We’re being looked after by our perfect hosts, Bill and Marilyn Lingard at their house in Patterson Lakes, Melbourne for the last few day, but had rather mixed weather, some sunshine, some rain showers (some quite heavy), a blustery wind and relatively cold. On the plus side, the photos will be a lot better after Bill gave me an old camera of his that is far better than the phone camera, so thank you Bill, it’s great to have a proper camera again!
|Michael at his desk|
On Tuesday we had a tour of their company, CGB Precision Products PTY Ltd and met Michael, who is Bill and Marilyn’s son, working as Business Development Manager and Nicole, their National Accounts Manager. We didn’t meet the other member of staff, Barry, as he’s on a long holiday in the UK! It was great to go there again and see that things are still going well and the ‘Merobel’ product they purchase from my old company Andantex is still going strong and it was good to chat to them all about ‘business’, having been away from it for 16 months now and only had to think about campsites and ‘where we are going to go today’.
|Reception with some 'Merobel' displays!|
|And 'the boss himself', Bill|
Marilyn went in to pay some suppliers and do some work while we had a look round and then Marilyn took us out for the day, leaving Bill hard at work, to look at a place called Sorrento. We’d been to Sorrento in Southern Italy for our honeymoon 10 years ago, so it was interesting to see the Australian equivalent, which turned out to be a pleasant seaside town, on a finger of land jutting out to almost separate Port Philip Bay from the Bass Strait. Port Philip Bay is a huge inlet of sea, the top of which is where
|Sorrento 'Back Beach'|
On the way we went to Quarantine Station, which was used as a quarantine area up until 1980, after the sailing ship Triconderoga arrived there in 1852 with 48 crew and 795 immigrants from the UK with typhus fever on board, 100 having died and 400 seriously ill (it was flying a yellow flag, which apparently means ‘serious disease on board’). The final death toll was 168 passengers and 2 crew dead, they were buried on shore but sea erosion over the years caused the graves to collapse and storms uncovered the remains! In 1952 the staff moved all that was identifiable to another cemetery nearby – a bit of a grisly story!
|Shavans Indian Restaurant|
Anyway, on Tuesday night the four of us went to ‘Shavans’, an Indian restaurant nearby, Jackie satisfied her Biryani urge and we supplemented it with a chicken vindaloo and a lamb saag. Australian vindaloo’s are nowhere near the strength of British vindaloos and I told them so, but it was excellent and full of flavour and we thoroughly enjoyed it. As good as Diwan’s, our favourite Birmingham Balti restaurant? Not quite, but its close! Note to Australians visiting Birmingham: beware of Birmingham vindaloos!
|Melbourne from Dandenong summit|
Yesterday (Wednesday) we took ourselves off to the Dandenong mountains, about an hours drive north east, heading for a town called Olinda, which Bill and Marilyn had recommended. The highest peak is 633m and gives impressive views back to Melbourne, Port Philip Bay and surrounding countryside, but as we found out, its exposed position makes it quite windy and, when we were there, very cold. As Marilyn says: it was a ‘lazy wind’, meaning it goes right through you rather than round you! The landscape round there is a patchwork of exotic and large native trees and apparently is give the most accessible bushwalking from Melbourne, but not on the
On the way we stopped at a town called Belgrave to see ‘Puffing Billy’ a vintage steam train (actually they have about 3, plus one diesel engine, all beautifully restored) pulling carriage loads of, mainly Japanese, tourists, sitting in windowless carriages armed with their cameras (oh dear, it started raining just after the train pulled away!), so we went down onto the platform, chatted with the engine drivers and waved as the seemingly endless
|Don't forget to wave|
|This picture is for Tim Holden|
|It starts off OK|
A bit further up the mountain we had to stop at the entrance to the National Park as there was a cockatoo feeding area (or Bob feeding area as we call them after Robin and Murray’s cockatoo called Bob in New Zealand). The $4 for bird feed was well worth it as we were inundated with Bob’s and red and blue coloured parrot type birds (no doubt someone will tell us what they were). Bobs are actually quite big and heavy when they are standing on your head, shoulders and on the feeding tray you are holding.
|But deteriorates fairly rapidly!|
They also fight between themselves, hang on to your clothing and handy bits of your body with their beaks to move around shoulders and arms, and in their frenzy to eat the seed before their mate snatches it all, occasionally chew fingers and thumbs! Those beaks are quite strong and we both have tell-tale Bob beak marks of blood blisters and small puncture marks on our hands. Only when they had had enough could the smaller red and blue birds come in for their share, but the whole thing was great fun and well worth the stop even though it was raining at the time.
|That'll be my thumb then!|
|But they are pretty cute!|
|The BBQ King!|
Last night was BBQ night at Bill’s and Michael and his wife Dannie came round along with their youngest son Jet, who is 7. The elder two girls had other things on, so it was the 7 of us. Bill did the cooking on the biggest BBQ I have seen that he pulled in under the cover on his patio, pulled down the side covers and turned on his infra-red heaters (yes, it was cold out there!). I had the opportunity to talk ‘business’ with Bill and Michael in amongst the general chat and the whole evening was great.
Today (Thursday) we leave here, go to a hotel near the airport, return our car to the hire company and get ready to leave Australia early tomorrow morning. At least our luggage will
|Jackie, Dani, Jet, Michael, Marilyn and Bill (take a look at Jackies haircut!)|
Couple of things to add for yesterday, B made a very successful lemon meringue pie and I had a well needed haircut, I feel much lighter and much more ‘me’, you know it’s bad when even your husband comments you need a haircut!
Having taken a while to warm to Australia, I shall now be sad to leave, we’ve met some lovely people and had a really good time. I’m sure the next step will be fine, but it will be different, living in hotels and restaurants with very different languages being spoken and written.