We got home at 3pm today from a 6-day holiday in Anglesea, a little beach town at the start of Victoria's Great Ocean Road. Like last year, we stayed at the holiday house of family friends, and took the kids out of school for a week to have some family downtime away.
I wondered if it would feel a little same-y, revisiting the very place of our autumn holiday last year, but, in fact, it was a really different vacation. The weather was much cooler, and we only got to the beach and into the water on one day. We did a lot more walking, a lot more shopping, a lot more exploring, and a lot more lunching-out than last year. A highlight there was G and my anniversary lunch (14 years, wow) - we took the kids to Growlers, in Torquay, and had a stupendously good 2-course meal, with champers for G and I and milkshakes for the kids, for just under $100 for the five of us. The rain was falling softly as we were eating and the ocean was just out the window. The kids had their best restaurant manners on and the whole experience was just perfect.
We also got to climb the Split Point Lighthouse in a fascinating tour (I highly recommend it, if you're ever in the area) and the girls fulfilled their dearest wish - they went horse riding. The big kids had a 45-minute lesson and were both avid pupils, listening well and confident with their horses. I led C around the property on a stolid Shetland pony, and she was delighted beyond words.
We also did lots of that hanging-about stuff that makes a holiday a real break. I took a couple of the craft kits that C got for her birthday with us, and the three of them had fun with them. C discovered a motherlode of toys stored under the stairs, and spent happy hours playing with them, while the big kids indulged in an orgy of comic-book reading once they found the bookshelves stocked with Hagar the Horrible, Garfield, Calvin & Hobbes and the Wizard of Id. G taught the big girls how to play table tennis, and they got very enthusiastic about that.
We watched a few kids' DVDs, including the rather disappointing Scooby Doo on Zombie Island (more on that in a later, rantier post), but G and I didn't watch any adult TV or movies at all; at night, we read books and newspapers, talked and (in my case) wrote poems. Internet access was patchy but the trusty tablet gave me a handy, and welcome, writing tool; and I did one blog post, in honour of International Women's Day yesterday.
It wasn't without its ups and downs, our holiday - the sibling conflicts between the kids didn't magically vanish because we were away from home, and G was sick for 2 days with a mysterious viral-type illness that made him shivery, achey and exhausted, as well as headache-ridden. I didn't sleep well, which was a surprise, as I did last year and C was up at night much less this time, so really I should've had more sleep, not less. Thus, I'm more tired than I'd ideally like to be at the end of a holiday, and am looking forward enormously to hitting the sack in my own bed tonight!
Overall, though, it was a lovely week. We all had a chance to do things we loved and forget about everyday life, and we got that concentrated family time that seems so important for us to reconnect and stay bonded. I'm so glad we went... and I'm glad to be back again.