Sunday, 15 July 2012

A splendid day out

A week or two ago we received a letter in the mail from the power company, informing us that the power would be off between 9am and 3.30pm one day coming up. There's a new residential development going in up the road, and they needed to put up some new poles or something.

Usually the lack of power during these hours would not be a problem. On a weekday we're out before nine and none of us is back before 3.30 so, apart from having to reset all those clocks, we wouldn't really notice.

On this occasion, however, the nominated day was a Sunday.

No point in getting all upset. We simply decided we needed to go out for the day.

Today's excursion was to Daylesford.

The place's original name was actually "Wombat", named for the nearby pastoral run. When gold was discovered, it was charmingly renamed "Jim Crow Diggings". The final name comes from a parish in Worcestershire, England. After the goldrush, nearby Hepburn Springs became a thriving late Victorian/Edwardian spa resort, and that industry is well into revival, to judge by the number of day spa/resort type establishments lining the road through the springs area.

We rolled into town mid-morning and immediately came upon an open air market at the railway station. Excellent, just the thing to consume some time, and it would almost certainly be a place where we could find some hot coffee. We stepped out of the car, noted the vapour we were exhaling and realised (a) it was a good 5 degrees cooler than it had been in Bendigo, and (b) we had neglected to bring any decent cold weather gear. I mean, everyone had a jumper or jacket, but no warm hats, gloves or scarves.  Item one on the agenda immediately became finding a decent warm hat.

Now, I don't know about you, but hats at these kinds of markets typically come in one of four types: girly and warm, childishly colourful and warm, ugly and warm or stylish but offering no warming properties. No prizes for guessing which I ended up with. However, I have to say my ears remained warm and I honestly don't care what anyone thinks of what I have on my head. For example, on closing night of Les Miserables in Canberra, 1995, I sang the part of the Army Officer (off-stage) wearing Young Eponine's wig and bonnet from Act I.

Anyway, I digress. We did find coffee and warm hats, we dutifully viewed all that the stall holders had to offer, and then we gratefully retreated to the warmth of the car and headed into town.

Daylesford has some great shops. They've recently converted the old Rex Theatre into a shopping arcade and upstairs, in what would have been the old offices, projection room and balcony seating, there is a fantastic retro shop which featured in the recent series of The Block. Clothing, LPs, bakelite odds and sods - the works. Downstairs is a shop selling imported Turkish decor items, including some wonderful coloured glass light fittings. If you're willing to part with quite a lot of money, it's a pretty good place to go. We left with their card instead. Just up the street we found another retro curio shop, in which we found an amazing little brown trench coat that would fit Minion X, allowing him to dash about pretending to be David Tennant as Doctor Who.

At lunchtime we headed for the cafe on the corner, Koukla, part of the Frangos & Frangos empire which dominates the uphill end of the main street. Mrs G and I had been here with my parents and our firstborn minion nearly 12 years ago, and we remembered sitting by the fire and having a great meal. Well, they didn't disappoint. Great pizzas, lovely wine, a seat by the fire and a clear view of the passersby, shivering and bustling through what looked to be sleety drizzle. I had to go out to get some cash (the eftpos machine was busted) and confirmed that there was, indeed, icy cold drizzle out there.  Still, it gave me a chance to put on my new warm but unattractive hat again.

After our long and very satisfying lunch we strolled down the other side of the street, finding not quite so many interesting things to look at. Okay, there was a great kitchen-wares shop, a nice art gallery, and one of those shops thick with incense and stocked with garments and knick-knacks made in Nepal. But the drizzle had literally put a bit of a dampener on things - cold we could deal with, wet not so much. We were about done.

We were all in such a good mood when we got back home that it didn't really matter that the power wasn't back on yet. The Doctor (okay, Minion X) interrogated the bloke in the hi-viz vest over the road, then Mrs G got involved, and we were assured the electricity would be back on soon. We all found power-free things to do in the meantime.

It's been a while since we all got out and did something like this. It was good for everyone, and we learned a very valuable lesson as well.  It's Winter, for goodness' sakes: there needs to be a bag in the car with a decent-looking warm hat for everyone!

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