Australians use the term “holiday” in the same way that Americans use “vacation”. It took a while to get used to, but now I talk about Christmas holidays, school holidays, etc. Even Vacation Bible School is called Holiday Kids Club or HKC.

I remember my school vacations holidays. We spent days and days inside our house, reading books, often while eating those little green mandarins that were sold by the edge of the road — a pyramid of fruit for 100 cfa. Or I was off roaming around Abidjan on my bike with the Leppard kids. But I still idealise a day off as a chance to curl up with a good book.

To hear Rosie tell it, as David grew up, every day of his school holidays was full of exciting outdoor adventures: bushwalking, camping, swimming, climbing mountains, etc. So David’s idea of a holiday consists of doing things, preferably those mentioned above.

I brought five books with me for this holiday — I haven’t even opened a single one. Being a mum means that I am constantly on call, even on holidays. I have managed several long day naps, but nothing like the bedrest I had dreamed of. We have, however, spent several relaxing days fooling around in the pool and hanging about at the Fishers’ residence.

This type of holiday drives David insane. He would much rather be out, doing something, anything — so on Boxing Day he started work.

Aisha, 3yo, David, + Brioni, 2yo, December 2008
The girls put their hands over their ears to muffle the noise as David hammers down smoothedge (carpet gripper) as a prelude to installing new carpet in his parents' living room.

Rosie suggested that young couples should discuss their holiday styles before they decide to get married, but it’s unlikely that a young man and lady would call off their engagement because one likes hiking and the other prefers the beach. We marry in the hopes of working these discrepancies out, and any good marriage is paved with the stones of compromise.

Today I packed some sandwiches and rounded everyone up for a trip to the river. I do enjoy these outings, it’s just that it’s a lot of work. Staying at home seems so much easier to me. (But not nearly as exciting, and nor is it fodder for these sparkling adventures in blogging.)

Clarence River, December 2008
We've brought the canoe with us on this trip, and David was pleased with the opportunity to take it out on the Clarence River. David paddled with the girls, while I swam across, and Misty followed behind me. The river was quite muddy from recent storms, but entirely freshwater, which is a novelty to us.

Calista, 9 months old, Brioni, 2yo, + David, December 2008
We used the pop-up shelters and the pulled-up carpet from the Fishers' house to give the girls a shady spot to nap in.

Brioni, 2yo, + David, December 2008
Again the float-suits proved their worth. Once Brioni wandered down to the river and was happily swimming around before anyone realised she was no longer at our picnic spot.

Calista, 9 months old, December 2008
We tried to put Calista to nap in the portable cot, but she was much more interested in what we were doing outside.

Lauren + Aisha, 3yo, December 2008
I took Aisha across the river with the board, and we successfully snuck up on a group of ducks and watched them preen their feathers from only a couple of metres away.

Calista, 9 months old, + Rosie, December 2008
Calista with David's mother, Rosie.

Rosie has many beautiful river rocks edging her gardens, and since we had the truck at the riverbank, I asked her if she wanted any more rocks. She was very pleased with the idea, and gathering the rocks gave us an added activity/purpose.

Lauren + Aisha, 3yo, December 2008
I started by locating large rocks and throwing them out of the river onto the riverbank.

Clarence River, December 2008
When the local kids got involved, an efficient line was established, with some people feeling for large rocks with their feet and bringing them up. Some brought the smaller rocks to shore directly. Others ferried the rocks on the boogie board to shore, where someone else took them up to a carpet scrap that we piled high before dragging the lot to the back of the truck.

David loved today’s outing, and [important note-to-self] I have to make a deliberate effort to remember to plan future activities, especially when I don’t want to do anything.

King parrots, December 2008
When we got back to David's parents' place, I spotted these two King Parrots (female and male) in a fir tree.