Australia Tour 2013/14

The Foolish Pom of Belair

Morning everyone.

First a couple of important updates. The Addis Army team came second in the Ramsgate Hotel pub quiz last Tuesday, winning a packet of Tim Tams and a $30 beer voucher in the process - so whatever happens to the cricket team in Adelaide, I won't be coming home empty handed.

Mr Blade's missing lorry has now also been found. It only took the police eight days to locate it - that success rate doesn't offer much hope to missing backpackers, its no wonder so many disappear over here.

In an effort to keep up with Lofty I have been for a trip to the bush myself this week.

A 40 minute train ride out of Adelaide takes you to Belair National Park, and I enjoyed a lovely four hour slog around one of the many walking tracks in 32 degree heat. According to the signposts the walk was only supposed to take me 75 minutes, but I was delayed early in the journey by a very large emu, which insisted on blocking my path. After seeing Rod Hull's experiences, I was not going to argue with this big bird.

I'm not sure what I expected to see at this park - maybe Skippy the bush kangaroo hopping up and begging for a dog biscuit - but the killer emu was about the only wildlife I saw, apart from a magpie, a budgie, and two butterflies.

I have always been unlucky on safari, but the Belair National Park sign should probably have an addendum : " For Stupid Pommie Tourists Only."

During my five hours in and around the park I saw precisely one other person. All the amenities, consisting largely of barbecue facilities and 50 tennis courts with no nets, were unused and empty.

The Old Government House, situated in the middle of the park, was shut and I learned that it opens for precisely four hours per week, on Sunday afternoons.

Even I could cope with the guide's job there.

No refreshments available, and no water, except that available at a stand-tap in the few public toilets.

At least the exit wasnt through a f*cking gift shop.

The England team have been seen on Sky Sports News 'honing their skills' in Alice Springs for the upcoming Adelaide Test.

'Fiddling while Rome burns' would probably be a better description.

Stuart Broad posing in a cowboy hat with Ayers Rock in the background, commenting knowingly on the Trott situation and flicking flies off his face. KP swimming in a desert waterhole and showing off his array of tattoos. Swanny has been riding camels and throwing a bomerang, although looking at his match figures from Brisbane I would have thought throwing a cricket ball for few days would have been a better option.

A quiet couple of days followed for me, exploring Adelaide and sourcing entertainment possibilities for Freddie, Herbie, Lofty and Spud next week.

For those unfamiliar with Adelaide, it is a small city laid out in a perfect square.

Exactly like a Monopoly board, in fact, with a North, East, South and West Terrace forming the boundary of the CBD.

PJ O'Briens Irish Bar, the Barmy Army pub, is in the exact position of Old Kent Road.

In terms of live shows, metal group 'Leo Slayer' are on at the Crown & Anchor, and up & coming UK act Smokie are on this weekend at Her Majesty's Theatre. I trust they will be performing a special rendition of " Why the f*ck are we in Alice" for the England team, who managed just 212-7 today against an Outback XI. This meaningless game would eventually peter out into a draw, but not before the announcer at the ground was 'stood down' - I think that's Australian for 'sacked' - for racially ridiculing Monty Panesar over the loudspeakers.

In readiness for all the new arrivals from England, on Saturday morning Mr Blade was given the job of installing a metal shelf in the shower. Just to prove he was old enough to remember 'The Golden Shot' , Mr Blade showed his marksmanship by drilling straight through the hot water pipe, which was unhelpfully situated in the plaster behind the tiles. With hot water running down the walls, a small amount of industrial language ensued together with a call to Jeff the plumber - who agreed to come at 7am on Sunday morning given the nature of the crisis.

On Saturday afternoon I visited the bottle shop with Mr Blade. As we filled a huge cool box with ice and about fifty bottles of beer we had bought, he said : " Right - that should be enough for tonight!"

Like a fool I thought Mr Blade was joking. He wasn't, and Sunday was spent nursing a hangover from hell. Allegedly, in addition to beers, three and a half bottles of red wine were forced down my unwilling throat during Saturday evening. As a penance, Mr Blade had to rise at 6.45am to greet Jeff the plumber and then take Thomas to cricket. No further beers were partaken of by either of us on Sunday.

On Monday, we picked up a jet-lagged Freddie from the airport. In order to prove that the world is indeed a small place, Spud was also seen wandering around the baggage carousels in a dazed state after his journey from England. More of Spud later.

Mrs Blade suggested Freddie and myself might like to go dolphin-spotting on Tuesday in Port Adelaide, so by 11am we were waiting eagerly by the docks for our scenic cruise up-river, which was to last two hours. I can honestly say this cruise makes the Melbourne 'scenic' river cruise seem like a journey down the Nile in comparison. As factory after refinery after grain silo passed us by and the boat entered an even bleaker area of mangrove swamp, the dolphins started to appear. Kamikaze dolphins, which appreared to take great pleasure in diving in and out from under our vessel. I can only suggest this behaviour may be a result of generational mutation from all the effluent being pumped into the water.

As the dolphin cruise was voted a 'miss' by Freddie I decided to take him out on the train to Hallett Cove for some beach action. On arrival we were literally swamped by gallons of flies - even Vincent Price, in his worst nightmares, could not have starred in a more grisly fly movie than this. Retreating to the relative safety of the new train station we were able to de-fly ourselves in the spanking new automated toilet - which has sliding doors and talks to you while inside. When the voice finally stopped, Burt Bacharach kicked in - 'What the world needs now, is love sweet love....'.

I'll wager Burt never expected his song to feature inside an automated Australian train station tardis-toilet!

On returning to Henley Beach we all dined with Lofty and Spud, newly arrived into town. Spud has made his first visit of the tour to the local hospital after working out in the gym and noticing irregular heartbeat patterns. Although now recovered, his heart rate was not helped as we failed by just one point to win the Ramsgate pub quiz. We did however win the Tim Tams, six bottles of beer, and a $30 voucher towards our bill.

It is now Wednesday. It is raining, with more rain forecast for the start of the Test match.

Crystal Palace have just beaten West Ham United by one goal to nil.

Is Australia ready for the arrival of grim reaper Herbie and his laptop today?

I gather the Japanese were more eagerly awaited in 1941!

Regards, Midnight.

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