Monday, 27 August 2018

Back from a wee break- Melbourne; Part 1


Yes, it really is me. I have returned. TWO whole months without a blog, I can't believe it! That certainly wasn't in my plans when I said I'd be gone for a few weeks. But to be honest, I have enjoyed the extended break with no pressure to write or take photos...if you don't count Dad (#1 fan) asking every second day when there'll be a blog. He gave up after 3 or 4 weeks.

And I've actually needed the extra time this past couple of weeks as I've had not one but two heavy winter colds, the second one a real doozy. We tend to usually miss the winter ills when we're on the road because we don't mix with the masses too often. But after three winters my luck finally ran out.

I left you in the last blog with a photo of us parked up beside Mum & Dads' in suburban Napier. And that is still where we are, although us and the rig- separately & together- have vacated the concrete pad several times during the last two months.

It started with a two week trip to Melbourne to meet our latest grandchild, a very sweet & chilled out little man called Otis.

Can you believe it, I took my camera but it hardly saw the light of day. I mostly used my phone camera (until someone spotted a cracked lens), and then David's phone. It was lovely to just relax with the family and enjoy some quality time with Lizzie, Jake & Otis. David celebrated his birthday while we were there, here's Otis with Poppa, don't you just love the look he's giving David..... "Poo, was that you Poppa?"

We stayed in a hotel just 500mtrs from the family's townhouse which suited us all fine; we had our own space, they weren't tripping over us 24/7 and it was just a short walk there and back each day, or several times a day. This was the view of Melbourne city from our hotel window, it reminded me a little of the opening shot of the TV programme 'Coronation Street'.

We took the tram & train (both just a couple of streets away) into the city on several occasions; more for a wander around and to have lunch overlooking the Yarra River than to shop though. 

Most days were overcast until early afternoon when the clouds parted and the sun shone down although it was bitterly cold every day, you couldn't go outside without a jacket. It is much colder than winter in the North Island and the top of the South.

The Preston Market was just a short walk from Lizzie & Jakes' home and we often pushed Otis in his stroller down there, had a coffee and a pastry and then bought fresh veges, fruit, meat or seafood for dinner. David & I thought the Seafood Market was amazing, so much fresh fish and variety available.

Jake is an excellent cook and we were extremely lucky that he wanted to cook dinner for us most nights, and this was after his long day of work and fighting traffic.

Pork Belly
Crispy Skin Salmon
On the weekend we squashed ourselves into the car (the baby seat took up so much room!) and drove out of the city, up and over the hills and into the Yarra Valley an hour away, stopping for a wine tasting at the kid's favourite winery, TarraWarra Estate...

...and then we had a long lunch just down the road at Healesville, a very popular country town and gateway to the Yarra Valley wine region. Then it was onto Four Pillars, a gin distillery, for a gin tasting! 

After smelling the aromatics, we tasted the gins. Who knew there were so many flavours of gin available, from right to left; Dry, Navy Strength (58.8% ALC!!), Spiced Negroni, Chardonnay Barrel, Sherry Cask & Bloody Shiraz. Can you guess which one I liked? No not the Chardonnay one surprisingly, it was the Navy Strength that got my vote.

We hadn't seen any wildlife except for a few kangaroos in a paddock as we drove home from the Yarra Valley so I talked Lizzie & David into heading to the zoo for a visit. I'm not a fan of zoos (although I know many have their place in conservation) but I recall enjoying a visit to the Melbourne Zoo some 20 years ago so off we headed. Wrong move. Not only was the zoo quite tired looking, it was school holidays and the place was packed solid with laughing, screaming, yelling, crying, running kids. The queues were long and we bypassed several exhibits.

I did enjoy watching three young male lions; one reminded me so much of my cat Lily when she ambushed her brother Clay. This one spotted his brother on the other side of the enclosure, ambling along the fence line...

...and then as the brother headed towards him he prepared to pounce, wriggling his backside likes cats do, as he shot over the log and onto his brother's back right below my window (hence no photo!).

I was also fascinated by this beautiful snow leopard, there are three at the zoo but just this one was visible. She looks like the cat that got the cream with her fat cheeks here. I think she might have been calling just as I took the shot. Their tails are very long and fat, it helps with balance and as she climbed down a very steep rock face from her perch I could see how she used it.

It started raining as I was watching her and something else caught my eye and hers, a big fat rat scampering along the edge of a small stream that ran through the enclosure. It disappeared under a rock and out of sight before she moved.

Before we knew it, it was time to say a sad goodbye and head home. We had an awesome time and absolutely loved spending time with the family and especially getting know our happy little bub Otis. 

To be continued.... Part 2


  1. Welcome back Shellie.. i thought my inbox notifications had gone quiet :). Timeout for family is always good though. Well deserved.
    I'm now catching up and reading through your old posts for research. My lady has agreed to a return trip in 2020...bringing some of my tribe along too for my 50th birthday year. Woohoo!

    1. Thanks Tim, yes, we've had a lovely time with family both here and in Aussie but we're ready to hit the road again and especially now that spring has arrived, the days are warmer and the skies blue. Roll on summer!
      How exciting to be planning another trip and a celebrating a significant milestone Downunder. The time will fly by and before you know it you'll be back in the Land of the Long White Cloud, Aotearoa again. :)

    2. I least the fun part can start - the planning! I've got a few new places i want us to visit and a few old places to return to. Just how to string them together without driving (or flying) between too much is the tricky part. :)


Thank you for taking the time to leave a message, I love reading them! All comments are personally moderated by me and I will post and answer them as soon as possible, Shellie