Here we are in among the trees, the famous eucalyptus of Melbourne for a brief moment. That is where I started this blog.
A totally impromptu trip down the south. Family and friends were present. Coming from everywhere to spend just a little time together. Visiting a few friends briefly. Picking up some presents from Fran and Les. Seeing Nicole and Nathalie. Sue, Peter and their family for fabulous time together. Without forgetting the little Charlie that I managed to cuddle and feed. Thanks Jen for this little moment of feeling the tiny bundle in my arms. Pam and Catherine out from England. Naomi and Gary from Sydney. John back from Perth. Maria with Ross and Zoe and Isabelle.
Catch up with G’s mother, Val for a lovely moment chatting about our progeny and their endeavours, trips, works and their vacations abroad. That is also without saying the wonderful dinner that was cooked for us. Simple,tasty, varied and so well prepared. Many thanks for this Val!
At Sue’s place there many were old acquaintances and friends. But the marathon feast was Peter M with the help of everyone present who managed to cook for 70 people. We had enough food for 100. Lovely Indian curries, full of flavours, spices, salsas, salads, and deserts galore. I never had so many slices of pavlova in my life. My husband Peter also of course gorged himself…what a sweet tooth he is! So did I for that matter and never looked back. They were just scrumptious, so was the Tiramisu.
We drove this time with Benoit a friend from Nimbin who had to pick up a bus in Ballarat. We took it in turn to fly on the highways. We stayed together in hotels and motels along the way. All The start of the drive was rather scenic and then miles upon miles of flat straight highway. At times driving around these parts of Australia is rather boring and monotonous. Lucky that we were 3 to do the trip. Taking turns every 2 or 3 hours. Chatting, story telling, playing some music which quickly got on our nerves while driving.
First stop Dubbo. A lovely motel half way there. A rather busy town. How can one starts describing Australian town. In my eyes they all look the same. A few colonial buildings, historic relics, war memorial lost on the main square, fish and chips shops where the smell of fat is enough to make you run.
When I think that, when I first starting teaching and first arrived in Australia, that particular smell of fat(God knows what it is) used to attract me like a magnet and I used to dive into the shop at lunch time to get my fill of greasy chips, battered fish and scallops, which by the way had nothing to do with the real crustacean, but just a deep fried potato cake. The whole lot wrapped in 2 layers of white butcher’s papers, vinegar optional, tomato ketchup and a wedge of lemon for the fish. Hot and fatty. Getting back to school the smell used to invade the whole staff room and I would happily share some of it with my colleagues. Today this smell makes me nauseous and I run the other way at the presence of this obnoxious odour. Anyway, the Australian town is blend and had no particular attraction. Businesses, sheep, cattle and a few other things I am sure. The landscape was nothing to rave about as the rain battered us the whole way down to the Victorian border. Still on the border we can’t bring fruit with you in the car. Fruit fly are supposed to read the signs along the way, especially capsicum and tomatoes. I am sure there would be some special schools for these creatures to teach them how to read. But there might be a point also in the government forbidding these vegetables from across the border.
Just before Dubbo, we steadily climbed to about 1000m. The highest town in Australia…Armidale. Quite quaint, rocky, and the home of University of New England. Indeed with its valleys, undulating hills, green plateaus surrounded by mountains it does reminisce of England/Europe. Very green at the moment as the rain pelted down, and had done so for the last few days. Everything was getting a good soaking. We went on driving through state forests and little villages and hamlets. Very desolate, yet at times picturesque.
Then the front passenger seat belt got unstuck. Alarm bells started ringing. A loose bolt. Panic. But a quick call to the local emergency road assistance got us on the move again. A trip to Subaru is warranted as it is a brand new car and still under warranty.
After a frugal breakfast and a tank full of petrol, we headed for Richmond Hill Hotel, in Richmond, Melbourne. An old suburb where we used to live many years ago Peter and I when the kids were little. We took Benoit around our old haunt and showed him around. The boys grew up in the street among a truly multicultural setting. A dead end street where everyone was out, the doors left open and the gang in the street used to come and go at leisure. We revisited the house and saw all the neighbours, but did not go in or got in touch with them. maybe not the same people after all these years. The only person I managed to get a glimpse of is Moira. Our ex neighbour from across the road who was still there, on the phone. A quick sneak from outside through the open curtains. Was not game to talk at 10.30pm.
Then the next day after breakfast laid on by the hotel, we drove to Mediterranean food supermarket. An old place where we used to get and shop for all sorts of Italian goodies. Cakes and breads made on the premises…the real thing. Excellent coffee for a fraction of the price of the trendy shops in town. Imported olive oils, anchovies, olives, tuna, sardines and dried cod. Of course a shopping spree was necessary. Lovely organic hams and salami. Superb hard cheeses and French butter of all things. In brief a real feast for the eyes and above all the tummy. Lashing out!
Benoit was quite amazed to see all of these wonderful delicacies. We also bought a few things to picnic at Sue’s place.
Then, we drove to Benoit’s hotel where we left him to pursue his own adventures. He is buying an old bus that he wants to fix and travel around Australia with his family. Peter and I stopped in a park and had a real Italian sandwich with organic salami and hard crust bread rolls. We had not had these for years. Slowly, and loosing our ways a few times, we made it to Sue’s and Peter’s in time for the reunion. Brief it was indeed.
It was lucky that we managed to get a house-sitter for these few days. It is not easy to get people to look after a farm and a little kitten. Last year we were invited to Melbourne also, but the timing was not right. It depends who is around and who is available.
We always say that we should not have any animals, but we always add more to the menagerie.
Benoit, left for Ballarat to get his bus and he drove back home while we Peter and I drove back slowly, taking our time to admire the scenery. We were also surprised at the quality of coffee that was served in all the towns that stopped at. Many moons ago like 30 years, it was a real dilemma to find something decent. When the boys were little and we used to do lots of camping around Victoria, if I did not have my fix of coffee in the morning I used to get miserable, despicable,moody, nervy and no one would talk to me in case I yelled at them….Problems of addiction I suppose. Peter and the boys used to drive to different villages to try and find some Italian pizza shop that might serve a decent coffee. Today everyone in country Australia provides something reasonable and drinkable. Times have changed and presently 2 small cups is more than enough. Also gone are the days of instant…NESCAF! A truly disappointing drink. Nothing that taste even like coffee and when you think of what goes in it, you don’t want to know or touch it in spite of all the flamboyant publicity about it. Nevertheless, I was quite astonished to see that most of my friends and family swore by it…The only thing I could say is: how can you do that?
The food was nothing to rave about and the price was too much.Your usual hamburger, fish and chips, pizzas. All fattening and unhealthy. So lovely picnic with simple fare sufficed. But we hit a great little Vietnamese soup place in Box HIll that was just delicious and we went back for more on our out to Geelong.
On the way back, I rang up Magali, our house sitter, to see if she could stay another day. No problems. We stopped in different towns this time. We took our time. Home sweet home. And above all it is nice to get back home again and find that all your menagerie is happy to see you and you are delighted to be back home and sleep in your own bed at last.
Now that this trip is over the other one is looming. Bangkok, London and Paris.
Till next time