Wednesday, 16 September 2009

My First Holiday in a Long Time

It may sound strange to some people, but I haven't had a holiday in a long time. I mean a holiday out of Sydney, not a holiday from work. As a member of the unemployed ranks at the moment, you might say I'm constantly on holiday, although I'm studying. Kinda. And even then I had a mid-semester break just last week.

I also had my first holiday out of Sydney for what seems like a long time. I was just sitting around when my sister invited me to go to Canberra for two days because she was driving out there to meet someone for a chat, and would I come along? We could go in the morning, she'd go meet the lady while I spent time wandering about, we'd share a hotel room for a night, spend the next day looking around, then leave that evening. She'd do the driving. I can't drive. No way.

It seemed a good idea to me, and it was fun, but different from what I expected.

First, Sunday morning we headed out and we decided to use the Tomtom to navigate. We were out on the highway and we were gone about an hour and a half when we decided to take a rest break. We stopped, ate a piece of fruit and my sister had a little snooze, and then when we started up again ... yes, the darn TomTom wouldn't work again!

It's amazing how you rely on that silly lady's voice telling you to "turn right here". We panicked!

Eventually we decided we should keep going, after all we still could remember which direction to go on the highway and apart from that there wasn't too much else that could go wrong. But we kept squealing about "Oh darn, does this mean we'll have to find a MAP? Not one of those things!" like we were contemplating taking on a bucket of dead rats.

Finally - oh joy, I fiddled around with the TomTom enough that an hour later it jumped back to life and we both sighed with relief and swore that we would never do anything to cause it harm or want to leave us, ever, ever again. Precious baby.

I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do when we got to Canberra. Mel had to go meet her church-friend, and I was dropped off in Canberra, not daring to do anything too ... well, daring. I didn't dare catch a bus. I'm bad enough at navigation as it is, I was finding myself lost as I walked around, and I had this horrible vision of myself catching a bus and being stranded out in the outer suburbs and not knowing how the hell I'd got out there and how the hell to get back and my sister calling me and wanting to know why I wasn't back at the designated meeting place when we agreed.

So I crept carefully. I followed a sign saying National Film and Sound Archive.

Now, I don't know where they hide that place but I couldn't find it despite the signs or the strange directions people gave me. "Past the white building there's a place with a big dome on it" ... heck, I couldn't see a dome, or if that's your idea of a dome, you and I need to have talks. Big talks.

I ended up wandering around the ANU and admiring the grounds for a short while.

Then I checked out a few shops and bookstores. I can't help myself checking out bookstores.

After a good browse through the books, I managed to get myself to the Canberra Museum and Gallery where I saw a few really cool collections. The funniest was a great collection of record covers. It's hard to say what's so cool about quirky record covers, except you've just got to see it. Sometimes the names just speak for themselves - like "I fell in love with a prostitute" Sermon by Rev. Jasper Williams. Others, well the artwork was so "interesting" I just had to laugh.

But best of all, for me, was the children's activity table. There was a table with a bird chart and some coloured pencils and a bird picture book nearby, and a sign that said "Read the picture book and write your own bird story" with some little blank booklets provided.

Naturally I did as instructed. I don't think I draw as well as Julie Vivas (illustrator of the supplied picture book) but I rather liked my story. If I can improve my pictures I may be onto a hit picture book. And all that in just a few minutes of inspiration!

Later, I saw another smaller Art Gallery and some more bookshops before I was picked up and went off to church and dinner with my sister.

The next day went like this ....

I lay in bed thinking, gee, it's all dark, I think I must have awoken early, I won't get out of bed yet, specially as my sister isn't awake yet. I don't know how long I was thinking this.

Then I heard a maid knock on the door and say "HOUSEKEEPING!"

My sister drowsily called from her bed "Umm, later!"

I asked what the time was. My sister said quarter past seven. I replied, "Gee, that's early for housekeeping."

"Sorry, I mean it's almost ten," said my sister.


With checkout having to be eleven, this rather changed things.

We managed to get out and go to the National Gallery and it was fantastic, except that I think I may have walked in on a few tours. It's one of those disconcerting things about tours in galleries, you have all these groups being shown around by tour guides and if you're there by yourself and you want to just inspect a piece of art by yourself, you feel like you're getting in the way when you have a group of fifteen standing around in a semicircle with a guide marching in front of the painting pointing out features and explaining history and symbolism and stuff and you just want to have a good peer.

Still, peer I did!

I don't know, I don't mind some of the "modern" art there but I usually really prefer wandering in the sections where there are portraits of ladies or landscapes rather than huge canvases of solid colour with a few simple geometric shapes on them. I guess it's all a matter of taste.

After that we planned to go to Cockington Green, the miniature Village ... but my sister wanted to have a nap for twenty minutes before she drove ... and that twenty minutes became two hours ...!

So instead we drove straight back home ...

and right in time for dinner!

It mightn't seem like we did a whole lot but in fact it was just nice to get away for a couple of days, look at some beautiful art, have a wander, and not feel pressured to dash from place to place under time constraints. I enjoyed it!

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