Sunday, October 23, 2005

With the very best of intentions……

…..Sapphire and I decided to tag along with Love Chunks as he headed to Melbourne to fill in the warm spot left in the reclining chair by the grand poobah’s butt cheeks. For three weeks. The school holidays had slid by with him mostly being overseas in Chile wearing a striped poncho, playing his wooden panpipes and pausing occasionally to nibble at his BBQed guinea pig as his tiny donkey took him slowly up the Andes… Well, that’s what I imagined him doing anyhow; not the boring AM-DAR weather data collection talks that he reckons they held for days on end.

Nonetheless it felt as though we hadn’t seen him for about a month, so on the spur of the moment we decided to join him for his first week in Melbourne. Ah, no matter that it was the first week of term four – surely a week off reception wasn’t going to harm our young cherub’s chances of university entry. Love Chunks then got all pompous and forthrightly informed the grand poobah that he was bringing his family over to stay at my brother and sister-in-law’s place and, as such, would not need any travel allowance. I know he did the right thing but jeez, all that money….!

Big Brother Robbie and his wife the gorgeous Dr Boon were fine hosts and it was great to see them for the first time since Easter. Their new townhouse in North Melbourne was twice as large as their Abbotsford Street alcove and we were made very welcome. Already things were looking good – a cheap internet fare for the two of us gals and free accommodation. We’d just potter about the city during the day together and then meet up with Robbie, Dr B and Love Chunks in the evenings – a pleasant, stress-free and cheap week away. What a naïve and hopeful fool I was…..

Writing all of this a week later I can still hear my wallet squealing slightly as it slowly cools down from overuse. High prices you’d expect in touristy Queensland, London, mainland Europe, but the Melbourne zoo? I’m almost too afraid to write down what I flung out during the week, but I’ll grit my teeth and be as honest as I can:

Monday – Melbourne Zoo. I proudly presented my Adelaide Zoo pass and released my rarely-seen skinflinty Scottish lass, dancing a jig with glee at gettin’ in fae free. A rather chill wind blew up me tartan when I was informed that Robbie would be $21, and Sapphire $14. It was a warm day so it was impossible to resist buying a Heaven for $3.50 apiece and our lunch was three despicably-cooked flabby fried rice in cigarette packet-sized boxes for $8. I cursed my weak body for requiring a drink - $3.50 for a small bottle – it made the elephants’ swimming enclosure look daring but tempting.

A tiny consolation was that we were invited out to a BBQ dinner at the Grand poobah’s house that night, so dinner was free. The two bottles of wine we bought along to share were $30.

Tuesday – Botanic Gardens. Free, mercifully, but those botanical bastards were just waiting amongst the camellias to fleece us instead via the café located near the duck pond. An innocuous looking establishment, but to see a $9 price tag alongside a child’s sandwich – horrifying! Six bucks for a bowl of chips – damn these mortal appetites! My diet coke was treble the milk-bar price, so I tried to pretend that it was the winner of a competition containing the elixir of youth, mensa-like intelligence and the ability to throw like a boy.

Dinner at home with the family and just what we all needed – spaghetti Bolognese and ice-cream. Fantastic. Still my most favourite meal to have at home ever.

Wednesday – Lunch, shopping and the Lion King Musical. Lunch totaled $40 for a 6 year old and a 36 year old to sit in an indoor café off Collins Street (away from the nutters and drunks and associated awkward questions and comments from the six year old) with a drink each and various toasted croissants and sandwiches. We then wandered into a bookshop where I spent $79 on assorted books and diaries to stow away in my gift cupboard and an additional $9.95 on a plush little Gromit for my little grommet. During the Lion King, said grommet was mostly holding up her toy during the $180 event, making me wonder if the $9.95 toy was more appreciated than the $90 ticket….. $3 on an ice-cream for my blondie from the quirky little corner shop (hairdressing, woolen beanies, chips, sex toys and ice blocks in a room the size of a broom cupboard) around the corner from Robbie and Dr B’s place.

We went out to Murrumbeena to catch up for dinner with some friends who ended up ordering in some Indian food for the evening. Great company, great wine, great food. Yes of course we brought along the wine and paid our share of the takeaway - $30.

Thursday – Melbourne Aquarium – bloody hell, $39 for two of us to get in! Then add on another $18 for a very ordinary café lunch of sandwiches and drinks; $21 for the glass-bottomed boat shark tour; $6 shoved in the slot for the photo-booth ‘Make your own postcard’ picture that Sapphire begged for and another $10 for a ‘shark teeth’ photo sprung on us after we left the ride. “Hell, they must have shut up shop after you guys left,” said my brother Robbie, shaking his head. Sapphire didn’t mind; she was still busy slurping her $2 ice block from the weirdo shop around the corner.

Dinner for us was at Love Chunks’ old boss’s place, way out in Vermont. Robbie lent us his car, so we filled it with $30 worth of petrol; Geoff and Rosemary were not wine buffs so we spent $20 on choccies instead.

Friday – IMAX, museum, morning tea, Queen Victoria Markets. We were running late for the movie session and no tram lines were close, so I phoned a taxi company to take us there. Abdul did just that, for $13. The movie cost me $19 and Sapphire $13 (why only $6 less than an adult – what’s the reasoning behind this?). It went for just forty five minutes, so we had only just finished consuming our $15 worth of over-priced movie munchies. Afterwards, I numbly followed my little one around the Children’s Museum before insisting that we walk – not call another taxi – to Victoria Market. Two kilometres into the journey and Sapphire naturally went into whine mode. She was appeased when given the opportunity to choose what she’d like for her lunch in the food hall. Surrounded by the best produce in the state, she went for a Big M strawberry milk and a cup of chips. I wasn’t any better – a Big M iced coffee (an insult to Farmers Union Feel Good) and some baklava; which still stung me for fifteen smackers.

We ambled around the markets - $13 for Sapphire’s fringe to be cut (and just the fringe); $5 for a golden cat with a waving arm to give us good luck and good fortune; another fiver for a chunk of glass with a horse lasered in it (both Sapphire’s holiday souvenir choices); $6 butterscotch for our fine hosts and another fiver on fruit. A final $5 on ice blocks for my blondie and me from the quirky little corner shop – hell, we are on holiday after all.

Dinner was at home – pan fried salmon and squid, with salad and a sticky choc-mint mud cake to follow.

Yes, I gained two kilograms. And lost hundreds.

1 comment:

Dr B said...

I am surprised that R did not make you pack water and lunch...
Even when we were dating, he would pack a backpackful of family-size chips (with a empty ice cream tub to empty the chip into), 2 litres soft drinks for the movies!!