Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

The Decemberists Day 7

Posted: December 9, 2017 in Travel

If Old Whiskers can rest on the 7th day surely I can too ? It’s been a full week indeed and not quite over yet . A quick debrief at Mitch and Cazz’s place mid morning with promise of a BBQ and threat of more alcohol. It’s a coolish day again so think we can walk the 25 mins to get there as not quite convinced I should be driving just yet . Back early afternoon for a Spa and a nap and hope the two don’t cross over in that dangerous way that can happen . Then a family BBQ on site here at hotel for dinner before falling into bed and then early start back to airport tomorrow for flight home. That’s the plan folks. Stay tuned

Pleasant walk and even met a few locals. Solid people but not very talkative. A couple of Peronis and a sausage sizzle was molto bene. That’s Itie for more grog. Last chance to talk to some people for a while and round out a great 24 hrs. Of course the usual hanger oners will still be around tonight

A rest bordering on a nap filled in the first hour home and then a Spa did most of the rest . Time for one more protein injection washed down with the red stuff then. My brother Freddo passed on some very useful info yesterday while pillaging at local Dan Murphy’s which will now pass on to the masses. He knows his wine this lad and so was interesting to see him pick up on the old DM trick of having an older vintage on shelf rather than the good stuff. Now you and me may think that a 2014 Shiraz must be better value than the 2015 of same grape. Nope , not the case always if often. Especially when storage as in DM could be in question for that longer period . Remember younguns I inform as I enthrall

We are checked in online for flight home now so just have to get the car back in one piece in the general location of the plane take off place . But first I have to traverse the twenty paces from room to BBQ area while carrying two bottles of St Hubert Cab Merlot and three Ritz crackers. I say always be prepared because you never know when you will come across cheese. Many don’t know this but the first draft of The Newcastle Song was “ Dont you ever let a cheese go by “

Lovely night with family again with plenty of food and wine to boot .It will be sad to leave them all but the memories – and photos – last

After 8:30 pm which means it’s bedtime. Of course in Victoria it also means it’s bloody daylight still!

Over and out Dudes and Dudettes. James Bond will return in Ireland Fling February 2018

The Decemberists Day 6

Posted: December 8, 2017 in Travel

Solid rain throughout the night and still moist this morning . Change of pace today as the tourist part of week comes to a halt and we celebrate family . Luckily with this family there won’t be any noticeable drop off in drinking . A short 40 minute drive to Eltham means we have to fill in the morning somehow. Luckily Healesville has as many nail salons as pubs so that is 45 minutes sorted . Not sure what CLP will do though

Our short stay in Healesville was very pleasant and relaxing. We now leave our more salubrious accomodation of last few nights for a more standard “ motor inn”. We did apparently book a Queen Spa suite though so who knows . Of course in Eltham a Spa may simply mean the shower is installed upside down.

Good run down to Eltham as weather started to clear and even though arrived at 11:30 our room was ready . First knob kiss of the day . Room looks fine and as a pleasant day now even had time for a swim as we met various relatives and friends already here

Alcohol Update 1 pm. 0%

Walked up to small shopping centre 300m up the road for a quick bite of lunch which was harder to achieve then it really should be . A slow focaccia and a bottle of water will do for now. A quite relaxing afternoon in preparation for a long night . Or short morning .

Alcohol Update 5 pm. 0%

Only had to walk across road to Ballara Reception Complex and it is a beautiful setting and the weather had been kind

First surprise of the night was the engagement party became a wedding! Great service for a great couple. A few speeches and yummo food and we were away. Great to catch up with nephews and nieces etc but I didn’t mingle too much as was waiting for the dancing and dint want a full card. I need not have been concerned. As always the time passes so quickly and before you know it the lights are back on and the doors locked. A wonderful night and a short stumble home

Alcohol Update 12:01 am. Help

Officially a tad seedy this morning . Must have been the food because I only had one bottle all night . Honest

The Decemberists Day 5

Posted: December 7, 2017 in Travel

Schofield Cottage is in a quiet secluded area where axe murderers could thrive and while the pillows may well have been used as sandbags last weekend slept ok. To be fair the late afternoon imbibing yesterday may have contributed to head feeling a tad restless and seemingly unattached. The day looks ok weather wise although rain is predicted later in day which could impact on planned walk to brewery and stumble home . Stay tuned

Today is our only full day in Yarra Valley and by end of it expect to be full indeed. Picking a couple of breweries will be easy, narrowing down Melbourne Cup field of wineries to a winning trifecta could be tricky . At least made sure we had a light breakfast today . Fool me once shame on me , fool me twice sounds about right . First up a coffee and a look at the main street shops. Ah crap, they are open. Poor planning by me fair call.

First up local attraction wise is Selovers Lookout. Lovely view of a barbed wire fence and some water in the distance. Se French are easily pleased as croissants prove time and time again.

First winery of the day is Oakridge. Great place but a rather pretentious youth masquerading as Sommelier . He may settle down when he starts shaving. Wine was fine and they would ship back our other 5 bottles so did the math and bought 6 to make up the dozen. “ ah that is only 11 Sir” . See pretentious and a math whizz to boot . Now we just have to stop buying rest of day……

Back to Frenchie theme so onto Napoleone Brewery . Given it’s French flavour assuming it has one entrance and 17 exits . Impressive looking place that likely goes off like a frog in a sock on a weekend . A frog with no legs left that is . Had the tasting paddle and a bag of chips as a bit peckish by now

The buzz was on by now which means time to find that middle winery. As were on St Hubert’s seemed reasonable to try their winery . Another kinda pushy pourer type person but wine was fine and reasonably priced and when he said buy 3 get one free well what can one do . Still a few days left after all. Of interest here in the YV , the folk don’t like it if you rubbish Chardonnay . Tough luck pal . I don’t mind butter but not a fan of it like Marlon Brando was.

It was time to find a place that did the grape juice caper but also some food. Tarrawarra Estate fit the bill but Restaurant closed for orders at 1 pm and it was 12:59 as we parked car . CLP turned on the charm and we got a table and even could do a wine tasting first . Would need to be something special to entice a purchase at this stage and it wasn’t . Perfectly acceptable of course though. The lunch was exquisite mind you and by end it was fast approaching 3 pm and we still had to fit in nana nap before walking down to brewery later

These Victorians know their weather and as predicted started raining at 4 pm. This allowed CLP to get her beauty sleep in as the walk was off the table now and would be replaced by a quick drive to Watts River Brewery at 4:30 pm for a refreshing ale rather than a session . Not a bad thing necessarily after a long morning . And an extra half hour to sober up first. The beer was fine but the ambience lacking unless you have a thing for sheds and guys with sideburns. To be honest I find if ya get off the merry go round after a few laps it’s hard to get back on. Especially if you have been drinking

Glad in the end we didn’t make an afternoon of it as not only was the enthusiasm waning but it was raining quite heavily even with thunder around .

And that folks is what we call full circle in the trade

The Decemberists Day 4

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Travel

Last day in Mornington so let’s have a nice light breakfast and be on our way

Bucket ! Lordy Lordy . Ok that will keep us going for a few hours . A quick walk around neighbourhood before bidding adieu to our wonderful hosts and hitting the road for Healesville. A quick stop in Ferntree Gully for a very passable coffee and then onto Coldstream . A festivus miracle, a brewery is open. Great place and had the usual paddle followed by a pot of choice. It was great that a couple of ciders included as well so that I got my two fruit portions for the day . It’s the home of the Shivering Man and now have T Shirt to prove it

In continuing signs of maturity I passed on the tastings at Domaine Chandon as we made our way north. It is mostly bubbles after all 😉 I don’t go too much by “ standard drinks” measure – when face feels flushed time to stop if still driving . It is a lovely location but have been there before . Fangoo stood under a Ficus so mission accomplished

As we were still ahead of check in time at Schofield Cottage we stopped for lunch in Healesville. It’s a quaint little town with quaint little people. Our accomodation looks the goods with plenty of room and in a quiet area

Car safely tucked in for night – which kicks in around 9 pm here ! – so time to head into town on foot and make mischief or at least momentarily lasting memories. Four Pillars Gin soakery is of course a famous location here so we kicked off with the 5 Gin tastings and obligatory info on process which while interesting did not take mind off burning throat . Lets finish with a cocktail as you do

Half cut by now so time for a bit more walking which takes longer when not in a straight line trust me! Sadly Innocent Bystander was between Four Pillars and home and would have been rude not to drop in for a quenching ale. Smart but rude. Looks a great place although maybe a little low brow with moscato slushies available . Had a very nice pint of 6.3% Hargreaves Hill IPA and if any further proof needed we were a tad sozzled we bought matching T Shirts to be unveiled at family BBQ on Saturday

So on a day mainly pencilled in for get from A to B we achieved a lot. Luckily I have the photos to remember it tomorrow. Even more thankful there are no wineries in Yarra Valley to tempt the foolhardy tomorrow . Looks like one cafe and a second hand tractor place is it

The Decemberists Day 3

Posted: December 5, 2017 in Travel

CLP now calls me her little social butterfly after suggesting we invite hosts to share a bottle of red we purchased last night. They also bought a bottle along so once again too much to eat and drink yada yada yada. Another day has dawned and weather seems very pleasant . No rain and no heat . Once again actual planning is somewhat hampered by fact so many places of interest are closed on Tuesdays! A rather unnecessarily large cooked breakfast means first stop may be along walk on the beach and then let the day flow over us with the promise of no mingling after hours . Promise

Checked out another golf course – The Dunes – on way to beach. Not great beach walking weather but at least not raining . And no other people stupid enough to be on the beach in this weather . The sunnies kept the sand out of eyes at least .

With the threat of having to spend time at the Ashcombe Maze and Lavender Emporium looming large I quickly alerted all local tour operators to descend immediately and was suitably pleased when first big busload of Japanese rocked in a minute later thus making paying $18.50 to walk around in a circle even less appealing then it already was. Sweet, on to wineries . First up was Montalto Winery and Olive grove. I therefore assumed we would get a martini with each olive but was wrong again. Had the requisite tasting and then a short walk through an interesting array of sculptures

Time for a quick coffee at nearby Cellar & Pantry before dropping in at Polperro Winery . Very impressive cellar door with little Dutch boy Eric running the show . Very informative time spent with someone who actually seems to enjoy his job. It was a small intimate room so was happy we were guzzling the last one as a busload from nearby low security twilight home rocked him with zimmer frames and knitting needles. Eric the half a bee would have his work cut out for him

By now was a bit peckish and flushed of face so must be lunch time . Luckily Port Phillip Estate was nearby with world renowned Restaurant attached . It was closed . We had a quick tasting with the June Dally Watkins drop out behind the counter before settling in for the “ bistro” cheeky lunch 3 course surprise . Compared to Eric this was clearly just a job for said lass and not a passion. Unlike her love of mascara and makeup. Still it was a stunning location and the meal was passable if not memorable . I forget .

The wobbly boot was well attached by now and with no breweries open nearby we concluded we were tired of tasting Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for now so let’s head home for a cuppa and a lie down. Better be careful that bus from the home may come and pick us up ! I prefer to think of it as common sense . I was driving – now she tells me – and pushing my luck and not as if it was our last day . Eric had suggested 3 wineries a day is enough but then he is Dutch. I think 3 wineries between each brewery is enough but our options were limited . It has been a wonderful short stay in Mornington Peninsula but will remember in future not to be here on Monday / Tuesday if partaking in the drinking caper

One thing worth noting for visitors – and confirmed by hosts – is that the “taste pour” is on the small side in this area . More like the 10-15 ml aliquot of panadol elixir you give kiddies which is appropriate when discussing Chardonnay really. Not a bad thing of course but very noticeable especially when usually a tasting fee and a limited range of 5-6 wines. Not really a complaint as such just an observation . I inform as I amuse , it’s in my DNA

Fear not though fans as on to Healesville tomorrow for 2 days which does have wineries and breweries aplenty . And even Four Pillars Gin Soakery . Could be just the Tonic I need.

I’m here all week, try the veal

The Decemberists Day 2

Posted: December 4, 2017 in Travel

Very quiet and peaceful area. Good nights sleep – or what passes for good these days . Walked around neighbourhood for some exercise before sitting down to our first prepared breakfast . Weather overcast but today could be best day of week so plan is head down to Cape Schnack for some golf courses, a lighthouse and a cliff to fall off if the mood takes me . A circuitous route planned so that after our fill of nature – ie 23 mins – we can stumble upon some wineries just on opening time. I may be old but I ain’t dumb . Strange thing here though , at least to me, is so many places closed during week or at least Mon/Tue. Seems to be very much a weekend locale catering for bored Melbournites?

Occasional shower did not dampen our spirits let alone the road so headed off to Moonah Links first and then onto National and Cape Schnack. Great looking courses but glad don’t have to rake the bunkers . They did make me mow though when they heard of my prowess with the short green stuff.

Living life on the edge we decided to stop in at nearby Peninsula Hot Springs to see if any pools needed level adjustment. Seemed easier than finding a toilet . As luck would have only about 120 Asians roaming the grounds so we got into our bathers and joined the hordes. Good value if you can stay all day but that wine won’t drink itself

Time for some alcohol and food and in that order please. First up a quick trip back to Moonah Links for a beer and buy a local shirt and then stopped in at Cups Estate and it was excellent . The tapas menu was simply superb and in an amazing cellar door. The bar had been set high. Luckily alcohol tends to lower it….

Time for that pesky lighthouse as something resembling the sun started to peek through. Good to walk off that substantial lunch . By the Grace of God I didn’t fall off a cliff but did throw some rocks at some clown on the beach. She wouldn’t keep still though !

Having sobered up meant it was time for more wineries so we headed off to T’Gallant as it sounded like a place I would naturally fit in well and may even be asked to stay . Then on to Ten Minutes by Tractor which oddly was 30 mins by car. Must have fast tractors in Victoria. We picked up a very nice Pinot to drink one night here . Ok tonight , ya got me. Then picked up some salads for dinner and headed home via Arthur’s seat for some lovely views.

It had been a wonderful first day and I get to plan tomorrow . The highlight was while CLP was in the loo I asked the lady at Tractor Town to put some Chardonnay in her glass as she loves the stuff. When she returned I told her it was the famous 2015 Pinot Grigio so she took a large swig.

Ya get your laughs where u can on the road folks

The Decemberists Day 1

Posted: December 3, 2017 in Travel

No not the indie rock band from Portland – although did leave some DNA there earlier this year – but rather the rocking duo’s latest adventure . Seemed like a sound plan at the time to escape the rain and gloom of Qld for a week of sunshine in Victoria. Hmm. Ok. Well it’s a great time to catch up with far flung family for Mitch’s engagement party at end of week. Speaking of family yesterday was a wonderful time celebrating Ryan’s first birthday in Toowoomba with all the kids and grandkids. Love to see the cousins get together

So for this short soujourn we have a few days at an Air BnB in Mornington Peninsula before a couple of days in Healesville before congregating at Eltham at end of week for family celebration . Flying out early Sunday morning to Melboring and then pick up car and head off in general south east direction until we hit water . With current deluge there we may do that before we leave the car park! There could be wineries and breweries involved for the week but generally I am adverse to those type of activities. But it is December ….

Good flight down and arrived on time to some scuds and coolish weather . As always picking up the car rental is a pain in the ass and an expensive one to boot. Getting out of airport is always tricky especially in driving rain but we made it and took a slightly circuitous route to avoid toll roads and even stopped in Camberwell for a very passable lunch . Arrived at Musicians Retreat for our 3 night stay in Rosebud. Looks very comfortable and quiet .

After unpacking and a quick cuppa we decided to head down to Portsea for a drive as weather was mostly clear and had fond memories of the hotel overlooking the sea from many years ago. It’s still there but does seem more built in now . Mind you we didn’t have to wait long for a beer and had our choice of any table in the outdoor beer garden. As expected your average Victorian is a pussy and has to be indoor if temp drops below 25 . Apparently . A long walk on a short pier and time to head home for an early night after catching up on some cricket

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 👀 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