Monday, 5 March 2012

Melbourne to Yarra Glen

Better sleep. Woken at 7 by Peter coming through the living room to get to the kitchen as he was working in a school today. Strong coffee and Vegemite on toast to kick start the day. Peter said goodbye - for the time being - as we'll reconvene at the other end of my trip. Walked back to groovy Fitzroy to pick up my bike, which only cost $20. As is typical in bike shops the world over, the mechanic was quite condescending about my attempts at making the bike roadworthy and in reference to the breaks he said at least I should be able to stop now. The staff helped me with my route out of the city and although affable, none of them smiled once. Directed to a Woolworth's supermarket, where I restocked my chocolate, sweet, shortbread (here called Scotch Fingers) and fruit & nut provisions. Amongst the plentiful confectionery goods I ignored the pink 'Musk Sticks' and the chocolate-coated licorice, and also noticed they label their battery eggs as 'caged eggs' compared to our differentiation of regular 'eggs' and 'free-range eggs'. Their terminology is better as it must make the less considerate amongst us think twice, as opposed to our preaching to the converted.

Returned to Abbotsford to reattach the panniers, which takes an exhausting 10 minutes as they're so fiddly and cumbersome, especially with all my purchases. Began my journey along the meandering, milk chocolate Yarra River bike path, 20 degrees, slight breeze, trees dappling sunshine, ideal. Really liked being on the move at last. Didn't like all the getting lost bits though, as there were so many junctions without signs. Asked a woman training a guide dog for directions and it would have been more useful to have my own guide dog. Lots of wildlife I'm happy to report, including rabbits, lizards, parrots and numerous other birds I don't know. The most common bird seems to be the magpie and I saw one attacking a bird with a plume or spike coming out of its head, and yesterday I saw cyclist with a spiked helmet to keep magpies at bay so I've heard. Stopped beside a pond from whose reeds a burbling sound was emanating, that was a cross between a frog chorus and birdsong, but of course I couldn't locate the critters who were producing it. Asked many more people for directions, including a fellow cyclist when I left the river in Eltham. He helped me, but was aghast that I was planning on riding to Yarra Glen in one day and warned that it was very hilly. Thanks a lot! It was pretty bad, although of course I made it. Only 42 miles and an average speed of 11.1! Bloody hardgoing with the weight, my lack of training and the heat suffered ascending steep hillsm when it felt as if ny head was going to explode.

Arrived at Couchsurfer Kelly's house and I wish she hadn't told me I could have come a flatter route. Kelly is delightful and so are her three children (Amy, James and Jordan), the eldest of whom proudly displayed her iPad that all the parents have to buy as they all use them at school! Nearly 10 years old, her fingers were a blur as she showed me all the apps. Her Mum says that her handwriting is terrible. James and Jordan showed off their 'Trashies', a trading game featuring a hundred tiny, hideous rubber creatures in trash cans. To me it was a big, luxurious house, dripping with gadgets and all mod cons. I think it's pretty low end by Australian standards however. It illustrates how good the standard of living when you consider Kelly is a single mother working as an administrator at a horseracing track. It was pretty full-on with the energetic kids all vying for attention and Kelly is a livewire herself, producing a constant waterfall of chat. Various friends popped in - they just walked right in - like in a seventies sitcom. Everyone was super friendly and super enthusiastic. We had spaghetti bolognese and sparkling wine with Katrien in attendance; a young German woman who is living here temporarily. Thankfully everyone went to bed early, leaving me to get a good sleep on a futon in the huge open-plan living area.

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