It’s only gone and done it again. Snuck up on me like weekend homework on a Sunday evening. I’m behind on my writing. The non-zen bit of me wants to say ‘bite me, I’ve been having fun’. Occasionally (ahem) it is very hard to tell how I’ve evolved since I was twelve.
More than once I have had to really remind myself how much I will prize a year’s worth of travel ramblings when I’m old and grey and telling tall tales to the grandkids – anyone’s grandkids, I won’t be fussy by then.
But it’s occurred to me that I can do us both a favour over the last six weeks of my adventure – LAST SIX WEEKS – and perhaps write slightly shorter missives.
So here goes.
Adelaide – I had a lovely time.
A bit more maybe?
Well – almost every Australian I have spoken with over the last few weeks has adopted the same baffled expression when I’ve mentioned my planned stop in Adelaide, only dropping their alarmingly high eyebrows back down their face when I explain I have a cousin there I intend to visit.
‘Ah!’ they uniformly exclaim, ‘that makes sense’. Like going to Adelaide without the pull of a blood tie is as strange a notion as a vegetarian having a birthday party at an abattoir.
And now, having been, I can say they have a point. Kind of. But it would be like comparing Altrincham with London or non-alcoholic wine with Chateau Neuf du Pape. Both have their place.
Adelaide does have a couple of things going for it, in addition to being home to my cousin, her lovely husband and their three delightful kids. Food. And koalas. Oh and vinyards but I didn’t get around to visiting any of those – I was too busy cuddling stoned furry creatures.
A really good thing about South Australia, as opposed to New South Wales and other states, is that they let you cuddle koalas. Actual ones. Had I not had family here I suspect I still might have made the trip down for that reason alone. Anyone would think I’d been deprived of pets as a kid.
Gorge wildlife park is a scenic drive from the city and has the usual mix of kangaroos, wallabies, emus, ostriches, koalas and camels.
Yeah, I haven’t quite figured that last one out myself. They did seem to particularly like the biscuits on sale in the park shop that some local teenagers were feeding to them, so I wonder if they were brought in to raise revenues.
Despite some reservations I have about a couple of the enclosures and whether they were big enough for the theoretically wild animals they contained, those wandering more freely – like the kangaroos and wallabies – seemed pretty content, or full.
I had no idea how gentle such big creatures could be – I must admit I was a teasy bit concerned about losing my hand as I held out some feed (not biscuits I might add, who the heck feeds biscuits to animals? Crazies, that’s who).
Best of all was my koala hug, with the snuggly, eucalyptus-scented Mia. She was clearly off her face as she chomped her way through more branches.
At one point she was tripping so much she thought my chin was made from eucalyptus too and proceeded to try to eat me. It gave everyone else a laugh as I tried to save myself from becoming dessert. It would have been scary, if she wasn’t moving so darn slowly.
Adelaide’s central market offers a dazzling number of food stalls, representing cuisines from across the globe. One could quite easily and happily eat oneself to death without ever leaving its four walls. Luckily there was a bakery selling Eccles cakes, so my cousin and I were able to reminisce about our childhood summers in Stretford, at our grandparents’ house, with suitably authentic Lancashire snacks.
I didn’t spot anywhere selling ham sandwiches cut on the diagonal (not in the posh way, along a slice, no the kind of diagonal where the top of the bread is a good inch thicker than the bottom), with butter a finger thick and a whole pig’s leg wedge in between the hunks of white bread. Which would have been a more accurate representation of the fuel provided – constantly – to us as we played in the old boat slowly falling to pieces in their garage.
It was even more lovely to catch up than I’d hoped. Sometimes years and years go by and you begin to wonder whether that connection will still even be there – whether that’s with a long lost friend or a relative now living half way around the world. But it’s always there if you look for it.
And I got a glimpse into the infinite patience that only parents of multiple birth kids can possibly know. I get that having a kid is tricky stuff – but having every demand in duplicate, with an absolute obsession on how everything should be fair – all I can say is that their big sister is going to end up being an excellent UN ambassador when she grows up.
But being a second cousin to five year old twin girls? Brilliant. I can’t remember the last time I went on the school run, made so many plasticine turtles, played teacher of pretend school or tried to play catch with two miniature baseball players at the same time.
After three days I was feeling the family love and yet well and truly ready for a rest. And almost as if I’d planned it, my next stop was Melbourne, with nothing more planned than checking out the street art with a friend – perfect.
p.s. I’m still bummed about the 6 weeks left thing, even though the other day was my 320th consecutive day off work. It really is far worse than had I stayed at work every day. Well not really. But still…