Shepparton – day 254 (K)

Took me forever to fall asleep last night – my mind was clearly working on overdrive and it was weird being in a double bed alone (for the first time in years) which resulted in me making a Skype phone call to Jayne at 1am. Fortunately, that is 4pm back in the UK so I didn’t feel too bad as I was the only one yawning through the entire chat!! Woke up around 8am with the daylight streaming through the windows since I’d forgotten to shut the blinds last night… Got up and made breakfast for Tracey. Anyone who is familiar with my cooking ability, or lack there of, will now be concerned that I was preparing food for another human being (who I actually like!!). Fortunately, the offer of making scrambled egg was declined and I was allowed to prepare the slightly easier muesli, Milo cereal bars and coffee from the Nespresso machine. Deciding to be slightly more active today than yesterday, we were both showered, dressed and out of the house before midday! First stop, was a little drive around to find some kangaroos. We found some around the back of the motor museum. I have never seen a real kangaroo before, not even in a zoo (that I can remember). I have to admit, I was surprised at how big they were. Standing erect, the kangaroo was as tall as I am with massively powerful legs – even in slow motion jumping, that beast moved bloody quickly!! Don’t think I ever want to be at the receiving end of an angry one of those…As we headed back towards the centre of town we visited the Shepparton MooovingArt exhibition. Scattered across several of the parks, riverbanks, gardens, footpaths and public buildings in the area are some colourful 3D life-size fibreglass MooovingArt Cows. Prepared by local and internationally renowed artists, the art exhibit is designed to promote the Greater Shepparton region as the dairy capital of Australia. They sound ridiculous but they were actually quite special in their own way from Spider-Man cow to Shrek cow, from pirate cow to tourist cow. My favourite has to be hotdog cow whilst Tracey liked the skeleton cow. Apparently, every now and again, people drive around and ‘tip’ the cows. Whilst I don’t endorse this kind of behaviour, the thought of drunken youths walking around tipping fibreglass cows is kind of funny although probably not to the artist or the police… (who have their own painted police cow outside the station!).

Got back in the car and drove to the Last Straw cafe to get a latte. Clearly arriving at a busy time, we managed to grab the last table whilst an ever growing line of people waited to be seated. The back section of the cafe is literally in the kitchen part of the cafe. Drank our coffees and freed up the table before heading to the Chocolate Apple factory. Greater Shepparton produces 90% of the pears in Australia and 30% of the apples which you can see as you take a drive around the area – it’s back to back orchards. The 22-hectare orchard that is home to the Chocolate Apple factory is near to Tracey’s work, although she has never been! The owners of the orchard developed their products after some unfortunate natural events back in 2004 (drought, frost and hail). Inside the shed behind their house was a small retail outlet where we got to try some of their speciality chocolate apples – smooth creamy chocolate on the outside with a layer of soft caramel coating a crisp flavoursome Pink Lady apple inside. They are also beautifully decorated with more chocolate and other edible trimmings such as sweets, marshmallows, peanuts or Maltesers (to name a few). Obviously, after trying a couple of the different kinds, we both bought one each (sorry Jayne but don’t expect there to be any left when you get here!!). Also got some local produced apple juice with ginger before heading back into town to visit the Shepparton Art Museum (SAM). A small but lovely gallery with a variety of different art pieces – paintings, photos, sculptures, ceramics and prints. The exhibition of 80 pieces of art from their 80 years of collecting was a total eclectic mix of pieces, each interesting in its own way (although some I wouldn’t necessarily consider ‘art’). The main show stopper is the ‘Woman and child’ statue created by Sam Jinks. Incredibly realistic, the fact that you are looking at a sculpture and not living human beings is disconcerting to say the least. It is truly mesmerising and the detail is magnificent.  Upstairs was dedicated to a Chinese artist. There was a rather percular video of her sitting in front of a mirror, wearing a wedding dress, on a construction site having cake thrown at her whilst puppies ate what fell on the floor… Another one of the exhibits was an aroma installation with six scents to represent the town of Shepparton, both in its history and present day. The smells were of pear, green apple, wood fire smoke, eucalyptus, garlic and chilli pepper. Outside the SAM there are some more MoovingArt cows which we looked at, only to be approached by a local man who wanted to share his many conspiracy theories with us, ranging from 9-11 to Princess Diana… Stopped off on the way back to the house to pick up some noodles for a late lunch/early dinner. In the evening, we went to the cinema to watch ‘Finding Dory’. It doesn’t stray too far from the original film in plot and tone but, with the new characters, it is still full of humour and touching moments. Tracey and I even got to use our new joke of ‘I’m drying’ (the fish equivalent to ‘I’m drowning’) on two occasions! Back at the house to ring Jayne and HSBC before heading to bed. 18 days to go!

Friday 17th June 2016

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