We keep on traveling with our English family visitors, doing day trips of sorts around the neighborhood.
On Sunday we went for an easy one - Williamstown, where we met our friends Martin & Yvette (and Arnika). Then on Monday we were off to Healsville, for a taste of wine in wine country and a visit to the zoo - where Jane's main aim was to get to the gift shop, so we had to rush the zoo part of the zoo. Tuesday was the hottest day of the week, so we went to the beach near Sorrento; yesterday (Wednesday) was the worst day of the week, at least as far as the weather was concerned, so Jane's wish came true and we went to Chadstone's shopping center to indulge in that most numbing of sports - shopping. And today we went to Queenscliff to relax and enjoy the view.
Everything is nice because we do it together with the family, an element that is truly missing in our lives here. Obviously, though, there is a twist to things when you do them with the family. Allow me to recount the ones I find most interesting.
First, having a baby at home adds a significant overhead to everything and it can really drive you crazy: Jane needs looking after on a regular basis or the house would fall down. That said, Jane seems to be doing a good job looking after her one year old baby, Georgia.
Second, I'm always amused by the eating habits of my relatives.
Third, it is interesting to note how Jo's speech changes when she is talking to her family. You would expect the English to use English phrases, as weird as they may seem: "love", "knackered" and "settie". But Jo hardly ever uses these phrases - unless she's with the family, in which case words such as "lass" (a young woman, according to dear old Webster) popup in every second sentence. And the accent changes, too; from a fairly neutral one - something from the middle of the road between Australia and London - it turns into something that resembles her family's accent more. Anyway, I find this observation interesting because I know something similar happens to me when I talk to my Israeli relatives: it feels quite weird to talk to them in English, and simple sentences that I usually utter flawlessly (albeit with a heavy accent) suddenly become full of stutters.
The fourth one is the most exciting one.
Georgia has arrived at Australia not only with some jetlag but also with a cold. It seems as though Tuesday's stint at the beach really helped her out, and for the last couple of days she's been a much nicer toy to play with.
So nice that yesterday - when we went to the shopping center, that empire of the shutting one's senses and following one's basic instincts to consume stuff one would never need - instead of suffering, I just took control over Georgia's pram. We left the rest to mess about with their shopping while Georgia and I went for an exciting 4wd pram ride in the shopping center's corridors. She was happy and excited and I had a good time; the surprising thing was the way people treat you when you have a baby with you: everyone is so polite and helpful, it makes you want to have an out of pocket baby to carry with you all the time, as a sort of an "in case of an emergency break the glass and deploy your out of pocket baby" thing.
I went to buy the paper at this place; I couldn't find it, so I asked someone; it turned out to be the till operator, who was in the middle of handling someone's shopping with others waiting in queue. She left the guy in the middle, went to get me the paper, took my pay - and then went back to the person she left behind. And that person and the others in the queue were not angry; they were beaming at Georgia.
Still, after all the totally redundant shopping, I did come out with a new Carl Sagan book from Borders, so you can't say that bonding with Georgia was the day's only achievement. Not that I have any illusions about her remembering me a couple of days from now, and not that I can say that I my inability to communicate with kids has suddenly been cured.
Anyway, I know baby stories will probably bore you to death. Feel free, though, to look at the loads of photos I've uploaded to my Flickr page.