So summer with the in-laws proved to be not so bad. Not so bad after all. In fact, both the Dutchman and I felt it was the best visit we and they have ever shared. After Christmas and the New Year we headed down to Venus Bay, on Victoria’s south Gippsland coast, where we rent a house every summer.
Thankfully we were there for the worst of the heat wave, cooped up in Melbourne for a week of 40+ would have tested even the cosiest of families. Friends also came down and stayed a few days so the Flipster had plenty of boogie-boarding buddies not to mention kids with which to play endless card games. There was also night swimming and of course regular trips to the new ice-cream shop.
Oma and Opa continued their daily mission to keep-Spike-happy with endless walks despite the high temperatures and we even found one day cool enough to take a walk through the tea trees at Point Smythe.
I came up with a recipe for home-made iced coffee from our stovetop that was so delicious we were all in danger of consuming a litre of coffee each per day, and also perfected my negroni recipe. Plus I finally got around to reading Jean Bobet’s Tomorrow We Ride, which had spent a winter languishing on my bedside table. With a list of achievements like that it is no wonder that the only other thing I seemed to manage was hours and hours of swimming and boogie-boarding.
We invited Oma and Opa to come and stay with us for December and January. It wasn’t even that long since their last visit, less than a year, but they’d had a miserable summer in the Netherlands, with both weather and health issues.
Their visits in the past have not always been totally-stress free, for either them or us, but I guess that’s just part and parcel of long-term visitors. Having people live in your home, or living in someone else’s home can be fraught with tension, space issues and long-running disputes about buying-the-wrong-cheese.
We always Skype on our Sunday evening, their Sunday morning, and overcome by that particular contentment peculiar to late sunday afternoons we offered to shout them their tickets if they wanted to spend the summer here. And they did.
After several years we know how to make these visits work. The Dutchman takes as much leave as possible, or at least ‘works from home’ and I escape to the studio as much as I need to for work. Trying to get work done at home with a house full of people doesn’t work for me.
We had a very relaxing lead up to the new year, with the Flipster happy to spend time hanging out with his Oma and Opa, even resurrecting his rusty Dutch.
We made our annual summer pilgrimage to the berry farm at King Lake and made bottles of raspberry cordial and icey poles from the left over sludge.
Oma decided to make olieballen for New Year, setting up in the backyard to avoid spattering the kitchen with oil.
We’ve really enjoyed having Oma and Opa with us for the past six weeks, but no matter how much we will miss them and they us, I think we were all looking forward to the end of their visit on Sunday. They would like to be back in their own home after so long with people-who-do-things-strangely and we are looking forward to pottering around in our own space again.
So the news that their return trip may be jeopardised because of a volcanic eruption is a little unsettling. Not to mention dramatic. I mean really; a volcano? A baggage handler’s strike wouldn’t have sufficed?
I loved Iceland when we were there but this is the second time the country has messed with me and my plans. The Dutchman and I set up an education fund for the Flipster when he was born and had been pouring money into it regularly. It was done via a Dutch bank (many of whom invested heavily in Iceland) when we were living in Amsterdam although we continued our contributions after moving back to Australia. It took a while for us to realise that the fund basically went south with the Icelandic economy when the country was declared bankrupt. I’d successfully managed to forget about this and ‘move on’ but this volcano has thrown up more than just ash, some small traces of bitterness and regret are hovering in the atmosphere too.
Here’s hoping that there’s enough of a breeze over Europe for flights to have resumed by Sunday. Lord knows, it was always windy enough in the Netherlands when I was there. And with the upcoming elections you’d think there’d be enough hot air rising to move a bit of ash! 😉