I stepped off the bus at Rockhampton, (having pulled myself together after the traumatic departure at Airlie!), to black and rumbling skies, very ominous! A friendly looking chap was waiting holding a v. professional sign: Couchsurfing: Hollie Howitt. Must be Wayne I thought.
We got on very easily – he drove me passed all the houses with the crazy Christmas lights (turns out they really bloody go for it out here!), and then he took me back to their house. Wayne and Margot’s house is much like themselves. Old fashioned, comfortable, caring, interesting. You know exactly what you are getting, right down to the hand written sign in the bathroom ‘our guests are free to use these toiletries’. There were thunderstorms the like of which I have NEVER seen or heard before in my life. One crack of thunder was so loud, the lights all went out and i jumped up screaming and ran into their room!
At first I thought they were a little square perhaps, well, they are in their sixties. But after we all had a good giggle, [when Wayne asked how tall I was, and I replied ‘a little under 6’, and he misheard ‘I’m a little under sexed’, then I tried to correct myself my saying ‘I’m about half an inch short’, which resulted in much laughter from Margot and Wayne to retort with some reference to his manhood], I felt much more comfortable in their company.
They were very good to me indeed. They drove me around to see the horrendous flooding; they took me to the zoo where I cuddled a Koala! I cooked them a lasagne, which with the help of their lodger, Jonathan, got wolfed down! They helped me get a doctors appointment for my sore underarm (turns out I had Impetigo! 2 lots of antibiotics and $100 later and I’m fixed!), they took me to the awesome aboriginal Dreamland cultural centre, where Scott, our guide, taught us how to throw boomerangs and played us the didgeridoo. All in all they were perfect hosts....
….. just no Wendy and Phil!
I got my buss to Hervey Bay on Monday night and James, 25, aussie, collected me at 1.30am from the bus stop, bless him. Lovely good lookin ginger, with oodles of personality, very easy going and I found myself talking even more freely and rapidly than normal! His place was awesome, huge, tidy, modern. I had a double room to myself, and use of the complex pool and gym!
When he returned from work then next day he took me to a field of innocent cows, who pay not much attention to you when one is vertical, but upon laying down on the ground (following James’ instruction and an expert demonstration), the cows become incredibly curious, licking, sniffing, blowing and generally inspecting your very being! It is hilarious. And a bit scary. But clearly the best thing I’ve done in Oz so far!
After that we got icecream and walked down the long pier. Then met Sally’s friends, Krista and Nick, who are the chefs at the new, v. hip restaurant in Hervey Bay (the nicest of its kind in the sleepy little town). Krista very kindly wouldn’t let us pay for our food and drinks, and all of a sudden I looked like some kind of mover-and-shaker of the area, taking James to flashy new restaurants without having to pick up the tab!
The following night we went to the cinema, after a day of helping James do his Christmas shopping, eating Pie, running to the postoffice to catch the last post and making total fools of ourselves at the post office counter. I was quite surprised how well and naturally functioning 2 people could be after knowing each other for all of 36 hours. That night we went to the cinema to see Tron. All in all, an awesome couple of days – and I didn’t even do Fraser (Will wait for Simon who I’m sure will handle a 4x4 better than I!).
I was so excited arriving at Brisbane to meet Paul. I was really craving family, and by god they did not disappoint. Their home is so familiar even though I have never been here before. I’d forgotten how much Nicola reminds me of Sal and how Elliot IS josh and jord. Perfect evening with plenty of wine and a nice talk on the phone with Simon.
Christmas eve was a girly shopping day – me, Viv, Nicola, and her bezzie Marge, who I adore. Found a gorgeous dress. Then that evening we went to Nicola and AJ’s house for drinks (her lovely chap), along with his bro Nick (both mental kiwis), and Marge and El. Lovely night.
Woke early Xmas morn due to the aforementioned mental kiwis, came downstairs about 6am to them still on the sauce! The little darlings had got me presents and all. Lovely boys. We all got ready then headed to Viv and Paul’s where I met my great uncle Reg and his wife Val. Reg looks so much like Pop I nearly cried. We had big cuddles and caught up, then had the most amazing aussie xmas dinner ever – lobster, prawns the size of your face, bugs, ham, chicken, pork, turkey. Not a roast tatty in sight! Got some awesome gifts, the highlight of which, is of course, that viv has managed to secure tickets, and paid half of one for me, for Big Day out, the festival at the Goldcoast, as Elliot's band are on the bill! What I didn't know was that Tool, Deftones, Iggy Pop, Andrew WK (haha), and many more awesome frickin bands are playing! Then, after a post-feed nap, we went for a swim. Yes, a swim, on Christmas day. Hilarious!
|I promise I didn't force Nick and AK to do this!|
Here for another few weeks, and very happy about it! Viv and Paul feel as instantly close as they did last year when they came over. Off now to get into our PJ’s and watch chick flicks with yet more wine!