This was a comparatively uneventful day spent traveling from Newcastle to Coffs. I became reacquainted with the railway's rather nebulous notion of time. Take note that the words "The CountryLink XPT service to Casino is running approximately 30 minutes late" do not actually mean what you would expect them to mean, that the train will arrive sometime close to 30 minutes after the scheduled arrival. No, in our case it meant that the train will arrive an hour after the scheduled time. How a train becomes an hour late over the course of a two-hour journey is beyond me, but that's what happened. Over the rest of the journey we had to give way to southbound trains a couple of times and eventually arrived in Coffs after 5 pm, 1-1/2 hours late.
We were met at the station by my brother Chris and our mother, with whose 80th birthday party we had timed the trip to coincide (my mother and father live in a granny flat on the ground floor of my brother's house). Dad has a crook ankle that severely limits his mobility, so I saw him back at the flat. It was great to see them again. My father had killed the fattened calf, though it was in the form of a couple of kilos of medium king prawns, knowing as he does how fond of them I am. There are not many meals better than freshly shelled king prawns on fresh bread.
A couple of hours later, Chris' partner Christine (yes, they are known as Chris and Chris) quietly disappeared for a little while and when she returned she walked into the room saying "Look what you can get at the Bray Street Shops these days", then trailing in behind her was my sister and her son who had travelled up from Canberra by train -- completely to my mother's surprise!