Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The games we play...

Have I told you that we didn't bring any kid's toys away with us on the road?? It's true! Apart from a teddy each of course.

Part of the appeal of this trip for me was to see if we could do it lightly. If we as a family could live without a lot of stuff. Our house in Daylesford is filled with clutter. I wanted to see if we need it or like it. The limited storage space in the caravan helped make packing decisions easier, but even so on the day we left the cupboards were only half filled.

When it came to deciding which toys to bring, rather than each of my three girlies choosing an age appropriate selection, we brought none.

Instead we decided to leave it up to the op shop/thrift shop fairies.

Over the past two months we have visited op shops along the way and found and bought a huge bag of odd Lego bits, Jenga, a pink spotty tea set in a basket, solitaire, some bottles of bubbles and a selection of books.

Each game we have found has really been played with and enjoyed. Unlike half of those that fill our cupboards back home.

And the best part is that when we get tired of them, we'll donate them back for some other family to enjoy.

There is no sentimental value. I will absolutely never get to the stage when I hate those little pieces of plastic and swear when I step on one. It is a sustainable way to buy and play.

I am secretly hoping we discover a game of Snakes and Ladders or Scrabble next.

Packing lightly has also had the added reward of creativity. These kids have been making plenty. Fairy houses from shoe boxes (below), walkie-talkies from sultana boxes, lanterns from drink cartons...

I am planning one mega clean out when we get home.

And my giveaway is still open on my last post. What began as a thank you to you guys has become such a humbling and emotional experience for me. Thank you for every single entry. You guys are awesome!! I will certainly be reading back on your comments next time I have a 'what's the point of blogging' moment. And if you haven't entered yet, please do, it's open until Friday.

Happy playing. xx

Monday, August 29, 2011

Grateful 2 u giveaway...

Since we've been on the road, I've been a thinking a lot about blogging and bloggers and blog readers.

I am so super grateful for my blog. My blog has given me an outlet to express myself. It's enabled me to make friends all over the world both virtual and real. It's given me the confidence to believe that perhaps I am not the only non writer in my family. It's let me journal my life internal and external. It's let me catalogue my photos. It's inspired me and it's presented me with some pretty amazing opportunities.

And you guys. My readers. I am so super grateful for you too. Thank you for reading, for following along, for commenting, for sharing and caring. Grateful is probably too small a word.

Thank you!!

Over the past little while on the road I have been crocheting the bits of this cushion cover. Those who follow me on Instagram or The Twitter have seen it grow from the first square all the way through to the blocking and the sewing in of the ends.

This cushion really holds a piece of this trip inside it. If you put your ear to it and listened carefully you might hear the buzzing of mozzies in Katherine, the rumble of the car engine from Kununurra to the west coast and my farmer boy reading Tim Winton to me at night in Broome. If you breathed in deeply you might smell citronella, sunscreen and the sea breeze. If you were so inclined you might have a lick and taste bbq's and vodka and old fashioned lemonade and possibly some tears too.

Hopefully Miss Jazzy has found all my own hairs that got caught in the crochet hook and pulled them out so there wont be any of them. Hopefully.

I'd love to send one of you this cushion cover as a thank you.

Trust me, it would look so great on your couch. It looks so good on our caravan couch that I've started on another for us to keep.

Leave me a comment on this post to win it. Tell me something: A joke, your dream, why you like reading my blog, where you think we should head next, what you are grateful for, what inspires you. I don't decide.

If you are one of my email subscribers, send me an email with your comment and I'll add it in.

We'll choose the cushion cover winner on Friday.
We'll also send a post card from Broome to four runners up.

Happy adventuring. xx

Friday, August 26, 2011

coffee to go

When I was younger my parents drank strong plunger coffee at home and rated the coffee they bought out from one to ten. From memory one was Launceston airport and ten was Pellegrini's in Melbourne.

I didn't drink coffee until I hit my thirties. I really didn't understand their obsession.

Before we set out on this caravan adventure, when we were considering our possessions and deciding what would come and what would stay, it occurred to me, not for the first time, that we had developed our own coffee addiction/obsession too.

At home, farmer/barista Bren (what would you rate his coffee M and D?), would place a beautifully brewed latte in front of me every morning not long after I'd opened my eyes. I loved/was addicted to this ritual, but I knew I didn't want it to take over our road trip. I did not want to have to start each day with the hunt for a latte.

So it appeared we had a decision to make; give up the coffee or find a way to make great lattes on the road.

We discussed it for a while. And then I convinced myself I would give up coffee the week before we left.

But then my hero, my barista Bren measured the coffee machine and the grinder. When he found that they fitted perfectly in the corner of the little caravan kitchen, he bolted them in and the rest is double shot latte every morning history.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of sitting eating breakfast in the dusty absolute middle of nowhere and sipping on a perfect latte.

Hugest special thanks to Ms Ruth Gourmetgirl-friend for the wonderful gift of home roasted beans she sent to us in a package to Darwin. The post office guy told us all the posties had been waiting all morning to see who would pick up the divine smelling parcel. Lucky, lucky us.

So dear reader, if you were to pack up and hit the road for six months, what would be your can't/don't want to live without?

Happy adventuring and have a fab weekend. xx

ps. The photo of the coffee machine in our caravan was taken by Ro.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Classic & vintage caravans.

We've been on the road for a while now. We've travelled a long way and we've met a lot of people. People from all over the world and all over Australia. People who are doing this trip for a gazillion different reasons and a gazillion different ways.

What interests me are the interactions with people that go further than 'yep we're from Daylesford in Victoria and we are heading down the west coast'. The interactions that stop you for a while, that have you sharing information with each other and that sometimes even develop into friendship.

Some of these on the road friendships we've made have been with families with kids. That's an obvious one. They have kids, we have kids, our kids play together and so we hang out together. We've met some great people this way.

Some people we hang out with because their caravans are parked next to ours. Some because we keep bumping into them along the way. And some because they and we tow old caravans.

We love old vans. We scout them out, we 'ooh and ahhh', we photograph them, we knock on their doors and we chat to their owners.

Caravan parks are bursting full of shiny new Jaycos. We who tow 30+ year old caravans are definitely in the minority.

People who tow older vans are often interested in other older vans. We swap details, we give tours, we describe the hunt, the purchase and the fixing up process.

We've met some amazing people this way.

We met the owners of this cute 50's car and caravan in Katherine and kept bumping into them for a while. They spent two years working on their combo before hitting the road. Everywhere we've seen them they have been followed by people with cameras. Every time we have spent time with them they have been happy to answer questions and give out information. They even offer to get out of people's way when they are taking photos. They said they are totally surprised by the attention they are getting.

The inside is not much bigger than a cubby house. Its divine. I totally had to hold myself back from squealing as they were showing us around.

And they said they loved our van too. They said we should join the classic caravan club.

I think when a lot of people see us pull up they don't get it. They don't understand that we'd much rather be pulling our lovely old girl than a shiny, no-character new caravan. That we hunted for ages until we found our 1980 Viscount Bunker van. That if we won a million bucks in Tats, we'd probably buy an even older van and put it on a new chassis. Its who we are, it's what we like.

Happy travels.


Our hearts are with you Daylesford. xx

Monday, August 22, 2011

Traveling West.

Time passes.

Kilometers are driven.

Paths are walked.

Waterfalls and creeks and rock pools are discovered and leaped into and cooled off in and enjoyed.

We are getting braver.

One of us wants to be a climber when she grows up. Some of us have learnt to jump without testing the water. All of us love the feeling of the waterfall pounding the back of your neck.

I have lost track of time.

I cannot tell you how long we have been on the road, what day it is or what time it is back home.

I do not miss home. I do miss some of my special people sometimes.

For some reason bad news from home devastates me while good news seems dreamy and far away.

Mostly we eat cereal and sandwiches and barbecues. Apples and carrots and Vegemite crackers for snacks.

We have been bitten by one million bitey things. I was stung by a bee on the bum in the NT/WA quarantine station.

We love our Frankie Blue caravan. She really feels like home. I love the mixy-matchy sheets we cover up with at night. I am so pleased I made the effort to sew them up before we left.

We wear skirts and shorts and singlets and thongs and hats.

It is hot aired and bright blue skied every day.

We cannot imagine the cold, wintry, wet Daylesford days.

The girls are up and down and around and around. We have sticker charts for good behaviour on the caravan fridge and rewards are coming. They are happiest when we are busy and doing and learning, so we try to be. I think farmer Bren sometimes questions the wisdom of traveling half way around Australia with four girls.

Decisions are made. Sometimes changed, sometimes kept.

We have time.

We are heading West.


ps. We are on The Design Files today. Yippee!!

Monday, August 15, 2011

A quick look around.

It's late afternoon/early evening here in Darwin town. It's that funny piece of time after swimming at the pool and before dinner. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing. I've had a little afternoon cocktail and am feeling a bit merry and thought I might show you around.

Just a quick tour. No cleaning up or styling. This is how it is right here and right now.

This is the spot in our caravan where I have been checking my emails and am about to sit down and write this blog. We have wireless internet so a few of us can be online at once which is great.

That bit of white tape on the far left is double sided velcro tape. Farmer Bren is obsessed with it. Everything is tidied and rolled and secured with the stuff.

Straight in front of me is the map of Australia with our route so far drawn up the middle. We've come a long way in five weeks. Is that Miss Jazzy eating Vegemite crackers outside the door? Why I think it is.

And there is Miss Indi. At last count she had 57 mosquito bites covering her and is incredible itchy. Hello Indi!!

There's my bunch of flower squares sitting waiting for me on the table. It's too hot here to think of making woolly clothing so I'm making granny squares instead.

The washing line. How cute is the caravan peg bag Miss Michelle made for me! Thanks for making it and sending it to me Michelle! Doing the laundry is so much more fun now.

Getting mail on the road has been such a thrill.

Oh and there's Farmer Bren giving our neighbour a lesson on how to set up her ipad.

A quick peek inside her van and look who we've found. Miss Pepper and her friend Christian. The truth is I heard these guys long before I saw them. They are a noisy bunch.

Twenty minutes after I wrote this, I was about to press publish, when I looked out the window and saw this. The start of a neighbourhood game of hide and seek.

Ready or not here I come...

Ok, time to put the barbecue on now. Tofu and salad wraps for dinner here. Indi and I have a date to play bingo at the bar later on.

I hope your week has started happily.

See ya!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Real and true life.

So we came out of the desert and landed in Darwin. The girls had had enough of gorges and waterfalls and bush walks for a while and wanted to do some real life stuff.

The only problem is that five weeks away from my real life, I'm having trouble remembering what it is.

When I look in the mirror in the caravan park toilet, the person looking back at me doesn't look so much like real life, Daylesford me. This Kate has wavy, straggly hair in pig tails, she wears sun dresses and sometimes shorts!!, she is covered in mozzie bites. I think she looks relaxed and I know she looks grubby. In my real life would I pull a band-aid off my foot and leave the grey sticky remnants until next shower? Do I really wash my hair every few days?? Have I ever worn shorts since I was about 20?

Miss Pepper was really sick for a few days. She moaned and groaned and clutched at her tummy all day and all night for about three days. In my real life would I take her to the doctor or would I be satisfied with advice from neighbours and phone calls from relatives? It's hard to remember in the middle of the night in a caravan park full of sleeping neighbours when you are awake trying to calm and reassure your whimpering child.

The other day I was crocheting a few granny squares while supervising my girlies swimming in the pool when the caravan park gardener walked past. He made some remark like That looks like fun, I guess some one's got to do it! I found myself wanting to chase after him and set him straight. Tell him that in my real life I live on a farm, that I also work with the land, make things green, get my hands dirty. I wanted to tell him that in my real life I don't spend hours sitting by the pool. But I didn't. At times real life seems a million miles away.

Yesterday, desperately hungry after a few hours swimming, we stopped at a local shopping centre for lunch. I was wearing my bathers and a pair of shorts. My bathers were still damp from the pool. In public!! This is not something I can ever imagine doing in my real, at home, life.

And then a few days ago I found myself in a conversation about the price of food with a fellow caravanner. We were talking about milk and how expensive he had found it here in the NT. I found myself nodding along. We are so very aware of the price of food now we are buying so much of it on the road, rather than growing it ourselves. Later, when I was walking back to the caravan, I remembered my real life theories about the true cost of food. About how I believe you get what you pay for and how important it is to me to support the family producing the food we eat by paying a fair price.

In my real life I define myself by my roles as a Mother and a wife which are constant now too. But at home I also feel most true to myself when I am baking and sewing and knitting and creating and growing and preserving, none of which I am really doing here on the road. I have been crocheting a bit here and there but nothing like my output at home. Somehow by having more time I have less time to myself. I have no idea how that one works.

Now that I've written all this out I am not entirely sure what this ramble is all about. What ties it all together. I guess I'm just trying to reconcile the Daylesford Kate with the Kate on the road. Trying to remain true to one while giving the other room to discover and explore herself.

I hope that doesn't sound too cuckoo for you this sunny Sunday morning.

Have fun out there. x

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Yarn bombed!

So there has been a little craft going on in the background of this little caravan adventure we're on. A little bit of rainbow hooking here and there.

Can you guess what I've been making??

This is the before shot. Its the back of Frankie Blue, our caravan, and a clue.

Yep, you guessed it! It's a yarn bombed spare tyre cover for the caravan.

So much prettier than the boring old black tyre right?!

I was totally considering stitching 'Kate, Bren and the gang. Carpe Diem!' or maybe 'Say G'day channel 18 and 40' but I didn't.

Frankie Blue insists we drive pretty slowly so there's often trucks, road trains and other vehicles stuck behind us waiting to pass. Oh how I would love to hear what the drivers and their passengers say about our granny van.

The details are Raveled here and the colours go around and around in a spiral because that's the name Miss Pepper insists on calling our van.

We are in Darwin at the top of Australia. It took us one month and 16 caravan parks to get here. I think we'll hang out for a bit.

Happy adventuring!


Monday, August 8, 2011


There are so many reasons why we set off on this road trip. Personal reasons, business reasons, seasonal reasons, family reasons and because we could.

One month into it I have realised that there has been an unexpected and totally surprising outcome already.


For the first time that I can ever remember I am living completely in the moment. I am not planning, replaying or stressing. I am not rushing. I feel really clear and calm. The head chatter that usually keeps me company has disappeared.


I wonder if it is possible to hold on to this feeling at home. I wonder if it is possible to simplify my life to such an extent that we live in the today.

I'm going to spend the next few months thinking about that.

Bren and the girls have gone to meet friends at the Katherine hot springs. I'm off to join them now.

Happy adventuring.

See ya!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The secret life of caravaners.

Three and a half weeks into this trip I would have to say that for me the strangest part of caravan living is the intimacy you share with your neighbours.

On our farm in Daylesford, if I were to go outside and scream as loudly as I could, no one would hear me. Yet here we are usually a couple of meters away from another van, sharing bathrooms, and washing machines and outdoor living spaces with perfect strangers.

In my real life my best friends have never seen me first thing in the morning before I have had a chance to look in the mirror, or last thing at night brushing my teeth and washing my face. Yet my caravan neighbours have had the pleasure of witnessing these things as well as my dash to the toilet in my jammy pants first thing in the morning, they have heard me discipline my kids, they have seen us cook and eat our meals and hang out our washing. If they cared these neighbours could see from our laundry what colour knickers I wear.

I am sure most caravaners don't care or notice. They go about the details of their own lives and leave others to do the same.

I notice though.

I see the woman in the kitchen area with her pin curlers in. I see that most people hang their washing in an orderly manner, socks in pairs, tops with tops, pants with pants. I see that most people don't care about being seen in their hot pink elephant jammies or dying their hair in the sink. I hear people planning their trips and menus and dividing up the chores. I see the old man waiting patiently for his wife ouside the ladies toilets very late at night.

I love these details of other people's caravan lives.

My family voted me craziest in the family for taking these pics, but truthfully this aspect is as important to me as the tourist sights. This is caravan living.

Over time I might care less and notice less. It might feel normal when the guy next door interrupts my bowl of cereal to ask if we think the petrol will be cheaper in Mataranka or Katherine. It might not feel like an invasion when I return to the communal laundry to find mine out of the washer and dumped on the nearest table. It might feel regular to hear other people's kids crying well into the night.

In the meantime I guess the saving grace is that within a few days we will all be moving on and be strangers all over again.

This is such fun!

Happy travels.


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