Cape Otway – December 2010

Day 5 – horse riding

Saturday 1st January (New Year’s Day)

As last night was the last of 2010, there were New Year’s Eve celebrations going on over at the cinema, which is really little more than a make-shift screen in front of a natural, open-air amphitheatre. It’s about fifteen paces from our tent pitch. People bring their own seats and array them in semi-circles on the sloped ground leading down to the screen. Every other night or so, they show cartoons and a movie and this was the venue for the majority of the festive noise last night. When I wandered back to the tent after having cleared up after dinner, I noticed that there were more people watching this evening’s movie than was the case the last time around. I would guess somewhere in the region of fifty to sixty people were there tonight – some of which were tucked up on camping recliners with covers and duvets. It was quite the cacophony last night. Between the nightly laughing kookaburra chorus, the booming sound system from the cinema and the New Year’s celebrations, there was little chance of anyone anywhere in the camp-site getting any real sleep. From our tent, it sounded like everyone had been given whistles to blow and the hoards of camp-site kids put them to constant use over the course of an hour or more. To top it all off, we heard what we surmised was a chain saw being put to use for a good twenty minutes or so. We have no idea what this was all about. The only thing I can think of is that there might have been a fallen tree somewhere and the camp-site owner was trying to cut it away. How the kids, or anyone else for the matter, managed to sleep through it all last night remains a mystery to me.

This morning was a bit better than yesterday. Jennifer didn’t wake up until after Sandy and me – a good hour and a half later than yesterday. We were all up and awake relatively quickly and partook in a nice breakfast over at the kitchen area. Mel and Henrik and co. were, of course, already there. Although the kids all have horse-riding booked for later this afternoon, we’ve all decided to make today a chilling out day and so we will likely remain here on the camp-site for the duration.

After breakfast, I decided to spent some time amusing the kids and so we’ve been playing various games such as hide-and-seek and table football. I also decided to get the bag of library books we brought with us and sat and read to Joey, Jennifer & Matilda for half an hour or so. As I sit here in the living room near the kitchen area, I can see various odd shoes dotted around the place and I can hear distant excited screams as the kids play with Henrik outside somewhere. All is good in the world.

Well, it’s the end of another successful day and once again time to reflect. After this morning’s story time session, I decided to have the kids all draw on a section of folded paper table-cloth that Sandy had brought along. The idea was to use this to fashion a kite and to see if we could get it to fly. Our small group had by now expanded to include another four-year-old girl called Hana and her parents. Each of these four kids were given colouring pens and a section of the ‘kite’ to colour in. I found a few thin twigs, some sticky tape and some string and tried to construct a kite that I thought might stand a reasonable chance of getting airborne (likely chance). Once all the colouring was done, we all went out into the nearby field to fly our kites. Matilda and Hana had kites already (real ones) and so we took these also. As it turned out, the make-shift paper kite didn’t make it more than a meter or two off the ground despite all the will in the world but we all had a lot of fun trying nevertheless. We ended up spending a good half hour or more running up and down the field trying to keep the real kites in the air. Whether the children or the adults enjoyed themselves more remains in question.

We stayed around the kitchen area for most of the day, as it turned out. It was by now lunchtime and the three of our families organised sausages and frankfurters for our mid-day meal. After that was all done and dusted, we meandered around for a bit, trying to kill a bit of time before the three o’clock horse-riding session for the kids. As it turned out, this was not particularly well organised. We had been told to be at the stables (right next to the kitchen area) by a quarter to three. The stables staff arrived at three thirty and we were then all told that they would be taking five kids at a time (one per horse) for a ten-minute walk around the camp-site. Kids would be taken in order of booking time so those that booked earliest on the list would go first and so on. Although we were amongst the very first to have booked (some days ago upon arrival), we somehow managed to be on the forth and final group. This was somewhat irritating as we had told the kids what to expect and had to keep telling them that their time slot had shifted. Ultimately, both Joey and Jennifer thoroughly enjoyed the experience with Cheshire grins from ear to ear.

With the horse-riding having been a big success, organisation not withstanding, it was time to fire up the BBQ for this evening’s meal. As luck would have it, the people a couple of tents over left this morning and had no further use for their fire-wood and kindling so Henrik graciously accepted it all on our behalf. It would be three families around the BBQ this evening as we’d invited Hana and her parents also. For our part, we nuked the whole chicken we picked up the other day in Apollo Bay and then cut it into quarters for finishing off on the grill. Between this and the fabulous food cooked by the other parents, we all had plenty to eat and a thoroughly good time. Hana and her family will be leaving tomorrow morning but they will stop by to say goodbye first.

After dinner, I had promised all four kids a bed-time story but not before we all roasted marshmallows over the now smouldering BBQ coals. With this out of the way, I sat down with the four preschoolers and selected a couple of library books from the stash that we brought with us. They all seemed to enjoy my story-telling enthusiasm and I got a lot out of it too.

With the kids having now been tucked safely into their sleeping bags (although getting Jennifer to stay in her’s is proving challenging), I left Sandy, Mel & Henrik to sit and enjoy the last embers of fire and set off back to the kitchen area to have a shower and write up this log entry whilst charging the laptop battery. This draws to an end another very successful day at Bimbi Park.