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Name: knitabulous
Location: Mt Keira, New South Wales, Australia

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False sense of security

1 Jan 2006

So, everything's been going great so far in the Daly Family Christmas 05 right? Right. Weather's been great, right? Right. Even the news has been quiet, as it should be this time of year. No Tsunami's or terrorist attacks or bushfires between Christmas and New Year like we've seen in the past and the newspapers are thin with drivel. (Except for the passing of KP of course but even that was dragged on just to have a headline.)

Whammo. Searing heatwave. Right now, it's 8pm and still well over 30 degrees outside. It has been over 40 degrees for three days. So, what do the Daly's decide to do for NYE?

Go to a farm 100 km inland from the cooling coastal breezes. There's no doubt about it we're smart.

We all arrive on the 30th December, 4 or 5 couples and our 11-15 respective children. Usually we ride the quadbikes around the perimiter of the farm, go spotlighting, have the annual afternoon 'farm olympics' (teams/relay style events cleverly devised by the boys over beer and leftover ham sandwiches at lunchtime). At night when the chill comes in we have sparklers and an ice cream and then bed them all down on mattresses on the floor - their little shiny faces nod off one by one with expressions of exhaustion and rapture.

If it gets too hot in the day we connect the fat crop sprinkler from the bore with icy water and let the kids run through it sqealing, while we watch from the shade of the wide verandah.

We eat like kings, feasting on bbq meat and ever increasingly impressive side dishes and salads and nibbles provided by each couple.

We arrived on the 30th December around 3pm. It was at least 42 degrees. Too hot to let the kids play outside at all, lest they perish in the dry dry scorching sun.

At 8:30 pm it may have been below 30 degrees. Maybe. There is a bit of a cool breeze, and we all gather on the verandah to take advantage. The extreme fire danger and total fire ban do not allow the lighting of the fire for the barbeque. We grill sausages for the kids inside but it heats the house up like a furnace and they're not that interested, preferring ice blocks and weak cordial.

One of the adult women mentions that she feels a little queasy. Nobody takes much notice, but of course we should have.

The kids are bored, whiny and sweltering. We try and placate them with more ice blocks. Finally they go to sleep.

We go outside and sit around the dead fire pit. Usually it is very cool at this time of night, and we light a roaring fire and play daggy 80's and 90's music and drink red wine and port and talk rubbish until the wee hours. Not tonight. We are all flat, hot, irritable.

The queasy guest retires early, she's quite ill with a tummy bug.

New years Eve dawns after a fitful night of sleep for everyone on account of the heat. It is even hotter this day than the previous day.

Somehow we manage to get through another scorcher, secretly thanking 'Santa' for the tamagotchis and the game boys. Luckily these kids are all well behaved, as there is no bickering or fights to speak of. The breeze that came through the day before fails to arrive.

The six kg of seafood we lugged up on ice for the 'seafood extravaganza nye feast' seems like just too much trouble. It's too hot to eat. We have bruschetta, and save the garlic and chilli prawns and marinated octopus for much later. The beer runs out before the sun goes down. Everyone blames the heat.

New Years Eve is a much more languid night this year than previous. There's no fireside karaoke performances, no group indian dance round the fire, because there's no fire. The stars though are incredible, so bright and thick that they look like they can't be real. We lie on the grass and watch for shooting stars, there are at least ten of them that night. It's amazing.

During the night, three kids go down with uncontrollable vomiting. We pad through the dimly lit house in bare feet all night, offering cold wascloths, water bottles and cleaning pillows and sheets. I probably had about 2 hours sleep. I was doing the washing up at 5:30 am.

And today, new year's day it was 28 degrees at 8:30am. The weather forecast predicted temps of over 45. We packed as quickly as we could, and came home to the air-conditioned comfort of home. We split the leftover seafood between us. We vowed next year to go to the beach instead.

Naturally enough, by the time we got home from the two hour drive parts of the state were burning with raging bushfires. There's a nice hot westerly wind too, that should help the firefighters no end. Not.

And still the southerly change they promised is only coming in slowly - and it's 9pm.

Welcome to the Australian Christmas.

Tomorrow we shall speak of New Year's resolutions and knitting news. And maybe rant about what might be wrong with interweave press's ordering and dispatching systems.

Until then, stay cool sisters. If you can.

(PS: Notice the compulsory 'chesty bonds' singlets in all the photos. They're compulsory nye farm attire, for men women and children. It makes it a bit of fun for all of us.)

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