Saturday 28th August Queenscliff to Melbourne

Another chilly day but quite sunny. Despite our best intentions we managed to miss the 10.00 am ferry by a whisker – but we were very early for the 11.00 am crossing!

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It was quite a large ferry when it arrived. It took about 45 minutes to get across to the Mornington Penisula – where Melbourne people have their weekend beach houses. It all looks very plush and the place is awash with vineyards and wine cellars.

We wanted to get some wine in so we stopped at Merricks General wine store. The two canines sitting patiently outsides belied the buzz going on inside.  They looked a bit like I felt as I was driving …….

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We arrived at a good time, in that there was space at the wine tasting counter and a fearsomely knowledgeable young lady took Keith on a detailed trip through the Merricks wine offerings. I could, of course, only sniff at the fumes and watch him get quite squiffy before he made his selection and we went off to have lunch while they packed our bottles away and another wave of ‘testers’ ‘took our place at the counter. It was a busy dining room with a large log fire blazing in the grate and a general air of good living about the place.

We lunched on a rather lovely soup of roasted cauliflower, leek and potato which was quite thick and absolutely delicious. It was then time to head for Meloume. That was another thing altogether .

The first bit was ok as we drove along a sandy track for about 6 kilometres. Then we joined the freeway and then we entered the city. Eeek!  All of a sudden I was knee deep in traffic and the sat nav which has never been totally reliable became totally incomprehensible. However, by some fancy footwork and a degree of tolerance by one or two drivers who, not to put to fine a point on it, I cut up – we were off the main road and into the area of ex factories/ now sort after loft apartments which is the modern and up and coming part of Melbourne called Richmond. This was fine – but the sat nav got us to the front of the building from which there was no access……. Several phone calls and Keith wandering on foot and we tracked down the lady with the keys who took us around the block to the vehicular access to the apartment. Great stuff!

we got all the bags and baggage and then it remained for us to get the car back to Avis. Then began one of the worst drives of my life…..  The said sat nav gave us three different routes to the address ranging from three minutes to fifty minutes.  An hour later we still had not arrived there and our full tank of petrol was fast becoming less than full.  We then called Avis whose directions still did not deliver us to the Avis office. We then abandoned all previous instructions and Keith took advice from a taxi driver – and we got there. Two minutes after the place had closed.

By this time I was in a state of not so mild hysteria as I realised that we had to go back through the traffic to the apartment area and find our way back again on Sunday.

We got back to the apartment building to find that the  parking permit we had been given expired the day before. I think we should draw a veil over the next hour until we had calmed down…..

Sadly our planned meal for Keith’s pal Al who he had not seen since 1988 had to be abandoned and plan B bought into play – the Indian Take Away.  Luckily Richmond is an area rich in eateries, so this was not difficult, but not quite what we had in mind  I was still a quivering wreck.

Nevertheless, we got ourselves together and Al duly arrived – a larger than life character in every respect.  I was engulfed in an enormous bear hug by a man twice my size, with a personality equally all enveloping!  After a hello drink the chaps went out to get the food and we had a great meal and it became clear that this was a friendship made with the deep roots of shared experience.  It was good to seem them both with tears of laughter running down their cheeks as they recounted and remembered incidents and people and bands and parties.  It was a real joy to watch  it had obviously been a real blast being around the two of them all those years ago.  At 11.00 I made a tactful exit to bed and I  understand the party broke up about 1.30……..

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