Precious Princess says she wants to do the Mollymook swim on the NSW South Coast. Immediately I'm suspicious. Then I realise PP has the urge to increase her driving hours. She's been on her 'Ls' (learner's permit) for three years and time is running out. L-plate drivers can't sit for their driving test in NSW unless they complete 100 hours behind the wheel with an experienced driver by their side.
The deal is, we share the driving. First mistake. I plonk the NAVMAN on the dashboard. Second mistake, I allow it to take us along a toll road.
Four and a half hours later... we arrive at our destination. Another hour was added to the drive because 1. PP has to sit on 80 km and 2. we take the most circuitous route known to (NAV)man. Mr Navman demands we travel along the freeway towards Canberra - heading south-west rather than south along the coast. He's a bossy bastard and it's too late to turn back so we let him lead us on and on and on.
We hop off at Mittagong in the Southern Highlands and Nav then direct us on to a single-lane back road that runs by the properties of wealthy farmers who can afford painted wooden fences and neatly clipped hedgerows. The road winds, wiggles and wends over hill and dale. We decide to enjoy ourselves and pull into the tourist village of Kangaroo Valley for coffee at nine bucks for two large takeaways! Madness. Sydney prices for Sydney eejits.
We pop back onto the Princes Highway at Nowra and I fang it the rest of the journey. We spot two cop cars on the way down - both when PP is driving sedately. Phew!
Mollymook is waiting for us. The waves are small and the sun is soft on our skin. My sister, Little Sis, brother-in-law, Davo, and two nephews, Little Prince and Astro Boy*, are on the beach.
Every year when we stay at their holiday house for the swim, which is now a family tradition, we do the same excellent stuff.
* Lunch at Pilgrims in Milton. Yum. Mango lassi, ANZAC biscuits, Bliss Burgers with special peanut sauce, banana milkshakes, Mexican burgers.
* Shop in Milton and then drive to our favourite surf shop in Ulladulla - Southern Man - where we buy our surfie gear for the winter so at least we can pretend to be the real thing.
* Swim and a surf before dinner. In my last post you will have noticed the gorgeous pics of the sunset on the beach. There was no wind and no waves. It was the perfect evening.
The next morning we were all nervous, even though the conditions were swimming-pool flat and windless. The silky threads of cloud had drifted away overnight so it was pretty much blue sky.
Mollymook is a typical country swim, where all the punters start together. I'm not good at numbers but I reckon around 200 pelted across the sandbank after the starter gun fired. I don't like sandbanks because often they drop away suddenly. They're potential ankle-breakers so I tip toe until I can do a shallow dive and start to swim. It was 300 metres to the first buoy. The course is shaped like an 'M'. You swim out to the first big orange buoy, into the next orange buoy at the middle of the course, back out to the final orange buoy and then back in at the southern end of the beach.
Unlike other years, where choppy conditions have caused plenty of discomfort, this year I just plodded along and found a few swimmers to pace myself against. I don't know my time yet, but Davo said the course was longer than 2 km. Dunno.
I was surprised I didn't see one fish during the swim where, for most of the time, the sandy ocean floor is visible. Afterwards, another swimmer told Davo he saw a stingray.
PP came third in her age group but prizes were only awarded to first-place getters. Last year she came third and Little Prince came third in his age group in the 500 m, and they both received a towel. Maybe there's a world towel shortage.
I thought it was a bit rough that they couldn't manage prizes for all placegetters this year, considering it was the swim's 10th anniversary. Davo argued that country surf clubs find it harder to whip up support compared to city clubs but I would've thought it was the other way around. Just a minor gripe - and Little Sister took my side; she's action woman. If Little Sister ran the show EVERYONE would get a bloody prize!
After the swim, it is family tradition to lunch at the Beach Hut. Yum again. A barra burger washed down with a flat white.
Then we stroll back along the beach to have a dip at the northern end.
We drove home last night with Nav packed away in the glove box (so we couldn't hear him scream). It took around three hours.
Today I'm dreaming of the coast, Bliss Burgers and hot chips with salt and vinegar.
*I have replaced the other nickname as I was informed that it means something rather spicy in French! Apologies to Astro Boy, family and casual passers-by who don't give a toss.