We have had a most enjoyable first 16 days of our trip - albeit not without some dramas. On the way to our first stop at (daughter) Naomi & Brad's, we called in to Bennett Steel in Wauchope (www.easysteelsolutions.com.au) to buy our new "Easy Burn" flat-pack fireplace. We have not yet had the opportunity to use it, but when The Pyromaniac (aka Gordon) is 'fired up' there will be photos galore to show just how good it is - both as a cooking facility and a campfire around which to gather. As we were leaving there, Gordon was so busy worrying about whether or not the nose-cone of Toad Hall would touch the roll-bars on the back of the ute and he had me watching that like a hawk and neither of us were watching the actual goose-neck. Consequently neither of us noticed that the army trunk which we had spent so much time refurbishing had been severely dented by said goose-neck. So all that stripping, sanding, rustproofing & painting was to no avail. We decide (after having seen several other motorhomes with similar) to buy a checkerplate 'boot' and have it attached to the rear of Toad Hall. With thanks to Barney Joyce, from Marcia Street Fabricators in Coffs Harbour, we have a well made bracket to support said boot which now holds such essentials as the chainsaw and its peripherals, Easy-Burn fireplace, rake, vehicle cleaners and polishes etc. And thanks to Brad from Coffs Coast Plumbing we have two new tubes slung underneath the motorhome to hold such items as the flag (on its pole), the fishing rods, the extensions for the awning and the trekking poles in one and the sewer hose in the other. Little by little we are bringing Toad Hall up to our scratch. Gordon also ordered, on-line, some new hose caps - one of which he modified to connect to the 'old' drainage hose (ex-Vincent) for on-ground drainage. Yet another item to be tested in Iluka - our next stop.
Over the week-end, Gordon & Brad go 'crabbing' in Moonee Creek - which turned out to be a very successful expedition. Brad then cooked 'Chilli Crab' for Sunday lunch. If the measure of a good feed is the amount of it which drips off your elbows, then Sunday lunch was immeasurably good! :-)
A quiet few days, with a bit of housework and a bit of shopping - nothing out of the ordinary, just poking along.
Thanks to Miss Mahli, both Gordon & I are now snuffly & coughing. Nothing like cuddles with a loved & loving granddaughter to spread the germs. :/
Friday 15th - the anniversary of my Dad's passing. A quiet moment of reflection, then on with the day. And then - Oh No!!! Disaster strikes!! Our traveling companion - Dustee the cockateil - was enjoying some 'free-time' inside the van on Gordon's shoulder when I went outside. At that exact time, Gordon stood up & Dustee spied the open door & off he flew. . . minus quite a few feathers where I tried to catch him on his way past me in the doorway. Alas I missed. After Harley (our Moodle puppy) picked up a tick here last November, it seems Coffs/Moonee is destined to be the end of all our pets. We could hear Dustee up in the trees behind the house, but could not see him for love nor money. We left out some piles of seed, plus left the doors of his cages open (yes- he has two) in an effort to entice him to return, but had to end the day hoping against hope that he would return. :(
Saturday saw a trip to Bellingen Markets - of which we had heard plenty. All of which we had heard held good. A truly diverse spread of market fare - fresh food, artisan goods, and just a sprinkling of 'trash'. In the food line Ausbuff Stuff had a wonderful Buffalo Gelato and a very creamy 'Danish-style' Buffalo Feta with Chilli & Coconut. Mmmmm. Gordon had suggested I look for a new bird, but there was no-one selling any - bad luck.
Sunday was yet more marketing - "Made With Love" markets at Coffs Ex-Servicemen's Club and the general market over the road in the undercover carpark. Coffs Harbour also has more markets out at the Jetty on a Sunday - so there is a wide variety to suit everyone. Thanks to the first market Toad Hall will now have a 'personalised' floor-mat, thanks to 'www.adoremat.com.au'. We also have a cutlery wind-chime, at a fraction of the cost of those we have seen in Sydney.
Gordon also 'sweet-talked' his way into some commemorative coin-sets - Weary Dunlop , 30-year Vietnam and another - all uncirculated and in presentation folders, which thrilled him no end. :-)
During the afternoon, after yet another fabulous luncheon on 'muddies' courtesy of Brad, young Mahli crawls for the first time. Unfortunately her mummy, Naomi, wasn't present but Grandma (Juanita) did manage to capture some footage. Thanks to modern technology & mobile phones.
Monday sees time to move on, after of course the tourist photo in front of the Big Banana. On arrival at The Anchorage (www.anchorageholidaypark.com.au) at Iluka, we were greeted by Karen & Sel like long lost rellies - even though we had only been here once before, last November. They have wonderful facilities including heated pool & spa, wireless internet, jetty and boat ramp. The grounds are beautifully kept and the township is a short drive away. The golf course is quite handy as well. :-)
Finally inflated the kayak & launched it. Neither of us had much idea what to do, but we managed to paddle up river a fair way & back again without capsizing - so all is good. We didn't go far, we didn't go fast, but we had fun. We did learn a few of things - 1) needs more air; 2) we should wear swimmers & 3) it's easier to carry sideways.
Thursday night to Iluka Bowling Club. Not your classiest venue, but a good feed & very welcoming locals.
We will stay here & visit a few more of the local spots - Harwood, Maclean, Yamba among them - before setting off westwards to find somewhere quiet for Easter.
Stay tuned . . .