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Shakespeare drinks at the Railway Hotel

Old mate Shakespeare once typed on a Friday just before knocking off for the week and heading to the Railway pub for Happy Hour that, ‘April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.’ It was a pretty lonely beer that night for Bill, largely as the railway was yet to be discovered by some Scottish git in the Industrial Revolution.

But he was right in that April with its public holidays and autumnal glow is, as Richie Benaud may have said, a very fine month indeed.

April 10 is our anniversary (same day every year at it neatly turns out) and we celebrated with a Sunday picnic at Golding Wines near Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. In this photo you can see how Gen X is largely yet to master the selfy.
An audio highlight was purchasing this vinyl gem, complete with dark vignettes of life on the Californian coast. On the title track they ask the question most of us have at one time asked, ‘Who is the gaucho, amigo?/Why is he standing in your spangled leather poncho/And your elevator shoes?’
On an infrequent Saturday when the air is still and the sky promises a spectacular sunset Claire and I will stroll down to the esplanade and spend a quiet hour and drink in the transition from day to twinkling velvety cloak. We then rush home to watch the smug twits on Escape to the Country.
Hobart’s MONA is confronting and demands you look at the world from a curious and often fractured perspective. This tunnel walk is accompanied by a weird soundtrack that plays tricks on your ears.
I’ve always wanted a photo of my left ear and the distant, fetching city of Hobart. Thanks to Claire, Mount Wellington and our somewhat cursed e-bike excursion, this small dream of a Kapunda boy came true.
And as a well-known ale aficionado Claire also had a dream in which she found a lager keg in the beer garden of a funky Tassie pub that was named after her family. Thanks to the New Sydney for coordinating this and providing hope and joy to one eager South Aussie.
I wonder if the Queen finds seeing her name all over the joint on buildings, cruise ships, airport terminals etc a bit tiresome? I now know it’s fun thanks to Claire’s impeccable research. In a ridiculous display of monstrous ego and ill-invested cash I’m going to return to this place in the south of Tassie five times a year.
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The March 2022 Photo Essay

In a ridiculous attempt to parody one of the greatest cartoons ever let me say, ‘Let’s give a cheer for March, let’s give a cheer for Mar’ which is ill-considered if pop-culturally tremendous. So, here we are in March, a month that’s always on the cusp of everything.

March was when we made our annual pub visit. The pub in question was the Duke of York and it serves excellent things, just for you. We might go there again, in 2023.
If nostalgia is the ultimate in pointless selfishness then count me in. Surely, we’re all permitted a minor form of indulgence and for me, Skyhooks is emblematic of youthful innocence and a country that was grappling with its suburban identity. This is post-Gough confidence bursting from the pre-dawn streets of Carlton.
Rank Arena. Not only a TV brand but probably Football Park which was cold and hostile, even if you supported a local team, what with the concrete and the Alcatraz carparks and the polar winds. However, this tele sits in the Lady Daly pub on Port Road. It’s a fun, retro spot with sixties- styled lounge chairs.
My dear friend JB launched her public speaking book at West Beach. It was great and here’s Trish and Bromby in shot too. You can get the book at https://completecommunicationcoach.com.au/. Ask me how.
Brightstar Brewery opened within galloping distance of my work and this is tremendous even though I sold my horse. As you can see it’s a space that will evolve as a village green and of this surely we all approve. Even if a modern folk band takes root on the undeserving, difficult grass one mild Sunday I’d still urge your participation. Thank you.
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February

February arrives and the dust of our hot holidays settles upon us with its foul, torturing wake. Ahead is but misery and crushing grind as winter looms with its barren hardness.

No, not really!

The year’s rhythm becomes fluid. We lift our eyes and find joy and healthy distraction. February goes very well for us, as Sherbet sang on an unreleased, or maybe even unwritten, anthem.

For decades I promised myself that I’d see Neil Diamond when he toured. I was ready to make good on this when he promptly retired from performing! For $7 this used vinyl captures him rather nicely. Dig!
The annual Fringe Festival commenced and I took the boys to Gluttony where, in keeping with the gastronomic theme, they enjoyed an overpriced can of pop courtesy of my enduring generosity. Their excitement, as the photo attests, was enormous.
Claire, or as she’s known at Ashbourne’s Greenman Inn, Clare, took me on a wonderful outing to many great places. Here we sat beneath a tree and enjoyed lunch and leisurely conversation. Which, they tell me, is the point of lunch.
Being late February we then took in a cricket match. The ACC Bulls is a great country club. In October 1954 one of their finest H.R. Meyer took 6/65 against Langhorne Creek. He was 69 years old. Our best, I wish to believe, remains in front of us. Oh, and congratulations, H.R.
The month’s final sunset was comforting; joyous; an offering of deep warmth.
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January is here, with eyes that keenly glow

With New Year’s Eve out the road (bed early, eyes shut, ears blocking out the staccato soundtracks of various fireworks displays both legal and otherwise) we move to the serious business of holidays and relaxation or as my friend Nick calls it, relack.

Lake Bonney is our annual setting for this and we now have a bursting itinerary of traditional activities that commence when the teenaged boys race out of bed at the crack of 9.45am and, I suspect, continue to well after I’m safely a-slumber.

No carp were harmed (much) during the taking of this photo as I stylishly alighted Barmera’s jetty into the fresh depths of Lake Bonney.
The Hilton Hotel on South Road (the address is always given as a differentiator from the other Hilton) hosted (probably unknowingly) January’s Mystery Pub. Neither Claire nor I were responsible for the demise of this chip, but during its darkest moments did offer it thoughts and prayers. It would be unfair to say that this chip is the most exciting feature of the pub, so I won’t.
We had our annual late lunch at the Seafaring Fools cafĂ© on the Broadway. Here’s Claire enjoying a hot Milo.
There’s a $4.50 voucher at the Oodnadatta Roadhouse coming your way if you can guess which boy is currently learning at home.
Since confessing that, for the first time ever, I (in the fetching company of Claire) left Highway One and visited the historic town of Port Wakefield I have been flooded with stories from people who’ve actually been there too. Thanks to both of you. Let’s get some t-shirts made.
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New Year’s Eve, 2021

New Year’s Eve’s a funny old day. During daylight it’s one of my favourite days but once the sun’s down I lose interest.

As a teenager in Kapunda I remember regularly waking early on the last day of the year- often before anyone else at home- and in the still dawn riding my bike around town and evaluating everything through my decidedly adolescent eyes. The Main Street was quiet- there was not a HQ Holden to be seen or heard- and I’d feel something probably akin to gratitude for the place- my place- and wonder about the year ahead, due to get underway in a few, brief hours.

It was always a solitary exercise but I’d experience connectedness to my hot, dusty hometown.

Claire and I and the dogs have just returned from the beach where the loose streams of walkers along the wide, flat sand suggest many others have resisted a sleep-in and are also extracting what they can from 2021 before it’s too late.

Happy new year to you!

Early January the boys and I (and later Claire too) headed to Barmera on our traditional trip. Here’s the last known photograph of our yabby nets prior to them being hooked by some miserable Collingwood supporting sod.
With Alex turning thirteen he and I spent a night up in Hahndorf to mark his official ascent (or is it descent) into teenagerhood. It would be churlish to mention that I narrowly won the mini-golf, so I won’t.
Max had his birthday at the Beach House (it remains an effort not to call it Magic Mountain). It was a fun morning and my hearing, the audiologist tells me, will soon have recovered.
Late afternoon at the Kapunda Mine Chimney on our wedding day this selfie captured our photographers too. How often is a photo taken of the photographers? Not often enough so thank you both.
Here we are, mid-April, on our honeymoon in the Flinders having just had a picnic lunch. If you listen carefully to this photo you can hear the lonesome call of the crows.
At the annual Footy Almanac lunch at Australia’s best soup pub, the North Fitzroy Arms, the spicy pumpkin was, as Rick Stein himself might’ve enthusiastically said, tasty.
We e-cycled the Riesling Trail one June Saturday and Claire enlisted a stick to correct our host town’s spelling.
In early spring I spent two days writing while overlooking the beach at Port Elliot before Claire joined me and we went for a dawn walk to begin our weekend.
Alex received a retro record player for Christmas. In between him dropping the needle on some hippity-hop vinyl I ushered him into the sacred world of Ripper 76.
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November Rein(s)

The first Tuesday of the month saw me back the Melbourne Cup winner for the first time in over twenty years when Verry Elleegant saluted. Nevermind that I was unable to watch it live due to work commitments (ed- what type of unAustralian horror is this?). Invested the winnings wisely on donuts and pizza on our mortgage and superannuation.

Made the trip to Kapunda to watch some local cricket at Dutton Park where the dreadful weather meant we were spared the chore of actually seeing any action on the field. Am about to pitch a sit-com to a major network entitled Twelve Men in a Shed. Can’t fail.
One Friday evening we sat by the Murray and chatted of the past and the vast, sunny future.

I love the expansive utilitarianism of a community club and Cadell has an excellent example for all of your weekend refreshment needs. That’s the Cadell Club. Phone Fred on 13, after 3pm to make a booking.

Spent a lovely lunchtime at Caudo winery and Cadell has an excellent example for all of your weekend refreshment needs. That’s the Caudo winery. Phone Francie on 14, after 3pm to make a booking.
Morgan is a curious community with magnificent water-front mansions and two pubs, as they might say in Barossadeutsch, side-by-each in the middle of town. We popped by a craft store where Claire bought some gifts and I did not.

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October

Rocktober is an annual event on a certain blokey radio station where across the month they play Cold Chisel every fifteen minutes.

I’m starting my own series of themed months including Woktober in which I eat endless bowls of noodles. Jocktober means I’ll buy a new pair of underwear or eat haggis daily. Stocktober requires me to make gallons of soup or huge money on the currency exchange. In Hocktober I drink German white wine.

And Frocktober demands I get about in a dress. As is tradition.

I visited a place I worked at fifteen years’ ago and saw that this passive aggressive pissive sign is still there! Inaccuracy is always fashionable.
Got lost hiking near Chapel Hill and ended up taking refuge in the winery! It’s what Bear Grylls suggests.
Max’s school turned one hundred and he sang in the choir at the celebrations. Coincidentally, I was in my final year at Kapunda Primary when it also had its centenary!
The Kimba krew went to Barley Stacks winery where despite missing the wedding of Nug and Loz we all became friends for life.
I was chaperoned to the National Wine Centre by Claire one lovely Saturday. In the blind-tasting we scored a respectable 0/7.
The Whitlams personally invited us to The Gov last Thursday night. Sort of. OK, not really, or at all.
Rupert published one of my stories in The Australian. Payment is me being allowed to remain in his country.
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August and Everything After

Quick! There’s only 113 shopping days until Christmas. Let’s make a list. Let’s all watch Love Actually every day between now and then! Let’s eat some rambutans. Let’s write a letter to every winner of Eurovision. Let’s write a poem as if we were a cat. Let’s pretend P!nk is good.

Here’s some photos I took in August.

We love Onkaparinga and ventured down into the gorge.
This West Beach sand graffiti is both innocent and menacing. It’s a symbol of modern life. Or just a picture done one Sunday morning by someone with a stick.
Mystery Pub was at the Historian. How curious that the wall-art depicts people in a pub. Post-modernism, dudes.
Remember that episode of Bear Grylls’ Man v Wild when he makes camp in the Barossa and survives only on mettwurst and big Shiraz?
At the Broady Claire silently recreated her favourite mime. More post-modernism.
Edging the lawn is an endless and futile attempt to control one’s inner and outer worlds.

Happy with our city car park. Number 157 would’ve been a psychological and logistical nightmare.

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My July

Like the chorus of The Knack’s solitary 1979 hit “My Sharona” July was a rollicking treat as the following photographic record will attempt to show.

It was cold, but if we’d Icelandic guests I’m sure I’d have gotten up in the mornings and found them on the back lawn, sunbathing and sipping a drink through a curly novelty straw while playing Bjork on an old ghetto-blaster they’d found in my shed next to the mower and by the skimming shovel I bought at the Cleve Field Days.

A poet once described jetties as being “umbilical cords” to our better selves. They’re also freezing in winter. Jetties, not the cords.
While on our bi-annual Carrackalinga escape we popped in at Forktree Brewery. One reviewer labelled it, “beery.”
On our annual city trip we went to the museum, home of the Giant Squid. Alas, no accompanying Giant Chips.
The city trip began at the Tree Climb and this involved climbing trees.
July’s Mystery Pub was the Lady Burra and there were candles. NB- Claire suggests the Apple Cider could drop a horse. Caution urged!
This shark swallow you whole!
Lockdown required a fire and a Southward mug (c. 1992) of Sparkling Ale (c. 2021)

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If I was a dopey ex-marketing man I’d say, “How good’s June?”

With a long weekend, the official (and scientifically supported) start of winter on June 21 or 22, and our birthdays (Claire on the ninth and mine on the sixteenth) it’s an excellent month for open fires (home and quite possibly a pub), footy and, of course, putting the slow cooker to gentle and inviting work with pumpkin soup or a beef casserole or stew.

A stew is cooked on the stove while a casserole goes in the oven so what’s its name if it’s in a slow cooker? PM me with your answer to win a prize.

Spotted in Farrell Flat where it was the only living thing we saw. I allegedly once had seven passengers in my Exa one night in 1991. See Chubb for more details/legal advice.
Here’s Claire in Clare with her lovely hair, looking debonair and without a care.
Mystery Pub was the Grace Emily, and we were greeted by this phalanx of smiling beer taps.
Meanwhile up in the Onkaparinga national park the boys leapt up onto this table as if they’re goats.
Our dear friend Trish joined us for dinner at a Mongolian BBQ. I can’t remember how many Mongolians I ate.