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[personal profile] crazyjane
Here in sunny Bellbrae, the fun just doesn't stop. And this morning, it started with pancakes. Lots and lots of pancakes. Seriously large stacks of pancakes. I mean, we're talking metre-high piles of pancakes left over. It was almost criminal to just sit there and look at them, but we were literally stuffed full. No, really. I could feel muscle tissue and organs being replaced by pancakes ...

Okay, maybe not. But we ate a lot. And the leftovers vanished quickly when, seemingly from nowhere, workers from around the resort converged on the Members' Lounge. So that was all right.

I was preparing to waddle back to my unit when the resort's manager appeared, microphone in hand. Uh-oh. This can't be good.

It wasn't.

Remember all those years ago, when your parents packed you off to camp or your school decided that it would build character for you to spend a weekend sleeping on rock-hard mattresses and doing 'activities' in either the freezing cold or baking heat? Okay, you can stop hyperventilating now, those days are gone. But remember how there was always the 'get-to-know-you' session after the first meal (which, somehow, was always the best)?


That's what we got. A representative from each unit had to stand up and introduce themselves, their fellow travelers, and say a few words - preferably friendly and witty. Naturally, my traitorous family all pointed their fingers at me when the manager came my way, so up I struggled.

I'm full of pancakes, I thought. I can't think of anything witty.

At least the microphone was on the fritz, but as I stared at the happy, expectant faces before me, I realised that there was no chance of my simply grabbing my walking stick and running for it - well, limping for it. The resort manager's wife was between me and the door. I debated the wisdom of saying, 'Hey, y'all ... I'm a married queer blogger politics-addicted poet, and this here's my family, how're y'all doing?'

Maybe not.

I mumbled something I thought was appropriate and sat down quickly. It must have been all right, because I was rewarded with beaming smiles.

And thus my newly-formed desire to maybe invest in one of these time-share things one day died a-borning.

Once the pancake paralysis wore off, we packed a picnic lunch and headed out to Tiger Moth World. It's a great little place just out of Torquay, where the kids can play through a decent mini-golf course, boat across the 'Pirate Lagoon', get involved in everything from mini-soccer to totem tennis to croquet, or wander through the pirate maze. Admittedly, much of the adventure park is for kids younger than our two monsters, but they still enjoyed the lagoon, swapping between paddle-boat, rowboat and canoe until we were seriously considering breaking out the fishing gear to reel them in.

[profile] fire_wuff was more than a little nervous about his impending flight, though he was doing his best not to show the kids. Of course, he was also bouncing like a little boy at the prospect of actually going up in a vintage aeroplane.

He didn't have much time to dwell on his nerves, though, as the pilot was more than happy to take him up virtually straightaway. Sadly for me, they didn't kit him out with the 'official' pilot's outfit (sheepskin-lined brown leather jacket, shiny boots and brilliant white silk scarf), dressing him in a boring and (I thought) gratuitously shapeless) black coverall, although he did get to wear the leather helmet and goggles. As he slid into the front cockpit, the pilot advised him to keep his feet clear of the pedals, just in case he made the plane flip.

Oh. Good.

Then there was the amusing little sign just above the gauges, just in case Wuff felt nauseous ... '$0 in the bags, $20 over the side, $100 in the cockpit'. Ahahaha. How droll.

The Super Tiger trundled happily across the grass, and off into the distance, turned and roared back towards the rest of us, who were standing in the official 'Flight Observation Area' - and took off barely over our heads, on an angle so steep it looked nearly vertical. Meglet bravely resisted the urge to duck and stood her ground, jumping up and down and waving at her Dad. Unfortunately, she had the video camera in her other hand, so I suspect any footage of the actual take-off will resemble a daylight version of The Blair Witch Project - only with less evil trees and more planes.

The flight took Wuff out on a leisurely arc over the ocean near Bells Beach, before the actual aerobatics started. He was okay with the loop-the-loops, the barrel rolls and the wing-overs - but the wing-stall-into-ever-tightening-death-spiral-plunge-toward-the-ground was about his limit. I think it would have the limit of mine, too, had I seen it! Luckily for me, I only saw the little red plane describe what looked like an effortless loop just above the airfield, hanging for a moment at the top of the circle before seeming to slide down the air into horizontal flight again.

As cliched as it sounds, it brought to mind, one of my favourite poems, 'High Flight', by John Gillespie Magee:

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheel and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air ...

Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, nor ever eagle flew -
And while, with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

It's almost impossible to describe Wuff's face when he landed - rapture, regret, excitement and maybe just a little tinge of nausea all tumbled together. And I can't tell you how wonderful it was to see him like that. It was as though months and months of stress, exhaustion and a million niggling worries had - even for a few moments - just gone.

Even his ill-advised sculling of a sun-warmed energy drink and its predictable consequences a few moments later didn't diminish that enjoyment.

We'd originally planned to go out for dinner that night, but after a day in the sun we were all feeling fairly tired, so instead we headed into Torquay just before sunset to find take-away. Unfortunately, we made the mistake of actually asking the kids what they wanted to eat, instead of choosing somewhere to grab something for the whole family.

Mexican. No - Thai. No, sushi, or Chinese, or fish and chips, or kebabs, or ... or ... Naturally, whatever one wanted, the other couldn't abide. And no one liked my compromise idea of everyone having pizza.

In the end we settle on Wuff and I visiting the Noodle Canteen in Bristol Street, and the kids grabbing Mexican. The noodles (kuey teow and Singapore) were wonderfully tasty, as was the salt and pepper calamari - and like all good noodle shops, the service was both fast and efficient. Highly recommended.

As for the Mexican ... well, I'll quote the girls: 'Worst. Mexican. Ever.' After waiting nearly 45 minutes, they ended up with two revolting burritos choked with sour cream and sprinkled with enough coriander that they looked like they'd been picked up out of a bucket of grass clippings. I'm fairly sure the chicken pieces would have been rejected for making stock by any cook with a shred of self-respect. Luckily, the noodle boxes were such generous serves that we had enough to go around, and we were able to banish the memory of the bungled burritos.

The girls gave the place 0 out of 5 stars. I'll simply say I won't be recommending Las Olas to anyone holidaying near Torquay.

Dessert was a delightfully decadent mixture of ice cream, organic dark chocolate, white chocolate from the expensive Easter Egg we won in the 'timeshare get-to-know-you raffle), and more of the raspberries and strawberries we picked at Gentle Annie's.

We're all out of raspberries now, and the strawberries will be gone by tonight. We may have to make another visit on the day we leave. Oh woe.

In the end, I was much too tired to write, and so yesterday's blog is posted a day late. Today is a rest day for me, in the hopes that my knees will recover enough to make a jaunt out to the Split Point Lighthouse tomorrow. The kids are heading out to a scavenger hunt organised by the resort in a little while, so we'll see what stories come out of that.

But there is one final piece of news - and I had to save it until last.


It came up to the fence just at sunset - quite nervous, and didn't take at all well to the delighted screams of Lilygirl and Meglet as they ran in its direction. From the car, I got a quick glimpse of deep cocoa-brown fur and wide brown eyes, before it turned tail and ran.

It's understandable. Men of strong character have been known to run from those girls.

We did not, alas, obtain pictorial proof - but, constant reader, the alpaca ... is real. Yr obt etc has seen it with her own eyes.

Tonight, I plan to lay in wait for it with a camera.

August 2017

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