Sunday, April 20, 2014

Changing plans and making the most of it

My birthday, had planned to celebrate in style, trip to Hobart to see MONA, booked classy accommodation on wharf, planning luxury trip.  But, 6.30am on way to airport, text from Jetstar difficult phone call with one of those generated message, I am sorry was that yes or no?  In the end it was for heavens sake just put us on to a person!  Told flight cancelled, could get us on to another at 7.40pm - but we were only going overnight, so cancelled with promise to refund.

So, was with my mate Annie, decided to have a coffee (and a glass of sparkling) while we pondered our dilemma - what to do?  Went through several options, but in the end decided on a road trip to visit my childhood home in Tallangatta which I had not seen for a long time.  With a feeling of freedom and a little bit of 'aren't we daring' headed off down the Hume Highway.  It was pouring rain, that type of rain where you slow down on the freeway because you can't see far ahead.  Were we mad? Probably!  But by Seymour the rain had stopped and the sun was out, that beautiful, after a storm type light, illuminated everything so clearly.

First stop was a winery that we used to stop at on our many many trips up to Falls Creek.  Fowles near Avenel.  Discovered it was the home of one of my favourite wines 'Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch' and a young woman who was so delightful and charming, had a bit of a natter, tasted a few wines including the Riesling which compared favourably to my other favourite Delatite Riesling.  So very happy chappies we were!

Then onto Beechworth where we stopped at the renowned Beechworth Bakery for our lunch and I had the most delicious pie I have had in years.  I want to go back just to have another one.  I am not usually a pie eater, but this was chicken and leek and luscious.  Wandered around the town and reminisced about the family reunion Mum had organised more than 20 years ago, where over 300 members of the Mann family attended.  It was so good to be reminded of that event, the way Emily helped organise and Em and Bec and their respective boyfriends joined in to learn the 'old time' dancing that we did. Mum's uncontainable excitement and pleasure at having so many members of her extended family attend and the efforts we all put in to make it a success.

On the way out of Beechworth saw a sign to Woolshed Falls, the sun was shining and there was a light rainfall, so we decided to detour to the Falls.  They are beautiful, and sitting in the sun with such a light rain falling was just magical.  Isn't it fascinating how flowing water, whether it's the sea or rivers and waterfalls, just has a most calming effect.

Next stop on the trip was Yackandandah, where we wandered through the town, I tried to find my friends place without any luck, so we wound our through Tangambalanga to the Kiewa Highway and finally found the old town of Tallangatta. The town was moved in the 50s while I was living there, to allow for the building of the Hume Weir and my childhood memories are of houses being put up on trucks and moved out of the town. One of the houses we lived in while we were there was up on the hill, in the area that we used to refer to as Toorak. So that house is still standing and we crossed over the bridge up to where I thought the house was.

 First thing I saw was the old bus stop, where I have memories of waiting for the school bus with my brothers and the 4 or 5 other kids who lived up there.  I have very few memories of my childhood, I think because we moved a lot from house to house, by the time we moved to Melbourne when I was about 12, I had lived in 4 towns and at least 6 houses.  But seeing the bus stop, the old butter factory, the road where the old hospital was where they kept shetland ponies who I remember being quite vicious, the farm out the back where we went mushrooming and the old farm across the road where the Kirk's farm was, took me right back there.
the old bus stop, so lovely to see it referred to as Toorak and have my memories confirmed
The house where we lived, the room with all the windows was mine, helped me understand why I love to have open windows in my bedroom and find it quite stifling to be in a room with only small windows.
We found the old house quite easily, I wanted to ask if I could see inside but was put off by a dog barking loudly and loud music with someone yelling at the dog to be quiet, so we hit the road again.  Headed to Mt Beauty to see if the Yurt place was still there to stay overnight.  It wasn't, but we headed for some apartments that are up on the hill on the road to Falls Creek.  The first response was that they are only available for two nights but when we told our sob story about the plan to fly to Hobart etc, they relented and let us stay in one of the apartments.  We bought a couple of bottles of sparkling and got out onto the balcony just in time for the sunset.

The bonus was that the balcony had a hot tub, and there was another in the bathroom with a huge window looking out at the night sky.  After opening the Dal Zotto Prosecco, toasting my birthday (again) and marvelling at the sunset we made a dash to the supermarket.  Then Annie cooked up a feast of Salmon, Broccolini and little tomatoes, washed down with more Prosecco and some of the Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch Riesling and eaten out on the balcony overlooking the lights of Mt Beauty.  A long soak in the hot tub under the stars and it was the end of a perfect day.  So a forced change of plans actually gave rise to what was probably the best way to celebrate the birthday.

In the morning we headed home via Bright, where it was Annie's turn to reminisce about family holidays, diving from the (not really very high) diving board into the Ovens River and camping at the home of a family friend.  We both remember the days when our dads would head to the pub,  us kids would get a raspberry lemonade if we were lucky but otherwise would play around somewhere while waiting.  Stopped at Brown's winery for lunch and stocked up on the bulk port for our port barrel.  It's not on the list but if you ask you can get 10 litres in a box.

I was reminded how beautiful Victoria is and of the joys of road trips.  We travelled around 800 kilometres in the two days and through beautiful country, it was nostalgic and beautiful, the one thing I missed was that view that we used to get from Pretty Sally of Melbourne spread out before us, that has been taken away with the advent of the freeway where the road was diverted or lowered or something but you don't get that breathtaking view where the city appears in front of you.  But it was a great trip with good food, good wine and good memories.  Now refreshed and ready to face the madness that this Government continues to wreak.

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