Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Burra to Canberra

Anitra had left for work before the kracken awoke and Ian fixed breakfast. That's the third time porridge has been offered to me and I never have it in Scotland. What an idyll (in the daylight) surrounded by 86 acres of their own personal wilderness and - right on cue - the animals I had dined on last night hopped across the lawn. Ian, who is actually in his 70s, and of Celtic descent, related the time he was in an Irish village and directed to the home of a family who shared his surname. They invited him in. He stayed for three weeks and they never established a familial connection. He also told me about their cycle tour of Europe and how they had been able to climb every single Alpine mountain, but met their steepest challenge in the last few miles, approaching a the home of a cousin in Ashstead, Surrey (for my Surrey-dwelling mother's benefit).

Ian escorted me by car back onto the sealed road and I followed a pink line drawn on to a street map ripped from a Canberra phone book. Through the city I took a bike path past the parliament and alongside a lake. Bike paths are great, except when they suddenly stop; or you take a wrong turning, which in my case is frequently. The pink line took me along suburban streets to Fisher and through a park where teenagers smoking in the shade called me a hoon, which must have been used sarcastically, because I later discovered the word means 'reckless driver'.

Here I found the home of Lucie, who I would describe as a friend, even though I haven't met her before. She contacted me via my Devil Cat website seven or eight years ago and we have corresponded about our cats (and a great many other things) ever since. More than anyone else Lucie helped me to come through the aftermath of a relationship. The comfort of strangers. It was Lucie's son, Peter, who I stayed with in Melbourne. She took me to a shopping mall where I was inducted into the hallowed pleasures of vanilla milkshakes and cheesymite scrolls (rolls made with cheese and Vegemite). Back at her place Lucie pointed out Australia's most venomous spider, the Red-back, in her garage. I continued my education by sampling a mojito on the verandah. Lucie has one fridge half-stocked with food and another, fully stocked with alcohol. Quiche and roasted veg were served up later, and with Monty the Siamese purring contentedly on my lap, we settled down to watch The Castle, a whimsical Ozzie affair about a bogan (charmingly unsophisticated) family's legal battle against an airport seeking to establish a new runway on the site of their house (their castle). It was ripper!

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