Apr. 4th, 2012

crazyjane: (Default)
It's said that no plan survives contact with the real world. Well, it's certainly true in this case. Ours started to go wrong about the time we went back for a seconds at the breakfast buffet. Mind you, the breakfast was rather wonderful - eggs, sausages, spaghetti, baked beans, tomatoes, toast, spreads and truly stupendous amounts of bacon. (This place bids fair to become the perfect resort. All it needs is similar amounts of chocolate.) So we could hardly be blamed for wanting to sample more of the breakfast offerings.

It was just unfortunate that this happened to coincide with the resort managers running another of their little 'get-to-know-you' sessions. This time it was breakfast trivia. I ask you. Trivia at breakfast time? Before most people had successfully metabolised their first coffee? Surely there's a law against that somewhere.

Team CrazyJane didn't exactly cover itself in glory with that competition -but we were one of the few who managed to penetrate the morning brain-haze far enough to remember that bananas were a herb. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is a lot more interesting than knowing that a hen is capable of laying an egg every 24 hours. This was not a view shared by the rest of the players, though, and we ended up in the middle of the pack.

Now behind time, and without even the compensation of chocolate bars to make up for it, we rushed to get ready for the day's trip. To our credit, we were organised fairly quickly. Of course, this also meant that we left behind half of what we'd planned to take. The fishing rods were in the car already, but the tackle box stayed in the unit. The girls' flip-flops were grabbed, but the swimsuits were left on the drying rack. Water bottles ... you get the idea. Honestly, I'm surprised we got out of there with the car keys.

So. Off to Queenscliff. Which proved more difficult than we'd expected. After a few tussles with the touring map, we did find it, though. Our first stop was the lookout near Fortress Queenscliff, where there are a series of plaques commemmorating ships that took part in World War II, and which were lost. That was unbelievably sobering. The number of merchant navy ships torpedoed and sunk was much larger than those from the Royal Australian Navy. Given Wuff's family, on both sides, served in the merchant navy, that gave us an unpleasant chill.

We read about the loss of the Canberra, the Sydney, the Vampire ... all sent to the bottom, with an incredible loss of life. We read about ships sunk off the north-east coast of Victoria, something that shocked the kids. They knew about the Japanese mini-subs in Sydney Harbour, but never realised that the war reached nearly to their grandparents' doorsteps. And they positively boggled over the land mine, spikes removed, that was placed at the end of the row of plaques, as Wuff explained to them how these strange steel balls could blow a hole in a ship big enough to sink it.

It's a far cry from Titanic and its associated romanticism, and Lilygirl especially found it quite difficult. The more she learns about war, and the general bastardry that comprises so much of adult life, the more she asserts her own 'awesomeness' and love for us - she virtually spits in the eye of whatever gods might be responsible for the awful things.

We took a quick drive around the town itself, goggling at the gorgeous heritage buildings, and the restored mansions now converted into bed-and-breakfasts and hotels. There were turrets, and heavy draperies, manicured gardens and stained glass windows. Through one window I caught a glimpse of an utterly gorgeous wrought-iron spiral staircase that looked as though it was fashioned out of white lace, and fell in love immediately. It seemed somehow wrong that I didn't also see Phryne Fisher descending the stairs in one of her outrageous outfits, ready to scandalise the neighbours.

Of course, the time gremlins weren't about to let go of us yet. We reached the marina, which was crowded with boats of all shapes and sizes. It was a panorama of financial extravagance - and the prices in the cafe where we stopped to grab a drink reflected that. Far be it from me to suggest that the owners were out to fleece rich boat-owners with more money than sense by wildly inflating the prices of their smoothies but ...

Since we were near the ferry dock, we decided to forego wandering around Queenscliff and head straight over to Sorrento, have lunch, and see more when we returned. So onto the ferry we strolled, and up to the passenger deck.

When I was a kid, I took a trip on that ferry. I remember it as a rather breezy experience, standing up at the bow hanging on splintering wooden rails painted a fading green. There was an enclosed area amidships, but otherwise it was open to the elements. I loved it, wintry blasts notwithstanding.

These days, it's just a bit different.

The old green ferries have been replaced by sleek, white craft with excitingly raked lines, a full cafe, drive on/off facilities for vehicles, carpeted areas with blonde wood laminate on the walls, full bathrooms with nappy change facilities ... let's face it, they're not so much ferries as mini-cruise ships. I looked for the pool deck in vain, but I'm fairly sure I heard the sounds of a karaoke room on the way back.

Which was all very luxurious, but I rather missed the old ferry. At least there you knew you were on the sea. If you sit in the lounge on the new ones, the only way you'll know where you are is if you look out the window.

After a long, long trip across the bay, we arrived in Sorrento, and I gazed with dismay at the hilly vista before me. The village wasn't far - only 400 metres or so - but it was all uphill. Steeply uphill. To save money, we hadn't taken our car on the ferry. I was regretting that within moments of disembarking.

Wuff kindly offered to scout around and see what he could bring back for us to eat in the park near the pier. That's when we realised that the time gremlins had boggled us again. In order to get back to Bellbrae in time for the kids' movie night, we'd need to catch the very next ferry - which left in 30 minutes. Wuff and the kids took off at great speed to The Baths, which boasted a fish and chippery famed in song and story (well, on a few TV travel shows, anyway).

They returned with seconds to spare before we were herded into the boarding 'lounge' (a small shack on the pier with a row of chairs possibly liberated from a medical clinic's waiting area). Then it was a case of 'hurry up and wait', which was extremely annoying, as the food was smelling wonderful and rapidly cooling. Finally we were allowed on board, and dug into our very late lunch.

I make allowances for how long we had to wait to actually eat it, but for fish and chips, it was pretty darn wonderful. The calamari rings were actually flash-fried salt and pepper calamari, the prawns were very lightly battered, and the fish was definitely fresh. The chips were a bit of a let-down, though, since they were patently the same brand as I buy for the kids at home. I mean, is it so much to ask for hand-cut chips with the skin left on? Okay, okay, maybe it is.

After lunch, we spent the rest of the trip trying to spot dolphin pods. The girls managed to glimpse one, but for the most part, I was content to sit and be soothed by the motion of the ferry. In the hour since we'd come over, it had become a little more choppy - on the old ferry, that would have had passengers hanging over the side, but on these new monstrosities, it was like being in a very large cradle with a lot of other families who are trying to keep their kids from climbing up the side of the wheelhouse.

Yeah, not the best of metaphors. But you know what I mean.

Back at Queenscliff, we retrieved the car. Sadly, we had no time to visit anything else in the town (most egregiously, in my opinion, we did not get to the Mystery Book Shop), and set off back to Bellbrae.

You wouldn't think we could get lost while retracing our steps, would you?

Eventually, we found our way back, no thanks to all the drivers who seemed to think today was a good day to drive while heavily medicated and thus unable to realise that 40 km/h is just a little slow in a 90 zone. Oh, and let's not forget the unexpected controlled burn that left great billowing clouds of thick white smoke all over the area.

After a flying stop in Torquay to grab some pizza makings for the evening, we pulled up at Bellbrae and the kids were out of the car before the wheels even stopped moving. Wuff and I staggered into the unit, and I'm fairly sure he actually managed to be asleep by the time he fell onto the bed, waking only when the girls returned with their usual stealthy-like-ninja skills (very, very loud ninjas, that is).

We're about to sit down to pizza, cooked in the unit's rather ... eccentric ... convection oven. It's something of an experiment ... a frozen quattro formaggi, loaded up with fresh ham, hot salami and capsicum. And topped with more cheese. Four more cheeses. Only one of which is the same kind as is already present.

Seven cheeses pizza. Seven. I'm fairly sure this has to be some kind of record.

Tomorrow, we plan to head out to Torquay, or possibly Barwon Heads, for swimming and fishing. After all, it does seem a little ridiculous to spend a week so close to some of the most gorgeous beaches in the state and not actually go to any of them.

There's a strange mass growing in the convection oven. From here, it looks like it's actually breathing. Er. I'd better go. If I survive, see you tomorrow, constant readers.

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