Western Australia journal part 4

Thursday 8 April

We were 20mins late to Fremantle to meet Bree’s sister ‘Antoinette’ (not her real name, but not coyness on my part either – this is what she has apparently chosen to call herself for now). I was sad to learn that the coming of autumn means she’s leaving the ‘hip hop gypsy’ look behind – I’m not convinced ‘moneyed horsey sort’ will suit her so well, but she’s an artist by profession so I’m probably way off.

We made up for our tardiness by driving her to her framers and then to the supermarket.  Once we’d been as useful as possible, we left at about 1pm and drove up the coast road looking for a beach to swim from.  By the time we’d passed Scarborough we were feeling peckish and stopped at ‘The Wild Fig’ where they had no mussels. Not sure why I was coveting them so much, but I was deflated and had to make up for it by relaxing in the sunshine by the seaside.

It was a lovely place, though, and lunch was good. We drove back south to City Beach (via a stop-off to check out the suitability of Mettam’s Pool – not suitable, as it turns out, but we watched in awe as a rust-coloured bird of prey stalked his lunch on the dunes) looking for a place to relax on golden sand..

City Beach was eminently suitable, apart from the blasted wind, which not only prevented us from heating up enough to want to swim, but which was eventually chilly enough to drive us from the beach altogether.  So (stopping to snap a flock of white cockatoos roosting in the beachside trees) we drove back to Geddes Street and played Rummi-Club [sic]  and watched Antiques Roadshow. Saying it was a taste of home makes it sound like I was missing the grey old UK, but I’ve always loved that show and in an Australian context it was just the ticket.

At 6pm we popped next door with a couple of bottles of Margaret River wines and spent a fabulous, funny 4 hours chatting with the Nurse Jackie double Helen, eating cheese and getting roundly pissed. Pissed enough, on an amazing 2007 Voyager Shiraz, to give Helen (a mother for 17 years) advice on how to bring up a child. Our collective experience – well, I’m sure you’ve already figured that out. We finally staggered home after 10pm and slept more or less deeply.

Friday 9 April

We headed out to Midland to meet Jennifer for coffee. Jen surprised Bree with gifts of a necklace that had belonged to her mother and earrings made of real gold nuggets. I rtesisted the temptation to chew on them (now that I think about them, I want a chew now).

Next on the day’s familial agenda (after a photo-printing trawl around the Carousel Westfield) was stopping in at Nana Jean’s residential home, where we chatted for a brief half-hour, and I admired the letter she had framed on her wall celebrating her father’s bravery in WW1, signed by Winston Churchill himself.

We then removed ourselves sharpish to Rhonda’s where we joined the family in preparation for Sam’s 13th birthday party at the bowling lanes. Naturally I won the battle of the grown-ups (153 was my score – exactly 3 times what Bree managed) but Bree was way more interested in the selection of games in the arcade section. Air hockey was contested by both Bree and Rhonda with extreme competitiveness (though I still managed to vanquish both), and winning tickets – exchangeable for the southern hemisphere’s most rubbish prizes – were collected with voraciousness.

Back at Rhonda’s the boys all went to the park to play with torches (no girls were invited out of a probably exaggerated fear that burgeoning teen hormones could result in something out of a true crime novel) while Mat and I valiantly failed to score any goals at all on FIFA10. Then a steak barbecue and some of Oz’s finest beers and a very liberal discussion about immigration before the party wound down and we found ourselves yawning.

Saturday 10 April

Last day. Cheesecake for breakfast (of course), and then we dropped the Corolla off at Bayswater and swallowed the $300 excess. Bree drove us in the big yellow be-roo-barred Mercedes to Mosman Park for brunch with the Cerinis, with smoked salmon, quiche and pre-midday boozes. We stayed until 230pm, and as we set off got a text from Deb saying our next social appointment was waiting.

Back at Geddes Street we spent the afternoon with Len, Rhonda, Deb and Gaye, eating first scones in the alfresco area and then pizza in the sitting room.  We couldn’t postpone packing any longer, although in the end we had more baggage room than we thought (10kg spare, as it turned out, which I neglected to fill with roo steaks and emu salami etc.).

At about 10pm we said final goodnights/goodbyes to Gaye and Deb, thought Brodie got a stay of execution and snuggled up on our bed until Bree took him out in advance of our optimistic couple of hours sleep.

Sunday 11 April

Bree was somehow up in advance of the 3am alarm, whilst I dozed for a few precious minutes.  By 345am, though, we were sat outside the front of the house looking at the stars with Brodie at our feet. The cab arrived at 4am prompt and the drive was fine, although the driver showed a slightly prurient interest in the mile high club.  The airport was all very easy – so much quicker and more relaxed than Heathrow – and the flight left on time. As I type this, it’s all over, and there’s still 3 hours until, temazepam-ed up, we’re allowed to get some kip. Hooroo, Australia.

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