Friday, April 18, 2008

So many people have asked me to Tell All about our visit with Karen in Carlton on Thursday morning. In truth, there is really very little to tell. She was at Readings when we got there. We had coffee (well, The Builder and I had coffee; Karen had water) and then went for a very pleasant wander along Lygon and Rathdowne Streets. We chatted about The Sidings and the garden and the allotment. We caught up with what various people were doing. She told us a bit about the eight weeks Yvette is spending at the MLC country campus. We had a further walk along Swanston Street and back along Grattan and back up Cardigan. Then Lindsey came and met us and we went away. It was all very cheery and friendly and non-confrontational. Nothing in the least bit controversial was mentioned. All very civilised. She even managed to chat briefly to Lindsey. I have to say, though Karen is looking VERY thin.

So were The Builder and I. I think I had assumed that we would have coffee and something to eat rather than a stroll around Carlton. Since The Builder had his hernia operation, he tends to feel a bit sickly if he doesn’t eat, and especially if he doesn’t eat breakfast. So Lindsey stopped in East Melbourne and I raided a rather fine patisserie for apple and pear puffs and chocolate donuts. Not perhaps what we normally have for breakfast - but they shouldn’t have sent me unescorted into a cake shop with my wallet stuffed with money when I was hungry!!!

We arrived at Mount Martha at around 12:30 after quite a good run down. Tony got me a stubby of cider. He had laid in loads of bottles when I said I was coming over. There are still about a million left. The best before date is 2010. Any cider drinkers looking for a supply … Or perhaps I’ll have to make sure I come back a time or two before the end of 2010! Tony had booked a restaurant in Red Hill in the middle of the peninsula, whose name I forget and which I can’t look up because I am writing this while flying over the Coral Sea and for some reason QANTAS has failed to provide wireless internet access! Anyway, I’m sure Stella or Tony will be able to enlighten us. But whatever it was called, the food was absolutely magnificent. The Builder and I were individually in two minds whether to have the spatchcock or the lamb. Tony said, I think probably facetiously - why don’t you have one each and share? Brilliant idea. We did. And it was wonderful. Took about an hour to come, but they cook everything from scratch. Stella and Tony had duck and Lindsey had rib of veal. Then Tony and I shared a cheese platter and The Builder had a gingerbread soufflĂ©. We left, after a very pleasant afternoon, at about 3:30, and made our way via the new complex called Martha’s Cove - where they are terraforming the place so there is a marina and bits of sea heading quite a long way inland - and back to their place.

They gave Lindsey her birthday present early. She and Ian are off on a cruise through the Straits of Malacca and then on for a week in Japan fairly soon and don’t get back till around or just after her birthday. It is the most wonderful camel. It’s a big, floppy camel puppet with HUGE feet

Then we had to leave. Not entirely an ideal time but we had to get back. We had promised to cook for Ant, Jess and Emily and Ian was out all afternoon and not expected back until mid-evening.

I have just looked out the window. I can see New Guinea! Earlier I could see atolls and the Great Barrier Reef. Wasn’t expecting to look out and see land. You get used to looking out and seeing nothing but sea!

It took FOREVER to get back to Richmond. But eventually we made it and hit the supermarket. I bought all the ingredients for a fish pie (salmon, blue grenadier and smoked cod) and some, but not all ( :-S ) of the shopping list for Japan and England. I forgot Austin’s tins of spaghetti and ravioli. More interestingly, I forgot Mark’s peppermint crisps (sorry!) I didn’t even go down the tinned spaghetti aisle - I virtually never buy tinned spaghetti so didn’t think to go down there. But I was in the chocolate aisle, selecting chocolate. How could I forget the peppermint crisps?!?!?!?!?!?

We got back to the flat and The Builder and Lindsey prepped the veg while I packed. Simon rocked in. Then I made the fish pie and Lindsey made a lentil pie and Ant and Jess and Emily and Krumm arrived and then Ian arrived and we all sat down to a rather nice feast with lots of wine. Not that I needed anything else to eat, but you have to do your bit!Krumm had some of the fish. But not the topping because I had made it with potato and leeks ad alliums are not very good for doggy tummies.

Jess has asked me to put my recipe for fish pie on Ian’s Kitchen :-)

And Ant is no longer a vegetarian. He is now a vegequarium. I wonder if it was my fish pie that tempted him.

Then everyone went away and The Builder and I went to bed. We had an early start on Friday morning.

I must say - it seems very peculiar to have come to Australia and not to have been to Ballarat. On the other hand, it’s been lovely to reacquaint myself with Melbourne. Melbourne is a beautiful city and I’ve hardly been there on my visits back since I upped sticks and moved to England.

I got to play with two doggies on Thursday. Martha from across the road from Stella and Tony came out to say hello before we went to lunch. I think someone had accidentally pressed Martha’s person’s emergency button and the centre manager had come to see what was wrong - armed with all sorts of very odd paraphernalia. This drew Martha and her person outside to see what was what.

We were up on time this morning and left to plan. We got to the airport. The woman at the checkin desk asked if we’d like to go on a slightly earlier flight. Absolutely we would. The time in Sydney is, I think, not long enough - though it was arranged by QANTAS after they diverted us back to Sydney in an itinerary change. Off we went. Got to Sydney and spent nearly half an hour circling around overhead. Eventually landed. Rushed off to the international transfer area. Went in a very crowded bus to the international departure. Got through immigration. Then ended up in a hugely crowded security area. People milling about and getting underfoot and nudging into The Builder and generally getting in the way. So many people in our queue were setting off the alarm or having their stuff rescanned and rescanned again and it was all getting rather fraught. Eventually it was our turn. But the person behind The Builder pushed into him while he was getting m mac out of its bag and it fell to the floor with a crunch. I’ve only had it a week :-( Still - it seems to be working all right.

Anyway, we got through, found our gate number and rushed along, past loads of loitering people pondering duty free shopping. No time for that for us. I profoundly do not want to miss that plane. We got to the boarding gate about 5 or 10 minutes before they let everyone on. It was all very stressful. Although I don’t know why I was stressing. If we’d missed it, QANTAS would have had to sort something out. However, there we were, in our seats and in my case at least - calming down.

Then the plane didn’t leave. It was raining and this seemed to be causing a problem loading the cargo. We left 3/4 of an hour late. I would suggest that you should all cross your fingers that we catch the train into tokyo promptly and that we make the 9:30 or, at a desperate measure, the 10:00 shinkansen to Nagoya all right. I think the 10:00 shinkansen is the last one. And in any case, the last train from Nagoya is just after midnight. As I say, I would ask you to cross your fingers - except by the time you read this you will know whether it all went according to plan!!

I wonder how much it costs to fly business class. The chap in front has pushed his chair back so far I can’t see the screen :-S

PS we didn't make it. WE are holed up in a Japanese style hotel in Narita near the airport. I will tell all tomorrow. My battery is almost flat and I don't have an Australia/Japan converter for the plug
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