I’ve just returned from a beach holiday in the land that time forgot. And I mean that in a good way.
My friends Lulu and Mr M had invited 5-year-old Spider boy and me to spend a few days with them and their 6-year-old son, the Magician, at a rented beach house at Bawley Point on the NSW south coast.
As soon as we pulled up to the weatherboard house on stilts I was instantly taken back to the south coast of my childhood, where my parents took us on beach holidays every year. Back then in the late 70s and 80s, it was a similar rented house in Narooma, a town a bit further south.
My sister and I, who were 8 and 3 when we first started going to Narooma, would play happily around the stilts under the house, pretending we were “Carol” and “Susie” who worked in a petrol station. When we went to the beach, we were “Coral” and “Crystal”, who were mermaids.
We would stay on the beach for hours, we would go to the circus that came to town every summer, we would have pink lemonade and fish and chips at the Whale restaurant. We would go to the newsagency/gift shop in town and buy shell-covered trinkets.
But back to the present day… This house was on stilts too, expect this one was way better. It had an upstairs deck with a perfect towel/cossie-drying fence, a bird-feeder, places to sit and a dart board. From the the kitchen/dining area, a staircase led to a roomy mezzanine lounge area with views to the ocean, which was blue most of the time we were there. There were two bedrooms in the main part of the house, and a roomy granny flat/studio downstairs.
I love the simplicity of holiday shacks. I love that they are so obviously decorated for the purposes of; 1. invoking a beachy vibe, and 2. helping you relax. And every room was generously peppered with obligatory beach-house objet’s de kitsch. Like this…
And the icing on the beach house cake? The great variety of summer holiday entertainment! The book shelves were lined with trashy novels and video cassettes. Cassettes. There was a quoits set in the lounge, jigsaw puzzles and board games like Celebrity Heads. If only we had two weeks!
Along with all this retro pop-cultural stimulation, I also loved the sound of waves crashing at night, the great variety of bird-calls in the morning, and the fresh, salty air. And I loved walking to the beach and not having to deal with cars and parking.
Lulu’s dad and his wife Ms B were staying in their place which was just at the end of the next beach along. They would sometimes call in when they were out walking, or we would run into them on one of the three beaches in the area.
At Bawley Point, kids ride bikes on the road, some carrying surfboards, neighbours walk to each other’s homes for lunch, dinner, drinks on the deck. There are no fences, no gates. Kids of 8 or 9 sit on the nature strip and literally sell sea shells by the sea shore. And painted cicada shells. People relax on their front decks in boardies and bikinis and look really… relaxed.
Bawley Point to me, was a combination of the TV shows Puberty Blues (the 12-year-old long-haired grommets in wetsuits and general retro-vibe bit, not the panel-van and all they suggest bit), Neighbours (good Neighbours had become good-friends) and Home and Away (Hello, beach!).
Lulu’s dad grilled burgers for us on the back deck, the kids ran a few metres to the back of the next house along and jumped on their trampoline (cos that’s how they roll in this ‘hood). When we weren’t barbequeing, we cooked with this…
We learnt how to play boules and I was relaxed enough to actually get myself into my swimmers and go into the surf! I even sunbaked for a few minutes.
And there were millions of peaches…
One afternoon, Lulu and I managed to escape to a winery. So there was millions of grapes too…
And at the vineyard, there was deer frolicking in a woodland glade. Seriously.
The only things that pulled us out of 70s/80s-style living was the presence of our smartphones/tablets, and a DVD player. So don’t worry, just in case you thought there was too much retro-fun and outdoorsy stuff for the kids, they had plenty of screen time too.
For example: “Come on kids, how about a fun game of charades. Or what about quoits?”
“No! Hotel Transylvania!” (animated Adam Sandler movie)
And later… “Come on kids, do you want to play charades? What about quoits?
“No, Leps World!” (some game played on a smartphone/tablet).
Trying to get the kids to go to bed before 9pm the night before we had to be up early?
“Charades!” they excitedly suggested.
They will try anything to not go to bed.
Since we didn’t watch the news while we were away, the only other thing that pulled us out of last century was an annoying, yet stressful episode of Grey’s Anatomy one night. What were we thinking? We could have been watching this…
But at least we did get to watch this classic again…
So here’s to beach holidays with a nostalgic feel – and the unbeatable combination of peaches, beaches, bird-calls and retro movies.
And a big thanks to Lulu, Mr M and family for a refreshing and fun holiday!
What are your favourite summer holiday memories?