So here we are at a small town on the South to South East coast of Victoria called Inverloch about 1.5 hours drive from Mt Martha. We arrived yesterday afternoon after a relatively hasty pack and what some might call a usual Petrucco Shamozle! You would think that when you are going away for 13 weeks on a trip of a lifetime that you would invest some time in planning, preparing and organising. Well the extent of our organisation was really ensuring the dogs were taken care of at home and booking our first stop on the way. The last few days have been pretty hectic, having arrived home only 8 days prior after 4 weeks overseas, we have had several days of work to finish off, an Executive Orientation program to design and prepare for a client, house renovations to plan for and obtain multiple quotes for the bank, two birthdays, school excursions and pyjama day, 2 school presentations to deliver (on our oseas trip), make sure the orphanage and school projects keep on track, take the camper in for a service, have the dogs washed, pick up the dog food (for 3 months that's 7 big bags of dog food) and ofcourse pack the camper, our clothes and recreation gear for our trip. It makes me tired just thinking about it. I know when we were driving down yesterday I half jokingly scoffed at Bec when she mentioned the past week had been a bit to handle but now looking back she definitely had a point and as per usual my wife was right. Mind you our way is to live life with a degree of impulsiveness and to this day Bec and I will tell you that our best decisions in life have been those where we decide 'in the moment' and just go with what feels right. Out trip away is no different, other than knowing we are in desperate need for some time out we have decided to go where the winds (or should I say waves) take us and just spend some time living for the day. We have had to plan out our first 3 stops because of Easter and school holidays which will see us leave Inverloch for Lakes Entrance and then on to a beautiful beachside town called Pambula. After that though no plans. Yesterday as we finalised our packing, started to think about what needed to go in the camper and we started to ironically feel a little pressure about the timeliness of our departure. We ofcourse hadn't opened our camper since we got back from our Christmas break so had no idea what was in there or how things were packed. There were bags spread all over the driveway, dogs running around, kids jumping all over the place, it was a disaster zone. We had golf gear, surfboards, cricket bats, balls, swimming gear, fishing gear, you name it, it was somewhere in our driveway. As I was wanting to get moving and get packed I was dealt a lesson in patience as I tried to get our fishing gear organised. There was about 5 rods seriously entangled with each other, hooks flying around everywhere and me just wanting to get moving. I had a little giggle to myself as I had to stop, take a breath and slowly disentangle the fishing line and separate the fishing rods. Slowly and surely we unpacked the camper, put up the pod on the car, and repacked the camper, the pod and the car. Really all things considered we did a remarkable job. We were all hooked up and ready to drive when Bec had one last look around and identified that we hadn't yet packed the TV. In some ways this was a message to us, as I had suggested to the crew that we not take the TV on this trip, which unfortunately didn't get considered for too long. Well we were running around the house trying to find the box to store the TV in, car was still going in the driveway, kids in the car, packed and ready to go. Fortunately the TV drama was short lived, Bec found the box and we were all packed and ready to go. Imagine the drama if we got to our first stop and no TV! I am not sure if the peace of no TV would be overshadowed by the moans of the kids.
Whilst I had planned out our entire 13 week trip with every stop accounted for I took the very liberating step the other night, with Bec's approval ofcourse, to simply delete the lot and so we leave without a plan. I say liberating because Bec and I like most people I guess live our life with most days planned for between work, three kids and a house there isn't a great deal of discretionary time left. This trip is 13 weeks of discretionary time and this is probably the most exciting part of the adventure for us. Just getting off the treadmill, having no plans, and just driving or camping depending on how we feel. I often remember back to when I used to work at Charles Sturt. Whilst for the most part that place had happy memories for me it also got pretty dark toward the end of my time there after my boss was sacked and replaced with a very average fellow and the place started to head in a very different direction. Anyway I used to drive to work down Brighton Road every day, North in the morning and South in the evening. At Somerton Park on the corner of Oaklands Road there used to be a VW car yard, just a small corner yard filled with beetles and more interestingly Combi Vans. Each day, twice a day I would hope the lights would pull me up so just for a moment I could lose myself in my dreams of packing up the Combi and heading for the coast. I would visualise myself ripping off my tie and throwing the suit away for a pair of boardies, my sunnies, my board, Bec and at that stage Indy and just taking off. In some ways I wish I had followed my heart instead of listening to my head. Ofcourse my head was telling me you have a good job, you have a mortgage, you have responsibilities, don't be stupid. I wonder what my advice would be from me on my death bed as I think back to that time, I think I know the answer and advice I would give to myself. Well fortunately as we live through these and more experiences we become a little more wise and we start to balance out listening to our head with listening to our heart and so the option to buy a camper and head off on an extended trip worked its way from being a dream of something we would one day do, to becoming an option, to becoming a plan, to now becoming our reality. There are ofcourse a multitude of reasons why we shouldn't be doing this as my head keeps reminding me but I am happy to say that Bec and I have an absolute commitment to living our life with our kids, each and every day where we can, and that means we make sacrifices, we make compromises but we always put our time with our girls and Gus first. I still can't believe that this year Indy will turn 12, Maggie is nearly 8, and Gus is already 2. The years just fly by and if we don't stop and get off the treadmill these precious opportunities will soon be gone. Ofcourse this sort of time is so precious because it is absolutely in the moment time. Each day is dedicated to our family, be it going for walks, swimming, surfing, whatever the family wants to do, we do together, very special.
The other part of this trip that is a little unique for Bec and I is caravan park life. For the most part Bec and I pretty much keep to ourselves at home. We don't tend to spend a lot of time (none if I am honest) with our neighbours and after the wonderful set of friends we had at Middleton we have been very slow to hook up with friends at Mt Martha. Well caravan parks are like a little community. Sure you can keep to yourself if you really want to and as soon as you head in to your camper it is your own little oasis but there are also many times during the day when you are with others. Be it cooking at the BBQs, swimming in the pool, jumping on the air pillow or simply sitting out having your cuppa in the morning there are many opportunities to reach out and connect with others. In the first 12 hours here we would have had more conversations with more people than we would probably have in a month at home. It brings you out of yourself and gives you the opportunity to play a part in an ever changing community. A community mind you that all have the same goal, relax and live life and create new enjoyable experiences and memories. They are quite special places to be, that is all except for the Christmas holiday period when they are just manic and not really all that enjoyable, or at least not for us. The Inverloch Park is fantastic for the kids. Everything is fenced for the kids, the parks, the pools, the recreation facilities, so they are very safe and we can pretty much see everything from our camp site. The thinking behind a stop only 90 minutes from home was to just get away quickly, unpack, and unwind for a few days to get into the zone. I am pleased to say that so far our plan is working. Ofcourse there is some unwinding to do. The kids are still tired from the trip overseas and from their quick trip back to school, Bec has had a big past month and I am ofcourse pretty tired and still a bit wound up from work, from India and in need of an opportunity just to take the phone off the hook and de-stress a little bit. Inverloch is doing all that and more for us. For the foodies out there we had some nice pieces of scotch fillet on the barbie last . We were pleased to see a 6 pack of kingfisher beer (Indian Beer) at the local yesterday so we had to have one of those. It was a bit surreal to think that just over a week ago we were sitting in Mysore with Jen and Nick enjoying a cold Kingfisher and now here we are in Inverloch Australia doing the same. Tonight we are planning to have a lovely prawn and pea risotto with some fresh peas, our favourite, and an accompanying bottle of Shaw and Smith Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide hills. We always look forward to cooking up a nice meal on our little butane gas cooker. We also won't settle when it comes to coffee and we have brought out nespresso and enjoy a very good coffee or three everyday (the nespresso converts out there will know what we are talking about!) Night times are always fun, be it sitting outside playing card games or watching the old series of sea change (Mum bought me the series for my birthday) we always have great fun at nights. We are looking forward to many happy adventures over the coming weeks.
A quick update for those who have been following our efforts in India. We were again overwhelmed by a very generous gift from our Auntie Jane and Uncle Richard who gave me a very special birthday gift donation to our projects in India. We are now fast approaching our initial fundraising target and will soon have enough to repair the rooves, repair the playground, buy a new van and put in a new and safe back fence at the school. I received an email from Premela this week advising work has already begun on removing the rooves, families are already signing up to attend the school and the girls will be returning home in April. It is incredible news all around and we are very excited. My good friend Phillip Marsh from Rotary is assisting us in a range of ways including a large donation as well as creating a project fund within Rotary that we can donate to and use to forward funds to India. Phil and I are also going to put together a series of leadership seminars from July which we hope will go a long way to funding the next stage of our building project at the school. There is a lot happening in India and it is all good.
Well as I sign off, the girls are in the pool, Gus is sleeping in the camper, Bec will be reading her books and the trip is off to a good start. We hope all our family and friends are well and getting ready for an enjoyable Easter break. Love to everyone, Nick, Bec, Indy, Mags and the Little man!