good way to see all the best places with the commentary added. We even saw hang-gliders take off. Rather them than me! In the evening we saw Ann and Tom, friends we had met on the cargo boat trip we did from Cairns. It was lovely to see them again and we enjoyed a lovely barbecue and, of course, a few glasses of red.

Friday 24th March 06
Pete Mate didn't feel like doing much so we had a lazy day. We went for a walk in the afternoon.

Saturday 25th March 06
We had some grocery shopping to do and also we needed a Bunnings and a camping shop. We spent an hour in the camping shop and another hour in Bunnings. I bought one or two things but Pete Mate just looked. We enjoyed a nice lunch at a small coffee shop, the food tasted a lot better than the place looked. Once back at the caravan park we got ourselves ready to move on in the morning.

Sunday 26th March 06
Even though we did all the preparation yesterday it was still 10.00 a.m. when we left the caravan park. We had an easy trip, not too long, and arrived at Old Bar around lunchtime. The park is nice, right on the beach, but there are so many rules it is ridiculous. Anyway, Pete Mate and I made a New Year's resolution not to follow rules. We phoned friends Jill and Sandy to see if they would like to 'catch up'. The result was that we met them in Taree for dinner along with their children Cameron and Kirsten. It was a very enjoyable and relaxed evening. They invited us to go to their house tomorrow for a sightseeing tour.

Monday 27th March 06
We arrived at Sandy and Jill's around 11.00ish. After the grand tour and a cup of coffee we set off for a trip to Ellenborough Falls and a picnic lunch. We did a short walk and saw plenty of wildlife, the whole area is very attractive. It was a lovely day. We then headed back to their home for a barbecue which again was really nice.

Tuesday 28th March 06
We went into Taree to collect the mail. Not all of it had arrived so we will have to return tomorrow. In the evening we met Jill, Sandy and Kirsten for dinner at one of their favourite restaurants. Cameron couldn't make it as he had band practice. We enjoyed a very pleasant evening then we said our goodbyes.

Wednesday 29th March 06
We did some shopping in Taree and checked the mail - still not arrived. They are going to forward it to Jimboomba for us. Once home it was preparation time as we are on the move again tomorrow.

Thursday 30th March 06
We didn’t do too bad for us, managing to leave Old Bar around 9.00 a.m. We had a pleasant journey during which nothing of any real significance occurred. There were plenty of f#!*|?*g road works though. (That’s what Pete Mate called them). The countryside was very pretty and very green. During a mid-morning coffee stop I discovered Pete Mate had programmed into Alice a caravan park which, on paper, looked the worse of three in Arrawarra. A tactful suggestion that we might look at the other two was greeted with a positive response. When Pete Mate had a look at the book he realised he had chosen the wrong one. (Amazing what a girlie look can do). Only trouble was Alice didn’t agree and would not find the other caravan parks, so - and I know this will impress you - we did it the old fashioned way by looking at road signs.

We were not too far away from our destination when I needed a toilet break, as you do. Anyway we decided we might as well have lunch as well. So we are sitting in our caravan eating our sandwich discussing why Tom Jones has today been knighted. What has he done for society except sing and collect knickers! So we decided, in our wisdom, that my mum should have been honoured for her work in looking after over a hundred babies when she was a foster mother. She was far more deserving than Sir Tom Jones or Sir Mick Jagger. So from now on our caravan - formerly called 'Bessie' - shall be known as Dame Bess. This led us into a discussion of when women receive a title, do they get the sword on the shoulder or is that a sexist custom? Maybe women just have more sense than to play around with swords in the ‘lopping off the head’ region of the body.

Anyway, we found the revised caravan park without a problem and it is one of the nicest we have stayed in. And, I might add, not the most expensive either. Very clean ablution block which even has a separate bathroom with a bath and hand basin, plus a children’s bathroom. They supply soap but alas, no paper towels only a hot air dryer, so they forfeit half a point. The laundry is pristine also. Yes, Pete Mate, you have chosen well.

After we set up camp it was time to view the feeding of the Lorikeets. It was . . . mmmmm  . . . interesting. Maybe. The birds were very pretty colours but made such a screeching sound. After that was over we walked down to the beach; it was a very similar style of beach to the one at Old Bar. Gosh, where has the day gone? Happy Hour is looming.

Friday 31st March 06
Woke up this morning to the sound of rain hitting the roof. Worse than that I couldn’t for the life of me remember where we were. Looking out the window didn’t help much as it was dark. It took a couple of minutes to register we were in Arrawarra. This is the downside of moving every four days. We decided - or the weather decided for us - that it would be a lay day today. It has poured all morning and doesn’t look like it will improve. If it does we will go and explore Coffs Harbour this afternoon. Well it rained all day so it was a day of letter writing and other such pleasures.

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