October - December 2017
  • Day60

    Final Days

    December 19, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Unbelievably, we have reached the final couple of days of our second Antipodean Grape Escape and tomorrow will be the big repack before heading home via Hong Kong. As ever, it has all gone so quickly. Yesterday was something of a non day, in that the weather had taken on English mode. It blew and rained on and off all day. We had the opportunity to go to the WACA, but decided against it and had a quiet day instead - one of the few! Sadly, we had a jolly good idea of the result following the final session, which was neatly sandwiched in between squalls. Whether it should have been played at all, is of course another story. Australia were by far the better side, but clearly the gamesmanship going on both on and off the field has been vicious and I would have to question the manner of the win. However, our batters have failed to perform and I cannot see our bowlers bowling Australia out twice. We expect an Oz wash, which is not a surprise unfortunately.
    Thankfully, our trip is not purely defined by cricket and we do have other strings to our bow! Today, normal service has been resumed weather wise and it's back to the shorts and tee shirts. We have taken the chance to have a final look around Perth, incorporating some of the unseen items on our list. We walked miles and by the time we arrived back at the flat knew it! Cathedral Square is at the heart of the city and a newly revitalised area that we were keen to see. Here is a classic example of gracefully mixing older style federation architecture with the modern. St George's Anglican Cathedral (1840s English gothic revival) sits in a sea of grass faced by Perth Town Hall, The Treasury building and the new Perth Library. There is modern sculpture as a feature and amidst it all a wedding party were having photographs taken. The sun shone and it did somehow represent Perth as a modern city. We moved on to look at St Mary's Catholic Cathedral on its high point in Victoria Square. It is an interesting building, being a clever mix of old and new in one building and the interior is gloriously flooded with light as a consequence.
    Further down Hay Street is The Perth Mint, perhaps an unusual find in such an isolated city. There was a tour on offer, so we took it and the full story of gold in Western Australia unfolded. A gold rush had been underway elsewhere in Australia since the 1850s, but the first significant find in the West was registered by Arthur Bayley and William Ford in 1892 from the Coolgardie region to the East of Perth. Western Australia went mad as gold fever tightened its grip. Perth's population trebled in short order and fortunes were made and lost. Conditions in the goldfields around Coolgardie were appalling and many miners died in their effort to find what the Incas described as the 'tears of the sun'. The goldfields were out in the desert, where temperatures regularly soared to over 50 degrees. Huge nuggets were dug up in those early years, mostly being broken up and melted down. All the gold was then shipped back to England, until the British government was persuaded to built a mint in one of its most isolated outposts. It was built of local limestone and opened in 1899, continuing to operate in very much the original manner until 1970. Those wishing to apply to work in the mint had to take exams in English Literature, Mathematics, Latin, Greek and French; in effect a civil service examination! If you managed to pass the exams, there was then a two year apprenticeship! Commemorative coins are still produced on this site, but the major refining now takes place out of the city near the airport. It was a fascinating insight into one of the building blocks of Australia. We watched 200 Troy ounces of fine gold, 99.99% pure, melted at 1064degrees centigrade and poured into a Christmas Star ingot mould. It sets in 20 seconds and is then turned out and cooled in a tank of water. It came out a glistening brilliant gold. Quite incredible. Gold continues to be mined throughout Australia, which is the 7th highest producer in the world. Kalgoorie is the name most closely associated with gold mining today. It is very close to the first Coolgardie reef, but mining is now a high tech affair. What great oaks from little acorns grow.
    And so, our journey through the south and parts of the west of Australia comes to an end. In seven weeks we have of course only touched the surface, particularly here in Western Australia. Distances are vast. I spoke to one father who had driven up to see his son, who is working at an iron ore mine up in The Pilbara. it is a 16 hour drive one way and immense freight trains of ore passed him, taking nearly 3 minutes to pass, so great is their length. South Australia we loved and could relate to, but here in the West, I think the word is awe. Almost by osmosis, one develops this feeling of a molten and scarred ancient land, that is scarcely tamed and fit for human habitation. The Australians are a tough, doughty pioneering breed that don't suffer fools gladly and nowhere is this more apparent than here in Western Australia. I suspect the further north one travels the more this is the case. The north or Top End is the one area we have not yet touched on. Who knows whether we will yet have the chance, but it is on our bucket list!
    Advance Australia Fair.
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  • Day57

    The WACA

    December 16, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    It is Day 4 at the WACA and we are happily ensconced in a good viewing position watching the cricket. Well, let me clarify that, good viewing if you are an Aussie, rather tortuous if you are a Brit! Interestingly, it is nowhere near a capacity crowd, which considering the fact that it is a Sunday and Australia are in command we find surprising. Apparently, this is quite normal according to the locals. The ground holds 22,000 and is rarely at capacity, apart from the the first couple of days of The Ashes contest. There is deep concern that the new stadium, which has a capacity of 65,000 and needs a 40,000 attendance to break even, is going to be a white elephant. Denis Lillee has been chairman of the WACA and resigned instantly on the decision to develop the new stadium. It will be interesting to watch from afar and see who is right! Whatever the outcome, the WACA is a proper cricket ground with tremendous atmosphere and we are thrilled to be here for the final test match to be played here. At the moment, Australia have scored 662 and English wickets are falling like the rain that is forecast. It may yet save us in true English tradition - if it's quick!
    As ever, the Aussie supporters are fun, irreverent and friendly, not forgetting passionately determined to beat the Poms! One Tasmanian thought my scarf looked much better on him - wasn't bad actually. I had an interesting conversation with my neighbour, Julie, who is a councillor in Subiaco (just north of the CBD) and a very well informed lady. She told me that despite WA's vast mineral wealth (1trillion in goods exported in the last ten years, but 400 million in debt) the state is struggling to hold population and with a recent downturn in mining she can foresee all this amazing building and infrastructure becoming a millstone around its neck. It appears to be the usual situation of the federal government taking the money and for every dollar given into the public coffers less than thirty cents comes back. Add in the usual beaurocratic incompetence and things are not as rosy as they appear. Take this example - Perths new children's hospital is sitting there completed and unable to be opened, as some idiots agreed to Chinese roofing, which they now discover contains asbestos and the use of inferior cheaper water valves, means the water system is contaminated with lead! It's good to have an insight that one would normally not see as an admiring tourist. Incidentally, this vast state's population is just over 2 million, which is tiny for its landmass, but of course so much of it is uninhabitable. Did I hear anyone say cricket is boring?
    Yesterday we took the hop on hop off bus around the city. We were slightly dubious, but it proved to be a good move, as we learned a lot and it was a quiet day and passenger numbers were relatively low. Places of interest previously under the radar were noted and we 'hopped off' at King's Park and explored. This is a 4kilometre square park on the western edge of the CBD. There are marvellous views of the city and river; a great botanic gardens showcasing the 2500 species of Wild flora found in Western Australia. (Gt Britain totals approx 1600) and wonderful natural bush for the public to explore. It is a marvellous facility for a city and is bigger than Central Park in New York. The weather was warm and sunny and people were out in force, getting together and picnicking en mass and boy do they picnic. There is literally even the kitchen sink, eskis, tables, chairs, rugs, barbies of course and a party is held it in the great outdoors.
    I have finished this episode back at the flat. As predicted the weather closed in about 4pm and it started to spit with rain. We decided to call it a day at 4.30, managing to grab a cab and arriving back before the heavens opened. Play was abandoned for the day -unbelievable - and this is Australia. It is now blowing a gale out there and pouring. Concerts and Christmas events have been cancelled and tomorrow doesn't look great. It could be that the weather has literally come to England's aid. Well someone needs to!
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  • Day56

    Up the Swannee!

    December 15, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    Today is wine tour day ( yet again do I hear you cry!?). We chose the half day version, as being lightweights these days, we thought that was all we would manage. Judging by the jollity we encountered on joining the all 'dayers' at midday, it was probably as well! They were a good group from all parts of the world, friendly and fun and a good time was definitely had by all.
    We had to make our way to Guildford (yes familiar, as is Bayswater close by) to join up with the revellers and decided to go by train. We caught the local bus along with the cricket crowd this morning (fun!) and walked up to the main railway station to catch the Midland train. We were in plenty of time, so had a coffee in the station cafe. In came two guys dressed in Santa short suits. English of course and you had to see it to believe it. They settled down to a full 'Lapland' breakfast. As we departed I said to the closest "Hope you have a good day Santa!" Back came the reply, quick as a flash "If you're a good girl I'll see you next week!!" Poetic licence of course, but message received and understood. Bet they went down a storm at the WACA with all the other Santas.
    The Swan Valley is the oldest Wine producing area in Western Australia. Margaret River has been spawned from here in much more recent timesThe entrepreneur involved was one Thomas Waters, who sailed with Captain James Stirling in 1829 as ships botanist. Stirling is a big name here also. They stopped at the Cape for supplies and Thomas purchased some Verdelho vines and brought with him. He was granted a small section of government land in the Swan Valley, planted his vines and the rest as they say is history. Here are some interesting facts for you picked up during the day.
    Western Australia is so huge an area, that if it were a separate country it would be the 10th largest in the world. Quite something to try and take on board isn't it?
    It takes on average 125 grapes to make one standard glass of wine and 83/84 percent of a bottle of wine is water. Water is terribly good for you, so clearly we all need to drink more wine!
    We visited three wineries: Windy Creek Estate in Herne Hill (yes, another familiar name), Sittella for a tasting plus lunch and Heaford Glen. Lots of different wines on offer, some more drinkable than others, but it of course very much personal taste. We selected those we thought we would find interesting and left the others. We then moved on to a German beer tasting at Elmers in the Valley, for the guys mainly. I gave my share to Peter, who said they were ok but there was nothing he would purchase, which is of course the acid test. This was followed by a chocolate tasting, yum yum, which completed the afternoon, followed by a very good quality ice cream. We trundled back to Perth and made our way back to the apartment with the cricket crowd again, catching up on the day's play as we did so. Some good news, some not so good. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
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  • Day55

    The Upper Swan Valley

    December 14, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    We headed for the Upper Swan Valley this afternoon, after watching the toss for the 3rd Test Match and some of the first session this morning. We can sit on the apartment balcony and see the WACA floodlights with ease, but will not have the opportunity to visit until the fourth day, match and weather permitting. Yes, you've guessed it, rain is forecast. You couldn't write the script! This is the final test match to be played to here at the WACA and its replacement, the new Optus stadium, is practically ready. It is over the river on the Burswood peninsula and is stunning visually and state of the art. Everything has been thought of and I understand they are to play one of the ODI's here. It is not limited to cricket, which in the modern world is only sensible. It is a real tour de force and can only add to Perths attraction.
    We are booked on a Swan Valley Wine Tour tomorrow, but it will be limited to the Lower Swan, so we thought we would investigate further by ourselves. It is about a 30 minute drive, so close for a major city. We drove to the north end of the loop and found 'Lamonts', which had been recommended for not only its wine, but lunch. The wines were super and lunch just as good. We were driving, so limited ourselves to the one Winery, knowing that there would be more to come. At the far end of the Swan Valley, the great river has shrunk to a trickle of its lower self, quite amazingly so in fact. There are many more produce outlets beyond wine within the Valley. In fact, I think one could say there is something for everyone. Chocolate, ice cream, nuts and nougat, cider, vinegars, preserves and so it goes on. We had a good tasting and came home knowing that an evening meal was out of the question. Cheese and wine would do - we brought it home with us.
    Of the three wine regions we have 'studied'(?!) The Swan Valley is by far the smallest and less intensive and we will be able to have a better idea after tomorrow.
    We had a walk along the river on our return. It was a beautiful afternoon. There were black swans on the ponds below the apartment building and as the sun began to sink, the view was special. The cricket was not quite as disastrous as we had feared. Dawid Malan scored a hundred and Johnny Bairstow is going well also. Fingers crossed things will improve
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  • Day54

    Initial Impressions of Perth

    December 13, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    We crossed the Swan River today to gain our first impressions of this spectacular city. Until now, our view had been from the South Bank and our balcony window and that alone would give any famous city skyline a run for its money. I have to say the reality is equally impressive. We alighted on St George's Terrace and walked the centre. What immediately strikes one is, yet again, the juxtaposition of the old and the new and the clever way this has been achieved. There is a huge amount of building going on here and clearly the amount of money poured into Perth over the last twenty years is phenomenal. Every major mining corporation seems to have a stake here, reflecting the massive wealth produced by mining in Western Australia.
    Rather like Adelaide, there is plenty of green space and of course a beautiful river, but everything is on a much grander scale. This is a major city that is over a thousand miles from its nearest neighbour and is possibly the most isolated on earth. Perth was always something of a joke in Australian terms until recently and that is most certainly a thing of the past. Business, architecture, arts and culture, plus the food explosion has put Perth on the map like nothing else. The waterfront has and is undergoing great alterations. Dodging our way around the cranes and building sites we decided to visit the Swan Bell Tower. The tower is a focal structure on the Perth waterfront and it struck me as a modern day Venetian St Mark's Campanile. It's construction was Western Australia's Millennium Project and kick started by Laith Reynolds, a local international businessman with a passion for English bell-change ringing. Whilst in London, he heard that the bells of St Martin in the Fields on Trafalgar Square, were to be melted down and recast. He persuaded Western Australia to provide the metals needed to cast new bells for St Martins and managed to negotiate the transport of the 1727 bells, financed by King George 11, to Perth, where they were ceremonially renamed The Swan Bells and installed in the newly constructed bell tower in the year 2000. There are 6 levels of exhibition and viewing. It is tall, as you probably gathered and some of the viewing platforms are transparent. This is where Peter scored. He might not like things that flap, but I couldn't walk out there and had to view from a solid floor distance!
    We are quits!
    We took the ferry back to South Perth and walked back to the apartment along the river, with that skyline in view all the time. This is not a natural wonder, it is man made, but it certainly holds the eye.
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  • Day53

    Cape Lodge and around.

    December 12, 2017 in Australia ⋅ 23 °C

    We have spent our final two days in Margaret River at Cape Lodge some 20 miles north of the town. As you might imagine from the name the buildings are in the Cape Dutch style, which whilst very attractive, are somewhat incongruous in a Western Australia setting. The Lodge is set in 40 acres of natural bush and lakes and is quiet and peaceful. The restaurant is also pretty special, both for its setting by a floodlit lake and the food. it It is probably just as well we are only here two nights! However, one other reason why this venue will remain in my mind, is that we hadn't been on the property an hour, when there came the unmistakable cackling laugh of a Kookaburra from the nearby trees. I couldn't see the bird in question, but just to hear it in the wild was enough.
    We visited some beautiful wineries, more for their setting and accompanying gardens than the wine in truth and of course the superlative coastline. I am no beach afficiando, but those running up from Dunsborough to Cape Naturaliste have to be seen to be believed. It is a series of bays, the water is clear turquoise blue, natural bush comes right down to the fine white sand and the rocks create a fabulous coastal vista. This is of course a protected area, so everything remains unspoilt by over commercialism. The sun was hot and you literally couldn't walk down to the sea without shoes, but boy was it stunning. I can see why in Australia it is all about the outdoors and the coast. They can of course rely on the weather, which makes a huge difference. Plan a Christmas beach picnic here and it will no doubt be a perfect day. They will to up at dawn to grab the best spot on the beach; (it's not just the Germans you know!) the awnings and the barbie will be out, the drinks will flow and it is all so laid back and as far from an English festive season as you can imagine. I spoke to a lady who has lived here for 30 years and she said, whilst she would never want to return to the UK, she still misses a wintry Christmas and all that goes with it. After the past weeks weather, would you agree with her my friends?!
    The east coast of the Peninsula is a complete contrast; much more rocky and spectacular, crashing waves and towering cliffs. At Canal Rocks we encountered what I think was a juvenile albatross of some type (I'm unsure exactly what ). He was bobbing about in the sea close the the jetty where we stood. To our surprise he swam right alongside us and hopped out of the water and sat down next to us. He was a big lad. There was no fear, which is perhaps worrying, but it was certainly another experience to savour. Peter was also hopping about a bit, as he is not over keen on anything that flaps, until I reminded him that if he backed up any further he would be in the water on the other side of the jetty!
    This morning we said goodbye to the glorious Margaret River area with regret and headed north back to Perth, stopping at Busselton for a coffee. It is a lovely town set on the fabulous Geographe Bay and has the distinction of the longest jetty in the world. We arrived in South Perth in the afternoon and have settled into an apartment overlooking the River Swan and Perth CBD. I think we will be very comfortable for our final week. There are parks and walks along the river bank with the Perth skyline forever in your sight line. We hope to have a quieter week, but are not of course renowned for that, but will try! 'Speak' soon.
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  • Day50

    A Snapshot of Margaret River

    December 9, 2017 in Australia ⋅ 23 °C

    Outside of Australia, I suspect that the Margaret River area is best known for its wines, although not very many find their way to our shores, which is a shame as they are of high quality. Today we chose to take a tour with a local guide, Hank Durlik and it proved to be a good decision. There is a lot to see in the area and being short of time, it was difficult to know what to prioritise. After an exchange of emails as to our interests, Hank worked that out for us and took us to see things we would never have found on our own. Scenically, it is a beautiful and possibly surprising landscape of great contrast. Agriculture is predominantly livestock, particularly dairy and the local cheeses are very fine. The resulting pasture parkland juxtaposed with the regimented rows of vines create pleasing vistas in all directions. The lifestyle here is laid back and all about the outdoors, especially the coast and it was here we headed to first thing. Hank told us that people rise early and go for a coffee and look at the surf, possibly riding a few waves, before starting their day. He said, if engaging a builder, ask first if he is a surfer and if the answer is yes, either find someone else or be prepared for a long wait. The surf will always come first! Unsurprisingly, Surfer's Point was our first point of call, a strip of coast at the small village of Prevelley. The waves today were not legendary, but there were groups of surfers out there awaiting their chance to ride a 'big one'. This section of beach is world famous and is one of the venues used for the World Surfing Championships in March. All along this coast are the most superb beaches, natural and unspoiled. The surf beaches are graded to allow youngsters to learn the sport and only the best and most experienced graduate to Surfers Point. Geographically, the whole of the Margaret River area is part of the Leeuwenhoek-Naturaliste National Park, and geologically it is limestone overlying granite, which makes for some interesting landforms. There are caves galore, including collapsed sinkholes, one large one called Lake Cave we went to look at. It was a classic example and even more exciting was the Willy Wagtail nest and the parents feeding their young just three feet from the board walk!
    Just south of Margaret River starts the wide band of Kauri forest that extends all the way down to Albany further south. We drove through the most majestic stands of these huge giants. It was like standing in natures cathedral. They are a gum, one of the hardest and third tallest trees in the world. Extensively logged in the 1800s, the trunks are long, straight and true and so much in demand for building back, then. The off cuts were cut into cobbles and sent to London as ballast in the trading sailing clippers to cobble London streets. Hank was in London in October and tried to find some in the streets with no luck, but did find some in the courtyard in Trinity College, Dublin. Coincidentally, he and his wife came to Norfolk, as his wife's parents hailed from Gorleston, as did Peter's mothers family. Yet another example of a small world! The beach at Gt Yarmouth came as something of a shock to him after Western Australia! We stopped for coffee at the Baronup Forest Cafe. Attached is a Gallery featuring locally made furniture and artifacts made from the Kauri. These pieces are unique and works of art and are shipped all over the world. The gallery is quite something to see.
    The limestone cliffs at Conto were fascinating, also the views and the perfectly adapted flora clothing this exacting habitat. The whole area was wiped out by a wildfire 6 years ago and has regenerated in that time. Mother Nature is remarkable. Our final call of the morning was to another coastal venue called Hamlin Bay. This was the most beautiful sheltered limestone Bay. Families were about on the beach, although it was far from crowded. Guys we're bringing in their fishing catch and it was a sunny happy spot. We wandered down onto the beach and I had a paddle in the Indian Ocean. Black shapes appeared in the surf. They were sting or manta rays. I was amazed as these incredible creatures came right up to my feet and allowed me to tickle their back. It will be a memory never to be forgotten for me. We lingered for an hour as the rays came back time and time again.
    I could have stayed all day.

    The vine area is actually really small, 20 square miles if I remember correctly and there are 178 wineries crammed into that small space. As you can probably appreciate most of them are small boutique establishments, producing small amounts of quality wine, which is of course why most of the production stays within Australia. We had a very good lunch of local produce at Olio Bello, the largest olive grove and producer in Australia and tasted not only their vines, but also the olive oil. I resisted the temptation to bring some home, as the thought of a broken olive oil bottle in a suitcase was more than I could stand! We visited two excellent wineries to taste their wares; Cape Grace and Heydon Estate. The reds were of a really good standard and Cape Grace produce a really interesting white blend called SBS (Sauvignon Blanc Semillion). It is gaining ground here and was so interesting that there is a bottle sitting in the fridge now! At Heydon Estates the owner is a dentist, who has a vineyard on the side (as you do). He is a mad keen cricket fan, who names all his wines after cricketing terms e.g. The Urn, The Sledge & WG Grace, to name but three! The wines are superb, although far from cheap. He will at the WACA on the 14th.
    We returned to Darby Park Residences in Margaret River town having felt we had had a fabulous snapshot of this marvellous part of Western Australia thanks to Hank, although we are far from done with it, as we move further up the coast tomorrow for a couple of nights. It has been a full and great day.
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  • Day48


    December 7, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    We had a uneventful flight to Perth this morning, although the celebrity accompaniment was interesting! Geoff Boycott was awaiting a taxi with us at The Intercontinental and had a few words. Paul Hayward, Scyld Berry and Nick Hoult (Telegraph sports writers) joined us at check in and were on the flight together with Jonathan Agnew, Jonathan Lieu, the TMS production team, Matt Smith, Geoff Boycott and several others we half recognised, but couldn't put a name to. You've guessed it, the media contingent were moving on to get set up for Perth. From what we could gather, the main concern was not the state of England's game, but what time they were meeting up later for a drink! We were checked in with time to spare, so settled down in a cafe on the walkway to have a coffee and snack. I'd hardly taken a sip when I glanced up and the whole England team were coming towards me heading to the departure gate for their earlier flight to Perth. I nearly choked on my coffee. They look so young! Yes, I know, they are, but honestly some of them should still be in short trousers. Peter of course had his head in the paper!!
    We picked up another car and made our way to Fremantle, our overnight stop. I was not too sure what I thought on arrival, but it has grown on my during the evening. We are staying right in the middle of the town (thank God for the Australian Sat Nav we purchased on arrival) at a boutique hotel called the Hougoumont. It is named after Australia's last convict ship, which arrived in Fremantle with 62 Irish Fenians aboard, 150 years ago this coming January. The town is planning a serious celebration. The rooms are decorated like a ships cabin and everything is in sea faring speak. On arrival it was happy hour and a free glass of wine and local cheeses were on offer. A very generous welcome we thought. Venturing out into the town later for supper, things were lively and fun. We eventually settled on The Monks Craft Beer and Kitchen. Peter started with a 'beer tasting paddle', 120 ml samples of the 6 craft beers brewed on the premises. He was a happy man. The food was pretty good also. A good start to Western Australia!
    The next morning found us on our way to Margaret River, some 300 kms south. We had a walk round the centre of Fremantle, which is attractive and built around its port. As we drove south on the Coast Road, we were given a glimpse of a large hinterland, industrial and residential. It is a much larger 'city' than we imagined and rather American in feel with multiple out of town shopping malls which do detract from its centre. Further south still, the new building has to be seen to be believed. I cannot imagine where all the people are coming from. We stopped and had a look round a couple of new towns and the impression was not favourable. Heart and soul are yet to be established. Lovely homes, but it wouldn't be for us. We did in fact begin to wonder why we were bothering to travel this far south and sincerely hoped things would improve. Of course it did! Agriculture came to the fore and the landscape gradually changed, becoming much softer and rural. Traffic was heavy being a Friday and people clearly getting away from the city for the weekend. Vines started to come into play and we finally arrived at the small settlement of Margaret River. Peter found another kitchen brewery and all was well with the world. On the way out of the nearby liquor store we were persuaded to taste some locally distilled gins. Oh boy they were good and we will definitely pay a visit before we leave. This could indeed be a good spot and may well live up to its expectations. I will keep you posted!
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  • Day47

    The Final Day

    December 6, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ☀️ 21 °C

    It was something of dilemma this morning. Do we go to the final Test Day and buy extra tickets, or do we take up the invitation issued by Jeannie, our previous tour guide to visit her at home? We were not convinced that the improvement in England's batting would continue today, so we caught the bus to Hahndorf and met Jeannie for lunch. It was clearly the right choice as England didn't last long. We met Tim Rice in the lift on our return to the hotel. He was disgusted, having cancelled a flight to Sydney this afternoon to hopefully watch England level the series! We went out to supper this evening and Paul Collingwood, Paul Farbrace and Trevor Baylis were ensconced in the corner of the restaurant. The discussion appeared serious!
    In contrast we had a great day. A good lunch and an introduction to Jeannie's home town and a few friends. She lives in the beautiful Adelaide Hills and we were fortunate enough to see eclectic gardens and homes that could only be Australian. I still cannot get over how friendly people are here. They welcome complete strangers into their homes without batting an eyelid. It is quite an experience.
    Tomorrow is moving day and we head for Western Australia. We'll see you later!
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  • Day46

    Test Day and an alternative

    December 5, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    We had our second day at the Test Match yesterday. Still cold, but a little sunnier. It wasn't a great day to be honest for the English. The top order batting was abysmal and we only came back into it late in the evening, when the bowlers actually started to take a few Australian wickets at twilight.
    By the finish at 9pm it was really cold. If Australia can't produce warm balmy evenings for this experiment, then I suspect only the sub-continent can.
    We are in two minds re the Day/Night version of a Test Match. It is a surprisingly different animal and most people do disappear before the end which probably wouldn't happen if it were finishing at 6.30pm. We were seated, as before, in a mixed stand of wildly enthusiastic Aussies and their slightly more restrained founding fathers! We had a good wander round, watching from various positions. Those seats are hard to sit on all day and no possibility of bringing the usual MCC cushions. Peter was resplendent in jacket, shirt and bold and custard tie as before ( not forgetting the trousers!). We had a few strange looks I can tell you, but also a few who stopped and said how wonderful it was to see. All is ultra casual here as you know, so I suspect there was no doubt as to our Nationality even if you didn't' spot the MCC tie. We warmed up back in the bar at our hotel, along with the world and his wife. Andrew Strauss, Jason Gillespie and Damien Fleming in tonight. Craig Overton stood to one side, chatting to who were clearly his parents. We realised that they had been sitting in front of us during the day and had a few heart searching moments, wondering whether we had said the wrong thing at any point? The conclusion was no! They were a lot calmer than I would have been had my son been playing in his first Ashes tour.
    Today we have had a quiet day, taking a short cruise down the River Torrens. Its banks have been allowed to remain in a very natural state, bringing the countryside into the city. Adelaide is a very green city, which only adds to its charm. We ended up at the Adelaide Zoo and decided to visit the pair of (hopefully) breeding Pandas that are here. The only pair in the Southern Hemisphere. Rafe is particularly fond of them and so part of this was to take some pictures for him. However, we were soon captivated; they are gorgeous. We were also able to catch up on Australian animals that we were unable to see in the wild, such as the Echidna and Tasmanian Devil. The small city Zoo is beautifully designed and kept and was quiet as the children have not broken up from school. We are now back in the hotel lobby bar enjoying a tray of Earl Grey tea. Old habits die hard! Ian Botham is sitting close by, but not with a tray of tea! A group of five ladies have just ordered their fourth bottle of champagne with apparently no effect. I am in awe, the lightweight that I am!
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