Monday, 29 April 2013

MovieWorld, or How to hemorrhage money without really trying.

MovieWorld is, apparently, Hollywood on the Gold Coast.

It's not.  Trust me.  Actually, I think that tag line is maybe from a few years ago.

When we arrived we were firstly amazed by the number of cars entering the car park.  Every single one had NSW number plates.

More like NSW on the Gold Coast.

Hold on to your hats people. 
I hoped to find MW a little quiet because Qld and Vic holidays were over, but the New South Welshpeople more than made up for this.

There were queues, to park, to enter and for all the rides.  We lined up for a 4D experience of Ice Age Three (the dinosaur one).  The fourth dimension consisted of seats which shook, and water (I hope)  sprayed all over the audience when one of the characters sneezed.  It was a little underwhelming.

Next, we watched a stunt car show with a lot of explosions and flying cars.  Issy didn't cope well.  The rest of us loved it.

An ice-cream as big as his head. 
Post ice-cream happiness.
We went to Willy Wonka's for chocolate.  We went to Sweet Treats for ice-cream.  We didn't go anywhere for fairy floss because I finally put my foot down.

Pre roller coaster happiness. 
We had two goes on the dodgems.  I love the dodgems.  I believe I am a dodgem prodigy.  Issy was supposed to be driving ours but I quickly snatched the steering wheel from her and smashed my other two beloved children all over the enclosure.

Still flying high on adrenalin, I dragged them we went to the Wild West ride.  Every theme park has one of these.  It's the ride which can start in any manner of ways but always ends with you flying down a steep descent through water, in some type of log contraption.  You always get wet, but it's kind of fun.  At least I thought it would be fun, until Issy started screaming, just after the contraption started going backwards. It was only for a few seconds, but it was quite unexpected and sent her over the edge.  I spent the rest of the ride holding her into her seat as she repeatedly tried to escape into the Wild West landscape.  It was only at the end, during the downward water spraying part, that she began to enjoy herself again.
Issy was not so happy just before the Wild West ride.  Her instincts were correct. 
We waited 25 minutes for a rollercoaster that lasted 40 seconds.

The 40 second rollercoaster.
We saw Batman, Scooby Doo, Catwoman, Marilyn Monroe (twice), Austin Powers, Bugs, Daffy and many others who I have blanked from my memory.  And I don't have any photos because the kids refused to go near them.

It was wild, it was crazy, it was fun.  And my goodness it was expensive.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The importance of being ruthless.

I've been a bit off the air.  I'm sorry.  It's been a bit tricky around here.

There's been a few reasons.  We went to Brisbane.  Saw my Mum and Mike's family.  It was very lovely, but we stayed quiet.  Sorry Brisbane people who we love and didn't see.

When we returned, the renovation we have been threatening to start for about a year now, suddenly turned up in our immediate future instead of languishing in the distance.

So we ordered a skip.

When you have a skip you need to make the most of it.  You need to be ruthless.  But not too ruthless.

The dining room, aka our future kitchen.  

Even with a fine balance of ruthless we have managed to fill it.  We have thrown out many, many cubic metres of crap.

I've sorted through every toy, every piece of artwork, nearly every item of clothing.

I've spent much time over the last few days travelling down memory lane.  Much of it (especially the baby, child, travel and wedding related stuff) has been enjoyable, but other parts have been cringeworthy.

I've seriously questioned my fashion sense for most of my life.  And I've thrown out a lot of photos so I never have to question this again.

And at the moment, there are no Barbie shoes, Trashies, Polly Pocket furniture or hair elastics lying on any surface of our home.  This has not occurred in the House of Christensen since 2005.

Right now, everything has a place, and it's in it.  Right now.

The crazy pantry, cupboard fridge situation.  
It's clarifying, cathartic.  But it's bloody exhausting.  My brain is full of memories I thought I'd forgotten.  And fighting for space are all the things I have to do next.  Where I want to put things, or how I want to do them.

We have to live on our top floor for 6 months while the builders do their thing to the ground floor and basement.  We are very lucky to have such a comfortable set up.  It's our third reno and after the first one, where Mike and I lived/cooked/ate and slept in a 3m x 3m room for 3 months, this one is a piece of cake even with the added bonus of 3 children.  

So, the toy room has been made over into a temporary lounge room.  It now looks like this.

In the meantime, my email inbox has taken on a life of its own, bills are unpaid (but the filing is now done), we are surviving day to day via emergency trips to the IGA.

Last night: Mike- Violet crumbles.
This morning: Me- Milk and Weetbix.
This afternoon: Me- Wine and cleaning materials.
Tonight: Mike- Kettle chips.

It's all a bit out of control really.  I'm sure I'll get to a supermarket for a proper shop one of these days.

And as for copywriting.  Well, one day I'll write again.  I'm sure.  Seeing as I have deadlines next week I can't avoid, it's quite likely to be sooner rather than later.

Plus I really like writing.  It makes me happy.

And while we stay home, and pack and sort, and throw out, the weather is spectacular and it seems like all of our friends are spending every waking hour at the beach while we spend hours deciding whether we need our dishwasher during the renos or whether we can get our fridge up the stairs (update: we could but not the bbq).  It's a sad existence and the kids are suffering.

Our teeny kitchen.  

Not bad? 
Actually the kids are fine.  They're just watching a bit too much TV.  And I am in a foul mood (not with them but in general) and they are very forgiving, which just makes me feel guilty.

TV is still down in the old lounge.  Where I am writing this. Sitting on the cot mattress.  Nice. 
And I feel like ripping down our spare room curtains and making clothes for the Von Trapp children.  

The spare room.  Soon to be our formal lounge/dining, aka the Good Room.  
The builders are due on Monday.  They will rip our middle and basement level apart and form them into a stylish, modern oasis (or something) over the next six months.  Then we move into the oasis while they shred our top floor and reform it into enough beds and baths and wardrobes and modern contrivances to see the children into and through their teens and us into our dotage.

It's quite likely you will receive regular updates of this transformation.


Monday, 22 April 2013

Of a beautiful boy who rocks my world.

BC.  Before curls.  
Once upon a time there was a little boy.

Actually that's not true.  Right now, there's a little boy.

He has blonde curls and blue eyes.  And his smile blows my mind.

He's a bit rough around the edges.  He's the biggest homebody I've ever met.  He's refused trips to the zoo, to waterworks and sleepovers, because he "just really likes being at home".

He's very different to both his sisters.  He talks less, for one thing.  He's left handed like his mother, and he prefers soft cheese to hard, like her (me).

New bike.  With gears.  And bonus sisters.
He has (thank the stars) inherited his father's sporting ability.  On the rugby field and the tennis court at least.

He's currently addicted to a game on the iPod called Clash of the Clans.  He talks to me about it.  He knows I don't understand a word he's saying.

He is incredibly affectionate to his father and I, fairly affectionate to his grandparents and aunts and barely makes eye contact with anyone else over 15.  This drives me bonkers.

I will never forget the look on Mike's face when he realised he had a son.  If you asked him, he would never differentiate it from the moment he first saw his daughters, but I saw it for an instant, a flicker of pure joy at having a boy of his own.  He loves them all the same, but differently.  He has to, they are different people.  I do too.

Eating an ice cream as big as his head.  
Eight years ago today, we got our boy, our lad.  Despite having an older sister, and having passionately followed her every move from the minute he could roll off his play rug, he showed early interest in boys toys and games.  Once they were old enough he and Sarah would play imagination games like fairy monster people, or deadly snow tiger babies. 

He walked around with a Thomas train clutched in his hand from about 12 months old, but by 3 had given Thomas away for Ben 10, and by 4, Ben 10 was out of the picture and it was all about Star Wars.

I think Josh has more Star Wars lego than any other child in any galaxy, far far away or otherwise.

Happy birthday baby boy.  
He is starting to be more cheeky and talking back.  There's a bit of eye rolling.  Dinner table flatulence.  Even some swearing.  He's testing us out.

He knows how much he is loved.

Happy birthday little dude.  It's been a lovely 8 years with you.  We are the richer for having you.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

The lost and found iphone

Customer Charter
Service.  Not bad at all thanks. 
I pride myself on being a smooth kind of traveller.

I've travelled a bit.  I know the importance of knowing where my stuff is.  And what stuff to keep close and handy.

When I travel with the kids, it's very regimented.  Everyone has their own wheely bag, and their own backpack.  They carry their own stuff, stick on their own bag tag, put their own bag on the conveyor belt.

Perhaps I got a bit full of myself.  A bit cocky.  After getting us safely from home to Briz, to Mum's place, to Mike's folks, back to Mum's and finally to my sister's for a quick lunch before our flight.  I thought I was bulletproof.  Nothing lost, all in good order.

So after getting us from Ashgrove to the airport, with a quick petrol stop, rental car drop off, boarding pass print, bag drop and security check, I thought I'd send Mike a text telling him we were all on time and looking forward to seeing him.

My phone wasn't in my bag.  I checked again.

No phone.

I tipped the contents of my bag onto the airport concourse.

No phone.


Of course it had to be in the hire car.  I couldn't imagine it could be anywhere else.  This is an object I take out and fiddle with approximately every 10 minutes of my life.   Back in the day people kept their appointments in their diaries and made calls from their home phone, wrote notes on notepads.

Now I use my phone as a diary, notepad, I write multiple texts, search the internet, and even make calls.  Rightly or wrongly, it's like an extension of my brain.  Without it, I go into a flap.

I had to get back to that hire car.

I ran to the gate, and asked the Qantas lady if she could please call Avis.  She was immediately concerned and helpful.  I found an Avis number for her to ring, she tried and got a call centre.

So I asked if I could leave my 3 children and hand luggage with her and go down to the Avis desk myself.  She agreed, and said I stood a much better chance going there in person.  It was 3:00.  The flight left at 3:20.

I left three kids, my bag containing laptop, ipad, old iphone and two iPods behind the Qantas desk and set off after the i I was missing.

I kept my handbag with me. Goodness knows why.  It contained a 750ml water bottle, a packet of Sakatas, a bag of grapes, all my car hire docs, 2 pairs of sunglasses, my notebook and 2 handballs.  When I moved it made a sort of shuffle/rattle noise, when I upped to a jog it sounded like I was running with maracas.

But I had to jog.  My plane left in 20 minutes and I'd lost my PHONE!

Down I galloped to the Avis counter.  One of a long line of hire car counters, it was the ONLY one with a customer.

Of course.

I stood and waited.  It seemed as those the transaction was nearly over and I didn't interrupt, but the man serving decided to notice me and asked if he could help.  I told him my plight and asked if he could call the car park office.

No, he couldn't, because he was serving someone.

And even if he could, the staff in the car park office weren't allowed to come into the airport so I'd have to go over there anyway to fetch it.

At least I think that's what he said.  Because I left.  Otherwise I might have hit him and been arrested.

I travelled overland, across three roads, got tangled in a crowd of tourists alighting from a minibus, trotted across two garden and several signs saying no access, until I came to the car park Avis office.

Had anyone seen my phone?  No? Really? Nothing handed in?  I galumphed out to where we'd left the car.  It was gone.  GONE!  No phone found and the car was already off to be washed.

What was with this terrible efficiency?  It didn't matter.  My heart was sinking.

That was it.

Either it was in the car as yet unfound and I had to depend on Avis to find it, and then contact me.

Or I'd dropped it, goodness knows where.

I was never going to see it again.  Four months into a 24 month contract. What was I going to do?

I felt like dragging my feet and slinking back to the gate.  But of course I couldn't.  I had a plane to catch and three babies waiting for me.

Back I lumbered, over the gardens, over the roads, through the illegal gates, into the terminal and up to the gate.  Ten minutes to go.  The queue of people boarding the plane was still pretty long.  We'd held no-one up.  I went to thank the kind lady who had helped me and retrieve my offspring/remaining Igadgets.

She asked if I'd seen my sister.  Nooo?  It transpired that while I'd been gone, they'd rung the phone (genius) and reached my sister.  Who had my phone.

SHE HAD MY PHONE!!! Joy!!!  She could post it to me.  All was well.

I attempted to reassure extra kind Qantas lady that my sister was at Ashgrove and would post the phone.  But no. Extra kind Qantas lady said she was at the airport.  She'd come to find us.


From then on, it was like a movie.  The minutes ticked past, the queue to board the plane got shorter, the Qantas lady kept paging my sister's name and the gate number so she could find us.  The kids bounded around, totally caught up in the excitement, looking up and down the concourse.

The queue was nearly gone, the unaccompanied minors where starting to prepare themselves to board.  Extra kind Qantas lady was started to make give it up noises.

I felt awful to think my sister had made the trip for nothing.

And then...I saw her.

One last gallop with my noisy handbag banging against my shoulder.  An embrace, a large child related scrum.  A thousand thank you's to everyone.  But especially to my wonderful, generous, kind hearted sister.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The painful tale of the well made whistle.

Once (actually yesterday) Sarah was playing on a whistle we brought her back from Vietnam.

Like many souvineery things, it was given to her when we returned, she loved it, played it, lost it, found it.  Occasionally I would vanish it because it sounds just like a recorder.

The recorder is THE most annoying instrument in the world.  By a long way.

So yesterday she was playing it.  It was band rehearsal morning. Perhaps she was getting herself into the mood.

We weren't in a hurry when they went up to clean their teeth but 15 minutes later, after only one child had returned to me and the bloody whistle was still playing, we had gone from comfortably on time, to teetering on the edge of disaster.

I shouted up the stairs that the whistling needed to stop NOW.

It kept playing.

I shouted up the stairs that if it didn't stop RIGHT NOW, whoever was playing it was going to be severely punished.

It continued tootling away, infuriating me.

The contentious instrument of pain.  
I was mad.  I was so mad.  Sometimes I get really mad.  And my kids know about it.

Up the stairs I went, and found her in the bathroom, playing away, waiting for Issy to finish her teeth.

Note: there is room for two people to clean their teeth at this particular sink.  There is no need to serenade your sister with a whistle while waiting for a space to perform your oral hygiene.

But I did not stand there and say this quietly.  Oh no.  Because I was FURIOUS.  Fed up with being a bit player in my own household, despite being the net that keeps it all together.  Totally over having to guide everyone through every tiny stage of their morning, day after day.

Tired of reminding them every Wednesday, that we're 'in a hurry', 'mustn't waste time', 'have to get to band'.

God, it's been a long term.

So, what did I do?

Against every piece of parenting advice written ever, I snatched the fucking whistle out of her mouth and snapped the fucking thing over my left leg.  Because it's a crap Vietnamese whistle and should snap like a twig right?


Instead of snapping into two, the surprisingly well made whistle remained intact.  My thigh, on the other hand, sustained a mighty injury.

I resisted the urge to fall, screaming in agony, to the floor.  Because Sarah was already screaming that I'd broken her flute and it was hers, and she didn't hear me and she didn't mean to and please don't break it.

And I have my pride.

So, instead, still furious, and in considerable pain, I hobbled down the stairs and threw the bloody thing in the skip (which was still outside waiting for collection, full of crap we didn't even know we possessed).

Cue more hysteria.  More agony.  More anguish.  It was 7:28.  I had two minutes to calm Sarah and learn to walk again.

She gathered her wits, cleaned her teeth and put on her shoes.  Josh, who had been ready since 7:15 was dispatched to the skip to retrieve the whistle, to be returned later...much later.

I get really angry, but it's never for very long.  And already I was feeling pretty darn foolish.  Like, who's the adult here?

And my leg hurt.

We made our peace, and left for school.  Me limping.

I now have a good sized lump on my left thigh.  The bruise is coming out nicely.  I've told Sarah all about it.  She has free rein to laugh at my pain as much as she likes.  Because I shouldn't lose my temper.
My lily white leg + cellulite + bruising.
Instant Karma does happen.  It happened to me.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Five things I'm simply not ashamed of.

1.  I went to the IGA and bought more than 2 things.  Quite a lot more than 2 things.  So I didn't have to schlepp down to Coles.  I know I have been ripped off.  The strawberries were on special.

2.  I let my kids watch TV on a school morning...because I wanted to wash my hair in peace.  And they're knackered.

3.  I let an acquaintance absolutely trash the school Josh might be going to for quite a few minutes before telling her Josh had been offered an interview (her son wasn't offered one- hence the diatribe).

Actually I might be a bit ashamed about that one. Her efforts to backtrack were painful to watch.  I should have stopped her at the first sentence.

4.  I spent quite a bit of yesterday throwing out toys my children will never play with again.  Apart from a slight sentimental twinge, it felt great.  And they are in no condition to go to Lifeline.  They are trashed.  I may do this next week with the stuffed toys which I'm sure will cause a ruckus.

The toys are hiding under the building materials because I am sneaky. 

5.  I went shopping and bought clothes.  I almost never do this.  They are nice clothes and I like them.  I am better at clothes shopping than I used to be (and this shopping spree was assisted by an extremely kind and equally honest friend) but I'll always prefer shoes and handbags.  There are never any nasty surprises with my foot size.  And handbags are a no brainer.

Anyways, I'm not ashamed.  I needed clothes and now I have them.  I am still on the look out for black ankle boots and new winter pjs.

Mmmm ankle boots.  From The Iconic.  My current favourites. 

The older I get, the less I worry about what other people might think.  I feel confident they're too busy worrying about their own shit, to worry to much about my inner turmoil at too much convenience store shopping or a bit of morning TV.

I hope I'm right.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

What I learned from Band Camp.

Ok let's get one thing straight up front.  When someone tells you they're going to help at band camp, (and you KNOW their kids are still in primary school), saying the line from American Pie:

'So this one band camp...'

which refers to an unfortunate incident with a clarinet (I think), ceases to be funny after the first time.

Which was about 30 people ago.

And the kids are aged between 8 and 12.  So it's completely inappropriate.   And no, I don't have a sense of humour about this anymore.

Right.  Rant over. camp.

Here's what it taught me:

On the bus to band camp.  With 45 kids.  Shame there's no sound on this.  
Be prepared.

We had 138 kids, 3 bands, 3 buses, 3 conductors, 3 teachers, multiple parent helpers, 8 instrument tutors, 70 overnight stayers, 8 meals, 138 instruments, 138 music bags, 50 billion drink bottles.

You had to be ready for anything.  So we tried to be.  Contingencies for rain, massive first aid kit, lollies for sagging spirits, cuddles for homesickness.

Of course, you can't plan for everything.  At one point, I lost the entire Senior Band trumpet section.  

We ate a lot of chocolate.  Please note: all food consumed on band camp is non calorific.  It's like a road trip, but the journey is musical.

The teachers were tireless and wonderful, the parent helpers endlessly energetic and cheerful, willing to put their hands to anything.  And believe me, there were some strange requests.

The guy who organised it has my undying devotion, as do all the people who made it come together.

There were four birthdays to celebrate.  With appropriate decoration and festivities of course.
Be patient.

We had Year 3 kids (who didn't stay the night. They did last year, and it's never happening again).  They are 8 and 9.  They lose everything, their hat, jumper, music, drink, everything.  They get tired quickly and become antsy.  They need guidance, structure and sometimes a good kick up the bum.

They also need a lot of running around or they become like wild animals.  Bless them.

Their enthusiasm is boundless.  They picked up their instruments in February.  They can now play a song called Shepherds Hey (yes it is a strange name), together, as a band and it sounds great.

They worked bloody hard and should be proud of themselves.  They are gorgeous.

The year 4 kids, who did stay the night are 9 and 10.  They are a bit more together.  But a long band rehearsal will send them all a bit bonkers and they will need to go nuts on the oval for a period of time to relieve their energy.
Senior Band.  Because I can't show you their faces.  Sarah in the pigtails.  
They were given a piece of music last Wednesday and played it (perfectly- in my opinion) for an assembly yesterday.  A complex piece with tricky dynamics and phrasing (it's like, how you play it, not just the notes- I am clearly now an expert).

And again, they worked their bums off and should be dead chuffed.  I know these kids personally because it's Sarah's year and 'my' band.  I have become inordinately fond of the lot of them.

The year 5 & 6 kids have it all together.  This is their 3rd or 4th band camp and they know where everything is, they know where they have to be, they don't lose their stuff and they are vastly more mature (well most of them), than the younger ones.  As it should be.

Of course some year 3s behave like year 6s and vice versa.  I am generalising, just a little.

The Concert Band (years 5&6) can play a piece that gives you shivers down your spine, just like music should.  They are confident, cohesive and talented musicians, having gone through the natural attrition of the band program and come out playing hard.

They are phenomenal.  'nuff said.

Be prepared to have your socks blown off.

So even after the 125th child has come up and told you they've lost their -insert item here-, even after you've lost 4 clarinets and a trumpet, even after you've reset the band chairs for the 15th time so your band can arrive and begin their session as smoothly as possible, you are tired, but oh so proud.  And when the parents arrive for the last session and they clap their kids until their hands hurt, you KNOW why you did it.

And you find, that what started out a few weeks ago as being a stressful eater of a weekend, turns into an amazing experience, and a privilege you wouldn't have missed for the world.

And of course a special mention to my co-band parent.  You know who you are.  You utter legend.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Not camping or glamping. Campbining?

So, Easter.

For us southern hemisphere dwellers, it's the last gasp of summer.  And boy don't we take it seriously.

Not enough to simply book pleasant accommodation, many people prefer to camp.

In the week before Easter, if I had a dollar for everyone who answered 'camping' when I asked what they were doing on the weekend I could have bought my kids Easter Eggs 5 times over.

Camping at Easter is simply, what you do.

Except we didn't.  We went (oh so slightly) upmarket and stayed in cabins. Campbining?  But we were still in a campground.  It's just that we didn't have to go outside to find the loo in the middle of the night.

The company was awesome.

The gorgeous view from our front balcony.  Lots of kangaroos, and kangaroo poo too. 
The campground was heaving.  Chockas.  Large people sat around in camping chairs, clutching cans of beer from about 10am.

Kids with rats tails called Jayden cycled around in packs.

Yes, I know, that's entirely inappropriate.  But it's true, I saw it.

The people in caravans next to us had a rusty 10 gallon drum they used as a fireplace.  They spent Saturday morning chopping up what appeared to be an entire tree with a chainsaw they'd brought.

It takes all types doesn't it?  We brought our Nespresso, they brought their chainsaw.  Each to their own.

On Easter Sunday, once the excited Easter Bunny related screaming had stopped, we exacerbated their sugar high by doing an Easter Egg hunt.  It took about three times longer for us to artfully hide 4 bags of tiny eggs than it did for eleven children to find them.

Over the weekend we interspersed bouts of eating, drinking and playing very competitive games of touch football, cricket and soccer with visits to the caves as chronicled here.

And by the third night, sick of all the Jayden's and their parents having fires and us not having one, and slightly intimidated by the firepits in the campsites, which were all staked out early by large, beer sipping holiday makers, we asked if we could make our own close to our cabins.

Long unused boy scout skills came to the fore, and a neat, rock ringed conflagration was built by one of our number, in the car space allocated to one of our cabins.  As I write, I am wearing the fleece Mike wore as he sat by it.  I smell (not surprisingly) like campfire.


The kids shouted, danced, jumped up and down and toasted marshmallows.  One very organised and talented member of our group created the confection known as 'smores.  Imagine a sandwich with two Marie biscuits instead of bread, Nutella instead of butter and toasted marshmallow instead of filling.


The next morning we made our way home, via the much maligned 'vomit road'.  Instead of going south to Goulburn and then up the freeway we cut across country to Mittagong.  On a single dirt lane with cliffs plummeting away from us.  If we'd met another car on a narrow stretch, we would have had to reverse to a wide part of the road to pass.  

There were frequent signs telling us to "Sound horn at blind curves".

Of course, someone had added a Y on one of the signs.  I'll let you guess where.

From the top.  Once I felt safe to stop. 
We came up out of the Wombeyan Caves valley, surprising kangaroos who bounced in front of the car before hurling themselves off the cliff into space.  We went (crawled) over the mountain and down into another valley, where a beautiful river flowed through another campground, located (bizarrely) next to a scrap metal yard.

I have kept the scrap metal yard out of the picture for your enjoyment. 
The dirt road continued out of this valley and onto a plateau.  From here, we quickly realised we had entered the Southern Highlands, as tidy cattle and enormous houses replaced run down shacks and scruffy goats.

It was a happy/sad moment.  We stopped in Mittagong for good coffee and continued home.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The beauty in the darkness.

There's nothing like a bit of time spent inside 100 million year old caves created from an ocean which existed 400 million years ago, to give you some perspective.  

We saw rocks that fell a million years ago.  

A tree that was wedged in a flood 100 years ago.  

When we're gone, the rocks will still be there, and so will the tree.  

The caves are so beautiful.  They are artfully lit, cleverly illuminated for spectacular effect.  Yet they sit in pitch darkness most of the time.  

All that beauty, sitting in the dark.  Forming over aeons.  Drip by drip.  

When the local farmers first explored the caves in the late 19th century, they did so with candles and magnesium flares.  I'm surprised they didn't all take a long drop into the creek bed.  

These days there are ladders.  Plenty of them.  Ladders up, and ladders down.  Rusty old ones and sparkling new stainless steel.  

Ladder full of cave explorers.
Sarah took multitudes of photographs.  Like, millions.

Sometimes we had to squeeze through narrow spaces and duck through low tunnels.  Not so great for the claustrophobes among us.  

And then, we'd find ourselves in enormous caverns.  Fifty metres tall.  Stalactites and Stalagmites galore, shawls, straws, columns.  After three tours in two days, we were up with all the jargon.  

Time has a different meaning in the caves.  And so does beauty.  Profound aren't I?