Monday, February 13, 2012

Picnic days

I love picnic days. The kind of day when you wake up with the sun shining in the sky, and you don't really have any plans, but you know you want to do something. They're brilliant for spontaneity, the best ones always seem to be those that you set out for ten minutes after deciding that that's what you plan to do. And they can be a great, budget friendly outing too from a sandwich and a bottle of water, to all out five star dining with chairs, fold away tables, toys and games and even your own bbq.

Having a picnic in Australia is all the more pleasurable, not only for the usually predictable sunny weather (I can hear everyone in Sydney at the moment groaning), but also for the provided facilities - many parks and beaches around the country are dotted with free to use bbq's, which are generally well maintained... just rock up and cook your food, all you need to do is clean the cooking surface before you leave, ready for the next person and to avoid temptation for the local wildlife.

Today was one of those days. It was warm when we woke. We had an appointment early this morning, but after that the day was ours and we didn't have any set plans. We've been into the centre of Brisbane quite a few times recently, so we wanted to go somewhere different. We've also spent quite a bit of money recently, so, mindful of our newly imposed budget, we wanted to keep costs low. And our nephew, who had to be at work at 5 this evening, was keen to come with us.

So we threw some salad and condiments into a cool bag, grabbed some plates and cutlery, a picnic blanket and a ball and jumped in the car. We stopped on the way for meat, bread and drinks, and headed to Rocks Riverside Park in Seventeen Mile Rocks. It's a beautiful, well maintained large park, by the river, with several bbq areas as well as a large play area and a kids water play area. Last time we went, on a weekend sometime last year, when we had to fight for parking and and a shady space to lay our picnic blanket, but today was different. There were only a handful of other people at the park, all using the water play area or the kids playground, so we headed straight for the barbie, where there wasn't a soul in sight, and got cooking.

It was a bit soggy underfoot down near the river, so I guess this area had suffered with the recent floods, but it wasn't enough to spoil our fun, especially as we had no problem commandeering a picnic bench that was raised on a platform off the grass.


After we'd eaten our burgers (and bagged about the same amount again to take home for later - got to hone our purchasing skills to help us keep to our budget, but at least we didn't have to cook dinner tonight) we headed to the water play area, which offered us a welcome opportunity to cool down, as it turned out to be quite a hot day. It's made up of a series of shallow pools, linked by streams and was perfect for toddlers (and adults) to paddle and splash around in.

There was only one other family there, so we made the area our own and chucked about a few buckets of water at each other then spent a while trying to create miniature tsunamis and dams in the streams. We've been trying to build the littlest hobo's water confidence recently, and we could see as she was jumping around and starting splashing fights with the rest of us, that she is much more comfortable than she was a few weeks ago.

Who was having the most fun??

It's a week tomorrow until we leave for New Zealand, and I'm looking forward to plenty more picnic opportunities. We've been keeping a keen eye on the weather, and we're preparing for a shock to the system having seen average temperatures of 13 degrees, after our last few weeks hovering around the 30's, but I am really keen to start what feels like the real 'travelling' part of our trip.

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