Back at the house, a further shopping list was drawn up, and we set off on foot, Billie, the elderly dog leading the way. Vicki had told me Billie was not a cuddlesome dog, but last night she decided I was her new BFF and spent much of the evening with her head in my lap. She was equally attentive as I dressed this morning, commandeering the space between door and bed, so I had to step round and over her to get to anything.
Walking with an elderly dog demands frequent stops, bowls of fresh water, time to gather the muscles and energy to go the next hundred yards. The local shop owners know her, and she knows them. She seemed keen to join us as we chose a bottle of wine for later.
The suburb of Melbourne I’m staying in is Seddon. Some artwork helpfully outlined part of the history. The street where Vicki lives is behind Charles Street on this plan, showing it when it was farmland.
It is named after a local entrepreneur, called, unsurprisingly, Richard Seddon.
The ethnic breakdown in 2000 was as shown here, but I wonder about the number if people who “speak a language other than English”. Is this the number of people who are brought up with one language at home and another in the community, or does it include people who acquired a second language?
The streets are wide and tree lined, with low rise housing of simple, attractive design.
I got an introductory lesson in gum tree identification. My favourite so far is the ghost gum with its wrinkly bark where the branches sprout.
Although it is just coming into spring, lemons are ripening and the pomegranate trees are flowering.
There are bits of street art, and political comment.
It’s nice to be in somewhere that feels like a real neighbourhood, where people say hello, and where Billie is recognised and fussed by residents and workers alike, allowed to sit for the time it takes and catch her breath. Since we got back she has been mainly asleep, snoring gently under the table, her gentle walk a tiring expedition.
Later the next door neighbours are coming round for dinner. It’s a pretty local sort of day.