We had a weekend away

Granny and Granddad Strange Land have come to visit (foreshadowed here). They said, “Why don’t you and Mr Strange Land head away for a weekend, and we will look after the strangelings.” (Actually, they didn’t refer to their grand children as the strangelings, nor to Mr Strange Land as Mr Strange Land, but you take the point.) So, we did. We raced away to a cottage in Victor Harbour for three whole nights.

We had to head back in to Adelaide for Friday evening, because the strangelings were performing (also foreshadowed here). They were magnificent. All of them. We were very proud. Miss Ten performed ably in a low key production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and the Misses Seven were very beautiful, and convincing, nightingales.

We took the opportunity (Mr Strange Land not at work, having to come back into town anyway, lots and lots of free time) to test some pianos. We have a piano, and Miss Ten and I both play, but it is very very old, and it can no longer be tuned to concert pitch, and although I can play a trill on it, Miss Ten cannot, because it is too old and heavy. It’s not a problem yet, but it will be within a year or so, when she will get to the stage where she needs to be able to learn to play a trill. And when I am singing, I have to transpose everything up a semitone, to get the right pitch. This strains my musical capacities to the limit, and beyond. So we would like to get a new piano. I tried several pianos in the shop, but Mr Strange Land pointed out that they all played bum notes. I thought that was unnecessary.

We were, shall we say, unconvinced by Victor Harbour. It is apparently, the beachside place to go to, from Adelaide. I can’t see why. There is a lovely beach, and a lovely granite island around which one can walk. But nothing else, except for apartments and shops and concession stands and commercial ghastliness. Adelaide is a foodie town, and Victor Harbour is at the base of the Fleurieu peninsula, which advertises itself as being all about food, but the height of dining sophistication in Victor Harbour is the local pub, which serves not decent pub grub, but bog standard RSL favourites, like crumbed schnitzel. It reminded us of Taupo, twenty years ago, only not as sophisticated. (Mr Strange Land and I feel that we have a fair basis of comparison here; we stayed in Taupo for a few days nearly twenty years ago, on our honeymoon. ‘Though perhaps we were more interested in each other than in Taupo.) To be fair to Victor Harbour, it was the middle of winter, and some establishments would operate only in the high season. Even so, it was not good.

And to be even more fair to Victor Harbour, it was just not my kind of place. Small beaches, quiet cottages, nothing to do other than read and walk and swim and play in the sand, not too many other people – that’s my kind of place. I don’t want to be entertained by local attractions and rides and shops and whoop-de-whoops; I want to let go and forget about the rest of the world, and just be. I should be very grateful to any Adelaide people who have helpful suggestions about where to go next time, or where to take the strangelings next summer.

And to be even even more more fair fair to Victor Harbour, we did enjoy walking over the pier to Granite Island, and around it. Though we did help them with their signage.

Before the Strange Lands visited.


After the Strange Land’s visited.


Other than helping people with their punctuation, we drove about a bit, to see a bit of this land where we live. Notably, we drove over that bridge to Hindmarsh Island. There are two sides to the island. On one, facing the mainland, there is a row of somewhat skanky, and some not so skanky, old shacks / baches / beach houses / holiday homes. They looked interesting, and livable, and real. On the other, facing the ocean, there is a marina, with masses of new McMansions, each with a private jetty, and each crammed onto a small section (block). And nothing else. Mile upon mile of houses and jetties, but no trees, no parks, no community spaces. Not even a local shop, where neighbours might bump into each other as they buy a bottle of milk. Just huge knocked up houses, pushed as ideal retirement homes. The horror! The horror!

We got home on Sunday afternoon to find the strangelings jumping in delight (literally) to see us, and Granddad Strange Land cooking dinner, and Granny Strange Land pouring wine. And knitting. It was lovely to have a small break from the constant demands of parenting, and even lovelier to come home, to find our darlings safe and well and happy, and the Grand Strange Lands looking not too bad either. There had been some moments during the weekend. Granny Strange Land had noticed that the girls’ dressing gowns were looking a little dirty (it was the crumby dried milo stain right down one girl’s dressing gown that alerted her to the problem). So she suggested that they all get dressed, and put their pyjamas and dressing gowns into the wash. “Oh no,” they all said. “Mum never washes our dressing gowns.”

So there you have it. I am, it seems, a negligent mother.

On Monday we will be back to our usual schedules, ‘though to my delight, my beloved parents will be here for another week yet. They are planning to head away for a night, for a mini holiday within a holiday. But they will be giving Victor Harbour a miss.


9 responses to “We had a weekend away

  1. Yah for a well-earned weekend away!

  2. Great account, Deborah.
    IMO, the sentence ‘The smallest of the species the little penguin is delightful’ is biologically as well as grammatically dubious, though there’s no question that the little fairy penguins really are delightful. They visit Wellington’s coast too.

  3. ‘It is apparently, the beachside place to go to, from Adelaide.’

    No no no no no no. You were tragically misinformed. Next time, if you want to remain in roughly that neck of the woods, go to Port Elliott (sp?), or Middleton. Or if you don’t mind a longer drive — looking at your description of what sort of place you like — go to one of the little fishing towns on the eastern coast of Yorke Peninsula — Port Vincent, Stansbury or Edithburgh. Tourism SA or whatever it’s called this week does rather good and regularly updated tourism booklets (A4 size with maps and photos) for all the regions, including one for the Fleurieu and one for Yorke Peninsula.

    The Fleurieu is indeed all about food but you need to know where to go. Can I recommend a day’s outing? Go for lunch to the Salopian Inn, on the road from McLaren Vale to Willunga, followed by a leisurely tour of two or three hand-picked wineries starting with Fox Creek, which is about a mile further down that road. Or go for casual clifftop eating at the Star of Greece (named after a ship wrecked there) in Port Willunga, with baby waiters in indecently low-rise jeans who address tablesful of the elderly as ‘Guys’ and serve celestial food while you look at the sea.

    Victor is full of well-heeled retirees except when it’s full of legless schoolchildren. It was the place for the private school set when I were a gell, but that was a bloody long time ago. I can remember the whole cast of the 1974 Adelaide Uni Footlights Revue opening the second act with a big production number in which we sang, in four-part harmony, ‘Viiiiiiiic–tor Harbor’ to the tune of the Hallelujah Chorus.

  4. Sry abt long comment above, but wait, there’s more: if the Grands are only going away for a night, I’d recommend that they head north (-east) rather than south, and spend a night in the Barossa Valley. Maybe in Angaston or Tanunda, both of which are prettier and more interesting than Nuriootpa.

  5. Thank you, PC! Just the sort of advice we were looking for.

    I think the Grand Strange Lands are contemplating the Clare Valley.

  6. Oh, that would be even better! It’s extremely beautiful up there.

    They might like to go to Mintaro and check out Martindale Hall, which is about a mile out of town and clearly signposted. V. interesting chunk of late (ish) colonial history, and they will recognise it from Picnic at Hanging Rock.

  7. I agree – you weren’t free enough with your punctuation annotations wrt the little penguins. Next time, don’t hold back! Avast, ye grocer’s’ apostrophe!

  8. I’m sorry to hear about Victor Harbor – one of my happiest memories of teenage years was going for a collective holiday with some school friends and their parents there. While the grownups did whatever they do we fell in love with Through the Past Darkly and other delights. It was a rambling old joint with a pony paddock next door and someone lent us a little grey gelding called Tawny, on which, for the only time in my life, I could wander ad lib on the beach. Rock’n roll, friends and horses on the beach – teenage girl heaven.

    VH was daggy and relaxing back in those days.

  9. Helen, that sounds like something out of Enid Blyton. And it sounds like exactly the sort of thing we would like. We drove through Port Elliot (see Dr Cat’s comment above), and it looked much more appealing. Though it’s not actually daggy. Just less developed.

    We’re thinking about heading down the Yorke Peninsula next time (again, per Dr Cat’s excellent advice).