Hello again! Due to many tedious and dreary reasons (mainly involving husband and his new job) I’ve been without access to my computer for two weeks, TWO WEEKS – surely a human rights issue! It’s a public holiday today and said husband is off riding his beloved bicycle for 100s and 100s of kms (he’s in training for some hellish ride next year), the kids are glued to Erky Perky, and the dog is out bothering the chickens, so whilst the house is as peaceful as it gets I’ve poured a steaming hot cup of Yorkshires finest export grade tea, I thought I’d update you on my latest Hills outing.

Last Sunday husband was again riding his bike so I piled the children in the car nice ‘n early to squeals of excited joy* and we headed north to Lobethal. On route, or en route as the French will have it, we got stuck amongst the annual Bay to Birdwood Antique Car Run. I adore our car, it’s a Suzuki you know, but I’m not 100% sure that we were the one that the hundreds of people lining the streets of the Hills villages were really looking for. We were sort of hedged in between an old Police Car and an ancient yellow jalopy (getting a bit technical now, sorry) and they cheered and waved and the kids and I gamely waved back from our shining example of Japanese car making expertise.

These people are all utterly bladdered

These people are all utterly bladdered

Admirably the cheering crowds were getting stuck into bottles and bottles of Australia’s finest export – Sparkling Shiraz (YES REST-OF-THE-WORLD FIZZY RED WINE!!!! WHO KNEW?!) bear in mind that this is all happening about about er, 9.15am on a Sunday morning, and I think we should all take a moment to doff our hats to the Australians commitment to drinking at any opportunity. Look I’m not a wowser or anything, God forbid you call me a whinging Pom, but FIZZY RED WINE AT 9 IN THE MORNING! That’s some kind of commitment, really, much respect. I made my daughter take photos, so you can see I’m not making it up . . . And honestly (I’m going on a bit now) it wasn’t just the odd one or two alcoholics having a refreshing pick-me-up it was EVERYONE, there were literally hundreds of people, whole families, sitting at picnic tables AT 9 IN THE MORNING getting shitfaced.

I love this country.

So after this early education in the remarkable drinking habits of my fellow Australians we turned off the main road and headed into Lobethal for a morning trip to their markets. If you’re from this part of the world, you may know Lobethal for it’s annual Christmas extravaganza The Lights of Lobethal. Curiously (to an outsider) people drive from miles around (it’s about, um, say 40kms from Adelaide) to queue up and look at other peoples fairy lights. Is it me or is that quite odd? I mean, God love it, but it’s not exactly Times Square or Piccadilly Circus. I’m all for making our own fun ‘n that, but sitting in a hot car looking at other peoples twinkly lights isn’t tippity top of my funz list. Mind you, looking at that website and thinking about it I am quite tempted to take the kids this year <packs a boot full of Sparkling Shiraz for the ride>.

Oh, back to the markets, well, we were early and were pretty much the only people there, the kids happily** put down their iPods and jumped out of the car. We dashed in to find  . . .

1. Nice coffee and veg stall, VERY good coffee.

Noice innit

Noice innit

2. Peculiar knitted animals – what will markets do when all the elderly ladies of the worlds parishes die off and no one makes these any more <wrings hands>.

Kids loved these

Kids loved these

3. Fantastic junk stall – all your second hand car radio, hub cap and tin sign needs are thoroughly catered for. The man here was lovely and he gave the kids Chubba Chup lolly pops so we love him.

I love all this kind of stuff

I love all this kind of stuff

For all you Merc owners

For all you Merc owners

4. A hippy in a poncho.

Sneaked this photo of a man, bold as you like, wearing a poncho. #bold

Sneaked this photo of a man, bold as you like, wearing a poncho. #bold

5. Awful, really really awful painting. Hilariously bad. So bad it was worth the trip to see that alone.

Surely this is a joke

Surely this is a joke

6. Delicious jam and chutney stall.

This-is-my-new-jam Jam

This-is-my-new-jam Jam

There is also a Bierhaus and Tilbrook Estate Cellar Door in Lobethal, which had it not been 10am by this time we would have tried out. I’m not judging the early morning drinkers or anything (YES I AM) but really even 10am on a Sunday morning is a bit early for me. Also they were shut, but I’d definitely go another time.

Having rather exhausted the fun to be had we jumped back in the car (a Suzuki – did I mention it?) and headed off to Mimi and Papa’s (grandparents) for tea and biscuits. The drive from Lobethal to Adelaide is really really pretty at this time of year, you pass vineyards, orchards, meadows of wildflowers, twisty roads full of cyclists (beloved husband amongst them so be careful when passing them – give plenty of room and try not to swear too loudly at them with kids in the car). It really is proper lovely out there at the moment. Spring up here is glorious, lambs gamboling in the fields, calves and foals holding hands and skipping about in the sunshine, buds bursting and blossom blossoming (Christ this is poetry). Trust me, take a drive up here, I cannot emphasise enough how joyful it is.

*groans of horror

**whining

Ahhh, Sunday morning in the Adelaide Hills. Birds singing, blossom stretching open in the first warm bursts of sun, lawn mowers on full charge. How bucolic, how idyllic, HOW MASSIVELY IRRITATING WITH A HANGOVER.

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Spring flowers having the audacity to be cheerful.

How was your Saturday? If it was anything like mine it was brilliant. How wonderful it is to spend a lazy Saturday afternoon stuffing one’s face with the finest pulled pork, the tastiest raspberry and almond cake and the singularly most delicious wines (first prize to Pikes Reisling http://www.pikeswines.com.au/, second to The Lane Chardonnay https://www.thelane.com.au/ and an honorable mention to Taylors Cab Sav http://www.taylorswines.com.au/). Joined by some of our dearest friends and their delightful children the afternoon passed in an enjoyable haze of gossip – She did WHAT and WITH HIM??, food and wine and sunshine. Only slightly marred by the sudden whiff from the drains making an unwelcome appearance during the cheese course – nb must ring plumber tomorrow.

All of this enjoyable conviviality meant that I spent rather a restless night  – I can never sleep well after a few sherberts, is it the same for you? I rose at 6.45am this morning feeling a teeny weeny bit below par. What this seedyness needs I sternly told myself is a long walk with a short child and a fat dog finishing up at the Aldgate Providor. Our short legged and stout Beagle leaped from his bed all waggy and eager to join a similarly eager child and a less eager but equally short legged and stout adult (me).

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One of the great joys of living up here is that you can step out of the house and pretty much walk for hours in any direction through the pretty streets and easily out into the countryside. My daughter, dog and I walked in the warm sunshine past the kids up the road riding their bikes, past the barky dog in the next street, past the Sunday morning litter picking crew in high viz vests, past the Aldgate Creek (see above) arriving in downtown Aldgate in time for a much needed morning coffee at the funky Mexican Cantina themed Aldgate Providor http://www.aldgateprovidore.com.au/.

To say I needed a coffee was a mild understatement, I NEEEEDED a coffee, NEEDED it I tell you like the deserts need the rain. Last night’s Deviation Road Sauvignon Blanc http://www.deviationroad.com/ which was delicious at 8pm had left me feeling flatter than flat Stanley and a good shot of caffeine was required before I gave in and lay down on the pavement.

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The Aldgate Providor is great, busy, buzzy and interestingly Mexican. It’s open through the week serving Mexican food and cocktails in the evenings, and hearty fare, great cakes and big breakfasts during the day. We had to sit outside as we had the dog with us, but we quickly ordered a Banana Milkshake, a slice of Mulberry, Walnut and White Chocolate cake – God’s own choice of breakfast food – and a large skinny flat white. The waitresses wear the coolest Mexican aprons, the tables wear the coolest Mexican table clothes, the walls wear the coolest Mexican bunting. Trust me they really are totally committed to the whole Mexican vibe.

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Much to our delight the milkshake and cake arrived both given the double thumbs up by my young companion. But then we waited.

and waited

and waited a bit more.

People came and went, the dog sniffed lazily at passing breakfasts, I checked Twitter, facebook and took a few photos. Look here’s my daughter eating . . .

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Eventually my coffee arrive and you know what, IT WAS BITTER. Bitter I tell you. HORRORS. I was so disappointed. The Providor usually does ace coffee, what happened? Had the barista hit the Chardonnay as hard as me the night before? Anyway I was disappointed. Disappointed and dejected. Also depressed. By this time the daughter and dog had had enough so I gulped down half a cup and we trudged back up the hill arriving home to make a good solid brew of Yorkshire Tea, which was strong enough to go some way to make up for the lack of liquid stimulation. A couple of cups later I was revived enough to tackle the weeding. Which I’m still not convinced is a good thing.

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Well, I was going to start my reviews with some charming small artisan bakery or perhaps a darling little winery tucked away in a hidden valley, but then my husband sent me a text yesterday at 5pm (death zone for parents) suggesting we blow our savings on a meal out and well, frankly once I’d taken a look in the fridge (barren) and a look at the children (fighting) I swiftly brushed my hair, slapped on some lippy (Magenta Moon from Three Birds, Stirling – the world single best lipstick, but I digress), shouted a lot jollied the children into putting their socks and shoes back on and we were off. Shooting up the road at approx 90ks (joking traffic police) to get to the Stirling Hotel.

Now I love the Stirling Hotel, it’s a great big monster of a pub, but it does great food, it’s reasonably child friendly, and well, frankly it serves wine. Oh and beer. Which makes it some kind of paradise for a tired, lazy parent on a midweek evening.

As I dashed in trailing children clutching Scooby Doo cards and a tattered copy of the BFG (see it’s not that kid friendly – you do have to bring your own fun), I was cheered and heartened to see two other school mums downing Shiraz as if their lives depended on it whilst their children lunged greedily at plates of Schnitzel and chips.

My dining companions and I decided to try the new Pizza Bar – see blurry picture above. It’s a recent addition to the Stirling Hotel, and I’ve been mad keen to try it for what seems like ages but is actually probably only about a week. Our trusty, adventurous offspring spurned the Duck Ham and lardons pizzas and chose an old favourite chicken nuggets and chips which arrived to their horror with a garnish of green leaves artfully tossed in a frankly mad vinaigrette (Vinaigrette! Has the chef met any children?). The little champions successfully managed to eat everything with zero nutritional value and left the leaves lying limply on the edge of their plates.

Being actual grown ups and having long grown out of nursery food husband and I swiftly chose the Thrice cooked belly of pork pizza and the Mushroom and Truffle pizza (not sure they were the exact ingredients but I had had a glass of wine by this point). The place was heaving and our meals did take a while to arrive but once they did we seized upon them like our crazed Beagle seizing on the Christmas Ham (true story). They were utterly delicious, the bases thin and crispy and a bit puffy round the edges, the toppings were scrumptious, the mushrooms nice and mushroomy and garlicky the pork, um, porky. I was well down my second glass of Reisling by this point and to be honest had ceased to be very attentive.

Here’s a picture in case you’ve forgotten what pizza looks like  . . .

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The bill came to about $100 for the four of us, so it’s not a cheap eat, but it is good and I do love the Stirling, it’s a big buzzy pub and according to the children do the “best chips mummeee”. One teeny weeny criticism would be that at busy times it would be great if they had more than one person at the counter so you could order before your clothes went out of style – ooh ooh, on that note, I saw two women wearing those Olivia Newton John in Grease shiney black pants (trousers for my English readers). TWO! One would be remarkable but TWO!

Happy days.

When I was thinking about what to write in this blog (this has basically taken up ALL my thinking time over the past 24 hours) it struck me that unless you live in South Australia then you might well be a leetle bit vague about where the bloody hell the Adelaide Hills actually are.

Now as I’m writing this on a Mac and can’t figure out how to add pictures downloaded from t’internet, shut your eyes for a moment, think of AUSTRALIA, that great big island continent. As you’re quite bright and listened during school you probably can put your finger on the fleshpot that is Sydney and the fashion center that is Melbourne, Adelaide you may be a bit more vague about. Well, it’s basically just right of the middle at the bottom. Adelaide, Capital City of glorious South Australia – the bit that not many people know about.

Anyhoo, the Adelaide Hills are just outside (slightly to the right, if your looking face on, or ‘EAST’ if you want to be all sciency) of Adelaide. Basically from my house turn right, then right again, get onto the freeway and whiz bang in 15 mins you’re in the center of one of the quietest most liveable cities on the planet. And it’s not just me saying that, thrillingly Adelaide was voted quite high in a recent survey of livable places to live so ner.

Adelaide enjoys a lovely climate, long hot summers (this was a struggle for me when I first arrived, a typical Pom who thought 24 degrees was HOT), and cool wet winters. The hills basically enjoy the same climate but with cooler summers and wetter, colder, foggier winters. This means it’s ideal for growing stuff, er, grapes and, er, cheese.

So, well, I think that just about covers our lesson for today. All clear on where it is I’m talking about? You can probably tell from this informative post that in a past life I was a teacher. What an incredible loss to the profession I am. Any questions at the back? Hands up . . . No . . . ? Then you may go.

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Here is a picture of a small child (mine) feeding the ducks in an Adelaide Hills winter. See WET.

Well, hello there.

I’ve been lucky enough to have been a resident of the Adelaide Hills for the past 7 years, over that time I’ve fallen in love with the region, fallen in love hard . . .

I arrived here clutching my husband and child and a bag of English goodies in 2006, since then I’ve stopped buying Marmite, switched to Vegemite (and will NEVER go back – trust me it’s just better), and learned to call this place home. I love the space, the produce (hello cheese and wine!), the nature (mice in the pantry, oh yes), the friends we’ve made, the strong local community, the pubs, the walks. Anyway you get my drift, I no longer hanker (quite so much) for the bright lights of London, my family are all settled here in the Hills and I’d love to share with you some of the goodies that you can find in this region of ours.

Come on up, we’d love to see you.

Becky

 

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