Mon 20th Cont…
So as I guess you’ve noticed, gnomes weren’t the only things here. There were fluffy toys, though they were a sodden mess because of the weather, smurfs, and ducks. If you can imagine the setting, it was here. Boats and planes, sporting scenes, a school bus, caravan, boats, buckets, a gnomey police station, Gnomey Campbell (yes, truly!).
It began to rain when we were half way through and we raced back to the car. David had his jacket on but I’d forgotten. By the time I got the jacket on the rain stopped, but I kept it. We went back out and about, still absolutely *stunned* by the number of gnomes here. The muddy pathway stretched along one side of the road in 2 directions from the roundabout and there were gnomes (etc) all over the ground, and as much as half way up trees. Some people must surely bring ladders with them to put them so high!
As we walked around I tried to decide which gnome would receive my gift, and, finally, here she is.
I was deeply saddened by the number of broken gnomes, but it seems that the area floods from time to time, so hopefully the damage is more an act of God than an act of man. I’ve heard that it has flooded once since we were there. It is 1st September as I write this. I wonder if my scarf survived? It doesn’t matter if not, but I’d given it with tenderness, no matter how silly that may seem, and I hope it’s still there. We’d crossed a small wooden bridge before we found her and I suppose she was around a metre or 1.5 metres above the water level. Oh well. I wondered if she was the only gnome there with a scarf. The website for Gnomesville, that I found after we came home, estimates there are 4,000 gnomes there. I can believe it!
As we got back into Monty there was a sign nearby pointing to a lunch bar (or similar wording), though it only advertised ice creams. Hardly the weather!!! It was around 5 kms up the road in the wrong direction, and now 3pm so not many hopes of it still being open. We decided against and continued on our way. Just as we were going left at the roundabout I saw a kookaburra so David went around twice to let me take a shot or 3. Yes, we get kookaburras near home, but I’m rarely out to see them and I love them so much!
The rain continued occasionally, but we were now on better roads and headed for a town that was to put us back onto the main highway south. We reached Lowden and there was a café open. We didn’t have time to sit and eat because we had to arrive at our cabin by 6pm and it now felt as if time was running short. We still had quite a long way to go.
So into the shop we went and from their hot food bar I chose a chicken dim sum and David chose a beef pepper pie. There were a few chips there and that sounded nice so we asked for those too. We were starving! The staff were so cheerful and friendly and she gave us the chips cheap as it was so late in the day. I saw their coffee machine and suggested to David that might be nice too? We ordered a takeaway coffee each as well.
As we headed back to Monty it was starting to drop huge spots of rain on us and then one enormous gust of wind took the top off my coffee. “Oh no!” David began to give chase down the road but soon realised it was hopeless and was heading back towards me when I asked if he would please go and ask for a new lid for me. We couldn’t drive with an open cup of coffee. I was juggling the bag of hot chips and my coffee, trying to open the car door and put my handbag in there whilst the wind did its best to rip the door out of my hands. My coffee spilled into the bag of chips and was dripping down me and I reached into the car to grab tissues from the centre console to rescue the chips. As I lifted the console lid it knocked David’s coffee from the cup-holder onto the driver’s side floor. I really don’t swear, but I did then – so loudly that it’s a wonder they didn’t hear me from inside the shop despite the gale-force winds. If I’d have had a hand free, and been several feet taller, I could have grabbed the cup in time to rescue half of it, but no, as I watched, the lid came off that as well and the entire large cup of boiling black coffee flooded onto the floor. I could have cried. At least there was no milk to create a stink, but I felt so guilty as I sipped my coffee after we’d eaten (in transit) and were driving along. David kept saying not to worry, but you know how it is. And I have my coffee white so I couldn’t even share 🙁
The sights along the way now were very rural and beautiful. There were some Freesian calves. I *love* cows, and used to work on a dairy farm with Freesians so it was wonderful to see these darlings. There was a small lake with a grassy island and what I presume to be willow trees (leafless at this time of year) around it, but no time to stop. The light was fading horribly, which gave the added feeling that we were running late. And of course we couldn’t ring to say we’re still coming because our mobiles were out of range.
It rained again and then, just as we were coming into Bridgetown (I think this was Bridgetown, not Balingup) there was the most wonderful rainbow. Still no time to stop, but a ‘snap and run’ rainbow is better than none.
Bridgetown (yes, I’m sure this time) had a couple of lovely old churches and a Pottery Tea Room that I’d love to have explored. Maybe we could come back?
Finally we got to Manjimup – big place, as Bridgetown had been compared to all the other tiny places on the way. Manjimup even had a big roundabout nicely coloured with planted flowers. We went straight through, as directed, as the light was fading. Now we had to travel a short distance and turn right into Channybearup Road. Thank goodness we found this easily enough, turned, and crossed a now-defunct rail line, to continue on the fairly narrow, winding, and very hilly road. The light was now totally gone and it started to rain heavily – never good conditions in strange terrain, and I became quite worried about getting to the chalets in time. Though obviously being a little bit late couldn’t hurt unless the owners were waiting to go out or settle down for the night. Neither of us could believe it was not yet 6 o’clock, it was so dark. Eventually David asked me “How far does this road go on for???” because it just kept on going. The answer to his question was 27 kms. Seemed an awful lot to us city folks. David drove carefully and at a sensible speed for the conditions and I was so grateful to feel safe though.
At long last we reached the end and I told David to turn right onto the other southern highway. He now reached desperation point, asking how much further along we still had to go. Thankfully I was able to reassure him “Not far. Not far at all now!” And it really wasn’t. The ‘highway’ was just 1 lane in each direction with tall, tall trees on both sides, still winding and hilly. But we quickly reached the drop in speed limit to 70 kph and then just a short distance more to turn right into Hopgarden Road. Oh thank goodness!!! Over a tiny bridge, left, and then left between 2 wooden gate posts, down a short, steep, gravel driveway. Reaching the office involved several turns but, thankfully, it was very clearly signposted. Given the dark and the rain it would have been no fun getting this far and then struggling. David parked in one of the two visitor bays and went into the office to sign in. I stayed in the dry and relative warmth of Monty. His heater hasn’t worked for a few years now, but 2 of us breathing in there for over an hour since the coffee spill was keeping us warm.
We’d seen the name sign out front of ‘our’ cottage when we drove in, so it was easy to now go back to it with the key, park and get ourselves indoors. This was the smallest cottage they have, and named ‘Settlers Cottage’. It was very cute, I will certainly admit that! It was rather cold in there but David found a big electric heater in the bedroom and set that going full bore while he carried everything in from Monty. He’d parked close to the verandah and the rain eased sufficiently that he could bring everything in without him, or our belongings, getting wet. It was just a case of getting it all indoors and higgle piggle was fine. Once we could shut the door, the heater did a surprisingly good job, and David got the pot belly lit after a couple of failed attempts.
As David went to put his bunch of keys on the table he realised that some were missing. Our house keys. He’d still got Monty’s key, obviously, and his parents’ house key, but the garage door remote and 4 keys for our house were gone. I’ve since looked closely at the photos of David on the journey down (he hangs his keys on a belt loop so they’re visible) and I’m pretty sure they were there at the Bunbury toilet stop and gone by Gnomesville. So the chances are they’re at Honeymoon Pool or Wellington Dam. I think it was Honeymoon Pool actually, but we’ve since been joking that we left them at Gnomesville. Incidentally, we got home to find that our son had broken one of his keys in a lock so we’d gone from 3 keys to 1 in a weekend.
I set the electric blankets going on the bed while David found the ‘dream pot’. My mum had given us this as a combined birthday present and we’d put some chicken, water, spices and a tin of sweetcorn in there before we left home this morning. This morning – really? It felt so very long ago! And while we travelled, the food had all cooked itself. I hadn’t once smelled it, so I knew the heat wasn’t escaping. It was just the right temperature to sit straight down and eat, and it sure filled the right spot. We followed the meal with a ‘penguin’ biscuit and a coffee. Bliss.
I went through to test the bed and make sure the blankets were warming nicely. I just about got third degree burns on David’s, but mine was stone cold. David investigated and found out that the power pack on my side wasn’t working. We’d taken several of our own so he swapped it. Now we had warmth both sides and wow those electric blankets were efficient! I had to turn them down from 3 to 1. There was a large recess in the bedroom with a hanging rail to act as a ‘wardrobe’ but no coat hangers or shelves, so we just left all of our clothes in the massive cloth-box thing that we’d packed them in.
David unpacked the esky and one set of sausages had defrosted so he put those in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch (or dinner), but everything else was still frozen so he stuck it all in the freezer.
I did some more crochet – no, not sick of it yet 😉 I was making an Irish Crochet flower scarf each for my granddaughters, and as I crocheted, David played back our photos for us to see on his little laptop. It was 8.30pm. We enjoyed the pot belly, and slowly stripped off all the jumpers and thick trousers we’d been wearing. The heater didn’t appear to have a working vent so it was full bore or nothing and it certainly heated the entire tiny cottage easily. We had one long room that was lounge/dining/kitchen, the bedroom and a tiny bathroom. What more could you want?
The curtains at the windows were beautiful heavy lace as well as pull-down blinds, though there wasn’t a blind at the dining window, which was the one looking at the little hallway between the bedroom and bathroom. If we wanted privacy we took to pegging a small blanket that we owned up there. We did need privacy once the room got hot in the evenings LOL Even though there were only roos and kookaburras out there, it still doesn’t feel right to have only glass between us and who-knows- what in the dark.
Pretty sure we crashed for the night around 10pm (3 or 4 hours earlier than is usual for us). Didn’t sleep terribly well. It’s always difficult getting used to a mattress, when we sleep on a waterbed at home, and David found the water droplets falling from the trees onto the tin roof to be akin to Chinese water torture. I loved it! But I’d have loved sleep better. There were joyful frogs singing all night long. At least I presume it was frogs, it sounded more like a basketful of mischievous puppies really.
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