122.  We’re Off At Last.

 

It felt like the day would never come. We had our horse and cart, but we still had to wait for delivery. We spent the interim having the horse checked out for caravan brake compliance and fixed for battery recharging-on-the-go, plus driving around Melbourne hunting down and pricing various items, then running out of time to go back to the chosen place(s) and buy them. We began to know our way around Melbourne’s freeways, motorways and tollways (one of our first purchases was an eTag) and outer suburbs reasonably well, although we would have been lost without the GPS.

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Initially we stayed at Donvale with Jen and Peter, where we were made to feel part to their welcoming and wonderful family. A great centre from which to travel round Melbourne, with a bush walk right in their backyard.

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A few days before taking delivery we moved to Roger and Jay’s at Mornington, further from Melbourne but with many shops and services relatively close. Once again we received royal treatment, absolutely wonderful meals, and much helpful advice.

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Thanks partly to the generosity of those mentioned above plus cousin Arthur and Joan we accumulated the basics for furnishing the caravan and felt confident we could easily purchase the rest. Things like crockery and cutlery, cooking utensils, dishwipes, a dustpan and broom and a new water filtration system and various electronic devices and things to do with towing and security …. the list was endless.  We STILL need a potato masher and a pair of kitchen tongs! I’m particularly pleased with this set of bowls which we finally tracked down after revisiting three shops where we thought we’d seen them earlier.

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Dave was absolutely thrilled to discover some genuine NZ-made Gingernut biscuits!!

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As you can see the interior theme is predominantly blue, a change from T5’s red. This ‘new’ caravan, still nameless, is a few years older than T5, but the interior decor is completely different, as is the layout. T5 has a U-shaped club lounge and table at the front and kitchen at one side, and is furnished pretty much in uggh browns (hence all the red); this one has the kitchen at the front and a L-shaped lounge and table to one side and a single seat on the other side. It’s furnished in much softer colours, cream and fawn with brocade-style seats which will probably get grubby very quickly if we don’t cover them.

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When the great day to take possession dawned, we still didn’t have driving mirrors, the extended sort so essential when driving a wider vehicle. We were due at the dealer’s yard at 1 pm and they insisted on going through a very thorough explanation of everything, including showing us how to set up a very large awning which extends the whole width of the caravan. Actually all this explanation was much appreciated, modern caravans really are rather intricate.

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We didn’t finish till nearly 5 pm, just time for us to drive off to a shop where we expected to buy the essential side mirrors which Dave wanted. But no – so thankfully we accepted the dealer’s offer to leave the van in the yard overnight, well guarded by two dogs (which have practised their skills on every salesman in the place, apparently).

As one gets older one often meets people who remind one strongly of people one knew much earlier. And so it was with our caravan salesman, the spitting image of my old headmistress, although of course of a different shape and sex – but the same eyes and mouth and face and skin tone …. Miss Margaret Glover BA was one of the most influential people in my early life. I visited her several times many years after I’d left school and only wish it had been more often. She is long gone now, of course.

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Next morning we were up bright and early, found the desired side mirrors, and were soon out of the yard and heading south for Mornington where our friends had arranged for us to keep the caravan in an absent neighbour’s driveway while we added the finishing touches to our new acquisition. We’d hoped to need no more than a day or two but then the weather took a decided turn for the worse, very heavy rain and gales. We took time off to check out a yacht which had been blown from its moorings onto the beach nearby.

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IMG_7940IMG_7937IMG_7933IMG_7930After several days as the forecast for southern Victoria was still dismal, Roger and Jay suggested we change our plans and head for the Snowys, which were not on my original list but Dave wants to see the Snowy Mountain Scheme, and then down to the lower NSW coast as originally planned.

Here’s a coastal scene near Frankston (well within Port Phillip Bay); it would have been much worse on the south coast.

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SO – Wednesday 11th May was the day. We had everything stowed and ready and said our goodbyes and then ….. simply couldn’t get out of the driveway! Our way was blocked by a neighbouring visitor’s red car, plus overhanging branches of a tree threatened to do damage to the roof (they did! – we discovered a leak next day).

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Various attempts to raise said neighbour were fruitless (many thanks R and J for all your work there). But at last we were out – and had only gone a few metres when Dave realised his driving glasses were missing.

Over the next hour or so repeated searches of the car, the caravan, our parking site, the roadway, R & J’s home and our vacated room yielded nothing. Finally we gave up, said our goodbyes for the THIRD time, and were on our way. The intention was to head north for Beechworth but with dusk rapidly approaching we decided to stop at Glenrowan for the night and hope neither Ned Kelly’s ghost nor modern-day bushrangers would put in an appearance.

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