Monday, January 18, 2010

Melbourne Weekend

Natalie has gone to her annual Big Folk Music Thingee, just outside Kyneton in Victoria. She'll be there a week, practising fiddle, going to evening music sessions, drinking, and taking a break from the world of medicine and children. This is a Good Thing.

I narrowly missed going with her this year. Turns out an old friend of mine from university is part of the team that runs the singing group at the music school -- John Thompson of Cloudstreet. Not having seen John for something like twenty years, I figured it would be a good way to catch up. Unfortunately, the planned parental babysitting did not occur.

However, it does not appear that this excuse will work twice. Not only did Mr Barnes' good wife volunteer (like a madwoman!) to look after all three Flinthart offspring for the necessary period, but it turns out I've got an old friend in Kyneton as well -- hi, Sam!

The kids and I visited Sam yesterday morning, after we abandoned Natalie to her musical pursuits. Sam looked the same as ever, despite being two small children to the good, and meeting her partner Paul was a real pleasure. It's nice catching up with old friends and finding they're leading a life that they enjoy.

Anyway: Sam's as mad as Mr Barnes' counterpart, and volunteered immediately to do kiddie duty.

Now, while I really wasn't prepared to lumber poor mad Madame Barnes with all three of my offspring, I feel obliged to say that the my boys got along very, very well with Barnes the Younger. Frighteningly well, actually -- particularly Elder Son. They discovered they're both huge fans of Artemis Fowl and the 'Horrible Histories' series of books; that Barnes the Younger practises Aikido versus Elder Son's Ju-jitsu... in fact, they had so much in common I swear the pair of them didn't shut up the entire time they were in each other's company. Seriously: they both just talked, non-stop, somehow absorbing the output of the other while simultaneously blaring away with their own narrative. It was spooky.

The Melbourne weekend prior to the music thing was lovely. Big thanks to Guru Bob for recommending the Hu Tong Dumpling House in Market Lane... holy shit, that was some superb Chinese food there. And the man himself came along, along with his Sweet Thang. Word has it they've actually found a house to purchase, and they're going through settlement right about now. Much more sneaky word has it that there's a certain amount of fixing up to be done on the place, and our man Bob is planning to get his hands dirty... keep an eye on the accident and emergency reports for the Royal Melbourne; Guru Bob will be the bloke with the claw hammer embedded in his forehead.

Greetings also to Struggers and the lovely Amy, who kept us company at the Hu Tong. I'd not met Amy before. Last time I was in Melbourne, I caught Struggers by surprise in his Lair, and Amy was not in evidence. This time I wound up sitting next to her at the table... the conversation went well, so hopefully she hasn't concluded that all of Struggers' friends are dope fiends and froot loops.

It was a good weekend, even though it had to be pretty kid friendly. We managed to fit in the Science Works -- Lightning Show and Planetarium Show. Elder Son enthusiastically volunteered to get up and sing during the Lightning Show, and duly had his voice put through various distortions and oscilloscope displays. And for some reason, Natalie decided we should take in the "Glow In The Dark Mini Golf" course out at the shoppingville they built when they thought that fucknormous ferris wheel was going to rejuvenate a stretch of Melbourne riverside. (For those not in the know: they built a ferris wheel the size of Tom Cruise's insecurities, to act as a long-lasting tourist attraction and city landmark. Of course, last summer was quite hot. After about five days, the truly fucknormous ferris wheel warped beyond repair, and was decommissioned. Brilliant planning there...)

The Barnes Crew were quite good-natured about being dragooned into roles as navigators and drivers and so forth, and survived the mini-golf with good will intact. I believe I even have some photos, but they'll wait until I've sorted out everything else I've got to do.

For I am home now, yes. Having driven back from Kyneton, negotiated the horrors of two airports with three kids in tow, and the return journey over the mountains and all. Today I must reclaim the dog, pay various pet-minders, buy some supplies, replace a couple pillows we abandoned in Kyneton for lack of carrying space, and manage sundry other things. But it's sunny and cool and lovely, and I can see all the way to the horizon and beyond without all that weird hazy shit. The mountains are blue and purple, the sky is clear, and the kids are outside playing.

Good to be home.