Shaken and Stirred

What’s the most elaborate, complicated meal you’ve ever cooked? Was it a triumph for the ages, or a colossal fiasco? Give us the behind-the-scenes story (pictures are welcome, of course).

It became known as Disaster Day.

We were camping on a quiet camp site on the Isle of Wight. We weren’t a small party – there were four adults and eight children in two large multi-bedroom frame tents. And it rained. And it rained. And it rained some more.

Thankfully, it stopped before morning.

But when JJ got up and opened her suitcase, Oh shit, it’s full of water and very wet clothes.

List of things to do now:
Find Leaky spot. Ah, it’s the entire roof.
Drop frame down so the tall man could paint the roof.
Get canvas sealant to coat the roof.
Hop in car, drive to Newport, which is the main town on the island, slap bang in the middle.
Find camping shop (this was way, way before Google – Youngest was two. Maybe three. He’s twenty-three now) and buy sealant.
Think, well, we may as well buy lunch. Burgers, Sausages, Baked Beans, Bread – that should do for a camping lunch.

And that was MY complicated meal. It sounds simple, really. But there were eight children to be watched. So that took Karen. There was a tent to be dealt with. So that took Husband and JJ. That left me to cook. Burger, sausage, toast, baked beans and a fried egg each. For eight hungry children. On a calor gas stove with two burners and one grill.

I honestly cannot remember how I did it, but I got eight children’s meals out pretty much together, and then four adult meals after that. Then I sat down for a cup of tea, Karen washed up, children were playing happily and…

Youngest jumped off something into something, and fell badly, putting his front teeth through his cheek.

Back to Newport, where we had fortunately seen the hospital on the earlier trip. Triaged and home in an hour, which was pretty fantastic. Poor lad. Next day he looked like he’d had a stroke; the whole side of his face drooped, and strangers were looking at him askance. He made a full recovery and was back to his normal self by the time we went home.



The Kindness of a Hot Naked Man…

OMG, Post of the Day. You want to read the story of Me, My Daughters and the Hot Naked Man. OK.

Remember I was going to Australia for the (cancelled) wedding of my long-lost adopted daughter, Tracey, thus meeting a whole bunch of new, not relatives, but people who had known of me for a long time? This was a – not stressful experience, but one that was, in many ways, hard work. I felt like I must be on my best behavior among the older members of the family and not get rat arsed with the younger ones.

So, after the first ten days, and the Wedding Wake at the big, posh Brisbane hotel, Charly (erstwhile known as Daughter) and I had booked a week in an apartment at Peregian Beach. Tracey wanted to drive us there, but Charly (being Charly) insisted that she stay for a night. Which she did. Then she drove back home (her kids – yes, I’m a grandma now!) – were due back at school, then she came back for the remainder of the holiday. Which was good, as it meant we also got a lift back to Brisbane.

Charly is an exercise junkie, in the sense she walks everywhere, and likes to cycle wherever she can. So she decides we should take a walk round Noosa Head. So we drove to Noosa, on Anzac Day. Maybe should have thought that through… very busy, lots of cars. So they threw me out of the car by the start of the walk, where there was a café, and drove off to park the car elsewhere.

Well, I waited. And waited. And had an iced coffee. And waited some more, feasting my eyes on the tropical plants, and the fit Aussies I saw walking around. When they finally made it, Charly was suffering from the heat and low blood sugar. So the picnic was broken into, food was eaten, and toilets were made use of. By this time, Charly was feeling much, much better, so we set off.

Now the walk round Noosa Head is a long walk, broken down into three smaller walks. So the first bit is grade 1, and is surfaced, wheelchair and pushchair accessible, and leads to some really pretty beaches, full of surfers. Oh, yeah. Lots of fit young people with surfboards does make the walking easier… Funniest bit was when a mom turned round to answer one of her kids, and knocked another flying with her board. Don’t walk so close to Mom, hey?

The second bit is grade 2, and is supposedly not much different than grade 1, just unsurfaced and don’t take wheelchairs and pushchairs, OK? This was, for me, actually the least pleasant part, because it was mostly in direct sun. And man, Queensland get HOT. We took lots of rest breaks, and I broke out the Union Jack umbrella I was using as a sunshade. Not big enough to be a hazard to other walkers, of whom there were fewer now, but big enough to shade me while walking, and cover all of me with shade when I sat down, with my legs tucked in.

Then we get to the grade 4. By this time, I have reached the stage of, well, I know what shit is behind me. There’s hills, and scorching paths, and even more hills. I get my “let’s just keep pushing forward” head on, and forge ahead.

It’s not actually too bad. Until we get to the way down to Alexandria Beach. Honestly, I found myself a big stick to use as an aid to balance. It was steep. It’s OK though – there is an emergency radio there… and naked women (two of, sunbathing). Who gives a fuck? Let’s eat our lunch! And drink some water! And have a bloody sit down!

Oh look. A naked man doing press-ups. Not bad for a guy who must have been in his sixties.

Oh looooooook. Hot naked men! Honestly, the beach appeared to be swarming with them! I have never been so grateful for very dark sunglasses in my life. And there was one we instantly called Hot Naked Man. He was fit. He was golden. He was glorious. The three of us bonded over Hot Naked Man.

We wandered along the beach, paddling, getting wet trousers and generally behaving a bit like three-year-olds, only with less cuteness and much less energy, but when we reached the end, it was all ‘shit, where’s the path gone?’ Tracey and Charly wandered off, and I looked round to see if, on this fairly deserted beach, there was anyone near enough to ask. And walking towards me, in all his naked glory, was the hottest naked man on the beach. Oh, Hot Naked Man, all tanned, and toned, and glorious, and walking towards me! So I asked, do you know the way off this beach? He smiled (swoon), cupped his hand to his ear (can’t hear you) and continued walking closer. And I had just given myself the perfect excuse to wait there, watching him (swooning some more).

My, my, I’m grateful for these sunnies, now.

He reached me (swoon) and we started chatting. He told me where the path was (where the girls were looking) and how much further we had to go (about 20 minutes, up some steep bits, but you know, you’ve got that big stick, you should be fine) when Charly noticed, hey, look, mum’s talking to the Hot Naked Man! Better get over there quick! And then Tracey noticed, oh look, Lesley and Charly are talking to Hot Naked Man, better get over there quick! And so we were all there, talking to Hot Naked Man, and wondering just how long we could keep the conversation going…

Not that long, actually. He wandered off onto the rocks, and we continued on.

It wasn’t the worst climb I’ve ever done. Close though. There was one bit, steps, and the last step was a bit steep. Well, they were ALL bloody steep, but the last one nearly had me falling backwards down them. I recovered, and Tracey gave me a hand up. I looked down to photograph the Bloody Steep Steps, only to find father and son two-footedly HOPPING up them! Really, you can hate people you don’t know, right?

Then, finally, steps down. And down. And down some more. Then soft sand. Then – oh shit, wooden steps up and up and up and… Finally reached a road. Civilization! If I had been able to actually bend, I would have kissed that pavement!

Then down and down and down… to find a car park! With a toilet! And a man who said, ‘hey, you made it! I’m not stalking you, honest.’ Well, hello, Hot Naked Man. I nearly didn’t recognise you with your clothes on… (no, I only thought it).

By this time, I was knackered. Seriously, downrightly, fucking knackered. So I asked, ‘Hey, any chance of a lift back to Noosa?’ Cos the nearest bus stop is like, half a mile up a very steep hill. Even Charly was feeling ‘no way’ at that.

Sorry, but I’ve a surf board (of course) in the car. Could only take two of you…

OK, no probs.

And we start walking, and I say something to Tracey about I hope you know where you’ve left the car. And Hot Naked Man says, well, I could give you a lift to your car? And we look at each other. And I think, well, I don’t want to walk…

So Tracey hops in the car, and Charly and I sit down to wait. As he pulls out, he calls out to us. ‘This is the last time you1ll see her!’ to which I reply ‘Got your plates, mate. Anything happens, we’ll find you and kill you…’

And Charly and I sit there, hoping to god that he really isn’t a serial killer…

Tracey got back (safely) and, even though she managed not to say ‘I didn’t recognise you with your clothes on’ she also completely failed TO GET HIS NUMBER! He even offered to show her the way back to where we were, which, let me tell you, wasn’t an easy drive. Props to Tracey for finding us, with only one very small diversion.

Thank you, Hot Naked Man, for being the sort of person to help out women in need, without being creepy at any point.

Is there a craigslist for Oz, where I can post ‘Hot Naked Man, who helped three very tired people, I really want to buy you a drink, for saving us at Noosa’. I mean, he works at Brisbane airport, and surfs naked. Can’t be that many people who fit the bill…

A small selection of photos. Not that I took many, I was too busy trying to breath and shit like that…


 Random Aussie Surfer. Oh man, those abs… that I never managed to capture on camera.


 In Australia, you have to look after yourself. We’re not gonna do it for you.


 Charly almost demonstrating how the shade works.


It’s a long way down to that beach…


Tracey looking at the end of the world…


Charly clearly wondering where Hot Naked Man is…