Out of the winter gloom dawned a day - Saturday! with the promise of brittle late-winter warmth. The sun rose higher and showed a renewed confidence, as if it had been hibernating for winter. (You might argue with this if you are on the other side of the world!)
So we found ourselves at ten in the morning sitting in the sun on a low brick wall at the university by the old athletics track, waiting for the others to arrive.
They gradually straggled in, some bearing take-away coffees. We set off in convoy for the annual Harcourt to Bendigo relay race, 48 kilometres of running around the countryside.
After a stop at the bakery in Malmsbury to pick up supplies for afternoon tea, soon we arrived in Harcourt, where a furious bout of organising went on to work out the logistics of dropping runners off at the various checkpoints and arranging to pick them up after each leg.
Several hours later, the day's running around the countryside was all over. We counted heads to make sure someone hadn't been left in a cow paddock or at the top of some remote hill, and then it was time for the important part of the day to begin: afternoon tea at L.'s house in Bendigo.
Everyone had brought something along and when we gathered around the huge dining room table here is what was on it:
A carrot cake (home made), raspberry muffins, a white chocolate ring cake, an apple tea cake, a chocolate fudge cake with little profiteroles on top, a plate of chocolate royals, some vanilla wafers, almond croissants, chocolate croissants, a huge fruit platter (purple grapes, sliced canteloupe, banana, orange segments, apple slices), a savoury cheese pull-apart, various varieties of crisps/chips/cheezels and various chocolates and candy. Several other items I can't remember.Coffee and cold drinks were off to the side.
Then, as if that wasn't enough, L. produced from the kitchen two gigantic platters of piping hot mini sausage rolls - deliciously-spiced meat baked in little cylinders of pastry. Tomato sauce for dipping. There must have been about eighty of the delicious little parcels of spicy flavour.
Well, no-one had eaten lunch and it was past five o'clock so this pretty much served as dinner.
It was a nice after-dark drive back to Melbourne. You see the lights of the city about 30 kilometres out and it's a slow descent into town from there. At some points, it almost looks as if you're in a plane coming in to land.