A weekend spent writing at the Abbotsford Convent.
The train ride into the city is excruciating. I struggle to keep my breakfast down, and lose the battle halfway between stations. Unsure if I am experiencing motion sickness, or something more sinister, I push on, gulping down a large coke from a fast food outlet before continuing on to the Abbortsford Convent. I am due there by ten o'clock, which means that I was on the 6am train. It has already been a long day. I struggle on through the drizzle that is now forming, choosing to walk rather than spend the scant money I have on a taxi. There is no reliable public transport here apparently. It is a longer walk than I thought, and I am relieved to finally discover the grand entrance to the convent.
Once inside the gates, I make my way towards a sign proclaiming "Coffee!". I don't drink coffee, but I need to replenish the food I lost earlier on the train. Plus, I need to get out of the rain. The cafe is moderately busy for 9am on a Saturday morning, with people of all sorts sitting atop wooden and metal stools awaiting orders. I take a seat over by the window, depositing my bags on the floor next to me. I get a couple of odd looks for this but I am too worn out to care. A waitress with shocking red hair brings me a printed menu. There are no prices on any of the items, but I put this down to some weird hipster cafe thing. I order a bowl of muesli, and a tea, two of the three things I recognise on the list (the third being coffee). Everything else is a strange hodgepodge of meals, some proclaiming curries and cheese together for breakfast, others lentils and porridge. My stomach is not yet feeling game enough to experiment with my food so I stick with what I know.
It doesn't take long for the waitress to come back, she takes my order and returns a moment later with a flowerpot with a lonely spoon resting inside it. When I get my food and drinks, things pick up, but only for a moment. The tea is fine, but the muesli is one big bowl of warm milk with some cinnamon and poached apples inside it. When the waitress puts it down in front of me, she says "enjoy your soup". This was turning out to be a very strange experience. I leave soon after, without eating much of my "soup". Unable to find a register, I ask a passing waiter where to pay. He tells me that this cafe excepts donations based on what you think the meal is worth. In my head, I am thinking how this is a stupid idea if all their food is as terrible as mine was. I put twenty dollars in the donation box because I feel bad and anxious to get out of there. Now that I think about it, it is a rather ingenious plan.
My day improves dramatically once inside the course. We talks books and writing and language. Nicole challenges us, getting us to share our creative writing with the group, I go first and feel incredibly proud of my moxie. I get a ride from one of the other women to the train station and make my way to the comfortable, but tiny hotel room back on Swanson Street. Too chicken to ask the hotel lobby to order in, I walk to Lygon Street and get a pizza to bring back to my room.
I wake the next morning feeling excited and nervous about the upcoming day. Challenges surrounding getting home and luggage occupy my mind, until my mother puts them at ease by offering to come and pick me up. I am incredibly grateful, I fear getting sick on the train ride home.
The second day of the course proves to be just as beneficial as the first. I revel in the discussions being had and the learning we are doing. I eat at the Convent Bakery for lunch, and have the most scrumptious lamington I think I have ever eaten. At lunch I wander around and take photographs of the grounds. I can hear sheep bleating nearby, the children's farm is just around the corner. It is reminiscent of home, and feels odd in the middle of the city. I find a rare books store and purchase a cody of P.L.Traver's Christmas tales. I also buy a copy of Nicole Hayes book from her, which she signs for me. When the day finishes and Mum arrives to transport me home, I want to stay. I want to forever be engaging in conversations about books and language that have nothing to do with children's learning. It is a dangerous thought, and I struggle to express it out loud, but it is there anyway. It is still there in the back of my mind, forever lingering.
Hi! I'm Louise. I am a writer, photographer, traveler, book fanatic and blogger. I love to post about my adventures and the little things I do that make life fun.
MARLEE'S INSTAGRAM: @marleethecat