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Posts Tagged ‘Melbourne’

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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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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Already well over a week since I went to Melbourne.

C picked me up from the airport and we arranged to meet H at her place.  From there we walked to Fairfield shopping area and walked down to a Thai restaurant.  So many good eating places along that street.  Nice food, then walked back, and saw a cute little ring-tailed possum looking down on us.

Saturday, arranged to meet bro at aunt’s place.  C drove us there.  At first I didn’t recognise aunt J, as she’d aged so much, and was with a grey-haired man I also didn’t recognise.  Then saw cousin R and got out to greet them.  The man was R’s husband, of course.  They were all in the garden tidying it up during their visit from Bairnsdale.  K and G arrived shortly after while we were about to have a cup of tea, then cousin H arrived, having flown down from Brisbane.  Walked to a Japanese restaurant nearby for lunch.  After we returned, decided to drive to one of the vineyards up the Yarra valley and did some wine tasting at Rochford.

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I found all the wine a bit dry for me.  Continued to Healesville and finally settled on another vineyard cafe for dinner.

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Very pleasant.  H couldn’t join us as she finished work at 7pm.  We headed off to our respective “homes”, C and I following K and G to their place up the valley.  We had a cuppa and heard kookaburras.  It always makes me smile to hear them.  C and I drove back, reaching home about 10ish.

H did meet us (C, K and G) the next day at the convent at Abbotsford.  R and G returned to Bairnsdale but H joined us as well.  We had lunch at Lentil as Anything (wonderful food and said to be closing because people weren’t giving enough money for the food – payment by donation).  Wandered around the grounds afterwards and then along the river.

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From there we made our way to IKEA and had a look around.  H and I liked the day bed so I think I’ll have to get one of those for the second bedroom.  Spotted potential candidates for the couch.  C was sick of driving so she took the car home while the rest of us caught the train into the CBD.  H had drinks with colleagues to go to, so the rest of us made our way to the Munich Brauhaus on the South bank.  It was extremely noisy and unpleasant (architects never seem to get the acoustics right for cafes and bars).  We waited for C and then continued onto the Belgian bar, where we ate dinner.  At Flinders Street station we all went our separate ways.  H would fly back to Brisbane the next day.

Monday, I took the train to Fairfield to meet H.  We had lunch at one of the Mediterranean cafes along the main street then went for a walk to Northcote.  Very pleasant neighbourhood.  She found me a pet shop where they sold a spray to calm cats.  Very useful for Jasmine’s upcoming trip to Wellington to catch the plane over.  It wasn’t cheap though, but worth it if it helps, and apparently it does.  It was quite hot, so we wandered past a pub which didn’t look very inviting on the outside but it was nice inside, if empty.  We were even offered a beer tasting before choosing one.  Then we took the beers out the back to the outside part and found lots of people there chilling and reading books, etc.  It was wonderful.  We returned to H’s place where she made dinner.  I caught the train back.

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Tuesday, H and I had arranged to meet K and G and caught the same train (great organisational skills there) for the one hour trip to where they were staying.  They picked us up from the station at Lilydale and we headed into the Dandenongs.  G wanted to go to the William Rickett’s sanctuary.  I’d never heard of it and didn’t know what to expect.  I thought sanctuary might involve animals but it was a path around the man’s sculptures.  They were a bit samey, I thought.  Pleasant walk though.  From there we stopped at Olinda and had a pie.  Well, we didn’t think much of them.  Bro and I ordered a steak and bacon pie and it was just like a normal mince pie.  Didn’t see any bacon.  We felt ripped off, and H even more so when we had to pay $3.20 for a small bottle of water.  G’s next desire was to go to the rhododendron gardens, even though I knew the season was pretty much over.  Lovely tall gum trees at the entrance though.

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As I suspected, there were few rhododendrons still in flower, but the gardens were nice to walk through, with many other different plants and trees to see and a lovely view from one spot.

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The gardens would be stunning at their peak.  We did the loop around the gardens and were heading back when bro spotted a snake on the path.  I had never seen one in the wild but was almost too late to see it as it turned and slithered into the bushes as soon as it sensed us.

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I figured out later (from bro’s superior photo) that it was a lowland copperhead snake.  From the gardens we headed to an area where we could walk through the gums on walking tracks (Ferntree gully?).  I kept a lookout for snakes in the undergrowth, while also trying to look up to find birds – tricky!  I did see some little black birds flitting around but couldn’t get a photo.  K didn’t hear his favourite whipbirds.  After the walk we looked for somewhere for a beer and something to eat.  We did have a beer at Coldstream but decided not to stay to eat.  It was still quite early.  We continued to Yarra Glen but places were either closing or were not serving food until 5.30 or 6pm, even if they sold beer (you’d think they’d offer snacks, but no).  After looking at the one-dish menu at the beer place we settled on the remaining Grand Hotel, avoiding the kids and the pop music.  The food was average.  We returned with K and G to their place and this time saw a kangaroo and its joey.  She wasn’t too concerned at our presence nearby.

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H and I missed a train so had to wait an hour for another at Wattle Glen.  H could get off at Fairfield, but I changed trains at Flinders and got another to Prahran, arriving about 10.30.

Wednesday was a right-off, as I woke with stomach pains.  C had left for work and I had to make do without pain meds (she’d run out).  Diarrhoea for most of the day and vomiting.  Not pleasant.  I couldn’t leave the apartment as W had the spare key and he was in China.  H said she’d head over with some panadol and food, although I wasn’t hungry.  I could only put it down to the chicken I’d eaten the evening before.  I napped while waiting for H but then as soon as I got up to let her in, I had to go to the bathroom again to vomit.  Not at all pleasant.  We’d arranged to meet K and G at a Burmese restaurant that night, so I was pissed off to miss out on it.  H left to meet them and C, and I stayed back, feeling rather sorry for myself.

Thursday was my last full day so I was determined to get out.  My stomach felt a little achey still, but I headed out, making my way to the zoo.  I chose the wrong time of day to go – when there were scores of school kids, and mothers with their screaming toddlers.   Some animals might have a little more room to move and had dirt and grass, but the enclosures were still too small and I was angered at the noise – not just from the kids, but from pop music playing and recordings which no-one listened to and even the constant clicking of an electric fence around the gorilla enclosure.  The poor animals.  I felt sorry for all of them.  Zoos like that are not about conservation – it’s all entertainment – for kids.  They breed simply to replace the inmates with younger ones to grow up in enclosed misery.  These kids should be taught about the diminishing environment of the animals’ native habitat and how their consumption is affecting them, not shown around cages with little extra play activities.  I was annoyed and saddened.

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My sandals had not been up to the task of walking all day, so I headed into the CBD and walked (slowly) to DFO and bought some flat, comfortable shoes.  Then I could comfortably walk along the South Bank to Fed Square, which I hadn’t yet been to on this trip.  I people-watched for a while, then met C at the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets.  We had a look at the Myer shop windows (a cute animated story about a lost dog at Xmas time) before walking further to eat ramen noodles at a Japanese restaurant.

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Friday was the day of flying back and I met H at Southern Cross station.  We had pho, watched by seagulls, then I caught the skybus to the airport.  It was now raining (but cleared up later).  The traffic meant the skybus took twice as long to get to the airport, which made me panic a bit, trying to find the check-in, not being able to get the automatic machine to work, trying to find somewhere to fill the departure card in, queueing up in the wrong place and being told off, then finally getting to the gate, only to be told the flight was delayed half an hour.  Oh, the joys of travelling.

Arrived in Wellington at 11.45 pm local time.  People took forever to retrieve bags and get off, ages to line up at the few smartgate queues, but even then it was another 15 minutes before the bags even started appearing at the baggage claim.  People were not amused, someone nearby comparing it to a third world country.  I then had to wait ages for the shuttle to take me back to the long-term carpark and he drove at about 30 kph.  One hour after landing, I was finally able to drive home, arriving at 2.45 am.  I never seem to have a pleasant experience returning to NZ.  Perhaps it’s just as well that next time I won’t be returning.

 

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I have packed my first box!  I listed everything, which took up half a page of foolscap-sized paper and took photos, so it took a while!  I started with little knick-knacks and my parents’ silver cutlery, and piled a few old table-cloths on the top.  It felt satisfying taping it up and setting it aside.  Hopefully the rest won’t take quite so long (except perhaps listing DVDs and CDs).  My back was up to kneeling on the floor and wrapping things, then pushing the box along the floor with a foot.  I still intend taking things easy for a week or so – there’s no way I want more pain to restrict the huge job of packing.

I also took the final move of booking my last ticket out of NZ on 11 December.  Huge sigh.  Now I have a definite date and time to work towards.  It’s all rather overwhelming.

So anyway, instead of driving to Hamilton on Saturday, which would’ve been a literal pain, I chatted with bro and drove down to his place in the afternoon, stopping briefly on the way to walk around.  I was still taking painkillers to ease the slight ache.

My bro had two French girls staying there – “Wwoofers” (their property is listed on the Wwoof website, so they get foreign travellers working their way through NZ, which is a good way to get the weeding done!).  Bro wasn’t impressed with this lot with their painted nails.

On Sunday morning I decided to do without painkillers to see how I went.  Sleeping had been ok and I got up alright.  Sis-in-law was selling her wares at a market at Riversdale.  Bro and I took the girls down to the beach and wandered along for a while before having a look at the small market.

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There were thousands of little shrimp-like creatures lying on the sand.  We wondered why and what had killed them.

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On our return, bro’s neighbour came round and asked if we wanted to join him on the boat down the river to his bach where he was going to mow the lawn.  I was a bit unsure about the state of my back but jumped at the chance.  Bro told French girls what to do while we were away.  The dogs came too.  Neighbour’s dog was brother and son to bro’s dogs.

I clambered onto the speedboat with no problems and was glad that the seat was supported.  I had envisaged holding onto the seat and hoping I’d stay upright.  Dogs piled in on top of us, but neighbour’s dog jumped onto the bow and faced the wind – he’d obviously done it many times and loved the wind in his face.

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We disturbed quite a few birds, including paradise ducks and a heron.  I can imagine that river boat trips would be great for bird photography.  Unfortunately I only had my little point-and-shoot.

Parked the boat at the river mouth (managed to jump off ok, bending ze knees) and walked along the sea front to the bach.

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Neighbour’s bach was fantastic.  He’d built it himself and towed an extra little old building, landscaped it, built a deck.  It was perfect – the good old Kiwi bach.  None of this fancy mansion stuff with all mod cons.  Bro and I loved it and could imagine a weekend staying there reading books and playing Siedler.

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There was not a another soul in sight.  Fantastic.  What a great place for a getaway.  You wouldn’t want to go back.

However, we had to, after they mowed the lawn and it looked like paradise.  Hopped back on the boat and headed back.

Sis-in-law was back home and immediately berated bro for not telling the girls to do things properly.  Neighbour quietly slipped away instead of taking up the offer of a cup of tea.

I wandered around the garden for a while before we had a late lunch.  Spotted some quail.

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There was bird song all around and it was so peaceful.  I would miss that.

Bro and I looked at Melbourne maps for our upcoming trip.  They were staying an hour’s train ride away and I showed him where H and S lived and where to go for NGV and Botanic gardens, etc.  I still had photos from my April trip on my camera, so showed him those.  He, in turn, showed me photos of their Adelaide trip last year.

Headed over to another neighbour’s place for the woman’s 66th birthday drinks.  Lovely verandahed house and beautiful ‘roomed’ gardens.  Returned, and after a quick dinner of pizza I drove back home.  Lovely moonlit night.

I’m glad I went.  It was just what I needed to get me back on track.

 

 

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Today, two things happened.  I got word that my house had sold unconditionally, and I resigned from my job.

I made the radical, and very scary, decision to put my house on the market and move to Melbourne.  I don’t have a job to go to.  I have been applying for a year and got one phone interview.  I found that the positions advertised were either short-term, or they wanted someone to start within a month, and I believe that others were put off by my need to give a month’s notice at my current work and selling the house – for them there was no telling when I would be available.

So, I’m taking the risk.  I made the decision a couple of weeks ago to put the house on the market.  I got a couple of appraisals and decided on the better one.  The house got advertised on Wednesday last week.  I had two offers presented to me on the Saturday.  I was signing papers on Monday and got the word that the sale was unconditional today!  It’s all happened so fast!

As soon as I heard, I spoke to my boss and wrote my letter of resignation.  I finish work mid-November.  The house needs to be empty in the first week of December.  I will be in Melbourne by Christmas.  Naturally, my beloved Jasmine will come with me.

I have never done anything this daunting before.  I’m both elated/excited and terrified.  Absolutely terrified.  But I didn’t want to live in this house anymore, and didn’t want to go to the same job until retirement (and end up like the sad-looking 70-year-old in my department).  I wanted change.  I wanted excitement.  I’ll certainly get both.  The alternative was to continue living here, alone and lonely, isolated from the world, being bored at home and at work until retirement – a slow death.  I couldn’t bear the thought.  I have now outlived my mother, so anything more is a bonus.  Life is too short for regrets.  And if I don’t go, I will regret it to the end.

The boss wished me luck.  I will need it. 🙂

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And so to the day I hadn’t been looking forward to – the return journey home.  I had a half-hearted breakfast and packed.

C and W dropped me off at the international terminal.  We hugged.  I had no idea when I’d see C again.  I fought back tears as I trudged into the terminal, my bag dragging behind me.  There were no queues at the check-in counter.  Presumably others hadn’t got the message about the flight being 2 hours delayed and came early to check in.  Overnight I’d received texts saying the flight would be 1.50 late, then 2 hours 20, then 1 hour 55.  It was still two hours ultimately.  As an “apology” for the delay, I was given a “meal” voucher.  I didn’t look at it, just shoving it in my bag as I continued through to the departure lounge, after filling in the departure card.

Smart gates for those with smart passports – yay.  Passed through security no problem – wasn’t pulled aside for one of those humiliating xray machines which make you feel like you’re contaminated.

Didn’t bother looking at duty free.  There was nothing I wanted.  I wandered around looking for food.  Nothing appealed.  I had a cappucino then wandered up and down, sitting for short periods.  There wasn’t much to see – a book shop, a bar, overpriced clothing and souvenir shops.  I was thirsty but didn’t want to break a note just for an overpriced bottle of water.  I slurped some water from the tap in the toilet instead.  I watched as a uniformed American woman was rude to a person serving at a food counter.  United Airlines.  Huh.  Arrogant bitch.

There wasn’t enough seating at the actual departure gate, so I just hung around, worrying about catching my connecting flight.

Finally, finally! We got on board.  I had an aisle seat.  I hadn’t bought any food for the plane (I’d got seat and bag only) and belatedly looked at my voucher.  It entitled me to the equivalent of cheese and crackers and a juice.  Not really a “meal”.  I didn’t care.  Others appeared to pay for their snacks – didn’t they get a voucher?

I slept for most of the flight.  I was tired and depressed.  The only bright spot was seeing Jasmine again.

On arrival at Auckland, they let off the people who had connecting flights to catch first.  I lined up with the rest and followed a woman who ran.  I’d overheard her worriedly explaining to a fellow passenger, that she only had one night to be with her mother in PN and if she missed the flight she wouldn’t see her mother.

I lost sight of her and anxiously waited for my bag.  Relieved to see it come through as one of the first.  I grabbed it and ran and saw the queue for customs with a groan.  I didn’t have time to wait.  I barged through, apologising and mumbling “connecting flight to catch”.  Some were fine with it.  Others looked put out.  I didn’t care.

Waved through no problem, thankfully, and the dog didn’t sniff out any possible chocolate crumbs in my bag.  I ran from the international terminal to the domestic.  There was half an hour left before the flight to PN departed.

Puffed, I went up to the check in machine and couldn’t work out what to do.  I asked the woman standing doing nothing at the bag drop off.  “Just follow the instructions on the screen”.  Of course.  Read the screen, girl.  Calm down.  Everything printed out and I hastily stuck the sticker through the bag handle and dropped off the bag.  The other woman was there too.  She looked just as stressed.

Sigh of relief as I walked to sit down.  At one time I’d worried that this flight might be delayed (as it so often is) but the other woman had commented that it was on time for once.

About to drag my tablet out, when the flight was called for boarding.

I still wasn’t completely with it when I ended up sitting on the plane, looking out at airport workers in blinking vehicles.

A non-speaking man sat next to me the whole flight, even though there were spare seats on the other side.  I just hid my face and let some tears fall.

No-one to greet me at the airport on arrival (for the first time).  Got my bag and queued up to pay the parking, then took my crumpled ticket to my little car, still there waiting, bless it.

Bag in boot, start the car (first time, thank you, car) and left, driving in the darkness on another planet.

I couldn’t pick up Jasmine until the next evening but it was lovely to see her and cuddle her furriness.

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Both H and C were working, so I had the day to myself.  It looked like being another fine day.  The balloonists were out.

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I caught a train to Flinders Street (just missing one, and having to wait for the next).

My plan was to revisit the Botanic gardens to see the autumn colours and the Shrine of Remembrance on the way.  I walked down St Kilda Road past the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria), which I intended to visit later.

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Ironically it was a nicer day than the last time I visited the Shrine of Remembrance in summer the year before.

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The view from the top was lovely,

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Interesting poppy sculpture to the southeast of the memorial.

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I continued on to the Botanic gardens.  I wanted a drink but I knew the cafe near the entrance was expensive, so decided to make my way to the pond-side cafe.  I could see already that the autumn colours were beautiful.

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I had to queue a long time just to get my cold drink (lots of old ladies, etc, wanting cups of tea).  I sat outside overlooking the pond and just soaked it all in, watching people and birds.

Magpie lark

Magpie lark

A skinny version of a pukeko

A skinny version of a pukeko

After my drink I wandered slowly round the pond towards the bellbirds, looking at the swamp hens, ducks, and a shag.

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I heard rainbow lorikeets in the trees but it was a while before I spotted any and the resulting photo would be a contender for #worstbirdpic.  Last time I got a great photo of a bellbird, but this time I found it difficult.  They’re small and active.  I watched as they uttered the sound just casually while feeding.  Such a huge sound for such a small bird, just like the NZ bellbird.

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I continued my wander, taking in the beauty.

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By now it was getting close to lunchtime, so I left the gardens and headed back up St Kilda Road towards the NGV and went inside.

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I looked at what what was on offer in the cafe downstairs (including a “Hawiin” pizza) but nothing took my fancy for the price.  Upstairs didn’t appeal.  Ii remembered that I had a voucher for the Ian Potter Centre cafe from visiting the exhibition the day before, so I wearily made my way there instead.  For the voucher I got a % discount off a pastry and coffee and a free coffee.  Weird really.  However, I had both coffees and a danish pastry.  The danish pastry wasn’t great but it was food.  The coffee filled me up as well.  I returned to the NGV.  I thought about going into the Chinese exhibition, which cost the same amount I’d spent for the car exhibition (and was probably better).  I decided just to look around the free exhibitions again.  It’s a great gallery.

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C was finishing work early at 4.30 and text me.  I thought she might meet me at the gallery but she complained it was too far, so I started walking towards her work place which was across the river from the Exhibition Centre.

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I waited by the sailing ship.  C turned up some minutes later.  She said the German style pub was too busy so she led me to a Belgian one.  We sat at a bench overlooking the road sipping our beer and cider, watching the taxis lined up opposite.  It slowly got dark.  H and W would meet us later but we had some time to kill so we headed into town.

We heard the Aboriginal protest near Flinders Street but didn’t go down that way and took detours through lanes.  We wandered around malls and shops.  Again I wasn’t in the mood for shopping.

Eventually we met up with H and W outside H & M.  We wanted to find somewhere to eat and couldn’t agree on what type of food.  Many places were too busy. We settled on an Indian/Thai takeaway type place.  I wasn’t too sure about it as it was empty (not a good sign) and the food in the bain-marie looked old.  However, we ordered from the menu and the food was actually quite good.

We went onto a cocktail bar which was housed in an old mental institution in Chinatown (The Croft Institute).  I was tired, but followed them down a dark alleyway and into a dark and noisy place.  They served cocktails with syringes.  Upstairs the toilets were all cold green and white tiles and a hospital bed was next to the taps.  A creepy place, really.

It was getting late.  H had work the next morning so we split up on a train platform.  I wasn’t sure when I’d see her again.  We waited for our train.

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We had to change at Richmond and there were a lot of men on the platform, having just returned from a footy game.

Back at the apartment, the neighbour decided to have a loud party just as I was trying to get some sleep.  I had to be at the airport at 8 am.  W said that parties weren’t permitted in the building after 11pm and rang to complain.  Eventually someone went to their door and told them to quieten down or something.  Finally the guests left and all was quiet.  Then a text from Virgin Airlines to say that my plane would be two hours delayed.  At least I didn’t have to be at the airport until 10am but it was annoying.  There was nothing on the website to indicate the delay.  W rang to check and yes at least two hours.  I hoped it wasn’t longer as I had a connecting flight to catch in Auckland.  A rather depressing end to the day and week.

 

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