These are short extracts from my diaries as a 13-year-old for 1991. It was the year that we left Australia to live in Germany permanently. Reading them paints a strange picture of a very pressurised and unsettled life, and some unintended hilarious observations.
March 4th 1991
Today was our school free day. At 12.00 we went to buy our Yr. 8 books, and it was quite boring. Then we went to see what to buy Daddy for his 51st birthday. We want to buy him a pile of bells, or a little funnybox, or things like that, but first we have to ask Mummy. We got our hair cut really short in Tanunda, layered. I did not want it at all but Olga suggested it and Mummy said we had to look the same. Not fair! Oh well, in a few years…Also today we went to Guides. I am in Wombat patrol with Zoe, Alice, Rebecca. That is also the group for camping but Zoe will have to be kept under control. Still, that shouldn’t be too difficult!!! I wish school didn’t start tomorrow, especially because of all those comments about “what happened to your hair, did your head get stuck in the lawnmower?”
March 6th 1991
Gee, my prospects are fantastic, aren’t they! It gets better and better every day! That was sarcastic. Today I wasn’t allowed to sleep over at Sani’s to catch up on the work I missed, because of my music lesson. Incidentally, my music lesson was much better than expected because Liz had a headache, so she wasn’t so particular. Today it was 41C. Gosh, it was hot in classes. Mrs Schramm, our English teacher, kept us in for a while. How annoying!!! Oh well.
P.S. Sani [my best friend] is being a pain in the neck in some ways because she says it is so good to have me back, but then she goes and sits with Harriet all the time!
March 8th 1991
Today was another unbelievably hot day. It was exactly 40.3C. Incredible after they predicted 30C. Oh well never mind. At school we had sport. In this heat, we had it last session. My maths teacher really annoys me so badly. Oh well. After we went out shopping to Brunswick shopping centre. We met Jen’s mum. She is nice, at least, she looks it. It took us until 8.45 at the shopping centre. Mummy bought a planet today at the shopping centre. She bought us some Ovaltine.
Well over the weekend we went up to Lorne to Roger Just’s house. It was a bit of a waste of a day because we left home at 11.00 in the morning on Saturday, spent 3 hours in Geelong, and finally got to Roger’s about 6.00!!! The reason why we spent so long in Geelong was: I don’t know. Mummy talked to Larianne for ages and when we went to pick her up again she talked for ages more and Daddy was excruciatingly embarrassing! Anyway, we finally got there and his house is just next to the beach but at the beach. The whole thing was a party for the Anthropology department. Khuneng, her friend, Douglas Lewis, his wife, Roger Just, Ali, his wife, Mummy, Daddy, me, Olga, Fiona, Rohan, Ruchiera and I think that’s all. The house was only just, quite literally, finished. There was no heating, carpets, no paint on the walls or insulation. Still it was alright, but very little furniture. It was awfully cold at night, actually. Anyway, when we got there we had supper in a rather lovely spot on the verandah, while they were all down having fun at the fire. We sat alone and got very cold and very bored. Then eventually they suggested that we should come down to the fire! Miracle! So we did and it was actually great fun!!! In the morning we got up at 9.00 and had breakfast, then tried to get the parrots on the balcony to eat the seed out of our hands but it didn’t work.
Then we went down to the beach, but me and Olga didn’t want to go in because…I don’t know, we just didn’t want to go in. Because we didn’t want to get all salty and sandy. Daddy was pissed off. But he had drunk too much the night before to get really mad. Oh well, who cares! So then we got some seed and tried to get the king parrots to eat out of our hand again and one of them actually sat on my hand, which was beautiful! Anyway, then we went home again in the car. We stopped at McDonalds on the way. Miracle!! We got home at 6.00.
So, as a brief summary: Saturday got up, got to car, drover off, got there at 6.00, sat at camp fire, slept. Sunday got up, went to beach, fed parrots, left. Got home at 6.00. Wow.
Monday 11th March 1991
Today we got up and sat around until 2.00, then went to Daddy’s office to photocopy a theorie [sic] book, then had ice-cream.
We got back at 6.00, after which we had to do Latin until 8.30. Unfortunately, Olga started to cry afterwards because it was rather difficult. Then Olga cried at dinner and Daddy was quite surprised that she was too tired to do Latin at 8.30. Oh well, that’s Daddy but I don’t mind as much as Olga seems to. Oh dear, I have been writing right through Alice in Wonderland. It is now 10.00. Tomorrow I get up at 7.00, I haven’t done my maths homework, I have a French vocab test and I haven’t practiced! What a great Tuesday that is going to be.
Tuesday 12th March 1991
Oh no, tomorrow is Wednesday, my bad day! Help! Oh well, I can’t do anything about it. Well today we did school and it was so boring, sort of. We did double sport and Helen Stass is such a bitch! Oh well. Anyway, we had maths which was awful because I got everything wrong. Anyway, then we had English and Science which was alright. Actually today was quite alright but we had a French test on which I got 13/14. Wish me good luck for tomorrow. Today we went to buy Daddy’s present which was some lovely bells. We bought them at Community Aid Abroad.
Wednesday 13th March 1991
Oh well, today wasn’t quite as bad as expected. After school we did nothing, but maths was awful.
Thursday 14th March 1991
Today I have the most awful cold! It is quite annoying. Today school was quite fun because I had actually done my homework! So we had history, French, maths, English. Unfortunately, reports come out on the 27th, so we have to have finished our english sheets, of which there are 50, by Wednesday 20th! How stupid! Well, nothing to do but do them! They are pretty stupid sheets. Some of them however, will take forever. Well, after school we had music, on which we both went very badly.
Friday 15th March 1991
Today I got up at 8.20 so Mummy said I didn’t have to go to school because I have a cold. Right now I am too tired to write. It is 10.30 a.m. Tonight we are sleeping over at Carys’s.
Saturday 16th March
It was actually better at Carys’s than I thought. Got to sleep at 2.00 or 3.00 – that is not too bad for Carys’s place. We didn’t watch TV because it was boring, instead we played Blind Man’s Bluff for ages and ages. Then we went to bed, talked, mucked around, then went to sleep. In the morning Bianca had to leave at 10.30 which was a pity. Then we went to watch Carys play hockey which was boring. Then we went back home, mucked around and got bored until Daddy picked us up. By the way, Carys’s fish died in the night because it got knocked over by the possum. Carys’s possum is a cute little ringtail. Thurza decided to take us to the zoo when she picked us up which was alright but a bit tiring, we got back at 5.00 and then we had to do Latin, which was awful. Actually, it was better than usual. Tomorrow is Daddy’s 51st birthday.We got him some lovely bells.
Sunday 17th March 1991
I get the feeling Daddy didn’t like those stupid bells. I feel so bad. Oh well. Then we did Latin, which was pretty bad, well it was alright, but a bit awful, as usual. Never mind. Oh well.
Monday 18th March 1991
Today school was actually alright because it went by so fast. Goodie. After school I went home (obviously) and did my homework. Then I had to go get a music book. I left home for it at 5.10, got to the shop at 5.17 and found it had closed at 5.15! So I went to Coles, Franklins and K-mart. Franklins shut in 2 minutes, Coles didn’t have any music books, and Kmart started closing 5 minutes before I got there. Anyway, so I went back home and got ready for Guides.
Tuesday 19th March 1991
Today in the morning we got to the tram at 8.20 and the tram came but it was far too full, so it just went straight past. Just my luck, that only time that I am latish the tram doesn’t come!!! So I got to school 5 minutes late, went to the office for a late pass, and wrote that 2 trams had passed me by!! Then I found out that I had double sport. Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Anyway, firstly I had no idea what I was doing, and secondly the changing rooms were closed. So I had to get changed in the toilets. So then I had to drag all my stuff to the Oval but embarrassingly enough, I found that was totally the wrong group. I wish I was in advanced! Everyone in advanced thinks I’m a bad swimmer, which I’m not!! Gee I wish Pia, Renee and Anna didn’t think I was a total dag, which I am but it’s still not nice to be told that basically to your face! I wish I could swim freestyle just a tiny bit faster. Imagine being at the Olympic Games!
So after I wrote something to Olga on the toilet wall, I found my class in the hall. Sport really tired me out. I was so tired I could have cried. Then I had a drink and felt better. Then we had English and Maths. I had a maths test on inverted numbers which I must have failed abysmally! Oh well! I got up to level 3 on Repton today, except then the bell rang so I couldn’t play which really pissed me off. Actually today went by so slowly. I nearly fell asleep in Science.
Then I went to Sani’s and we talked about girl stuff. I wish I could just skip the next 20 years, up to where I have a baby. I want sextuplets if I am rich.
20th March 1991
Today I went to school, obviously. I got 18 and a half out of 45 on my maths test. Who cares. I do! Still, I don’t mind as much as I usually do. So anyway, today we had English, sport, music, maths (!), history. We had a history test. I think I did alright. Sport was dumb.
When we went home Daddy read us Goethe poems, which were nice. I like poems! I like singing, for some reason. The swimming carnival was on today, and I really wish I had gone although I would probably have embarrassed myself by losing.
This morning I had a really scared feeling, as if something really bad was going to happen. Nothing drastic did happen, but I think it will happen in the next few days. I feel a bit too full just now because we went out with Daddy to the Key on the Wall in Lygon Street. Then we went to “readings” bookshop, then we went to Cafe Lalba which was so loud and I wish we had gone straight home because it is now 11.30.
14th April 1991
Sorry about the recent absences. Anyway, since then a lot has happened! I had better start writing more about the world around me, if people will ever make sense of this in the y ear 2050. In the middle east hundreds of thousands of Iraqi kurdish refugees are refugeeing to Turkey. A 13-year-old schoolgirl was abducted last night. Mummy nearly won the lotto, but only got $12.
We are auctioning our house this month. It is exciting having your house in the papers, but it is also disheartening, seeing the repelling word “Auction”! We saw an auction in Park Street yesterday and it went for $313, 250! There was a viewing of our house on Saturday as well.
16th or 17th April 1991
Today was not overly interesting. Did Latin revision with Daddy of chapters 1-6. Of course he asked us mainly about chapter 6. Oh, I do wish we were not selling the house! Today a German man came round who seemed very interested…in the house, buying it, I mean. If only we could just keep it! Oh, life is so beautiful, so poetic and so horrible. I hate to think of Mummy being old, and her hands being so withered she could no longer play the piano as she does now. And to think of her dying…and us attending her funeral. Oh, it’s too sad, and it seems as if it will never happen, or can never happen, oh but the awful certainty that some day it will happen is too much to bear. I hope she goes to heaven.
Thursday 17th April 1991
The most horrible dream – I was in English class. Miss Shramm walked in and we started our assignment. But they were somehow extremely difficult. Then she set us more work. And the whole time I was stumbling or tripping over something I couldn’t see. Then Daddy came and took me away shopping, trying to buy me something about my star sign. I refused and he was disappointed. Then he took me back to school but class was finished and I cried because I could have finished my work in that time. As I went downstairs I looked the wrong way and nearly fell. In the foyer of school there was an enormous book, about 10 metres long. Mummy was waiting for me in the car, and she was worried. My schoolwork was so terrifying.
I haven’t done my Latin revision today. Another day wasted in my life. 24 hours closer to death. That is 86,400 seconds. Not all that much, compared to my whole life. I am very hungry. I put too much shampoo into the bath so Mummy couldn’t get in after us.
29th April 1991
[This was a new diary. I hand-numbered each of the 200 pages, and then drew up a contents page with numbered entries, and a system of codes to indicate what was particularly secret. I then fashioned a lock out of two pieces of duct tape, stuck to either side of the cover. I made a hole in each, and attached a small padlock. Weird.].
I am now in bed in the dark. I have finally finished making a lock for this book. Took ages!! I kept on getting the placing wrong.
We had our first confirmation lesson today. After that we had Guides, but I spent my subs money on a big gulp at 7 Eleven instead and wandered around Flemington Road with Olga. I love the organization of this new diary!!
30th april 1991
Today we went swimming. Miss Johnson is such a bitch!! But I did my best, and the teacher looked at me like I was good! (wow.) And Sarah, who was in advanced, looked at me too! (wow). Then we had english and maths, both of which were pretty boring. In maths we were doing linear graphs, which is both boring and difficult.
I haven’t practiced piano.
1 May 1991
Today was a pretty awful day altogether. I got 10 out of 10 for the spelling test, and was the only one. I just thought of Oma being dead and how disappointed she would be, if she knew what we had been doing. It is such a pity, and one keeps imagining her flat, and how we will never see it again.
I was at Sani’s. We didn’t do anything much, and of course I didn’t do any Latin. We had French toast for breakfast, and her mum drove me home. On the way, I was thinking about all the things we will miss in Germany:
School, Friends, open spaces, countryside, weather, shops, sprawling suburbs, the bush, department stores, big city living, the English language, English books, Guides, church, country towns, trees, Melbourne Arts Centre, Myers, Allans, Darrell Lea, piano teacher, midnight feasts, Lygon street, ice cream, K-mart, Franklins, Australian bands, Opera house, Cadbury’s, apples, oranges, grapes, mandarines, koalas, frilled-necked lizards, wallabies, kangaroos, koalas.
That is quite a long list.
Today was awful. I haven’t done any of my Latin at all but Olga did. In the morning after church we sat in the car and I hit Olga for no reason and she thinks I want to kill her. Tomorrow Daddy is coming back.
6th May 1991
I am so pissed off. Today Daddy came back and bought us lots of things, we had confirmation lesson 3, was supposed to do sport journal, sketch map, sew on badges, put on uniform, go to guides and do two chapters of Latin. I did not manage to do journal or Latin. Everything was absolutely rushed. And I did not ask for swimming money for tomorrow. I have not got swimming stuff ready. I am swamped. Anyway, Daddy came back! He brought us chocolates, a beautiful candle, books, ornaments, games etc. It was lovely. At guides I got my self-improvement challenge. I still have to do collectors and creativity challenge.
Today wasn’t a very good day! Everyone was really downcast because the computer club was shut! So at lunch time I wrote out my sport journal from Sani and bummed around. In swimming we did a stupid exercise that made everyone’s shoulders hurt. Then I bought myself a slurpee for $1.20 at 7 Eleven. In English we did Haiku poems and in maths we are still doing linear graphs. Then we were sent to the shops, and we bought 600ml of cream instead of 300ml, a family pack instead of small nutella, and we bought “Just right” not Cornflakes. And “just right” costs $2 more than cornflakes! And I stole a chocolate bar. I ended up throwing it away but I still felt awfully bad about it. I don’t know what to do about it. Mummy got really shitty at us for spending $15 on shopping. Then Professor Derek Freeman came round for supper. I didn’t like him. And guess what, I beat Helen in swimming!!
8th May 1991
Olga forgot to give me my locker keys she had borrowed, so I went without books for the day. We had sport and I was dead because I had no change for it. Never mind, I didn’t feel like doing it anyway. Actually today was a bad day because I had a cold and felt all muzzy and tired. The computer club helped me a lot, seemed to boost my spirits and I was not tired any more. After school, I mucked around and was supposed to do piano, Latin, art, maths, stamps. The only thing of all those things I even half did was maths, and I only half did that. And we have music tomorrow.
I have found a scrapbook and I am looking for pictures of Australia to put in it and remember Australia. In the evening we watched a really awful Derrick, about a girl who was strangled on her way home at night in woods. It turned out that her boyfriend thought he had killed her during an argument, but she had only fainted under pressure. Then her dancing teacher, who was in love with her, and was married, and had betrayed his wife on several occasions with other dancers, went out and raped her, while she was only half-conscious, so she died. So if the boyfriend hadn’t run off home without her, nothing would have happened.
Sani keeps sitting next to Pia in class in the last week. I’m supposed to sit next to Sani in class and now I end up getting stuck next to fat Aphrodite. It pisses me off so much. I get the feeling she doesn’t want to be friends any more. Like today, in science, she said, I quote, “It’s funny, you and I always fight over Lego-technick, but otherwise we’re best – well almost best -friends”. I think Pia and Harriet are her best friends and I am just her side-kick. She is thinking of becoming vegan! Great! That means I can never have her over again. And when I said, “Isn’t that a bit antisocial, since not everyone can cook vegan food?” And she said, “No, not at all, it’s really easy to cook for Vegans”. Well, what if not everyone has Vegan cookbooks? Just because she knows how, doesn’t mean everyone else knows how.
Sunday 12th May
My headache is gone; everything else isn’t. We wanted to get up, make Mummy breakfast in bed, give her the present, then go to St. Paul’s cathedral with her, like she said she would. And today is Pentecost, and I wanted to go to church. Daddy came in and woke us up at 10.30. That is too late to go to church, and Mummy is gone. So much for a nice Mother’s Day. Now all we can do is wait until she gets back, hand her the stupid present, do Latin, have the lesson and stuff it up, Daddy will get angry and we go to bed. I am crying my heart out and will probably have a headache again soon.
Friday 17th May
Yesterday I had music, and am getting the most fantastic new book. It’s called “Masterwork Classics”!! We had a maths test at school, and after school I didn’t get down to homework straight away. Therefore I did homework until 11.00 and they came back and caught me, so they say they are not going out again for ages. I was really tired and fell asleep immediately. Today we had to hand in the poetry assignment. In English I had to read out the poem I was supposed to know by heart. Then I read out another 4 from the book. I read the grisly wife by John Manifold, then 5 ways to kill a man, then a sonnet. I think the class liked the latter better. I barely got my homework done, and now I am so tired.
Saturday 18th May 1991
I wish we were not leaving Australia. I will miss so much here. It’s alright for Mummy and Daddy, they weren’t born and brought up here. It is not fair. And imagine having no one actually speaking English!! That is going to annoy me. But I don’t think I will ever speak any German with Olga. In fact I promise myself I won’t.
20th May 1991
Time is slipping through our fingers until we go. After school we had confirmation class but Olga was not there because she had to go to the doctor’s about her wrist. She has broken a small bone. That means she can’t play piano for 6 weeks. We are going to South Australia in 5 weeks, so she will never see our piano teacher again. Why do we have to leave Australia at all? Why can’t we just stay? I feel as if time is just slipping away in my fingers, like sand. This is all so terrible, and all for a zip. She was skating along happily in front of me when I called out to her that my zip had broken, but I fixed it again just before she got to me. Then she fell over. So when it comes down to it, it was my fault, because if I hadn’t called out to her she wouldn’t have come back. She can’t even practice the piano. And we have to go and live in bloody Germany!!!! I feel so sorry for Olga. It must be so awful for her. Only six weeks until we leave Melbourne. All so unbelievably awful. Time always seem to run when you don’t want it to, and that just shows we shouldn’t go. I will probably have a really horrible piano teacher in Germany.
23rd May 1991
The ‘T’ on the opposite page is from the auction sign for our house. It was in the word “This” and that word was in the context of: “This unique double-fronted solid brick house set on a huge north-facing block comprises….”etc. At some point I will take a photo of the whole sign, since it will probably be taken down today, since we sold it.
In the evening, we had Guides, and I am going to do my creativity challenge, collectors, junior first aid. So far I have done my swimmers, self-improvement and housekeeper.
In the morning I had swimming, and although I got up at 7 I was slightly late, unfortunately. It was quite good today. It was a relay, the boys won in backstroke and the girls in freestyle. I won both times against my opponent on each leg. Sometimes it is rather embarrassing winning because you don’t know what to say. Afterwards the teacher said my swimming in general was excellent, but I didn’t know how to reply to that, so I sort of said thank you and walked off, which seemed as if I was trying to cut her short, but I wasn’t.
I went to computer club for the whole of lunch, but am still on Screen D in Repton 3.
Friday 31st May
Today was not very nice. In Geography I swapped Tomek a research book with one about Antarctica. I was just reading through it when Helen said “Can I just borrow that book a bit, just want to look at something real quick”. So I gave it to her. After about 10 minutes I went over and asked for it back, she grabbed it and said no, so I whispered something nasty in her ear and carried on asking loudly. She kicked up a massive fuss, the teacher came over and asked what was going on. When we told her she told Helen to give it back, which Helen did, but kept muttering to herself, and then told the teacher she was a “fucking bitch” or something like that. She was taken outside and must have got in big trouble, so she came over to me in science and said I should watch my back on the way home because she would smash my face in. Me and Sani were kind of scared but told her to grow up, so she cooled off eventually. When we got home Daddy phoned and told us to meet him in the shopping centre, so that was the whole day gone – we got back from there at 7.00 and then had to do Latin at 7.30. Didn’t go very well and Daddy got mad at us for not helping make supper. Tomorrow we are going to watch a football match for the first time. I will take a book. We watched Wuthering Heights again. It is still so, so sad.
The football got cancelled because the weather was so bad, so we sat inside doing our schoolwork instead. Daddy says I have to finish my geography assignment this weekend, although it is only due on Thursday. On Monday I have yard duty. At two o’clock we went to the shopping centre for “a little break” and came back at 4.30!! Then we did more work, and I was stupid enough to tell Daddy that I still had some art and history to do. Now he wants to see the history, and since I gave my book to Helen, and she burnt it, I don’t know how to explain it. After that we had another “little break” and then me and Olga watched “Honey I shrunk the kids”, while Daddy went to sleep upstairs. At one point the film was really sad, because the kids had a pet ant, and the ant got squashed by a huge scorpion, because it was protecting the kids from the scorpion, and would have lived otherwise.
Today was World Environment Day, but I didn’t do anything very environmental. Got up at 9.00 and had a quick breakfast, then rushed into the city to see if this bookshop would buy second-hand books. They didn’t. Then we caught the tram down to the arts centre, to see a Picasso exhibition, which was for once quite interesting. Then we went to the Treble Clef for lunch, and had a nice time, then went to meet Joy. We went to see Edward Scissorhands, which was good. It was about a man that had been created by an inventor, but the inventor died before he gave him hands, so he had sciossors instead, but looked really horrible, because his face was full of scars from him touching himself. A lady brought him down from his castle after years of isolation, but the villagers were a bit mean to him, and just used him to cut their hedges, dogs and hair. Then someone used him to break into a house, and he got picked up by the police, and so on. Eventually he went back to his castle.
I had the biggest fight with Sani, actually the only fight I’ve ever had. She lost one of her new pet rats yesterday, because she took them to Food Plus (how bloody stupid, taking a couple of rats to Food Plus of all places). So I said it probably got caught in a mouse trap. She went on about how that was not a very tactful thing to say, but why not, it’s true!! Why can’t she see the other side, I mean I’ve lost count of the ways she has offended and belittled me.
I sold some of the eyeliners I nicked in K-mart the other day to Anna Rees for $2. If I give the money to church on Sunday that makes it kind of better. I have to stop doing so much wrong.
Saturday 6th June 1991
Right now I am on the way to South Australia, and Daddy is annoying me a lot. It is difficult to write neatly, because the car is wobbling. Ararat is the end of the world. At lunchtime on Saturday, everything just closes down, and everyone loiters around really slowly. It will be the same in Eberbach, but at least everything will be the same, but at least everything will just be sort of dead, instead of a few people here and there. I am quite pleased we are going to Tanunda. I might be able to do some piano practice at the Jaworski’s. Silvia Jaworski plays, and has played for years, but her fingers are so fat! It is now already about 1.50 pm, but I can’t say very exactly what time it is because of my watch, which pisses me off slightly, but I still like my watch tremendously. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for losing that little soft toy at the Cinnamon Inn, in America. I left it in my sheets. It was a little dog that Mummy and Daddy gave me for Christmas in ’89.
I wish I hadn’t said goodbye to Sani so abruptly, but I couldn’t help it, because I was trying really hard not to cry. I hope Sani didn’t mind. The countryside I’m going past now is just trees, trees, trees, all eucalyptus, and a few shrub. There is no undergrowth, only reddish-brown dirt strewn with dead leaves and branches, because now it is Autumn. I just went past a signpost, and it said “Adelaide – 462 km”, or something like that. Now the surroundings are mainly green paddocks. Thick black clouds are coming up, and I think it is going to rain. Mummy said this is Melbourne’s wettest month since records began in 1846. Daddy has just opened the window even wider.
Swimming was really good on Tuesday.
We just stopped at Bordertown petrol station, where Daddy got a hamburger, offered us some, and got pissed off when we refused, so I persuaded Olga to go back and ask him for some. But then I ended up eating it all, and Olga only had a tiny bit. It was so awful saying goodbye to everyone at school yesterday. It was so very abrupt. I hope Pia comes to say goodbye when we get on the ship. The Australian bush is so beautiful in the afternoon. Oh, I just start to remember our house, and how I always looked out at the sun from the back room window, and watched it set as I did my homework. And then I remember how I used to sit in the sun room, for ages just reading or stroking the cat. It’s all so quiet here, nothing to spoil the landscape, except us and the road and the other cars, but that doesn’t seem to make much difference, because I don’t hear the noise we make.
Now we are finally in Tanunda, in the same mouldy old flat as last time. It so dirty. There are mouse droppings next to the bath, and the same soap is still there as when we left it five months ago. At least the bath water isn’t as brown as it was, but it feels even dirtier. There are millions of spiders crawling around all over the place. I’m glad I’m in my nice safe sleeping bag, where the spiders can’t get in.