The New Year has swept us along in vacation mode. The tourists and holiday makers arrived sporting their best tourist and holiday clothing. This naturally sets them apart and makes them immediately recognisable to the local residents. The shorts, the constant flapping sandals, the bikinis covered with gauzy little wispy shirts, the multicoloured hats and the modish bags and sunglasses, which probably cost more than an average mortgage payment, make them stand out before we even hear the rather loud and often rude comments they seem to feel free to express in public in our streets but would never repeat at home.
As the weeks pass we gradually become more and more frustrated by our favourite parking spaces being taken up by their expensive cars and the overcrowded shops where they idle about scattering sand and disconcerting the male shoppers as they try not to stare at the acres of flesh on show.
Some of us take a perverse and rather cruel delight in watching their skin tones change from rare through to underdone and eventually to crisp and burnt.
I have never understood the pleasure people seem to find in lying about on the beach slowly frying themselves and leaving it each day looking like freshly crumbed cutlets, or beef Wellingtons, as the sand sticks in layers all over their bodies. Despite all the health warnings, many still think a suntan the most essential thing to take home with them.
I have a friend who volunteers at the local tourist centre and she is a fund of interesting and funny stories. She loves working there because of the variety of people who come in for information but is constantly amazed at the difficulty some folk from overseas have in grasping the size of our land when they come from a smaller country. Last week, a couple from Japan requested to hire bicycles. This wasn’t any problem even though it was nearly three in the afternoon. After supplying them with the bicycles she enquired their destination and was dumbfounded when they said Canberra. As the cycles were supposed to be returned by 6 p.m. she tried to explain it wasn’t possible. They smiled and using rather fractured English pointed at the map showing the seemingly short ride to Canberra from here. Well, by comparison with a ride to Sydney, Darwin, and Perth etc it is because it only measured about an inch on the map! She tried valiantly to tell them it was a five hour drive on the freeway travelling at 110 kilometres an hour. They nodded vigorously and set off pedalling up the road despite her protests. Somewhat crestfallen and not wishing to lose face by admitting their mistake but looking utterly exhausted, they returned the bicycles the following day.
The feast of summer sport has been very entertaining. Although defeating the Pakistan cricket team became a little boring until at last the twenty-twenty games brought forth a new and vigorous team which gave us a most exciting competition last evening. We won by a run but both teams were wonderful. I much prefer a real contest.
The Australian Tennis Open has been in full swing and here again a British player, freshly arrived from the cold northern winter, spent a day practicing in the sun without his shirt on and remarked on the day of his big game he felt as if his back was on fire. It seemed rather lax on the part of the management if they made no attempt to warn him of what he was going to suffer. Mind you, I remember warning Teddy’s father about doing the same thing and he wouldn’t listen and suffered for a week afterward.
Some holidaymakers were roused from their dreaming reveries by having to evacuate because of the new Catastrophic Fire warning which has come into force on days of high winds and over 40 degrees. It seemed to create more confusion than the old style of the generally held popular opinion of ‘run like hell when you see smoke.’ The problem is of course having experienced them; it is too late to run or drive even if you can see to drive anywhere and even if you know where you are going, fires don’t follow roadways or find fences any sort of barricade. Perhaps we shall all become accustomed to it by next year.
Summer so far has been benign for us but other parts of the country have experienced many days above 40 degrees and still others were inundated with floods which were large enough to cover a few medium to small countries.
Teddy has a new project. After pricing retail solar hot water heaters he muttered about the house for a few days and eventually decided he can make one for us much cheaper. He found heaven in the form of a scrap metal yard specialising in builder’s supplies and waxed lyrical about all the wondrous things he had seen there for quite an extended time. At the moment we have in our yard what looks rather like a silver lined canoe and various pieces of copper piping. The noise and sounds of industry emanating from his shed have been loud and a bit too constant some days. On other days he has been toiling over small boards of wiring similar to the things you see come out of the innards of mobile phones and computers.
I have not asked too many questions… we have been married to long to make that mistake, as I know the reply would be very long, very involved, and a little like Humphrey’s long-winded replies in the show Yes Minister after which the minister would ask for it again in plain English. I just nod wisely and make what I hope are encouraging sounds. However, I did protest when he used a grinder which sparked so much it set off some of the house smoke alarms which in turn set both dogs barking madly and of course because he was wearing ear pads and he is deaf anyway, he couldn’t hear through the din of the grinder, the alarms and the dogs as I tried to make myself heard by yelling at him to stop.
Today I was enjoying a granny-nap which my doctor has advised me do more often when a toxic smell woke me. I opened every door and window and turned on the fans to clear the air. ‘Nothing to worry about at all.’ said my hero. ‘Just a malfunctioning and burnt out battery’ So much for quiet times and relaxing.
I hope the year has begun well for you Del and you have enjoyed some peaceful moments under your apple tree, think of me sitting under mine… in the fresh air away from ‘malfunctioning batteries’
From your ‘flower-child’ friend,