Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Going AWL

Last Thursday morning I got up at some horrifically early hour, got dressed and at 6am went to Mandurah train station.  I caught the train to Perth (that picture above is of artwork in one of the stations on the way), then walked a few hundred metres, then caught a bus.  A while later I got off the bus and got on a plane.  On the plane I sat next to a man who thought it was OK to fire up his laptop and grunt his way through a movie that had not employed the services of a costume department.  To my great relief this was deemed not OK by the flight attendant and the strange man was made to turn it off.  He didn't argue but he did fidget, harrumph and sulk throughout the 3.5 hour flight.  After a while I got off the plane and caught the impressively efficient SkyBus service all the way to my hotel in .... Melbourne!

Yes I went absent with leave for four whole days and three whole nights.  When I booked this trip a few months ago I had no idea that the timing would be somewhat, well, rubbish.  My partner had been away for the whole of the previous week, had a jam-packed diary for the time I was away, and now that I'm back he is away again for the whole of this week.  Plus there is the little matter of the currently uninhabitable house I am still in the middle of renovating.  Despite not even being able to remember the last time I went away by myself, my ladies' holiday seemed a tiny bit extravagant and frivolous just at the minute.

But heck, here I was in Melbourne so I soon got over those thoughts and just got on with the business of enjoying myself.  What to say?  Nothing that isn't sickeningly gushy as I'll admit to having a big fat crush on Melbourne.

I met my sister and her friend who were there for a landscaping conference and another friend who had come over from Sydney.  The weather was truly hideous.  However I was pleased to discover that spending a year in a place where people say "Isn't it freezing!" when the temperature dips below 20 degrees hasn't turned me into a cold weather lightweight. As my sister quoted Ranulph Fiennes - "There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing!" - I donned my mothballed Christchurch winter clothes and we set off undeterred.

We ate amazing food, drank excellent coffee, went to wonderful galleries, shopped in gorgeous shops and roamed down interesting lane ways and humming neighbourhoods.  Some Fashion Week thingy was on and we saw quivers of models proving that there can be a huge difference between looking fashionable and looking good.

I soon discovered that I am quite out of practice on the drinking front and so just sat coveting the great cluster of George Nelson bubble lamps in the East Berlin section of the Berlin Bar while my companions sipped cocktails.

I proved to be even more of a lightweight when it came to shopping.  Despite being tempted silly all over town (Twenty21! Angelucci! Gorman! SoleDevotion! CraftVictoria!) and watching my companions spend up large, my upcoming renovation bills weighed heavily on my mind; all I bought was a book for my son (which he finished minutes after we got home from the airport) and two funny old safety deposit box keys for my daughter's key collection.

All too soon it was time for another SkyBus to collect me to start my journey home again. 

No strange men on the homeward trip, just a very nice one and some lovely children at Perth airport to greet me.  When I fessed up to being shockingly out of practice on the shopping front and to coming home bearing little more than a tip for a no-mow lawn alternative and a desire to investigate the possibility of a green roof, my partner suggested that maybe I shouldn't leave it so long before going absent with leave again. 

I didn't argue.  Any suggestions ladies?


  1. It's not Ben Hur at all but Christine. All I can suggest is that you make that an annual event and I join you next year! This year has been too hideous to really describe and I need something to look forward to although life is not so bad right now the earthquake ramifications just keeping rolling.

  2. So sorry it has been such a rubbish year. We really do know how lucky we are. Love the annual event idea. Might just cyberbully some more friends into joining us.