Yes, I am writing this post in April. And what of it?
I grew up with a mid-winter Christmas. It got dark by 4pm and everyone would hope for snow, then usually wake up to grey skies and drizzle. Afternoon walks with misty breath were par for the course and the only time we got too warm was when the fire got left on high. My childhood festive season was filled with comfort food, hot chocolate and wearing gloves to the church carol concert to avoid frostbite.
But now. Now I live in Australia. A country whose Christmas adverts scream ‘summer is coming!’ in an attempt to sell you pools, cold beer and barbecues. It’s a little weird having rising temperatures indicate that santa is on his way but I am slowly getting used to it.
For the last four years I’ve been lucky, a word I don’t use lightly, with the people I’ve been able to celebrate the holidays with and how I’ve done it. Christmas 2011 was spent with my Mum BBQing with family friends and drinking cider in the pool. For 2012 I spent it in true backpacker style with my sister and two close friends Chris and Bridget pretending to be hippies in a leopard print camper van in Byron Bay. 2013 saw us throw a huge house party and it was my first Christmas with hubby to be Mikey, plus my best friend and lady soulmate Dot flew up from Melbourne to be with me.
Last year, with Mikey at sea and a busy roster at work, how on earth was I going to once again step up my Christmas game? Why with my Mum and Doug on a boat at Fitzroy island, plus two of my favourite people who had (finally!) returned to Australia! Seeing as one of them (Chris) had already had an Aussie Christmas with me in a campervan he knew what was in store and it was up to us to show his lovely lady Veerle a damn good time.
I worked until 9pm on the 24th before shutting the shop as fast as I could, running to the marina and hopping on Dougie’s boat. We motored over to Fitzroy in the darkness so that when we woke up on Christmas morning it would seem like old St Nick had given us an island paradise.
Thankfully it seemed like using a mast in lieu of a chimney wasn’t a problem and we found a stack of presents waiting for us, which we opened on deck while munching bagels and sipping champagne. I don’t know if you’ve ever been half pissed before 10am on a yacht but it really is rather marvellous. Especially with views of a tropical island, dah-link.
It of course seemed like a very good idea to go snorkelling once all the wrapping paper and general debris had been cleared. The reef around Fitzroy isn’t half bad and it was especially lovely to hold on to a rope and get towed along by Doug in the tender. Basically anything that involves being a little bit more lazy is fine by me…
We must have looked ridiculous, four adults attached to a rope like huge shark bait with faces in the water. That’s the only way I can explain the glass bottom tour going past and ignoring the turtle underneath them choosing instead to snap pictures of us. We definitely feature in some Japanese holiday albums now.
^^^Sailing is all about the glamour, amirite?
Back on the boat immediately had to attend to the pressing issue of being completely sober. Only when we were sufficiently hydrated did we start to cook dinner, a proper Aussie feast of BBQd steak*, salad and prawns.
No, they’re not shrimp. They’re prawns. And why on earth would we cook them twice?
*Yep, Doug’s boat has a BBQ on it. Straya!
With tummies full we watched the sun set over the mainland toasting to an excellent day. As it grew darker all the boats around us started to light up as each vessel displayed their Christmas decorations, all with varying degrees of success. Some were slightly more…ahem…gaudy, than others! Never wanting to be outdone Mum had mined the reject shop on Christmas eve and we hung up our own twinkly offering, complete with miniature trees!
Boxing day was spent in a similar manner. We alternated between snoozing, drinking and swimming quite happy to let the hours pass by in a haze of sun and salt.
I slept on the deck and woke up on the 27th to the sound of pouring rain, just the thing to make us feel better about having to leave! As we cruised back to Cairns, each taking a turn on the helm, I reflected that even though Aussie Christmasses lack Eastenders, pigs in blankets and mistloe they’re not so bad after all.
Not wanting Mikey to miss out on all the adventures when he returned from his festive week at sea we promptly packed up and headed north for the Daintree rainforest. Because why pay ridiculous amounts to get in to a packed nightclub when you could count down to midnight with sparklers on the beach and watch the fireworks from both Cairns and Port Douglas exploding in the distance?
After discovering the Cape Kimberley campground on our last extended trip north we had vowed to return as soon as possible. So, sure, that asap turned out to be 7 months long but hey we made it!
^^^This is Mikey’s ‘why are we having more selfies?’ face. What he doesn’t understand is *that* face is why we keep having to have more. Men, eh?
It was hot as hell, full of mosquitoes and the pool was mucky but…we had this beach on our doorstep.
I’m not sure what they put in the sand up there but it makes it look as though every waves that rolls in is gilded with a layer of tiny diamonds, and it felt as though we could reach out and touch snapper island.
Not bad, eh? And even though it was New Years we were one of only a few people making camp for the night so we had a huge area all to ourselves, meaning no one could here the expletives we shouted every time a mozzie broke through our defences.
With hammocks strung up between trees, all three eskies stocked with booze and an extended pack of Cards of Humanity we were all set to see in the New Year with style.
Sure it was about 34 degrees so technically we didn’t *need* to have a roaring fire going but it made the boys feel very manly to chop wood and burn stuff and us ladies were happy to let them get on with it. It also provided effective mozzie relief – turns out that burning 4 coils* in the fire will not only keep away unwanted blood suckers but will also half choke you meaning you forget all about your existing itchy bites!
It was a weekend of back to basics. Cooking on a camp stove, playing card games and drinking. And I couldn’t have shared it with better people.
Happy New Year indeed. Jesus, I’m not going to be able to top that now am I? Good job I’ve still got 8 months to plan…
Not had quite enough? Never fear, I also made a video which in true Cheskie style is mostly people jumping off things in to water. It’ll be the perfect length for a tea break style and coming atcha next week.