Be as prepared as you like

Oh the places I've been. Day 227/366.

JJ has been doing scouts for a few years now and it’s something he absolutely loves and looks forward to going to each week. Just recently he moved up to Scouts from Cub Scouts. This means they get more responsibility and go on more camps.

On the weekend he went on a back to basics camp. We were provided with a list of things to take, and this time we packed it in my old backpack. It was the backpack I bought in 1991 all ready to go travelling with for my first overseas holiday – the obligatory ‘find yourself’ backpacking holiday.

The backpack is a bit battered and worn now and it’s been patched up but I’m glad I’ve kept it because JJ will use it on his next scout camp, the hike. When I dropped him off on Friday one of his fellow scouts commented about the ‘badges’ on the bag, which of course aren’t scout badges.

So we got out the items he was told to take and packed it together. I made suggestions of how to pack and for the most part he put things in the backpack. This included spare clothes incase things got a bit wet because they were camping in the Hills and it rained a lot during the week with a good chance of rain again on the weekend.

I dropped him off on Friday evening and hoped that they didn’t get rained out. It was after 8pm, and dark, when we dropped him off and they had to put their tents up so they had somewhere to sleep for the night. I was glad it wasn’t me as we went to a nearby pub to sit near the fire while eating a late dinner.

I missed him during the weekend but didn’t stress too much about him. Afterall they had my phone number and if needed could ring me.

I picked him up yesterday afternoon and when we arrived they were all kicking a ball around on the grass and seemed pretty happy.

He was wearing someone’s tracksuit pants that were at least two sizes too small, so they were more three-quarter length pants. He was sockless. He was also wearing a fleecy zip up top of mine so that was a bit like a shift dress on him. The bare parts of his legs that I could see were quite muddy.

I knew he’d be absolutely knackered after two nights and days of full-on activities but the first thing he asked me if was one of his mates at the camp could come back to our place. I told him no as it was already mid afternoon and they still had to go back to the scout hall to unpack everything and spread all the tents out to dry.

We eventually did all of this and got home. I helped him unpack his backpack. I pulled out clean pairs of jocks and a clean pair of socks – damp. I pulled out a clean pair of jeans – damp. I asked him why he wasn’t wearing those? He told me that he didn’t know they were in there. Remember we packed the backpack together and I explained that he had a spare set of clothes if he needed them.

I pulled out all the dirty and damp clothes that weren’t in the plastic bag we’d also packed for all the damp stuff. Next time we’ll put all the clean and dry stuff in a plastic bag and the dirty and damp stuff can be shoved in next to the plastic bag.

I put everything in the wash – clean and dirty and he went into the shower to give himself a good clean.

We ate dinner at 5pm. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten dinner so early in my life and was happy that I’d organised osso bucco in the slow cooker earlier in the day. I didn’t make him do his night-time jobs like feed the dog or get wood for the fire. I just let him lie flat on the couch in front of the television then sent him off to bed early. He was still tired this morning.

But he had a great time on the camp and is looking forward to the next one. I swear that he grows up while he’s away at these camps and he loves earning badges. Speaking of which, I have some sewing to do.


His last football match for the season.

He improved heaps during the season and I’ve enjoyed getting out there on a Saturday morning watching him.

It looks like he’s being whacked on the head with a ball, but there’s no ball there. Maybe it’s about to come?

At oranges time I look away as you’d think he’d not eaten for a month. It’s a bit embarrassing. See how he’s a head taller than any of his teammates?

The team shot.

This is my *ahem* Wordless Wednesday contribution.

A good age

At 'I Am Eleven'. Day 222/366.

The other night we went to see a documentary called I Am Eleven. As the name suggests it is about a group of kids who are 11 years old and the reason I went was to take my son to see it because he is also that age.

It’s an Australian film made by Genevieve Bailey because she remembers how she felt when she was 11 and remembers it very fondly.

She travelled all over the world to make the film over a number of years, and some of the kids she interviewed are from Australia, India, Indonesia, Bulgaria, England, USA, and France. So there were lots of subtitles. JJ got most of them but still had questions for me throughout the film of bits and pieces he didn’t quite get. Hopefully we kept it quiet enough not to piss people off around us.

I wish I could have made one of the Q&A sessions that Genevieve does with some of the screenings. But we couldn’t make that session so we just saw the film.

Even though the movie was about 11 year olds, I loved the movie too, and so did a girlfriend who came with us.

Eleven is a gorgeous age. I don’t remember my 11 much at all, but I’m seeing it again through JJ who is 11. It’s that inbetween age from childhood to teenagehood when they still don’t mind being seen with their mum. They don’t mind a cuddle on your lap even though they’re nearly as big as you are. You can have some great conversations with them about all sorts of stuff. That stuff can range from them telling you they know what a boner is now, or that they’ve realised that sexual intercourse is the same thing as sex. That they’d thought sex was just kissing and cuddling but ooooh, now they really know what it is. He gets this information about boys from school who have older brothers. I’m glad he wants to talk to me about it and if anyone’s wondering when its age appropriate to talk to your child about sex and so on, your child will probably bring it up anyway.

Then they’re talking about the latest game they really like playing on the computer and want a friend to come around so they can play that game with them or have a sword fight with a rolled up newspaper.

I know I’m going to miss this age when he’s older.

The other great thing about the film was seeing how different kids live. My friend asked JJ if the film made him want to travel, and he said yes.


An oasis on the way

When I was learning to drive one of the first things my dad made me do was learn how to change a tyre because we had no roadside assistance. He also taught me to check the radiator and the tyres for air. So tyres filled with the appropriate amount of air meant we were ready for our little road trip. Old habits die hard.

We were on our way to visit my sister who lives nearly two hours away. It’s normally a pretty boring drive with not that much to look at along the way.

Port Wakefield is about half way from here to there so it’s a good place to stop, have a toilet break, a stretch, and maybe buy something to eat. There’s petrol and food stations all along the highway part of Port Wakefield and normally I don’t stop there for very long. It’s not the most attractive place.

It does, however, have a really good bakery which I often stop at. Normally I eat my purchase at the bakery then hop back in the car to be on my way.

But if you take a left just past the bakery as you’re heading north, and keep driving a bit you’ll get to a lovely spot to get out the car and eat your lunch.

The first thing JJ did was go and sit on the boardwalk that spanned this river and eat his pie. I stayed with Monty while I ate my pasty. Then we both went for a bit of a wander.

I think we stayed for about half an hour which is something I’m normally in too much of a rush, for whatever stupid reason, to do. Why is it that once I start driving, I need to be at my destination as quickly as possible following speed limits and so on of course.

Sometimes I make a conscious effort to not stress about taking some extra time out of the journey to enjoy what’s along the journey. Sometimes I don’t take the freeway, but the back roads up the Hills to enjoy the autumn colour. And I’m always glad when I do.

I know JJ really appreciated it. He loves pottering around in or near water. There’s always a good stick to be found that will be used to prod things. Monty got to get out and have a bit of a stretch too.

And with a nearby toilet it’s quite perfect really.

And being able to climb a canon and pretend you’re shooting stuff is the ultimate.

We hopped in the car after lunch and it was like the previous driving to get  there hadn’t happened at all as we were refreshed enough to be on our way.

What about you? Do you stop along the way to enjoy the scenery or must you get to your destination as quickly as possible.

Life in Canberra in the 1970s – part 3

If you missed part 1 of what my life in Canberra could have been like in the 1970s then go and see it. It saw me moving to Canberra to work in a great job with the Australian government in a secretarial capacity.

Part 2 explored the great things I could do outside of work including shopping in air conditioned malls.

This is the final part of the series.

The wide range of activities continues. One day sees me in an olympic sized pool having a swim, or horse riding, or at one of the many sports clubs available.

Lake Burley Griffin provides a great opportunity for sailing, and it just so happens that friends of mine have a sailing boat. How handy. After a spot of sailing go to the park with my boyfriend and smile sweetly at him while holding a flower.

So are you convinced that moving to Canberra is a good idea? No, not yet? Oh, come on! You can request further information about working in Canberra by writing a letter. Telephones were around but making a call cost a bit too much for an out of work secretary so that wasn’t an option.

And just in case you’ve forgotten what you can do in Canberra if you come to live here, below is a reminder, or you can look back through part 1 and part 2.

What’s around the corner?

The Photographer. Day 205/366.

Tis not often that I have a picture of myself and even less often that I take one of myself.

I am in a good mood. I feel excited by what’s around the corner even though I have no idea what that is.

And if you didn’t read my oh so helpful post about changing banks then you totally should.

And hi to all the others who do Wordless Wednesday. And I know my contribution nearly always ends up being a bit wordy. Probably because I’m a bit bolshy.

Changing banks – things to remember

Jade plant

I recently changed banks – something I’d resisted for a few years but caved in and refinanced my existing mortgage and financed a new one. It’s the only reason I changed but there’s things to remember as I’ve outlined below.

The photo above is to remind me to keep calm as I create this because it’s not a breeze to change banks and non-fond memories are being served up but this could be a useful checklist for someone else – hopefully not me again.

Firstly, you find a new bank who will give you a really good deal because you’re a new customer and they marry you to their bank by offering a sweet honeymoon deal. It might cost as much as a wedding by the time you pay discharge fees from your existing mortgage and pay fees for the new one. Well, not quite – unless it’s a cheap wedding.

You ring up the old bank to see if they can match the great deal you’re being offered. You say that you’ve been a loyal customer for years and surely they can match it. You really don’t want to change, but you give them the ultimatum. Lower your fees or I’m leaving.

And you sign that discharge form while you write a list of other things you  have to do as a consequence of changing banks.

Afterall it’s not just a home loan that you’re moving, it’s a savings/offset account and a credit card and there’s lots of automatic things happening in the background you have to rearrange.

Trap number one. Remember to close all accounts at your old bank otherwise you’ll be surprised by a credit card bill that you thought you’d paid off.

It does help to have a mortgage broker because they know the ins and outs of the system. You could do it yourself but every bit of help you can get doesn’t hurt.

You go through old bank statements to find out what’s being directly debited and find a couple of things you’d forgotten about. Even after this process more things will turn up, like automatic web domain and hosting renewals, and computer virus software renewals.

Small Agave

Remember we’re keeping calm. Carry on. Deep breath.

You’ve been approved for your new mortgages and the ball is firmly on the roll.

You start making phone calls and sending emails to change over bank account details. This involves any government benefits like family tax benefit etc. It’s so joyful dealing with bureaucratic government departments to update your details when a simple phone call to a non-government organisation suffices.

One of the first things you do is organise online banking. Of course it’s completely different to what you’re used to. The terminology is different even though they both pretty much do the same thing.

Trap number two. Check your online banking and paper statments religiously the first few months. If you don’t you might realise that your automatic credit card payments are not working and you spend too much time on the phone trying to sort it out. At least they realise you’ve stuffed up and refund you late payment and interest fees – but only this once! You tell them why you ‘stuffed up’ by giving them some feedback about the terminology on their website.

You contact some people whose banking account details you used to have but don’t anymore because you owe them some money.

You sit back for a while, take some more deep breaths and hope like hell everything’s running smoothly now.