I drove in to Melbourne to take the girls to Victoria Market, which is held every Friday in and old warehouse. It’s a very popular activity and there were plenty of people which made parking difficult. My friend had a disabled badge which she insisted on sticking in the car window. This she assured me, will allow us to park anywhere for any length of time without paying. I was a bit reticent about this and slightly worried that she was over egging the pie and I would end up with a parking fine, or worse, a criminal record for illegally using a disabled badge. However, circumstances dictated this was the plan of action, so I went with it.
I had no idea where we were going so I was relying on Julie-Ann for directions which got a bit fraught as she got her ‘next left’s’ a bit confused with her ‘Oh, I meant Right’s’ whilst telling a rather complicated story of her travels and placating Willow (her daughter) who was already bored with the journey. None the less we got into Melbourne fairly easily, but then the fun began.
Melbourne is primarily laid out in grids, forming squares (blocks) and at each major intersection there are traffic lights which control the flow of traffic but also manage the pedestrian crossings which cross all 4 sections of each junction. The Aussie version of ‘Zebra crossings’ are right on the junction of each intersection which means, you may get a green light to turn left but you cant because people are walking across the crossing and they have priority. The same for right turns. So, the lights go green and you pull away but have to brake immediately to allow some old fart whose day dreaming to amble across the road.
Next complication is the ‘Tram system’ which runs in both directions in the middle of the road and meets other Trams coming from a different direction at the main intersections. Tram’s have priority but also, the traffic lights have some sort of ‘T’ sign that changes from Red to Green which is supposed to give drivers instruction on whether they can or can’t proceed. With me so far?
However, at some junctions when you wish to turn right they have an alternative system where by you can pull forward when light is green, but then have to stop about 5 yards further on for yet another set of lights. This is called a ‘Hook Turn’.
So to recap, Julie-Ann screams “Shit, turn right here”, I then have to:-
Watch traffic lights
Look for Hook Turn info
Watch for pedestrians crossing the road (who have priority).
Watch for Trams coming down middle of road (who have priority)
Watch for cars.
Only to be told ” Oh, I meant turn left”!
Anyway, we got there and I was told to park on a junction on an urban clear way that only allowed 15 minutes stopping.
We then set out on foot for the Market.
Once there I went off to find some where to sit for the next hour and the girls went off shopping.
An hour later we met up at the agreed rendezvous point and I had my picture taken with the real Father Christmas, before returning to the car which by now had attracted the attention of the local plod who were slowing down to look at this car, parked in an urban clear way blocking a junction, with a great big disabled sticker on the window.
We jumped in quick and scarpered much to Willows confusion.
Later that afternoon, George dropped us at the local swimming pool, a beautiful facility with Olympic size outdoor pool, an indoor pool, kids pool, jacuzzi and full Gym. However, within 30 minutes of us arriving the clouds came over and the gentle rumble of thunder could be heard.
That evening there was a 20/20 cricket match at the local cricket ground in Melbourne which George suggested we might want to go see, but him and Julie-Ann were getting up at 0500 on Saturday morning to go to a Market (well two actually) where they sell their Olive Oil, pressed and bottled up at the Farm where we stayed earlier in the week.
So instead, we had some food, a few drinks and watched the match on TV.
I think George was relieved at about 2230 when the match ended and he could slip off to bed rather than have to face the drive home.