Christmas in Adelaide

Being a bit of a Christmas freak every common room in our house has traditionally been decked out with trees, bells, tinsel or some other form of chintzy Christmas ornamentation. Packing up our belongings for the big road trip meant most of the Christmas collection had to go along with everything else. We did manage to find room in our van though for most of my collection of father christmas ornaments that used to adorn our tree, and a treasured table carousel given to me by the grand sons for Christmas one year. A few of my father christmas tree ornaments were too good to risk bringing, so they are safely wrapped up and are stored amongst our two small plastic crates which house the few items we decided to keep.

Our house decorated in Christmas's past.

Our house decorated in Christmas’s past.

Outdoors.

Outdoors.

Even the loo wasn't forgotten.

Even the loo wasn’t forgotten.

This year only our annex is decorated simply with two strings of Father Christmas tree ornaments suspended across the ceiling, a Christmas table cloth, and my Christmas carousel ornament.

It was a pleasure to have Chris, Clare, Luka and Em join us for our first Christmas in our home on wheels away from Perth.

It was a ‘no fuss’ day. Dinner was oysters, a festive roast and an ice-cream bomb. All simple with most of it prepared the day before. We sat around and chatted for most of the afternoon over a drink or two before having an early evening dinner. Of course there were the obligatory Christmas cracker hats and jokes (yes, all heard before, but cause for a chuckle all the same).

After dinner Emma and Luka were tiring from their long day, so we turned TV on in our bedroom and they seemed to enjoy the novelty of watching a well repeated Christmas movie lying on our bed in the van. Chris, Clare and ourselves played a board game. It was a game that involved spacial awareness, and spacial awareness is certainly not one of my stronger attributes. However, I won two out of the three games we played, so either it was beginners luck on my part, or the others really, really suck at spacial awareness. I suspect it was the former!

Now looking forward to New Years Eve. We’re only a couple of kilometres from Brighton Pier, where fireworks are let off. We should get a good view of them from the beach in front of the van park.

Shortly after that we’re going to move on towards Tasmania. A little earlier than planned, but we will have been in Adelaide for about a month by then, and that’s the beauty of this life – as soon as you feel it’s time for a change of scenery, it’s up wheels and off.

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Maggie Beer’s – Barossa

What would a visit to Adelaide be without a visit to the Barossa, and more especially – Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop.

We had a short drive up into the Barossa yesterday. Not many cellar doors seemed to be open, but we didn’t call in to the tourist information for details of cellar door openings and good wineries to visit. That’s saved for the next visit, and there will definitely be another visit.

Grape vines in the Barossa

Grape vines in the Barossa

Uppermost in our minds yesterday was the long awaited visit to Maggie Beer’s Farm Shop. For overseas visitors to this site, Maggie Beer is somewhat of an Australian cooking icon. She has her own farm in the Barossa and started out making a name for herself cooking and selling Pheasant products, and in particular I think her starting point on the way to fame and fortune was her signature Pheasant Pate’.

Her warm and larger than life personality has endeared her to the Australian public, and she has been the cooking host of many a TV cooking show. Her cooking style and dishes she presents I’m sure are very contributory to the expansion of many an Australian waistline, not least of which is mine. I doubt there would be a self professed ‘home cook’ in Australia who doesn’t hold at least one Maggie Beer cook book amongst their collection.

Maggie is to Australia what Nigella is to England, only instead of Nigella’s Sensuality, Maggie has an all ‘good neighbour’ image, and conjures up images of baskets of warm home made scones being delivered to any new arrival in the neighbourhood. Her food style is good and honest without pretentiousness, but inspiring for would be home cooks to try out new ingredients and new styles of cooking.

A visit to her farm shop didn’t disappoint. Paul had a game terrine with a side salad for his lunch. I had a delicious mushroom pate’, served with a beautiful warmed, rustic bread roll, a small dish of olive oil topped soft cheese, and a small bowl of freekah salad.

What’s freekah salad, I had to ask, apart from being delicious that is. Apparently freekah is roasted young grains of green wheat. To make it into a salad, mint, parsley, preserved lemons, Maggie’s famous verjuice, and her almost equally famous quince paste are added, along with some other every day ingredients. Needless to say, along with the recipe I also came home with a bag of goodies ready to make it for myself.

Her farm shop is well laid out with jars and bottles of produce and ample spoons for sampling. The sampling did it’s trick and I couldn’t resist adding a jar of salted caramel, some fig and fennel paste, a jar of mustard dried apricots, and some caramelised onions to my bag of Freekah salad ingredients. I’m looking forward to trying some of the caramelised onions and the mustard dried apricots tonight with some left over cold nut roast, and a freekah salad to go with it. Mmmmm!! I’ll live with hungry anticipation all day I’m sure.

A long time between beaches

We’re now camped alongside the beach at Brighton Caravan Park in Adelaide. It’s very, very pleasant.

It’s been a long time since we were last able to walk along a beach and swim in the sea, not since Broome, in June. We had a very short stay near the coast at Nelson Bay, and a couple of day trips to the coast at both Yamba and Coffs Harbour. It was winter though, and therefore didn’t really count. I don’t think I’ve been away from the coastline for this long before in my whole life, and I don’t think I’m likely to be away from it again for this long a second time. I really missed it!

We’ve now been in Adelaide a week. The heavy duty clutch has been fitted to the car. A made to measure mattress has been ordered for the van. A replacement awning has been organised after our current one was damaged in a hail storm at Pinnaroo. Our Christmas shopping is done, and we’ve both treated ourselves to a bit a of wardrobe update for the coming summer. So that’s all the business taken care of.

Now we can get down to the business we signed up to do when we took on the ‘Grey Nomad’ lifestyle – walking on the beach, swimming, more walking on the beach, a bit of sight seeing, more walking on the beach, reading books, playing cards, meeting people, and of cause, more walking on the beach….

We went into the Botanic Gardens yesterday, a lovely place to walk. Then we met up with Chris (Paul’s 2nd cousin), Clare, Luka and Emma for a light dinner at the surf club next door to the caravan park. Chris and Clare had just completed a ‘tough mudder’, fund raiser (I think that’s what it was called). They both looked normal before the event, and still normal after it. However, I’m sure their looks must be deceiving as from what they told us is involved in the event, you’d have to have rocks in your head to even contemplate it – running through mud, and up steep, slippery, mud and water soaked high walls, diving into and swimming under submerged beams in an ice filled water pond, and scrabbling under live, electric currents where getting shocked was inevitable….. I think it was a couple of hours of what sounds like nightmarish hell to me.

Anyway, they both completed it and didn’t look any worse for it afterwards, and I believe it was all for a very good cause. Kudos to them both and to everyone else who took part in the event. I would never have been capable of completing any such thing at any stage of my life to date, and if there’s lives to follow this one, I’m sure it won’t be on my list of, ‘must do’ things then either, LOL!!

We’ll start having a good look around Adelaide, and this part of South Australia soon, hopefully getting to one of the nearby wine regions sometime later this week. Then, before we know it, Christmas will be here.

We’ll be spending our first Christmas on the road with Chris, Clare, Luka and Emma. They’re coming here for the afternoon, and we’re hoping the weather will be obliging for swimming and perhaps a game of bouchee on the beach before dinner. Of course, if the weather isn’t up to it, we can always suggest a card game of infamous, ‘spoons’. I’ll make sure my finger nails are short….

Last day working for Viterra

LOL!! check out the

We managed another week or so after my last post, and are finishing up today. Paul’s currently in the middle of his last 11 hour shift, I have a five hour shift this afternoon.

It has been an experience, some good, and some not so good. It’s been pleasant to have seen our bank account change direction for a short time. Compared to the rates of pay we’ve been used to in WA, the pay isn’t great by any means, but we both knew we’d left the good money behind when we left Perth. Anyway, this hasn’t been only about the money, and the small amount we’ve earned, together with being occupied and therefore not able to spend anything, has been better than a ‘poke an eye with a pointed stick,’ that’s for sure.

We have met some lovely people here, and we’ve had a snap shot look at some aspects of crop farming, albeit from the distance of wheat silos. The girls I’ve been predominantly working with in the classy hut are from the town. They’ve all finished school and are going to uni in Adelaide next year, and are working to get the money for that. They’re really nice girls, and clearly demonstrate a town that looks out for it’s people. To all the girls and particularly Ellen, whom I’ve probably worked the most with, it’s been a pleasure!

When asking them if they have any interest in settling down in Pinnaroo, not one of them had any obvious distaste at the thought. They’re all wisely open to going where the future takes them, but they have all enjoyed and appreciate the support they’ve had from the town as they’ve grown up. None of them seem to be ‘busting to leave’, that I can see. That says a lot for Pinnaroo – so Pinnaroo, you can be proud, your children do you justice.

The farmers bringing in their crops have all been friendly and pleasant. Our bosses, Troy and Karen, have also both been really nice. They’re both kind hearted and try their hardest to ensure the work is enough to provide reasonable wages, whilst at the same time trying to get sufficient people to cover shifts, without it being too many people with not enough to do. Unfortunately, the nature of the job is that the latter is hard to avoid. Boredom isn’t usually a feeling I’ll subscribe too, as I can usually find something worthwhile to do. However, this time it’s beaten me, and dare I say it – yes, I’ve been bored.

Would I do it again. Probably not. But for people who want to earn a bit of money on their travels, it’s an easy way to do it. At times the work out on site is hard, but most often I believe it’s not. The weigh bridge and classy hut work is not hard at all. If there were to be three times as many trucks, the work would be enjoyable, and some sites perhaps have that. So, for anyone considering it for short term work, I’d say – give it go. You’ll earn a bit of money, you won’t spend much while you’re working, and driving past wheat silos will never be the same again.

Where to next for us. We considered going up to the Riverlands before heading into Adelaide. But we’re both hanging out for sand and surf. So, we’re heading into Adelaide tomorrow, and can’t wait to get into bathers and feel the sand between our toes. By tomorrow afternoon we’ll have washed most of Pinnaroo’s dust off in the Southern ocean. What doesn’t wash off there will blow away with the sea breeze as we walk off one or two too many delicious blueberry scrolls from the Pinnaroo bakery.