Farewell Australia

Its now 8pm, we’ve been on the plane for 5 hours and have left Australia a long way behind us. It strange to think we were there for a whole month, all of which are now great memories of a fantastic time.
…Laptop batteries run out…
Finally on British soil after 25 hours flying. We got back into Liverpool at about 9am after Graeme picked us up from Manchester airport. The flight home was definitely better than the flight coming, maybe because we were both so tired and slept the majority of it, or maybe because the second leg of the journey was the long 14 hour one. We’ve showered, partly unpacked and been food shopping so are going to finish unpacking and then probably fall asleep at around 4pm local time (1am Brisbane time). Hopefully Michael will not suffer badly with the jet lag this time and so he will go to work tomorrow and I will drive back to Nottingham.
This trip is the longest I have been away from Britain for, probably the longest period of time in which I have hardly spoken to my parents for, certainly the most intense time I have spent with Michael since we got together. I loved every part of being away for a whole month, it was surprisingly easy and always fun. I had the best time in Australia and I will definitely visit it again someday.

Family Day. Our Last Day.

We got up late, packed some more and got ready for the arrival of the Mead family for a banquet made by Helen. We all sat down to a fabulous lunch of lasagne, quiche, salad and wine followed by rich cheesecake, strawberries and cream. Once we had all collapsed from being fed so well, Michael’s cousin Paul played the piano and his uncle Eddie sang while we chatted amongst ourselves. Everyone left around 4pm after leaving us with more stuff to bring back to England, how are we ever going to get it all home?!
We drove to Zim’s to meet up for the last time with Michael’s friends for some poker and dinner before our flight home. Zim’s house, or houses took about 45 minutes to drive to. On our arrival, Zim and Cowan were battling it out for the poker winnings. They eventually agreed to half the winnings so we could all go out to dinner at The Hog’s Breath Café.
Dinner was good and it was nice to see all Michael’s friends before we flew home. They reminisced about old times, especially the last time they had all eaten together there (the last time they had seem Michael off to England) and other amusing tales of teenage life. We mulled about in the car park for a while, arranging a meeting time for tomorrow at the airport. It was really nice that they all seemed to want to wave Michael off at the airport, certainly showed me what good friends they have all stayed since high school.
Simon dropped us home at around 10pm.

Cigarettes And Alcohol

I spent the morning and the afternoon, on Michael’s return from his last day on the course, packing. Packing, packing and more packing eventually took its toll getting both of us angry at the weight of stuff we had to bring back home with us. Simon watched us discuss (maybe slightly angrily) with great amusement.
At 7pm Simon, Kristy, Ed and Jeremy came over and the 7 of us went for dinner at an Indian restaurant Helen knew the owners of. The food was great, if not slightly too hot for what I was used too, the wine continued appearing and we had a great time. The plan had been to carry onto a club afterwards but Michael and I were so incredibly full…and drunk… that Kristy drove us, Simon and Helen back to the flat while Ed and Jeremy went clubbing.
At Helen’s the wine continued to flow in copious amounts, to the extent that a cigar and many cigarettes were smoked to the background of piano playing. Kristy went home when Helen went to bed and the three of us carried on chatting until Michael passed out around 12pm. He clambered into bed and immediately fell into a deep sleep not to be woken for the next 10 hours. Simon and I chatted philosophically, righting the world’s wrongs, until 2am when he left to go the Regatta and I went to bed.


So, we’ve come full circle back to where we began. I decided to take the day to pack some of the things we had collected over the month being here. I washed, ironed, washed some more and had my suitcase almost full by noon. Zim called, requesting me, as a last resort, to try and persuade Michael to skip the afternoon off work so they could carry on the drinking that had already begun. It was eventually decided, after much debate, that Zim and Al would take me to see the University of Queensland while Michael and Graham finished work after which they would meet us and we would go for dinner somewhere.
UQ is on a huge campus, about twice the size of Nottingham Main campus with 1960’s buildings dotted about. The main square and law buildings, like on all campuses, were impressively build of sandstone made to look old. Michael met us a bit later and the three of them took me (for the second time) to the Red Room, the campus bar. It was a similar size to The Ark at Nottingham but a lot more expensive. We had a couple of drinks there until our stomachs told us it was dinner-time. They took me to a chippy called A Salt And Battery! Such a place would only be found in Australia. It was ok but again, nothing compared to English fish and chips. After the food we went back to Simon’s house for a few more drinks and then everyone dispersed home. It was after all, a weekday.

The Waterhole

Today I ventured to Brisbane’s Australia Museum. Although by this time I had realised that Australia did not have many old buildings, I did expect the museum to contain a bit more history than I got to see. I left 2 hours for the museum before I was due to meet Michael for coffee but was finished by 11am. The museum consisted of a tiny collection of aboriginal art and artefacts, lots of stuffed animals (which I was not too enthusiastic about due to our recent visit to the zoo, er oh and the fact that I am a grown adult!) and information about a book called The Waterhole by an illustrator called Graeme Greene. This caught my eye as it described, in great detail, how the author had gone about illustrating his book. I have always been interested in art since I did my GCSE and to this day I wished I had done it for A-Level (the equivalent of Australia’s senior certificate) There was a clear storyboard for each page with a final watercolour, pencil and ink painting along with an ink backdrop. The colours in the painting were so rich, the detail so perfected and each of the 11 were different and a wonder to look at. I was determined to buy the book as these paintings were so exquisite. The book was a complete disappointment. The richness of the paintings had been totally lost in the book and it quickly blended into another children’s book which, unless recommended, you wouldn’t pick up.
Having overestimated the time it would take to look around the museum, I had time to go back to the flat, relax, eat and still get back to the city in time for buying the last few pieces of the holiday and meeting Michael at 4.45pm. I got my photos developed, bought a few more bits and pieces and got to Starbucks in time for Michael’s arrival. We had a coffee, a snack in Coffee Club and went to the Imax Theatre to watch The Island starring Scarlett Johansson and Sean Bean. It was a great film, especially on the big screen.
We met up with Simon for a quick drink at a bar in West End called The Pavillion and retired for the night at around 10pm.

More Boutiques

Helen had the day off again so took me into another area of Brisbane, which I immediately compared to the Sloane Street of London. It was full of small, incredibly expensive shops filled with rich, well-dressed women. We bought some fabulous coffee from a famous coffee warehouse, some jewellery as gifts to take back to the U.K. and I bought a blood-red suede duffel bag for $100.
A few hours and a wonderful lunch later I had accumulated a few more items, mainly for Juliet’s birthday. Not sure how I am going ship all this stuff back home!
Helen then took us both out for dinner at a local Italian in West-End. It was lovely.

The Holy Day Of Rest

Okay, so I made today a recovery day, doing very little. Michael had begun his new course so had to travel into the city again, I rose at 11am, had a late breakfast and took my time to get showered and dressed. I pottered, washed, worked, read and sunbathed before Michael finally came home from work. We, hooked by now on Big Brother, watched the week’s evictions and went to bed.