So we arrived in Perth and basically Max was really well behaved on the flight. Phew! The day after we arrived it was Max's first birthday!!! So, we had a little party with fairy bread and cake, of course. I don't think many people know about fairy bread in the UK, poor chaps. So, it was lucky we were back in Oz for this occasion.
Max was delighted to find that Grandpa's newly built house was so big and full of interesting things. The stairs looked like something to be conquered during our stay.
Before that there was the hall floor to explore. That was a thrill, especially because of the toys that magically appeared from a big box!
This was a great place for learning new skills. The first to mastered was the backwards shuffle. This was to prove useful for many things including preparing for sliding down slides.
Sadly Max was too tired for eating cake on his birthday, so here is a picture of it taken while he was fast asleep.
That, of course, meant that it was a good thing to have for breakfast. Max was great at pretending that this pushchair was just like a highchair for the duration of our trip. It needs professional cleaning now.
Everyone came to town to see us, including The Great Aunts who have become a single entity for my own amusement. That makes them sound a bit frightening, however this is not the case and they are, in fact, the life and soul of any gathering. Here we all are, aunts, cousins, brothers and in-laws all stuffing our faces on a brilliant, bright and warm day at Little Creatures in Fremantle. James, Max's cousin of similar age can be seen here on the table (awful parents...he he hee...). James is, like Max, an excellent mimic of scary lions. Much roaring was done. James thinks the only way to say the word flower is to roar it. Makes sense.
So, to walk off the Kangaroo, olives, pork belly, squash salads and beer, we took a stroll by the sea to see some boats and be blinded by the light. Max's mummy's bestest pal is living in Singapore and flew down for the weekend (madness!) as we asked her to Max's godmother, so we had to get the best sights in as quickly as we could.
Rachel very kindly made Max this tasty looking Christening cake (as well as the birthday cake). In fact, we flew in like lord and lady muck to find an entire christening pre-arranged complete with a fantastic lunch and lots of friends and relies!
Here is one of the Great Aunts and Jane, no doubt having just been discovered plotting.
So, as if a christening and Max's first birthday in the first few days was not enough, it was then my birthday. Here we are having a huuuge breakfast at the beach. It was a bit chilly (it was winter). Max looks resigned sitting next to his uncle Frank and his daddy - looking 14 years older than he actually is.
Frank is skinny as hell but eats a breakfast like this with no problem.
Another stroll was needed. Looks awful there.
I'm beginning to think our entire trip was based around cake and meals. Nice. Just look at how posh the table looks in Grandpa's new dining room for my birthday dinner.
Max's other uncle even wore black tie! He was rehearsing looking casual in it before his school ball (in order to impress some young lady). Very dashing and nearly as handsome as his oldest brother. Ahem.
Here's a sob story. When I was little my mum made my dad a piano birthday cake. I really wanted one too, and despite many other cool cakes (including a Caramello Koala cake) it was never to be. Evidently I had an awful childhood seeing as this is one of my only complaints. BUT NO! COULD IT BE? The Great Aunts came through the door with a big cardboard box...and inside...was a piano cake! It even had real hand-written sheet music! It was a thing of beauty and tasted pretty good too.
So, after all this excitement, it was time to get in the car and head off for a break in Albany. We needed a break from all the relaxing and eating. Boy it was nice to get down there, it is the only place that has remained a constant in my life. Very little has changed since I was very small and it was nice and also strange to be there with Max, with him staying in the kid's room. The house is perfect for Max as he was just at the stage where he wanted to walk around and around, and around. And around. The catch is he couldn't (and still can't quite) walk alone, so there were some close shaves with back strain as we walked him about holding his hands. Here he is enjoying the spectacular view of the sea, but actually wanting to walk about again.
One of the many new developments for Max while we were away was his newly discovered love of playgrounds. The beauty of this country, or at least WA, is that you can't move for nice playgrounds. This one here is in Denmark. Look at the amazing environment - not a 1960s highrise, Tesco bag or chav in sight! You can see a storm brewing in the background...after playing and picnicking we went for a walk along a nature trail. Just at the end we got caught in an almighty downpour. The kind where you get drenched from the water bouncing back off the ground. Luckily we found a bandstand on the other side of the river from the playground where we watched and yelled at each other due to the sheer racket of the rain on the tin roof. Max loved it.
Here is Max discovering how fun it is to crawl in tunnels. The backwards shuffle was a key skill for this task.
Max and Daddy in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
When we returned to Perth, we headed out to see some friends who own the second oldest homestead in WA. It has just had the roof repaired after a frightening freak storm ripped it off. If you asked me to draw a stereotypical Australian house, I would draw this one. We had a great day after driving out in another monster downpour. Max saw lambs and sheep and got very exciting when an alpaca stuck its head in the window of the ute. Not only that, but he was even allowed to drive the ute! He sat on our friend's lap and held the wheel like a grown-up! Sadly I didn't have the camera with me at the time.
There were lots of great building on the land and this is the original house, mad with mudbricks. Hopefully they will restore it one day. There is also a big old barn just opposite where there will soon be a second-hand/antiquarian bookshop and tea room! I am actually shaking with envy.
Meanwhile, back to Grandpa's and all three brothers decided to teach Max the art of improvisation. Max has is own little upright piano, so this enormous grand did not phase him one bit.
Thanks to a few demos from cousin James, Max finally mastered the art of stair clambering. This provided many hours of grunting with effort fun.
The thing about Perth is that the climate and the environs mean that you can enjoy life so easily and also without spending too much (despite food and everything being so expensive). We had a great day out with friends in Hyde Park where there was an impressive playground with a castle theme. Max was most thrilled with the ramps. Up and down. Up and down.
My sister very kindly bought me a surfing lesson. I was secretly dreading it, but it was absolutely brilliant. Here is a really crap picture. Just for proof that I did it. I can't wait to do it again, despite being not that great at it.
One of the many things I miss about Perth when I'm not there is the Swan river. We have had so many picnics at this spot. It was near this spot where my Granny lived as a girl and with Max and cousin James there I realised they were the 7th generation to enjoy this spot. Granny always liked a birthday picnic here. I think she would have liked to have seen these great grandsons paddling about. I would put some pics, but there was a distinct lack of clothing on poor old Max as he splashed about.
Another thing I miss is, of course, the sea. Here are some amazing pictures taken on the Sunday evening before Lucy had to fly back to Singapore. You can see Max discovering the feeling of sand.
We had such a brilliant time and its very easy to be glum about having to return to the UK. However, that is where we live and I will just have to try and make Max's childhood as fantastic as my own was. Just without the weather and the parks and the river, the sea, the long empty roads...