We’ve just returned (sort of, we got back on Monday) from a quiet weekend away. In days gone by, it would have included a stay at The Windsor (affectionately known as ‘The City Residence’ because it used to be the only place I’d stay on a trip to the big smoke). I’m not a prude, a snob or a tosser – remember that I spent my six week honeymoon living in a kombi – but I do appreciate good service. The Windsor has good service and bucket loads more besides. I love that you just pull up somewhat close to the front door, get out looking harassed, and the lovely man with the top hat comes to your rescue. He unpacks your packs, takes the keys and ushers you inside the plush surrounds and you are instantly transported to another world. The chairs. The flowers. The music. Heaven.
Anyway, my latest trip to Melbourne did not involve a trip to The City Residence but, as you may have come to expect, was pretty action packed. We have recently discovered the hidden gem of the Big 4 Goldfields Caravan Park in Ballarat. Yep. A caravan park. Oh how the mighty have fallen. To make it a little it fancy, we stay in a cabin, with two double beds so if and when the boys decide they don’t like sleeping in their portacots any more than their normal cots, we’ve got a decent bed each. The reason this place is so amazing and is now our go to accommodation is that there is not only a playground but also an indoor playground. Yep – it’s that simple. A playground AND an indoor playground. The indoor playground is particularly crucial in Ballarat where, on our first stay, it was a breezy -5 degrees and as usual the boys were up super early. The indoor playground means that the boys can play happily while Shane unpacks or packs and wear themselves out a bit. It’s a stroke of genius. It’s a little plastic heaven for toddlers – although Bede did manage to put his tooth through his lip which wasn’t ideal.
So once we’d sorted out our digs, we set off to do something to fill in the afternoon. We headed straight for the Ballarat Wildlife Park. I’d been there before with my nephews, it seemed like something a family would do so we paid our entrance fee and off we went. First stop – the Tasmanian Devils. This went quite well. Mum and dad had bought the boys a book about these critters which I know off by heart, so whilst they were happily looking and pointing, I was going on about ‘Tasmanian Devils are feisty, they love to play and fight…’ blah blah blah. So far so good. We saw the most active koalas I’d ever seen as they jumped around from branch to branch. I thought there were possums on the ground, but Shane was pretty sure they weren’t. We had this whole family activity thing sorted. Even managed to get away without being attacked by the kangaroos that free range around the park; despite two pretty excited toddlers grabbing their fur and stepping dangerously close to their tails. When we headed for the alpacas I thought ‘phew, familiar territory’ and was feeling quite chuffed with our amazing parenting skills at this whole family outing thing. Little did I know that the worst was yet to come. Bede is pretty quick on his feet and he ran all the way down to the water which thankfully had a fence around it so I wasn’t too concerned. He nonchalantly put his little hand through the chicken wire and pointed excitedly at all the ducks because that is a word that he has mastered. He was then attacked by a swan who thought his chubby little fingers were some kind of exotic treat. He cried and cried and cried and kept looking from his hand to the swan. I’m not sure what hurt more – the actual injury or wondering how his ‘duck’ could do this to him. I took him and put him back in the pram. Shane was chasing after Paddy to save him from a similar fate. In the mere seconds that my back was turned to sort Bede out, I missed witnessing perhaps the funniest thing to ever happen. Shane slipped and sliced and absolutely guttsered whilst chasing Paddy. When he caught up to us, his entire left side was covered in a mix of mud and animal poo. Paddy had been a bit of collateral damage in the fall and was also sporting a muddy patch on his leg. I laughed and laughed and laughed and could not stop laughing. He didn’t even say anything to me. Just accused me of not helping him enough. We had a pretty quick trip around the rest of the park – me in stitches of laughter and Shane gradually coming around to see the funny side. He was worried that we hadn’t got our money’s worth out of the park but I assured him I had – many times over.
Anyway, the reason for our trip to the big smoke was an excellent one. My oldest friend – not as in age – as in, been friends since before we can remember, spent our childhood eating salt and vinegar chips, drinking raspberry lemonade, listening to Hanson and watching Freddie Prinze Jr movies – kind of old friend, is getting married. To celebrate, she and her fiancé held a very fancy and lovely engagement party at a very suave pub in Richmond. We had an amazing time – drinking beer in the afternoon sun, eating wood fired pizzas and grooving away to the jazz band in the corner (well, the boys did, I was too busy drinking beer) and marvelling at the fact her little brothers were all grown up. It was an excellent gathering and so nice to be a part of and made the whole adventure worthwhile – including staying at the Big 4!
Three cheers for Ev and Darcy! And for weekend getaways!