Sometimes, when we stumble across a really cool town or cottage on our journeys, Dave and I will look at each other and say, “How cool would it be if we could come back here with friends one day?!”
Over the weekend we had the amazing opportunity to fulfill that kind of wish, having been invited to Tathra for Tom and Bree’s wedding. These guys are like the golden couple, both so genuine, engaging and just fun to be around. In the lead up to the wedding they had come over to hang out a number of times, to do the wedding paperwork with Dave and to discuss their hopes for the ceremony. The first time Hudson met Bree, he ran straight to her with arms wide open and returned for a cuddle every few minutes after that. Eli is completely in awe of Tom, who always takes the time to watch him jump on the trampoline or perform tricks on his bike and is completely unfazed by the usual chaos that tends to reign around dinnertime.
We decided to head up early on the Friday as we anticipated the six and a half hour journey may take a lot longer than that, when adding in all the playground and toilet stops. Sleepy children were carefully transferred to their waiting seats and we set off.
Secretly, Dave and I find road trips quite relaxing now! I’m not sure whether it is the mentality that it will be a hard day so you are prepared for whatever might come, or whether the chance to catch up on reading and podcasts during the daylight hours feels like an incredible bonus. Sure there is the constant contortion poses required to hand back snacks and catch flying missiles of rubbish and the fielding of the inevitable question ‘how long until we get there?’, but overall, with the kids in their own separate zones mostly entertaining themselves, what’s not to like?
The weather was perfect as we pulled up to our accommodation on the hill, Rushy Glen. The nautical style four bedroom home echoed with happy memories and the kids were delighted at the size of the backyard. We decided to seize the balmy weather and share fish & chips on the beach for dinner.
We have never been a ‘beach family’. Excursions have been sporadic and random in the past, but something about those Sapphire Coast beaches kept drawing us in. I could sense our family DNA shifting as the kids shrieked with delight, stripping down to undies and rushing at the waves. Ivy’s tiny fingers kept busy searching for sticks and shells and we had to repeatedly convince her that they weren’t for tasting. Time seemed to pause while we sat, hands sifting through tiny grains, pondering our relative insignificance.
Tathra is a fascinating place. Stunning views of the ocean and rugged coastline, friendly locals and an air of relaxed adventure. I made a beeline for the local op shop and the kids returned to the playground and skate park any chance we got. Didn’t manage to find any good coffee though, I guess you can’t expect everything! There was also zero reception or wifi connectivity, except if you propped outside the local Friendly Grocer so we quickly got used to our phones being useful only for their camera functions.
It was such a random feeling to make your way down the street and bump into friends and acquaintances from Melbourne (or even Beijing and Hong Kong, such was the dedication of a number of close friends to make it to the event). If you just looked around you, you were almost guaranteed to see someone you knew! It seemed as if the whole town was celebrating when driving past Fat Tony’s we spied Yapper and Fiona ‘updating’ the chalkboard menu sign to read ‘Tom & Bree’.
My Mum and Dad selflessly and sacrificially drove up to Tathra on the Saturday and stayed with us for two nights, so that they could look after the kids during the wedding. After our last experience with kids and weddings, it felt reassuring to have an alternative plan. Actually, having Mum and Dad there was really fun, despite the days being filled with parenting battles and managing moods and emotions, the first evening was filled with games and laughter bringing back memories of our trip to Poland for Loren’s wedding. Having the emotional support and acceptance of my parents in the tough moments also meant a lot. I imagine it is pretty rare to have parents who can be so vulnerable and real about their own fears of failure and attempts to try every strategy when things didn’t work out. Dad often herded the boys outdoors to run off some energy, and Mum would have the kitchen spotlessly clean before I had even finished whatever kid-related task was most pressing. We also got to fit in a beach/playground trip and some mini golf which had Eli wishing out loud that Nanny and Pa could be HIS parents!
As for the wedding- the whole experience had that air of magic, like you knew in the moment you would remember every detail forever. The ceremony was in the Memorial Gardens, the sparkling ocean encompassing the clifftop from three sides. The (unintentionally) late entrance from the bride simply increased the anticipation as we all nervously eyed the black clouds gathering ominously and pictured ourselves shivering in a wild downpour. Dave spoke meaningfully (despite microphone malfunctions) about unconditional love and the power of this force in our lives and Tom and Bree’s nephews and nieces were all thoughtfully included in some way whether by a reading or walking down the aisle before the bride.
The reception/after party was hosted at Fat Tony’s Bar and Grill, a quaint converted historic house that had lashings of character and nostalgia. Guests congregated in the front garden behind the white picket fence, listening to live music and sipping on champagne while the flower girls and page boys gleefully wrestled on the grass and played chasing games. We had the privilege of being seated in the specially constructed adjoining marquee which Tom had built to maximize the seating capacity of the venue. The menu was delicious, ranging from fresh seafood and lamb to pork belly with crackling, finished off with chocolate mousse cake and a lemon/lime tart.
The speeches had all of us in fits of laughter (and tears), reflecting on the importance of family in both Tom and Bree’s lives and the longstanding friends who had been a part of the journey. These days speeches like these make me look forward to our own kids’ weddings and I wonder what stories they will be telling and highlighting as part of their formation of identity.
For us, a night out is a rare event these days, so despite both of us battling headaches and slight nausea we were determined to make the most of it, Dave with his meaningful conversations (particularly with James and Pither) and me with Blake and Kerri… on the dance floor! Having provided the music for just about every event in this circle of friends in the past five years, Tom made himself right at home as the DJ, a wide grin on his face as he looked out over the crazy revellers tearing it up to Hanson, Beyonce, Nelly, Taylor Swift and Ice Cube. Midnight came far too quickly and it was time to head home.
Our kids must have felt bad for us and wanted to keep the party going, so they did… at 1am and 3am Eli woke up which also roused Ivy who was sleeping in the same room. The next morning we somehow managed to stumble around packing up, leaving around 8:30am, and finally arriving home at 5pm.
I have a hunch that weekends like this don’t happen very often in one’s life. Particularly getting to have a memorable extended family holiday in the middle of term on top of all the festivities! I’m pretty sure we will be remembering this one forever.