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The Family Bandwagon

Our family is spread out across the country and across the world, and what better way to keep in touch than a collaborative digital journal?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hokushin Camp

As you probably all know, last weekend was the Hokushin Camp here in Bendigo. It's taken a lot of work, including a few last-minute surprises, to get it all ready, but in the end the weekend went off without a hitch. Even the weather was as kind as it could be.

Here's a breakdown of what happened.

Friday I cleaned out the car, grabbed the last of the groceries for the weekend (about $350 worth all up), kissed the family goodbye and headed out to Axedale. I was there at 2, got the keys, put away the food and gradually people started showing up.

We had three from New Zealand, a busload of South Australians, and 8 or so Melbourne guys and Joel from the ACT. Everyone paid their fees, found beds (except 4 of the Melbournites who were sleeping in swags under the stars) and we headed out to Axedale Tavern for dinner. It was really nice! Back to the camp, and somebody brought out a couple of bottles of sake, some beer, and we sat around the fire and socialised. I'm lucky in that I knew almost every member of the camp - most of these guys only knew their fellow students, but they were soon all friends.

I toddled off to bed around 11pm, looking forward to sleep that never came. I was in a room with a snorer. Not a light snorer either.. it rattled the windows and scared off the wildlife! I did not sleep at all.

At about 4am I gave up, had a shower (there was one in our dorm) and went out to turn the hot water on for the shower block outside. I had breakfast at about 5am. Joel, my fellow dormmate, wasn't far behind me - he obviously hadn't slept either. The snorer had a wonderful sleep 0_0

At 7am Ali, one of our students, brought out bagpipes and woke the camp to the dulcet tones of Amazing Grace. Everyone came groaning out of their beds and gathered around the cold coals of last nights fire, no doubt warming themselves with its memory.  We did morning meditation before breakfast, then split up into instructors and students, and we instructors headed to Axedale Public Hall to train from 9am - 12pm. Seriously.

We got back to camp  to see the Win News cameraman was there, so we organised a few vox pops, had certificate presentation, and then lunch. Unfortunately I was outside helping out the cameraman while the students powered through 42 bread rolls, a kilo of sliced meat and maybe 500g of cheese. I got back and there was one roll and one slice of cheese left 0_0
Then Takeo cooked up 10 packets of Mi Goreng noodles.. but I was outside again trying to sort out whether we could go to Atisha Centre, and by the time I got back in that was all gone too! I ate an apple.

After lunch it was back to training. I had to leave early to take Takeo out to the train station and get him on the shuttle bus to the airport, and once I got back it was 5pm and things were winding down. The Melbourne crew cooked up a bbq for us, and of course there was more sake and beer and the like floating around, but I didn't stay up too late this time.

I was feeling pretty tired and sore by this point, which is probably why the flu managed to catch me. Saturday night I slept terribly again, with chills and a headache, and I was up at 4:30. Once again I turned on the hot water for everyone, had a stupidly early breakfast, and sat around praying for panadol. I did make the most of the time by cleaning up, washing dishes and sweeping out the hall.
That said, while I was feeling bad there were people who had just headed off to bed at 4 and not even the bagpipes could get them up :) We did morning meditation again and some tanden exercises.. like situps but using internal core muscles below the bellybutton rather than the abdominals. They're easier than situps.

Without Takeo here we decided to make things easier on Sei Shihan (he's 80 years old this year) and split the group up between Shihan Tao, Sensei Raymond, Sensei Joel and myself. We trained from 9 - 11 or so and then everyone came in needing water and sunscreen. Tao gave a great lecture on the history and purpose of Iaido, and then Cheryl turned up like an angel bearing 10 packets of bread rolls, more meat, cheese, and cake! It was so good to see her and the kids, and not just because it meant I actually got food this time around ;)

A few of the instructors had mentioned that they'd like to train with Shihan Tao, and Sensei Raymond had left just after lunch, so Joel and I took the juniors out to Axedale Hall for the afternoon. We trained from 1 - 5.. again, that's a long time. We had a half hour break in the middle and people were just lying down on the floor :) All the Melbourne guys left around 5pm, and then we made far too much pizza and pasta for everyone to eat.  I was expecting voracious appetites after a second day of really intense training, but I think everyone was just too tired to eat.

After dinner was a massive clean up - mopping floors, wiping benches, etc. etc. I knew people wanted an early start so we couldn't leave it until Monday morning to do it all. I reckon I spent a couple of hours or so just cleaning, after cooking, and with the flu. I wasn't happy :)

Joel and I both headed off to bed at about 8pm while the others sat up watching samurai movies - I consider that proof that it's harder to teach than learn ;) Thanks to panadol (Cheryl is wonderful) I actually slept okay on that final night.

Monday was final cleanup, which went fine, and everyone headed off. Shihan and one of the other students, Ijah, were both going to the airport on the same shuttle bus in the afternoon, so I took them into town to the Chinese Museum and gardens, and the Bendigo Art Gallery. Then out to Beechworth Bakery for lunch, and dropped them off at the station.

Then it was back home, finally, to some much appreciated hugs with Oscar and Lily. I can't thank Cheryl enough for looking after them while I was away, and for delivering food and panadol, and not complaining even once. She is a Saint!

So that was my weekend. I'm back at work now, thankful that I have a job that involves sitting down. Unfortunately tomorrow I kick off the Great Cycle Challenge, and next week I'll start Saturday Iaido classes as well. Ah well. Ganbarimasu!

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