Being home unexpectedly and without my family on New Year's Eve is a strange thing. Normally we would have a fun night at the shack with another family from Melbourne, but they aren't coming either this year, because its so hot for travelling and some are off doing other things. We would sit outside in the early evening and have an icy cold drink-on-the-rocks, while Hugh played his guitar like there would be no tomorrow.This would be followed by a BBQ watching the sunset and looking for the green flash (another story). We would have spent the day decorating the shack with local and imported ingredients, depending on what theme we were having. Last year it was Gilligan's Island and we went and cut some fronds of some palms growing in a nearby reserve, making an arch over the door with some and using others inside as a shrine to the gods of the shack. Inside the shrine we put an old surfboard, a beach towel, plastic leis, an empty bottle of coconut liquer and no doubt other stuff.
That year I said everyone had to wear something formal, made from whatever they could find - a tie of seaweed or a necklace of shells or whatever.
We always have a new cocktail - this is a tradition started by the oldest son of the friends who thought our parties needed livening up a bit and one year brought butterscorch shnapps and Baileys. We didn't have any shot glasses but we did have some little glass containers full of candles, so he cleaned out the wax and now we have shot-glasses with character!
Hugh and their daughter Sophie always make a Bombe Alaska, starting in the morning with the cooking of the sponge cake for the base and melting the ice-cream just enough to shape it and refreeze it. Later the eggwhites are beaten and the thing cooked before setting it alight as midnight approaches.
Some time during the night Sophie and Hugh soak their home-made fire sticks in kero and we all head to the beach for a display that would bring fear into the hearts of even the most robust of mothers ! They have spent several hours, if not days, in securing the stuff required to make these devises and Sophie even brings wire and balls and all manner of things in the car from Melbourne. It is interesting how these events evolve and, just as suddenly, dissolve. Let's hope next year will see a twist of evolution that brings us all together again...