Shepparton – day 274

Today’s the day!!! We’re picking up Jayne from the airport!!! Almost worth getting up at 5.30am… Almost! Lols. Tracked her flight details to see she was about thirty minutes behind schedule so had a coffee at home before jumping in the car to begin the 200km journey down to the airport. Slightly eerie driving down the country road dual carriageways in the semi-darkness, well aware that this is the time of day when kangaroos often get hit by cars. Tracey, obviously, did a sterling job and we breezed down the route. Stopped for a toilet and coffee stop mid way, purchasing a couple of Australian favourites – golden rough and mint patty. The golden rough was almost like a fancy flat disk of Toblerone, whilst the mint patty was similar to a large after dinner chocolate mint. Tracey was bitterly disappointed by how they tasted – not like they did when she was a kid! Gave us both an energy boost as we pulled into the airport car park, looking up and down the aisles for the green lights to show there was a space (although, there was a few green lights but no spaces!!). My chin started wobbling as we walked towards the terminal building and stood in the middle of the concourse watching the TV screens to see her come out. Absolutely loads of schools picking up exchange students from Asian countries and a huge group of students congregating by the University of Melbourne sign. After about 40 minutes of waiting, she came through the door and Tracey held up her huge ‘sexypants’ sign as I gave her a huge kiss and hug!! Took her to the car and went to a nearby McDonalds for breakfast as we were all hungry. All full of burgers, hash browns and milkshakes, Jayne gave us too much chocolate from England and a pot of Branston pickle for Tracey (we will make her like it!!!). Got back in the car, driving back and catching up while Jayne became more and more exhausted during the journey. Saw kangaroos everywhere en route and a quick drive by the antique store to see if the huge ones I had seen where still hanging around (they weren’t) and we were back at the house. Even before we had got inside, Jayne spotted a huntsman spider. There was no way that either Tracey or I were going to kill it so Jayne rose to the challenge. A lighter and some bug spray meant that Jayne napalmed the big bastard whilst the two ‘ninjas’ hid behind the screen door just in case it started moving. Fully crispy, Tracey told Jayne she couldn’t put it in the bin and made her throw it in the drain down the street!! After her heroic spider massacre, Jayne had a bath and got into her new fleecy pyjamas that were in her welcome pack and, whilst Tracey popped out to do some errands, we sat on the sofa to watch a film. Five minutes later, Jayne was asleep and I watched the rest of the film on my own. Tracey came home and I put Jayne to bed so we could chat and watch TV without having to be too quiet. Tried waking Jayne up for dinner but she wasn’t having any of it! So left her to sleep whilst Tracey and I had spaghetti bolognaise whilst watching episodes of ‘Modern Family’. Jayne woke up around 8pm so had dinner before opening our present from Tracey – she has made our blog so far into a set of four bound books… They are beautiful.Thursday 7th July 2016

Shepparton – day 263 (K)

An early-ish start to a Sunday morning as we were helping out at an event being held at Latrobe University. Having seen an advert that McDonalds in Australia were now doing all-day breakfasts, Tracey and I had had a conversation last night (around the fifth glass of wine) about going there for breakfast! So, got showered and dressed before putting the fruit in the car (was being donated from Tracey’s work to the forum), jumping in the car and heading down the road. Another moment stood in front of the menu, gazing in awe at all the burgers that we don’t get back in the UK – must have taken me about five minutes to drool over the menu before deciding what to get. Was sorely tempted by a frozen Coke but since it’s winter here and a little too chilly for a frozen drink (and, bizarrely, I’m loving feeling the cold after months of heat and humidity!). After filling up on greasy goodness, we headed over to the university and unloaded the car. Caught up with Charles (a friend of Tracey’s from Rotary) who was organising the African Youth Forum. The forum was organised to hear and learn from young people about the issues of greater concerns to them. There was a range of professionals discussing issues ranging from education and training, apprenticeship, mental health, mentoring and domestic violence against women and girls. We were in charge of registering people who were attending the event. Notice how organised the leaflets are?!? That was my job…
I was also in charge of setting out the refreshments… I guess my OCD ways haven’t diminished at all during our months of travelling – In fact, they may have gotten worse!!The morning passed pretty quickly as we chatted to the Mayor and some of the political candidates who had come to do a quick campaign speech at the start of the forum. Chatted loads with Tracey as people trickled in, lots of them coming directly from church, whilst we sneaked peeks at various rooms and notice boards in the university – is a much nicer university than the ones I went to in England… Made me want to be a student again!Popped into the supermarket on the way home to grab some lunch and annoy Ashleigh on the deli counter, who was back at work today. Resisted the urge to go on a massive shopping spree in the stationary shop, choosing the steal the chocolate muffin from Ashleigh hot chocolate meal deal instead…
Headed back to the house to watch some TV and have a relaxing afternoon before Tracey goes back to work tomorrow (having worked all weekend too!). Got introduced to the show ‘Orange is the New Black’ which was good, although tough when you start in season six. I had to keep asking what was going on! Met up with Tracey’s parents who, very kindly, took us out for a Thai meal at a nearby restaurant. My medium hot curry had quite a kick to it and I felt substantially stuffed as we left. Also said ‘thank you’ in Thai to the waitress who looked at me as if I was insane!! Semi-finals of ‘House Rules’ rounded off a great evening! 9 days to go.

Sunday 26th June 2016