It was a funny feeling to roll into the backyard of Mum and Dad's on a motorcycle. For the first time in the trip, I'd reached somewhere I really identified with from the past, so it was a bit surreal to turn up astride a part of my new life in Tassie. (I didn't get into bikes until I moved from the mainland three years ago.)
Little bro Alex, some twelve years younger than me, was excited to say hello until Nick and Eb arrived and he went totally ballistic. Having left home when he was only five, I guess I fit better into the 'grumpy uncle' category better than 'brother'. We see each other a couple of times a year and that's it. When all the family are together, though, it's loud, chaotic (by our standards) and a boatload of fun.
Visiting the folks isn't visiting the folks without one of my favourite things: sitting on the deck at dusk, drinking wine and solving life's problems. The house looks over the river and the canefields beyond, with Mum's meticulously-kept gardens and Dad's sprawling vege plantation filling out the foreground. Fruit bats whoosh overhead in small groups, the occasional jumping mullet makes a lonely 'ploonk' in the river and we are united in quiet conversation for half an hour. At least, that's how it would have been if Alex had sat still and stopped using long exposures and a torch to create photos of Nick with a giant phallus erupting from his middle. I loved it anyway.
In the morning, the real men - that is, everyone but me and Mum - went off for a round of golf at the local links (is that what you call them?). Golf, to me, is somewhere between having herpes and being mauled by dogs in terms of enjoyment, but Nick and Alex are both pretty good at it. Worried by the Rev's recent misbehaviour, I raided Supercheap Auto and the local bike shop for everything necessary to give him a full service. Assuming the poor running was an overheating problem, I made sure I had everything handy to flush out the cooling system and make sure it was healthy.
We played copious rounds of Modern Warfare on Alex's PS3. The usual characters were in play: Alex, merciless and happy to sing about shooting you in the face; Nick, almost as good, but more polite when celebrating his headshots; and me, morose and frustrated, constantly being shot in the head. I'm glad I never joined the army.
Next morning, we met up with our very Dutch grandmother for breakfast at a portside cafe. The service was terrible - "D'youse wanna sit inside or ert?" - but the bacon more than made up for it. I feel there would be far fewer broken relationships these days if only people would turn to bacon in times of need.
It was a short stay, because there were still more people to visit in the great southeast, so I prepared to head south to Nambour and visit cousin Sally. My departure was in front of the whole family and did irreparable damage to my ego when the Rev once again refused to start and idle. Alex even had time to get the camera and record my increasingly frustrated attempts to leave. Alex, if that turns up on Youtube, you're a dead man, ok?
Without time to unload the bike and take it apart again, I chose to go anyway, once I worked out how to keep it alive. I made my exit eventually, tense and frustrated, riding in the rain for an hour on the way to Nambour.