| Written by Ronnie |
Every three months or so, I try to record an entire day in as much detail as I can manage. This particular account is of my trip down to Melbourne with Trish—the purpose of which was to document the making of our first prototypes for SOULT Journals...
Thursday, the 27th of October
I keep tossing and turning because I'm anxious about waking up on time. Finally, at 3:45 am, my alarm goes off. I get up immediately, desperate not to miss my shuttle bus. Rick gets up with me. He is the sweetest. I'm already wearing my thermal singlet and my silk top, so I just change my pants. I brush my teeth and wash and powder my face. I check myself in the mirror, and I'm amazed that I don't look too exhausted.
We head downstairs together. I quickly eat a banana, grab my new Converse sneakers, and start doing up my laces in the family room. Suddenly, I see lights out the window and I wonder whether my bus is already here even though it's not yet quarter past four. Sure enough, my phone starts to ring and the driver tells me he is here. I tell him I'm on my way out. Thank goodness I woke up on time! I gulp down the glass of water that Rick gives me, and then we both head out the front door. It is dark, save for the street light outside our house. We walk towards the bus together. At the end of the driveway, we hug and kiss briefly before I hop onto the bus. The driver sees that I only have one bag. "Traveling light?" "Yup!" The bus is empty, so I get to choose where I want to seat. I end up in a single seat towards the back of the bus. I wave to Rick as we pull away. Despite my utter exhaustion, I find that I cannot sleep. Instead, I am entranced by the sight of the streets rolling past outside my window. We head up Warringah Road, and head towards Manly. Near St Paul's College, we pick up about five female students. They talk amongst themselves in a foreign language, and I find it somewhat soothing to listen to their chatter. We pick up another student at Fairlight, then one more passenger around Cremorne. Finally, we start heading towards the airport. My mind continues to buzz with excitement. I cannot believe that I'm about to fly down to Melbourne to see our first journals being made. It's surreal. Yet it feels so right.
We arrive at the airport shortly after five o'clock. I settle down at the first cafe I see and send Trish a message. I take out my MacBook Air and start catching up on some journaling. Despite my tiredness, I'm happy to have thirty minutes of "me" time. Writing calms me a little. Trish arrives soon after half past. She is dressed in jeans, a white top, ballet flats, and a lovely black jacket. She has a backpack on, and it's clear that all her camera gear is inside. We hug, then make our way through security, since Trish has already checked us in online. We immediately find a nice-looking cafe (Soul Origins) and buy coffee and breakfast. Trish has an egg benedict sandwich, and I settle on a bacon and egg roll. As we eat, we chat about the day ahead and the journey that we are about to embark on.
Close to six o'clock, we make our way to Gate 47 for boarding. We can see all the Virgin Air planes through the glass windows. It is finally light outside; the sun has risen. We start boarding promptly at half past six. We walk outside towards the plane. The wind whips our hair around as both Trish and I try to get some photos along the way. I capture the most joyous expression of Trish's just as she's climbing up the stairs. Our seats are 18D and 18F. Trish sits at the window, and I sit next to the aisle. The seat between us is empty.
I can feel my nervousness settling in just before take-off, but I distract myself with my journaling. I pray like mad that we have a safe flight, as I can't bear the thought of not seeing Rick and the boys again. The cabin's air pressure is not great, and I find my ears hurting pretty quickly. In between rubbing my ears, praying, chatting with Trish, and doing bits of journaling, I finally doze off.
We land at half past eight. Outside the airport, Trish leads the way and we quickly find our way onto a Skybus that takes us straight to the heart of the city: Southern Cross Station.
We arrive at Southern Cross Station at about quarter past nine. Trish takes charge once more. (She is seriously awesome.) We manage to track down the ticket office, and we find out we can buy an all-day pass for just eight dollars and go anywhere we want by tram, train or bus. Win! We buy a couple of passes, cross the road (boy is it cold!), and hop onto a tram. It is about half past nine. I call Whites Law to tell them we're on our way. After a few stops, we get off, find a connecting tram, and then settle in for a fifty-minute tram ride to South Caulfield.
I fall asleep almost instantly on the tram while Trish keeps watch. We arrive at our stop at about quarter past ten. We immediately suss out the cafes in the area before crossing the road to find ourselves right in front of Whites Law. We made it! We step inside. There are a couple of customers in front of us, so we have a poke around, taking in the walls behind us, which are lined with beautifully bound books. We meet Tony at the counter. He introduces to Edward, the owner. Edward takes us upstairs, shows us around the workshop, and introduces us to various people. Before he leaves us with a girl called Kelly, he tells us that the stamps that we've made are too small and won't stamp very well. He also questions our choice of buckram and suggests that there perhaps other nicer fabric options. Needless to say, this throws quite a spanner in the works.
We start watching Kelly, who demonstrates how the section sewing machine works. Trish pulls out her camera and starts weaving magic through her lens. I get out my iPhone and shoot some mini video clips. The section sewing machine both looks and sounds impressive. Afterwards, Kelly glues on the end pages by hand and leaves the pages to dry. Trish continues to shoot. Edward appears here and there, and I chat to him about fabric and stamping options. I am rather thrown, as my heart was already settled on the English library buckram coupled with gold foiling using the stamps that I had created. Edward pulls out various fabric swatches and tells us what he has in stock. I am not particularly grabbed by the other fabrics.
It is noon and Trish and I are both running low on energy since we haven't eaten since six in the morning. We decide to grab some lunch and make some decisions at the same time. We ask Edward for a couple of the fabric swatches, and we take these with us. We stumble into one of the cafes next door but then decide we feel like something more Asian. We find a Vietnamese restaurant across the road. Trish orders fresh rice paper rolls, and I treat myself to pho and a cold Vietnamese coffee. The food is absolutely delicious and refuels us. We consider the rayon fabric and pick our five favourite colours. While Trish ducks across the road to grab a "real" coffee, I Google rayon on my phone and discover that it is deemed quite a controversial fabric in the textiles industry. Trish returns and I share my research with her. Back to square one. Eventually, we decide to proceed with our original plan and see how it goes. Armed with our decision, we head back across the road to the workshop.
We ask Edward to crack open our stamps and to try stamping it on the English library buckram. He's happy to give it a go. Together, Trish and I pick a matt gold foil. Edward sets up the "stamper," and as soon as he does the first one on the white library buckram, Trish and I both fall in love. It looks just perfect. We're both over the moon and only wish we went with our instinct sooner. We pick our four other colours and Edward stamps them all: black, navy, grey, and forest green. Everything looks beautiful. My heart is so happy I can't stop grinning. We test out the "Part One" stamp as well, and I think it looks fine but Edward suggests that we increase the size of it slightly.
Edward hands us over to Ian, the man in charge of all the bookbinding. We learn that Ian's dad was a bookbinder and so was his grandfather. We spend the next few hours following Ian around as he finishes making our first two prototypes (in white and navy buckram). Trish takes photos while I take videos. It is both surreal and beautiful to watch our journals come alive before our very eyes. It is clear to me that Ian is a master of his craft, and I am incredibly thankful that I get to see him at work. Finally, our two prototypes are completed: a white journal and a navy journal. They look so beautiful. So timeless. So exactly the way I had pictured them in my mind. We thank Ian profusely. Before we leave, I track Kelly down and thank her as well. We return downstairs to speak to Tony. He is busy with our customers, but when it's our turn, he gives us his full attention. I thank him for everybody's hospitality, and I also thank him for taking on our job while my account manager was away. We confirm the colours of the three remaining prototypes and also discuss the slight pixellation that we noticed in the printing. He promises to look into it, and I agree to send an email about it when I return home. Before walking out with our two journals, we sit down briefly to catch our breath and to make sure we have everything we need. Edward comes over to chat. He shows us the official guestbook of an ex Governor General—something that he has been tasked to replicate. For some peculiar reason, Edward is keen for us to take a look at the guestbook, so we do. We manage to track down the pages signed by Queen Elizabeth, and Trish even snaps a couple of shots of it on her camera. We have a bit of a laugh with Edward and then we thank him for all his help and for looking after us so well.
We leave Whites Law and jump onto the next tram. Trish and I are both so tired that we both doze on and off. It is peak hour school traffic, and the tram is filled with students in uniform. My mind flashes briefly back to my own school days when I used to always nap on the bus on my way home. Some fifty minutes later, the tram arrives at Flinders Station, and we decide to disembark.
We make our way through the crowds to Flinders Lane where we immediately treat ourselves to two donuts from Doughnut Time. They are crazy delicious. For about five minutes, standing outside the shop, the two of us are completely silent as we each devour our respective donuts. Amazing. We keep walking to the end of Flinders Lane. Once we've finished our donuts, we both take out our cameras to create some imagery. We catch the tram back to Southern Cross station to make our way to Higher Ground cafe for dinner. But along the way, Trish realises that it doesn't open till half past five. So we find ourselves a tiny "hole-in-the-wall" Thai cafe and treat ourselves to pad thai and nasi goreng. While we wait for the food to arrive, we take out the journals and we gaze upon them with bewildered wonder once more...
Once we are fed, we start walking towards Higher Ground for a late afternoon coffee and some more photos before getting back onto the Skybus. My feet are pretty sore by now, and I'm quite certain I'm clocking up my steps for my Fitbit. Higher Ground turns out to be right opposite Southern Cross station, but the venue has been booked out for a GHD product launch event. We are disappointed but not distraught. We return to the station and wait in (the long) line for the Skybus. A man in Skybus uniform walks along, checks our tickets, and reassures us that there are three Skybuses just around the corner. Sure enough, they all arrive within a few minutes and they all fill up rather quickly. We climb up onto the second deck and get ourselves comfortable.
We spend the next thirty to forty minutes chatting about family, church, and ministry, and I am reminded of what a blessing it is to be business partners with another Christian woman—someone who shares exactly the same values and beliefs as I do. Back at the airport, we go past security once more and then head to a cafe for our caffeine top-up. We stay there for ten to fifteen minutes, then we make our way to the gate for boarding at seven-thirty.
At the boarding gate, many people are already waiting in line. We join the queue. Trish offers me the window seat this time, and she sits next to me. A well-dressed young man appears and sits down in the aisle seat. He looks very stylish. Trish leans over to me. "I really want to give him one of our journals and photograph him with it." I have to stop myself from chuckling out loud. "Yeah, but the lighting's terrible." Before take-off, we hear a baby giggle and laugh a few rows behind us, and it is pure music to our ears. We chuckle quietly ourselves, and we both voice how much we're missing our little ones.
Trish naps for most of the way home. I open up my MacBook Air, draft an email to Tony, and continue to journal from where I left off in the morning. Again, the cabin's air pressure is terrible, and my ears begin to throb with pain.
Our plane lands close to half past nine. I turn on my phone to find that Rick has been trying to contact me. I message back that we've only just landed. We disembark and walk towards the exit as quickly as we can. I call Rick, and he gives me instructions over the phone. Finally, we see him across the road, and my face bursts into a wide grin. It's so good to see him again. Together, the three of us walk to the Land Rover and all pile in.
We drive Trish back to her place. Then we finally make our way home. Pa and Nan are there, waiting for us. The boys are all asleep. We chat briefly before Pa and Nan leave. I give them big hugs and thank them endlessly for all their love, help, and support.
I unpack as quickly as I can while Rick finishes cleaning up downstairs. I also finish writing up the follow-up email to Tony. Once I'm done, Rick and I go upstairs together and shower, and then I feed Lewis. It is so good to hold my baby in my arms again...
You can read the other posts in this series here.