A Doctor Who pop-up store has been operating in Newtown since Thursday. The long lines outside the store indicated that, rather disappointingly, it was not bigger on the inside. It wasn’t until this afternoon that I saw an opportunity to look inside and see anything but thirty people trying to squeeze around the items on display.
Munson hung around outside with Gustav, under the watchful view of a Dalek and the Doctor’s erstwhile companion K-9. Munson already knows what it’s like to follow someone around through space and time for years, so he rapidly got bored of the whole thing.
I feel like I’ve walked around most of space and time this week. On Thursday I lost my wallet and spent Friday morning cancelling and replacing cards. I was very impressed by being able to replace my driver’s license within fifteen minutes of walking into a motor registry, waiting and photo-time included.
Last night I had a call from IKEA to say that it had been handed-in (I figured I’d dropped it in their carpark) and so I walked to the store to collect it this morning. It’s just over three kilometres away and a brisk walk got me there in twenty-five minutes. Everything was there but the cash I’d just withdrawn. Most importantly I retrieved a couple of Bondi’s claws that I’ve carried around for the last few years.
While I mention that IKEA is less than a half-hour’s walk away, thus putting salt lakrits within Gustav’s grasp, I’ve been trying to work out what lies within the 700 metres of my house that would correspond to walking to the letter box on the farm in France. Aside from having one of the best coffee roasters I’ve ever encountered within 200m, there are two Thai restaurants, a pizzeria (as yet untested), a new indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool, theatre, weekend markets and a major comedy/music performance venue. On the downside, there’s a lot more noise, less personal space at home, no mountain views or pond full of frogs, and no children to ask me how my day has been.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
I've just started posting entries from the end of February when we had no internet connection at the farm for ten days or so, and we were so busy winding up our time in France that there was little time for blogging.
If you subscribe to the feed then the posts will show up but backdated. Those of you who simply check the main page will have to use the archive links at the side to track back to February-March.
Best of all, there will finally be proper coverage of Munson's three days in Paris!
Saturday, May 04, 2013
|It’s Star Wars Day and thus quite fitting that we go to liberate a wookiee from captivity. It’s six weeks since Munson was last a free dog, with a big day out visiting markets across central London. That six weeks comprised about ten days in London and then a month in Sydney quarantine. |
As we’re collecting him on a Saturday, there’s only a half-hour window 10-10.30am for us to retrieve him from the quarantine station at Eastern Creek. When we pull up to the security gate on Wallgrove Road, there are five vehicles ahead of us waiting for permission to enter. We’re fourth in line at the departure counter, and I’m ready to announce Munson’s name and present my driver’s license as identification to Toby the duty officer.
”Ah yes, Munson. I brought him up here… or should I say he brought me.”
We’re directed out the back, but instead of turning left toward the pens as done on the last five visits, we turn right to where all today’s releases are sitting forlornly in their travel containers. That means Munson is in the rebuilt wooden crate that he travelled in after kicking out a panel from the original he was supposed to fly in. As the door opens, I’m ready to slip on his collar and then with his leash on, he’s out the door and free less than a minute later. His reaction when he’s boosted into the back of the car – well, the photo above speaks for itself.
We took him down to the Everleigh Markets in Redfern first of all, just to get him in the swing of being back in his old neighbourhood. Of course we now really stand out from the crowd with Munson, and old friends and acquaintances can now pick me out at a distance. A quick circuit of Newtown’s King Street followed – Munson remembering where all the shopfront water bowls are stationed – with a great round of butt-sniffing the local dogs. He was really straining at the leash sometimes, despite me reminding him that everything was still there after three years’ absence and was not going to disappear if he didn’t visit them five seconds sooner. Evenso, when we parked ourselves outside Vargabar for coffee, he was more than happy to just lie on the pavement and bask under the dual suns of memory and fresh compliments.
The reaction I had been waiting for was that when we took him back to the house where he had spent the first half of his life. Gustav and I had moved in on Tuesday and have had a busy week cleaning, shopping, performing minor repairs and getting utilities hooked up. We even lucked out with the loan of a washing machine yesterday after helping a friend move and install his very heavy new machine.
The place doesn’t have much more furniture than Munson’s quarantine pen right now, and we’re on a borrowed mattress until everything finally arrives sometime in June.
From the moment we pulled up outside the house, I could sense Munson knew where he was and he wasted no time getting through the front gate and onto his patch of grass, my minuscule front lawn
As soon as we’d moved in and had a temporary fridge delivered, I started collecting meaty treats for Munson – a few bags full of chicken carcasses, ready to be frozen for his slow delectation, and a larger meaty bone for today’s arrival. He was definitely interested in that bone, probably the first decent one he’d seen since leaving the farm two months ago, but he was more intent on keeping me and Gustav in close proximity. If we weren’t going to stay outside, then he wasn’t going to stay out there with the bone. Lying at our feet was the ultimate return to normalcy.
By mid-afternoon it was time to take him to Sydney Park, to renew his acquaintance with both the place and its furry citizens. Today is the fourth anniversary of Bondi’s last visit here so it’s good to invest the date with something more positive. I arranged for Munson to be able to meet up with his old buddy Scout who missed him terribly in the months after we departed for France. The short relationship they had was very important to Scout’s development, and even if you’re read about it earlier, it’s worth being reminded of some milestones here, here and here.
Poor Scout has been through the wars recently with surgery, pancreatitis and a painful abdominal rash. Munson was very solicitous with him, as watchful as he’d been three year ago.
We also met up with some other folks who’ve been awaiting Munson’s reappearance. I think Munson was as happy to see them (and sit on them) as he was to see his old doggie playmates.
As a cool wind settled in over the park, plunging temperatures to the mid-teens, chilling everyone but me, we took Munson home again. He was very happy to be given his first frozen chicken in several years and I was even more happy that its consumption began cleaning his teeth of the yellow film that had discoloured them since his quarantine began. I don’t know whether it was something in the dry food he was given, or simply the complete lack of abrasive foodstuffs for a month, but his perennial whiter-than-white teeth really took a tumble during April. Keen eyed readers will also notice that Munson’s pink snow-nose has retreated in the Aussie warmth.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
|I’m reporting in a little earlier this week, which is near the end of Munson’s third week of incarceration, and the start of our fifth. As Australia has a public holiday this Thursday, I had to schedule an earlier exercise appointment for the big muffin, which surely could not have been more welcome. His legs were spinning in the air like wheels in his hurry to get out on to some grass. |
Half an hour is not much time for sniffing grass, racing in circles (sometimes brandishing a strip of rawhide to show off to the dogs two pens away) and finally getting cuddles and scratches from me and from Gustav. However, even though it’s autumn here, the temperature most days is about 24C and the exercise pen only has a tiny bit of shade from a tree on the fence line. Today’s appointment was an hour closer to noon, so that shade has all but disappeared, leaving the muffin half-cooked by the end of the session.
The week hasn’t been all sunshine – on Saturday we woke to a day of heavy Sydney rain, the like of which I haven’t seen … well since the last time I was in Sydney. This was also to be the day we showed my English friend Ben (a frequent visitor to the farm in France) around Sydney for the first time. He’s here with his partner Leah, a Brisbanite with no Sydney experience.
We took them out for a big Aussie breakfast at Martini cafe in Newtown, which was super busy on a Saturday morning, and so we sat under umbrellas in the back courtyard with rain sloshing off them like waterfalls. In the few hours available, I showed them Bondi Beach ( a tumult of pounding waves) and other highlights of central to eastern Sydney. I dropped them off near the Opera House in the afternoon where they had a ninety minute meeting, during which time the rain stopped and the sun came out. As soon as they emerged, the rain restarted.
I went out with Ben & Leah for dinner and a stand-up comedy show at Laughs Garage, possibly the first time I’ve done that in Australia. The three support acts were of variable quality, but the feature comedian Peter Berner had a very funny and well-crafted act.
The next day was Leah’s birthday, which we celebrated with a few hours of drinks at the East Village Hotel. Gustav is still trying to find a mainstream Aussie beer that he likes. I’m clueless about beers – drinking cider if I have that option – so of absolutely no use in steering him in the right direction.
We stayed overnight at my uncle Llyn and aunt Lana’s place midway up the northern side of Sydney’s coastal band, enjoying both her cooking and his collection of obscure liqueurs. This was Gustav’s first crossing of the Sydney Harbour Bridge so I took him on a ragged tour of the lower north shore and some beach suburbs as far north as Bayview.
That brings us up to today’s visit with Munson. After we’d finished there, I called my real estate agent to find out if my house keys would be available today or tomorrow. I was told that they’d given the tenants an extra six days (bringing them up to the last day of April) but it had not occurred to them to inform me as owner and returning tenant. Soooo we have an extra few days of couch-surfing. Since Friday we’ve been staying in Erskineville, house-sitting for a cousin in Thailand, but we’ll be returning to the Newtown house with Sceolaun the malamute on Friday for one last weekend. Fingers crossed.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Munson is five today! OK so the circumstances for celebrating are not as luxurious as could be, but tomorrow he’ll have completed half of his quarantine with happier days almost in our grasp. I brought him out some beef-flavoured rawhide strips to chew on, more for stress relief than edible treat. It’s a shame that when they need something to chew on the most, there is nothing around but an unoccupied foreleg to sink a fang into.
When we take him from his cell to walk around to the exercise yard, he struts like a dog on show, not pulling, but simply relishing the physicality of moving somewhere, paws on grass rather than concrete. It’s not till he’s unleashed in the yard that he becomes demonstratively affectionate, but his usual growls are still hoarse vocalisations. He sounds more like a fluffy squeaky toy than a real dog.
It’s pretty close to ten years since I brought Bondi here from Seattle, himself a little under five years. One dog began a new life here, the other resumes an old life.
I’ve just discovered that my shipping container of furniture and household effects is not going to arrive this month as expected, but sometime in early June, with clearance and delivery undoubtedly adding another week or more. No use getting angry about it; I just have to focus on getting our in-house camping needs seen to.
While I’ve been away a new IKEA mothership has been built ten minutes away from my house, marking the fifth location they’ve shifted to over the last three decades. Since I have a car this week and some hours to kill this afternoon, I thought we should go down and scope out the place. I need to buy new crockery and glassware, and inevitably we’d find or remember other things of use for the six-seven weeks until we’re reunited with our possessions.
As Gustav recounts in his blog, he convinced me to buy a Swedish festive drink from the IKEA deli called påskmust, which sounds like some sort of Viking pon farr. It probably smells like that would if it existed, just with bubbles. It’s based on a root-beerish hop extract, so I imagined that Gustav might like sarsaparilla but he wrinkled his nose at that with almost the same disdain he’s treated Vegemite (made from an extract of brewers’ yeast). Unfortunately this means he’ll miss out on related taste sensations like icy vegelato.