Sunday, November 15, 2015

Day two in Perth

My old uni friends Philip and Andrea Vaughan offered to put us up for our second night in Perth. They were very helpful when we spent 3 weeks in Perth 2 years ago, lending us their car when they went off on holiday, so now we owe them even further.

A very small dog wih neatly crossed legs
Andrea was home when we got there, and introduced us to Iliana the Italian greyhound pup, who is incredibly tiny and fine-limbed. Her whole head is about the size of Winston's nose. We both had a swim in the new pool, while Andrea went to fetch the kids Ronan and Isobel from school. Marcus zonked out with jet lag after his swim and I caught up with goings on in the Vaughan world.

2 years ago neither of our buddies in Perth had pools, now they have both pooled-up.
The pool is amazing, and it was a major operation putting it in. A shed was demolished and once its parapet wall was gone a new fence was required. The pool is all concrete so that called for retaining walls, and the fencing is all glass, the paving is special marble etc. They decided to do it all very high spec and they are going to enjoy it for many years. Philip arrived home with his Movember mo bristling and looking very fit.

We had fancy takeaway pizza for dinner from a very, very busy place in City Beach. it took the kids a little while to reconnect with Marcus but they got going by dinner time. He was bonding with Iliana while they had their after school down time.

The creative and devilish Ronan
Ronan is in a gifted program at school - Andrea said although his school marks are not outstanding, they have perceived that he is a very quick and lateral thinker. It seems like a good program and he's been given all sorts of thought-provoking material to tackle. One project was building a compressed air marshmallow cannon. Having an engineer dad who has a taste for mischief is certainly helpful. They bought plastic piping, a ball valve, air nozzle and some plastic tubing. They can load a marshmallow, compress the air in the tube to 80psi, quickly release the valve and shoot the marshmallow a couple of blocks.

Your basic compressed air marshmallow cannon
The kids were sandbagged and frog marched to bed, but I didn't last much longer. Marcus and I were both operating still on eastern time. We both woke at about 4am again, and raided the house library for books to read until we could politely make noise. By 6 I was going insane so we snuck out and walked around the neighbourhood for a while. I am knocked out by the jacarandas, and I really love this cubby house (built in a non-jacaranda) with sunshade and lilac support struts.

Jacarandas are lovely looking street trees, and I imagine they influenced the colour of cubbyhouse.
Philip was up when we got back, and getting ready to go to the Mt Claremont farmers market while the rest of the family dozed. We went with him, and I am really glad we did; it was really great. Imagine a primary school with a whole garden of fruit trees, including an impressive banana tree! How do they keep the kids off them when they are ripe? I guess someone needs to eat them. Probably keeping them away when they are unripe is a bigger problem. For breakfast I had a sweet Greek rice pudding, an amazing vanilla cannoli, two satay buns and four ghoza dumplings. For anyone misguidedly coming to this blog for diet tips, I would suggest you don't take that one.

A riot of colour at the edible fungus stall.
One stall was selling amazing mushrooms, very reasonably priced. I mentioned I was from Tasmania and the stallholder looked stricken; turns out she visited recently and dearly hopes to move there. She just needs to find the right block of land to set up the fungi business. Everyone was very friendly and they all knew Philip well; he clearly has a good routine going. Having two pack horses with him I think he bought more than usual, including a dozen bottles of olive oil and a big tray of tomatoes.

I envy people who love cooking - somewhere there is a parallel universe where I do too. Local geography note; from Philip and Andrea's neighbourhood (flat and near the ocean) to Mt Claremont (seemingly also flat) we seemed to drive, if anything, downhill. I mock your mountains, Perth.

Pumping the cannon up to 80psi for cork launch.
The marshmallow cannon had a really good workout when we got back, until it was time to get in the cab to the airport. I was chatting inside when Marcus came in, raved about cannon details for 4 or 5 minutes, then said "oh and the taxi is outside"

He had parked up the road a little, which might have had something to do with the fact Ronan was shooting corks and handfuls of sand out of the cannon at high pressure. We said bye to Iliana and my dear friends. I am spoiled in having these two good friend families here so far away, because I know they will return periodically to see their families back here. After two trips to Perth in two years I really doubt we will be going that way again soon.

I usually cop out at this point in any travel story and say 'the trip home was uneventful' but there was a bit of a saga. Our flight to Melbourne was very late leaving, they swapped planes then the new plane had air con trouble. Then we hit some lively weather which meant seat belts on and no meals or toilets for an hour or so. The meal on the way over was actually good so I had been looking forward to it.

When the seatbelt sign went off every person on the plane essentially queued for the toilet, and the first nine people in line were all blokes, the weaker sex. It became clear that we were nowhere near making our connecting flight to Hobart, but the purser got on the PA and said Virgin would put people up for the night and book them on morning flights.

Passing the time with a bit of maths
It is 2727km from Perth to Melbourne, a bloody long way even if nothing goes wrong. Its hard to believe you are still in the same country where you started. We were exhausted when we finally landed and shambled across the seven zebra crossings to the Park Royal airport hotel, where we were a given a room with one king size bed and told there were no twins. Maybe twins are going out of fashion. The bed was big enough and we were tired enough that we both got a good night's sleep.

Morning at Tullamarine.
We both had monstrous breakfasts at Virgin's expense. I had put the fetta/ricotta spread from the farmers market in the bar fridge, and we went off leaving it and Philip's little fridge bag behind.

 Apart from all that, the trip home was uneventful.

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