11 December 2018
Cornelia had an epic sleep of over twelve hours, not waking until after 09:00. She managed to eat a bowl of porridge very slowly, while Ian and I showered and packed up around her.
We had hoped to find a koala while walking down the “koala corridor” between our accommodation and the beach, but were unlucky again, and wild koalas remain a myth to us! Cornelia did manage to throw a strop, so what koala-spotting time we had left, while Ian popped down to the beach for a quick look at the sea, was lost. She sat on the path crying that her whole life was now ruined (teenager, already?!!) because I’d broken the end of her stick that she’d used to poke me, despite me asking quite clearly not to do so… She did eventually rejoin me and we started walking back towards the car via the eucalyptus trees, but she was still whingey, and even when I carried her to soothe her sobs, she was wriggly and awkward in my arms. It felt like one of those mornings when everything was going to be hard work! This theory was proven when we reached the car. Having spent the last ten minutes crying that she never wants to see a koala in the wild, she suddenly declared how important it was that she saw one and how upset she was that she hadn’t. 🙄 Then she wound herself up even more, explaining that “Sometimes it is so hard to make a decision and I think I made the wrong choice when I said I didn’t want to see one, because now I do and it’s too late, but I want to change my mind! I made the wrong decision!” <sob sob sob> Oh dear, poor little girl!!
We drove off, with Cornelia settling down with her new activity book, and Ian and I still on the lookout for those darn koalas. We had a long drive up to Port Macquarie but passed the time trying to find a decent radio station that didn’t go fuzzy within about two minutes of moving, and eating the pain au chocolat that I’d bought yesterday. It seemed to take forever and every now and then the drive was broken up with a “watch out for koalas “ sign, put there presumably to wind up the gullible tourists…!
After some initial uncertainty over parking, we found our apartment- a really funky space, with two bedrooms and big open plan kitchen-diner-lounge. The work surfaces are amazing, treated driftwood complete with uneven edges. Stunning visual effect. Our home for the next few days is a couple of minutes walk away from the beach, which is where we headed for a quick lunch before our first surf lesson. We ate at the beach cafe, right on the sand, where they served really good food. Bugsy had scrambled eggs, I had crumpets with butter and honey, and Ian had a cheese and pesto panini (or Turkish) as they’re called here. I also ordered Cornelia a chocolate milkshake in a moment of mummy madness and suffered the annoying-child consequences of that pretty quickly until Ian took her off to explore the beach and left me in peace for a few minutes.
It had been drizzling on and off since we arrived in Port Macquarie, and the rain didn’t stop as we headed over to the Soul Surf trailer to meet our surf instructors: Fabian, who was taking the after school kids club, then Loren (our instructor) and eventually Corey (also our instructor). We were meant to be having a private family lesson but a mid up with timings meant that Jim from the U.K. joined us, and as long as he didn’t mind having a toddler in tow, we didn’t mind sharing the lesson with him.
Cornelia was hoiked into her wetsuit and ran off immediately with all the school kids, and Ian and I struggled into ours. In a moment of pure joy (for me, anyway), we all soon realised that my wetsuit was way too big for me – now THAT has got to be a first! I couldn’t be bothered to change it so said I was happy to keep the wrinkles and folds of the wetsuit, and see how I got on.
We went down onto the beach where Loren took us through the three step technique we should be trying out: Push up, right foot up, swing left foot up. She was brilliant at describing and demonstrating it, and we were keen to put it into practice. The water was a lovely temperature, and while Jim, Ian and I all went out into the whitewater to get a feel for our boards and the sea, Loren took Cornelia in and out a few times lying on her tummy. She was crying a bit from nerves, but Loren has four kids of her own and knew exactly how to reassure and encourage her. After five or six waves, Loren called us into shore to make tweaks to our technique, and then we were back in again. I’ve surged many times over the years but have never had a lesson and needed to lose my bad habits, and actually learn how to get better. Loren and Corey (who joined us in the water a bit later) were terrific teachers, and by the end of the lesson, all three of us were riding waves in, and I was no longer putting my knee on the board first, which felt like a complete breakthrough for me. But never mind us!!! That brilliant little girl of ours, with Corey’s fabulous teaching and encouragement, actually stood up on her surfboard without Corey holding her or the board and travelled in to shore. I could not believe my eyes!!!! My heart just exploded with pride and wonder! 🥰
The lesson lasted for about an hour and a half, and we were all completely exhausted by the end of it. Cornelia had taken breaks on the beach while we received our coaching, then we would test out the advice while Cornelia was given some individual attention. It worked brilliantly and we loved it.
Once out of the water, we stripped off and returned our wetsuits. Ian and Cornelia headed back to the house while I discussed payment with Corey and timings for our lesson tomorrow. It was slightly disorganised, and we ended up agreeing to have a shared lesson again (this time with Jim and another guy, Nick) at 11:00 on Town Beach, about a five minute drive away. Corey said he’d reduce the cost of our lessons as a result, but didn’t say by how much, so I guess I’ll find out tomorrow.
I walked back to find Ian and Cornelia in the shower. Ian has cut his toe on something in the shower when I walked in, and so I took Cornelia out and dried her off, while he sorted himself out. Then I rinsed off, and put on my running kit. I put the pasta on to boil and with clear instructions to my non-cooking husband, headed out in the pouring rain for day 11 of my run-every-day-in-December plan.
I just ran up the hill along the main road for a mile, before turning around and coming back, stopping to take photos again.
Cornelia was working her way through her pasta when I got back, and watching Peter Rabbit on the huge TV that we have here. Ian has already finished his meal, so I dished myself up a plateful and sat with Bugsy stuffing my face with simple yummy food.
Apart from covering herself unintentionally with pesto (which is easy enough to wipe off!) supper was nice and calm, and she was allowed to watch the rest of her programme on the sofa, before bed. I did the washing up while Ian read her stories, then went in for a cuddle, only to find her reading her book and asking if she could read a story to me. Although that would’ve been quite lovely, it was a well-known delaying tactic, so I declined and said that I would come in later for a cuddle instead.
I could hear the pages turning as I sat in the sofa catching up on Facebook etc, and then she called out for me, ready to settle down for the night. I had a good old snuggle with her and then left her to settle, but incredibly, she didn’t fall asleep until about 22:00! Hopefully she will have enough sleep to renew her energy for our next surf lesson tomorrow!