Between studying and other commitments, the break between Christmas and New Year has actually been the longest time off work that I had in 2007! Despite any complaining you might read in the paragraphs that follow, it was really an excellent break.
Thinking that I was playing the piano on Sunday night (before Christmas), we had stayed in Sydney for the weekend, aiming to head off to Nambucca Heads early on Monday morning. As it turns out, there was no need for this, but I didn’t work that out until I arrived at music practice, and was told I wasn’t needed. More than a little frustrating, but these things happen.
On the plus side, being in town that weekend had us able to catch up with friends who were in town that weekend, and to go and watch Hitman with a couple of my brothers. I also managed to cram in one last doctor’s visit, which was good, as I found out that I had an annoying bug that I was just in time to treat.
Monday morning (Christmas Eve), as planned, we drove up north (hitting every red light on the way out of Sydney), stopping for breakfast at Raymond Terrace, and coffee at Bulahdelah – despite any number of trips up and down the coast, I’d never stopped in the town proper, and so it was good to have a look around.
A great many road-side signs advertising “the Salty Dog” in Coolongolook as a place to grab food by the side of the road prompted a stop there – it looks like a good place for lunch, but the timing didn’t quite line up, so it was another cup of coffee, and a trip further north. That just left buying a tray of mangoes from a road-side store just south of Nambucca Heads, and then a trip up to Bellingen for some groceries (for some reason, I still wanted to do more driving, even after a few hundred kilometres). Christmas Eve dinner I was spoiled with freshly cooked corned beef (mmm) and various vegetables: I can only remember the corned beef, really.
Christmas Day brought a few new traditions. I was used to opening one (and only one) present before church, but here we opened everything at once. We also had Christmas stockings to open, with little gifts in them – I’ve never had a stocking before! A quick breakfast of corned beef on toast, and we were off to church at Nambucca Presbyterian.
Lunch was a prawn salad, and some grilled prawns with wasabi mayonnaise, and then for dinner I tried out my new Hot Dog machine, with limited success. Then it was onto some DVD watching: we saw a couple of old Victor Borge B&W TV episodes that Barbara had on DVD.
Boxing Day – more corned beef on toast for breakfast, and then we headed to a couple of movies: one at Sawtell Cinema, and the other in Greater Union at Coffs Harbour. Two completely different movie-going experiences.
Sawtell is a small, old-school cinema: seats about 400, and most sessions are fairly full, though somehow the queues were quite short and reasonable.
GU Coffs Harbour was packed – the queue for “buy tickets with cash” was almost at the door, and the zig-zagging queue for “snack bar or tickets with credit” was out the door. Unfortunately, the latter queue was moving much faster: I bet on the shorter line, and I had to wait longer.
From watching movies, we went in search of a very late lunch / early dinner (around 4:30pm) – we went to Hogsbreath in Coffs, which, though the food was okay, the service was lacking – kel and I were sharing cutlery, because they didn’t bring enough out, even though we asked, and when we ordered water (after already paying for the first round of drinks) they said “sure: I’ll bring that out”, but nothing. It’s not like they were understaffed, either – there were plenty of people wandering around. When it came time to pay, no-one even asked "Was everything alright?", they just took the money. Maybe I’m asking too much, and I know these are all first-world problems, but when they charge as much as they do, I think the experience could be a little better.
Fast-forwarding to the trip back, we caught up with friends, and friends-of-friends in Port Macquarie, which was great (yet again, the one cafe I want to visit in Port Macquarie; the one we missed by 30 minutes last trip; was closed for Christmas / New Years: maybe next time!), good company, good coffee. I had two double-shot caffeinated coffees, which was good, because I ended up driving most of the trip back, and so was still buzzing a little even when we made it home (this is a far cry from my first efforts at long-distance driving).
That brings us to Friday: Kel was due back at work, and I was meant to go on a bushwalk with David, but he cancelled at the last minute (illness), so I slept in instead, and then went back to see another doctor: turns out that I was getting sick again – all this relaxation isn’t good for me – and so I wanted to make sure I was well in time for the start of work. I went to EzyDVD and picked out a few of the titles that you see reviewed further down – The Apostle, The Player, and Bob Roberts. Had lunch with Kel, took care of some chores, then picked her up from work in time to go to Grind for a coffee: back to decaf again, though.
Saturday was mostly resting during the day to make sure I was well enough to go to the Big Read at Ben and Karen‘s place: I was also trying to write something, which I’ve posted separately – perhaps I have a knack for mixing product placement with kids’ stories: you be the judge.
Sunday lunch was spent at my parents’ place, where we had the traditional Christmas fare, and some pleasant conversation. I learned afresh why I often defer to Kel for Christmas shopping advice – we bought one person the same gift we’d given them a few years earlier: not my finest hour. From there we went to church, where I was actually on music. Played through the various songs for the farewell service to a minister at church who is now moving on to other things. After church, we went to our favourite Hurstville noodle house for dinner, and I managed to be sociable and not order soup. Good food and good company again.
The other two days raced past: on Monday, a lot of driving – taking kel to the physio, ducking over to Newtown for a coffee, then back to pick her up, then off to Katoomba to spend some time with my brother, then home again. A quiet New Y
ears’ Eve at home: neither of us were really well enough to go anywhere.
On New Years’ Day, I managed to fit in watching the three Godfather movies on DVD (thanks to Karen for lending them to me), cooking lunch/dinner (pasta – of course), a lot of ironing, and filing all the paperwork that has been collecting in the study for the last 9 months or so away into the (no longer empty) filing cabinet that we were given almost 9 months ago.
And today was my first day back at work after the break: fairly productive – maybe there’s some benefit to arriving early and leaving early: we’ll see how it pans out.