Today was La Serpiente’s and Destroyer’s first visit to Australia; after last night’s TV marathon, they went straight to bed, so this morning we woke them up, hosed them down and then went off to the airport. We flew with Scoot, because they were cheap. Scoot fly 787s, which is cool, because I’ve never flown in one before (although I had been to the factory in Everett once – world’s largest building by volume, trivia fans) and also because they have these special windows that you can dim electronically, instead of pulling a blind down. (The dimming doesn’t happen instantaneously; at max dimness, the sky becomes a dark shade of blue and you’re like "that’s quite impressive, but not as useful as a proper blind"; but then five minutes later it’s opaque. I remember complaints when the 787s first flew commercially that the electronic window shading didn’t work; maybe the punters were just too impatient.)
The downside of flying Scoot is they’ve taken once of the most advanced commercial aircraft and then fitted it out so cheaply it feels like some old piece of crap you flew to the Algarve on in the 1980s. The seats are upholstered in a horrendous blue and yellow fabric that screams "rejected by Ryanair for looking cheap" the carpet near the toilets is shiny and grated, like the head of a bald dead man, and there is no television. (There’s also only USB power from your seat if you pay for it, which is a great wheeze to play at the same time as making everyone bring their devices onboard in order to not get bored out of their minds.)
You can pay to stream TV, but it’s from a hilariously bad selection of programmes Scoot have licensed, so again, no thank you. We downloaded 15 hours of children’s TV to the iPad via Netflix, planning to give it to La Serpiente. And then as soon as we did, the iPad rebooted and then said it needed to reinstall the OS, and please could we connect it to the iTunes store. Again, no thank you.
La Serpiente was horrified to not have TV, and kept asking why there wasn’t any. Fortunately, this debacle coincided with nap time and the flight was only four hours, so we had two hours of the kids needing entertainment, and two hours to sleep ourselves, or read. I thought of sneaking a look at Bojack Horseman on my phone, but the downside of your child discovering your hypocrisy is far greater than the reward.
Still, the flight wasn’t too bumpy, and we had the jolliest Immigration office I’ve ever met, in any country. I suppose 5pm on a Saturday may be the best time to arrive.
We’d rented a Holden SV6, a fire breathing monster of a car, and two car seats. It turns out a Holden SV6 can’t accommodate two car seats (why ever not?) so we got a free upgrade to an Audi A4, and then found we had a $7000 excess, and insurance would be about $700 for the week. Oh, and the computer said "no" to us actually being able to drive the Audi off the airport.
An hour or so later, our stalwart rep at Hertz, Nick (I suspect his real name was Derek Hertz, of course) got us another A4, $300 insurance and a free car seat for one of the girls, and off we drove. The A4 is quite lovely; it has warning lights that indicate when other drivers are too close, it has reversing sensors, it’s icy white, it’s… a generic German executive saloon. What’s not to like? (I still can’t get over not being 12 years old, evidently. How did I get the keys to a car?)
We got to Fremantle (basically a straight line down the road from the airport), went to a Coles supermarket, discovered it was shut, like everything in Fremantle at 7pm except for one Thai restaurant, Destroyer threw up over her free car seat, we bought Thai food, cleaned her up, went to the apartment we’re staying at, I had four mouthfuls of curry, ran back out to the car, drove across Fremantle for 45 minutes in search of ever-more obscure supermarkets, finally found one 5 minutes before it shut, dropped $100 on groceries, drove home in jubilation, only to find that La Serpiente was in a state because she’d lost her toy rabbit.
So back into the car I went, scorching back to the Thai restaurant, arriving just as they were locking up and walking to their cars. I arrived home with the rabbit just after La Serpiente went to sleep, but I’ll be a hero tomorrow. Maybe.
So, first impressions: it’s cold here, but people are really nice (Derek Hertz and the entire staff of the Thai restaurant) and food costs a bomb. Tomorrow it’s quokka time, and La Serpiente’s heart may burst with joy…