Journal of the far side – Post 3: Peanut Butter Glasses

It’s 07:31 on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

As the hastily-grabbed selfie shows, I’m being force-fed very small peanut butter sandwiches. My glasses, now covered in the sticky delight, have learned to stay out of the way, but my mouth has no choice because Alice has decided that we need to share part two of her breakfast…

This is the reality of our Australian adventure, and something wonderful is happening… I’m getting to bond with my granddaughter.

When she was born we had only a little time together. Matt and Medi, my son and our daughter-in-law, lived in Rotherhithe, across the river Thames from Canary Wharf.

We live in Cumbria, which is as far from London as you can get without entering Scotland.

The inevitable result was that we didn’t get chance to spend enough time with infant Alice for her to remember us. When we arrived in Australia, a few days ago, we were strangers to her…

Now, though, here in Adelaide’s Crafers West, with Matt just departed for a full day of Doctor’s duties at the Royal Adelaide Hospital; Medi expected home soon from the same job after a full night shift, and Bernie nursing a cup of tea in bed, I’m alone with the little darling.

For the past two days, she has been losing her uncertainty and, hopefully, discovering that Grandad smells a lot like Daddy… We are having a wonderful time.

It’s quite nice, a peanut butter sandwich for breakfast, even if the waitress is a little rough with those tiny hands…

©Stephen Tanham, 2017.

Journal of the far side – Post 2: Life in Crafers West

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Monday 2nd January, 2017

After a twelve-hour flight from Dubai, we arrived, late at night, in Adelaide. Medi, our daughter-in-law, collected us from the airport with much hugging. They have recently purchased a newish mid-sized four-by-four which converts to be a seven-seater, so our small stack of suitcases were easily swallowed.

The first (night time) impressions were of a very California-like environment; long, straight roads, with small shops and community-sized shopping centres lining the route. This wasn’t the centre of town – Aldelaide is a big city – but on the edge of the famous Adelaide Hills, which, from our knowledge so far, form a series of high ridges, a few miles inland from the coast. The district of Crafers West sits atop one of the ridges and is a beautiful place to live.

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(Image source)

The downside is that the newly-emigrated family are exposed to at least two attendant dangers: the risk of fire, and the proximity of fauna. There is a particular focus on poisonous insects: spiders etc, which although important, particularly to the safety of young children, is not the source of constant panic that you might expect…

There is also the local Koala Bear, a beautiful creature who sleeps halfway up one of the prolific Gum Trees, a short walk from the house. I’ve yet to pass him with a decent lens in my pocket, but a good photo is promised before the end of the trip!

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(Map source)

Bush-fires are a major hazard in this part of South Australia, which is hot and dry in the summer, though we have seen mainly clouds since we arrived…. not the first time one of our trips to the sun has been dominated by English style weather. We’re probably ‘rain-gods’, as Douglas Adams would have said! Better weather is forecast for the rest of the week. I’ll let you know…

One of the highlights of our trip so far has been a visit to the Woodstock winery and wildlife park, an hour away, due south along the coast.

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Woodstock is one of the major wine producers in the McLaren Vale region of South Australia. Its formula for visitors is friendly and welcoming and they’ve put a lot of thought into making it pleasant for the kids, too. AS well as the focus on high-quality winemaking, there is a playground and a small wildlife park, whose highlight is feeding the kangaroos several times a day.

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Some very tame and well-fed kangaroos

More on that, later… Firstly, we had some wine-tasting to do – well all of us but Medi, our driver – who volunteered to stay dry so that we could fully enjoy the outing.

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Matt and Sam, Medi’s father

The formula is simple: you go into the tasting room and they give you a list of their wines, including sweet dessert wines and some very nice fortified wines – port by any other name. You can try as many as you wish, and there’s no pressure to buy.

img_4988 We did buy, though, of course… And left, slightly tipsy, an hour later and clutching a box of the winery’s finest. Medi’s mum, Tara had, happily, offered to entertain young Alice in the playground while we were imbibing, so everyone had enjoyed themselves.

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But then, by a stroke of luck, the local kangaroos and a stray wallaby, needed feeding…

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Matt, a kangaroo, Alice, Medi and Tara, Medi’s Mum

We stayed, watching a delighted Alice feed, then stroke the very docile matriarch kangaroo which is used with young children.

Then Dad collected young Alice in his strong arms and it was time for the comfortable seats of the Holden and the journey home. Some of us might have slept, I couldn’t possibly comment…

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To be continued…