I had planned to leave around lunch time or later, then Caitlin suggested on Saturday night that we try and get to Kryal Castle while we were in Ballarat - it's only open on weekends so we decided to leave home by 11 at the latest in order to get to the castle in time to really have a good look around (and to see the jousting which was on at 1.30). So we packed the car and the trailer and actually were on the road by 11 which was quite impressive. It was the first time I'd towed the trailer without the car having mechanical problems, and it was amazing how much less stressful it was. The trailer was still heavy, but it didn't feel hard to drive with it, and not having to worry about the car breaking down was a big relief.
The trip took 2 hours and was uneventful. We listened to 'Magnificat' by Marilyn Edwards and chatted about lots of stuff. We arrived at Kryal Castle at 1pm, in time to get our tickets, have a quick wander through the Dragon's Lair (we meant to come back to it but there were too many other cool things to do and we didn't get time), get some lunch from the bakery (hot dogs for the kids, a chicken schnitzel burger for me, and an all-day-refill cup with a picture of a knight on it for us all to share), and then head to the jousting arena. The jousting was exciting - one of my favourite bits of medieval knightly competition, and Caitlin was enthralled by the horses, and the other two loved it as well. There was a bit of comedy and drama involved as well, but I really really loved the jousting part. Afterwards Caitlin went to see a pantomime, while LiAM and Millie played giant chess and I sat in the sun. We topped up our drink then all went back to the arena for sword fighting - it was only a small group so I joined in as well. We all got foam swords and shields and had a number of different types of battles. Millie at first would only fight if she was right next to me, but she gained confidence as the battles went on and in the end she was the best defensive fighter. After a while Caitlin and I (and some others) went over to the Mangonel (like a catapult) and played with it for a bit. Caitlin went back to the sword fighting and I stayed and talked to the catapult guy about medieval weapons and battle strategies. I learnt a lot and also affirmed some of my own previous knowledge.
The sword fighting went for about an hour and the kids were happily exhausted by the end of it. From there we headed to the maze (via another drink refill). It was a stone maze and more like a labyrinth at first but then got a bit tricky towards the end - simple enough though that Millie could find her way through without wanting me to be with her. The kids had a bit of a play on a model horse and chariot, and sat in the big chair near the dragon in the foyer, then we headed off towards our caravan park.
|LiAM was the Prince on his team - they all had to protect him in this battle|
|The girls taking a break from the fighting|
As I was checking in at Ballarat Goldfields Big 4, the kids ran off to jump on the jumping pillow. We'd stayed here with Mum 4 years ago when I was in Ballarat for an ABA conference, and Caitlin remembered where everything was. The guy checking me in changed the site he was going to put us in, and placed us right next to the jumping pillow instead - very thoughtful. I backed the trailer into place (a passing guy did help me but I think I could have done it myself - maybe not as elegantly though!) and then I couldn't get the trailer off the car! The guy from the site next to us helped me, then Caitlin and I set up the tent. It only took us about 25 minutes - it's getting easier every time, and there was very little stress involved this time. The kids explored the park - jumping pillow, lots of roads to ride scooters and the Ripstik on, tv room, games room, playground, and a pool. Once we were all set up we went for a swim - it had been a warm afternoon but it was pretty cold in the pool! Millie practised her swimming a bit and hung around with me, and Caitlin and LiAM played a game all over the pool. Millie and I got out and sat in the fading sunlight once we'd had enough, and eventually we all headed back to the tent and into warm dry clothes, then went into town to get groceries.
I cooked butter chicken for dinner while the kids played in the playground and rode scooters and played giant chess. We talked to some other people using the camp kitchen while we ate - they were here as part of a group and were playing Hand and Foot Canasta - a game I used to play a LOT when I was younger and hadn't thought of in a while - I might refresh my memory on the rules and show the kids how to play. We had ice cream and ice blocks for dessert, then back to the tent after I'd cleaned up. We set up our beds (me on the mattress, kids on thermarests on the floor) and I read Eldest until everyone was ready for sleep.