Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm baaaaack

Well, we’re finally here. In Melbourne. Flemington, to be precise.

The journey involved a very long and boring day of driving along the highway in a battered old magna with Love Chunks, nine year old Sapphire, Milly the dog and Skipper the rabbit. Too many games of 'Who Am I?' and 'Guess the Car Model', scattered pasty and sausage roll crumbs on the seats and sly farts emitted and only discovered by other occupants several minutes later ("Geez Milly, we need to get you off tinned Pal") were only eased by loo and playground stops, petrol refills and realising that yes, the Big Koala at Dadswell's Bridge really does look like a huge pile of marsupial doo doos.

Squeezed under our feet and between the arm rests were our suitcases, beloved boxes of wine, two bamboo plants, pet paraphernalia, two laptops, assorted electronica and some tupperware containers full of slightly-perishable snacks such as cashews, Oreos, breadsticks and homemade melting moments. And blocks of Lindt, Nestle, Cadbury and Cote d'Or: essentials, you understand.

The Ibis put us up for three nights as we excitedly awaited settlement, receiving the keys from the land agent and the 'set down' of our furniture. It was in fact the smallest living occupant - Skipper - who took up residence first, being deposited in his hutch by the back door three days before we were official owners of the place.

On moving-in day we battled 39C heat, buzzing blowflies and the cheerful banter of blokes who'd endlessly ask, "So, where do you want this box?" whilst knowing that the only place for most of the stuff labelled 'Shed' was outside. Any thoughts I had of being ruthless and a devilish declutterer in Adelaide were long gone as I got even more heave-happy and hard-hearted in Victoria.

A blow up Crows doll? Out!
Five old pairs of running shoes that were designated for weeding? Flung!
Seven suitcases of which three are only ever used? To the kerb!
An icecream machine, battery-operated spice grinder, fruit-juicer and plastic BBQ crockery set for sixteen people - BE GONE.

Oh, OK, so Love Chunks brought the appliances back in, but I won the argument about 'losing' my ill-fated efforts at painting sub-realistic sealions and Aboriginal art and we're still debating whether the blue canoe will make an attractive garden feature or feature in a Trading Post 'for sale' advertisement.

With most of the main gear (ie beds, food and basic bathroom supplies) unpacked, Sapphire and I explored our surroundings whilst Love Chunks started work. We live in the triangular-shaped area of Flemington with two main roads carrying the trams, taxis and scooters and the third ending up at the oval connected to the enormous housing commission buildings that cast dark shadows over the entrance to City Link. As such, the ambient background noise is the ding-ding of public transport, the burrp-burrrp-burping zooms of motorbikes, low-flying helicopters and the smell of cigarette smoke wafting over from the flats next door. Quite a departure from the lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers and blow-in bogan hoons doing burn-outs in Trinity Gardens and only eighty-five year old neighbour Jack sneaking one solitary smoke during his morning walk around the block.

Here is our local deli, or 'shop' in the next street. It needs a paint job and inside it's about as big as our bathroom with the fridge only stocking three 600ml cartons of Big M iced coffee*, half a dozen coke zeros and some butter from the Golden era of Gough Whitlam. Still, it also sells The Age and a decent range of chocolate bars, so life could be worse.

Our local strip, Racecourse Road, is a small-but-busy hub of Vietnamese, North African, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, Japanese, Malaysian, Chinese, Irish and Aussie cuisines interspersed with the unavoidable KFC, Maccas, Subway and St Vincent dePauls. We lunched at a noodle bar and saw a chap park his black Porsche and sit at the table next to us, alongside a gaggle of African-speaking taxi drivers on their break. Afterwards, we took Milly to Debney Park where she delighted in sniffing out several dead birds, too many smashed beer bottles and take-away cartons - a pooch's paradise but one where Sapphire pursed her lips and commented on the amount of graffiti and litter. "Why do they do it, Mum?"

Why indeed.

As for Milly, she delights in any opportunities to go for a walk, but when she comes back 'home' she is puzzled beyond her usual furry-faced limits of comprehension. Her family is here, her bed is here, our belongings are here, but what is this place? What are the noises, sounds, smells, odours and sights? Should she issue a few tough "Ooofs" to let the neighbours know that there's a killer Jorgi behind the fence, or relax and sun herself on the tile-sized patch of lawn? Whatever the answer to her questions, she is always keeping a beady eye on the comings and goings of her human housemates, never daring to let one venture further than three metres out of her sight or smell.

Love Chunks has kept his swearing to a minimum as he's been figuring out how to cram in a double garage's worth of stuff into a potting shed, how to put up pictures on weatherboard-veneer walls and, most importantly, how to get the telly back on. He's put in a champion effort at lifting and shifting everything from double wardrobes, weights benches and dryers and also managed to get his beloved Gaggia coffee machine up and running on the first day.

I've learned that having a driveway or access to an old Poo Cart Lane is a sign of wealth and privilege; hunky young firemen do their fitness training at Sapphire's new school on weekends ("Hey Sweetie, shouldn't we go for a walk around your new school so that you get familiar with it?") and there's chocolate-makers and devoted cafes out here I'm only just becoming aware of. Oh, and that I feel happy and just a teensy bit excited, like, you know when it's your birthday and even though you're on the bus and no-one there would know or care about it and you haven't told anyone, you feel sort of special..... Yeah, kind of like that.

* Stay tuned for a future anti-Big M rant......


squib said...

We've just put up a new hammock (not quite as exciting as moving intersate)because the old one was mouldy.I'm having a hard time trying to get the old one off mr.squib who believes it still may be a valuable asset. I last saw him hugging it and saying he was going to wash it

Your new neighbourhood sounds really nice (except maybe the park)

River said...

I see you got your priorities right. Day one: beds and coffee machine. Have you found a cafe or shop nearby that sells FUIC yet?
L saw the picture with all the housing commission flats in the background and is concerned that you may be living in an unsafe neighbourhood. I said they probably look closer than they are because they're so huge. I'm looking forward to seeing more neighbourhood pictures.
P.S. ditch the canoe....

Miles McClagan said...

* Stay tuned for a future anti-Big M rant......


Gasp (again)

That will be rebutted if it's a diss (if it's about killing flavours, I'm on board)...what next will you attack that which I hold dear! Lime spiders? Hammocks? Cascada? I sense a great debate!

eleanor bloom said...

1. Why are moving days always stinking hot?? (And why do moving guys never know how to read???)

2. How did you manage to move on what has possibly been the only summer day in Melbourne (it was like winter (in Perth at least) most of the time I was there, and even last night the cricketers and spectators were especially rugged up)!

3. When I next visit I shall be popping in on you one weekend so you can drag me on a walk (repeatedly) around the school. (Wow. Exercise never sounded so good.)

The Blakkat said...

Congratulations, moving is bitch and you've done it. Unpacking at least is the fun part - setting up all your stuff in a new arrangement. Gets a bit tricky of course when you're trying to do that with a whole lot less space than you used to have, but still fun. Sounds like you're going to love Melbourne, too. All the best!

delamare said...

Yes, that 39 degrees was fun wasn't it? Have you caught a train on a hot day yet? I'll match your Big M rant with my Connex rant!

Glad you're finally in the settling in stage, especially after all of the things you've all had to cope with over the last four months or so. Millie's reactions are so very human too - it's a bit familiar, but very very strange, and what the hell is going on?!

Naomi said...

Glad to hear amongst all the usual "moving angst" that you are happy and feeling excited about what is happening next. As they say things happen for a reason, perhaps that exciting opportunity for you is just around the corner, and no I didn't mean literally, and firefighters...but then again lol

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Terence McDanger said...

Oh Christ, I have all this to look forward to.

The worst is over you now anyway, now relax!

Baino said...

I don't envy you moving in the heat, we've had a few stinkers up here as well. Actually I don't envy you moving at all but sounds like you nailed it pretty quickly. I like Melbourne actually (don't tell my fellow Sydneysiders) you'd hate Sydney, we don't have FUIC . . I'm a Dare Double Espresso fan myself!

Drew said...

Don't call it a Deli unless you're looking to buy smallgoods.
You're Victorian now: it's a Milk Bar.

icancarryallthebagsandthebabiestoo said...

We moved in October from a semi-rural farm town to the middle of one of the biggest cities in the US.

What I must know is, what are homemade melting moment. They sound like something that contain chocolate? I feel like I'm really missing out on something.

Kath Lockett said...

Squib, never part a man from his hammmock. Just around the corner from us is a hammock swinging from the front verandah which is perhaps only three feet wide.

River - Farmers Union Iced Coffee has been sighted, purchased and enjoyed, you'll be pleased to hear. Housing commission flats several streets away and yes, the canoe will most likely make its appearance on the Trading Post this weekend.

Miles - brace yourself for an anti Big M rant in future. I'm just biding my time.

Eleanor, it's a mystery to me as to why the weather gods decree hail or heat as the ideal temperature and you're more than welcome to pop in - especially if Love Chunks is home as he's the house cook and Gaggia coffee machine operator (I'm more 'front of house' useless).

Thanks Blakkat. It's all going pretty smoothly so far..... which worries me.....

Delamere, I too can relate to our dog, except when she's 'ooofing' at the neighbour's cat or eating the blood and bone mulch mix.

Naomi - the firefighters will be on my radio, don't you worry.

Keyword are you a person or program?

Terence, best of luck my son and may your lounge fit in your actual lounge room - ours doesn't!

Baino, Dare Double Espresso comes a close third to Rush (my second). ANYTHING is better than Big M.

You're right Drew. It *is* a milkbar. I'll pull up my socks and remember to say 'plant' yank-style instead of 'Pl-arh-nt' pommy-style like we did in South Australia.

Icancarry - Melting Moments are like two custard/butter biscuits (cookies) that are sandwiched together with butter icing. No chocolate unless you decide to dip them in some. Which, of course, I do. Let me know if you want the recipe.

Loretta Swain said...

Hey Kath - so glad to hear your move was about as good as mine! We left Adelaide on 41C and arrived in Tassie to 24C - pure bliss. The trailer was a saviour, and we're also now investigating our new location - coffee shops being the number one priority. Looking forward to reading more of your adventures. Loretta (kindred-spirit)

Loretta Swain said...

Oh and by the way - we've just gor FUIC here in the local shop... this place is heaven.

Kath Lockett said...

Loretta, I'm glad you've found your version of heaven. Did you hear that Miles? FUIC is available in Tasmania - familiarise yourself with it, young man!