Around the world in 8 months travel blog





































Staying at the Beach

Day 126 The Beach

Mark and I spend the morning sitting by the pool arranging our shifts at Glastonbury via email, this also includes a health and safety test (some very strange questions concerning rubbish). Arya follows me every time I go into the house but then wants to be let back out when I return. I’m growing quite fond of this little French Bulldog.

Today we are driving to the Gulf St Vincent to stay at the beach for two nights. We are staying in Grange by the Jetty and the historic Grange Hotel. It takes about 45 minutes to drive to the coast and we are delighted to find that we are staying only 100 yards from the jetty.

Once settled we make our way down to the beach for the afternoon. The sand is soft and golden and the sea is not too cold. I settle down with my book whilst Mark and Marcus go for a dip in the sea. After an hour or so Marcus gets fed up of bobbing about in the water and asks if I would like a walk along the beach. We walk north towards Semaphore along the beach with sand dunes to our right and the sea to our left.

Although there are holiday makers making the most of the beautiful day the beach is still relatively quiet and uncrowded. We walk for about half an hour and then turn back and make our way to the jetty. Before we reach Mark, we are able to see he is now surrounded by young and some not so young people training for life saving. My goodness they are fit; swimming, boarding and running at full belt whilst instructions are shouted at them.

Walking back to the front we come across a terrace of three storey houses; these are the only ones on the coast in South Australia and are protected from any development. The development was for 24 houses but only eight were ever built and they are very unusual. All the houses are three storey and have wrought iron balconies.

We walk back to the apartment stopping to peruse the menus at a number of restaurants. Once showered and changes we decide to make our way down to the Grange Hotel for dinner. We sit down and order our food and I realise I’m too cold, the air conditioning is blasting out freezing cold air, so I walk back for a cardigan.

We enjoy a lovely meal looking out on the esplanade and the jetty, where lots of families are making the most of the warm evening. Once finished we decide to take a walk to the end of the jetty and watch the hordes of fisherman. There are some people just coming off the beach (it’s pitch black!) and we can see lights which are being held by people still in the sea. Walking back to our apartment we realise just how tired we are.

Day 127 McLaren Vale Wine Tasting

Joanne has taken the day off work and picks us up at 10.30 a.m. She’s taking us to a beach about 30km away and then wine tasting to the McLaren Vale. It is very hot and we are prepared with hats and sun cream to hand.

Joanne drives to the Fleurieu Peninsula where we pass vineyards, olive groves and almond plantations running all the way down to the sea. Port Willunga beach is approximately 35 km south of Adelaide and we park up outside the Star of Greece restaurant, which offers stunning views of the coast.

We take the wooden steps down to the soft white sand, which squeaks when we walk on it. Joanne leaves her flip flops at the top of the steps to pick up on her way back. I’d never thought of doing this but apparently it’s the norm in Australia and means you don’t have to carry them.

The beach is backed by sheer golden cliffs and the sea is crystal clear. We walk the whole length of the long beach coming across the remains of the old Port Willunga jetty. Parts of the Star of Greece wreck which is a popular diving spot are just visible as the tide is low. Marcus and Joanne catch up and I notice they both need more sun cream; the sun is really beating down.

We sit with a portion of chips and drinks at the kiosk, under a shade. This is also owned by the lovely restaurant but as it is at the back does not have the same fabulous view. We have enjoyed our time on the beach but have been longer than expected, so make a move and head for McLaren Vale.

The town of McLaren Vale is not much to look at but it offers easy access to a number of excellent winery cellar doors. Joanne heads for the d’Arenberg which she is looking forward to showing us. We pass field upon field of vines and a number of cellar doors which are reminiscent of Tuscany in the Summer. Joanne informs us that this is shiraz country so we are looking forward to our tasting.

‘Look, it’s over there’ states Joanne, pointing out a cube which stands out on the horizon. This looks quite incongruous in this landscape but definitely piques our interest. Joanne has not driven this way before and we end up almost driving in a full circle to reach our destination.

The winery is on top of a hill with great views overlooking its vines and the surrounding countryside. However, it is the building itself that is stunning. It is four stories of abstract designed, angular spaces, which seem to be based on a rubrics cube. I think it looks a bit like containers placed at different angles and the black umbrellas on the roof remind me of batman.

The old Verandah restaurant is off to one side of the car park and the shop to the other. We are immediately impressed by the art installations in the grounds, including sculptures made of waste and brass. Nevertheless, it is the Salvador Dali pieces which capture Mark’s attention. They are huge and stand guard at the entrance of the ‘cube’.

The ground floor is a museum with a wine sensory room (jars of smells used in wines), art works, automatons and a 360-degree video room which has a film on a continuous loop. ‘This is like Monty Python’ says Marcus as we watch the psychedelic, Gerald Scarf like film which tells the story of the winery, its history and its wines.

The tasting room is at the top of the cube, but we leave the lift on the first floor for the toilets. What an experience! We have difficulty opening the doors which are like dustbins – Joanne shows us, and the cubicles themselves are like art installations; very brightly decorated and trendy.

The tasting room has fantastic views of the surrounding McLaren Vale and outdoor areas to appreciate these. We stand at a large round bar where a number of individuals and groups are tasting, however, we do not feel crowded or rushed. We are treated to a range of whites, roses, sparking reds, reds and fortified wines. Joanne is driving so we are both able to enjoy the wines without worrying about driving home. The sommelier is a young French girl (very knowledgeable), who make the whole experience enjoyable and informative. Marcus (who is not tasting) and Joanne have a wander round and spend some time on the balcony.

Leaving, we see the kitchen for the modern restaurant in the cube as the lift passes. It is a hive of activity and Joanne tells us how wonderful the food is. She came for a tasting menu meal to celebrate receiving her master’s degree. We call in the shop and the tent containing more automatons and old-fashioned penny machines, then set off back to Grange. Thanks to Joanne we have all had a fabulous day, at places we would never have come across left to our own devices.

Day 128 Raining Cats and Dogs

What a difference a day makes; yesterday it was 46 degrees and today it is 20 degrees, cloudy, blustery and cold. We need to be out of the apartment by 10 a.m. so once packed we drive to the car park by the jetty and walk along the front to Henley Beach. It takes about 90 minutes and blows the cobwebs out of our heads.

The long beach is backed by sand dunes and lovely bungalows line the esplanade with endless views of the sea. There are a number of art works including a roosting eagle and a land surfboard which is the closest I’ll ever get to surfing – the only reason I get wet is the drops of rain from a shower!

We reach the jetty at Henley and come to a lovely little square surrounded by restaurants, cafes, ice cream parlours, gift shops and trendy clothes shops. We have a wander and come across the hotel which has been here for well over a hundred years – that’s old for Adelaide.

Once back at the car we drive down the coast to Glenelg, located on the shores of Holdfast Bay, which has been recommended by Joanne. It is the oldest European settlement on the mainland in South Australia and was established in 1836. It is a large resort with many activities on offer and very busy in comparison to Grange. Nevertheless, we decide that we prefer the laid-back village feel of Grange and Henley.

As we arrive at the sea front the rain starts to come down and it is not very inviting so we turn around and head for Adelaide city centre. Mark parks in an indoor car park so we don’t have to brave the rain which is now coming down in buckets. We don our rain coats and set off to venture through the Lanes.

The Adelaide Arcade is a historical gem with a range of shops and cafes. The floor is a mosaic of tiny tiles and the balcony above has iron balustrades. Outside is a pretty little fountain, which is the only water we can see now because the rain has eased and the umbrellas have come down.

After buying trainers for Marcus (his Christmas present) we set off to tour the Lanes. The Lanes are quaint, narrow streets around Rundle Street and across King William Street. Following a self-guided tour, we visit historic buildings, streets, restaurants and bars, learning about their importance to the city.

We eat pancakes at the original pancake house which has been a constant in Adelaide since the mid 1960’s and then drive back to Joanne and Tristam's house. Joanne is not back from work yet so we sit and chat answering questions about our day.

Dinner tonight is homemade pizzas outside in the garden. At least the rain has stopped, although it is quite cool and Joanne and I both dress in trousers and jackets. Tristam has made pizza dough and we each add our own toppings from a good selection including meats, cheeses, vegetables, spices, chillies. These pizzas taste great probably because we’ve chosen our toppings and they’ve been cooked in a pizza oven.

What a lovely evening sat with friends and family enjoying good food and wine. We stopped at the local bottle shop and managed to buy two bottles of one of the bottles of red we had tried at our wine tasting yesterday; The Anthropocene Epoch, Mencia.

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