Once upon a time, not so very long ago, there were two siblings, fyn and Sprat.
fyn had been having a bit of a difficult time, and Sprat decided that they needed to bugger off on a holiday together as the last time they had done that had been when they were school-aged and jetsetting about with their parents. fyn and Sprat had a 99 year old grandmother who lived with some other relatives in Melbourne, and as fyn hadn't seen her since her 90th birthday, Sprat decided that would make for the perfect holiday.
Like all proper misadventures, this one did not start out smoothly. First of all, fyn had money issues, but Sprat managed to negate that by paying for fyn's plane ticket. Secondly, fyn had to work around gymnastics comp season, in particular 13yo and 11yo's badge tests as they were late June or early July, possibly around Sprat's proposed dates. The problem was that nobody fyn asked knew when the actual dates of the badge tests were as it seemed to be a thing that was organised after all the names had been submitted by a due date. Sprat was eager to take advantage of the cheaper fares that came with booking so far in advance and spent the better part of a month nagging fyn to hurry the hell up and either confirm the dates or propose better ones.
After a million billion trillion years, fyn finally got a "proposed weekend" (aka weekend to keep free) for the badge tests, and was able to confirm that the dates that Sprat had picked would work out fine. Unfortunately by this time the fares had gone up in price. Somewhat put out, Sprat nonetheless stormed off to the travel agency to book the flight. While she was there, a miscommunication occurred whereby the travel agent didn't realise that Sprat actually wanted the flight booked and didn't do it. Sprat returned the next day to try to find out what was going on and upon learning that Sprat did actually want a flight booked, the travel agent went to do it, only now the price had been jacked right up to get stuffed just in time for the school holidays.
Sprat was remarkably unimpressed, but being the tenacious little thing she is, she booked the flight anyway. fyn postulated a theory that maybe the universe had been trying to prevent them from getting on that plane for a reason, and as they had pushed through anyway, the universe might be thinking FINE DIE THEN. The other option was perhaps something amazing was going to happen like winning the lotto or something. They liked that option much better.
On the appointed day, fyn drove to Aunty L's house to meet up with Sprat. fyn did almost get merged into by another car but such things are par for the course because some people are apparently too stupid to realise that them trying to get ahead at all costs in the merging lanes is what causes the traffic jams they like to whine about. There was plenty of time for fyn and Sprat to discuss important matters such as which toiletries bag would be taken (not fyn's as apparently it was "too gross") and whether or not everything would fit into the smaller of the two small suitcases that were coming along (everything did thanks to Sprat's ability to utilise pocket dimensions when packing, which meant the small suitcase was able to go inside the big suitcase for the trip out). Once those things were sorted, the discovery was made that there were no working bag locks in the entire house, so Aunty L and Sprat went off to get some, and some lunch. fyn opted to stay behind and chat with Perth Grandmother. Perth Grandmother has had dementia for quite a while now, so she regaled fyn with the same story about 5-6 times with the occasional segue into other tangentially related stories. Being ever the good grandchild, fyn laughed and made variations of the same comment each time in response, and was still relieved when Aunty L and Sprat finally returned with locks and lunch (much to the surprise of Perth Grandmother who had forgotten that they'd left).
During lunch, Aunty L, fyn and Sprat set about setting the lock combinations. There were three supposedly competent adults, and three locks of the same type and brand accompanied by a set of instructions each. Apparently the instructions didn't work for two people.
After the locks (with their new combos) had been affixed to the bags, Aunty L dropped fyn and Sprat off to the airport with plenty of time to comfortably check in and meander to the gate, and for fyn to irritate Sprat by constantly diverting or pausing to get pokemon and portalstops (a portmanteau of "portal" and "pokestop" as fyn plays Pokemon Go and Ingress, usually collectively referred to as "Ingressmon", simultaneously). After hanging out at the gate for a while, they found out that their flight had been delayed for an hour and a bit.
It was blatantly obvious that Melbourne was conspiring against them.
Half an eternity later, the plane was finally boarded and took off without incident. The flight was choppy and turbulent which didn't bother Sprat at all as she watched Tomb Raider, but presented challenges for fyn who was playing Best Fiends and Plants vs Zombies. A marvellous tail wind helped to make up for lost time, and this was promptly wiped out on the Melbourne side by the control tower who had them waiting for a parking spot.
The dynamic duo managed to fight their way through disembarkation with Sprat threatening to leave fyn behind if they grabbed one more bloody portalstop (but standing around grumbling and waiting anyway because fyn has data and Sprat doesn't really).
The bags took forever to get unloaded, and while they were waiting, the pair took turns surveying the area for Uncle C who was supposed to be picking them up. Sprat eventually told fyn to call him, fyn responded that they'd surveyed the visible area and if Uncle C was anywhere it would be behind the pillar where they couldn't see, and if they couldn't find him after retrieving the bag, they would call then. Sprat agreed and they continued waiting. Despite finding a spot almost directly outside where the bags were getting spat out, neither fyn nor Sprat saw their bag emerge. Sprat did however spy it calmly conveying past their position and alerted fyn who scooped it up while trying to figure out where the merry hell it had emerged from. Immediate problem otherwise resolved, they then set about locating Uncle C. As it turned out, he had been there the entire time, he'd spotted fyn's beacon hair from miles away and had been ducking behind the pillar every time they turned around to look for him. Such is life when one comes from a family of pranksters.
The ride to Aunty M's where they would be staying was uneventful, and the siblings stayed up for ages chatting with Aunty M and Uncle C before Uncle C puttered off on his
half hour 10min drive home. fyn and Sprat retired into the kids' wing of the house to get ready for bed. Sprat was unpacking the toiletries in the bathroom when she demanded, "fyn where's your toothbrush?" She'd asked that back in Perth when transferring fyn's toiletries into her toiletries bag and been told it was "down the side", they guessed she must not have actually gotten around to moving it. Oops.
No harm done aside from furry teeth, the two of them retired to bed. fyn had some major insomnia partly due to cold as the blanket wasn't quite warm enough and partly because fyn is prone to insomnia anyway, so of course woke up at 6:50am.
It just so happened that today was going to be the most intense and busy day out of the entire holiday, so fyn tried to power up on coffee while attempting to browse the usual morning coffee sites. However Aunty M's internet was about as active as fyn's brain early in the morning, which is comparable to pouring molasses (this was later resolved by Aunty M finding out when she rang up Telstra to see what the problem was that she was over quota and had simply been capped). Once Sprat was up and ready to go and everyone had had breakfast (not normal for anyone, Sprat and Aunty M don't usually have breakfast and fyn counts coffee as breakfast because it's basically a cup of hot milk with a teaspoonful of instant coffee granules), fyn suddenly realised that they'd left their myki card back in Perth. It was agreed that it was Sprat's turn to buy one and fyn borrowed Aunty M's spare. Aunty M drove them to Uncle and Aunty C's house to visit them and Melbourne Grandmother. After a couple of hours happy chatter, the dynamic duo were deposited at the Watergardens train station to purchase Sprat's myki card, top up fyn's borrwed one and make their way into Melbourne.
Or at least that was the plan. Remember how earlier fyn and Sprat had discovered Melbourne's conspiracy against them? The next major move was played with the crappy PA system announcing something no one could understand. Eventually someone must have understood and triggered an exodus from the train. Not having a clue what was going on, fyn and Sprat followed along like good little sheep, and eventually found out that apparently what was being announced on the crappy PA was that the train they were trying to take had been cancelled and they needed to take the other train on Platform 2 that stopped at Flinder's Station. Everyone moved to Platform 2 and fyn and Sprat studied the train map. They eventually decided stopping off at Flinder's Station wasn't a problem as they were both young and fit and not having to manage children, and it wasn't that far away from the usual stops of Melbourne Central and Parliament.
Melbourne then dealt a double whammy with Sprat needing to use the toilet after they got off. The pair headed over to the toilets on the other side of the train station, only to encounter not two, not three, but SIX police officers cordoning it off, informing people, "Sorry, you can't go in there, there's been an incident." A girl coming up behind them headed in the same direction inquired of them, "Are we not allowed to pee?" to which Sprat turned around and responded "NO! There's been an INCIDENT!" This immediately became one of her catchphrases.
The incident didn't look in any danger of clearing up in a timely fashion, so they hopped across the road to Federation Square to utilise the facilities there. After leaving and heading into Melbourne, they overheard a couple of tram security people discussing the INCIDENT at the train station and one of them commented how there was a protest going on up the road and how "everything" was happening today.
Confronted by interesting things at almost every turn, fyn got a little bit trigger happy.
It was decided that (a very late) lunch should be had before making any decisions on what to do, and while wandering towards Chinatown because they felt like Asian, fyn and Sprat encountered the "protest" using a road they were intending on crossing. As they weren't in any particular hurry, they decided to hang around and find out what it was all about. Turned out it wasn't a protest, it was a NAIDOC march.
And not only was it a NAIDOC march, but it was a NAIDOC march that @melbourneswest had been marching in and photographing! Sprat wondered if they had perhaps seen fyn's beacon hair in passing, but fyn figured they would have been too busy taking photos and participating to have noticed.
Eventually Sprat decided she wanted to check out a ramen house she had seen a sign for, so they backtracked a bit, took a wrong turn down an alleyway past the Chinese Museum, paused momentarily to let some people pop out of a sliver of an alleyway, and encountered the Italian place they'd eaten at previously. After studying the menu, Sprat decided that she really, really wanted that ramen, so they backtracked through the alleyway that led to the Chinese Museum til they found the sign that pointed out where the ramen place was, and it was down the alleyway before the Chinese Museum one. Oops. Oh well.
Have we forgotten that Melbourne is conspiring against our intrepid adventurers? On trying to cross the alleyway to get to the footpath on the other side, fyn and Sprat first had to navigate a truck that was trying to reverse out of the very narrow alleyway onto the stupidly busy back street that was lucky if it was a lane wide. They hovered waiting for oblivious people to be run over by the beeping truck, and took their opportunity to make the mad dash when the truck stopped beeping for a moment.
The end of the alleyway yielded this amazing street art portalstop
and the amazing gem that is Fukuryu Ramen. That particular gem was a bit tricky to spot, they paused at a door of a multistorey building that that had signs for the tenants on it as the sign they'd followed had said "upstairs", and shortly after finding the building they needed, they had to meander out of the way of the same truck from the mouth of the alleyway that had decided to come speeding back up to the dead end for whatever reason.
After ogling at the menu for maybe 5 minutes, fyn eventually decided that a simple person who occasionally pretended to be nice needed a nice simple miso ramen, and Sprat chose the tam tam ("Whatever the fuck that was") with a Ramune.
fyn had spotted a tourist trap (as signified by a camera icon) on Google Maps called Cook's Cottage, which they correctly interpreted as being something to do with the famous Captain Cook. They walked on over, on the way struggling with serious decisions such as whether to carry on or to instead drop into art galleries they passed, or maybe take the Parliament House tour instead. fyn's decision prevailed in the end. Accompanied by photos of everything enroute.
And many, many portalstops and pokemon. fyn had 100 odd pokeballs (made up of the three types that can be acquired from pokestops) before the Melbourne trip and less than 20 ultra balls afterwards.
Cook's Cottage was a tiny little house which had kept the same layout aside from a section that had been rudely knocked off to accommodate a road back in its original village. fyn and Sprat were glad to find out that what they were looking at was what was left of the cottage as inside there had been an information plaque saying a family had brought up 10 kids in there, and they were wondering where that many people would have slept in the current setup.
They decided to check out the cute little cottage gardens before venturing inside. There were period costumes available for people who wanted to play dressups, and Sprat tried to make fyn dress up so she could laugh at how ridiculously out of place the blue mohawk would look. fyn, being a boring old fart, refused. They did however play all of the games that were available (though fyn forgot to record them playing skittles and Sprat doing jump rope, fyn could already tell that the skipping rope wasn't long enough).
After playing, the dynamic duo finally ventured into the cottage itself. There was a section of larger stone blocks that wasn't accessible at the time, apparently they were making an interactive display/museum thing in there. The section made of smaller bricks was about as large as fyn thought it was from the outside (which is to say not very).
The lovely ladies dressed in period costume who were providing information and encouraging people to dress up in period costumes and play games (not necessarily in that order or even together) informed fyn and Sprat that there was a model Tudor village in the gardens and even gave directions. While the Fitzroy Gardens were an impressive size, it was not as big as King's Park, so fyn and Sprat had zero excuse to get lost. They managed anyway after getting briefly distracted by a bridge that demanded crossing. Pokemon Go finally became useful for something as fyn correctly determined that the model Tudor village would be a portalstop and used the game to orient them, while catching pokemon and doing the portalstops they passed of course.
After exploring the gardens, fyn and Sprat checked the time and decided that rather than waiting the extra hour as planned to get to their friend Karri's place, that they would go in early and hang out at her place for a while before going to the gaming thing she had invited them to. Karri had left some excellent instructions for getting a tram to her place, so off the intrepid adventurers went to catch a Melbourne tram for the first time ever.
The tram instructions they'd received had been specifically for a tram leaving from Flinders Station, but they jumped onto the first tram stop they saw to check out a tram map. The first thing they realised is that they didn't know which direction tram they needed to take to get to where they wanted to go. A few people on the stop realised the pair had no idea what they were doing and tried to help out. With slightly more of a clue, fyn and Sprat continued on to the Flinders Station, with fyn ringing Karri to find out which direction tram they needed to take as they couldn't infer it from the map and from the helpful strangers' directions. Karri told them and they eventually found the tram they wanted in a severely crowded tram stop. Because you know what, catching any form of public transport during rush hour is a dumb idea.
fyn wondered what the hell was up with Melbourne and the hazardously narrow platforms they had for trains and trams. Sprat was mildly concerned when a tram announcement said that a platform they were about to pull away from was the "last accessible platform" on the line. fyn surmised it meant that you didn't want to have wheels at future tram stops.
Sure enough, their stop was a narrow concrete ridge that barely deserved the title of platform.
Did you seriously think that Melbourne had forgotten about fyn and Sprat just because they'd spent most of the day traipsing through it?
And how exactly were fyn and Sprat supposed to know that you didn't need to tag off trams?
The tram pulled away from their stop as they struggled to tag off.
Sprat again grew concerned at this particular derailment of their plans (at least the tram stayed on). They had finally successfully tagged off at this stage, so fyn said not to worry, the stops didn't seem to be that far apart, so they would just jump off at the next one and double back. The next stop was almost close enough to the previous one as to be questionable, and the pathetic excuse for a platform was no better than the other one. The pair edged down to the miniscule island between the lanes of traffic and could barely wait for the crossing light to turn green before fleeing to the relative safety of the pavement.
After that it was a small matter to double back and follow Google Maps' directions to Karri's house, where after the 5c tour they chilled out on the couch chatting til the appointed leaving time of 6pm. Which they didn't notice had passed til 20 minutes later so they got to the gaming thing late. Oops.
fyn was thoroughly exhausted from bad sleep, insanely early start and much exploring and thus didn't have the brain for gaming night, even though Karri selected a pretty easy game called Sushi Go! fyn and Sprat observed the first round between Karri and her housemate, with Sprat providing entertaining commentary. Sprat joined in the next round, fyn curled up on the scarf and tried not to fall asleep. The gaming night ended up truncated as a lot of people were brain dead and/or hungry, so they finished off the night with an awesome dinner from an unexpectedly good teeny little place called Thai29 across the road from where they'd been gaming, then Karri dropped them home.
And because this is Melbourne, that wasn't going to go smoothly. The adventurers were lulled into a false sense of security after Karri effortlessly dropped her housemate home first before embarking on the the journey. First up, the freeway exit they needed was closed. Karri had a brief moment of WHAT DO I DO before deciding to get on at the next exit. Before getting there though she changed her mind and turned around and got off at another exit onto another freeway, then ended up pulling onto a random driveway, waiting for some traffic to pass before reversing rapidly and coming off the kerb a bit hard (the car was very unhappy about this) and hooning off before the next wave of oncoming traffic could sweep them up.
fyn had already been somewhat puzzled by the random splits and merges with the roads, but then there were the nightmare inducing hook turns in front of trams, merging and driving along tram tracks, and this four way intersection along with crossing tram tracks from both ways concocted in a special level of hell specifically for this location to collect the unwitting souls of the damned. Fortunately at that time there wasn't much traffic.
fyn was wide awake after all that.
Which resulted in fyn and Sprat hanging in fyn's room on their respective devices until 1am.
The plans for Day 2 comprised of a nice relaxing (if you're Sprat, and pretty much the opposite if you're fyn) day shopping at Watergardens, and meeting up with Karri at night for dinner and a movie. Sprat found out that fyn had never had churros before and was so horrified by this situation that she had to remedy it immediately.
fyn decided that churros are good.
They even bought some stuff which was highly unusual when shopping with Sprat.
There had been plans to catch a 6pm screening of The Incredibles 2 in theatre with the bigger screen, but Karri ran late as the required exit that had been closed the previous day was still closed, so it took her longer than expected to get there. As easy as it would have been at that stage to just blame Melbourne again, Karri has a history of being late. On arrival back at Watergardens they briefly discussed slinking into the 6pm session anyway as they were 15min late, and Sprat wanted her obligatory "...box of popcorn bigger than her head" (Karri, 2018), and they didn't want to miss the short at the beginning, so they eventually opted for the later session in one of the normal theatres.
After the movie the trio considered dinner options. Hog's Breath kitchen was closed even though the place hadn't actually closed, so they briefly discussed getting KFC and heading back to Aunty M's place, and then noticed that Switch was still open, so they ducked in there and had mac and cheese bites and a bowl of wedges with sweet chilli sauce and sour cream for dinner.
Afterwards they headed back to Aunty M's place, and fyn and Sprat eventually convinced Karri to come in for a juice (as she doesn't drink coffee) and they accidentally chatted past midnight. They should have known that they weren't going to get to bed before 1am.
Day 3 had been scheduled as a family gathering day, and Sprat also wanted to go shopping at Highpoint. The intrepid adventurers had roused late, and gone to spend some time with Melbourne Grandmother before getting dropped off at the three storey monstrosity that was Highpoint.
Little did they know that there was a Toys R Us there! And as they're closing down there was the obligatory closing down sale. So in Sprat went to see if she could find any more Christmas presents for children with fyn trailing after as per usual. They walked in, calculated what they had never seen before vs what was available in Perth, mentally recalled how big the larger of the two suitcases was, and then walked out with an armload of stuff, a couple of the boxes being unexpectedly large. They even managed the herculean task of finding gifts for their parents.
Sprat bought snacks and the shopping bribe of an ice cream from Ben and Jerry's.
And Melbourne struck again!
fyn and Sprat had no way of knowing that Ben and Jerry's apparently pack the entirety of their cones instead of precariously balancing a scoop at the top. This is not inherently a bad thing, in fact it would be quite easy to argue the opposite, value for money and all that jazz. Sprat was roundly defeated by hers. fyn got through the whole thing easily enough (it takes more than a single scoop to best fyn, even packed to the bottom of the cone). Where the problem occurred was in the cone itself. A section of it was broken, causing rivulets of ice cream that tried to form a cascade while fyn tried to keep up. Eventually they had to find a seat so fyn could contain the ensuing mess and stop leaving a trail of ice cream.
Then they got disoriented (not helped by fyn constantly wandering towards portalstops and Sprat getting distracted by every shiny thing in every shiny shop they passed) and couldn't find the escalator up to be able to escape the shopping centre. Fortunately, Uncle C called and said they would be half an hour later than planned, which gave the awesome twosome ample time to
bumble find their way out.
They arrived back at Aunty M's with just enough time to take a quick breather before helping Aunty M set up for the shindig that was going to commence in the next few hours.
Then the cousins and their broods descended. It's always awesome being able to catch up with family, especially ones that one doesn't get to see very often. fyn stole the newest baby and hogged her for most of the night.
They celebrated an uncle's 74th birthday (with constant relighting of the candles to make sure all the kids got a turn blowing it out), ate way too much food as is standard at this sort of thing, and then much to soon everyone had to pack up and go home. fyn and Sprat helped Aunty M clean up and put away the extra tables and chairs before Aunty M headed over to Uncle C's for her night shift with Melbourne Grandmother.
After she had gone, the sensible thing to have done would have been to go to bed and get an early night for a change. Not fyn and Sprat! After their showers, they gathered at the table (with fyn retrieving a doona when it got colder as time went on) and hung out at the table with their respective devices. Until 1am. Again.
On the last day, there was an unexpected visit paid to the shops as Melbourne dealt its final blow to our intrepid adventurers in the form of some pants that Sprat had grabbed for fyn being the wrong size (Sprat had grabbed the right sized hanger that had the wrong sized pants on them). After the pants had been exchanged, they bought some last second gifts for Aunty M and Aunty L back in Perth, tried and failed to find a cd drive for Aunty M to use with her Mac Mini, then headed back to Uncle C's, and after that around to cousin J's new house for a stickybeak. The twins showed the visitors around the house, including behind some hedges out the back. As the house backs onto wetlands, fyn taught the twins and Uncle and Aunty C some extremely basic bush survival skills which were completely rorted by Sprat (who didn't think of the idea until after Uncle C had emerged from the gap in the hedges, then decided against scaring the kids, and the next one out was poor Aunty C).
Melbourne had one last gasp as the plane was unexpectedly chockers (there was only one seat free on the entire flight), the meal service was slightly stilted as there were only so many ovens on the plane, they ran out of one type of meal (which only affected Sprat because it was the one that she wanted), juice and a number of soft drinks. There were also a couple of INCIDENTS involving the toilets (but not fyn and Sprat, they were however sitting two rows from the back and as far as they could tell one of the incidents involved a passenger requiring medical attention and the second seemed to be something to do with plumbing which was rectified).
The flight was otherwise a lot smoother than the one over had been. Both played phone games and then fyn worked on "their" blog post (as Sprat had decided she was stealing the notes because one of them had thought to keep a detailed account) while Sprat napped after her phone ran out of battery.
They got back home in the appropriate number of pieces with the appropriate gear, and so far have lived happily ever after.
This work by bek (ryivhnn) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.