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a weekend in the big smoke

a weekend in the big smoke

When we very first started homeschooling, almost seven years ago now, one of the first things we agreed on was that if we were going to go ahead, we would need to actively look for, and travel to, educational opportunities for the children. Museums, galleries, workshops; we would work to expose the children to life outside the bubble of our school room, and our little homeschool group in our small country town. We didn’t want them to end up as cliched sheltered homeschoolers; the whole point of homeschooling was to give them a varied and in depth education while accounting for their aptitudes and support needs.

One of the first big ones we went to, was the World Science Festival in Brisbane. Our first vist was in 2018, six months into our homeschooling life. We loved it so much we went back in 2019, and took a friend along for the ride. After that, obviously, things took a bit of a hiatus. This year, we were keen as jelly beans to head back, and even better, the children are old enough to go to some of the more in-depth, interesting, talks. With so much on offer, we booked in a jam packed weekend of events and lectures. The crafting would be minimal, but I popped in my crochet just in case I managed some down time (spoiler, I got half of one side of my blanket done and not a lot else).

As we packed our bags to leave, and sorted our backpacks each morning, I was sure to remind them to bring a book and pencil. Not for notes; only the eldest is probably at the stage of taking notes in lectures. it was more for them to doodle in and keep their hands busy – on Saturday we had four talks pretty much back to back, and while they are old enough to sit through the talks, I also know they are prone to get a bit fidgety with nothing to do while listening. Can not imagine for the life of me where they get that from…

As I was telling them to pack something to doodle with, I was hit with inspiration, and raced to my craft room. Pulling down my “current journals” box, I bounced between two options – A6 moleskins both, but one was landscape bound and one was portrait. I settled on the landscape and popped in my own backpack. I wouldn’t be able to crochet, or work on my hand sewing project, in a darkened theatre, but I could doodle and take notes of my own. Sketchbooking, nerd style.

I ended up with eight pages over four double page spreads, and had so much fun coming up with little doodles connected to the talk, and playing with the layout of my text and notes. It reminds me of nothing so much as that time I did “my illustrated life” for exactly one week, and then promptly got distracted by something else. I now have the urge to return to that project, but also to revisit some old online courses (of the educational type, not the creative type), and take notes in this style, see if it changes how I interact with the study material. Maybe I might even try it when I’m reading non-fiction books (yes, I read them for funsies. See above nerd comment).

We had a wonderful weekend, getting around by ferry, walking into the city in search of books, wandering the markets of Southbank, and soaking in so much of the nerdy goodness on offer. There was a visit to the botanic gardens, a stop at the pick-your-own lolly shop, a delightful hour wandering the Jurassic World lego exhibition. In between all that, we ducked into the ladies (as one does), and on the way out, I found myself doing a double take, while the person holding the door for me also did a double take. Seconds later we burst into synchronised squeals, and squeezed each other tight in long overdue hugs; of all the people in all the places, I had just bumped into – quite literally – none other than one of my quilt camp lovelies. She had missed our last camp of The Before, so October 2018 was the last time we had seen each other. To randomly see each other in such a glamorous and unexpected location, was indeed a true highlight of the weekend.

We ate icecreams on the beach and collected cool rocks from the geology society and found epic aeroplane models at the hobby shop. Beetle was beside himself with excitement to see an Emirates airbus (the superior aircraft, I’m informed) in the sky, for real life. We nicked out to IKEA because someone keeps buying craft supplies they swore they wouldn’t. We walked and walked until our legs ached and then walked some more – 13km Friday, another 8 on Saturday. And all too soon, it was Sunday morning and we were playing Tetris with our suitcases and our shopping, and we were turning a wheel, bound for the big skies and open spaces we love the best.

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