Day 184: Friends In All The Right Places

Wed. 13th February 2013

So many photos to be taken in DocklandsTomorrow we are moving on again to Singapore and then Bali and Indonesia. So today is our last full day in Melbourne and our last day in a city where we (mostly) speak the same language and understand the culture (and where there is good coffee pretty much everywhere). We want to take the opportunity to re-equip ourselves for the second half of our trip through Asia and Africa.

Flagstaff memorial and people exercising in Victoria ParkFirst up though, we both have appointments with the physiotherapist – me for my foot and Janet for her back. We leave thoroughly pummelled but hopeful that he has done some good. When we asked what we did to bring on our various pains, the answer in both cases was “get older” – not much we can do about that (especially when you consider the alternative!). Janet needs to keep on doing her exercises and I need to steer clear of my walking sandals for a while and use an orthotic insert in my shoes. Judging by the price, the insert seems to be made of platinum.

Penny and TobySome of the highlights or our time in Aus and NZ are the meet-ups that we have had with friends who are now living on this side of the world. Today we get to catch up with Penny and Toby, her 4 month-old little boy (an all round sweetie). I used to work with Penny and we last saw each other in sunny (ha ha) Didcot. She has been out in Aus for nearly 2 years now and is absolutely thriving here. For her, there is no question of coming back to the UK and she talked excitedly about going for resident status and then citizenship.

They're even better when you can just hand them back!It was great to see her looking so well and enjoying her new life – something she has in common with the others that we have met down-under. My only concern for them is that Toby and his brother Freddie could qualify to play cricket for Australia. Penny explained that they also qualify for a UK passport and so could play on the winning side in future Ashes series. (As a by the by, Janet still thinks I was joking when I threatened to drive her up to Yorkshire as she went into labour with Chris, our eldest, so that he would qualify to play cricket for Yorkshire. She was saved by Yorkshire relaxing the eligibility rules – and by Chris having absolutely no interest in cricket whatsoever.)

We'll miss the street art in MelbourneAfter an indoor picnic with Penny and Toby and much yakking about their new life in Australia and our shared friends back home, we said goodbye to them and headed off into town for some last minute shopping. We mostly just need a few odds and ends to replace things we have used up or worn out – yet more insect repellent, a glasses cleaning cloth, camera lens cleaner. Ah, the glamorous life of the long distance traveller!

Detailed Market AdvertMyf has one more treat lined up for us in Melbourne and we arrange to meet her after work to go to the Suzuki Night Market. (No, we don’t know why Suzuki sponsor a night market). This operates one night per week during the summer months in the huge Victoria Market buildings. The outside of the market is very unprepossessing – if we weren’t with Myf not only would we never have found it, but even if we had we wouldn’t have considered it worth going in. Always go with the locals!

Food from all over the world - and Janet goes Aussie!Inside it is absolutely buzzing. It is chock-a-block with stalls selling all sorts of quirky stuff – hand made soaps, hammocks, chilli jams, cactuses (but sadly no fridge magnets) – at the ends of the large halls are stages with bands playing and up and down the long sides of the two huge halls are dozens and dozens of stalls selling food from seemingly every country in the world. I went for some barbecued Nepalese chicken  (quite tasty); Myf for a plate of meat from an Argentine assado; and Janet for a mixed Aussie meat platter with emu (bland), crocodile (chickeny/porky) and kangaroo (beefy). We spent a happy half hour eating our food and people watching.

Now that's how to cook paellaThen it was time for a last walk back through Melbourne back to docklands. This time we went through Victoria Park past the locals just lazing in the last of  the evening’s sunshine along with 2 or 3 groups who were doing workouts of one sort or another. We’ll miss Melbourne. The weather has been pretty much perfect (after the downpour on our first day) and its an easy city to get around and with a lot going on all of the time. I’m so glad that we have some friends here.


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