Pam's Journal for December 2007 - the "Silly Season".

Saturday 1st December 2007.
We had a few chores to do and some shopping. In the afternoon we went over to M & P's for a drink before heading out to dinner with Brian and Marjorie. (Brother-in-law and sister-in-law of Peter's brother Andrew). We enjoyed a very pleasant evening with good food wine and good company.

Sunday 2nd December 2007.
We collected M & P from their accommodation and took them to the airport. Once at the airport we had lunch and a couple of wines before we said our goodbyes. Pete Mate and I then headed off - we had an invitation to have drinks with friends and friends of friends. We progressed from drinks and nibbles to pizzas and more drinks later. It was a very enjoyable night.

Monday 3rd December 2007.
A lay day to recharge our batteries.

Tuesday 4th December 2007.
We walked to town and had our usual coffees at G.J.'s. After doing some shopping we walked back. Pete Mate worked on the computer; I watched a movie and did some knitting before starting to write the Christmas cards. In the evening we went out for a Chinese meal with Greg and Bev, then went back to their place for a nightcap. It was all very nice even though I ate and drank too much.

Wednesday 5th December 2007.
We had a wonderful day out visiting friends. We were invited to lunch with Cindy and David, which was lovely. They live on a steep slope, surrounded by tall trees and thick green bush. The meal, wine and company were excellent. Later we went to Marjorie and Brian's for dinner Again good food, good wine and excellent company which made for a very enjoyable evening. Marjorie's culinary skills are second to none and she could give the likes of Jamie Oliver a run for his money. When we left B and M's we actually managed to find our way home without any problems. We must be getting used to Sydney traffic; now all we have to do is find out why other drivers honk their horns at us all the time.

Thursday 6th December 2007.
We decided to be very brave Grey Nomads and tackle the shopping mall again. This time, when we left the car we took Alice with us to guide us back to it. We started off fine but then we went our separate ways, the plan being to meet in an hour at Gloria Jeans of which, it transpired, there were two! Anyway I finished my shopping earlier than I had anticipated and phoned Pete Mate to arrange a rendezvous. After some confusion and three more phone calls I went to find him as he was hopelessly lost - and he had Alice. This is not a reflection on Pete Mate's navigational skills, it is just a flaming awful shopping mall, far too big for us. We finished our shopping and found the car without any trouble, thanks to Alice. We set off home and found ourselves going a different way. No, we weren't lost, we just felt like a change. Again!

Friday 7th December 2007.
As the weather forecast for today was sunshine we decided to get a few tasks done today in preparation of our departure on Sunday. Once they were out of the way we went to do some shopping. Whilst there the heavens opened and it poured down. We waited until the rain eased and then Pete Mate went to get the car whilst I waited in the dry. Once home we discovered we had had a leak and water was all over the carpets, floor and inside the cupboards. What a mess! We had to mop up as best we could as we were expected somewhere for dinner. We left all the cupboards open and the air conditioner on; the place looked like a bomb had gone off. We enjoyed a very nice evening with Greg and Bev, finishing with a nightcap at their place. Roughly translated, that means the men chatted and Bev and I fell asleep. We said our goodbyes as we don't know when we will see them again.

Saturday 8th December 2007.

We rushed around in the morning getting the outside packed away as rain was forecast for later in the day. We also had to put away the things in the dry cupboards; this is when we discovered two more wet cupboards. Ho-hum. Meanwhile I was searching for my glasses until a phone call from Greg enlightened me as to where I had left them. Pete Mate was going to collect them for me later but before we knew it there was a knock at the door and Greg had kindly brought them over. Another goodbye and then Pete Mate and I had to finish our chores. We did a quick trip over to Bunnings for some stuff to stop the leak where Pete Mate thinks it is coming in. After the forecast for rain it remained dry all day and night. Thank goodness.

Sunday 9th December 2007.
We were up early and away just before 9.00am. We had a good trip through to Singleton and arrived just after midday. The office was locked until 2.00pm, but I phoned the office number and was told our allocated site so we were able to set up camp. It seems a nice and friendly place so we may stay here until we have to leave for Tamworth. Here we have our own en suite and the daily rate is still $23.50 cheaper than Sydney. It is very hot and we were tired after the journey so we had a good rest with the air-conditioning running. In the evening we watched the School Spectacular on the ABC Television. These young people of Australia are so talented; it whetted our appetite for Tamworth as we both enjoy the concerts which feature the youngsters. Tomorrow we explore Singleton.

Monday 10th December 2007.

In the morning we awoke to the sound of silence! Wonderful, no sirens, no traffic and no noisy kids running about. Are we turning into grumpy people? The weather was fine and sunny so we decided to walk into town. It wasn't too far and we found the town charming and the people friendly. We had a good look around and then after some lunch headed for home as Pete Mate's foot was sore. Once home we had a rest and then took the car out to do some shopping. By now the weather had changed and it was colder, grey and miserable. We had just managed to do the shopping when the heavens opened and God gave us another shower. Thank goodness we have an en suite here and don't have to traipse across to the toilet block in the rain.

Tuesday 11th December 2007.
The weather hasn't improved much from yesterday so in the morning we finished all our Christmas letters and then I walked into town to post them all. This year most people are getting email greetings and the money saved will go to "Greening Australia". The weather is not the best and luckily I took my umbrella as it was pouring down when I came out of the Post Office. Once back at the caravan we had lunch and then I watched some programmes and knitted whilst Pete Mate played computers. We were all snug in our caravan as the rain lashed down and so far no more leaks.

Wednesday 12th December 2007.
It poured with rain all day so we didn't venture far.

Thursday 13th December 2007.

We awoke to beautiful sunshine so we got ourselves into gear, so to speak, and left the caravan relatively early for us. Our first stop was Cessnock; it is a larger town than Singleton but has little attraction other than the surrounding countryside and wineries. We then continued to Kurri Kurri, a small country town with some very good murals painted on various buildings. We left there and returned to Cessnock for lunch before heading off to the Hunter Valley Gardens. Well that was the plan but we abandoned it because of rain. We were hoping that, whilst having lunch, the rain would clear but no such luck, so we decided to return home. On the way we saw a sign for the Infantry Museum and decide to call in there. It was quite good apart from all the guns, not bad for some 'blue' time. Now where can I find a doll museum for some 'pink' time? After the museum we headed home and it was still raining.

Friday 14th December 2007.
Again the sun was shining so I did a whole stack of washing. We then went into town to do the town walk. This consisted of following a printed booklet and looking at historical buildings along the way. The buildings were in need of some TLC but the churches were worth looking at. Catholic churches are generally locked but the Anglican churches are always open. We walked and walked for about four hours before making our way to Woolworth's car park where we left the car. We were pooped, it had been a wonderfully hot day and I got burnt; the sun gave me a headache. We enjoyed a cool diet coke before tackling the grocery shopping. By the time we got home, brought the washing in and unpacked the shopping it was time for a lie down. God help me if I ever had to go back to work.

Saturday 15th December 2007.
What a bonus, the sun was shining again today. We decided to go and have a look at the Hunter Valley Gardens which has won awards and the girl in the information centre said it was the jewel of the Hunter Valley. So how could we not go? It was only half an hour's drive through the spectacular Hunter Valley which, after all the recent rain, is very green. Once we were there and had paid our fee we started our ramble through the twelve different theme gardens including an orchard of all different fruit and nut trees. The whole place was beautiful with well kept gardens throughout.

A very small part of the Hunter Valley Gardens.

We wandered through the Rose Garden via the Formal Gardens into the Indian Mosaic garden where the delicate scent of the roses was replaced by the smell of aromatic herbs and spices. From there we found the Chinese Moonscape garden which was the only one that didn't captivated us. Next on the map was the waterfall and sunken garden, all magnificent. We wandered on and found the Story Book Garden which was full of nursery rhyme characters as well as colourful plants. One of the scenes depicted Humty Dumpty sitting on a wall. Guess who tried to push him off?

Pete Mate pretending to push Humpty Dumpty off his wall. What a ham!
Anyone think of a joke about ham and egg?)

The figures were so well done that frequently we would glance at a character and for a second believe it was real. After this it was all downhill, literally, as we had reached halfway - the gardens are on a gentle slope. We found the Lookout overlooking all the gardens and then the Brumby Garden which had topiary Brumbies, so well done. From the Brumbies we found the Italian Garden from where we strolled into the Oriental Garden. By now we had had enough and as it was blistering hot we decided to give the walk around the lake a miss. On the way home we stopped at a monument which we had previously passed and had intrigued me. A Riot Monument - it was in memory of the Coal Miners Lockout in 1929 to 1931. The position of the monument is where the miners and the police clashed on 16th December 1929 and a miner died. The miners were protesting about the employers using 'scab' labour. Interesting, I will now have to 'Google' to find out why the miners were locked out of their mine at Rothbury.

Sunday 16th December 2007.

Apart from going for a walk we didn't do much else. We timed our walk right as we hadn't been home long when the heavens opened and it rained for most of the night.

Monday 17th December 2007.
We awoke to pouring rain but by lunchtime it had cleared enough for our walk. Apart from that it was pretty much the same as yesterday.

Tuesday 18th December 2007.
I gave the caravan a good clean in the morning and in the afternoon we went for our walk. We finished our exciting day by visiting the supermarket. I did however Google the Rothbury Riot - an account follows:


Margaret Thatcher might have studied this conflict before taking on the British miners. Everybody loses.
It's interesting to see that the three veterans of the conflict lived to 93, 97 and 89 respectively.

Wednesday 19th December 2007 - Six More Sleeps.
The sun is shining again so I did a load of washing. I cleaned out some drawers and in the afternoon we went for our walk. We had a look at St Andrew's Church as we somehow missed it when we did the walking tour. It was a pretty ordinary Uniting Church. It was very hot and walking was a chore compared with the last few days when it has been cooler. Once home I read and Pete Mate played computers.

Thursday 20th December 2007 - Five More Sleeps.
The day was sunny but I didn't feel like doing anything, so I didn't. This is one of the advantages of being retired.

Friday 21st December 2007 - Four More Sleeps.
I still didn't feel like doing much. Someone gave me an early Christmas present - a head cold and a cough. It was a really hot day so we stayed inside in the air-conditioned caravan.

Saturday 22nd December 2007 - Three More Sleeps.
What a night! First it was so hot and sticky but we don't run the air conditioner at night - why don't we run the air conditioner at night? Then I had a coughing fit. Anyway I was just going off to sleep when the heavens opened and it poured with really heavy rain plus it was thundering. I find it difficult to sleep with the noise of the rain on the caravan roof. I was just managing to doze off and the next thing I knew the light was on and Pete Mate was tramping about the caravan to check for leaks. Luckily we didn't have any; whatever Pete Mate did he seems to have fixed them. Eventually I got off to sleep and then about 4.30am that damn bird started off again. I think I am about to become a bird murderer. It was a pretty miserable day weather wise, it rained and the wind was quite strong so we didn't venture out again. Ed: And you think we have wonderful life!

Sunday 23rd December 2007 - Two More Sleeps
We went for a walk in the morning and then did some shopping. After lunch we took a drive out to Lake St Clair and the dam. The scenery along the way was beautiful, lovely rolling green hills, so green in fact it reminded me of an oil painting. We walked along the dam wall, the parapet of which was so high I that had difficulty seeing over the top. From there we went to the Lake St Clair recreation area which was lovely but it was mainly a camping ground, boat launching ramp and a place to fish. So as we had neither tent, boat nor rod we didn't stay long. On the way home we called by to see the Sundial. We had previously visited this on one of our walks but it was fenced due to work being done. We discovered the work had been finished but the fence was still in place so we weren't able to get up close and personal with the sundial.

Monday 24th December 2007 - One More Sleep
We went for a walk along the Hunter River and then walked back through the town. Everyone was busy getting ready for tomorrow. The car parks were full and the shops busy - what madness descends upon the human race at this time of the year!

Tuesday 25th December 2007 - Christmas Day

A quiet but enjoyable day. The weather is cold and overcast; an excellent day for Christmas pudding.

Wednesday 26th December 2007.
Another quiet day but today the sun is shining so I washed everything in sight. We went for a long walk in the hope that we would burn off the mince pies. We also intended to buy
some more if Brumby’s had been open, their mince pies are to die for. After our walk we watched a DVD and read. Just hectic, this life we lead.

Thursday 27th December 2007.
The only drawback to 'washing everything in sight' is that it all has to be ironed. Whoever invented ironing should be shot. Anyway I got all that out of the way before breakfast, did the rest of my chores and then wrote some letters. In the afternoon I went for walk to post the letters and to get some more mince pies. Yep that's our diet gone down the drain, these mince pies are definitely addictive.

Friday 28th December 2007.
Friday is a big day in Singleton for two reasons. First they have the craft and food fair in the Town Square Mall. Second, if you spend $25 at the IGA supermarket you get a voucher for 10 cents/litre discount on your fuel. Our first chore was driving around all the service stations checking the price of the diesel which resulted in using up more fuel so we could fit more in the tank thus saving more money!!!! Anyway we got our voucher and we duly filled up. The markets were nowhere to be seen so we went and bought some more mince pies, did the rest of the shopping, then went home. By evening we had two lots of new neighbours, a novelty for us as we have been on our own for about two weeks.

Saturday 29th December 2007.
It was get ready day today as tomorrow we are off to Tamworth. We took Billy to the carwash for a treat and then packed everything away.

Sunday 30th December 2007.
We left Singleton around 10.00am and had a good run through. You would have thought we were in Scotland - the scenery was green rolling hills with a few mountains in the background plus we travelled through towns called Scone and Aberdeen. On our arrival at Tamworth we were greeted like we were old friends and immediately we felt at home. We were told the sad news that Stan Hunt had passed away the previous night; he was a favourite of the park as he not only stayed here but also used to perform here as well as in and around Tamworth. He had a massive heart attack and he was only 57. Very sad. Whilst setting up camp we were greeted by some very friendly people, a lot coming from W.A. This resulted in us being invited to Happy Hour which was very pleasant indeed.

Monday 31st December 2007.
We did some shopping and a few other chores. In the evening we joined some of our new friends for a New Year's Eve drink. We thought we would have a couple of drinks and then around 9.30pm we would say goodnight and see the New Year in, in our usual way . . . asleep. Well it just shows how time flies when you are enjoying other people's company as before we knew it, it was midnight and so we saw the New Year in with a lot of kissing and good wishes.

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