New horizons

Well what a Year of the Rat is has been – it may have brought a plague (!) but the Universe is obviously not done with us yet. On a global scale, the US seems to be imploding and at a personal level, my step-mum passed away last week after a 10 year illness. It was all very quick and peaceful in the end but my heart is broken for my Dad losing his life partner. Let’s just say I’ll be glad to start my (Chinese) new year all over again on 12 February when the Ox moves in.

I’ve been at Ocean Grove the past week coming to terms with many things and having some much needed time out to re-group. We feel incredibly lucky as a family to have booked our holiday in Victoria back in September in the hope that restrictions would lift. Given the COVID cases in Sydney and Brisbane, we’re very glad we chose to stay local and it’s given us pause for thought in relation to interstate holidays in the midst of a global pandemic without a vaccine being fully rolled out. You can simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time and I feel for anyone who was caught out this summer. The greatest plans…

It’s the third time in recent years we’ve holidayed on the Surf Coast with location being determined by having a dog! Yes, the princess has had the time of her life frolicking on the dog beach while we’ve enjoyed our 70s beachhouse with courtyard and ping pong table. It’s been a great place to chill. My kids and I have enjoyed running on the beach and Mr Rosanna has now been for three bike rides in a row. It was cool when we arrived last weekend but we got to visit the Ocean Grove Summer Market (gold coin donation) after the rain enjoying coffee, donuts and sausages in bread. We didn’t buy anything but I enjoyed seeing Baru sustainable mens swim shorts being sold. Very cool.

Blackmans Brewery & Burger Bar – Ocean Grove

Our holiday diet has been the usual suspects of fish and chips, pizza, pies and hamburgers so the running may need to be upped. We had our burgers (and beer for Mr R) at Blackmans Brewery on the corner of the main drag, which feels like going back to the 1980s including the customers with their moustaches and mullets! Next door is Florence & Threads, which I’m yet to visit but glad it’s still there.

On the cooler days, we visited Japanese furniture warehouse KYO (closing down to the public to go solely wholesale) in the Ocean Grove industrial estate and discovered the more authentic Tetsu selling vintage Japanese wares in another warehouse further along where I bought a wooden abacus. I think we may be back to check out another local brewer Brewicolo as well as Vinnies and Salvos stores in the same back streets with The Hive Gallery also nearby.

We also drove to Geelong to check out the Geelong Vintage Market in a huge warehouse on Mackey Street with the imposing and bold former Federal Woollen Mills building behind it (now a business park) where the carpark is. It’s a great way to spend half a day fossicking around for treasures. I ended up with an Art Deco plate and a vintage silver metal handbag. A tip if you go there and get the munchies – The Pickers Union cafe closes at 3.30pm so make sure you get there before late afternoon if you want to eat! We’ve been in holiday mode most of the time we’ve been here so off to slow starts most days in no rush.

We spent yesterday morning at the Barwon Heads Community Market – more of a craft market with posters, ceramics, soap and jewellery but we did enjoy the cannoli stall. I’ve mentioned before that Barwon Heads is the Portsea of the Bellarine Coast with its upmarket retail stores and cafes lining its main street. We grabbed a bite to eat outside at the always excellent Annie’s Provedore, which I’m glad is also still there. There were lots of people enjoying the Barwon River – I’d love to try stand up paddle boarding if we visit again and it was lovely to see the Ferris Wheel in action before we crossed the bridge back to Ocean Grove.

I’m enjoying the right here, right now but know I also need to work out where to from here once I get back to Melbourne. Losing my job has raised some existential questions for me and also presents an opportunity to forge a new path forward – indeed some new horizons. Sadly a funeral also awaits and I have chosen Rilke’s Go to the limits of your longing as a reading – it seems to have taken on added poignance and meaning for me over the past 9 months with the things that have happened to me, and the people around me. And while this is for now, in Rilke’s own words – no feeling is final.