So, Elf and the boys and I all came back over from Melbourne on the same ferry as Imp and Ed and their girls and also Fred, who took the economy option of an "Ocean View Recliner" in which he slept very little.
After disembarking at Devonport on Tuesday morning with Fred squeezed into our car, we headed off south for home. I very rudely forgot that I had arranged for us to drive along to Mum and Dad's at Turner's Beach for some breakfast. Mum sent an SMS which wasn't enough to jog my custard-brain, then called us when we were at Campbell Town, over an hour late for brekkie, with a plaintive "Where are you?" Even then, I said "Campbell Town - why?" I hope in time she and Dad will forgive me, but it will take a bit longer for me to forgive myself for the completeness of my amnesia. It had even been my idea. Oy.
The convoy finally made it to Hobart and we caught up again with Chonk, Irma and Bea, who had flown ahead to stay at our house until Saturday. Fred was to stay with Imp and Ed down at Kingston. They were already hosting Ed's parents Liz and Chris (spooky) from Canberra. Over the next four days we had a more or less continuous rolling get-together, with the table set for 13 plus highchair for Bea. Ed did most of the cooking - even when we were the hosts Ed and family turned up with a soup tureen or some such.
Here is Chonk with Bea and her four Australian cousins. I didn't think to ask if she has Swiss/Texan cousins as well. (A quick recap: Irma was born in Switzerland but raised in Texas, and now again lives in Switzerland where she met and married Chonk, Elf's brother, who took an engineering job there in Winterthur. She says "y'all".) Chonk is an engineer all the time. He loves to ask "why?". He can fix anything. He is enormously practical. Like his grandfather after who he was named, he also thinks Australia is going to hell in a handbasket.
This is actually an old pic from Christmas 2005, the first time we met Irma - I didn't wave the camera in her face this time. That's nearly-4 year old Marcus in the hat. I really enjoyed getting to know Irma better on this visit - we spent all ages pretty much just hanging around shooting the breeze. She is a pretty relaxed mum and that it made it easier to offer to look after Bea. I didn't get a (proper) picture of Bea either, but she's a cutie.
Fred is a massively popular uncle. He is physically popular, actually colonised by children hanging off him much of the time. He gave the boys a mud clock, which we put together on the last day of school holidays. It's still running but we have to occasionally dampen the mud. Here he spins the globe for Marcus - I like how this pic came out.
We had one mass outing to the Salmon Ponds. The trout were lively and the kids all enjoyed their leapings and gulpings. There were plenty of platypi in the Plenty River - well at least three I think. Here is one going a) to and b) fro.
I did a couple of short babysitting stints with Bea, so Chonk & Irma could tour the Brewery with Fred and Ed, and then visit Mt Wellington with Imp. She was very good and I even got her to sleep! It was so much easier than it used to be with our kids.
Chonk & Irma had to limit their touristry on this visit but when Bea is older we hope to see them again for extended trips to Port Arthur and so forth. Marcus and Michael and I did take them for a walk down to the Female Factory - it was a cold grey day, and I felt it lacking something as a fascinating attraction. We popped into the Visitors Centre (formerly the fudge factory) and were further underwhelmed by the visage of the person on duty. Her face said eloquently "I can't wait for you to go away".
On Saturday after another large communal brunchfast, we did a few shuttles to the airport to send first Fred and then Chonk, Irma and Bea on their way home. Fred is now resident in Melbourne, doing improbable things with X-rays, so we should see him again before too long. There is a new particle accelerator being built at Monash that is pulling a lot of heads, but just quietly Fred thinks his X-rays are more interesting. Chonk and family are now back in the Alps, and we don't know quite when we will lure them out again.