In August of that year, Max had a very special weekend. The girls had enjoyed visits from their friends in July, but now it was time for me and Hugh to invite our own friends to the Coast. Dick and Edna were looking forward to trying out their new motorhome, so they came to stay for the long weekend, complete with Brandy and C.B., their lop-eared rabbit.
Max had a very atavistic nature, and the concept of the pack was firmly entrenched in his genes. He and Brandy were so bonded from their daily walks in town that Edna and I believed Max considered our two families to be one pack that, for some inexplicable reason, lived at two different locations. Therefore, when the other half of our ‘pack’ arrived to stay at the cottage, Max was thrilled to have everyone in one spot. At the end of the day, when we all sat visiting in the cottage living room, he was as blissfully contented as I ever remember seeing him. His people on chairs and Brandy sprawled out with him on the carpet; that was the way it was supposed to be.
It was a lovely weekend. Edna and I took the dogs for several walks each day. Hugh and I took our guests for a boat ride too, though Brandy was not too sure about the Optimist. However, sea dog Max leaped on board as if to show her how it was done, and once she ventured on board, they sat side by side, nose to the wind, as we chugged across the bay. We were actually glad to have our dogs on board, as there was a huge yacht moored in the harbour, anchored in such a way that it was rotating slowly, giving the occupants a changing view of the scenery. We took our guests closer to take a look, wondering which celebrity might be the owner, but as we neared, two hefty looking men in black lowered the Zodiac at the rear of the yacht, hopped in, and came gliding towards us. Max’s hackles went up when he saw them coming—his wolf genes recognized danger when it was approaching—but we decided discretion was the better part of valour and steered off in the other direction. So much for freedom of the waves.
There were some other issues regarding freedom that had come up during the summer, though these related to land. Our cottage was part of an estate, and although the residences were separate, the land and docks were communally held and there were a lot of rules and regulations. Along with these came a lot of gossip, not to mention interfering people. A couple of the homeowners were particularly negative about dogs, and as a result, we had become a little jaded about our holiday location. We had gone so far as to start looking for alternate properties, although nothing had really fit our needs or limited price range. However, the week before Dick and Edna came to visit, we had noticed a listing for a cottage on Pool Road. The price was fairly low, so we thought we’d check it out. We had no idea where Pool Road was, other than the fact that it was somewhere on the other side of the harbour. After much exploration and driving about, we ended up in Garden Bay, still with no idea of how to find the cottage we were seeking, so we gave up and stopped for lunch at Colonel Flounder’s, the fish and chip shop that we’d often visited when coming across by boat.
Our whole family had always loved this side of the harbour, with its two bays separated by a small peninsula that jutted out into the ocean. The Sundowner Inn stood looking out over Hospital Bay, so called because the heritage house, although now a bed-and-breakfast hotel, had originally been St. Mary’s Hospital, the first hospital on the Sunshine Coast. On the Garden Bay side was the local pub. Between the two bays was a pretty lagoon with a channel that drained into Hospital Bay. A footbridge spanned the channel so that walkers coming along the main road could cross to the general store and marina without walking right round the lagoon. Colonel Flounder’s was on the road that circled the lagoon, and between the fish-and-chip shop and the pub were two small cottages. There was also a short, but scenic pub path that followed the shoreline from the road around to the pub. It was truly the prettiest spot on the Sunshine Coast and I had fallen in love with it many years before when Hugh had first taken me across by boat to have a meal at the pub.
Therefore, although we had failed to find our mystery cottage, we were perfectly happy to find ourselves at Colonel Flounder’s. As we sat enjoying our fish and chips, giving way to the baleful glances at our elbow and sharing the odd French fry with Max, we continued to speculate as to how we could find the listed property. The Colonel, overhearing our conversation, looked at us as if we were simpletons. He gestured to the lagoon and the road at the edge of his property. That was Pool Road; couldn’t we see the pool right in front of us. His arm swept in the other direction and pointed to the other side of his shop. The cottage next door to him was the one for sale.
We couldn’t believe it. Yes, it was rather derelict, but there it sat, in our favourite location, facing the lagoon and between the two bays. There was a garden that we could fence and give Max a lovely area to run and play, and the docks were close for Hugh to moor his boat. The glorious Garden Bay Lake was only a ten-minute walk up the road for swimming. Whatever it took, we were determined to sell the other cottage and buy this little jewel.
Naturally, we had told Dick and Edna of our hopes and plans, and on their last day with us, they took us to dinner at the Sundowner Inn. The girls opted to stay at Madeira Park and visit with their friends, so we left the dogs in their charge and took the boat over to the other side. Edna was as enchanted with Garden Bay as I had always been , and she understood why I was so keen to have our holiday home there. As we sat at the window of the Sundowner, looking out onto the lagoon and watching the sun sinking slowly towards the distant hills, we speculated happily about the prospect of future summers in this beautiful spot. After dinner, we strolled over the road to look at our prospective cottage. Then we headed back across the bay to have hot drinks with the girls and walk our dogs. Happy kids, happy dogs, happy grown-ups. It was a lovely ending to a perfect weekend.