Melbourne – Rowe Family – 17th April 2022

It has all been a bit of a blur this last week. One thing that has not been a blur is the beautiful weather. We have had highs of 28c which has sent the lilly white Canadians for a bit of a sixer.

We survived the F1 grand prix without losing our hearing or sanity and Melbourne is now putting itself back together again. On the 12th April we moved down to the suburb of Elwood to mind our friends Shelly and Sam’s place along with Henry the cat.

Henry is a Russian Blue which we have now renamed a Ukranian Blue. He is about 9 years old and very much rules the roost. We have looked after him back in 2018. This time his mum and dad went off to Sydney for a bit of a break. He is a lot less intensive to look after than the Toque monster. We stayed in their flat for five days which worked out well as family were arriving from Adelaide, Tasmania and Western Australia for the Easter long weekend.

We have spent some time investigating the surrounding suburbs and looking at real estate. It is stupidly expensive with prices three times greater than what we are use to in Calgary. Young people cannot manage to get on the property ladder here and if they do, they will never pay out their mortgage. You would think that if you paid that kind of money that the property would be in pristine condition – wrong! It has been a depressing venture looking at places. They say there is a price correction coming to the market because of interest rates increasing, but unless you are cashed up and don’t need to sell any property to finance the new one, it doesn’t put you ahead.

Barb’s new apartment is positioned fairly close into the city and hence there are a lot of older suburbs with some lovely old Victorian style buildings around. Prahan is fairly upmarket and trendy and has a very vibrant market area which we indulged in.

All the lovely fresh fruit and vegetables in the market which hadn’t been in a freezer unit for over a week, or transported half way around the world and then defrosted. We had forgotten that feeling of how your taste buds get overwhelmed with such fresh produce.

 Shelly and Sam’s new apartment is in the suburb of St Kilda and a block from their place are the St Kilda gardens.

Even though it is the end of summer and into autumn, the gardens are still green and there is even some colour still in the flower beds.

And of course there is the amazing birdlife of which there is a plethora in the city. We have forgotten just how loud they can be squawking at the top of their lungs. The proper term for a group of cockatoos, as defined in the Macquarie dictionary, is “a bloody nuisance.” And, that they truly are. You can’t but be enchanted by them though.

We are managing to get around very easily utilising the tram system and just sitting back and enjoying the rides. People are meant to wear masks on public transport but the message does not seem to have sunk into their rather dense noggins.

So last week we visited Di’s niece who is now the grand old age of 45 which made us feel extremely old. They have 21 year old Taylor and 10 year old Hunter and both have sprouted like beans. Di can vividly remember her niece being born when she was still at High School so that will carbon date Di for you.

On Friday, Fraser’s brother David and his wife Leonie arrived from Adelaide; Frasers sister Amanda came in from Western Australia; nephew Alistair arrived from Sydney and niece Imogen from Tasmania. We have all the Rowe family together except one nephew Lachlan, who is in the navy and stuck in Perth. This is the first time there has been a family gathering since Christmas of 2018.

The first evening we were all together, Fraser’s other niece Ella, entertained us with a sumptuous spread of food. The Rowe family demonstrated their appreciation of the dinner by consuming it in great quantities and with gusto.

It is a family trait that to be classified as a true Rowe, you must be able to ingest large quantities of food.

Easter Saturday saw us celebrate the life of Fraser’s dad Trevor who passed away in July 2020. Of course, COVID meant we couldn’t get together at the time as Australia had the girt of iron around it. We had the gathering at his mum’s place with family and some old work colleagues of Trevor’s and friends. It turned into a lovely evening. It was a celebration of his life and there was a lot of laughter and fond memories shared plus some of Trevor’s rather eccentric ways.

This is the second time we have attended a memorial service some time after the death of the person and we feel this is a better way to celebrate their life. The initial rawness of the death has been absorbed and people feel more comfortable and less emotional to speak.

The Easter Bunny arrived on Sunday morning so another day of sugar overload.

Later in the afternoon, it was off to the AFL footy game at the iconic MCG which has a capacity of 100,000. The game was between Carlton and Port Adelaide of which all Rowe’s barrack for Carlton.

Fraser’s brother David, decided it was time to dust off his old Carlton jersey that his mum had bought him when he was a little tacker. The picture shows it all!!!! Please don’t look too closely as you may do severe damage to your eyesight.

This paragraph is for those of you who are cricket fans. All Aussies know of the recent death of the worlds most magical spin bowler Shane Warne who was one of those characters who was larger than life. In fact, he was the quintessential definition of what you would call an Aussie larrikin. He lived hard and fast and went out quick and early.

They have renamed the Great Southern Stand at the “G” to the Shane Warne stand.

The Rowe clan at the footy minus Fras who was the cameraman for the day. They watched a very close game which Carlton only just squeaked through to win by three points. It was played in 28c temperatures which is most unusual as this is a winter sport. We are assured though, that tomorrow there will be a wintery blast coming through – this lot have no idea what wintery blast means after what the prairie provinces have just been through.

The footy Rowe’s got to experience the epitome of fine cuisine for the day which consisted of the good old four n’twenty cold meat pie and a beer.

Meantime, the more cultured side of the  Rowe family took themselves off for a high tea in the city.

So that puts everybody up to date with happenings so far. In some ways we have slipped back into some Aussie ways but at other times we find things very foreign. We feel like we are caught between two cultures that are very similar yet so different.

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