Jean left for Benalla last Monday morning for a week's stay with her friend. They had an uneventful 10 hour drive and apart from a brief telephone call to confirm their safe arrival all has been quiet from Victoria. We don't find it necessary to clutter the ether with constant calls.
She hopefully will have caught the train at 10 pm last night in Benalla and the plan is to telephone from Central Station in Sydney when she arrives to indicate which train to Newcastle she has booked. This is the dicey part of the trip. Public telephones are not that reliable anymore. The Benalla train is scheduled to arrive in Central at 6.45 am. Not having heard from her by 8.15 am a decision is made to head for the train station anyway. There are a number of possibilities. No function telephones at Central, Not enough time to buy a ticket to Newcastle and telephone before catching the train or the Benalla train is seriously late.
If the train is late then there are plenty of chores that can be completed in Newcastle in between the hourly train arrivals. The dogs are packed into the ute (they are excited as well) and off we go.
At Raymond Terrace something doesn't seem right on the back tray with the two dog's on short leads. Nikki is on the back seat because of his sensitive neck. Pulling over it's obvious what has happened. Bill has been caught short (possibly just too excited) and is standing on a mountain of smelly droppings. Luck is with me and a sheet od scrap paper folded many times makes a good shovel and an old feed bag makes a convenient receptacle. Apart from one dog foot smeared with poo the tray is cleared and the extremely smelly bag is stored under the tray matting. Rain is imminent and may be a blessing if heavy enough.
At the station the first pair of trains that left Central around 7. am do hold a Jean. The trains run in pairs leaving about 30 minutes apart but one stops at every station on the way and arrives 10 minutes after the later train. The ute needs petrol and that is the first chore completed as well as a brief run for each dog on grass in case they need relief.
The second set of trains yield no Jean indicating she didn't catch the 8 am grouping.
There are some library books to drop off. Adamstown Library is not the closest but it is one where parking is easier. Adamstown is also the suburb where I grew up and where my father had his business. It has changed dramatically since the 50's, 60's and 70's. Dad's service station is now a small shopping mall which incorporates the premises of the old Paterson and Everson Bakery and the newspaper transfer depot. My old primary school, St Columbas is larger and more modernised. The nun's convent is now a collection of residential units. The milk bar is now a building society branch, the two grocery shops are gone.
The library is still there and almost unchanged from the days when I'd call in almost every afternoon on the way home from school to drop off and collect more books or just roam through the shelves and index cards. This was a place that occupied a lot of my time as a child. But time is in motion and the next trains are due. Back to the station.
The second train departs and Jean is standing on the other side of the tracks. She looks across and spots me we wave. I join her in the underground tunnel and we head to towards the ute and the kids. Lots to talk about and together again.