Australia Tour 2013/14
Grapes and Wrath
After the Adelaide debacle, what better way to chill out than a couple of days on the pop.
On Monday afternoon, in the Ramsgate Hotel, where over eight pints Herbie's International Petanque :-) credentials were dissected, sliced and diced by an Addis Army kangaroo court.
Afterwards, a barbecue at the Blades where Wayne, our batting star from Glamorgan, had to face a sustained spell of vicious, short pitched bowling from young Thomas Blade in the back garden. During this barrage, Wayne smashed his wristwatch fending off a particularly nasty beamer.
His parting words on tottering out of the house at 10.20pm:
"If you find my watch spring you will send it on me, won't you."
Tuesday saw a day out at McLaren Vale - the vineyard region of the south Adelaide area.
Ten people in a minibus was always going to be cosy, and when Five-O brought his friend Andrew along - a Ronnie Wood lookalike - complete with his luggage and guitar in carrying case - collective groans ensued as the already crowded bus began to resemble Steptoe's cart.
Five vineyards were visited, and for anyone planning a trip our collective markings were as follows:
Coriole - 7 out of ten
Chapel Hill - 8
Dog Ridge - 9
Wirra Wirra - 6
Fox Creek - 7
Marks were allocated on the quality of the continuous cheese picnic provided throughout, the wine offering, the ambience, and the knowledgeable commentary offered on every sip by those well known vintners Messrs Herbie and Spud.
A veritable oak-smoked barrel of bullshit in the last category, and by the fourth vineyard this was beginning to affect Mr Blade and Freddie, who had obviously been hanging on to every wise word.
As Spud slurped a glass of Shiraz after whirling it around and sniffing it for about twenty minutes he opined: "mmmm - but it doesn't go very far."
Cue a discussion about whether as far as Huddersfield, Keighley or Dewsbury.
Herbie had even brought a little black tasting notebook, but he gave up making notes after the second vineyard due to the inability of the various McLaren Vale wines we drank to meet the high standards of the Enfield Wetherspoons offering he is used to.
Lofty was in party mood, clearly inspired by the prospect of a cheese diet for the day, and helped along by supportive noises from Herbie and Spud.
By the time we returned to Henley Beach for a curry, most people were the worse for wear. Christine was once again "bolloxed". Food fascist Freddie was intoxicated enough to try his first ever Indian meal, and the pressure was on as the restaurant owner brought his dish of specially - prepared, non-spicy starter consisting of carrots, potato and paneer and then stood over him while he ate it.
Full marks to Freddie - he forced down the lot.
Next, the owner brought our curries and Freddies main course - another dish of carrots, potato and paneer.
Variety is the spice of life, they say!
Christine helped Freddie, who was flying to Perth at 6.30am the next day, throughout his ordeal with toilet / food-related comparisons, and Freddie summed up the situation nicely in his own inimitable words to the maitre de:
" If I get the sh*ts tomorrow, its your fu*king fault."
Wednesday saw the departures of Freddie and Spud to Perth at a ridiculously early hour and later I took on the International Petanque Star ™ at golf at the Adelaide Shores course. Herbie proved that if nothing else, he is as skilled as certain football players at
Fixing results, giving me just a six-shot advantage over the piece. Unsurprisingly, the International Petanque Star ™ won 3 up, which cost me a round of drinks, three dollars, and two packets of crisps.
In the evening a rather grumpy Walt came into the story at an Italian restaurant, firstly telling the owner that he did not know the difference between prosciutto and boiled ham, and later giving him detailed instructions on how to add sugar to Irish coffee. The owner thanked Walt profusely as we left.
At the airport flying to Perth first we met Lofty, then our problems immediately multiplied when the International Petanque Star ™ checked in his luggage. Both hold and hand luggage massively overweight. As a result of all the commotion Herbie was making I was also called over for my hand luggage to be weighed.
Inevitably, I suppose - overweight. This is what you get when you travel with someone who brings more gear for a two week stay than Phileas Fogg carried for eighty days.
Lofty to the rescue as he scooped up some of our surplus and we conned the airline with the rest. I boarded the aircraft wearing three shirts, three pairs of shorts and two baseball caps with my pockets full of books, phones, and chargers.
Herbie carried on three bottles of wine over his allowance by convincing the Jetstar staff that he was an alcoholic and needed them during the flight.
On arrival at our Cottesloe lodgings, which I had arranged, two things stood out. Firstly, Freddie was there to greet us with a very positive outlook, and secondly, Herbie actually behaved as if he liked the place.
We enjoyed a very nice session in Little Creatures (Fremantle) during the afternoon, meeting Posh Margaret and her mate Linda, who had, a couple of nights ago, been the subject of a chat-up proposition by an anonymous and very inebriated member of the Barmy Army in P J O'Briens in Adelaide.
" Would you like to come with me to KFC."
Humphrey Bogart eat your heart out.
No marks for guessing Linda's new Addis Army moniker - and she does not wish to be asked if it could have been a 'finger licking good' date.
Wayne also appeared at Little Creatures, sporting seven stitches in his head as a result of falling off a sun lounger the previous night. The stitches were well disguised on inspection, but we did see a curious 666 pattern on his scalp when we looked!
As we arrived back at Cottesloe just as the sun was sinking into the Indian Ocean, Lofty let rip regarding his frustrations about the ten minute uphill walk from the station:
" I see no reason why we should ever come here again...."
The sun slowly sank into the ocean as if part of a technicolour dream, and as we all sat on the grass verge next to the beach eating fish and chips out of a newspaper - gazing in wonderment at the horizon - I really do hope that Lofty revised his negative opinion - certainly it was not shared by anyone else.
The Third Test starts tomorrow - Friday 13th of December!