Getting our five farthings’ worth

6 January 2019

Bugsy had a great eleven hour sleep, waking just after 07:15, which was perfect as we needed to be out by 09:00 for our cruise today. We had booked ourselves onto the ferry “cruise tram lunch” experience, which left from Elizabeth Quay and took us over to Fremantle for a tram ride, then back to Perth.

Before we left, we discovered a small puddle of water in the cupboard underneath the hob, which is next to the sink.  We have no idea how it got there, or how long it had been there, but it had caused the shelf to swell and split quite badly.  Once it was soaked up with a tea towel, we left for the day, with the intention of checking on it again later.

The parking was said to be quite bad around Elizabeth Quay, and involved a ten minute or so walk wherever you parked, and as it was the same price (if not slightly more) than the cost of an Uber, we decided to take the easy Uber option, which dropped us right in front of Captain Cook Cruises at Barrack Street Jetty.  We were a few minutes early for the trip, which gave us enough time to collect our hard copy tickets and have a wander around, before joining the queue.  Queuing.  A concept quite alien to a hideous woman who literally just decided to walk in front of us, as we were all standing still, waiting patiently.  I hate to say it, but she was Irish again.  The two men she was with had the decency to reject her demand of “Come here, just get up here!” preferring to stay in the line where they had been before. I thought she may realise what she’d done, and wait for her two men to catch up, but no, when we got to the front of the queue, she just called them all forward, and they reluctantly had to join her.  We ended up on a table next to them on the top deck, which was just too much for me, so Ian kindly found us a much better place one floor down, where we were joined by Laura and Leanna.  Leanna lives here (Irish – visited thirteen years ago and never left!) and Laura is an actuary in Bristol. Cornelia instantly took a shine to Laura and was telling her all about the vast numbers of jellyfish she could see in the water while the boat was docked.  Cornelia was quite right – there were thousands of them filling the water. Definitely not a good spot for a swim!

Thankfully, swimming wasn’t on our itinerary today, and we cruised quite pleasantly along Swan River to Fremantle.  The narrative accompanying the journey and supplied by our skipper was brilliant.  He pointed out all the important landmarks, as well as indulging us with the details behind some of the most incredible houses that overlook the water, including the most expensive residence in Australia (AUD 54 million) and an enormous house that was being built for an Italian, which looked like three houses, but is in fact just one! The most eye-catching house we saw (I call it a house – really, I mean villa, or residence, or mansion!) was one that looked as if it belonged in Tuscany and seemed almost carved into the stone.  It had eleven separate units, one for each of the owner’s ten daughters, and one for him, and included a 350m² boat house.  Nice.

We left Laura and Leanna in peace to enjoy their return journey to Elizabeth Quay, while we found our tram, driven by Geoff, who was hilarious.  He’s obviously been doing this job for years, but he sounded completely natural and unrehearsed as he navigated his way around the various historic landmarks in Fremantle, including the impressive war memorial and prison.  Fremantle is a funky little place, full of beautiful old buildings, but updated with cool cafes and creative art.  There was one art installation that hadn’t ended up quite the way it was intended: yellow stripes on the sides of the buildings which, when viewed from the end of the street, was meant to look like a spiral all the way down.  But it was left up too long, and it is now damaging the buildings as it is removed.  Whoops…! Geoff’s good humour and general bonhomie really elevated the hour long tour, and we were all disappointed when we were finally returned to the jetty, to catch our return ferry.

On board, we were shown to our table for lunch.  Well, sort of.  They couldn’t find our table, and we were left wandering around a bit by ourselves, until Ian found our name card on a nearby table, which had been turned around by our table companions who were, I have to say, probably the least friendly people we have met on our entire world adventure.  Each of us said “Hello!” to them, and they looked at us, then completely ignored us, as if they hadn’t even seen us sit down right in front of them. So, that made for an awkward lunch! (I should mention that neither was hard of hearing or unable to speak, as they talked to each other quite ably.)  We felt that the only appropriate thing was for us to have as much fun as possible!

The buffet meal was pretty good.  Salads and meats, then butter chicken & rice, or tomato and olive pasta, followed by carrot cake or chocolate mud cake and a variety of fruits, and inevitably we ate far more than we should have!

The Perth skyline is lovely, and as we approached, Ian & I stood outside at the front of the ferry, admiring the view.  (Cornelia was still stuffing her face with mud pie, so we left her for a couple of minutes, although we could see her all the time, in case you were wondering…!) Once we had docked, we decided to have a quick look at the Bell Tower that Ian had been admiring this morning.

It was the most fascinating place and I’m SO glad we went in!  The newly-built Bell Tower houses twelve of the bells of St Martin-in-the-Fields church back home which date back from before the 14th century.  Not only did we learn loads about the history of time and bells, which was genuinely really interesting, I booked us on the “bell tour” which included the three of us being able to ring those famous bells ourselves!  It was magnificent and special in a way I simply cannot describe. Surely a unique experience! And the bells that were rung by us could be heard all around Perth.  (Lucky people of Perth!!) Just wow.

After the excitement of our newly-acquired bell-ringing skills, it was back down to earth with a bump and a request for a chocolate nice cream.  We were delivered back home by our favourite Uber driver so far, funnily enough called Martin, and then we walked down to the seafront.  While Ian went off for his walk, Cornelia ate her ice cream, and then played in the Whale Playground for an hour or so.  She made some new friends immediately once again – she literally spies a girl, or a group of kids, and goes up to them and joins in with whatever it is they are doing, with no embarrassment or concern whatsoever.  It’s such a brilliant trait.

I had a genuine moment of panic during my stint as parent-in-charge-of-not-losing-the-child.  I lost the child.  I had just wished a friend a Happy Birthday (and I promise I hadn’t just been playing on my ‘phone the whole time!) when I looked up to make sure Cornelia hadn’t fallen off the rope she’d been climbing, when I couldn’t see her.  I looked carefully around, knowing that she’d played hide & seek a few times already, but still couldn’t see her.  This was when my heart stopped.  Actually, no.  My heart stopped when I asked her new friend, Harper, with whom she’d been playing the whole time, if she’d seen where Cornelia had gone.  Her response was: “No.  She went out of the park up the hill with some new friends, and then they all went off with her.”

My blood ran cold, as I legged it out of the playground and up the grassy hill, wondering at what point I needed to enlist some urgent help.  Just as I was about to yell that I needed some assistance, I spotted her.  Doing bloody roly polys down the hill, with a group of children.  Bloody hell.

I summoned her over and as soon as she saw my grave face, she knew exactly what I was going to say, so she lay on the ground and burst into tears, because she “didn’t like my face”.  I told her as calmly as I could exactly what had happened, and why my face looked so serious, adding that she needed to stop the tears and work out what she should have done.  Immediately, she said that she should have told me that she was leaving the playground, and agreed that just forgetting was not okay, given the potential for something bad to happen.

We went back to the playground, and the next time she wanted to leave, she asked me. Ian was back by now (and I had confessed all to him already) so she was allowed to go, with Ian keeping an eye on that grassy hill to make sure she never went out of sight again.  She found Harper again, and ended up playing some more with her in the sandy playground, until it was time for us to leave. I said she could say goodbye to her other friends, and she replied that she didn’t mind saying it to some of them, but she wasn’t going to say goodbye to the little boy in the red t-shirt as he’d been rude to her.  She said that she’d ignored him and walked away, just as I’d told her to do previously, and I went from being a still-slightly-upset-about-the-whole-losing-a-child mummy to a very proud mummy.

Our now-familiar route home took only a few minutes, and once back we checked our leaky cupboard, to find another puddle had formed. We dried it up again, and I promised to contact Gabi, our host, to let her know.  The rest of the evening passed by pretty quickly.  Busgy had reheated pasta bolognese from last night, and I had a shower with her, before putting her to bed.  She was sound asleep by 20:15. Really, this is a much better time for her.

Neither Ian nor I were particularly hungry after our huge lunch on the ferry earlier, so he had a chicken salad, and I ate the leftover bolognese sauce, not bothering to boil any pasta to accompany it. The rest of my evening was spent updating the blog, until I realised how tired I was and went to bed.  Each one seems to take me about an hour to write, and the same amount of time to upload the photos.  I am cursing myself for not managing to write them up daily, as it would be so much easier for me in the long run!

2 thoughts on “Getting our five farthings’ worth

  1. Cornelia is a soul after my own heart. I have enjoyed a lifetime of hobnobbing with new people- “No strangers, only friends you haven’t met”-as the saying went in the ’70’s. Still and all, the very fact that there are untoward people, like the Irish queue-cutter, the snoots at your buffet table and the ill-mannered little boy, is ample reason to keep her on a short tether, at least whilst on the road.

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  2. Your time isn’t wasted Mel it is a fascinating insight to your amazing expedition-adventure and thank you so much for sharing it with us Oldies!! So a new hobby when you come back to the UK. St Mary’s Church at Wolborough has eight of the finest bells in Devon!!! Always looking out for new ringers!!! When we were in Christchurch many years ago one of our group from Cornwall rang a peal of bells with their regular ringers. A good hobby?!!! Happy travelling in your final lap. Love from Jill and John xx

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