What a day. I felt physically ill by the end of it. It was not really that stressful really. It all went pretty well and it wasn't my responsibility. Ostensibly it was family gathering to celebrate ABI Brother's birthday, which is still two weeks away. In October we were supposed to take a trip on Puffing Billy and have a picnic for my birthday, but the weather was bad and it did not happen. I may have expressed that I was a little disappointed to Sister.
It all started to get out of hand at 4am Saturday morning when Teen Niece called on the home phone, my mobile and the door intercom. She and her cousin wanted a bed for a few hours between the finishing clubbing in the city and getting a train home.
By 8am they were up and ready to go. Just once in my life, I slept latish and I was still in bed at 8. Well, I did have an interrupted sleep! They came into my room to say goodbye and we had a brief chat. I mentioned that Sunday we were going on Puffing Billy to celebrate ABI brother's birthday. I want to come, she said. Oh yeah, get back to us.
The rest of Saturday was normal with shopping in the morning and some housework in the afternoon and dinner out with friends in the evening.
Sunday it went haywire.
The cast list might indicate to you how complicated it became.
Myself and R.
Sister and Little Jo.
Sis in Law and her new beau and his three children.
Tradie Brother, that is Sis in Law's ex, and his g/f.
Middle Niece and her fiancee.
The plan was to meet at Emerald Lakeside and catch the train to Gembrook, have a picnic and return a couple of hours later. Puffing Billy said no, I am not going to Gembrook today. We knew there was some Thomas the Tank Engine thing happening, so on Friday I called Puffing Billy to make sure all was well for our trip to Gembrook. I was assured so. When we arrived at Emerald Station with Sister driving and Little Jo who had picked us up and we saw that the train had been cancelled. I did protest a little to the person selling the tickets, but of course it was hardly his fault.
We made the best of it and had our picnic at Lakeside and took the much later train to Menzies Creek and back. I am not fussed to ride on old trains. Modern trains have been invented for good reasons. I would rather see old trains depart and arrive with smoke and steam but no matter. It was an ok trip but the train was very crowded. Rather than steam, our train to Menzies Creek was a diesel electric train. Our train back was steam though. Sister had a white tee on. What is all this black stuff, she asked? Haha, she got soot on herself. The trains went well on downhill slopes but were painfully slow when travelling uphill or around tight corners.
Tradie Brother had been cleaning out Mother's garage for a hard rubbish collection and arrived with his g/f's dog. His g/f came on the train one way and Tradie Brother would collect her at Menzies Creek. It is a much quicker drive than the train takes, so he said he would go to the pub and fill in time. I guessed differently.
Look out for Tradie Brother along the way, I said. Sure enough, he was at the next train/road level crossing with the dog in his arms. At the next, he was there too, and waved the dogs paw at us. At the third, we only noticed him because he had the dog in his arms. His face was covered by a mask of Bert Newton. He not only amused us, but brought the whole carriage to laughter and probably other carriages too.
I am not sure why I feel so weary and tired tonight. The day went well.
Sis in Law and Tradie Brother's g/f were civil to each other.
We met Sis in Law's betrothed for only the second time and that went ok. We made an extra effort.
His youngest daughter looked after Little Jo wonderfully.
The younguns played cricket and sticky ball.
Attention and respect was duly paid to Mother.
ABI Brother, the birthday boi, had lots to eat, so he was happy.
We rebuilt a connection with Tradie Brother's g/f, who has been absent for a while.
Dreaded Nephew was amusing. There was a model train exhibition and from our picnic tables we could hear German/Austrian music. Dreaded Nephew paid to enter the model railway exhibit and was approving of it, and he came out singing the Lonely Goat Herders Song, complete with dancing moves.
It took us a while to get home as R was in the back seat reading a story to Little Jo and I was heavily engaged in conversation with Sister and she missed the freeway entrance from Wellington Road and we ended up coming home via Dandenong Road. I always try to ignore conversation when I am concentrating on driving. Sister had to come up and for some fortification and a toilet stop for Little Jo before the 1.5 hour trip back to the Bellarine Peninsuala. Will the on call Bone Doctor have dinner on the table when you get home, I enquired? Yes, she will get some takeaway.
Ok, yes it was a special day, but the Thomas crowd was focused at Emerald, not Emerald Lakeside. How many people do the various different puffing billy trains carry? Thousands on a nice Sunday I would think. While we had three two for one vouchers to defray the costs, it is not a cheap thing to do. With a roughly 40 minute trip each way at $38 it is expensive. A family ticket for the same was $77. Our full price, return to Menzies Creek was $22. Most of the labour is volunteer, so I really can't understand why it is so expensive. No doubt insurance plays a part. Sister took Little Jo on another steam train last week at their play group, Queenscliff to Drysdale, at a cost of $5. This wasn't the most crowded the platform became on the day.
I know my steam trains pretty well. This is a red one.
Thomas!, the chorus went up as we passed through Emerald.
At least I know this is a diesel electric train, the blue model, which hauled us to Menzies Creek. It doesn't have spark plugs, but it was a favourite joke for senior staff to send a railway apprentice off to get some spark plugs for the diesel motor.
Yep, I sure know my steam trains. This is a green model and it hauled us back from Menzies Creek to Lakeside.
Stupid Tradie Brother stalking us during our trip.
Little Jo lasted only five minutes on the train before dropping off. We had a different type of carriage returning, so she stood on the platform between carriages with the other girls.
You are not believing my train expertise are you. Well, this is a big black one.
Dreaded Newphew noticed the sign Uncle R and Uncle Andrew sat under and thought it was a great joke. In my best Mae West voice I returned, 'we ain't no ladies'.
I know my buses pretty well too. This is a cream and green one and has MMTB on the side, Melbourne Metropolitan Tramways Board. I do remember them travelling extremely slowly up Melbourne's Punt Road hill, while belching out filthy black smoke. Sometimes the drivers would stand up to turn the steering wheel, women included.
We chatted to a nice young volunteer conductor and he advised of the best place to snap the obligatory 'round the curve' shot. All the people hanging out of the train could be one reason it is quite expensive, insurance. He also told us why the train to Gembrook had been cancelled. I forget why now, except it broke down.
Bye bye Puffing Billy, bye bye Lake Treganowan.