Young and beautiful

In Mel's Musings, The Family
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One of the lovely things about camping – for me anyway – is that my care factor for style and fashion attire (what little I have) very quickly flies out the window, generally along with the hair brush and the deodorant. So by the time we got to Byron Bay – 2 weeks into the trip – I was in my army shorts and Tee with salty sticky-uppy hair and smelling like WOMAN. A state in which I feel very at home and completely myself.

My daughters have varying degrees of ‘care-factor’ when it comes to what they put on when they take off their pyjamas. For one, there’s rules – sandals with skirts, sneakers with pants. Fair enough. For another, when she has her wardrobe at her disposal she will throw something together that illustrates her totally individual style but when living out of a suitcase it’s pretty much whatever is at hand. The third is very easy going and more often than not puts on the first thing she can find, generally short legs and arms regardless of the temperature! Although last week in Byron she was seen wearing explorer socks and her Reef sandals! I wouldn’t say that was low care factor as much as just not knowing any better, and I have pledged never to criticise my children’s attire, so into town we went – practising our German.

The weekend we were camping in Byron there was a very popular music festival being held just north of the town – Splendour in The Grass. A 3 day festival hosting some big names in the current popular music scene and therefore attracting a significant proportion of the 20 to 30 year old NSW, Victorian and Queensland population. A significant proportion of this population was staying at our camping ground. It was fascinating watching these young people move around in their packs, walking down to the toilet block to ready themselves for their big day of live music listening. The girls would take a Corona or some boutique beer into the bathroom, assume a position at one of the sinks in front of a mirror and apply more makeup than I would apply in an entire year (not that that says very much!) and get dressed in the popular festival uniform – shorts jumpsuit, gumboots and felt boho hat. They were all seemingly free and easy, hanging out with their mates and having a great time.

After I had shared the bathroom with the first few flocks of festival-goers, my image of them began to change. I stopped seeing them through my 43 year old eyes and starting seeing them through my mother eyes, as one of my girls. In not very long at all they will be wanting to head off with their friends to have their own adventures – and adventure they will. More than likely they will start caring more about how they fit in with their peers, so they may start wanting to dress like everyone else. Or not. But they will hopefully be hanging out with a bunch of good people, wanting to listen to great music and sleeping in a tent. These girls were young, full of excitement and adventure and I remember being like that. My girls will be like that too. That was the shift in how I was looking at the gaggle preening in front of the mirrors in the bathroom. I remembered what it was like to be there and imagined my girls in these girls’ gumboots. Their beautiful energy and minds full of the potential of what could lie ahead for them. There will be mistakes along the way, but I don’t think we dwell on mistakes at that age. Just what lies ahead.

I hope they have a more reliable vehicle than the 1970 Renault 16TS that I had to get them there.


  1. Love it Mully, although we will have to monitor that socks and reefs combination. There are limits. Fond memories of the Renault, and the Sigma…how’s your left and right going?
    It’s so so lovely to see a Two Roads email in my Inbox, and on a wet, black and London-like Melbourne afternoon, the image of the colourful Shanahan clan mixing it up with the Spendlor folk is a warming one. Missing you, lots of love.

  2. Don’t worry Mel, it would’ve been too hard to drive one of those old Renault 16s in gumboots anyway. X

    • Steve it was hard driving the Renault full stop. But golly she was beautiful. X

  3. Yeah they were a stylish car alright.

    Miss you being around Mel, schoolyard ain’t the same..

  4. Great writing Mel (and Matt). Enjoying it all.

    Apparently I’m not the only one carrying scars from a “driving with Mel” experience! A couple of weeks ago I took the kids skiing and drove past the place where we tried passing a turning car. You may not remember it, but I’m happy to be able to laugh about it now. I guess they’re the sort of “mistakes along the way” that will happen.

    I look forward to reading lots more about your Deutsch travels. It’s presently hailing here in Melbourne … I suspect you already know how lucky you are!


    • Was I driving Rich? If so, then I apologise unreservedly for scaring you witless!
      Thanks for reading. Yes, Matt and I are very aware of how lucky we are. It might take a long time for the girls to get there, but then I think it can take a lot of us a long time to realise how lucky we were as kids. X

      • Yes Mel, but no apology necessary. It was after a looong day of skiing. From memory we drove up from Melbourne and were on close to the first lift. And we skied until it was almost dark before driving back …

  5. I can fee time slowing for you. When you can contemplate things and look differently at them. Love you all googols.

  6. OMG I cannot believe that I have taken so long to work out how to get on board your journey. Of course I’m at work and a little OVER IT and thought i’d just have a quick go and sneak peak but of course its now 30 minutes later and god knows what I’m going to fill in on my time sheet for the last 5 (now 6 minute) units but I can’t stop reading and I keep going back and re-reading and looking at all the photos and I don’t know whether I feel happy or sad or elated or hopeless which is of course all about me because for you guys I think how ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS that you are on this wonderful trip. I’m so delighted for you all to be having and sharing this amazing experience and now I know how to peak into your world I’ll be back and looking forward to future snippets with much anticipation. I had no idea you were both such beautiful writers which is kinda fitting because the writers festival is on at the moment and I was feeling disappointed that I had got myself organised to go to anything but I don’t need to now I can read your postings (am I using the correct lingo?). Ok well I’m a bit manic so I better get back to the grindstone. Thanks for sharing, its truly wonderful. Now, I just hope that you get this???

    • I got it Steph! And I’m glad you found us. I thought I had subscribed you? Anyway, thanks for your email, great to hear from you x

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