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Published: March 1st 2012
First thing on the morning of Saturday 25th
there was a lot of clearing up to do from the night before which Graham and I did but we were well organized and didn’t take too long. When Mark eventually staggered out he was amazed that we had made such good progress. Neighbour Willy arrived early with the cement mixer he had promised on the back of one of his ELEVEN (yes – eleven) trailers. It was a good sized trailer and Mark asked if he could borrow it to collect the roofing sheets from the scrap yard. Mark and Graham met Nigel at the scrap yard to make sure they were suitable roofing sheets and Nigel was impressed. They promptly loaded up eight sheets which, actually, haven’t been paid for yet but this type of casual business arrangement seems par for the course in Mansfield. In the meantime, Nick, a “leftover” from last night’s party and who had slept in his swag in the back garden along with his dog, Skittles, had been busy progressing the post holes to the point where they were virtually finished. Thanks Nick – you saved Graham from a bit more hard labour and a few
more blisters. Mark had to dash off to work but Nick, Graham and I had a quick salad lunch while Simone and the kids were in town. Everything was a bit manic because, unknown to us until almost the last minute, we had been invited to a family friend’s weekend “retreat” – a large plot of land on the edge of Lake Eildon where the friend, Jason moors a speedy motor boat and the kids enjoy water skiing and riding on a rubber “biscuit”. Mark and Ken would be camping overnight but it was really a “boys” weekend so the girls and Simone had a bit of female time together. Even Rochelle, Jason’s wife who was there when we arrived and whose family’s land it is, would go home as the evening wore on to leave the boys to enjoy themselves. Jason and Rochelle have three boys – twins of about ten and a younger boy of about seven. We took along lots of leftovers from last nights party, Jason also provided some food and Nigel, Belinda and the kiddies also arrived for a couple of hours armed with plenty of food. It was an idyllic weekend “retreat” location and
Graham and I were treated to a spin in the boat. We also had a swim (muddy underfoot) but drew the line at water-skiing and going on the “biscuit”. The kids had a whale of a time and Ken stood up on water skis for the first time – well done Ken. As usual, Mark seems to be able to provide cooking kit for every eventuality and soon he had a small barbecue going and, with some leftover rolls and salad from last night, together with sausages and barbecued potato slices, we ate royally.
The Elliots left at about 7:00pm and we hung on a bit longer, until the sun began to set providing a magnificent backdrop to camping set-up. Mark and Ken were going to sleep under the stars, the twins and their brother would probably sleep in the back of their huge family truck while Jason had already erected a tent for himself. We got back to the house where Simone and the girls were watching a DVD and we had showers and got ourselves ready for bed. Brother Rod got in touch on skype from Jurien Bay – on their way back towards Perth from Exmouth.
Soon they will be leaving Aus before flying to Hong Kong. Coincidentally, they will arrive back in the UK on the very same day as us – we’ll be in Birmingham and they’ll be at Heathrow. Graham set about putting all of the outside caravan stuff away. We knew there was bad weather on the way but our forecast suggested it would be dry until Monday so we would be able to store the caravan in a dry state. However, another source said there would be rain and thunder overnight and we didn’t want the hassle of having to put the caravan into storage with a wet awning.
Sure enough, the Sunday (26th
) morning sky brought heavy cloud and eventually rain – how lucky were we that we had put everything under cover. It threatened to continue for some time but then began to clear at about 10:00am. Simone was very pleased as daughter Zoe was a member of the local swimming club and had entered the annual championships, but they would be held in an open air pool and would not go ahead if there was a threat of lightening. However, in Mansfield, just 10 kilometers away, the
weather wasn’t nearly so gloomy and the good news was that the championships would go ahead, starting at about 11:00am. We decided it would be good to watch Zoe compete so arranged to arrive when it was due to start. We were just in time and Simone, who would help with the time-keeping from time to time, had secured a couple of chairs for us under cover so, if the sun was strong we’d have shade and if it rained we would be in the dry. The event was brilliant. It was well organized and catered for all ages from “tackers” as young as seven and adults also. To be fair it was mainly kiddies who competed but the enthusiasm was immense and there was obviously a lot of enjoyment. All of the martialling, time-keeping, catering etc was done by volunteers. Zoe is a very good swimmer and had entered TWELVE(!) events and did really well. She has a very close rivalry with a girl of the same age who happens to be her best friend and they seemed genuinely delighted for each other no matter who won. They didn’t have it all there own way as, being only thirteen,
they were often beaten in the open events. But they competed well, dominated the events for their age group and picked up quite a few medals between them. Naturally Simone was very proud and excited and we were delighted we had been able to witness Zoe’s success. Mark and Ken arrived from their overnight lakeside camping experience in time to watch the last couple of Zoe’s events and to help clear things away.
Simone and the girls had arranged to call on some friends for the afternoon but Mark was due to work later so, we went back to the house and he and Ken came home not long after. We had a light lunch and Graham then set about off-loading the roofing sheets from the trailer. It had dawned on Nigel that he hadn’t calculated the number of sheets correctly so another four or so would have to be collected first thing on Monday morning. Removing the sheets from yesterday would give Mark a good start in the morning as he wouldn’t have to worry about clearing the trailer. It took Graham quite some time to do it and to stack them adjacent to the new shed. Let’s
hope there will be another four or so sheets left and that they haven’t been taken by another eager customer. Mark eventually went off to work leaving Ken to watch the TV and us to keep an eye on him. We took the opportunity, while the house was quiet, to each have a shower and then I challenged Ken to a game of table tennis. They have a full sized table in the shed and Ken was surprisingly keen to have a game. Graham joined us later and a good coaching session took place and Ken proved to be a good learner. As time went on I began to wonder what I could arrange for our evening meal but didn’t know what time Simone and the girls would be home. At about 5:30pm I texted Simone and suggested we all went into town for a meal or got a take-away. She texted back to say she was on her way home armed with a couple of cooked chickens and not to worry about eating out. So we all passed the evening together except for Mark who would be busy working until about 11:00pm.
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