Hunter Valley wines and Kangaroo Golf

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March 2nd 2009
Published: March 15th 2009
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We spend most of the week relaxing with walks around near by harbours, playing the Wii, and taking turns cooking dinner. All meals are washed down with plentiful quantities of wine. We also enjoy some sporting activities with a visit the beach where we enjoy a dip in the wonderfully cooling turquoise, blue and green sea just up from where the surfers, kite boarders and canoeists weave in and out of each other. I am preoccupied slightly by a nagging concern of shark attack that is somewhat heightened by the three reports of shark attacks in Sydney that week, an unusually high number for the time of year. I take a morning swim in the Dawn Fraser swimming baths. It was actually the afternoon but I had only been up a few hours. They are a salt water baths which through some mechanism is filled with sea water. The floor is sandy with sea weed and a green slime climbs up the corrugated grey metal of the baths. A kids swimming gala is in progress when I arrive so my lengths are completed to the chants of kids and parents cheering on competitors. I drip dry on the way home and when I remove my trunks to shower they unnervingly contain a green slime. On another afternoon Brett and I play squash that results in a two all draw his skill matching my enthusiastic running and dogged determination.

On Thursday we drive out to the Hunter Valley wine region. We stay in an apartment on the Hunter wine estate. A jolly chubby, grey haired, red nosed gentleman servers us and joins us in our first tasting, three whites, four reds and a desert wine or 'Sticky' as they are called here. His mixture of tongue in cheek rudeness and knowledge make him an informative and enjoyable character to drink, I mean taste with. The tasting like all tasting in the Hunter valley is free unlike the tasting in Napa valley which with extortionately priced. I call on all wine lovers, consumer advocates and moral guardians to boycott Napa valley wines until they revoke this unfair practice. We enjoy a full day of tasting make glorious wines of the Hun ter valley before being charged a kings ransom for a very average meal at Poppykins. All their wines are priced at double the cellar door price that we have just experienced visiting the wineries which is most detrimental to the flavour of the wine. To add insult to injury a chain of events leads up to them calling Brett the following day threatening him with police action for an unpaid bill. In a drunken stupor I had sign the wrong receipt, the waitress called us and I paid over the phone the following day but this information had not been passed onto the manager who decided that their best course of action was to ring up with accusations of theft before investigating the matter with her staff. Anyway everyone got annoyed until eventually the manager found that we had paid and called back to apologise refunding the tip. After the meal we staggered down a pitch black country lane using mobile phones for torches and jumping in the bushes every time a car approached lest the were drunken driving after a little too much wine tasting or crazy village folk out for some sport with tourists, if I hadn't watched 'wolf creek' recently the later of the two dangers probably wouldn't have occurred to me. Any way we arrive safely at pub and sink a couple of scooners before getting a taxi back to the apartment. Our evening is rounded off with some star gazing, a roaring fire and games. We play connect four followed by baseball played with a pair of rolled up socks as a ball onto football with a champaign cork. Somewhere along the line I insult enough people with banter to end up being chased down the hallway with a burning stick from the fire. Unfortunately for me my bedroom door was locked and I was caught with a few painful jabs of the burning weapon. I guess that it is only fair to point out that I had been dragging Lou around the polished wooden floor by her ankles moments earlier. I suppose it is also only fair that I put straight, for the record that in best of five games Lou beat me at Connect four, she beat everyone. I beat Jo and Jo beat Brett nine games to two. Brett has been bought an electronic Connect four with which to practice and improve which he obviously has not been using. I cannot remember any scoring in sock baseball I think that the game was called to a holt when a lamp was nearly broken. Lou beat me at champaign cork football five goals to two.

I awoke the next day feeling more than a little dishevelled and we staggered up to the restaurant at Tattlers to eat. The tapas was delicious but once again I fell fowl, no pun intended, to the complexities of eating some meats and not other when I ordered chicken. It came wrapped in dead pig as is often the case, there was no mention of pig on the menu but having tried to construct an complaint in my head I decided that I was to hung over to make them understand so I unwrapped the bacon form the chicken and ate it anyway. It was delicious.

We then drove on to Nelson Bay to the a golf club where we played nine holes in glorious sunshine on a fantastic course that boasted Kangaroos amongst it's hazards. They pay little mind to balls whizzing past their ears as they munched on the fresh cut grass of the fairway and ruminate on life or whatever it is kangaroos think on. Lou had never played golf and having played twice myself I gave her a couple of pointers. I played a glorious first stoke smacking the ball an impressive distance down the middle of the fairway. It was pretty much down hill for me from then on, my second shot soaring over the putting green to be lost in the trees behind. After playing a comical first few holes, missing the ball then knocking grass cutters over a few yards Lou began to improve immensely. I was hitting one good shot in every three and showing some very poor putting whilst she was consistently knocking balls down the green with less distance than me but more accuracy and putting like a woman possessed. She beat me by ten shots, enough said. We drove home in high spirits singing along to Wham's greatest hits at the top of our lungs. I didn't join in with the Kyle tunes, which are like nails down a blackboard to me but Brett and I had some revenge on the girls with a full bast rendition of Meat loafs Bat Out Of Hell only slightly spoiled by us going through road works at the time and so not really being able to do the song justice with our speed.

The following few days were much more sedate Jo and Brett returning to work Lou and I relaxed playing lying in late, reading and playing Mario Carts on the Wii. On Lou's birthday we struggled to get drunk our alcohol tolerance probably sky high by now but have an enjoyable day visiting the cinema to see 'The Reader' which is an excellent movie before going to Sydney harbour for a meal and cocktails. We enjoy an 'Up the duff' chocolate, ice cream and alcohol cocktail before returning to Balmain on the bus.

Thursday morning came around quickly and it was time to get up at the unholy hour of six am and stagger around bleary eyed before being guided into Brett's car and driven to the air port in order to catch our flight to Wellington New Zealand.


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