We just had a 2 week vacation in Western Australia. We found a house in the woods and went glamping by the lake. We hiked most days, tried mountain biking, visited a farm and hung out at our rental homes.
Our first stop was Denmark, a coastal town near Albany. We found a 3 storey house in the woods. It was an old house that was very well kept and comfortable. The furnishing wasn’t fanciful. They were basic yet functional. It was not too long ago that I had begun to appreciate the charm of a comfortable old home and the effort required to upkeep it. It’s a bit like being married for 50 years.
The Australian cockatoos were regular visitors to the house and one of the highlights of our stay there was the daily bird feeds. There were the pink and the green ones. They were so pretty and friendly! We could actually feed them directly from our hands.
The fireplace was another attraction where the boys spent many hours figuring out how to set up a good fire. From collecting twigs, leaves, branches to setting up a tinder nest and carefully kindling the fire.
Our second stop was at Cowaramup, a quaint little town 12 km north of Margaret River. We rented a good looking tent next to the lake. No, we didn’t set up the tent. It was all set up when we arrived and we had all the comfort of a home! It had a bathroom, 2 beds, 2 sofa chairs, coffee table, dining table and a small kitchenette. I felt so pampered and was embarrassed to call ourselves campers.
My elder son enjoyed hanging out by the the lake with a book while my younger boy spent most of his time playing with his new friends (a pair of siblings). They were into butterfly hunting and told him that they could catch 2 butterflies a day.
So while my boy introduced them to ‘spearfishing’, they taught him how to hunt for butterflies. He came back with a glass jar lined with sand, rocks and bits of grass, a home ready for the butterflies.
Then they got together to build a ‘house’. They were probably planning to build one big enough for themselves but realised it was too difficult to find branches and twigs as tall as them. They made a mini one instead.
Shortly after we became parents, we discovered that the best kind of family vacation would be to park ourselves somewhere surrounded by hiking trails (if it’s summer) or ski slopes (if it’s winter). It’s a little embarrassing to share our travel itineraries which usually revolves around hikes, skis and supermarkets!
We hardly eat out and we cook our meals most of the time.
During this trip, the boys learned to cook rice and steam vegetables using a microwave because that was all we had in our tent. We don’t have a microwave at home so they were quite impressed that they could cook a proper meal using the microwave.
With a communal BBQ hot plate, we cooked fried rice, stir fried spinach, chicken, and grilled steaks, pork chops and sausages. We had quite a spread.
While I find it stressful to cook in an unfamiliar kitchen, my husband relishes the challenge of it. He is the ‘adventurous closet cook’. I guess being outdoors and being surrounded by trees made it even more fun!
While I complained about not being able to take a break from cooking even when we were on holiday, I realised that such moments were part of our holiday experience.
I like the warm and fuzzy feeling of being together in a foreign land. Experiences that brought us closer and filled up our memory jars.
For good or bad, these are the experiences that we have gone through together and the boys would probably grow up remembering that holidays are supposed to be like that – camp out, hike/ski and cook improvised meals.