Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hanging around on a Saturday

I like being home. I've never really understood people that just treat their place as a docking station. I mean, you put a lot of effort into making your house a home - even if you don't realise it - so why not strive to enjoy it?
Anyhow, it's nice to have a free weekend, after being away for the last two. A chance to catch up on a few chores, and to generally reacquaint myself with the vegetable garden, the shed, and the telly.
As my mate Pete is fond of saying, it's good to be King.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sheffield Shield

I finished up work a little early today and went down to Adelaide Oval, to watch some cricket. I wasn't particularly interested in the contest, it was more that I like the idea of sitting at the cricket on a warm afternoon and having a relaxing beer. Enjoying the therapeutic sound of bat on ball. Although, at $7 a pop, the two beers I had were something of a luxury and, quite possibly, a hardship to boot.
In front of a very small crowd (double figures at best), South Australia laboured to dismiss Western Australia, who ended up declaring with seven wickets down. The home team showed why they will probably struggle in this competition by losing their opening three wickets in the last half an hour of the day.

In any event, it was quite a meditative few hours. I sat in the Bradman Stand, reflecting on the week thus far, watching cricket, and counting my blessings. And my beers.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

High Flying Birds

I bought the new Noel Gallagher album on Monday. I've been listening to it ever since. It sounds very much like Noel's songs that featured on the latter Oasis albums. Not much of an extension, but all very listenable. I'm not complaining. I like his songs, and his voice.
As time has gone on, I have found myself much preferring listening to Noel singing his songs, over listening to brother Liam's faux Lennon (which I also happen to like, let's call it a guilty pleasure).
Oasis were my band for a long time, a less than popular choice here in the antipodes, but I don't give a monkeys; I loved them.

In December 2005 I went to see Oasis in Melbourne and they were loud, full on, and pretty brilliant. A year later I was in Perth watching England meekly cough up the the Ashes and I got wind of a surprise Noel Gallagher gig. It was scheduled for the Perth Concert Hall on the Saturday night. The gig had sold out in no time at all, so I had to buy my ticket from a tout on the day. Costing me a small fortune, I was somewhat relieved to actually get in and then ecstatic to find myself about four rows back from the stage. The band comprised Noel, Oasis' Gem Archer, and Terry Kirkbridge on percussion. The low-key show was reminiscent of the much-bootlegged and never officially released "MTV Unplugged" concert, and I was lucky enough to be there. Another great moment in my life.

So now I have Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds and the Beady Eye's Different Gear, Still Speeding. I just put them both into the player and select shuffle. Voila, an Oasis double album! I feel all warm inside...

It's a long way from Definitely Maybe, but it's still better than most of the Pop Idol crap that is prevalent these days. What we need is another punk rock revolution. Stage-managed as it might have been, it changed the music world's landscape when I was a teenager, pretty much completely for the better. Let's do it again.

Who's with me?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Nine - Riders in the mist...

I emerged from my tent at the irrationally early time of 5.55. Although the sun wasn't up, I could tell that I was walking around in a very thick mist. It wasn't cold, but it was foggy. Extremely foggy.
The sun rose, its disc as easily discernible as a full moon due to the filtering of the thick atmosphere, and I admired the spectacle as I drank my first cup of tea for the day.
Because of my early start, and that of the others, we left camp just before 7.30.
It was a great ride, one of the best of the trip. We headed north, through the mist, and I was glad I had my lights on. It got a little lighter, and a little warmer, once we'd got to our turnaround point not far from Mannum. It was a lovely drop into town, and shortly after our tea break we boarded the ferry and crossed the beautiful River Murray.
We followed Burdell Road just about all the way down to Murray Bridge, climbing and cruising in equal parts. The sun came out, the wind stayed away, and the views to the west were nothing short of superb. It was a shame it had to end.
We crossed the bridge into Murray Bridge and completed our tour, where it began, at Sturt Reserve. It was handshakes, farewells and lunches before we packed up and headed back to Adelaide.
A great ride, but lovely to be home too!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Eight - Bush Camp

We left Strathalbyn in pleasant, if a little overcast, conditions. Because of Saturday morning traffic concerns, the published route had been altered to take a more relaxed road into Wistow. Perhaps it was more relaxed as far as cars were concerned, but it contained a stonking climb that seemed endless. Oh well, it got the body into gear...
Another rise, followed by a beautiful downhill, took us into Mount Barker and morning tea. After a quick break, we headed through town and out the other side, via a decent climb up the Old Princes Highway, before passing through the pretty town of Nairne.
From there it was up and down all the way to the zoo. We enjoyed some very fast downhills, and worked our way up the hills. We endured one more big climb up the old highway before turning left at Schenscher Road and heading to the bush camp.
In the afternoon we went on a tour of Monarto Zoo and had a good look at the collection of exotic animals.
Our last night together was spent eating and drinking under the stars, enjoying the music, the open fire, and the chat.
Almost done.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Seven - Wet Feet

Friday. The seventh day of the tour, and probably the coolest conditions yet. It wasn't cold, far from it, but it was overcast and threatening to rain. We left Goolwa, and spent the bulk of the first 40 kilometres climbing in the drizzle. It was a fun ride though, just a shame the scenery wasn't visible because of the mist. We had a fairly serious climb up and over a hill as we approached Meadows, and once we'd descended into town we learned we had to turn around and climb out again.
The last 15 kilometres was a much faster affair. The rain stopped, visibility improved, and there was a lot more downhill to enjoy.
We made Strathalbyn pretty early, enjoyed lunch, then I had a couple of pints at the Terminus while I caught up on a few things. On the way back to camp I visited the second-hand book shop and the newsagent. I found a 10-movie blaxploitation DVD set that set me back $4.95. Win!
The rain stayed away in the afternoon, raising hopes for dry shoes in the morning.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Six - Cloudy but fine.

A different, but very enjoyable day. I awoke, once again, to the sound of my noisy neighbours sharing pre-dawn inanities at high volume. I figured I might as well get up. The planned ride was a loop; a 60 kilometre jaunt up through Mount Compass. It was overcast but it wasn't cold. We worked pretty hard to get out of town and onto some open road. The traffic was busy, without posing any real danger, all the way until we reached the Mt Compass turnoff. From there, it was a very pleasant ride in to morning tea, apart from one lunatic in a chicken truck.
We had a decent length tea break before setting off for home. We zipped down the main Victor Harbor Road before turning left for Goolwa. It was a pretty straightforward trip; the only novelty was the crippling climb up and over the hill on Flagstaff Hill Road. I made it with no gears to spare. Someone told me later that it was a 14% incline, which explains the pain. Coming down was a thrill. I got to 72 kmh - not bad for a mountainbike with knobbly tyres!
We rode back along the coast and arrived at camp before noon.
In the afternoon we visited both pubs and also went down to the brewery to sample their beers. We eventually settled into the balcony of the footy club where we watched the rain come in. Pizza seemed like a good idea for tea.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Five - Love's Crashing Waves

Today was an OK day. Up late, a cooked breakfast, and a departure around 8.40. The three of us headed out of Goolwa and set sail (on our bikes) for The Bluff, about five kilometres the other side of Victor Harbor. The 60 km ride was great; we got wetlands, lovely views of the coast, and a good run all the way. We had to take a detour to avoid a brown snake as it sunbathed, but otherwise it was plain sailing. We got to The Bluff in good nick, and had a short break before turning around.
The way back was incident-free. We had a good lunch from the Port Elliot Bakery and then pressed on. It was warming up, and the wind was freshening, so it was nice to make it back to camp by 12.30.
I spent the afternoon wandering around Goolwa, buying a replacement tyre, fitting it, visiting the pub and generally relaxing before settling into the darkness and eating, drinking and chatting to my heart's content.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Four - Cruisin'

Today wasn't the official rest day, but it might as well have been. The three of us plan to do more riding tomorrow (on the designated rest day) than we did today. I enjoyed a sleep in until around 6.45, packed up Camp David in a relaxed manner, and then went to the Meningie Bakery for breakfast. We hung around, eating while we scanned the newspapers, before heading back to camp. We needed to load our bikes onto a trailer before getting on a bus. The bus would take us to Long Point, where we would get on a boat for a tour of the Coorong and Murray Mouth. While were waiting I developed a raging thirst so I rode back into town to get cans of Coke for me and the boys. I also went to the newsagent and bought two mountain bike mags for $2 each.
The cruise was pretty cool; it is the first time I have seen the Murray Mouth.
We arrived at Hindmarsh Island, where we alighted and were reunited with our bikes. We rode the length of the island, in the heat of the day and with a bit of cross and head wind, and over the once-controversial bridge.
A very easy day. Goolwa is my home for the next three nights so it is nice to be set up for that.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Three - Much Better...

A much more enjoyable day. We got up late, broke our fast in a most leisurely manner, and hit the road at 8.30. The only downer was that my rear tyre was flat, and was showing some real signs of fatigue. Bulging, perishing etc. I knew the tyre was old, but I hadn't noticed this degree of damage previously. I pumped up the tube and decided to ride my luck, as well as my bike. Please, please, please, no blowouts.
The wind had, unsurprisingly, turned around on itself so we rode back up the Princes Highway into a delightful northerly. At least it wasn't as strong as the previous two days.
Once we tuned the corner and headed west, things improved considerably. We circumnavigated Lake Albert at a good speed, the wind behaved itself, and the sun shone. It reminded me why I ride my bike. Beautiful scenery, lovely blue-sky weather, and a fast ride. We got back to camp reasonably early in the afternoon, around 1.30. I had to switch my tyres and tubes, but after that it was time for a few beers, firstly at the cheese factory, then at the footy club.

Lower Lakes: Days One & Two - Wind, bloody wind.

Probably the best thing I can say about the first two days is that they are over and done with.
Only 47 clicks on the first day, from Murray Bridge to Langhorne Creek, but it was tough. The first half was OK, in fact it was downright enjoyable, but once we turned right onto Wellington Road everything changed. Black clouds, and a wind straight from Hell. In a nutshell, it was probably the strongest wind I have ever faced. The only good thing about the gale was that it blew the storm just to one side of us.
To say I was relieved to make camp is an understatement.
We stopped at the pub, exhausted and sweaty, on the way in to Langhorne Creek so we could watch the running of the Caulfield Cup, and also to enjoy a very welcome pint. I asked the barman if he'd be willing to show the Manchester United v Liverpool match later that night. He said "probably", which was enough for me.
After the evening's entertainment, Ray and I staggered back up to the pub to watch United draw 1-1 with the rat-eaters. We got back to camp sometime early on Sunday morning...
When I was jarred awake by the sound of idiots talking loudly, I questioned the wisdom of staying up so late. Too late for regrets. It was another really tough day, 80 kilometres pretty much directly into a horrible headwind. South, straight down the Princes Highway, straight into the wind. For f*ck's sake. Anyhow, we made it, I survived. Then I had a beer. Or ten.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Lower Lakes: Day Zero - All Set?

Fit enough? I hope so...
Odd jobs done? Who cares.
All packed? As far as I can tell.
Looking forward to it? You bet.

Let's get it on...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Down at the Brunswick

Tonight I think I will head down to the Duke of Brunswick Hotel to play a few songs. Because of my Ethelton Entertaners' commitments, and a few other obstacles & issues, I haven't played any of my own stuff for a few weeks. I am away all of next week so tonight is my only chance to have a little original music fun.
This will be the second time I've played at The Brunswick. I went down on the night the open mic started up and I had the pleasure of being the first act of the evening. I played Shining Light, Wish I Was You and Say Goodbye, and it all went very well.
It seems like a pretty groovy venue, it's on my side of town, so I'm hoping it will be around for a while to come.
Now I need to find some more real gigs!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Railway Children

Tonight I indulged my inner child and watched The Railway Children. I remember my mum taking me to see it at the pictures when I was very young, and also sitting through it a few times on television back in the day. I probably last watched it sometime in the middle 1970s, so it's been a while...

What a delightful way to spend a couple of hours. The film is little more that a collection of episodes, I suspect they are chapters from the book, with a hint of plotline that just about holds the film together. It describes an almost-heavenly existence in an idyllic Yorkshire village, where innocence abounds, the crises are manageable, and there is hope in every passing train.

I doubt a village like ever really existed but, if it did, I'd move tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Spring into spring

I love this time of year. The days are lengthening, and the sun feels warmer. The buds on the plants are bursting into life, and the lawn is growing madly. Tomatoes are in, and the winter greens are finished. It is daylight when I walk to work, and I am greeted by the new-born ducklings and their protective parents most mornings. I can leave the windows open longer in the evenings, and I doubt I’ll be using the heating again this year. The baby swallows have learned to fly, so the car roof is almost free of swallow crap. I wake up to birdsong. I can smell blossom and freshly-mowed lawns wherever I go.
I wish it could be springtime every day.

Monday, October 10, 2011

That's Entertainment!

The 2011 season of the Ethelton Entertainers has been and gone. This year I played guitar, rather than bass, as part of the EE band. I had to cede my bass playing duties to a man with an upright bass - not only did the upright bass deserve a place in the band on aesthetic merits alone, but Kym is a much better player than me. In any event, it allowed me to road test my new Telecaster. Which was nice.
On each of the nine nights, when the time was right, I left my orchestra post and took to the stage for a song or two. It only happens once every 12 months, but I love singing the old cabaret numbers. Over the years I've performed such classics as Summertime, All of Me, Pretend, Wee Wee Hours, Something Stupid, Dream Lover, This Guy's In Love With You, and a host of others. The rat pack would be proud. This year I sang Mean to Me, a song I first heard on Dean Martin's 1960 This Time I'm Swingin' album, a record that still means so much to me, largely because of where I was in my life when I initially came across it. I picked it up for a couple of dollars at a second-hand vinyl shop. There I was, aimless, bereft of joy, alone and poor, when along came Dino. Nelson Riddle never sounded so cool...

If I could find a job singing this stuff regularly, I reckon I'd take it.