Just over a week ago, we piled into the van: four girls, two parents, dozens of bags of clothes and towels and food and buckets and spades… and we set off for our first away-from-home holiday in four years. Andy put our old but trusty vehicle into low gear and steered it carefully down the steep and twisty road through the bush and pasture, down the escarpment towards the coast. The rain fell in sheets around us and we shivered with the cold but it didn’t matter. We were in holiday mood.

Two hours later we pulled up at our destination: a cottage on the shore of Swan Lake.  We hurried inside to explore and were delighted by the 60s feel of the cottage: it's second-hand furniture, dark wood, hand-made beds, huge colourful paintings, old mirrors, interesting knick knacks and decorations... everywhere we looked we discovered treasures to be enjoyed.

The dozens of bags were transferred inside and unpacked. We were ready to enjoy.

Despite the cold and the rain we set off to explore the lake and the beach. We were glad of our winter tights and coats as we strolled along the sand with the cool breeze blowing in our faces.

We found the cycle track and remembered the six bikes stored in the cottage shed.

The rain pounded on the iron roof all night long but we awoke to a dry day. Lunch was enjoyed on the front verandah.

And we explored the garden and discovered some fish.

The sun appeared and we went canoeing...

and built lots of sandcastles.

We walked to the surf beach, avoided the blue bottle jellyfish and collected shells.

Andy cooked sausages on the barbeque and we ate in the back garden...

... amongst the shady trees and the fish.

As the days went by, Andy and I watched the girls enjoying themselves on the water...

... and in the water...

And we discussed how lovely it would be to move to the coast. What if one day we retired to a cottage at the lake, with a canoe in the shed, and bikes ready to ride along the cycleway, with the beach across the road...? We'd be sure to have our children and grandchildren visit us often. Surely it would be more pleasant to live by the beach instead of high up the escarpment surrounded by bush?

We spent our evenings reading and watching movies together, drawing and embroidering, playing board games and talking... We talked about the cottage: Wouldn't it be wonderful to live in a 60s style house all the time? Perhaps we should paint our home bright colours and fill it with old fashioned mismatched furniture and hunt out interesting old mirrors and wares from secondhand stores? We thought of our house on the Highlands and it seemed bland compared to the dark character filled cottage of our holiday.

We celebrated Charlotte's birthday and the boys phoned to add their greetings... and we started to think about home... the boys, the cats, clean clothes... And all of a sudden, despite our wonderful holiday we began to look forward to returning home.

Sunday arrived and the bags were repacked. The girl took one last stroll along the shore of the lake... and we said goodbye to our 60s holiday cottage, nestled under the shady gum trees with fish flying from the branches, and headed home.

Up the steep and twisty road we crawled with a stream of impatient vehicles gathered behind us. And just as we reached the top of the mountain, the temperature dropped and the air changed and we breathed deeply and knew we were nearly home.

We pulled onto the driveway, the boys opened the front door and I gasped... how beautiful our home looked. The boys had cleaned up and put fresh flowers on the table. I walked down the hallway amazed at all the light and space. And I loved it. I don't think we will be painting the walls bright colours or filling every space with old dark mismatched furniture, and cluttering the house with cast-off knick knacks that no one else wants, after all. All that is fine for a 60s cottage, a holiday cottage at the lake, but this is home.

(However, I would like a cottage garden: a few more tall gum trees and lots of floating fish, a wooden horse or two and lots of secret places to explore...)

We had a wonderful holiday and have stored away many precious and happy memories. But we are all glad to be back home. There is something very special about home. We all know this deep down but we don't often think about it.

Perhaps it is only in going away and returning with fresh eyes that we really see, and appreciate what we have.

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  1. Great pictures! Thanks for sharing your vacation with us!

  2. Hi Sue, Welcome home.. I remember often thinking, I would love to live here or here or here, and then you return home...Then you know its the best place to be. Our last holiday, I didn't feel like that. I love where we live and I couldn't wait to get home either. Love leanne xx

  3. Thank you Colleen! I think one of the best things about a holiday is the memories: looking at the photos later on and talking about all the best bits. We took photos of everything!

  4. It was a great holiday, Leanne but I'm happy to be back! I love my home too. It was nice to dream about living somewhere else for a few days: what would life be like living there? Could we all fit into the holiday cottage? How would we arrange our possessions if we lived there forever? But it was only a dream. We are quite content with our own home.

    God bless!

  5. Its funny isn't it, We were guided by God here and I am very content as well. Great Pictures.
    Leanne xx

  6. Leanne, you are quite right - guided by God. I've always felt God sent us to this house. He may send us somewhere else in the future but for now we are also quite content.

  7. 'Swan Lake!' what a lovely name:) beautiful pictures, sounds like you all had a wonderful time, re-connecting is easier away from life's distractions. Welcome home:)

  8. Erin,

    The lake is named after the black swans who live on it. We saw the swans a number of times flying over the water. Once we almost crept up to them before they all took to the air. We couldn't get any close up photos of the swans but we can see them in the background of some of the canoeing pictures.

    You said, "re-connecting is easier away from life's distractions." So true! It was good having no Internet connection. We weren't tempted to get on our computers and spend time on our own projects. Instead we spent time together, talking and doing things with each other.

    Thank you for stopping by and saying hello!

  9. Welcome back from your vacation Sue! Looks like you and your family had a wonderful time relaxing together on a fun holiday!

    Since I'm from the states, I'm trying to imagine what the "escarpment surrounded by bush in the highlands" looks like? Up in the mountains sounds beautiful!

  10. Oh yes, and your sons who cleaned up and put out fresh flowers are so sweet!

  11. Sue,
    Your vacation sounded wonderful and I love the picures!

    As much as I enjoy vacations I'm always glad to return home at the end too :)

  12. Noreen,
    We really enjoyed our holiday and I had a blogging break too because we had no Internet. But it's nice to be back and good to hear from you!

    We live in an area south of Sydney called the Southern Highlands. It's an elevated area of bush or native forest and farming land (mostly cattle). There are a few small towns and villages dotted about. To get to the coast we need to drive down the escarpment, a huge rocky barrier between us and the coast. The road or pass is steep and full of hair pin bends. It's a slow journey through beautiful green forest, and occasionally there is a glimpse of a cleared area where there is a house perched on the side of the hill with some pasture. The coastal area is very different from up here where we live, warmer temperatures for a start. I hope that description helps you to picture where we live!

    Yes, the boys did a good job with the cleaning. I think they missed us. We missed them! Duncan often buys me a bunch of flowers. He puts them in a vase and waits for me to discover them!

  13. Mary,
    I remember your posts when you were away on holiday: It sounded like you were having a wonderful break. But yes, it is good to come home again!

    I enjoyed using my newish camera. I took pictures of everything. I even read a bit more of the manual and learnt a few more of the functions. I've still got lots of the manual left to read though. Just think how good my photos will be when I know how to use the camera properly!

    God bless.

  14. Great photos. I'm so glad you enjoyed a lovely holiday.

    Welcome back.

    God bless.


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