I have returned. And earlier than expected, I must say.
Firstly, I shall address the trip back home to New South Wales, which was freakin’ fabulous. The 9 hour car trip was shortened to a 7 hour car trip because we only had to stop once in Bairnsdale for lunch, and we gutted it the rest of the way quite impressively. Mum drove the entire way and did a fabulous job, putting up with Daft Punk’s “Musique Volume One” played at least fourteen times just for Bea’s gratification. We only had a few slight.. well, I won’t even call them tantrums, and they were fairly quickly solved with a “here, there’s your milk cup,” or “yes, Mummy is putting the Wiggles on,” or various toys I had snagged from Happy Meals and shoved into my handbag for emergency entertainment purposes.
It was our first trip to Bega since Mum and Dad had seperated, and we hadn’t seen Dad’s new place yet. Tell you what, for a pensioner, my dad is living it sweet! He has the best house I’ve ever seen! Well, okay, slight exaggeration, but it would definitely be my dream house if you uprooted it and stuck it in Melbourne’s inner suburbs. We arrived at about 5pm Friday night and relaxed for the rest of the evening, with my various aunts and uncles sticking their head in the door to say hello — and then at around 11.30/midnight, the elder of my two brothers arrived, whom I hadn’t seen since I was pregnant with Bea! It was awesome to see Bea and him connect when they met in the morning, and to watch Beatrix get on so well with all the family onslaught.
On Saturday morning, I got my mum to drive me out of Bega to the outskirts of the village where we grew up; Quaama. My best friend’s mother still lives there, and he was down for the weekend to attend Dad’s 70th and to hang out with me and Beatrix. Mum kindly offered to drop me off and take Bea back to Bega to prepare for the party, so Grant and I got to spend some solid quality time together — most of which included digging a grave for his bull terrier, Hammer, who had wandered off around the property earlier in the week – presumably to die – because he had been unwell for some time. While it was a morbid and slightly upsetting task, I’m glad I got to be there to help send him on his way; Grant had had Hammer since we were little kids and I almost felt like he was a member of my family too. Once we’d given Hammer a proper farewell, we drove with Glennda, (Grant’s [and practically my] mum) to the Cobargo garbage tip, two towns away! It so took me back to my childhood, a good old fashioned hole diggin’ and a trip to haul crap to the dump. It was the best time I’ve had in ages, just because I felt like I was 12 again and had no worries or obligations at all. In Cobargo, we got slices and pies and stuffed our faces to satisfaction, bitching at the locals and their wares the entire time. I love being cynical with Grant, although I must say it makes me realise how positive I actually have become in the last ten years of my life! It takes a lot of energy to be so disgruntled with everything, and while I genuinely have fun moaning and prodding around when I’m with him, I’m glad my energy isn’t so negative towards the rest of the world all the time.
After the trip to Cobargo, we settled down to watch our childhood favourite; “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion”, which was sadly interrupted by the urgency to get ready for the party which I had nearly completely forgotten! The theme for Dad’s party was Mad Hatter, so we all had to have hats. Mum came back to Quaama to collect me, and we went back to Dad’s to get ready. Beatrix wore a plastic pirate captain’s hat with a Jolly Roger on the front, and I wore a red headscarf tied at the side with a matching skull and crossbones, as her first mate. Mum wore a nun’s headgear… Christ, I forget the technical name, but you all know what I mean. My brother MIchael wore a baseball cap with a computer mouse and microchips glued to it, and a computer keyboard tied around his neck. Grant wore a sailor’s hat, his sister Hollie wore a pilot cap, Glennda wore a (Russian?) naval cap, his Dad Heimo wore chainmail, My Tante (Aunt) Anneliese wore a baseball cap with an elephant’s head attached, my cousin Greg had a jester’s hat… the list went on and on. Everyone at the party looked fabulous. My Dad constructed a huge plastic see-through tophat out of a shower curtain and sticks that fitted over his entire body with a hole for his face. It also had a silver chimney coming out of one side so he could blow his cigarette smoke through it! It was genius. He couldn’t sit down or eat in it though, so he wore it for five minutes and then opted for a hat he bought in Amsterdam instead, an orange top hat with the Dutch flag printed on it. I saw so many family members that I haven’t seen for years, and it was fabulous to be able to show off my little Bea to everybody. The party lasted for about 8 hours, and I completely screwed my back from holding Bea for the entire time, but it was great regardless.
The next day I caught up with Grant and Hollie before they drove back home to Canberra. We drove to the Cheese Factory to try find a tacky souvenir for Ross, to no avail. We took photos of tacky tourist crap (that I am yet to post…) and mocked everything, and then drove back to central Bega for our traditional KFC breakfast before farewelling them.
The rest of the weekend is a bit of a blur; we hung out with family, and I got to talk to my favourite cousin Tinonee via webcam who is studying in Utrecht, and that was gnarly. I’m new to the technologies of webcams, it kinda freaked me out that she could see and hear me through the computer! I fail as a nerd. We drove home on Tuesday morning, for another 8 hours of Wiggles and Daft Punk and screaming. The trip was windy, but again fairly successful. We stopped twice to get coffee so we could cope with all the Wiggles lyrics, but besides that, we had great fun. The weekend rocked! I promise I’ll post proper photos as soon as my Dad emails them to me. Here are a few that I got on my camera;

Fark you!
Grant and Hollie give Bega High School the finger.

Everything in Bega is this lame. Seriously.

Bea and Hollie
Bea and Hollie snack down on our breakfast.

and finally, my favourite…

Work it.
Grant and Hollie being… well… Grant and Hollie.