Let’s Be Pen Pals

Hello Lovelies. How was your weekend? Thanks for your patience with this blog post. I’d hoped to get it done earlier, but needed to zip into the hospital with one of my dear daughters. Hubby is also sick in bed with the flu and I am ignoring my mountainous pile of washing to get this done. All is well with my daughter now and the children are all fed and settled… well, for the next five minutes anyway. So let’s see how far I get telling you about our city escape.

During the school holidays we took a road trip to see our oldest daughter in Sydney. We hadn’t been down in her neck of the woods since she moved over a year ago. It’s quite a venture loading up five girls and driving ten hours. While I love travelling and visiting new places, the kids can get a bit narky about it, which is a bit of a challenge.

It’s the pack up really. By the time we rummage through piles of clean, unfolded washing, get clothes packed, the house tidy, animals fed, plants watered, the house tidied again, dishes washed, the son staying home instructed on all of the animal, plant, vegetable garden watering and care needed, the missing socks and undies found, food and snacks packed, the house tidied again, everyone to the toilet, the car jammed with scooters, surfboards, swimmers, pillows, teddies and moaning children whining about the impending car trip …. we have usually forgotten the toothbrushes and shoes, and I am so highly strung that I want to curse whoever invented the car and thought driving anywhere was a good idea, and it takes me about two hours into the trip to calm down. 

Anyway, to the big smoke we finally arrive. And oh glory be, we were just in time for a week of much celebrated rain to break the drought. Luckily for me my favourite weather involves dim grey skies, a cool breeze and the use of umbrellas. Not to be deterred and full of enthusiasm for galleries and museums (well, from myself anyway), we trudge to the city ferry to brave the blustery winds and rain for our trek across the harbour. 

What started out as a pleasant journey with normal levels of child excitement, quickly turned into an embarrassing debacle as the ferry hit wild weather and began it’s vigorous dance with the sea, throwing herself passionately into it’s tumultuous arms. Of course this took us all by surprise, not having much nautical experience with testy seas. What began as muted squeals of delight from the children quickly escalated into screams of panic from an unnamed six year old and mild fear crawling up the face of a concerned nine year old. Might I just add here that the rest of the family thought it was all hilarious and were most impressed with their unexpected roller coaster ride. 

Through all of this turmoil, and in between trying to calm down my two youngest children, change seats to be nearer to them and keep my own rising nausea at bay, I kept glancing at two women sitting close to us, to snatch an understanding smile, reassuring nod or at least read the expression on their faces, much as one would watch a ship’s captain intently to see if he was calm and under control, or if there was need to panic. Nope. Not a flinch. They just looked irritated by my vocal family staggering all over the place, half of us bordering on hysteria, the others relishing the thrill of crashing seas singing renditions of “My heart will go on.”

Can I mention here that I don’t particularly like the ocean. It scares the bejeebers out of me, and that’s on a calm day by the beach. It’s the stuff of my nightmares, so while I was trying to be a mature grown up and calm my children, (one of whom has incidently picked up an irrational fear of tidal waves and needs much reassurance in the middle of the night that, no, a tidal wave won’t reach us. Thank the Lord we live on a hill.)

I digress.

Our travelling companions seemed completely ignorant of our need to be scrambling all over the front of the ferry making various groans, squeals and cries, and were clearly not impressed that I landed in a seat right next to them. That’s when it hit me. Oh no. I’m going to be sick. Literally, I’m going to puke all over these cold hearted, insensitive commuters.  

Nausea and I are not friends. We have a long history together, namely nine pregnancies where we were forced to coexist on unpleasant terms (that’s 81 months if you are counting). I also have emotional issues with nausea as it triggers memories of my labour with our heavenly son Noah, which has caused anxiety and borderline panic in me ever since. (No drama ladies, just wanting to give you the bigger picture. This is still a funny story.)

And so, here I am, keenly aware of disapproving eyes glaring at me, while mine desperately search for my husband’s, pleading with him that I’m going to be sick and need a bucket NOW!

My humiliation is complete. 

So off he goes, my dear, faithful, long suffering better half. I glance around, throwing daggers at every unsympathetic commuter who seems oblivious to the fact that we are sitting in a washing machine and I am the only one who appears not to be coping with it!  Miss Kitty is still reeling in panic and I try to get the other girls to tend to her as I zone deep within myself to find that place where I can will my stomach not to vomit all over these nice people. 

Eventually a steward comes over with a bucket and in one sentence exposes my deep embarrassment, which forces me to pull myself together and for goodness sake get a grip woman! 

It will only last for five minutes.

Oh. Ok. 

Eyes roll next to me.

Somehow, in an instant, I realise that it was the thought of not knowing how long this tumble would last that caused me to panic. Five minutes. Oh. I can do that. Sure. Not a problem. Oh look kids, there’s the Harbour Bridge. Let’s go and take some photos. Smile everyone!

*Note:  For those of you who are noticing the calm seas in the above photos, I am here to tell you I am not exaggerating one bit. This was after we re entered the sheltered part of the harbour.  I promise you, those waves were about ten metres high and fully dangerous. Just ask any of the passengers.

And so we made it.  After I spend the next twenty minutes convincing Miss Kitty that no, we can’t take a bus home and I’m sorry, yes, we will need to take the ferry again this afternoon, but no, it won’t be as scary as the trip over, we get hubby his coffee, then begin our adventure through the city. Oh fun.

Did I mention back when I told you about our packing that we didn’t bring any umbrellas? No? Oh…so we quickly realise we didn’t have enough and had to buy six. It still messes with my head that they weren’t all pink, but I’m trying to move on.

To be honest, the rest of the day was a bit of a blur. We walked for miles, or should I say hustled together under umbrellas through the rain while we tried to find our way to the underwater aquarium.

Once I began breathing again and Kitty finally let go of my hand, I got out my camera, opened my eyes and began to look around at the every day-ness of the city. It was spectacular. We didn’t make it to any galleries that day, but my creative heart was content seeing so many amazing shapes, textures and interesting people. As we hurried along I kept lingering behind, only having seconds to snatch photos as we rushed past ordinary places that I found beautiful.

After a long day we walked back to Circular Quay, trying to gather up courage to take the ferry home again. Surely a bus was a good idea now that I think about it. Miss Kitty starts stiffening her legs and cries of panic begin to emerge as passers by seem to think I am dragging my child into a house of horrors. Then we notice it. Salvation. There is a fast ferry. Woo Hoo! Hooray! Now you’re talking! And so with minimal bribery, we all alight onto our new, sleek, fast ferry and pray like crazy that it really does glide on over those turbulent seas in half the time. 

And guess what kids!? You know how we didn’t get to the art gallery today? Don’t worry, we are coming back tomorrow.


  • Oh Anna! Your writing is fantabulous!! I love the way you commentate on your wonderful experiences. Your photos are amazing. Especially since you must have had to be pretty snappy in such a short space of time. Quick work to capture these fun shots. You’re inspiring ??

    • A
      Mama Bear

      Thanks Barb! Loved your comment. Means the world. xx

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