I have been procrastinating and thinking about how to go about this year-end Roundup. Many of the places around this area end in –“up” so taking that metaphor as a start I began to write. Ironically much of recent events in our lives have not been about up but more about down and I don’t want to write about it that much because it makes you worry and feel sad for us whereas we seem to bounce back pretty well and get back into putting one foot in front of the other day by day. We find ways to make ourselves happy and I, certainly, don’t stay gloomy for that long. Having said that though, we do realistically have gloomy thoughts about our financial future from time to time.
We used to say glibly that if buying and selling stuff didn’t enable us to have a night out every week then we shouldn’t be doing it! Nights out will not be a reality for a long time to come. Two reasons – the markets are not as profitable as we had become used to and we have significantly greater calls on our income. We had to get finance to buy another Sprinter van and those repayments are a burden. We could get angry with ourselves and each other but the truth is that the Demon Bi-Polar struck twice in quick succession; we sold the old Sprinter for way too little and agreed to buy the ex-RAAF ambulance Ford 150 V8 which was always going to be a dog. We also bought stuff at a Gray’s Online auction which turned out to be not what we hoped for! However we are managing to sell it with small profits and continue to work as hard as we are able keeping within the limits imposed by Centrelink w.r.t. our maximum allowed earnings. A dear friend from Swaziland days once said – “It was always like that with the Faraghers, feast or famine” so not much has changed except the personae in the drama, now the Sinnies.
In the last 12 months we have met wonderful people and seen wonderful places. We have met up with old friends in the flesh and on FaceBook, we have had health problems and learnt to manage them better, we hope(!) and I have finished the first chapter of my PhD. Last Christmas and Al’s 60th was spent with Rhonda, Al’s sister on Phillip Island. That was pretty good then Adelaide with Christine, another of Al’s sisters where Ruth joined us and time with Kathleen Heugh and her husband Anthony Johnson was an unexpected bonus. My sister Angela and her husband Kevin were unfailingly welcoming and hospitable, they looked after our caravan and car when we went to South Africa, and are still looking after my car.
Of course the trip to South Africa was a blast and included several celebrations of Ruth’s 40th birthday and also Mary’s birthday. Then there was the challenge of getting to know Maxine and Roxanne again, they appear in a new incarnation each time we see them. Children seem to grow so quickly. Maxine loves the nature programmes on TV and Roxanne is a ball of non-stop activity. Each time I see my daughters I am amazed at how terrific they are and how different. They seem to have inherited Joe’s and my better traits and added some of their own – I am indeed a fortunate woman. I have to include Steve our son-in-law in this as he is a rock for us all at times, generous, intelligent and wise. He is also gifted at finding ways to say what has to be said without offence. We all learn from him.
I am trying not to repeat what I have already said in previous blog posts and give more of an overview of the year. The most important thing was the travelling. We left Esk in SE Queensland at the beginning of June, were in Rockhampton at the beginning of August having stopped off in Gympie and Childers in July. Then on to Biloela and Anakie and Camooweal, changing caravans on the way. Then on to Katherine and Darwin and for me the romance of the trip deepened, places I have never dreamt of and people I loved meeting. All further punctuated with problems with the car and big spends on getting it right. Then onwards to the Kimberleys and the Pilbara and vast uninhabited stretches of country covered in fantastic spring flora with amazing rock formations, termite nests and ground colour changes from red bull dust to creamy and dark brown. Broome, Port Hedland and Geraldton were all new to us both and raw and cooked enough for us to be in love with them all for all sorts of reasons. Broome, the wonderful Betty Rupe Outback artist and Jeanne, Aboriginal print maker – new friends; Port Hedland the fascinating Roy Smith, artist and scene painter and Deidre McAlear his partner kind and caring people with stories to tell. Geraldton was another goodie, nice caravan park, don’t usually like them but this one got it right for us, sites nicely spread out and a great walk to the beach. Also met Cilla the Kiwi cook there, another wonderful person with a story. Then coming south things seemed to deteriorate until we hit Jarrahdale where we met Viv and Ray who are angels, they have taken to us and they found ways for us to pay our way by buying stuff off us! They have now have offered us special pensioners rates for our next week there when we leave Marrinup. Of course we will accept and will see the old year out with them over a huge feed of seafood and other delicious goodies. Viv is of Italian heritage and loves to feed her friends, the most amazing Brinjal Parmigiana ever!
I have been finding that I have been staying inside a lot and not seeing much – so yesterday Alan and I went to the shops and spent up on Christmas food. Cash being a Christmas present. I felt so light and happy buying all the things I love!, French fig jam, gluten-free mince pies… Then we went to Dwellingup to order fresh rolls for Christmas, imagine that, round the corner is a little bakery and while there I wandered a bit and found that there is a little station where a group of volunteers maintain and refurbish steam trains that they then drive at the weekends, the Saturday night dining experience takes 3 hours and winds through a gently floodlit forest, over 5 courses – wouldn’t that be lovely?! I have discovered all sorts of Australian quirks, or at least enthusiasms that I have not encountered before, one of them is this delight in past artefacts and how the people lived ‘in the days’ as they say. The railways people are all over the country and there is sadness that trucking seems to have superseded the trains. You might remember that in the blog about Ravenshoe there was a restored station there too with old guys who looked after it and the trains that didn’t run anymore.
My current reading material is called The Free and Easy Land by Frank Clune and he travels around Queensland and other parts and writes about it in the 1930s, so much to enjoy, his humour is great but he is a true WASP. One can’t expect political correctness from one in his time and place. But it is very interesting when he writes about places we have visited and adds much history to the scenario. The trading in books has taken a turn in the direction of Australian books and I have been lucky to find a few old ones, a children’s book by Ethel Turner of 7 Little Australians fame, called – o dear, can’t just recall the title, but something about Hearts…it is supposed to be worth lots of money so I hope I can get something decent for it, would help the credit card! But we found one at a tip by Ion Idriess, – about prospecting for Gold. He is probably the highest value author in Australia! Wasn’t very high value but didn’t last long on the stand! And then there is My Brilliant Career by Miles Franklin 1st edition but 4th impression and dated 1902, a year after the first printing. I am waiting to find out what it might be worth. A real 1st edition on an auction was supposed to be fetching about $3000. Wouldn’t that be good, help with the debts a bit. Tools and books are what are saving our lives at the moment. Both selling better than anything else. We always look for interesting and it does work but sources have been scarce lately.
The demons that inhabit my being had been working overtime lately and all L says is true. However we are optimistically turning those events around and slowly developing guidelines for when I get “urges” or depressed in the future. Hopefully the upgrade of some of my medication will also kick in.
W.A has been a real challenge to the emotions. On one hand it is such a vast and interesting place with wonderful history, people and places of interest. Then on the other hand we have encountered a true “Bogan Culture” at some of the markets. Rudeness being rampant!!!
As well we have been unable to sample some of the real delights through the lack of adequate facilities for people like us with boisterous dogs. Margaret River being the case where there are wonderful camps near the beaches but with “No Dogs Permitted” signs all over the place.
The weather here is variable to say the least with no two days in a row the same and I now know what the initials W A stand for …. WINDY ALWAYS!!
As yet I have not had a surf in Western OZ and only a couple of swims in the ocean mainly due to the above. So I am looking forward to heading East on the 5th January where hopefully there will be some sun, surf and serenity.
We have been contemplating a return to Safety Beach and maybe there will be a decision on that in the near future… who knows? What we do know is that we have to get the repairs done on the damaged bedroom asap and the insurance company is still being negative to our claims.
So onward we march to our next adventures. Happy New Year to all.
The link to the latest pictures.