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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.

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Onkaparinga: farts, sticks and socks

Stand By Me remains a favourite film and I was reminded of this yesterday whilst hiking with the boys and two of their friends in Onkaparinga Gorge.

I once heard that most beer commercials will feature a group of four men (not women) drinking together. It’s not two men because this can appear a little intimate and conflicts with the stereotypical image at play in beer drinking contexts. Neither is it three as this is an odd number and suggests two friends and an outsider and an uncomfortable, unbeery dynamic. So, the aesthetic and psychological forces mean that four works best for the assumed audience.

The director, Rob Reiner, might have known this numerical truth when making his film about Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern going on a secret hike across Oregon to find a dead body. But, of course, it’s really about friendship and being on the cusp of surrendering their innocence. I had the afternoon off and thought it timely to get out of the house and into nature. There were four boys and me in the car and it took thirty minutes to get there. Most of the conversation was about farts. It was ridiculous and compelling. Farts never go out of style when you’re twelve.

In blustery conditions we hiked the Punchbowl Link Trail on which we saw no-one. The ground was soggy and we all grabbed walking sticks for beyond a torch there’s not many objects that resonate so enduringly with a boy than a stick.

Another inescapable boyhood trait is for wearing socks outside. Why is this? With a couple kilometres to go we again struck some muddy terrain and one of the boys took off his shoes and completed the hike in his socks which, I’m sure, will never be that vibrant yellow again. Apologies to his parents. Apologies to the socks. Us adults are helpless against this incurable desire. It’s a rite of passage if not a daily habit. Maslow might argue that wearing socks in mud leads to self-actualisation, but maybe not.

Back at the car we all scraped our shoes on the road to get rid of the mud. It didn’t work. We drove down from the hills and home towards the beach. There was no mention of farts.

It was a fun afternoon and I was aware of our fortune in being able to venture to this isolated trail when so many across our country can not enjoy some distant exercise, and for the boys to be with each other in a time and place they might remember, or not.

Stand By Me is narrated by a writer played by the excellent Richard Dreyfuss and he’s telling this very story. In the final scene he types on his computer screen-

I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?