Friday, 24 October 2014

Dreaming of a Car Park

When you start obsessing about getting a car park outside your house, you know it’s time to get a life. One with off-street parking.

It wasn’t that long ago we lived in the inner city suburb of Potts Point, in a one bedroom flat with no lift, a newborn and no car space. If you simply got a park, it was a good day. The fact it might be a 10 minute-walk to your front door was beside the point.

When we moved inner west, parking out the front of my house was a joy. And one I never took for granted because, as I knew only too well from past experience, a car park is never a given.

However a few years have past and I’ve come to expect my car park out the front. The problem is that now the area has increased in popularity and there seems to be a lot more cars in our street. Most households have two or even three cars and even though they may have off-street parking, they choose to park on the street. To which they are completely entitled.

However what frustrates me is when people do not park efficiently. There is room for three cars outside our house. Unless someone parks lazily across two spaces. That makes me furious and forces me to say things you should never say when you have young children in the car.

Back in Potts Point, no one wastes car parking space. You consider your fellow parkers by not leaving unnecessary gaps. Not so in the suburbs. Without the buzz of the inner city, people are more relaxed. They feel they can stretch out and park casually. Which means I have to park down the street and struggle up with cranky kids and bags of shopping.

I always used to tease my mum who would obsess about the car spot outside their house. She would be cross if it was taken and had a constant feud with the neighbours over their unregistered boat that always sat out the front.

‘You don’t own the spot,’ I would say to her. 

Now I have to say it myself. Every day. And unless we dig up our front courtyard and put in off-street parking, I have to put up with it.

So for now I close my eyes and think back to my inner city days when life was cool and car parks were not important.

And then I remember that 10 minute-walk and the three flights of stairs up to our very hot flat with no balcony.

And things don't seem so bad.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

The Not-So-Seasoned Traveller

We finally managed a family holiday on Hamilton Island. 

For the three people that read my blog, you will know that the last time we went to Hamilton Island, it was fairly disastrous with fever, tonsillitis and babies falling off steps. We spent more time at the island’s medical centre than the pool. While most holidaymakers don’t even realise there is a medical centre, my six year-old can give you directions.

So these holidays, rather tentatively, we tried again and it was a rip roaring success. No dramas, all-round good health and many nights of unbroken sleep. These days, it doesn’t get better than that.

The airport however was an eye-opener. It’s been a while since I travelled by plane (probably last trip to Hamilton) and things have changed. Not the flying bit - still a big heavy object that manages to stay in the air. Rather the bits prior to that. Like when I bought four plane tickets online, obviously for a family. One credit card transaction. Four transaction fees. Still don’t get that one…

When we arrived at the airport, we grabbed a couple of trolleys. We didn’t have to go far but I have fond memories of being pushed on airport trolleys as a child and thought the girls would enjoy it.

Never again. Four dollars each! Non-refundable! One poolside drink gone on about 50 metres of transportation. I’ll carry them all one by one next time.

Next we had to check in and get boarding passes. That was fine. Done that before. But we also had to physically check in our own luggage. No longer do you wait until a cheery face behind a desk does it all for you while they chat about where you’re going on your holiday. As I said, it’s been a while.

Needless to say we didn’t know what to do. We caught the attention of an assistant who was not at all cheery. In fact she seemed rather annoyed.

‘What seems to be the problem?’

I tried to make a joke about my lack of experience in baggage handling but couldn’t crack a smile. My husband attempted to put a bag on the conveyer belt.

‘No, not that way,’ she snapped.

Yes well that’s why we asked you. That’s why it’s better to have people trained to do this rather than replacing them with machines.

I shouldn’t complain. We had a great holiday. Next time I will know exactly what to do. Hopefully the same assistant will be there and see me achieve a successful check-in and be proud. She might even smile.

But the holiday itself was fantastic.

Apart from losing the three-year old not long after we arrived. We did find her so that worked out well.

After that, it was fantastic.