So, Saturdays now settle into a lovely rhythm.
Alex, Max and I go for our weekly run, just after breakfast. Down past the Gum Tree Reserve, and across Tapleys Hill Road. Where exactly is this eponymous hill? The entire boulevard is as flat as the Adelaide Oval pitch.
Then along the Patawalonga River and to the beach. Some big old dogs gallop about like big old dogs. We pause at the Buffalo Park where the boys rotate enthusiastically through a few of those outdoor exercise machines while I pant on a bench. Then, we turn for home.
Along the way we chat. Max says, “Dad, would you rather play for Chelsea or Tottenham?”
Alex questions too. “What’s your favourite car for driving in the snow?”
I love it.
Tee-ball then beckons. As this season’s supercoach* I haul the black coffin of gear across multiple baseball diamonds, and meet the team who are jumping about on the grass like big old dogs.
We work our way through a couple of batting and fielding innings. This morning all eleven kids turned up. The complete roster. Placing them on the park as the opposition swung and struck was a challenge. It was, as old mate Chris Hayward once remarked, like putting ten pounds of spuds in a six-pound bag. I wanted to put some of them in a slips cordon.
But this morning one of the girls came good after she snared the ball in her flopping glove. It was a moment. It was her trigger. Previously anchored to a spot and pouting with sass well beyond her years she was now diving upon ground balls and rushing first base. Excellent stuff.
The twin evils of gardening (rampant Buffalo runners) and Ikea (No, no Björnholmen today) dispensed I slipped down to the Broadway Hotel to catch the Australasian (I love that word more than I should) racing championship that is the (time-honoured) WS Cox Plate.
Because I care about the cultural and sporting educations of Alex and Max, I took them with me. Having said this Max and I probably have too many conversations about Black Caviar even though he was a toddler when she was on her way to twenty-five on the trot (or burst, in her case). His curiosity is magnificent.
We’re still learning about the noble nomenclature of racing so instead of asking which horse I’ve had a bet on, Alex says, “Which horse are your voting for Dad?”
Indeed, if this were a democratic action I’d be tempted to reply, “Not that hopeless gelding Barnaby Joyce,” but that would be brash and inappropriate. Kiwis are our friends.
With chips and lemonade and Coopers brand new Session Ale (8/10: flavoursome) we’re each on a stool in the front bar when I tell them about my favourite ever horse (although it owes me money, and having departed this planet can never square my ledger). I love that they giggle when I tell them the name. This is the same reaction I had in 1993 when he ran third to Mahogany in the Victoria Derby on that great day at Flemington. I recall watching the race in the Cowell pub. Don’t know why.
Even now I feel a little frisson when I say it. Why-kick-a-moo-cow. More giggles. I say it again. Waikikamukau.
Last week with the boys in tow I backed Snitty Kitty, who won at Caulfield. The Heath, I tell them. Could she be our family’s 2017 Waikikamukau?
But today we witness Winx winning her third Cox Plate. It’s also her twenty-second successive victory. There’s a rich, explosive wall of sound in The Broady as she punches on to salute by a half-length.
It’s probably a hundred types of wrong, but I want to immerse our boys in it. Because it’ll be fun.
On our way home, we slide past Pizza on Broadway and get a large pepperoni.
Waikikamukau would’ve expected no less.
*possibly not based upon fact