We had been seconded to Perth by the Royal Australasian Society for the Protection of the Good Name of Grey Nomads (RASPGNGN) on a mission to provide an unbiased, independent report about the nature of their average member. The RASPGNGN was concerned about the reputation, and safety of their members following several disparaging, non-complimentary and, at times, down right rude comments featured in the blogs of one Mrs M Uys.
I have to admit being a little scared about accepting the assignment from RASPGNGN despite the prestige and kudos such an honour bestowed upon me. The reason for my trepidation was the Uys woman had developed herself a very loyal blog following over the last six months and I dare not question her authority and judgement in front of her dedicated legion of fans. However despite the obvious threat to my own well being from her groupies I felt compelled to investigate Mel’s claim first hand and give the Grey Nomads a voice online. Surely, I justified, the Grey Nomads were entitled to their day in court and a fair hearing?!
And so it was that the McGary and Uys family holiday began. We met in Perth and Mel and Fiela quickly endeared themselves to us again, after ditching us in Noosa while they had a 12 month holiday, by turning up with fresh crayfish and a bottle of our favourite Chardonnay. The kids all went ballistic, which was a combo of the sugar ours had on the plane, cabin fever, trip fatigue and excitement at seeing each other, while we enjoyed a quick meal watching the sun set over the Perth skyline.
The next morning we collected our campervan and it was off to the Margaret River. After a last minute call by the Uys’ in the lead car we made a sharp, and potentially lethal, right hand turn for a quick bite at Capel Vale winery. We smashed down a wonderful lunch of food specifically prepared to bring out the best in our chosen wines, while overlooking the glorious sun soaked vineyards and river backdrop. The kids amused themselves during lunch with minimal adult supervision and the trip was off to a great start. At this point I also hadn’t encountered any Grey Nomad activity I thought was worthy of a blog so the scoreboard showed Mel 0 Grey Nomads 0.
We made our way through some spectacular country side down towards Yillingup. (Please note anyone that can tell me why just about every other town West of Perth ends in “up” please email me C/- MelQueenBlogger@bludgingaroundAus.com.au.) The highlight of our first day in the van was the sad indictment of my eldest daughter’s exposure to farm life thus far in her life. Addison was very excited when we spotted camels out of the window and then Matilda asked “Mummy are they real?” (Note to self: get kids outdoors more when we get home).
From this point on in our trip it was stunning scenery after more stunning scenery mixed in with stunning wineries and stunning long lunches. Thanks to our wonderful campervan Addison was able to sleep at lunch time while we got politely hammered. I know some concerned readers will be asking themselves who looked after her while she was sleeping? Good question and in a stroke of pure “champagne parenting” genius I discovered an App that turned our iPhones into baby monitors complete with real time video. So we could happily swallow wine at lunch and when Addy was ready to roll we’d dash out to the van and pretend we never left. The perfect parental crime!
So at this point in my short blog I need to raise the Grey Nomad issue. According to Mel a significant percentage of the Grey Nomad population has a bit of an attitude problem to younger nomads. Apparently the “Nomees”, as they are colloquially referred to, have a bit of a ‘tude’ towards younger folk because the Nomees believe they’ve done their time raising their kids and now they should enjoy peace and quiet 24/7. So when confronted with anyone below the age of approximately 65 the Nomees snarl and mutter and under their breaths about getting a job and how things were done in their day.
I’m not sure how to say this without sounding like I’m saying Mel is wrong, but my encounters with Nomees were all pleasant and cordial. None of them exactly offered to babysit the kids while Maggie and I went out clubbing all night, but I heard no muttering. Now perhaps in the interest of being seen as impartial by readers I should mention that I did go out of my way to get accepted by the Nomees. Principally I did this so that I could make fun of Mel, but does a man really have to explain his actions when really all I was doing was showing kindness to other weary travellers?
My interactions with Nomees consisted of them waving to me as I drove by, chatting to me as I helped Fiela carry his kayak to the beach and even talking to the ones camped next to me as Matilda “tried” to shave my head. Of course to get a wave as we drove by I was essentially hanging out of the driver’s window and waving frantically like our camper van was on fire, but a wave is a wave. An acknowledgement from a kindred soul as they passed us by on life’s journey.
For those who know me and Mel they will know that we waste little time on telling each other how awesome we think the other person is. Instead we prefer to show our love for each other through verbal sparring and sarcasm. (secretly I think Mel does this to try and squash her massive crush on me but that’s a topic for another blog on a different website. (www.desparatedoctorswives.com)
I could write on and on about my encounters with the Nomees, but as they say a picture tells a thousand words. So I will let you decide. Due to my history with Mel I thought that readers might feel I was deliberately stacking the deck in favour of the Nomees purely to show a darker side of Mel for my amusement. I can honestly say that the thought had hardly crossed my mind, but just to be sure let’s remove my potentially biased words and let the pictures do the talking.
Below are two images, and let’s assume that they are both from our recent trip. I feel that these two shots fairly represent the mindsets and warmth of both my dear friend Melinda and the Nomees of whom she has blogged on many occasions. The photo on the left was taken by Mrs Uys, using my camera, while I entrusted her to take a photo of myself at the Natural Bridge near Albany, Western Australia. The plan was for me to walk out onto the Natural Bridge which was quite a distance from where Mel and I stood. This gave Mel a lot of time to prepare for the shot, work out apertures, lighting, lens selection etc. Later in the car when I was viewing the images Mel captured I came across the shot below which Mel snapped while supposedly preparing for my bridge shot.
The image on the right was taken randomly on the trip and I think really captures the essence of the typical Nomee with whom we came in contact. It vividly pictures the average garden variety Grey Nomad and the attitude they express towards the average fellow traveller.
So I have submitted my report to the Royal Australasian Society for the Protection of the Good Name of Grey Nomads and they are pleased with my findings. To Mel’s readers I simply ask that you carefully consider the photos I have placed before you and ask yourself “Is it possible that he is right, is their reasonable doubt?”.
To the Uys Family though I say thank you for an awesome trip. Two weeks with another clan in close proximity while you are, essentially, living in a tin can is a big call but we’d line up again for more any day. It was a breeze just to be able to rock up and have Mel and Fiela take care of all the planning for us. All we had to do was drive and get Nomees to wave.
Finally to my dearest Mel, congrats on the overwhelming, and justified, success of your very cool and entertaining blog. I look forward to reading many more pages of your adventures and Nomee interactions and can’t wait to take up where we left off when you guys get home. Please also remember your solemn promise to me that NO EDITING of my article will occur prior to its publication!
So for now it’s good bye and good luck.
Tim McG, Maggie, Tilly and Addy
(PS The views expressed in this article are entirely the authors and may or may not be based on actual facts. Certain events and photos of people (except the photo of Mel which I swear is real) may or may not actually have anything to do with our recent trip. The author reserves the right to amend this blog for legal or moral reasons should the need arise after Mel publishes it.)