Bye Bye Chris
23rd June, Melbourne, Australia
We're almost done with Melbourne now. Today we had a first, though - I drove into the centre of the city, something that I had purposely avoided to date simply because I wanted to avoid driving alongside the trams. If this sounds irrational, there is a reason. Firstly, we only have very basic insurance on the van and secondly, the presence of tram lines makes for one of the strangest right-turns on the road.
Remember, firstly, that in Australia drivers are on the left, like England. This is the easy part. To turn right at an intersection, you would normally pull to the centre and wait until the way is clear. However, in Melbourne the tram lines run down the middle, and car drivers play second-fiddle to these trams - you are not supposed to block their way. So, if you want to turn right, you first have to pull over to the left of the road, leaving the tram line clear ... and then pull right over, potentially in front of other traffic that wants to go straight on. They call them hook turns here. I call them scary, and that's why we'd always caught the train in before!
The reason for heading into the city - a visit to Sitepoint's office to meet the good folks that work there. I had written a bunch of articles for them in the past on various web design/programming topics (well, just 4 articles) and thought it would be good to meet some of the faces behind the emails. Most people in the web world would probably assume that Sitepoint are a US operation, but I saw the logo on the door - I have the proof! They are, however, a fairly multicultural bunch as we lunched with Aussies, a Canadian, an American and a Brit. Actually, I'm not sure if that qualifies as multicultural - perhaps international is a better description.
In the afternoon, I stopped for a quick Internet session, and was keen to find out if my bank balance had been boosted by an employee bonus from work. Yep, I left in December, but was expecting to get the bonus share from April (beginning of UK financial year) to December. Was expecting. Was. There was no sign of it, so I left the Internet Café wondering whether I had previously been given duff information - that being that I would be eligible for the bonus having taken a career break (which isn't quite the same thing as leaving the company proper). I am keeping my fingers crossed that it is just an administrative error but, alas, luck may not be on my side.
As evening approached, we took a trip over to see my Auntie Chris, whom I'd met for the first time just a month ago when we arrived in Melbourne. She was well, suffering a little from the cold weather Melbourne has been experience ("It plays havoc with me asthma"). We stayed for a light dinner - a bowl of delicious home-made pea and ham soup and bread before saying goodbye - for the night and for the forseeable future. Chris, a little shape silhouetted against the living room light, waited by the door letting the cold in and no doubt making her asthma worse, but it was nice that she wanted to wave us off on to whatever pastures await. Our departure from Melbourne is looming now. Just a couple more loose ends to tie up before Ethel hits the open road at full steam.