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Published: March 7th 2012
March proved to be an eventful day, especially for Graham. Today was the day he was to drive the car back to Mansfield for it to be stored in the new shed that he and Mark had started building last week. We had left the caravan still in its “camping” position as, when we left Mansfield on Monday, the weather was poor and we didn’t want to put a wet caravan into storage. Graham and Mark thought they’d be able to do that this morning when both car and caravan would be dry enough to deal with. Graham had planned an early departure (about 6:30am) to make sure he arrived in Mansfield at a good time to get all of the preparations done. However, when he awoke to use the loo at about 5:00am he realized that the weather was far from good. It was raining torrentially and the wind was blustery – not ideal driving conditions. He decided to set off as soon as he could get ready and left at about 5:45am. The journey was reasonably quiet, especially negotiating the Melbourne suburbs, but the weather was horrendous and visibility was often poor. He made it as far
It's lovely to be 'home'
back at Sarah and Darryl's house
as Yea, having had to negotiate several places where water was gushing across the road, and rested for a while. He said his main concern was other motorists – they didn’t seem to want to slow down at all despite the bad weather. He continued slowly, again negotiating some very wet areas, and arrived in Mansfield at about 8:30am where he stopped again for a short rest. He eventually arrived at the Reeves house at about 9:00am to be greeted with a sea of water – everywhere was flooded. Mark said that it had virtually rained non-stop, ever since we had left Mansfield on the Monday, and it meant that no progress had been made with the shed. The holes for the posts were full of water and the area was under about 3 inches. Even parking the car and walking to the house resulted in wet feet - when it rains in Victoria it doesn’t mess about!!
Graham was able to do all the minor tasks he had planned – transferring things back into the caravan from the car, collecting some small useful items from the caravan etc – but the major tasks (parking the car and the
caravan and putting the covers on them) had to be left for Mark to do. He would be busy as there was still a lot to be done to complete the “shed” but he was happy to undertake all of that once the weather had improved. He was confident that, once the current band of rain had passed through, everything would dry up quickly and all of the tasks would be easily and soon completed. In the meantime, after a coffee and a chat, Mark got ready for work (midday start) and they visited the Elliot household where Belinda was busy making banana muffins. The reason was to deliver Graham’s guitar for Belinda to use until either Graham or Sarah returned to Aus. Graham had left his guitar with Mark but, as he already has umpteen and he knew that Belinda didn’t have one, he thought it would be put to better use with her. After bidding farewell to a somewhat tearful Belinda, Mark took Graham to his pub, The Delatite, and treated him to sausage and mash for lunch before Graham left to catch the 1:30pm bus to Melbourne. This journey proved to be a bit eventful too as,
since Graham had driven up past Yea, the continuous rain had made the road impassable and a diversion was necessary to reach Yea from a different direction. It had to be done as there were passengers in Yea awaiting collection. The end result of all this was that the bus was about an hour later than scheduled arriving into Melbourne so, after catching the tram out to Camberwell, Graham’s day finished at about 6:30pm after a 5:30 am start!!
In the meantime, I was able to get on with the packing of the two large cases and to organize how we would best transport other things in the small cases, coat pockets etc. I was concerned that the two big cases would be well over-weight as trying to establish the weight using Daphne’s bathroom scales wasn’t conclusive. Never mind, we’d just have to take our chances at the airport. Daphne went off to Box Hill Market on the tram and I strolled to the local Post Office to prepare and post one of Graham’s CD’s to Mark at Mansfield. Later on Daphne prepared a delicious meal for all of us to finish an otherwise hectic day rather splendidly. Tomorrow
would be our last day in Aus and we had it in mind to finish “on a high”! We went to bed both feeling tired form the exertions of the day and slept soundly.
March started well - the weather looked good and our plan to spend our last day in Aus travelling into Melbourne on the tram was beginning to fall into place. Daphne was going to accompany us and as she had a bit of shopping to do at the local shops she purchased the three tram tickets we would need while she was there. At about 11:00am we caught the tram and after alighting at Flinders Street we made our way to Southbank to seek out The Eureka Tower. At the top of the tower some 200 meters above is a viewing platform which gives 360 degree views of Melbourne and the surrounding district – you can see for miles. Rod and Tania had visited it during their first few days in Melbourne and had said how splendid it was. Daphne had never been there so it was an exciting trip for her too and there was a bit of a “family” connection as
the company that built the tower is owned and managed by Daniel, a good friend of Grant’s and whose wife Caterina, is a long-time close friend of Anna’s. On arrival at the foot of the tower we thought we might be in for a torrid time as there were seemingly hundreds of school children milling around waiting to ascend to the viewing platform. However, having purchased our tickets (all at concession rates) we were ushered to a lift with about six other adults. The school children were, indeed, going up the tower but would be shepherded up in small groups and, although we were to encounter some of them later, they were no trouble at all in the vast area that was the viewing platform. The journey up to the 88th
floor took just 38 seconds and the views from the top were just magnificent. It is truly a fantastic way to get an over-view of Melbourne and we’d recommend it to anybody visiting as “must do”. Daphne, too, was extremely impressed and kept asking herself why she’d never visited over the years. It is certainly somewhere she felt she could take visitors at any time to give them an
impressive view of the city.
We spent about an hour enjoying the spectacular panorama and we had magnificent views of the city including the Botanical Gardens, the Governor’s Mansion, the War Memorial, the Yarra River and the many international sports stadiums. We paused for a ‘cuppa with a view’ while I wrote a postcard to young Charlie in Tewkesbury which I was able to ‘post’ on the 88th
floor! Being aware that we needed to keep an eye on the time we eventually ‘came back down to earth’ and strolled along the embankment to a smart café that Daphne knew well. We enjoyed a pleasant lunch in ‘The Blue Train’ and then felt it was time to go back and finish the packing. After a reasonably relaxing time on the tram we arrived back at the house at about 3.30. Now it was ‘nitty-gritty’ time and so I spent the next hour struggling with our large and very heavy suitcases. On Daphne’s scales they both were right on the 30 kilogram limit giving us no leeway with accuracy. The two small cabin luggage bags were also too heavy. Tough decisions had to be made and so a local charity
Looking out towards Port Melbourne
where the 'Spirit of Tasmania' is in port
shop will benefit as I pulled out some of our lesser loved clothes. A few things, such as the shoes bought for the wedding and our camping ‘crocs’ never even got near the suitcases. If Daphne comes to the UK later in the year she will try to bring the wedding shoes. We would be keeping our fingers firmly crossed later on!
Grant arrived promptly at 6.30 so we said our goodbyes to nephew Bert and kitten Micky, loaded up the cases and off we went. Daphne wanted to come too and there was plenty of room in Grant’s big car. Using the toll freeway (!) meant a quick and smooth journey to the airport. Grant, sensibly, did not want to hang around the airport incurring parking charges so he stopped at the drop-off point and we said our sad farewells there. As with the Reeves’ we are likely to see both Grant and Daphne in a few months time so it was not as sad as it may have been.
At the check-in desk, our fingers still crossed, imagine our relief when both cases were well under the 30 kgm limit. Not only that but our cabin
bags were completely ignored – what a brilliant result! Before long we made our way, through the security checks, to the departure lounge where we whiled away the remaining hour or so before we were called to board the plane. The seats we had chosen were subsequently allocated to a young family but the ones we were given were fine with just the two of us in a row of three. We took off 30 minutes or so later than scheduled but the flight to Dubai, although long and tedious (13 hours), went without a hitch. The second leg was shorter at 7 hours and we ate and dozed our way through that and arrived at Birmingham a couple of minutes before the scheduled time of 11.45. Finally, after collecting the cases and sailing through the passport and customs desks we emerged and Graham immediately spotted the smiling face of Darryl. Sarah rushed to great us and lots of hugs followed. Even though we had had a fabulous time in Aus, it was truly wonderful to be home!
Outside, the weather was chilly but dry and the journey back to Sarah and Darryl’s house passed in a whir of
catching up. On the drive at Poplar Avenue were our car and campervan and ‘Welcome Home’ signs greeted us. In the time we had been away Sarah and Darryl’s lovely little house had undergone some re-modeling and looked very smart indeed. The afternoon was spent recounting some of ours and their adventures, we had a chat on the phone with Graham’s sister, Barb and a visit from neighbours Jo, David and twins Patrick and Jonathan. As a welcome home gift they brought some eggs laid earlier that day by their chickens! After a delicious salmon dinner we fell into bed exhausted.
We’ve had an amazing 18 months which we’ll always remember but it’s wonderful to be home!
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