6:30am sharp(ish) – On the road from Newcastle to Sydney – need to be there two hours after Pacific Blue flight containing my dog (Levi) and my cat (Wanda) touches down at 7:30am.
6:40am – Wonder if Levi has thought to pick up a couple of bottles of Bombay Sapphire duty free on his way through. Hopefully Wanda will have reminded him.
7:30am – Take Gosford exit from Pacific Highway as had to deviate to pick up Serena (our GPS) which Kate left in Deb’s car. Certain to need Serena for negotiating Sydney streets.
7:35am – Meet Deb who was waiting for us at the Kariong interchange sliproad on the Pacific Highway to hand over Serena and also borrowed her E-Tag so we could go over Sydney Harbour Bridge which now has a no cash policy. Grumble about cashless society for longer than really necessary.
8:24am – Becomes evident that Serena is a total fuck up on Sydney motorways and has no idea whatsoever about positioning the vehicle in the correct lane in order to be able to turn at the correct intersection. Either that or she’s still pissed from the night before. End up going over the Harbour Bridge AND the tunnel.
9:20am – Arrive at Dnata Toll Cargo Office (wonder briefly how Dnata is pronounced and also where to park). Go into office and enquire about our little darlings. They have not left Christchurch. After much gnashing of teeth, realise I have got the day wrong. When the people in Christchurch were saying “We’ll send them on Saturday” and when their Australian agent phoned to say they’d “send me a map of where to go on Saturday”, they actually didn’t mean the ‘Saturday’ coming up. They meant the one after. (It actually transpired that what they really meant was the FRIDAY before the following Saturday but that’s a whole other story.)
9:25am – Turn around and head back to Newcastle.
10:20am – Get stuck in traffic jam on the Pacific Highway for the best part of an hour. Car in front of us is full of yobbos and guy in passenger seat keeps spitting out of his window. Kate and I have a reasonably in-depth discussion about how one guy can generate that much spittle.
11:30am – Kate needs to go to the Toilet – Stop at Mount White and have a Choc Shock Trumpet. Lots of motorbikes.
12:30pm – Arrive back in Newcastle and start to look on the bright side – it’s not really that late and at least we’ve had a full dress rehearsal and now know exactly where to go next weekend.
12:42pm – Decide to cheer myself up by buying a new lawn mower. (Didn’t really think this through as would leave no excuse for not mowing the lawn.)
1:20pm – Go to Charlestown Square and buy lawn mower from Big W for $240. Pleased with the bargain but Kate and I have difficulty getting it out of Big W store in its box on the trolley which also contains a Thin Lizzy make up kit, three rolls of sushi and a bag of potting mix. Decide to buy a couple of neck support pillows en route to the car. Transporting our eclectic mix of purchases proves to be quite problematic.
1:40pm – Have enormous difficulty getting lawnmower out of trolley and into the boot. Left arm nearly crushed in the process. Have quite a few laughs over this.
2:00pm – Do grocery shopping at Woolworths in Charlestown Square
2:45pm – Find outstanding Hunter Valley Farmers Market Local Produce Centre in the mall. Browse around for ages. Selling things like fresh Turmeric and Kaffir Lime Leaves at reasonable prices! Buy a lot of things we don’t need and that will most probably go off in fridge.
3:18pm – Car is full of lawnmower and fresh farmers market produce. The heady aroma in the boot is tantalising but the neck support pillows cause some stowage problems. Eat the sushi in the carpark.
3:30pm – Arrive back home and unload the car.
3:35pm – Assemble the lawnmower. Realise that I need to get petrol, oil and petrol container.
3:45pm – Go to the local garage run by Indians (not that this is a racial problem per se). Had the foresight to take the mower instructions to the local garage. Say that I’ve just bought a new mower and need petrol and oil and what oil do I need to get, etc. Seemingly over-helpful guy says that I need to buy a bottle of 2-stroke oil to blend with unleaded. I’m surprised by this as have never done this before but bow to his superior knowledge, give a small bow and thank him many times.
3:57pm – Rush home and put the blended mixture into my brand new mower
4:01pm – Not happy – there is a definite place for oil to be put into mower. Check instructions. Instructions say that “Under No Circumstances Should Oil Mixed with Petrol” be put into mower as will damage engine and void warranty.
Brilliant – have already done this on the say-so of the garage guy.
4:10pm – Go back to garage armed with instructions (again) and point this out. Feeling a little tense. Person who advised me on this has since left the garage and guy serving me is clearly useless. After much angst and gnashing of teeth find out from a very helpful member of the public (a customer) that my mower is a 4-stroke, therefore I need to add 4-stroke oil separately and unleaded petrol not mixed with oil.
4:20pm – Feeling even more tense. Go home and get the petrol/oil container I have just purchased and return to the petrol station. Ponder for a moment why they are still called ‘Service’ Stations, which presupposes that there might be some genuine ‘service’ involved. There isn’t.
4:25pm – Guy behind the counter cheerfully pours the petrol/oil mixture down the sink. Have to buy more unleaded petrol and a one litre bottle of 4 stroke oil. Another helpful customer happened to be buying the same thing and proceeded to give me much better instructions on what to do than either the instruction manual or the dickhead behind the counter. Am told there is no possibility of a discount/refund for what I’ve already bought. This isn’t a biggie as these products are pretty cheap in Australia compared to NZ, however there’s a principle at stake and inwardly vow never to use this ‘service’ station again.
4:35pm Arrive home. Feeling a bit manic. Turn lawnmower upside down and empty contents of petrol tank. Quite a lot of swearing taking place. Wonder briefly what neighbours might be thinking.
4:40pm – Fill mower up with undiluted unleaded petrol. Fill up oil tank with oil.
4:45pm – Switch on starter, pull cord and hold breath.
4:46pm – Starts first pop … praise the Lord.
5:45pm – Lawns mowed … agapanthas deheaded … crisis over….