Perhaps it was a sign of our state of contentment and relaxation, or maybe simple forgetfulness, but we hardly took any photos whilst staying with Naomi and Choi. We enjoyed six days and nights in a haze of luxuries like permanent walls, electric kettles and many other domestic wonders and got to feeling rather settled. On our first morning, Aunty Naomi surprised us by taking the kids to the nearby indoor swimming complex - by herself! Such bravado is to be admired, especially as the kids are travelling ratbags at the moment. It was soooo wonderful for Ben and I to have a lazy morning sipping tea and reading books still in our pjs.
As our first full day in Melbourne was Tuesday November 5, we got to join Choi and Naomi and a couple of their friends and kids for a Melbourne Cup holiday picnic. None of us were in the least interested in the race itself, but it was fun to look over the river from our picnic spot and see the big race in progress at Flemington. The horses ran so smoothly they looked from a distance like motorbikes tearing around the course. Sun-soaked and full of picnic food, we left the park satisfied that this horsey holiday had been well-appreciated.
There were many things we thought we might do or see whilst in Melbourne, but realistically one thing a day was the average before we needed to come home and soak up the homely atmosphere. We visited the Museum of Melbourne where adults and kids were equally enthralled by the great displays and activities. Ben and the kids revisited Scienceworks from last Christmas holidays and enjoyed it almost as much! Meanwhile, Naomi and I got to immerse ourselves in the local Savers op-shop then rest our feet whilst devouring some cheap and delicious local Vietnamese food. Heaven!
On one day we were able to catch up with Ben's older sister Jo and her little guy, Abel. This was something we had all been looking forward to for some time. It's so much fun when toddlers are able to start voicing their thoughts and interact conversationally. His sense of humour and throaty laugh is contagious and he is very willing to be part of anything that is going on. Of course it was very nice to spend time with Jo as well and to learn that she and Andrew are not only expecting another child, but that this one is going to be a GIRL! Our kids are part of a group of 13 cousins, of which 11 are boys. It's great fun to have so many nephews and I generally expect each imminent birth to offer me another gorgeous gift of a nephew. To hear that a girl is on its way is something new which I keep having to try to wrap my mind around - you can actually have nieces!
We were so glad to be able to hang out with Naomi and Choi over tea or dinner or whatever as the days passed and felt relaxed in their easy company and openness to five bedraggled campers filling their home with noise, activity and dirty washing... They too are parents-to-be and there is a palpable sense of excitement about the little Nacho (NAomi and CHOi) (I sadly made that up by the way, if you're thinking they're a bit corny - hah! a nacho pun...).
Near the end of our stay, they babysat for us while we went out for dinner and a movie - just Ben and I, by ourselves, ordering whatever food we wanted and seeing an M movie if we chose! We ended up in a pretty groovy part of Yarraville eating broccoli pizza and being part of a refugee-fundraising group's movie showing of One Chance (PG!). The movie was entertaining and we enjoyed being a part of the group of movie-goers who were mostly happening seniors clearly involved in helping refugees. We followed up the movie with some more pizza - this time dessert style! - and a cup of tea. What a great night.
Near the end of our stay, we spent time with some of our travelling friends, the Parkyns. It was excellent to see them again even if it took a bit of getting used to chatting in their house rather than their tent! After a pre-dinner stroll around their outer east Melbourne neighbourhood, followed by some curry and wine, the adults were treated to a theatre show by the kids, 'The Tragic Shopping Trip'. This wasn't just any off-the-cuff performance, it was one that had been planned back in September at Cape Range. The script was written, the actors practiced their roles, and the costumes and stage sets constructed. So it was with more than a little anticipation that the play played out. We all enjoyed the whole thing and were impressed by the actors and their work. They've come a long way from their early slightly disorganised and haphazard shows in their Northern Territory days... Well done kids!
Sunday morning was spent going to church with Naomi, Jo & Andrew and Abel, and then lunch at Jo's, eating yummy Lebanese food, chatting and offering our opinions on their plans for renovation - lots of light, more kitchen and opening onto the backyard. It's fun messing about with other people's homes and money :)