So, we’re having a bit of a difficult time. On the Monday after we returned from Beverley I really thought I was getting better. But then, it seemed to freshen up. Plus Stephen has caught it now and he’s had a week mostly in bed, apart from getting up to watch the football, of course.
We dropped the Sherwood off on Monday morning to have it’s new fridge installed. This is a 12/230v fridge instead of the 3 way fridge. What are the advantages? Not having to worry about running out of gas overnight and waking up to a warm fridge. I’m delighted to find the new fridge runs much cooler and we will be able to use the pull out pantry next to it for storing food. Previously that spot was far too hot. Running on 12v means not having to light the gas when we stop on the road for a couple of hours. Sometimes it’s quite a struggle to get it going. The fridge looks smaller than the 3 way fridge, but actually has more internal capacity. It has a light that comes on when you open the door. Anyway, from our point of view it’s much more convenient.
I was surprised to get a call on Wednesday morning to say it was ready as they are very busy indeed. As Stephen was pretty unwell I caught an Uber over there to pick it up. Today I finished putting everything back so that we don’t have such a big packing up when we want to go away. Our first planned trip is the Dunsborough Songfest in mid November. The following weekend we have the Folk in the Forest weekend in Dwellingup. Plenty of time for us to get well!
Stephen is having to miss rehearsals for Ruddigore. He’s not too worried about the singing as he won’t be doing any solos and can muddle through. However, he does have some dialogue sections that do need to be rehearsed, so he is hoping to get back soon.
Local Uber trips work out well, it’s relatively cheap even with a $5 tip, working out to a total of $17.50. Sometimes it’s just so convenient.
I spent most of Friday gradually getting the Sherwood ready to leave in the morning on Saturday. I set up the second bed so that we didn’t have to worry about it later. It’s quite a faff getting the boards which make up the bed base out of the locker and setting them in place. Adding the extra foam cushion and making up the bed into a lounge area took time as well. We were happy with this configuration even though we didn’t have a dinette. It allowed for separation of sleeping spaces and it was much easier for getting up in the night.
We left home at about 10.30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Stephen drove most of the way from the beginning of Brookton Highway. We arrived after Marie and Geoff and they had already negotiated being able to set up before 2.00 p.m. The caravan park is quite nice, with trees, good ablutions and an open air campers kitchen. We made our lunch in the van, then sat outside. I didn’t want to be indoors with Marie and Geoff to minimise the chance of them catching what I have, whatever it is.
We were well placed for the location of the choir bash which is a short walk away. It has an open air stage and seating area with about three levels. Marie and Geoff went ahead and found a good spot for us with a tiny bit of shade. Although the day was partly cloudy we still appreciated being out of the sun.
Occasionally aircraft towing gliders went overhead, a slight distraction. The various choirs did their stuff to an appreciative audience. Mackie SS members I spoke with were surprised that I wasn’t singing, but looking in the mirror later I was looking healthy even if I didn’t feel it. Anyway, I didn’t want to get on stage and have a fit of coughing. In fact, I had quite a fit shortly after they were on stage.
The afternoon tea was as lovely as promised, though we had had a good lunch and weren’t particularly hungry. Home baked cakes are a rareity these days and the jam and cream sponge was a treat.
I managed to video MSS doing the My Fair Lady medly, which is our main showcase peice. It went extremely well compared with at Stephen’s 80th when it was still a bit ragged. Most of the choir was there, including Alida sitting on a chair at one side of the stage. Because she was behind I don’t know if she shows up in the video, but I saw a photo taken from the other side of the stage where she is visible.
We chatted with friends for a while after the show, then had drinks and nibbles with Marie and Geoff. Marie heated up our evening meal in her microwave, very handy, and we continued sitting outside until after the meal.
Then it was pretty much going back to the van and getting ready for bed. We read for a while until we needed to sleep.
In the morning we had thought of going to a cafe for breakfast, but nothing was open so we had breakfast brought from home instead. Stephen had asked for a later checkout and it worked out well as we didn’t have to rush.
Marie and Geoff then headed off towards Brookton because they didn’t feel like going straight home. We headed off to Avondale Farm, which is listed on the National Trust. Unfortunately it is closed and there is no information on the gate or online about when it will be open again.
We had a toilet break when we got back to Brookton Highway and decided to have a morning tea or lunch break further along. We pulled off at Christmas Tree Well. The last time we went there was in the Winnie. It isn’t very far off the highway, but the track in had water holes and we were glad to have the higher clearance.
Unfortunately it was noisy with lots of quite little kids on quad bikes, child size ones I think. We spent about 1.5 hours there despite the noise, enjoying toast and tuna for lunch and taking walks. It was mostly sunny.
Top things from the trip: I think it did me so much good to get away from the city that even though I wasn’t feeling well I felt so much happier. We enjoyed camping with Marie and Geoff – it’s more fun to sit outside if you have friends to talk with and share the experience. We get on well together. I was glad to catch up with choir members and have it reinforced that we have have quite a lovely community. Plus I really enjoyed our afternoon picnic at Christmas Tree Well.
It’s so lovely that our grandmother’s home town is beautifully kept, with restored older buildings. Some locals we spoke with didn’t seem to know the family names, which surprised me as the husband had lived in Beverley all his life and there must be a current generation of distant relatives. We think our Aunty Heather and one of our cousins still live there.
It’s been a tumultuous week with insults on all sides, with the left outdoing itself in righteousness and virtue signalling and the right sewing more fear and doubt. Of course, they have stumbled badly on this referendum by not working out what the Voice would actually be before going to to the poll. It’s easy to use scare tactics about an unknown entity.
Jacinta Price said something in her address to the National Press Club which made me sigh and think ‘she’s so young!’ About Aboriginal people benefiting from colonisation and the convicts being treated with perhaps equal inhumanity. Of course she has been roundly criticised for this.
I think what people forget is the issue of class. The ruling classes have almost always treated the lower classes as less than fully human and their sufferings as not counting as much. It’s also used to justify wars with the other side being downgraded to deserving cruelty.
The upper classes sent their children to boarding schools from an early age, so they could see no harm in separating children from parents generally, believing that institutions could do a better job of raising them. To get a good education children from remote communities still consider whether to send children to boarding school. Indigenous and non indigenous children regardless.
Listening to my Aboriginal friend Wesley Aird as speaking for the majority of Aboriginal people who are doing OK, have homes and jobs and send their children to school like other Australians one could perhaps argue that the way out of being dehumanised by elites is to escape to the upper working class/lower middle class where one still doesn’t count for much, but at least can escape being abused or patronised by the upper classes.
And class was a much more obvious feature of life in those days. it hasn’t gone away though and of course it comes down to money.
I read one writer who said that the reason Meghan M. and Harry didn’t get much sympathy from African Americans when they did their Netflix series is that she’s too rich to be relatable. Only other mega rich people could relate to their ‘suffering’.
Monty Python have a sketch in the Life of Brian where the question is asked ‘what have the Romans ever done for us’ and one by one the group come up with ideas. Basically, along with repression came the benefits of Roman civilisation. Someone has even written a song about it. Because Britain was once colonised by the Romans along with so much of the world and the Indigenous people were oppressed.
So, I think this is what Jacinta Price was getting at, that along with the bad things about colonisation there were benefits. Aboriginal people no longer live the harsh lives of hunter gatherers even if they live in remote areas. Life can be harsh due to poverty, but people are not reverting to a hunter gatherer lifestyle because that would be much worse.
And of course there were good stories as well, but they don’t get told as part of the ‘truth telling’. Here I’m also channeling Ainsley Aird in one of his videos.
I’m including the link to one of his videos, but he is putting them them out regularly. He doesn’t tell people how to vote, just tries to put things into perspective with his quiet, gentle and authoritative manner. ‘When you vote Yes or No know why you are voting that way. Do your own research.’
Most of the preparation are done. We are going to stay overnight in Beverley after the 2 – 5 p.m. Choir Bash. I’m sad that I won’t be able to sing this year, but still want to be there to see them perform. It’s an open air concert and the weather seems suitable, no rain and not hot either. They have an indoor space for bad weather.
I’ve been struck down with something that is apparently everywhere at the moment, COVID,FluAFluB returned negative results, but that leaves RSV and I expect other nasties. It has lasted a full week so far and I am definitely over it. I now feel somewhat better, enough to be bored with sitting around.
Stephen is sceptical that I am well enough to go, but I am sceptical of him being able to drive to and from Beverley as well as attending and singing in a 3 hour concert, so we have decided to differ on whether it is a good idea. I think he will be glad to have our Sherwood along by 5.00 p.m. tomorrow meaning he can relax for the evening.
We have a site booked at the Beverley Caravan Park for the night and meeting Marie and Geoff there. For us this is camping lite, with normal electricity, plus showers/toilets and a camper’s kitchen available. I’ve set up the spare bed in the Sherwood which means no dinette available, but we probably don’t want to sit in such close proximity anyway. And we don’t want to sleep together in the same bed as it feels too risky.
We picked up the Sherwood from storage on Thursday. We had to prop it to allow rain water to roll off the roof to prevent it leaking through.
This morning we dropped her off for a long list of repairs/changes. We are hoping they can replace the electric step, which is playing up again, with a manual step. They will fix the roof leak, of course. They will fix the powerpoint near the stove, which stopped working on our trip and replace with a double adapter. This comes off the inverter and can be used for our Starlink as well as our low wattage electrical applicances. They will install the boat bung to allow the cable from the dish to enter the van, rather than having it come through the window. The flywire in the bathroom hatch is loose and they will repair or replace it.
As well, we’ve asked them to measure up the space for a 12v fridge to replace the present 3 way fridge. Since we camp off grid it’s very annoying to have to light the gas whenever we stop. It also leaks water onto the floor and sometimes into a nearby cupboard. We’ve had 12v fridges before and they just work quietly in the background without issues.
We don’t really need to have it back for about 7 weeks, which means we are not in a hurry for them to finish, though I do miss having it in our driveway.
The day finally arrived when we could actually leave. Stephen had a headache which made him unwell for a couple of days, we couldn’t leave on Tuesday as planned. The support worker was also sick, but our provider, Auscare, quickly found another person. Unfortunately he is too young to drive a hire van, you have to be over 25 for insurance, but Stephen made a miraculous recovery and was able to do about half of the driving on the three days we were away.
We left on Wednesday 19th July and returned on Friday 21st July, 2023.
Day 1 – Villa 3 to Geraldton
Mum, Dad and our support worker arrived at about 8.00 a.m. Bec and the other staff had been working hard to get me ready in time. We still had a little bit to organise and Bec did a handover of my medications, etc. with Abel, our support worker. Then, we loaded everything, or almost everything, into our hire van. We couldn’t fit in the folding hoist and Aunty Marie and Uncle Geoff, who were coming as well, took the hoist for us.
It was a long driving day, starting off in the rain, though later there was some sunshine. We had some stops along the way for coffee for me and takeaway food for everyone else. I had a cooked meal from home and Mum had cooked enough food to have a hot meal in the evening on Wednesday and lunches for me for two days.
Our van is very old, a 2006 model that has been modified with large viewing windows, a sturdy step to the sliding door, and the hoist at the back. As we had already checked to make sure we could fit my toilet chair behind me we weren’t worried about everything fitting in. The only thing that was a bit annoying was how noisy the lift was when we went over bumps. If I tried to nap I kept being woken up!
Our support worker, Abel was wonderful. He fitted in with our plans and we four worked as a team to get me ready in the morning, have meals, tidy up and do dishes.
I enjoyed looking out of the windows as we travelled along but it was a long day in the van and I was glad to get to our accommodation in Geraldton. We had two cottages, one for Abel and me and one for Mum and Dad. They just used their cottage for sleeping and having showers and spent the rest of the time in our cottage.
Aunty Marie and Uncle Geoff came to the house to deliver the mobile hoist. They didn’t stay long as we would be seeing them in the morning to go to Kalbarri.
Abel was responsible for the medications and Mum prepared meals. I didn’t want to go to bed even though I was tired, because it was so interesting. Eventually Mum persuaded me as she wanted to get to bed herself. That was when we found the hoist would not work in my room because the queen sized bed was too low for the legs to fit under. We tried using it with the legs closed and it fell over. Fortunately Abel was already holding me over the bed and Mum and I weren’t hurt, just felt a bit silly.
I found it hard to sleep, but the bed was fairly comfortable and Mum and Abel checked on me in the night.
Day 2 – visiting the Kalbarri Skywalk
Mum and Abel got me up at about 6.15 a.m. and put me on the toilet. Mum had been thinking in the night about how to manage without the hoist. She folded the thick doona on the floor and helped me to roll out of bed and down onto the doona. I can hold myself stiffly so that I don’t get hurt. Then Mum and Abel dragged the doona into the living room where they could use the hoist. It was a learning experience for us and we were all a bit tired by the time I had been to the toilet and had a wash.
I had wheatbix and Sustagen for breakfast with Abel whilst Mum went to have her shower. Then we packed up some lunch for me and other stuff that I need. Aunty Marie, Uncle Geoff and Glenn then came over and we all loaded up our van and they followed in their car. We took a scenic route to Kalbarri and even saw some emus on the way.
In Kalbarri I had a flat white and everyone had a bit of a break looking over the beach. Then it was time to set off for Kalbarri National Park. At the entrance we had to pay a fee for the van, but there was no charge for people.
We arrived at the Skywalk and Dad thought that the café would close soon and rushed off to check. We got ready more slowly and then followed him. Turned out that the café stayed open for the hour or so that we were there.
I had lunch before going out onto the first of the sky bridges. I wasn’t nervous about being over the edge of the cliff, probably because I couldn’t see the cliff below me due the chair. Anyway, my cousin Glenn wasn’t worried at all. We used the eye level lift of my chair to help me see over the railings.
Later Abel, Mum and I went to the second sky bridge to take some photos and enjoy the views. It was pretty awesome. I’d seen photos taken by Mum and Dad but it was different in reality. We had a bright and sunny day, so glare was a bit of a problem, but the temperature was cool and it wasn’t windy.
After we had all had our fill of being there we went back to the van and car to travel home. We decided to go a different route home so that I got to see different views of the countryside. It was a lovely evening.
We had a takeaway Chinese meal. I didn’t like the taste much, so only ate half, then had fruit with Sustagen. Mum didn’t like it much either and only had a small serving. I wanted coffee to drink so Mum made weak coffee, really just warm milk with a bit of flavour.
Day 3 – returning home
This was going to be our third long travel day. Mum and Abel found it much easier getting me up as they knew how to make things work. I did the rolling out of bed onto the doona again, had my coffee during my toilet time, then a wash. We had to be careful not to get the toilet chair too wet. We were able to use the hoist in the spare room which had single beds and room underneath for the long arms of the hoist.
Even though we had to have breakfast and pack up both cottages we were ready to leave at 9.30 a.m. Uncle Geoff came over to pick up the hoist. Abel had already worked out how to fold it up again much to Uncle Geoff’s surprise.
We decided to go a different way home to avoid the busy roads near the coast. This actually took longer, especially as we found a nice café in Carnamah for lunch. Mum and I stayed in the van having my lunch, whilst Dad and Abel went to organise their lunch. I was delighted to see them when they came back with my flat white.
Later in the day we were driving past the place where my Nana used to live. We had many Christmases there and I also had my 30th birthday (we think it was the 30th, anyway a Big Birthday) at the local hall. We had one more little stop so that the parents could go to the toilet, then drove home. This was perhaps the least interesting part of the drive and I was longing to get home for my tea and being able to go to bed in my own nice bed. It was dark and nearly 6.30 p.m. by the time we got there.
I was welcomed home by staff. Abel stayed to hand over the medication charts, then we said goodbye. We had become fond of each other and I’m glad he sometimes works in villas here and we will meet again.
I am glad we went though it wasn’t always comfortable. It was nice to have the experience with Mum and Dad. They said they really enjoyed it.
Many thanks to the staff at Villa 3, especially Denka and Bec, who helped to get things ready at Villa 3. A special thanks to Brigid from MyIntegra who made sure we had a support worker. That part worked out really well. Thank you Abel for going with us and fitting in with our family as well as taking so much professional responsibility.
Thank you to Aunty Marie, Geoff and Glenn who helped to make the holiday fun and for bringing the hoist. Aunty Marie also gave us a roll of plastic bags for the used pads, much appreciated.
Thanks to Mum who had a dream of taking me on this holiday and was so happy to see it come true. Thanks to Dad who helped with driving and was always cheerful and positive and a big support to everyone. And thanks to me as well for being cheerful, patient (never grumpy) and doing my best to help.
Geraldton and Kalbarri National Park 18th – 21st July
Earlier this year I decided to plan a holiday to Kalbarri for Matt and went ahead with some bookings. We need a wheelchair van and a mobile hoist, and have finalised the bookings for these just last week.
The support worker who was coming with us had to pull out due to changes in AbilityWA conditions for her employment for the four days. Fortunately our NDIS independant support person has been able to find a support worker through another agency and we were advised of his availability on Thursday last week. A huge sigh of relief as we didn’t want to go ahead without at least one support worker.
We also decided to base ourselves in Geraldton, rather than Kalbarri as I originally thought, and make a day trip up to the Kalbarri National Park. This saves travel time/distance on the first day and when heading home. It also means that we are based in a large enough city to have good health facilities, etc. The plan now is to have one day in the national park and one day exploring Geraldton.
I have been worrying about sharing a small villa, with four people, plus all of Matt’s equipment. Therefore, I’ve contacted the holiday village where we will be staying to see if they have a one bedroom villa close by. This uses the model that Marie and Geoff have when they take Glenn away, where he has his own villa and they stay in their caravan.
Of course, Matt needs someone in his own villa overnight and I can be on-call in case of any difficulties. Plus being there by 6.15 each morning, ready to help Matt get up.
By having our own space it will free up a bedroom for storing Matt’s commode chair and hoist when they are not being used. There are photos on the web of the villa and it doesn’t look very large.
The van we have hired has been modified by the hiring company, in fact modifying vans for wheelchairs is their main business, with hiring vans a more recent activity. They have taken out the normal Toyota windows to put in larger ones for better viewing. Matt does tend to nap when travelling, but at least when he is awake he will have good views.
Now that we seem to have all of our ducks in a row we are looking forward to the trip. It’s something we would like to do ourselves, and being able to share with Matt makes it even better. My sister and family will be in Geraldton at the same time and will join us for the visit to the Kalbarri Skywalk, etc. They are also transporting the hoist to Geraldton as I was worried about it being a hazard in case of an accident. The only place to store it is in front of where Matt will be seated.
This is occupying most of my thoughts and energy at the moment. It’s less stressful now that we seem to have everything prepared.
Stephen had an audition for the next G&S production on Sunday and asked if I would like to go with him. Turned out I was the driver, but that was OK as we thought we might have lunch somewhere afterwards. I had no access to toilets at the G&S home base as they don’t want people to walk in on auditions and the local shopping centres ones were closed.
We decided not to try for a cafe, but I still needed to go, so decided to call in at Hyde Park. It turned out to be a good idea as we were fortunate enough to have sunshine and there is now a small cafe attached to the newly refurbished toilet block. The toilets are now unisex and each is a separate room, the best type of public toilet.
After a toastie and hot drink each, we walked around the lake, looking at the bird life and autumn colours. This park is very popular and there were lots of people.
Today we are getting ready for our Rottnest trip. Last year we went in May and had mostly fine weather. This year rain is forecast, but the temperatures should be milder than Perth and we can dodge showers.