Archive for September, 2017

Back in the land of the almost living for a few days and it is warm and dry. Someone stole my grass from the backyard while away but the bastards left the leaves! The front door wont lock as ground is so dry house has shifted. I still found it though. Luckily there is no climate change to impact further. In good, but puzzling, news the garage door still needs 4 attempts to actually open fully. Speaking of which, happy to report bowel movements are back to normal after all the imbibing. Sexie Coffee has gone and Oliver’s “real food” is about to open. For real. In meantime they have a coffee truck in car park but good news is the drive through opens back up on Thursday. The bad news is it is organic coffee.

Have booked our flights for short visit to Melbourne in December. Much like Premium Economy once having had taste of exit row seating hard to go back and realistically in the scheme of things $30 is not a big slug for the benefits. Of course only after booking you realise it means you cant check in online 24 hrs before hand now which wont help my OCD nature. For domestic flights I can probably cope, for international I could be in fetal position the week before. Speaking of latter we are hoping to see the Favourite Son and wifey when traversing the Middle East on way back from Ireland Fling in Feb 2018 but at present UAE banning all flights to Doha. We land in Dubai of course and could catch a flight to Oman, a dhow to Bahrain and then a camel to Doha but going to be tricky with only a few days in between flights. Have already crossed camel ride off bucket list. We may be stuck in that dump Dubai for a few days – the perils of international travel eh.

Good to be back in a state where they cover all sport and not just AFL. Seriously SA is worse than Victoria. Great to see Leishmann win the BMW and JD hovering. Its Spieth’s to lose though. No shocks in the one day in India. Looks like a Melbourne and Roosters final with the former winning. Broncs no chance, Cowboys a rough smokie to at least get to GF

In TV land a lot to catch up on but first The Emmys. Colbert was good but really a bit tired of all the political comment especially from “celebrities” .A great opening skit as always. Winners were generally deserving with a couple of notable exceptions. Handmaid and Big Lies deserved recognition. Baldwin did not (weak field) and really Veep is the new Modern Family and JLD – as much as I love her – is the new Sheldon. Its a good character but nothing new and never evolving. She gets cruder each year and thats about it. Again, not a strong field apart from Adlon and maybe Janney but really 6 times ? And of course the twittosphere erupted because Nice Hole didnt give a shout out to her two Cruise missiles. Those kids probably dont have a TV in their camp and are about 25 I think hence dont “need tucking in at night” which was the thrust of her argument. Speaking of thrusting what was the deal with her and Northman, E? I find her constant need to declare her love for Keefy both nauseating and suspicious and I think her kiss with Eric tells us who she wants strumming her G Chord. The lasting image of the night though probably was Hanoi Jane at 79

She has always looked good of course but the hair was odd. Immediately had flashbacks to I Dream of Jeannie and the sudden desire to rub something , wishes or not.

Luckily I then saw Lily Tomlin and the moment quickly passed

Red Rocked – Day 14

Posted: September 14, 2017 in Travel

We got up, drove to Adelaide and flew home. The end

So must be time for The Flashies

Flights Qantas is a solid reliable performer . All flights ran well. Qantas Club in Alice is very crowded but still an oasis in the desert. Streaming wifi on shorter flights is great when works.
Winner Alice Springs to Adelaide – on time , spare seats , good in flight wi fi

Accomodation Once again all good with mostly pros and only a few cons. In 2017 all accomodation should supply wifi even if not free . Sails in Desert is great and in particular runs all of their very busy tours expertly and efficiently . Double Tree Hilton in AS was excellent for a hotel . Good dining options, easy walk to town, lovely grounds. Hilltop Too in Hahndorf is very spacious and well appointed , quiet area , short walk to main street . Dove Cottage in Tanunda had slightly better provisions and space and a good location again. Amy’s was smallest of 3 but had wifi and washing/dryer. Easy walk to town, not its fault that the town of Auburn is dullsville .
Winner Dove Cottage

Dining 3 big entries which all offered something different and at a different price point. Sounds of Silence dinner was in a stunning location with great food , great company and plenty to drink. Appellation at Louise was of course a superb dinner with matching wines and service that went above and beyond. Comes at a price but not out of pace with similar degustations. And then Skillogaleee was the perfect meal for us at that time and delicious to boot.
Winner Appellation

Worst Dining Terroir in Auburn. Expensive and slow service .

Cellar Doors All good let’s face it . The paid for tasting at Bird in Hand was great for many reasons. Finding Hardys in Main Street of McLarenvale was a treat. We were lucky or smart enough to turn up early to most so had a good run at Paulette’sfor example. Turned up late afternoon at Grossets and had the place to ourselves ! Special mention for Corioles at McLaren Vale as being super friendly even sharing his lunch with us ! Teusner was unique both in presentation and owner drinking with us
Winner Bird in Hand

Breweries Prancing Ponywas big and fun. Barossa Valley Brewing was perfect for a Sunday afternoon drink with live music. Knappstein had the best actual beer but only one variety! Pikes was very generous with pours . Clare Valley Brewing had a good range but a poor tasting set up
Winner BV Brewing

Tours All of the Uluru tours were busy but ran well and efficiently . The dinner at Sunset was an amazing experience. Segway is a fantastic experience and none better than at Sunrise at Uluru. Kata Clysmic was a tad dull but still visually stunning especially from a distance . Camels at Sunset was a unique experience but a bit over priced .Kings Canyon was a big day but glad we did it
Winner Sunrise Segway at Uluru

Best ExperienceThe whole Field of Lights and Sounds of Silence dinner was a memorable experience and a great start to our time in Uluru

Our few days in Uluru were amazing and much like NYC in Feb 2015 don’t think could ever recapture the magic of the weather again for an extended stay . Cool enough to be pleasant and the colours amazing . More that that though it is a unique area that all Aussies should see. The car rental seemed to work ok and is a great way to do the Epicurean Trail. 9 days visiting wineries in a row is probably a bit much if you don’t have a break with some local natural attractions that aren’t lookouts!

As sad as one may be to leave two weeks is a good length of time to spend together on the road. Just ask CLP πŸ‘€ Qantas Club remains an excellent product – just remember bar doesn’t open until midday

Next up is a short week in Melboring in December but the biggun on horizon – misty as it may be – is Ireland Fling in Feb 2018

Life is good

Red Rock – Day 13

Posted: September 14, 2017 in Travel

Last full day of trip and sounds about right as pretty well over the winery routine by now. The only real job today is to find a place that will let us buy 2-3 and ship home 12! Not an easy task. We have a lunch booked at Skillogaleee and the day will fit in around that as we let countryside flow over us like cream on an eClare . Speaking of which I finally worked out why I may have put an extra kg or two this holiday – bloody full cream milk in our accomodation. At two cuppas a day it soon adds up.

Another excellent accomodation in Auburn but nothing to see in town unless the gang at Rising Sun has kicked on. At last we have Internet. Head out to Mintaro first and hopefully will be aMazed. Certainly stunned if find a good coffee .

First up was Taylor’s Winery which is a rather large concern. Nothing spectacular but we bought a couple so we could ship our other 9😏 Too early for Maze to be open – luckily – and sadly famous old pub closed for good but had a passable coffee at Reilly’s before heading onto Paulette’s for first cellar door . Very helpful lady and good value wine meant we bought 6 so we could pay for a dozen shipping and bring another 6 back later in day . 3 more wineries ? No problemo

We had a midday lunch booked at Skillogalee so a quick stop at Sussex and Squire on way. The lunch was excellent of course and just the right size. Didnt do another tasting as had a glass of wine with lunch but did buy a bottle of Riesling. Then onto Clare Valley Brewing Co where this strange phenomenon during the day continued. Being social butterflies we love to engage in conversation and the subject of Terroir always came up. It must be the sacred cow in the district because as soon as we mentioned we were not greatly impressed the temperature in the cellar door dropped 5 degrees . And it was only 8 to start with ! In Hahndorf don’t mention the war , in Clare don’t mention Terroir. In Barossa don’t mention Hunter Valley 😏

Strangely the ” Winery routine” had kicked in again so we headed off to Shut the Gate to get that pesky last 3 bottles to make another dozen. Nice cellar door where you even get some cheese and crackers. Then back to Paulette’s to ship off last dozen – which I think brings total to 6 dozen😳 Yes you can buy many of these from Dan et al but not really the same eh. This way can add freight costs on too …… Back home because I think I had challenged the driving Gods enough and then one last walk into town for a last beer at The Rising Sun to ironically set the sun on our wonderful holiday . This pub is rather highly regarded but not sure why – at 3 pm in afternoon there were at least 6 kids aged under 10 in the public bar and it is a small area!

A quiet night then in preparation for drive back to Adelaide in morning, return car, catch plane , drive home to Nambour . A full day but not the fun kind.

Could be a lazy hour in Qantas Club at Adelaide mind you if things go according to plan

Red Rock – Day 12

Posted: September 13, 2017 in Travel

After a brief flirtation with warmth yesterday it’s back to a more pleasant 13-14 degrees today . In Qld we get Coastal Wind warnings . In SA they get “Sheep Graziers” alerts . Of course that may be nothing to do with weather but rather their behaviour after a few vinos 😏

I do declare it’s time for the Clare. Another shortish drive just under the hour should have us knocking on door of first flat champers location just after 10 . Good run up through some lovely country – fields of canola interspersed with fields of green stuff . Drove on through Auburn to Clare for a coffee at Wild Saffron. Not wild about it but not mad either . I won another award just walking the street though

Then onto Knappstein Winery and Brewery for first one of the day. Wine nothing special and sadly only one beer to try but it was very good. A quick detour to Brooks lookout for some reason as by now it was grey cloudy ….. and rainy. Getting a bit peckish by now so checked out Mr Micks Cellar and Kitchen. The good thing about their wine is it is all one price – $17 a bottle regardless of colour . I say that is a big step forward for race relations in this country. Of course it all tasted good at that price as did the Tapas in the restaurant. Got a quick 6 so we could also ship back 6 of the good stuff too – wine that is, not Tapas 😏

Well rested so on to Seven Hills and Pikes Beer and Wines. 5 mins away and a short but heavy storm hit with very small hail. Seven Hills was a classy looking place with no $17 wine. Nothing grabbed us either except a frisky Jesuit Priest. Had the beer paddle at Pikes which is always good before sampling the wine. We bought a bottle of white if only to start on that next dozen to ship

By now it was time to check into our lodgings for two nights – Amy’s in Auburn – before heading out a bit later to nearby Grossetts. And by nearby I mean walking distance

The cellar door at Grossets was excellent of course and very relaxing not having to remember where I parked the car . All of our lodgings have come with plenty of food and this one is no different including a large cheese platter. Maybe just a wafer thin slice before heading out to The Rising Sun a bit later for dinner . Another big day

And another to follow tomorrow I am guessing

Update: After the short walk into town for dinner at The Rising Sun pub we could hardly get in the door with the crowd ! Apparently it was Balaclava Cup day at the races and they had started a while ago. Ok just up the road and Terroir Auburn looked good. They should have been wearing Balaclavas! It was local appreciation night and a fixed $55 ea for 3 courses. Ok , when in Rome. Gave us menu and drinks list , came back a little later for drink orders and about to give them when he told us ” the fridge is 18 degrees and can’t fix it so no white wine or beer ” . Then a 30 min wait for each course which was ok but nothing special but after main course we said can we cancel dessert please. Ok but it will still be $55 ea as ” it is local appreciation night”

Makes me appreciate not being a local . Really expected Basil Fawlty to walk out next in his Gourmet night attire

Red Rock – Day 11

Posted: September 12, 2017 in Travel

Already ? 😰 Last full day on Barossa and haven’t pulled up too bad after big night . More tired than seedy . Today is Spa day but first a couple of wineries in morning and another coffee place. Returning to Seppeltsfield around lunch for a picnic hamper as can still do belt up and we can’t have that on holidays. Off to Henschkes then. Because it opens at 9 am ….duh.

Great wine selection and cellar door but sadly Hill of Grace not for tasting . At 9:05 a couple in front of us were on the last red and had ordered two dozen already . Suddenly I felt like an amateur at this squeezed grape caper. Then onto Bean Addiction Roasters for a coffee which again while very hot not exceptional in any other way . Sadly the Stein Taphouse next door was not open until midday – I tend to shine more in the hoppy yeast arena. Next up was Torbreck which is in a beautiful location with cellar door to match. Great range once again but we were being more suspect now as end nears and we have to get this stuff home!

Time to make our way to Seppeltsfield to pick up our picnic hamper at midday at what was turning out to be a glorious day . But first on the way drop into Izway Winery nearby as a new up and comer . Cellar door closed but owner saw us and came over and gave us a tasting – we had sampled the Shiraz last night at Appellation. Then onto Seppeltsfield for a tasting which didn’t impress greatly before picking up hamper and settling in on the lawns for a feed and a rest . Excellent range of food fit the bill perfectly

Home then for quick change of underwear before onto Endota Spa at Novotel resort . We had the foot bath, remedial massage and spa soak with champers 90 min package which was all wonderful of course . Except #firstworldproblems . Dont pour the Champers out before massage starts . I am no scientist – anymore – but bubbles don’t last for > 60 mins. Flat warm champers is well ….. Reisling I guess . Damn I have become a wine expert this last week

One thing I did pick up from the locals when visiting cellar doors is come prepared 😏

So our stay in Tanunda comes to an end and you can never visit all the wineries you want …. and drive at least. On to Clare Valley tomorrow for two days – the home of warm flat champers


Red Rock – Day 10

Posted: September 11, 2017 in Travel

Accomodation is certainly excellent and in a quiet area . Today is first of two days with events on to celebrate CLPs upcoming birthday . We always celebrate birthdays together with a special dinner and often a stay in a classy room or a spa package. (I try to leave the country of course usually for mine but still hook in early – I may be old but not stupid ) As already in nice digs it seems the spa package is a natch. We like a bit of luxury as we get old and I checked last night – the road is already clean.

So the real issue today is to be sensible so one can enjoy tonight’s feast. Now remember I did say was getting older so let’s see how plan holds up by end of day . As no sculptures in the area – there is a God 😎 – how does one fill in those pesky 4 hrs between getting out of bed and wineries opening. Check out the back yard for plumage. Hey there are doves. Wait a minute …. Dove Cottage. I assumed it was just the soap they used

It’s fair to say that the Main Street of Tanunda does not have the same charm of Hahndorf. Let’s try for our first good coffee in SA . This will involve heading out to Angaston and Nuriootpa nearby and a fair amount of luck I imagine . There are several to try of course but Bean Addiction sounds about right . Well it did until saw it is closed on Mondays . Memories of Baltimore come flooding back .

So it was Barista Sista then in Nuriootpa . I wouldn’t get the gold medals out just yet but very passable. The main winery to see this morning was Teusner both being fans of the Bilmore Shiraz amongst others . It’s a complex process though where you have to join Righteous Society and then book in a cellar door 24 hrs prior. We did this but no response yet so headed on to Taste of Eden Valley in Angaston for 10 am opening. Good way to try some wineries that don’t have cellar doors. By now Tuesner contacted us to say 11 am was it. This meant things were a bit tight to do justice to Yalumba but we took some photos of magnificent building . Then onto Tuesner and from outside you would not be impressed. The inside don’t get the superlatives rolling of the tongue either as basically the “cellar door” is in the office in a tin shed with Shazza and Bazza banging away on keyboards while you sip. The place is in rebuilding stage though and when you taste the range you forgive the surroundings. Good portions and the owner drinks with you while tasting! We bought several and by now was feeling rather flushed of face

The wobbly boot was on now but it was the left foot and I accelerate with the right so we are sweet. Onto Maggie Beers farm for some lunch and no alcohol . Perfect light fodder in keeping with plan. Then onto Hewitson and Turkey Flat which were both very fine cellar doors but to be fair maybe did not do them justice after imbibing at Tuesner .

By then it was time to head home for a bit and detoxify . I think the French have a word for it

After a rest and bath time to put on the finery and head out to Appellation at The Louise in Seppeltsfield. The biggest concern is by time they bring out the first course I am usually in bed on this trip.

Stunning meal in a glorious location. A drink on the verandah as sun set – you know if not cloudy – and then a 4 course degustation with matching wines. We both chose different options so we would get different wines. With age comes wisdom. Mind you my second wine was 20% ABV that knocked me for a while as these wines were half glasses each time ! A wonderful first half of birthday celebrations if a tad tired the next morn

Red Rock – Day 9

Posted: September 10, 2017 in Travel

Time to say auf wiedersehen to Hahndorf or as we say in the Borough pack up your sausage and leave. Great to have extended stays in places where u can decamp properly and 4 nights has been great . There was a very embarrassing sight this morning though

A full decanter of port untouched. Worse still choccies left unwrappped! The other surprising thing here and in Tanunda digs ahead – no wifi!

Anyhoo another great thing about the Epicurean trail is the next enclave of grape houses is only an hour away in Tanunda. A leisurely pack followed by an even more leisurely drive should have me well leisured out as we approach Tanunda on Sunda from the south which just happens to be the locale of a couple of dives like St Hallet . Well it is the day of our Lord . Apparently .

Fist some quirk. The worlds largest Rocking Horse and the Whispering Wall. How some cod ordinary pyramid in Giza keeps these pearlers off the 7 Wonders list is beyond me

Now the odd thing was at said rocking horse there was a Groovy Grape bus full of about 10 dolly birds ready for Flemington . Seemed an odd choice. Then at the Whispering Wall – same bus ! We then drove onto Jacobs Creek as first stop and fark me. It was there and the Sheilas were already crowding the free drink area !

The cellar door was nothing special and thought if we headed to St Hallet we should be safe from the gaggle of geese. We were. Very familiar with SH and not disappointed . Then onto Grant Burge and again familiar stuff especially the sparkly stuff . By now thought probably time to check into Dove Cote at Tanunda because I checked my urine and it said I needed to drink more ! Better start walking then eh

A quick decamp and walk into town for a quick lunch and leisurely stroll to an old fave Chateau Tanunda . Then back home for a rest in our very comfortable lodgings – did I mention there was a spa bath πŸ˜‰ Back out later to check out nearby Brewery before grabbing some dinner

Great late afternoon at Barossa Valley Brewing with usual paddle and some live music. Then a walk back into town for a good old steak at The Clubhouse before an easy walk home to check out the pillow situation .

Hey as it turns out I don’t need a pillow after all. Silly bunt

Red Rock – Day 8

Posted: September 9, 2017 in Travel

Last full day in Hahndorf or is that last day of being full ? Weather seems much the same as has been for stay – cool, cloudy, some showers some sun. Time to head out to Mt Lofty for some scenic views hopefully before one last winery and maybe even squeeze in a brewery

Ok make that no sun or showers but rather cool. Drive up to Mt Lofty summit first which is a great view but not so much today. Mt Lofty house is rather stunning though. As gardens not open yet a detour into Stirling for some more sculptures and a coffee. Then back to Mt Lofty botanical gardens which didn’t impress much but was a good walk. Mind you I was rathr pissed off now by constant interactions with cyclists on this road – the most ignorant assholes on the road. Single file ya dipshits

We were both a bit over wine today as still a week ahead and want to be ripe for Tanunda starting tomorrow. So we pulled on our chaps and headed to Prancing Pony Brewery for a paddle and a pizza as you do. The paddle apparently also came with beer but by then couldn’t sit down

Back home for a rest from driving – and bloody cyclists – before a leisurely stroll into Hahndorf Main Street this afternoon .

Pleasant walk and streets not too crowded . It’s not Montville 😏 Plenty of quirky little stores but all rather expensive . We eventually settled on a cafe with ” the best coffee in Hahndorf” . In retrospect that could be akin to “best coffee in the USA ” Very nice afternoon as sun slowly started to peek through

We will walk back into town later for dinner. Must say it is pleasant to have less alcohol on board and a clearer head for all this walking . Should prevent any mishaps.

Or at least you would think so eh

Sunda is Tanunda

Red Rock – Day 7

Posted: September 8, 2017 in Travel

Sadly most establishments of the imbibing kind don’t open doors until 10-11 am let alone the bar. Being a morning person this does leave a chunk of time in the mornings to fill in and already done ” Main Street Hahndorf” in the 5 mins yesterday waiting for hair to dry. We do have Udder Delights High Chesse Tea at midday and if I can’t get a Monty Python gag in there somewhere then simply not trying. Apparently there are other things to see in area that don’t involve opening mouth first unless it is in awe and wonder .

Update: The Scupltures of Mt Barker are no Mt Rushmore. A pleasant drive though through a lovely little town . And got some jam too at a farm place

By now the sun was over the yardarm which was odd as only 10 am and a cloudy day . Still onward and upward to Petaluma – known for its sparkling wines. In hindsight this association escapes me . Then it was Bird in Hand and as we approached almost scraped the rental trying to get past a fucking long limo parked in the narrow entry road. This didn’t look good – sure enough a dozen giggling Sheilas fronting the tasting area ! We snuck down the back and collared a youngun and as luck would have it there were tasting options for $15 each in a magnificent dimly lit area with barrels and no Sheilas. Money well spent and first time I recall when all 6 tastings – sparkling, white and red – were all excellent and worthy of purchase. Having paid our $15 we got 15% of purchases and free freight for 6 or more. Should I be concerned we have already shipped home 2 dozen after 2 days πŸ‘€ Bird in the Hand is tres impressive .

A quick detour to ArtWine before our high tea at Udder Delights. Once again the local Fiano was very passable. The high tea requires 24 notice for preparation of food and the reason for this eludes me still. It was fine of course but nothing jumped off the plate – luckily – as the item requiring such long preparation. We were in a cellar by ourselves which was great but also meant service was rather poor. I can now say I have had a High Cheese Tea but not sure when that would ever come up in conversation in the high brow groups I hang with

The face was flushed and it was only 12 degrees outside so assumed I could be feeling no pain so a quick detour home to rest the liver for an hour before the pm assault on 3 wineries nearby including a Choc O Vino which I can only hope doesn’t involve Anthony Mundine .

Well rested we headed off to The Lane. I should have rested longer. Not sure why but as opposed to Parrot in my Palm I couldn’t find one wine that didn’t need a spit bucket adjacent. No harm no foul. On to Shaw and Smith. Much like PIMP it was a tasting selection for $ which is fine but the guy needs to go back to school. He said for $14 you get 5 x 40 ml pours which for drivers is two glasses. I always thought a glass was 150 mls and anyway if that was 40 ml you need a new pipette pal. Anyhoo, wine was ok and setting great . Then onto Hahndorf Hills winery for final visit and Choc O Vino. They make a big deal of the Cape Grim water they provide as being so pure even ice cubes pollute it. So why not freeze it to make your ice cubes if needed ? Duh. Wines were so so , chocolates ok but maybe by now our palates had dulled . Time to head home and maybe a walk into town later for a cleansing beer . I see toast and jam for dinner in our immediate future

Red Rock – Day 6

Posted: September 7, 2017 in Travel

At last we have left that beautiful weather behind 😰 The house is in a great location and plenty of provisions and amenities but once again pillow selection is poor and then there is the wifi issue. May well be a issue more but when you list ” internet access” as a feature it would help if you added the “paid” in front as they do on for this listing. Save a lot of messages back and forth trying to work out why wifi not working!

It’s a gray and gloomy day at present which is not a great issue on day 1 but could wear thin by Saturday if doesn’t lift . Plan is to visit some wineries and breweries in general area and maybe even a High Tea of the cheese variety at Udder Delights. Of course when driving one does have to behave a bit. I look forward to late afternoons when park the car and walk into town with the wobbly boot primed for activity . But first let’s walk the street of Hahndorf before the tourists descend en masse on Saturday. Don’t you just hate tourists ?

High Cheese not available until tomorrow so decided to drive down to McLaren Vale today instead. Pleasant drive and first up was a beer paddle at Red Poles followed by coffee and cheese board at Blessed Cheese in Main Street . Time for a stroll then along said street to Hardy’s Tintara Cellar door. Very impressive and first bottles of the day purchased.

Back into car and short drives between several wineries all with welcoming and friendly Cellar doors – Paxton , Coriole , D’arenberg and Wirra Wirra. At the last we had another platter and were also able to courier home a mixed dozen we had bought during the day . Great service all round

A magic day to begin our SA winery odyssey . Officially shagged now but too early for bed. Apparently. Guess those Cheese platters won’t finish themselves.
Luckily drinking a lot of alcohol and eating wads of cheese and cured meats have no side effects on general health.