|Friday 31 July
One of the few benefits of the rain was a beautiful rainbow which we could see from the windows in the lounge. It curved down right in front of us so we could see the end of the rainbow in the meadow below. No leprechauns though. I was a bit worried about the camera though. We had disassembled the camera the night before to try and dry it out – we could see moisture had got in to the lens and the viewfinder. Have spent a LOT of money on it only the day before we left the UK, and having really enjoyed using it, it was a priority to get it fixed as we didn’t want t he holiday of a lifetime without a camera. We had tried it again in the morning and it was still not working, so we needed to sort it out.
There was free internet at the hotel so I looked up Canon and called the Oz support number, the upshot of which was that there was a Canon centre in Melbourne who would not fix it on the spot but could send it on to wherever we wanted (altho water damage is not covered by guarantee). The problem was that they closed at 5pm and would not open again until Monday. In order to get to them in time, we would have to skip a couple of detours we had planned, taking a walk to look at some of the waterfalls behind the Ocean Road which are apparently lovely. I also checked out a couple of camera clinics in Melbourne who might be able to do something on the spot, so we planned to visit a clinic first and then the Canon place if necessary.
So it was straight back to Melbourne, the plan being to see if the camera clinic could fix it and if not to take it to Canon by 5pm. The weather was back to bright and breezy so we muffled up and got the top down. (Fortunately Ant had been persuaded to wear a baseball cap instead of the turbanised fleece). The views certainly stood a second viewing and we got back to the city without incident. Ant yet again proved his skill at navigating and we wound our way through the Melbourne streets like natives. It was nice to have the opportunity to see different aspects of the city – like many Australian places it has significant immigrant population, so we went through different quarters like Vietnamese, Italian and Greek. Most of the shops away from the centre have verandas over the streets, which creates a quite distinctive feel driving around. Also Melbourne has decided to keep many of its utilities above gourd so there are lots of posts with wires on every street (including round Port Melbourne) which is quite disfiguring, esp as there is a tram service too which adds to the street clutter. However the tram service is fantastic – cheap and easy to use and going everywhere you want it to go.
We found the camera clinic with no problem and yes you’ve guessed it, the nice lady who we handed it to for a preliminary diagnosis made it work first time. I presume that it just needed longer to dry out, so we missed our waterfalls for nothing. However, we couldn’t have been sure that it would have resolved itself so on balance it needed to be done.
This meant we were in the city with free time about an hour before Jill would be leaving work. Without her car, she would have to take a fiddly 40 min tram ride home instead of 10 mins driving, so we thought it would be nice to pick her up, but before we rang to make the offer we thought we’d better check we could find where she worked. As in London, there is a v short distance between quite scruffy areas and much smarter places so we came out of the Vietnamese quarter and within yards were by the prestigious Melbourne University buildings, all v colonial and green opposite one of Melbourne’s parks. Next came the Zoo with Jill’s offices just next door. So, confident we knew what we were doing, we called to make arrangements to pick her up in an hour and went off to clean the car.
We weren’t sure about putting through the carwash given that it’s a convertible, so we filled it with fuel and vacuumed the interior, putting everything in the boot so we could get at all the crevices. However, as we were getting into the car as we left the garage, the car key fell apart. The key part still worked so we could get the engine started, but the electrical part for central locking and access to the boot no longer worked. This was important as the map and Ant’s glasses were in there, so a limit was quickly found to his navigational skills. Anyway, with a combination of remembering where we’d been and with a little help from Google maps on the iPhone we found her and scrunched Ant up in the back of the two seater to go home.
That evening we went to one of the many bars in the Port Melbourne area, to have tapas. Australian laws on smoking are much like in the UK so it’s banned virtually everywhere. The bars get round this by having huge awnings outside the premises on the pavements with small clouds of cigarette smoke. Bren enjoys a cigarette so the place we had gone to had taken the canopy idea a step further and had covered a little high walled patio to form an annex to the bar, so it was like eating in a tent with brick walls. Despite that it didn’t feel cramped or smelly so we enjoyed food, wine and company.