12 Days of Christmas – Cheryl Orsini

To start off the second half of this edition of the 12 Days of Christmas we welcome Cheryl Orsini, a super illustrator. I am amazed that it has taken this long for us to connect but now we have. Cheryl has a very Aussie Christmas memory to share – that annual Christmas Holiday.

Christmas, 1983. The newly polished Toyota Tarago sits proudly in the driveway, heavily loaded with beach towels, floaties and matching summer outfits for four girls, one in each colour, sizes 2-10.

The two vacant seats were quickly occupied by our cousins, the Tarago never went anywhere without a full passenger list. Time to hit the road – via a quick detour to Flemington Markets. My father, a former fruit shop owner, believed that the inflated prices anywhere north of Sydney would send us broke. An hour or so later, all of us dripping with sweat and holding boxes of peaches and cucumbers, we did in fact finally hit the road. Ripening all the way!

Our annual Christmas holiday always took us somewhere new and easily driveable, the Tarago was not of fan of hills. Swimming by day at Terrigal and prawning by night at The Entrance.

Every holiday had one thing in common – it had to be cheap. The Christmas of 1983 was probably the cheapest. A free lakeside house was an offer too good to refuse.

Number 9, Sunshine Avenue, Chittaway Point. A two bedroom bungalow, with a rear facing deck to the outdoor loo. My mother, who always flatly refused any form of camping, thought the Toowoon Bay Caravan Park was looking very good. “Divorce!” shrieked Mum, but we new that all it needed was a good airing out of mattresses and the sweeping up of much cockroach poo.

That first night my cousin braved the loo. She was older, fearless and she really needed to go! When she screamed the first time we thought she was tricking. Then she came flying out in sheer terror – three frogs, one on her head, two more in the loo and they were not happy!

No one was prepared to enter that hell hole – Dad had a plan. He’d spotted a little park down the road with regular flushing toilets. After several buckets of bleach and the purchase of some extra soft toilet paper, he unveiled our ‘toilet annexe’. From then on, we would collectively pile into the Tarago for a morning toilet stop, we were encouraged to use all the facilities throughout the day at various beaches and shops and finally, of an evening, we again collectively went!

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Cheryl Orsini taught herself to draw as a little girl. She grew a little taller, studied Visual Communications at UTS and finally, when she could grow no more, she started illustrating children’s books, magazines and decorating a great many peg dolls! Her books include Caravan Fran (Lothian Books/Hachette Australia), The ABC Book of Cars, Trains, Boats and Planes (ABC Books), Pom Pom, Where Are You? (Viking/Penguin) and Wibbly Wobbly Street (Scholastic). Her work also regularly appears in magazines and exhibitions. Cheryl Lives in Sydney, Australia and more can be uncovered here: http://cherylorsiniillustration.blogspot/

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