Often weekends merely provide us with a welcome interruption to our weekly work schedule – replacing our days at the office with household chores; but some are more memorable than others.
Last Saturday and Sunday threw us a lot of surprises.
We drove to Wollongong to visit my parents. For most of Saturday nothing was out of the ordinary until a power cut interrupted our TV viewing. This would normally be a minor inconvenience, but my semi-invalid dad found himself stuck in his reclining chair. Stuck because it is operated electrically and he couldn’t lower the chair to allow himself to get out. It does have a battery back-up for such occasions but he had never bothered to install the battery.
Three of us had to wrestle with him (and the chair) to help him out.
Even though the power returned less than an hour later, we all decided to go to bed anyway. Gloria and I found it hard to settle because of a strange noise that repeated at regular intervals. We were staying in a room usually used by my young niece who has several talking toys in the room so we though one of them may have been playing up. Every 13 minutes we heard something/someone saying “Aha!!!”
After about an hour of puzzling over this our attention was drawn elsewhere by a series of loud explosions. Gloria opened the blinds and for the next 15-20 minutes we were entertained by a spectacular firework display courtesy of the nearby Buddhist temple as part of their Chinese New Year celebrations.
The next morning the mysterious “Aha!!!” was back and after another hour of investigation we discovered the culprit. There was an automatic insecticide spray on top of a book case and every 13 minutes it would attempt to expel a dose of its poison. However it seems to have been empty and could only emit a dry gasp.
We drove home later that day and ran into the kind of downpour that causes nightmares on the road. And it was a nightmare for some. We saw two separate accidents where cars had aquaplaned from the road and into the ditch between the northbound and southbound lanes of the Hume Highway. One the cars had rolled onto its roof and was being attended by an ambulance crew. We saw the Police Rescue racing to the scene a few minutes later.
Despite the obvious dangers due to wet roads and very poor visibility we still had trucks racing past us at high speeds.
The rain eased and the sun came out about half an hour later when we pulled off the Highway to visit the town of Gunning. We’d noticed a sign advertising an antique shop so we decided to have a look. Next door to that shop was an old movie theatre now being used as a book shop and art gallery. I can never resist looking for treasures in old book shops so we went in and looked around. Just inside the door was the old ticket office that the shop owner was using as his office/counter. He didn’t look up when we walked in.
To the back of the room was a set of stairs going up to the old projection room and we followed the signs that told us there was more to see upstairs. I brought Gloria’s attention to a painting by someone famous, Max Cullen, a man perhaps better known over many years for his acting rather than painting. The name wasn’t familiar to her but I said she’s definitely know him if she saw him because he’d been in a lot of Australian films and TV series.
We went back downstairs, Margaret left the shop and I spent a few more minutes looking. On the way out I looked across again at the owner. This time he looked up at me with a big bearded, smile – and it was Max Cullen himself.
The final surprise came when we arrived home.
It wasn't unexpected considering the downpour we'd experienced on the road. There was 67.5mm in our rain gauge.