02 April 2012

Puffing Billy, Krispy Kreme, Kangaroos and Family

After such a stunning warm summers day at St Kilda the day before, we could hardly believe it would be cold on Wednesday.

In any case, we decided an out-of-town day trip an hour away to Puffing Billy was in order. Puffing Billy is famous for being Australia’s favourite steam train and one of the finest preserved steam railways in the world, thanks to the tireless efforts of more than 600 dedicated volunteers. Sadly, the black clouds that had gathered during the car journey started to dump their load just as we’d boarded the train, and having left Melbourne where it was 23 degrees, it dropped 10 degrees in the space of an hour and we were all feeling rather cold and damp (especially with the open sided carriages) by the time we got to Emerald an hour later.









It was quite a cool experience and the boys loved it which was the main thing. When we hopped off at Emerald, we waited out the hour for the train to return in a local cafĂ© sucking back on hot coffees, hot chocolates and eating hot chips to keep the cold from seeping completely into our bones. On the way back, the soothing rhythm of the train clattering over the tracks proved the perfect tonic for a wee 1/2 hour nap for Mylo. We were sure pleased to get back to the warmth of the car heater and to ditch all the extra layers we’d had to put on.

Once back in Melbourne, we decided to head over the river on foot to DFO South Wharf, a huge outlet shopping experience where we can truly say we shoe shopped till we dropped! Mylo got 2 pairs of new shoes, Noah some football boots for his upcoming winter football season, Mark some Nike Air Max trainers, and me 2 pairs of cute boots and some summer shoes. 

It was touch and go trying to get home though, and we nearly didn’t make it across the river again after a fire broke out on a boat near the bridge and the thick pall of smoke meant the police ended up closing both the footbridge we'd come across on and the closest road bridge over the Yarra river. We were the last ones let through before they closed the cordon off! 


That night, we headed out for dinner down to the waterfront, and made the most of the Harbour Town shopping centre being open till 6pm to finally track down those elusive Haviana jandals for Mark. We then headed down to the pier in search of Medici, an Italian restaurant that had come recommended. And it didn’t disappoint, especially for the most critical of connoisseurs – they being the two littlest people who gobbled up their spaghetti bolognaise and garlic pizza bread with not a single complaint.



On the short drive back, I could feel that another stunning sunset was brewing, possibly helped a little by the smoke that hanging was in the air after the fire, so I jumped out of the car before we got home and walked back to the same spot where I’d taken the lovely sunset shots two nights earlier, this time getting a new but equally beautiful perspective on the setting sun in Melbourne. But again, I'll save these photos for another day's viewing pleasure!


Having not indulged in Krispy Kreme doughnuts since a weekend excursion to Sydney some six years ago, we decided a little treat was in order for us all Thursday morning. And the six pack we bought was gone in a matter of minutes despite us thinking that we'd be able to save some for later!


Then we headed back down to Federation Square to make the most of the free Wifi and to let the kids run wild in the NGV Kids Corner for a bit.


We made sure we got back to the apartment in plenty of time, as we were expecting Nana, Poppa, Gee Gee, Sam and Alesha to arrive from the airport anytime. In the meantime, we had fun hanging out on the funny animal features and pulling faces in the mirrors of the apartment foyer.


Despite getting slightly lost, the rest of the family soon turned up, pretty tired after their 4am NZ start and starving. So it was a good thing that a) we had been able to extend our stay in the apartment to 5pm that night, and b) we still had a bit of toast, cereal and rice crackers for them to gobble up.

That afternoon we hung out together quietly relaxing (Mylo even had a kip on the couch) before heading over the river to the church for Nic and Kim's wedding rehearsal at 5.30pm. After that we had a big drive across town to their house to meet Kim's parents and some of the bridal party for a shared pizza dinner.

The boys coped remarkably well with such a late night, despite us not arriving at the house we were going to stay in till 10pm. The house was a 45 minute drive on the complete opposite side of Melbourne to Nic and Kim and was out near the main airport. It was the first time we'd used the GPS navigation system that Mark's friend Gareth had lent us and man was it a life saver. Travelling through so many back roads from one side of the city to the other in pitch black would have been near impossible without it!


The thing that struck us the most when we walked in the house apart from how lovely and spacious it was, was the thousands of millipedes crawling everywhere outside and still hundreds inside on the floors, walls and ceiling...eeeeewwwww! I even wore socks to bed the first night as I wasn't too keen on getting out to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and stepping on one!

We also discovered at 2am that we were right on the airport flight path as we were woken by 2 massive jumbo jets flying over, and once daylight dawned on Friday there must have been almost a plane a minute fly past the windows only 100 metres above the ground before they hit the runway. We've always been kinda plane crazy in our family so that suited us just fine once we got used to the boom as they flew like majestic giant birds past our windows.


On Friday morning, Nic himself made the massive trek across town to catch up with us for coffee, croissants and cupcakes which was a lovely relaxing couple of hours (apart from the fact it took Sam and Mark over an hour to find anywhere with decent coffee and treats!) I recall receiving a message from Mark that said something along the lines of 'no idea how far away we are or even exactly where we are...lost in the boon docks somewhere'.

Thankfully they found their way back with goodies in tow...eventually.


 On Friday night, the boys enjoyed a soak in that AMAZING tub, and we saw two fantastic rainbows, which when I heard Kim's wedding speech the next day about how God's promises to her were always confirmed by rainbows, made my spine simply tingle. 


I had a few people ask to see a proper view of the dress I wore to the wedding so below is a full-length version. And you'll see, I'm posed beside some real honest-to-goodness KANGA-roos! We'd been hoping to see kangaroos as the blurb that came with the house on the Internet said that there was Government reserve land over the fence and that kangaroos were known to have been spotted.

The funny part to this story is that just before we arrived back at the house from the wedding Mark said to me 'I wonder if we'll get to see any kangaroos before we leave?' To which I replied 'I doubt it, given there's probably only an hour of daylight left and it'll still be dark when we leave for the airport in the morning'. The wind must have switched direction on Saturday, because when we got home from the wedding, all the planes had disappeared so they had to have been landing on a different runway. And lucky for us, no noisy planes brought the kangas out to play. We literally walked in the house and looked out our bedroom window and Mark started shouting 'kangaroos kangaroos kangaroos kangaroos' at the top of his lungs which brought everyone running from throughout the house to see.

There were about five of them who stayed and played for an hour or so which was such a treat, especially as we hadn't made it to Melbourne Zoo on this trip. 


 We had fully planned to go to the zoo on Friday but hadn't quite made it as we ended up with a few errands to run and Sam needing to be dropped off across town mid afternoon to go hang out with Nic and the groomsmen for the evening.

We did however manage to find this gem of a cathedral across the road from Federation Square which entranced us all.


It reminded me of the beautiful cathedral in Siena, Italy which also has a similar black and white marble fascia.







And this...well this doesn't happen all the time so I am so blessed to have captured this magic moment on film!


I have loved watching these two on this holiday. They've shared early morning giggle sessions (i.e. way before they were meant to be awake), they've run wild in open spaces together all over the city, sat kicking their legs next to each other on a puffing steam train, and become closer with each passing day.

And oh the joy it brings this mama's heart to see.


And while I know life can't always be holidays, weddings and fairytales, for this one precious week we have  lived the loveliest dream.   

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