Australia, Friends and Family
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I spent a couple of hours last-last weekend chatting with my BFF Ash, who lives in Melbourne with her hubby and her soon-to-burst-out-in-a-non-Alienesque-manner baby.

At one point she was describing something, and she just casually dropped the word palaver.

IMG_1562 (Copy)I’ve only really come across this word before in my beloved musical Les Miserables:

                                          What a palaver, what an absolute treat.                                                                                      To see a cat and its father, pick a bone on the street

So, I mean, I had to look it up.

Palaver: unnecessary work or trouble. or. talking or discussion that goes on for way too long.

And not only because of the spelling (I was going with ‘pallava’ in my head), but also to check how my assumed definition matches the real meaning of the word. This is actually something I do remarkably often as a Token Native Speaker in Germany – vaguely knowing  a word doesn’t always translate to being able to precisely describe said word.

In the case of palaver, I thought of it in the ‘pain in the bum’ sense, but didn’t even pick up on the fact that it comes from the latin ‘to talk’. Anyway, we carried on the chatting, spent some minutes discussing the fact that we could just substitute ‘palaver’ with ‘pavlova‘, and it would still pretty much mean the same thing (a sticky mess!), and then veered back towards the rest of our gossip/catchup.

I love not only that Ash is the type of person who uses a word like ‘palaver’, but also the fact that her knowledge of the word comes from the French and Saunders’ vehicle Let them Eat Cake.

Which is my very long, (some would say palaver-y) way of saying, that I love this bosom buddy of mine dearly, and that I miss her.

Ash lives in Melbourne now, and she’s not at all the only Melbournite who holds a firm place in our hearts. My dad’s sister’s family moved over east when my cousins were young (and they now have young kids of their own), and the last few years has seen a fairly steady emigration of our beloved Perthites to the other side of the country.

So of course, as soon as we knew we were coming to Australia, we knew we also had to visit Melbs.IMG_1567 (Copy) IMG_1568 (Copy) IMG_1569 (Copy)

I flew into Melbourne from Perth about 10 hours before Andy arrived (direct from Berlin), which means I got to spend the day with my family. I took the midnight horror flight, which is absolutely awful: you leave at 11:45 for a 3 1/2 hour flight that also propels you 3-4 hours forward in time and lands you in Melbourne just in time to begin a whole new day. Luckily for me, my uncle very kindly shuttled me from the airport to Tyabb, down on the Mornington Peninsula, allowing me to nap in the car, and arrive just as the kids (my cousin’s sons) were waking up.

Although I didn’t get a chance to meet up with my cousin and his wife (they were also travelling), and my aunt (who was quite ill), I got to spend a good amount of time with my uncle and the boys, and rather wonderfully also got to catch up with my other cousin and meet her three little not-so-little-any-more girls (the youngest for the first time ever).

After eating in a rather awesome shed-turned-brunch place (because this is Melbourne!), some wandering about town, some hanging with the kids, and a bit more wandering around my aunt and uncle’s property, I jumped on the train back to the big smoke.

Ash and Boton, her hubby, met me at the station, we spent the late afternoon gossiping, and then eating dumplings, and then Andy arrived.

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These photos are actually from our last night in Melbourne. 99% of the time during the trip, I was just so happy to be with all of our friends, that I didn’t take so many photographs.

If I’m perfectly honest, the lack of photos is also because it’s very hard to photograph and stuff dumplings into one’s mouth at the same time! Did I mention that Melbourne has probably the best food in the world? I know I gripe a lot about this in Germany, but Good Grief! the ‘Asian’ food here is lacking. And I miss it so! While we were in Melbourne, thank mainly to the fabulous work of our hosts (especially Boton, who knows a good dumpling when he sees it), we managed to eat dumplings every day.

Which, as it turns out, was not enough days.

If I’m honest, because we do have quite a few friends in Melbs now, the four days were filled with meetup after meetup, which largely also meant meal after meal. IMG_1585 (Copy) IMG_1588 (Copy)  IMG_1599 (Copy) IMG_1600 (Copy) IMG_1601 (Copy)

I have to be honest, the short time we were there, and the desire to see all the people had me originally a little stressed… but guys, I really just have to say that we had a superbly fantastically magical marvelous time!  Thank you so much everyone who made time to meet up with us, especially given how close it was to the Chaos of Christmas, and how our schedule seemed to change and flip from second to second.

All in all, those three-and-a-half days in Melbourne were just some of the best days ever. Rachel, Laura, Steven, David, Tess, Becky, Claire, Eleni: thank you so very, very much for the love!

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My dad often teases me that my blog has too many photos of food, so here’s some proof that we also got some ‘Culture’ in the most poncy sense of the word. We headed to the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV):IMG_1641 (Copy)  IMG_1644 (Copy)  IMG_1653 (Copy) IMG_1663 (Copy) IMG_1664 (Copy) IMG_1669 (Copy)

These flowers are part of an exhibit that encouraged you to take a flower, with the proviso that you then give the flower to someone on the street you see later in the day. I managed to pawn mine off on a guy who wanted to hand out some sort of promotion. I think he was surprised.

Anyway, the actual exhibit we saw was from David Hockney. IMG_1677 (Copy) IMG_1681 (Copy) IMG_1685 (Copy) IMG_1690 (Copy) IMG_1698 (Copy)

^Art on light boxes always looks fancier… but it doesn’t photograph so well.IMG_1699 (Copy)

It was fine, but not completely my taste. I wouldn’t mind some of the large-scale nature images for my living room, but the play on perspective didn’t strike me as particularly amazing, and the Gallery hall, named something like ‘200 portraits and a Still Life’, should probably have been called ‘200 portraits, 198 of which are of old white guys, plus a rather pleasing paprika’.

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I see.. white people…IMG_1726 (Copy) IMG_1731 (Copy) IMG_1732 (Copy)^A woman, A woman! Also, is that the same bench you used in your perspective art? Way to upcycle man!IMG_1744 (Copy)

Phew! All that culture makes you hungry, eh? Here’s Andy with a huge sheet of chicken at HotStar (thanks for the tip Steven!):  IMG_1623 (Copy)

And here’s some kind of icey-ice/ ice kachang.IMG_1766 (Copy)

Aaaand, that’s all folks!

Ash and Boton, thank you so very very very much for letting us stay with you, and for hanging with us, and gossiping, and being generally awesome people and friends- can’t wait till next time we’re in the city, when we’ll get to meet the little one!

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