We had a great time in Melbourne with Martin and Renee. This was our first time at their new apartment; it is MASSIVE! A former factory building converted to flats, they have a huge open plan living/dining/kitchen area, a big balcony, two bedrooms and the coolest mezzanine area above the living space. Great space altogether. We had a couple of days on our own as Martin and Renee were working until 23rd but we know our way around Melbourne now as this was my 3rd trip, Les' 2nd. We went to the beach as it was very hot, so many people starting their Christmas holidays early in style, sunbeds and beer coolers galore! All 6 of us went for lovely meal on the Thursday night at a good steak restaurant and we had a BBQ on the Friday. It's a must-do in Oz at Christmas. Saturday, Christmas Eve, we got up at 5.00 am to go to the fresh food market, quite a strange experience. Everyone was in holiday spirit, many wore Santa hats, the smells and sights were amazing! Turkey, ham, prawns, salmon all procured. We even bought big bags of ice on the way home.We were home and back in bed by 6.30 am. Martin cooked a huge ham for Christmas Eve dinner then on the day itself, after Santa had been, we went to a family friend's garden party at 10.30am for champagne, canapes and Christmas cake. By 1.30, we were all gathered on the balcony, Renee's parents too, drinking champagne with those fab hibiscus flowers in it,when there was an almighty thunderclap and the heavens opened to shower the streets with giant hailstones. So we had a white Christmas after all! We had the most fantastic Christmas lunch; pics on fb as it is a pain to add them here! Turns out Martin is a great cook, but of course he had a good teacher we he was at home, didn't he!
Boxing Day dawned sunny once more,so we headed with Renee's Dad to the opening day of the India V Australia test cricket match at the world famous MCG. That was a terrific experience; not just the sport, but the friendly banter amongst the crowds, the traditional turkey sandwiches, the Mexican wave, the tea breaks (beer breaks for Martin!) the "rain stops play" for 30 minutes (another beer break for Martin!). We got there at 10.00 am and left at 6.00pm. Of course we had the leftovers for dinner! On Tuesday, we had a lazy morning then went for a drive and a walk in the sunshine to some strange lava formations called the Organ Pipes, because, well, they look like organ pipes! On Wednesday, we all went in 2 cars on a trip down to the Mornington Peninsula. What a lovely spot! We stopped for coffee en route at what is now my fave future holiday destination, better than Knysna, Carmel and Eyemouth all rolled in. Well maybe not better than Eyemouth! Mornington is described as "a cosmopolitan seaside village with cafes,galleries, shops and bathing boxes" Yes, Charlaine, beach huts! Fab! The drive from there up to the wineries let us see spectacular views back down to the sea. Our lunch starter comprised a taster plate at a local cheesery then we drove on to the Port Phillip winery for a very posh (and very expensive) lunch, courtesy of Renee's Mum and Dad. On the way home, we stopped off at Point Leo beach and it was deserted, just beautiful. Martin went in for a swim, a bit warmer than Edinburgh's loony dook, I think! I had a modest paddle. Very pleasant. Thursday saw Martin and Renee back to work, so we went into the city and strolled in the sunshine listening to the buskers as we looked at the Christmas window displays in the big department stores.Thursday 's dinner was at Hellenic Republic, a Greek restuarant owned by George Columbaris who is the John Torode or Greg Wallace of Australian Masterchef. On Friday we had to leave for Hong Kong, so sad, but hey, only 12 weeks till they are here with us!