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Published: January 24th 2012
January was to become an exciting, entertaining day. We had already decided that we would do what we could to see a day’s play at the Australian Open tennis tournament and today offered the best opportunity to do that. As with 8 years ago, we preferred to watch during the first week as more matches take place and more new faces are on offer. We drove to Vermont South for about 10:00am and bought our all-day tram tickets. We were offered concession rates without asking so we knew it was going to be a good day. We got to within walking distance of the Tennis Centre and joined the crowds making their way there. Free trams run from Flinders Street and several passed us packed to the rafters so we were pleased that we had got off our tram early and walked the short distance to the centre. We queued up for day passes and were soon through the security checks and wandering around the vast centre. By chance, the first player we saw was the Ladies No 1 seed Caroline Wozniacki who was on a practice court going through a set routine with her coach and playing partner.
We strolled alongside many of the outside courts where matches were being played although we didn’t recognise any of the participants. What we did notice is that many of the ladies look the same, especially the Eastern Europeans, with their tall willowy bodies and long hair in pony tails. We happened upon an arena to which we were allowed access and found a couple of seats in the shade at the one end of the court. The match was a ladies singles and was into the second set. The seeded player, Nadia Petrova (tall, willowy and with a pony tail), from Russia was having a tough time and eventually lost in straight sets to a relatively unknown Italian who grunted a lot. However, the next match featured the men’s No 5 seed, Roger Ferrer of Spain, against Ryan Sweeting, an American who was unknown to us. The match proved to be an excellent one and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It lasted far longer than we had wanted as, even though we started off in the shade, we were sat in the burning sun for some time towards the end. Afterwards we went for another wander and found a food stall
to get some wraps and a drink for a rather late lunch. The sun was particularly strong by now so we found a grassy area in the shade to sit. Imagine our surprise when an elderly couple offered us their tickets for the main arena as they were heading home. We found our way to what were now OUR seats and were amazed that the match the couple had left was between the men’s No 1 seed, Novak Djokovich, and a player from Columbia. Only one set had been completed so we were able to watch two sets with the worlds best player – how fantastic was that! Of course he had a very comfortable win but we didn’t mind that –it was just great to see him.
Afterwards, there being no more matches scheduled for the Rod Laver Arena until the evening, and with time going on, we decided to make our way back to the caravan and caught the free tram back to Flinders Street where the Vermont South tram would depart from. Both trams, the free one and the Vermont one, were packed but we managed to get seats and got back to the caravan at
about 6:30pm after a thoroughly enjoyable day. We had received an email from Grant inviting us to attend the Chinese New Year celebrations in Box Hill on Saturday. He would actually be on duty but Anna and the girls would be walking to the celebrations at about 4:00pm. We had spoken with David and Daphne the previous evening about it – they reminded us that they had missed it last year because of their poor time-keeping but would be making a better effort to get there on time this year. So we emailed Grant back and agreed it would be a nice thing to do and we would ring Anna to confirm times etc. We then settled down to watch a bit more tennis before going to bed.
January proved to be a day of decisions. We had been discussing the matter of returning to the UK and I had identified a suitable flight which would leave Melbourne at a reasonable time of day and arrive back in Birmingham late morning on Saturday 3rd
March. We thought to fly with Emirates as they are about the only airline that flies into Birmingham. We also had to purchase
another set of tablets to keep Graham going and then to claim back some money from Medicare. Unlike the UK where medicines are free to the over 60s, in Aus we’ve had to pay the full rate for tablets and for doctor’s appointments. We were under the impression that it’s possible to claim part of any medical payment back and since, between us, we’ve had several doctor’s appointments and have bought loads of tablets for Graham, we thought we had some money owing to us. There are just a few Medicare offices in Melbourne but one happens to be at Waverley Gardens – a shopping precinct we have used often and which we like. So after a very lazy start to the day we made our way to Waverley and visited a pharmacy to obtain Graham’s tablets. While they were being prepared we found the Flight Centre travel agent and enquired about the flight I had found. Two seats were reserved and we obtained funds from the nearby Commonwealth Bank to pay for them. So the decision has now been made – we will be back in the UK on Saturday 3rd
March. By this time the tablets were ready
for collection and we were then able to identify all of the receipts we had so that we could claim some concession from Medicare. Unfortunately we discovered that we couldn’t claim for tablets – a major expense - only for Doctor’s appointments. Medicare kindly gave us a small refund – not as much as we had hoped for but it was better than nothing. Roll on our return to the UK where all of Graham’s needs and mine will be met by the good old National Health. Nevertheless, some major progress has been made regarding our time in Aus and we must now begin to plan the remaining few weeks of our adventure. The rest of our day and evening was taken up by relaxing and catching up with the tennis before confirming arrangements with Anna for tomorrow’s visit to the Chinese New Year celebrations in Box Hill.
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