On 10 December, 2005, I drove to Maroochydore on Queensland's Sunshine Coast to see my parents and pick up some boxes of books dating from before my overseas sojourn. The round trip of about 2,000 kilometers required an outlay for petrol of around $150 — I drive a 1.3-litre Echo. I stopped in Ballina on the way up and pulled into the first motel I came to. That night I ate a pizza and drank a six-pack of Strongbow, and left the next morning early, arriving in Maroochydore at about 11:00 a.m. I stayed in an apartment on the Maroochy River, watching the pelicans from the balcony — and drinking more Strongbow. I was on holidays, after all.
The books and other assorted items, some new, some from ten years before — including a beautiful, blue-and-black ceramic bowl which now adorns my living room, a glass salad dish, five wine glasses, a Pixie O'Harris painting on loan from mum, some of my old lino cuts from twenty years ago (now framed and hanging), a bedspread, and a blue throw printed with elephants — are now safely stored away in my flat. To accommodate the new additions to my library I ordered a new bookcase to fit the space available outside the bathroom, from a firm I found on the Sensis Web site and based in Lane Cove.
The Pacific Highway is dreadful in places, especially between Grafton and Ballina, where the bumpy, single carriageway forces you to adjust the steering wheel constantly, causing me arthritic pains in my hands that lingered on well into the evening. Passing trucks under these conditions is a nightmare of timing and endurance. On the way home I stopped for the night at my cousin's place in Bobin, near Taree. We went to a social gathering that evening, which featured folks from the local area — some playing instruments and others belly-dancing. Children flew around the place as we hung about drinking beer outside the back door in the cooling eve. A big contrast to the week spent with mum and dad.