Tag Archive | Holidays

Travelling or a holiday?

Possibly because I have so many breaks as a teacher – every ten weeks, I have at least two weeks off – or possibly because of the effort needed for a long haul flight; either way I don't see our trip to France as a "holiday".

For me holidays are slow and relaxed, even if we do plenty of active things, whether going away or staying at home. OK, in France we won't have to get up every morning by 6 to be at work by 7.40. But we won't be lazing the days away with a book or five, on the beach. We won't be hanging by our own pool with cocktails and music. Not that we don't do active things on our holidays. Mr S can't sit still for long, hence the annual ski trip, and I have to go for walks. Our ski trip and our road trips are holidays. In the past my favourite holidays were camping by the beach in national parks. Still, while we might be on the move, we have a slow relaxed feel.

Like our trip to London two years ago, in France we will be on the go. This time it will be slightly more challenging given the language and driving challenges. We will be busy.

I want to see everything, eat everything, sit and absorb the local atmosphere. Of different places.

For we may never take this path again!

No matter how beautiful, how beguiling, we may never pass this way again.

No, my trip to France is "a trip", not a holiday. I'm like a woman on a mission.

Travelling in Australia, I'm a little more relaxed, as I know it is more likely that I can pass this way again. I didn't get to do something I wanted to last January at Lake Crackenback (in the photo above) but no worries. I think I will be back next summer.

Actually for most of my breaks, my holidays are about going on trips to somewhere new or seeing a new bit of something I missed (like my Kelly expeditions or stopping off at different places on our road trips north and south) or simply relaxing at home. I never understood the attraction of a holiday home. Why would I want to go to the same place every holiday? Why would I want another home to be responsible for? Mr S likes routine and going to the same place, like the same ski field, and having the same pub counter lunch.

What's your approach when travelling somewhere new? What's your approach to holidays – is it the new or the known that attracts you?


Once a bustling, noisy place

Mr S loves going to the same place for holidays. I don’t. So three years ago I agreed to go to the same ski resort only if we spent a couple of days exploring Kelly Country. That’s Ned Kelly. 

I had read a host of books on Ned – it was my Summer of Ned. I wanted to retrace Ned’s journey. 

Did I tell you an amazing coincidence? It will only make sense if you know the importance of Room 101 in 1984. The cell Ned was placed in Beechworth Prison was number 101!!! And a sign of the penal attitudes, while most people lived in dirt floor shacks, the prison is huge and imposing. I don’t think most visitors to the prison get it. Anyway that was the winter of 2015.

For the last three winters, I have explored different parts of Kelly country for a few days before we head off to Mr S’s favourite holiday.  This year, despite being bedridden with flu (in a lovely BnB) I managed to get out for a morning drive through Woolshed Valley. 

Fireplace in the lounge room of our lovely BnB

I wanted to go to the Woolshed Valley because it used to be a thriving place of gold diggings, Chinese market gardens, schools, pubs, small holdings. And because it was in this valley that Ned’s lieutenant lived and learnt Chinese from the Chinese gold miners, and apparently adopted their love of opium. 

You have gold diggings and deserted roads, you have bushrangers. You have a large rock, you have a place for a bushranger to hide behind, and jump out at passing coaches. “Bail up!!!”

It was also where Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly shot Aaron Sherritt with the police hiding under the bed in the two room shack. This precipitated the siege. 

It is hard to believe that there were two story hotels, restaurants, pubs and a public bath along this road. Now there are saplings, scrub and bush. There are signs along the road which describe was once was; some pointing out features left in the landscape. I couldn’t see them. 

Sebastopol Flat, a thriving town in the late 1850s

The cold, wet day made it all the more possible to imagine the miserable lives they led in Kelly’s time. Wet. Cold. Without an insulated, centrally heated house. With little furniture and limited clothing.  Just hard work all round. 

While we in the comfort of a heated car with heated seats, Ned and his gang traversed the area by foot and on horse back. 

The ford across the creek. It would flood after rains.

Totally unrelated to Ned’s time, the world’s biggest dredge, or some similar claim to fame, anyway it was damn big is in Eldorado, the village at the start of the road to Beechworth through the Woolshed Valley. It was eerie walking in this industrial relic. Again, it harked to an harder era. 

Seats from an old roller coaster? No, scopes from the dredge.

Not a shed. This is a massive floating dredge. Yes, it floats on the creek.

I told you I didn’t want to ski

We come to the ski fields every year. Actually that’s a slight generalisation. We come to the same ski resort every year. 

I’m over it. Have been for three years. I like to see different places. There’s not really any place new to walk in the village.  And I’m not really a skier. 

I CAN ski. I just don’t really like it. I mean some runs have been great fun but speed and heights are not my thing.  Which kinda rules out sliding down a mountain. 

For the last three years I came under sufferance. Or with caveats. Like, “I’ll come but only if we do a Ned Kelly tour first.” And, “I’ll come if we go on this dirt road to see where Ned’s mate came from.”

So now I’ve exhausted the Kelly places I want to see in winter. And I don’t want to be stuck on the resort for 10 days. Two years ago there wasn’t any snow, so we went walking. Which I really enjoyed. Mr S less so as skiing is One Of His Great Joys. (I don’t get it. He knows all the runs. He’s not seeing anything different.)

Anyway, I thought I should go for a ski. I mean, I’m here. There’s snow. It’s sunny. I shouldn’t just sit and read for the 10 days. And I get a little stir crazy in the tiny (but expensive) unit (which is a fancy word for a room).

It’s easy to stay inside when it’s snowing or the queue’s massive or the visibility is limited. 

I bought a two day lift ticket. You can go up the afternoon before. So I went for a run. Mmm. It was OK. Mr S, as usual, wanted me to do more. Why? Cause you’ve paid for the lift ticket. Nah, that’s enough. My back has been twinging. 

Today was spectacular. How could I stay in the room with a day like this?

 I thought of taking my book up top and reading. No, I will do some green runs. 

And wouldn’t you know it. One of the green runs is actually harder than the blue run next to it. Rocks and grass are exposed but of course you don’t know this until you’ve committed. 

And as I was going slow because I’m a nervous Nelly, I hit a rock and fell. And twisted my knee. 

I managed to right myself and limp home but that’s it. I’m not risking my limbs. I want to be whole for France. 

I asked my son to bring me some snow in a bag so I can ice my knee. (My eldest is spending the season here, working and skiing and drinking beer. Mr S is jealous. He’d love to spend a season in the snow. Do it, I say. But without me.) 

When you send your son to get you some ice, be specific. Or you will get a massive amount.

The next few days I will dedicate to finishing the novel I am reading. And blogging. I am not risking being one of those who are taken off the mountain by skidoo. It’s just not worth it. 

You know I wish I’d stuck to last year being my last ski. Then I could have gone out with pleasant memories and stories of skiing well. Not, I fucked my knee and I’m just too old for this malarkey. 

Long service leave (LSL)

One of the perks of my job is long service leave. In addition to the regular, annual leave, I accrue extra leave, which I was able to access after working for my employer for seven years. 

I thought LSL was just to reward people for staying with one employer for an extended time. And, naively, I thought everyone got it. As in all the western world. Not just everyone who was permanently employed in Australia. 

Turns out it’s pretty unique to Australia. 

I love what Wikipedia says about it; LSL remains one of the great entitlements for working Australians. (My emphasis.)

I think we have to give a big shout out to our union movement who fought for all permanent employees in Australia to get this and who have fought for us to keep this entitlement. 

Apparently LSL may relate to our colonial heritage, with Victorian and South Australian civil servants given the opportunity to sail home to England after 10 years’ service in ‘the colonies’. The extended time being necessary given the long sailing time. They probably had to add perks to get people to SA! Sorry croweaters but let’s face it, no one wanted to go there st the start. 

LSL gradually expanded to other states, after federation. When the NSW Minister for Labour and Industry introduced the legislation after WWII, he said one purpose was to reduce labour turnover. 

Well that’s worked in Mr S and my case. I currently have   Mr S, who’s worked for the one employer longer than me and who has worked more years than me without any breaks of service has.  

We used LSL to travel to London in 2015, (in a nod to the colonial heritage! Lol) We used some LSL for our tenth wedding anniversary when we went on a cruise. I also used some to help my son through his high school final exams. Good mum that I am!

So what’s next? 

This year we are taking four and a half weeks, combined with two weeks of school break, to travel to France! That’ll be five and half weeks of travel with a few extra days at home to get ready! Makes the long haul flight worth the trip. 

My plan is to use LSL every second year for a trip overseas. 

  • 2015 London 
  • 2017 France
  • 2019 ???

Mr S would like to ski in North America and visit places in the US. I’d like to visit Italy and do the Cinque Terre walk. 

But hey, that’s years away. Let’s look to this year’s trip. In coming posts I will share my dreams and plans and organisation. 

Easter adventure – driving south 

The Pacific Highway is a different beast from that of my childhood; even from that of five years ago. 

In my childhood it was a narrow, windy road with tall trees right next to the road. Me S and I were once nearly wiped out by a logging truck that crossed to our side of the road. Another time one washed a wave of water, from rain that covered the road, over us, so we were blinded. On a narrow crest and curve!

Now for much of it, it is two lanes both ways on separated roadways. Safer. But boring. And by bypassing towns, you don’t just come across interesting places to stop. 

Hence our mid trip cuppa was at an awful stop. The first town we passed through was packed. Because it was the first interesting place to stop! And everyone wanted to stop. So, of course, Mr S didn’t want to stop. 

We tried the first roadside rest stop, one that signs from the start of the highway in NSW has advertised as future rest stops. Surely that must indicate the stop must be large, have good facilities and be attractive? OMG. It was so bad, we drove off. 

Mr S had taken over the driving, and he didn’t notice what may have been a suitable place off the road. Or did he just not want to cross the highway? He took the next road side stop on our side of the highway. It was bleak. Mozzies started to attack me. Mozzies the size of flies. Huge buggers! And then it started to rain. I hid in the car. Mr S stayed outside and fed the mozzies. 

Arriving in Bellingen, where we planned to stay for two nights, was like arriving in Nirvana. Lush, green, and sunny. The town was full of hippies and hipsters or weekend hippies. 

Our accommodation, on the main street, was above shops – a masseuse/naturopath, an alternate bookshop and a locally-made Nepalese-inspired clothes shop. Of course! What else would you expec  in a large rustic building in Bellingen! 

With large front and back verandahs, our accommodation was a spacious retreat. Rustic and arty. And it was all ours. Well except for one room off the back verandah which was used by a masseuse or acupuncturist. We couldn’t see but heard the music and smelt the incense. 

Morning view of the misty mountains from my bed.

Mr S, breakfasting in our kitchen

Back verandah

Back verandah dining table. All ours. Looking over the shops. With a spot like this, why would you go to a cafe for breakfast?

The first night we drank and ate in the pub. The food was gross. So the second night we bought the makings of our own antipasto spread and enjoyed the feast in our flat. 

Cauliflower pakora, lentil and pumpkin patties, prosciutto, cherry toms in fig balsamic vinegar, artichokes, semi dried tomatoes and olives, and French bread.

The pub. Nice beer. Meh food.

We spent the day walking around the shops, along the river, around the town. This is cafe paradise, if you’re into cafes. We’re not but we visited one for a chocolate milk shake and another one for a toasted roast pumpkin, creamy feta, spinach and dukkah sandwich. The afternoon was beer and chatting on our verandahS – time spent on both verandahs, enjoying the different views. 

We’d never seen these birds before. A quick internet search, blue-faced honey eaters, described as “pugnacious”. So accurate. They shooed off other birds to eat the scraps from the outdoor tables at the cafe.

Very yummy roast pumpkin, spinach, feta and dukkah toastie

Lots of choices of places to eat. Bellingen, cafe territory.

Mr S walking down steep path, which we walked up by mistake. The chain would be needed if it was raining. I needed it for the way up.

Old emporium.

We visited the town museum, gold coin donation entry. It has a few interesting pieces but is very cluttered and not well laid out or described. The volunteers here are going for quantity. I don’t think they want to throw anything out but really don’t have the space for it. (By the way, the Uralla museum is also run by volunteers, and while having a much bigger space, have realised space between exhibits is as important as the items exhibited. Without the space and labels, it all just becomes stuff.)

We had a five hour trip home. Time for more Dad’s Army and Agatha Christie radio plays. And, of course, a stop for a cuppa. This stop was off the highway. The toilets were built by volunteers from the local community. Not sure about the tables and playground equipment. I can see the spot will be well used by travellers. It was clean, with a playground for kids to play, somewhere to sit, an information display to read. We watched a family exercise their dog in the field you see behind Mr S. The area is removed from the highway noise but only a short way off the highway. Good for those who hate deviating off the route too far. I hope the local community don’t regret building this and that travellers treat it well. 

The sun had a bit of bite. We were grateful for the shade of the shelters. It was about 25°.

Hedge of fuchsia bottlebrushes in flower along the rest area, separating it from the road.

Mr S and I are universal in enjoying our adventures. A friend pointed out to me that I am lucky to have a partner who enjoys the same “adventures” as I do. And she’s right. 

What awaits us next break? It’s snow season, so not much guess work needed. 

Easter Adventuring – driving north

We normally stay at home over Easter; the traffic, the crowds. 

Traffic escaping Sydney over the long weekend is mad and we don’t want to be stuck in it. After all we have enough breaks to be luckily enough to travel at other weekends. 

A friend posted this on her FB – leaving Sydney on the Thursday before Good Friday

Still, we planned a trip so we would avoid the traffic of Easter. Indeed this was our first Easter trip away in over 15 years as Easter fell in the middle weekend of our two week break so we couldn’t avoid being away at Easter if we were going to be anywhere but home for any length of time. 

The main purpose of our trip was to visit my mother who lives in the hinterland of the Gold Coast. We could fly up and it would “save” time. But saved for what? Chores at home?

It takes about 10 hours of non-stop driving to get to my mother’s place. We actually prefer to drive and break the trip with an overnight stay somewhere, exploring different regions and towns, and stopping for lunch along the way. 

Mr S is a man of habits. If he had his way, we would stop at the same lunch stop every trip. Once he has a place burned in his mind as being “our stop”, it is nigh on impossible getting him to change. Yet, conversely, when we exploring new places, he loves it. 

Our drive north was via the inland road, the New England Highway. It’s our tradition to stop for a lunch of tea and egg, mayo and lettuce rolls with something sweet for dessert. Mr S makes a thermos of tea and I pack the food, a tablecloth and my fine bone china mug. If I’m going to drink tea, it will be from something nice!

As highways are upgraded and towns by-passed, it becomes harder to get Mr S to stop at nice places. He just wants to keep driving and limit tea stops to roadside rest stops. It is not nice siting on the side of the highway with traffic roaring past and with very little to look at. These stops are utilitarian, rather than part of a sightseeing trip. 

Luckily the New England Highway is still mainly single lane and still goes through towns and villages, offering much to see and interesting places to stop. 

We stopped at Muswellbrook, on the Upper Hunter, in a well-maintained park next to the old railway station. It wasn’t actually very quiet as several long coal trains rumbled by. But in between it was peaceful. And it had various things to look at – a tree with aboriginal markings, gardens, a mural on reconciliation, war memorial, the old train station, playground equipment with families playing on them, information on various old trees in the area. Definitely worthy of a stop and a nice place to have a cuppa. 

Mr S in front of the tree with aboriginal markings and the mural in the background. The observant may notice Mr S wears a cap adorned with my favourite anti-hero.

It’s always sad to see so many family names repeated on war memorials in country towns. So many family lost multiple family members.

The war memorial at one end of the park. The blue sky hides the fact that it was a little cool, perfect tea drinking weather.

Satiated, we had a slow drive by of some of the interesting building of Muswellbrook. 

Another of our road trip traditions is to listen to BBC radio plays. We have the complete three series of Dad’s Army, various Agatha Christie adaptations and other plays. We have audio books too but much prefer full cast radio plays.  It really makes the road trip so enjoyable. 

As we set off late, we arrived at the historic guesthouse in Armidale in the New England Highlands where we were booked in for two night just as dusk was deepening.  

So are you a road tripper? Do you have traditions? 

If you make the trip between Sydney and the Gold Coast, do you have any favourite rest stops to recommend? Share away. New England or Pacific Highways? Which is your pick?


It was a mad race to the end of the year and as often happens with teachers, come then holidays my body collapsed. Hacking cough, head cold, sore throat. 

But you know, these things – the mad time line and list of tasks to be done at work and colds – pass. 

As the days went on I lost track not only of the dates but what day it was. What a lovely feeling! 

So now for some things of joy and peace and beauty and sugar and spice. 

Look what my friend who lives across the road brought me when I was in the peak of suffering from my sore throat – hit honey and lemon and a medicated lozenge with a flower to cheer me. 

And then we had Christmas. Hope it was good for you? We have a relative from California staying – a young twenty-something whippersnapper. It is nice having a girl in the house, someone to decorate the tree with. My theme this year was silver with the gold weeping angel (Dr Who fans, did you get one too?) that I stuck a green feather in. Why? Just because. I wrapped my gifts in pale blue with silver ribbon. All so coordinated! Except for the gifts wrapped by Mr S and my boys. They used cheap and tacky Christmas wrapping paper. 

I think I must have a stomach tumour or something as my stomach is so big. Okay.  Food and drink galore. My waist is protesting.
Don’t you love the reflection  from tinsel? 

Dr Who Christmas special rounded off the Christmas celebrations. (If you listen to the video of my favourite Christmas candle, you can hear Dr Who in the background.)

Saw the latest James Bond and was greatly influenced to make my own cocktails. Shaken. Not stirred. So needed to buy a cocktail shaker. And cocktail glasses. What the heck! Let’s get a matching gold tray. 

Straight into New Year celebrations. More food and drink. The weather was perfect for an evening on the verandah with nibbles and BBQ. 

Fireworks anyone? I chose the classic Sydney view. Friends with sparkling wine in front of the tele. 

Now I am packing for my trip south. To Tassie!!! 

I will update my challenges – boxes out, wear it out and use it up. And friends, I will drop by your blogs shortly. 

In other news I am half way through Wolf Hall and loving it. Shocked given my three failed attempts? I know I am. 
And I was doing a university fitness research project. I know. So much has happened. I should have told you. The “was” may be “am doing”. Will fill you in shortly. Off for my walk now.