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NZ, part two

H had work the next morning just for a couple of hours. I spent a leisurely morning showering, etc and exploring the place – nice, spacious house with a sunny breakfast area overlooking the private backyard.

Once H returned we had a cooked breakfast. She text her friend, E, in Sanson that we would visit. E is H’s oldest friend and the nicest. She was the personification of an earth mother – so generous, creative and motherly to all. She had had a baby since I left. I drove in the rental car since H needed a warrant of fitness for hers. It was a sunny but humid day.

I’m not normally into babies but F was cute – a placid, happy baby, as expected with a mother such as E.

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I met E’s ageing dachshund, too, who I will probably never see again. Great memories of him and Jasmine interacting. Had a great catchup, even seeing E’s partner and “brother-in-law”. I said hello to E’s chooks and guinea pigs too. Fond memories of my childhood when I had guinea pigs, and fed the chooks after school.

H had planned to get a kitten and had all the gear, so after visiting E, we went to the SPCA to check them out. A nice new setup in the building with cats having free range instead of being stuck in cages. Plenty of kittens but just not the one H wanted. She was set on a black and white female.

We then visited a shopping centre that I used to frequent for groceries, free range food, veges, and alcohol. We did pretty much all. The owner of the free-range place had put on a lot of weight. It was good to see him though and he even recognised me. H had found out that her local vet had one kitten so we went there on the way home. The humidity was unbearable. We were sweating profusely as we waited for the woman to bring the kitten out. Her answer to “What colour is she?” was “You’ll have to see for yourself.”

Sure enough, her colouring was difficult to describe. She was outwardly black with some white but had subtle tabby stripes. She was affectionate – a little older than H had intended. Her story was that she was found lying on the chest of her elderly owner who had died. They estimate that she had been with him for two days. It was such a sad story I think H and I had tears. Of course she wanted to take her. The vet staff had called her Cersei. We didn’t think it a good name for such a sweet cat but couldn’t find a suitable one for a while.

So, I had a new grand-kitty (as I’m unlikely to be a proper grandmother).

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I fell in love with her over the next couple of days. She was such a sweetie.

We celebrated the new member of the family with beer and frankfurters.

In the evening H and I went to the Warehouse and KMart. KMart bore no resemblance to the store I left in 2015. It was now identical to the Australian stores, and I didn’t like it. However, it was cheaper than Australian stores. The prices were the same but with the exchange rate NZD was cheaper than AUD.

I hadn’t intended to do one day per blog entry for this trip. It may not be for the rest of the week but this is all for now.

 

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A week later and I’m again heading off to work soon. I worked for 10 days straight and only had a day off yesterday. But I’ll start the account of my NZ trip and then perhaps, one day, I might get around to blogging about my Myanmar trip – nearly two years ago already. I cannot believe how time flies. I’ve been in Melbourne 2 1/2 years already.

I was asked by some why I took a trip to New Zealand as if it was an odd thing to do if not actually “holidaying” there. Naturally, I wanted to catch up with friends and family. Perhaps it’s weird to spend a week in a place you used to live in but if I’ve learned anything in life, it’s people more than places that matter.

So, I had a reasonably early flight, I thought, and was up before dawn to catch a tram (there being no trains at that hour) to Southern Cross station in order to catch a bus to the airport. Melbourne is still backward in having no train link to the airport – really stupid. I got to the airport in plenty of time to check in, only to be told that the flight had been delayed by four to five hours, thanks to fog in Wellington! Thanks, Wellington! Thanks for your lousy weather. I swear that city hates me. Ninety percent of the time I visited that city the weather was absolute shit – just for my benefit, it seemed.

Five or six hours is a very long time to spend in an airport where there’s not much to do, except eat overpriced shit food or drink overpriced alcohol, or shop for overpriced ‘things’ that I don’t need. Luckily, I had a book, but you can only read for so long before needing a break.

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At the appointed ‘new’ hour of departure, the plane still wasn’t there. Wonderful, just wonderful. I had had to call the rental car company to tell them I would be there after hours which incurred an extra fee. I was delighted – not. Any plans for a civilised dinner with H had gone out the window. I was driven to drink.

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Finally, finally! we were permitted to board the plane half an hour after it arrived.

I watched a movie (Three Billboards…) which was ok then half an episode of “Top of the Lake”. The meal was salty salmon which I did not enjoy and left mostly uneaten. The other choice was fried chicken or eggplant and rice, both of which sounded unappealing.

It was pouring with rain in Wellington but unusually warm. We waited forever at immigration then another 20 minutes for the baggage to come through – why, I have no idea as we were apparently the only flight to have arrived at the time. I despise Wellington airport. Every single time I pass through it I have a negative experience. It didn’t stop there. My bag, when it finally arrived, was absolutely saturated. I was not impressed to say the least. I had declared, so had to go through bag screening. On previous occasions I was just asked what I had (chocolate and/or tea) which is usually the case in Melbourne. Once through (about an hour after landing), I called the car rental company who was to pick me up. I waited outside in the rain but no sign until I got a phone call by the driver to say the van was parked nearby and was waiting. How the hell was I to know?

The driver took me and two others to a shed on the other side of the airport and said keys were on the counter. Not exactly talkative. We wandered over towards the shed and saw someone behind the counter. The cars were parked opposite. Got into my white Mazda 2 (aka Demio) and began the journey towards Palmy. It was still raining heavily.

I had barely left the airport when I had to take a detour and was stuck in a traffic jam for 10 minutes. You can imagine my mood. This trip had been a nightmare.

Finally, I got on the motorway and headed north. I drove the new stretch of motorway with no idea where I was in the dark with pouring rain and wind. It was nice to get on familiar roads.

I actually drove past H’s place as I didn’t recognise the frontage. A garage and fence had been built in front. But she’d seen me and come out. It was great to see her but so late that it was time to go to bed almost immediately. The top layer of the inside of my bag was damp. Fuck you, Wellington.

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I was sitting in the sunshine, purring cat on lap and was about to finally update this blog on my tablet, but the tablet is flakey and slow. I couldn’t view the screen to write on when it was vertical, but when turned side on I had about half a centimetre left to actually see what I was writing once the keyboard came up. Totally useless.

Now I’m here (on the PC), I, of course, have forgotten what it was I was going to write, so I guess I’ll write what comes to mind here and now.

Umm…

Life is fine. I still enjoy living in Melbourne despite some loneliness at times. But then I was often lonely back in NZ as well, especially after H left. (The house was way too empty and I couldn’t live there anymore.)  Now, when I see an aeroplane in the sky I don’t yearn to be on it. I love trains so enjoy commuting. There are plenty of birds to listen to and the sun shines way more often. There’s little rain and it never lasts long. I think I’ve used an umbrella about twice and have taken it with me and never had to use it. It does get cold though, but nothing that gets close to freezing. I don’t like anything under 15 deg C so that’s what I call cold and the average here at the moment is 14. They keep saying that Melbourne weather is changeable but compared to the Manawatu, it isn’t at all. There it could be nice and sunny in the morning and then turn to crap. Here it stays pretty much the same all day – if it’s sunny, it will be for most of the day; if it’s grey, it will stay grey most of the day. The weather forecasts are pretty accurate.

Talking of never wanting to go back (in my mind anyway)…  I never completely closed my Facebook account, heading in there very occasionally to see what family members were up to, never staying long, never scrolling through. Then I got sucked into it briefly by a message from FB telling me to upload a picture so friends could recognise me. It’s one of those stupid things that FB says like telling me I should celebrate my friendship with A because we’ve been friends for six years. He’s my brother for fuck’s sake. They keep mucking about with settings but don’t make it intelligent enough to recognise that some “friends” are tagged as relatives. I don’t want to go back to it. I scrolled a bit and saw a mixture of posts from 1 hour ago to 23 hours ago to 3 days ago. WTF? I want to see the latest, dumbarse fucking Facebook. I loathe the bloody thing, but if you’re not on it, you’re not in the loop.  I think it’s rather sad that the only means of communication these days seems to be through Facebook. After I did upload a stupid picture of myself I was inundated with “likes” and comments. The vast majority of them haven’t once emailed me in all the time I’ve been here, even those that I actually did write to (I have been slack on the communication front I must admit). I could be dead for all any of them care. Two of them have visited Melbourne without getting in touch or letting me know. So much for “friends”.

Do I miss NZ? I don’t miss the Manawatu or the place I worked. I do miss my bro and driving through the countryside, visiting him or friends, or the beach, say. I struggle to think of anything else. I’ll visit sometime soon, but have no plans yet.

This arvo I’m off to the rare book fair with M (a fellow Kiwi) which I’m looking forward to. I’m glad she’s come over to live. It’ll be nice to have someone else to hang out with at times. I don’t go to shows because they’re so expensive (so I do miss things like Summer Shakespeare) but there is always the gallery and interesting exhibitions. I enjoyed the David Hockney exhibit but didn’t go to the Van Gogh one, as I’ve been to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam (and he’s not a favourite artist of mine). There’s always something on somewhere – it’s just a matter of getting there.

Well, I’ve run out of shit to say. I still haven’t written about the trip to Myanmar. Perhaps I will. I finished a genealogy challenge so might feel more enthused to update this blog. I haven’t even updated my photography one as I’ve only taken photos on my mobile recently and didn’t’ think any were particularly good. I’m pretty slack on transferring photos from mobile and camera (when I do use it) to the computer. I just did the mobile transfer of five months’ worth of pics. Still haven’t done the camera transfer. I might take my camera this arvo.

Adios, and if there are any readers left, thanks for reading.

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Buddha day, Fed square

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Korean girls in costume, Fed square

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Hmm

Another couple of weeks have gone by.

I think I am not feeling motivated to write here because I have started writing daily in the app Diaro.  I find it pretty good, especially combined with the swiftkey app which makes it faster to type.  I mentioned this app on Facebook along with a list of apps to use for the new year. Of course it was ignored.

As for Facebook, I haven’t deleted my account.  On the rare occasions one of my daughters posts something, I can view it.  I’ve become a lurker, I guess.  I have checked it a couple of times, but seriously, I’m not missing anything.  I still get that feeling of irritation so I’m well out of it.  I do, however, miss posting the odd observation or sharing an article.  I could do that on Twitter, I suppose, but I rarely go on there.  Folkdirect, as predicted, is a dead duck.

Well, while I’m here, I can say I’m thoroughly enjoying the Australian summer, compared to the crap they’re having in New Zealand.  I saw an article that mentioned that the place I used to live had the least sunshine hours of the whole country.  No wonder I was often depressed.  I’m a sun worshipper, summer being my favourite season.  Fuck winter.

I still haven’t written about my trip.  One day I might feel the urge.  It hasn’t come yet.  Maybe it never will, but I feel I should.  My hand-scrawled diary isn’t sufficient.  This blog, although public, is for me to look back on.

Well, that’s all I feel inclined to write about at present. Another update in a couple of weeks perhaps.

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Happy New Year.  It seems that a lot of people thought 2016 was horrible or expressed hatred for the year.  How can you hate a year?  It’s just a period of time.  I don’t think I’ve ever expressed a feeling of being glad to see the back of a year.  Time is precious. During any year you have good and bad.  Treasure those memories.  We’re still alive and have more to live.  Don’t take it for granted.

Anyway, I said that I would write about my trip.  I haven’t felt motivated, I suppose, because I kept a diary while overseas so felt like I’ve written about it, and also shared a lot of photos on Facebook.  I still don’t feel like writing about it all and uploading the photos again.  Perhaps in a few days.

So, I don’t have anything to say right now.  It’s a gloomy sort of day.  I guess I’m reflecting with sadness on past years and don’t really know what to do with myself today.  I got home about 2.30 am from C’s place and slept in until 10.25 am (after first being woken at about 6 am).  Since then I’ve mucked about, finally updating my genealogy blog at least.  I had thought about going out today but the afternoon is nearing the end and the weather isn’t inviting.  Tomorrow perhaps, although I’ve got to go and buy groceries yet again.

Sorry, a blog entry about nothing.  I’ll write later perhaps.  I’ll end here with my favourite photo of my mother (far more attractive than me), who died 38 years ago tomorrow.  She would have been 92, but she always said she didn’t want to grow old. (She got her wish. She never did. Be careful what you wish for.)

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I can safely say I’m sick of cold, wet weather.  Sunshine has been sporadic for the past month or so.  Apparently, so far, it’s been the coldest, wettest spring in Melbourne for several years.  Great.  I shouldn’t complain – it would be the same or worse in the Manawatu.

I am still jobless, sadly.  I have applied for a few jobs but haven’t been able to get an interview as the other candidates were of a “high calibre”.  Great.  I am disappointed in the agency I’m signed up with.  I’ve had two phone calls from them in three months.  I called back immediately after missing one of the calls but by the time I managed to contact them, the position had gone.  Thanks.  Not impressed.  The woman I had before was brilliant.  This guy doesn’t sound like he gives a shit.  I saw a job advertised this morning.  It was for a one year contract at the same place I had an interview at late last year.  I figured I should apply for it, after fiddling with my CV again, but when it came down to it, I couldn’t do it.  The interview had been one of the most humiliating experiences of my life: – a panel of about five people seated around me, unsmiling and unfriendly.  I stuttered, spilt the glass of water, and seemingly didn’t answer their odd questions to their satisfaction.  Just to get to the interview was a one hour tram ride from the CBD.  I can’t go through that experience again.  I willed myself to apply, but then just cried.  I can’t do it.

Some days I’m really depressed about the situation.  Other days I try to think positively and fill the day with interests.  I’ve done a couple of (free) courses online, the latest one being a four-week photography one through RMIT, after a six-week genealogy one through the University of Tasmania.  I am doing weekly blog entries about genealogy.  I have just written another one which has taken most of the day.  When it’s fine (which it certainly isn’t today), I go for walks and take my camera with me.  In the evenings I watch one of many excellent TV series and movies on SBS On Demand.

A trip is planned with the girls in November.  C wanted to celebrate her 30th birthday overseas, so we are going to Thailand, Myanmar, and Singapore.  If I applied for a job, or got given a temporary contract, I would have to say I can’t work for about three weeks in November/December.  Perhaps I’m better off being unemployed until then, although that’s a long time to be without a job.  The trip is something to look forward to in any case.  I feel in need of a holiday.  It gets very lonely being at home all day every day (even with the company of a cat).

I’m rather disappointed in the lack of communication from some friends.  Perhaps they are embarrassed for me being out of work, after my “great move to better things”.  I don’t want their pity.  Some positivity would be good, but I get nothing at all.  Disappointing.  When I don’t get responses to emails or messages, I feel there’s no point trying again.  Isn’t it rude not to respond?  I don’t get it.  I just don’t understand people.  I found an old email as I was emptying an account before closing it.  I guess I kept the email because it reminded me of the duplicity of some people who call themselves “friends”.  In the email she called me a bitch (among other things).  She said as a friend she could say such things.  Yeah right.  With friends like that, who needs enemies.  She’d said some nasty things about me to others as well, so it’s no loss.  Needless to say, she hasn’t been a friend since.  It just made me aware, after reading it again, that I just don’t understand why some people behave as they do.  What did I do?  I’m totally unaware of whatever they think I’ve done.  I grew up preferring animals to people.  Still do, for that matter.

I’ll continue walking my path alone.

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Kalang park, Blackburn

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I could’ve sworn I wrote a draft about my trip to Brisbane, but it appears not.  I won’t split this up, so it will be a long post.

It was a wet day when I left home.  I caught the train to Southern Cross, arriving about half an hour before the bus I had planned to get departed.  My original plan was to have something to eat at Southern Cross.  Instead I just bought a ticket and caught the next available bus – a double-decker one.  I had allowed an hour to get to the airport, but we were there in 30 minutes.  This meant I was even earlier than I needed to be.

I printed out my boarding pass (I had checked in online), and went in search of food.  I ended up having a muffin and a ginger beer.  Then slowly wandered down to the departure gate, idly looking in book shops.  I was pulled aside for a scan to see if there was an “explosive residue” on me.  For fuck’s sake.

Waited for the Virgin airline flight, gazing out at the rain.

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I had been able to choose a window seat for free, but all I saw was cloud – featureless white cloud as far as the eye could see.  It was so featureless that there was no sensation of movement – just the noise of the plane.  It was as if we were stationery.  Quite weird.

Finally we descended into Brisbane, beside what looked like a huge cloud statue of an elephant lying down.  Brisbane was grey and threatening rain, but it was warm.

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I wish Melbourne had trains to the airport.  It would make things so much easier, and there wouldn’t be the worry of traffic jams.

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My cousin, H, was arriving from a work trip to Sydney, so I waited for her.  Together we got a taxi to her place in Chermside.  I was introduced to her lovely cat, Molly.

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After a meal and long chat, we headed to bed.

Saturday was a bit grey and windy, but we walked to the local mall.  H bought a few things at the supermarket, then we had a coffee.  Thankfully, we share the same views on politics and religion and could chat away quite happily.

H rang her mother, J (my father’s sister) at the retirement village to let her know we were coming, then drove round to see her.  She’s 95 and recently recovered from a fall and mild stroke, but she was as active and talkative as she was at her 90th birthday.  Amazing.  It was good to see her looking so well, and the only medication she takes is a blood thinner.

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We only stayed an hour, but I hoped I would be able to see J again.

We returned to H’s place and made lunch, then set off for the beach at Sandgate.  It was very windy.  The seagulls just hovered.

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We sat on a park bench and ate our rolls.  There were quite a few parasurfers, if that’s the right term.

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Lunch finished, we went for a wander along the beachfront to the pier.

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Shorncliffe pier, image from Flickr

We walked to the end of the pier.  The waves were very choppy.  Quite a few fishermen were trying their luck.  On the way back we saw what looked like blue plastic bags floating in the sea.  They were jellyfish.  I didn’t take a photo as I was afraid of dropping my mobile phone into the sea in the strong wind.  This is what they looked like.

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I can’t find a name for them, other than “blue jellyfish”.  A kid showed off a few fish lined up on the boards.  A few were quite small – too small I thought, and I felt sorry for the fish.

We returned to H’s place.  There was a loud thunderstorm which continued for some time.  We watched “Beck” on SBS on Demand on H’s TV.

For dinner, we got an Uber ride to Nundah and ate at a pub which served Italian food.  I was amazed at how quickly the car turned up.  It was raining but we sat outside the pub under cover.  Lovely meal, cooked and served by real Italians (a rarity in NZ).  It was wonderful to hear the accents.  After dinner, we headed across the road to a small bar called Village Social.  There was a band called Heads Hands and Feet playing – a three-piece band made up of a bearded guy in dreads on keyboard and vocals, a Maori from Chatham Islands on guitar and vocals, and an old English guy on drums.  They were good.  I enjoyed their music.

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H used her app to get another Uber ride home and it showed up almost immediately.  I was impressed.  H said that the drivers are much more polite, and if you lose something you can contact them.  This contrasts with an experience that a friend of J’s had – an elderly woman with a walker trying to get into the back of a taxi and the driver not getting out to help at all.  If taxi drivers are complaining about Uber they need to up their game.  If I ever need a taxi, I’ll download the Uber app.

H likes to go to bed early (and gets up early) so I headed to bed and watched episode 3 of “Southcliffe” on my mobile.  I didn’t sleep well that night (not as a result of the programme I might add).

Sunday dawned bright and sunny.  H headed off to her gym.  When she returned we drove to Nundah to check out the market.  Lots of stalls but H didn’t seem interested in any and walked past them all.  We sat and had a coffee (she loves her coffee), then walked back to the car.  A pointless exercise, I thought.  Not that I was interested in buying anything or watching the entertainment, but even just a browse…?  Oh well.

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It was nice not to have to wear a singlet or jacket.  You can see from the photos that all you needed was a short or sleeveless top.

H’s idea was for us to go to Southbank and meet her son who was going there with his wife and young baby.  However, he was unsure when he was going to be there and sounded reluctant to meet us, so instead, after lunch, we drove north to Bribie Island.

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It was a very pleasant drive.  It was wonderful to see the countryside.  I had never been north of Brisbane before.  I spotted a pelican as we crossed the bridge to the island.

We found a carpark by the beach and wandered down in barefeet.  It was so pleasant and seemed like summer.

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In the distance is Moreton Island (and a container ship)

H and I walked south along the beach, me careful to avoid stepping on the many bluebottles washed up.  No-one else seemed to care about them.  I spotted some seabirds and later found out they were greater crested terns.

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I had taken a camera but didn’t have a zoom lens on it.

We returned from our walk and went into the surf club for a drink.  I had a nice cool beer and H had a lemon, lime and bitters.  I found out later that there was a bush walk nearby that we could have gone on, but H seemed keen to head back.  Her son wanted her to babysit but hadn’t given a time.

So we drove back to H’s and waited for him to drop off they baby so they could go to the gym.  In the meantime, H made roast vegetables with lamb, which we ate in a bowl for some reason (and without gravy).  Eventually, H’s son and his partner turned up about 7pm!  They said they’d be an hour but it was more like two.  The baby slept for a bit, cried for a bit and H fed it some milk.  Then it cried again.  H put some kid’s programme on TV and it watched, fascinated.  Unfortunately, we had to put up with the “Wheels on the Bus” song about four or five times.  It was just after 9pm when H’s daughter-in-law showed up to collect the baby.  You may be able to tell that I don’t particularly care for babies.

Monday was another sunny day.  Unfortunately for me, H had decided to go to the gym again, so I was stuck at her place without a key.  I think it a little selfish if you have a guest (surely you can forego the gym for a day) but that’s my opinion.  We could’ve spent the morning at Southbank or something, or I could have gone for a walk.  Oh well.  I ended up watching the last of “Southcliffe” and thought the last two episodes were a complete waste of time.  H returned about 11 am and we talked for a while.  Then she took me to the airport about 12.

The plane was delayed for half an hour after we’d boarded, so we sat waiting, looking at the blue sky.

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The flight was full and I had been called to the desk for a new boarding pass.  They had changed my seat to a window seat, which suited me fine.  At least this time I would get to see something.

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As we neared Melbourne the temperature dropped and the clouds got thicker.  It was ten degrees colder than Brisbane – not a surprise.

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I sat upstairs in the double-decker Skybus this time.  I tried to get a photo of the CDB as we neared it, but the bus was too bumpy.

At Southern Cross I waited for a train back home.  Again a delay but I finally reached home about 6pm, to a very happy cat.  She purred non-stop on my lap.

Back to the cold and wet.  Roll on summer.

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