Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dog heaven, nightmarish forklifts

Thursday was the Royal Hobart Show public holiday, so we decided to skip Friday, call it a 4 day weekend, and drive 5 hours north to Mum and Dad's. For added companionship, laughs and dribble, we decided to take the largest labrador with us.

We made our first stop at Brighton, just 20km from home, to give Winston a run around and some fresh air. We don't have a trailer or one of those roof-pods, so our luggage was squashed in on one side of the boot, leaving the rest for him. We were pretty keen that he not get any bodily fluids on the bags.

In fact he was a terrific traveler. Apart from chewing through two leads, he was an angel back there. We didn't need to stop nearly as often as we had imagined. We did get a better idea of the good places to stop with a dog. News Flash - these are not necessarily places that will also do a good macchiato. Think "empty football ground with a tap".

Mum and Dad were glad to see us all. It's been a while since we were up there. After a cuppa we headed for the beach with Winston. He just loved it to bits. He has only been to Dog Beaches, where the primary activity is walking dogs - there are too many dogs, too many people, and he's not allowed off his lead. On Turners Beach the tide always seemed to be out, so there was acres of flat sand, a nice warm tidal lagoon to splash in, our boys to romp with and occasionally other free range dogs to be doggy with. He was very happy.

Despite this, he was also pathetically keen to go home. He has never in his enormous life jumped up into the back of the car before. After we had been away about a day, he saw someone open the boot, and in a flash he was in it, and ready to go home. We had to drag him out.

On Friday we all went along to Ulverstone where Mum had lined up hiring some pedal cars. We had a four seater which was really fun, and a one-seater which the boys both had a go on. Then we all went into Burnie, walked Winston up and down the boardwalk there, and ate chips for lunch. I had thought at one point there would be fish, but the chips were so good I didn't mind. Nightmarish giant forklifts heaved shipping containers about on the wharf. I thought of the "Stevedores Advice" that used to be read out on the radio - a long string of numbers to tell the dockers who had a day's work. The workforce would be down 90% now on those times.

Dad took Winston for another walk while Mum showed us around the Makers Workshop, of which she is a bit of a star. Her life-size Paper People are featured exhibits, and she was hugged by half the (real) people in the place.

Burnie has outlived its manufacturing past, and now its major industry is tourism. There is a valiant attempt to use the relics and legacy of the paper industry as an attraction. As manufacturing dies out across the country, its novely value grows, I guess. The Makers Workshop is terrific, inside.

I grew up in Burnie and can get very nostalgic there. I was tempted to arrange a half day off on my own nostalgicising around town, but wistfulness is fairly unproductive. The Makers Workshop opened in the refurbished building that was once my kindergarten. That burned down almost immediately after, and has now been replaced by a blank-faced piece of work, that actually compares unfavourably to the 1960s orange brick highrise flats opposite. My old primary school was knocked down and replaced by a Harvey Norman. Since then the hospital where I was born has been knocked down and Harvey Norman has opened there.

We scurried back out to Dad and Winston before the chewed-through-and-knotted-back-together lead came apart.

On Saturday we left Winston with his grandparents, and drove west to visit our secretve friends X and Y and their girls, at their new home in the tiny country townlet of F. The 4 kids just swung into things as if they see each other all the time. X and Y have a back yard the size of a footy field, with a cow paddock over the distant back fence. It was blustery and cold, and the kids' sideways hair and red cheeks and ears reminded me of my family's photo album documenting our childhood outings to similar windy up-country places. They were all happy though, talking to the cows, then coming in and playing board games, then going back to the cows.

The family are loving being back in Tasmania. X is a very interesting and opinionated guy, fun to toss ideas around with. He would be a terrific teacher for bright kids. He found teaching at a private school on the sunny Queensland coast hard going - the kids just didn't see what they had to gain from school. It was keeping them from their jet-bikes. Y is one of the kindest people I have met - she just radiates goodness. And she makes awesome brownies.

The following day we hit the road after breakfast, got home around 2-ish, and spent the rest of the afternoon preparing to re-enter the real world. We had missed soccer, Little Athletics, Milo Cricket and puppy school. but it was certainly worth it.

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