Sometimes it is fun to act like a tourist in your own home, wouldn't you agree? I have done this many times. Eaten crocodile pizza at The Australian Hotel in The Rocks, Sydney. Caught the ferry to Manly to visit the aquarium and eat overpriced ice-cream. Walked the High Line in New York the weekend after it opened. Last week, I did it again. Mr B, Madeleine and I followed a foot-and-bike path from the end of our street in Carlton North through Fitzroy and into Clifton Hill. "I KNOW WHERE WE ARE," Mr B yelled in surprise as we emerged onto a main road. So we turned left, and kept on walking. We walked to Westgarth, then through it to Northcote. We continued on to Thornbury, and then Preston. Finally, when we reached the beginnings of Reservoir, we turned back.
If you live in Melbourne you will appreciate just how far this is. And if you spend time with babies, you will understand just how well behaved my little girl was, to put up with being strapped into her pram that entire time. Granted, we did stop for a while to let her stretch her chubby little legs. And while Mr B and I wouldn't have minded trying one of the several rather lovely cafes we crossed along our path, Madeleine came first. So we ate our lunch in a nondescript, one-in-every-suburb pub bistro, because it was big and empty and had a (clean!) carpeted lounge area so she could get on her hands and knees and crawl at great speed through 'tunnels' under the coffee tables before the ubiquitous chicken parma lunches arrived.
We paid attention to crumbling architecture. To old and new and evidence of urban sprawl throughout the past century. To street art and community art and just plain ole' graffiti.
Trams rattled by, wind whipped around our faces, and the sun played peek-a-boo behind fast-moving clouds. We took little detours down side streets; one minute tightly-packed with weatherboard cottages and miniature cottage gardens in the front; the next spaced out with wide, red-brick homes and statues and fruit trees in the front yards, and spotless cement footpaths leading from the front doors to the garages.
As the kilometres unfolded under our feet, we left the working week behind. Our conversation, that started with Mr B's work challenges and Madeleine's feeding and sleeping challenges, moved, slowly, into hopes and dreams. In our imaginations we renovated the house we didn't even live in yet. We planned holidays we couldn't afford. We grew Madeleine up and watched her walk and talk and go to school and then, all in a rush, I hurried her back into baby-state and wanted to hold her close and never let go.
Do you ever take walks like these?