I woke early and went for a walk along Blacksmiths Beach. The sky was quite dark and made the ocean a steely grey metallic colour, with the sun shining through the clouds on the horizon. There was a coal ship silhouetted in the rising sun and it was gorgeous. I considered going for a swim - the waves were pretty big, there was a lot of seaweed, and there was a layer of some sort of muck just beyond the break, so I decided to give it a miss. I walked up to the break wall and a little way out - the waves at times were crashing onto the wall so I didn't walk any further, just stood and admired the view for a while. On my way back to the house it started raining - not heavily, but enough to get fairly wet. It was refreshing though, not cold.
I had a quick chat to Tony while I got ready to go out, and at 10 we headed off. I drove via Eleebana to show the kids the house that my grandparents used to own - it's changed a little and I would have like to take photos but there was a lady glaring down at me from the top balcony so I did the very difficult multi-point turn to turn around at the end of the road (and I did use the driveway a little, which my grandparents didn't ever like people doing) and didn't linger there. I got a bit confused in Warners Bay, trying to figure out which road I needed to take to get me up to the bypass - I ended up on Warners Bay Rd and came out just before Charlestown which worked OK. Driving down into Merewether was exciting as always, so many familiar places and the view of the beach as I came down Scenic Dr is always amazing.
We met 2 of my uncles in the carpark at Dixon Park beach (easier to park there than at Merewether). It was warm and sunny by now, we took a while to all get sunscreen on and find our hats, then we were ready to walk down to Merewether Beach. I was surprised at how many people were there, walking, swimming, sunbathing, surfing or at the cafes, for the middle of a weekday. It was great to chat to my uncles about music and their recent travels and sport and Newcastle. We had gelato at the surf club and once we'd finished eating we walked down to the baths. The kids changed into their swimmers and went for a swim (Amelie was reluctant at first, I think the size and ocean water put her off a bit) and I took a heap of photos of one of my favourite places in Newcastle. The baths have recently been refurbished so many things were different, like the ramps into them and the walls and the seats around them. The lap markers were the same and the fences looked similar - it was fun to explore and just soak up the atmosphere. I sat and talked with my uncles and Amelie got out and lay in the sun for a while, the others swam to the far side of the baths and climbed out and explored the rock pools, finding a sea slug and some fish. The waves were big although not big enough to break over onto the rocks there - they were splashing against the edge and making quite an impressive spray.
The kids got out of the pool and went to play in the rock pools along the edge of the beach, and Amelie joined them. We sat in the shade and watched them and chatted some more. When the kids came back to get changed I realised I didn't want to leave without swimming in the baths myself, so I ran down and dived in and swam across and back. It felt fantastic, so refreshing, good to be swimming laps again, and great to be swimming in such a familiar place. I'm really glad I did a quick swim.
As we were about to leave a massive school group (from St Paul's, Booragul) arrived so we were happy to be on our way. We walked back to the cars and said goodbye to my uncles. From there I showed the kids the unit I lived in in Merewether, then drove in to Nobbys Beach, past lots of places that I pointed out to the kids. We drove around past Newcastle Beach and then through Cooks Hill, Hamilton South and Adamstown, then past the house I lived in when I was a baby, then back home to Blacksmiths.
We relaxed at the house for a while and I popped out to get some groceries so I could cook dinner. Once the girls were home from school I took Caitlin and her 13yo cousin out for coffee - we looked in Swansea first (and had to wait at the bridge to let a yacht go into the lake) but everything was closed, then tried Belmont and found nothing, so went to Belmont 16 footers - which is where we ended up going last time we were up here and I took the girls out. We ordered hot chocolates and chai, and a piece of chocolate mousse torte to share, and sat overlooking the lake and the sailboats while we ate and drank. The girls played cards (Spit) while we waited for our drinks to arrive and while we chatted after finishing them. It was a lovely afternoon out with 2 gorgeous young women.
Back home my BIL took all the kids down to the beach (he had the bus from school so could fit them all in) while I cooked spag bol. The kids came home happy and wet, changed their clothes and watched TV together. I dished up dinner and sat out the back chatted to my BIL. Liam joined us after a while and we saw possums coming down out of the trees - the kids fed them some fruit and enjoyed hanging out with them. They noticed one of the possums didn't have a tail and we discussed how that might have happened. The cousins went off to bed and I followed soon after and wrote and read for a while, and the kids came in to the tent as they were ready.