The Time Has Come (the Walrus said) Archives

Weekends in wonderland

Perhaps the title is a little exaggerated. Wonderland, in liddle ole Adeldaide?

Not really… but even this big country town can turn out a decent performance now and again.

We’ve just had a typical February hot weekend. Saturday saw a high of only 39.7 degrees C – a touch over 103 degrees F.

In spite of this I made bread. Or more specifically, Jamie Olivers stuffed brunch bread. Or more specifically: our variation on this. The loaf is made as a ring and is filled with bacon, boiled eggs, baby mozzarella cheese, roast capsicum, sun-dried tomato, and loads of basil pesto. The making worked very badly – probably too much water in the dough – so it was thin and stuck to everything. This led to what can be best described as “leakage”. Getting it transferred to an oven tray required 2 sets of hands and a great deal of luck; ably assisted by a liberal dose of swearing.

After all the blood and tears of making the damn bread, it ended up looking like a giant ring of cow pat.

Oldest son meanwhile had been out all day playing cricket. When he made it home he was “hot”. No kidding. There was time for a quick drink, a shower, grab the aforementioned CowPatBread(tm), a stop to collect The Girl Friend (TGF) of Oldest Son, and we set off into the city for the 14th Santos Symphony Under The Stars.

Finding a spot on the lawns at Elder Park was far easier than in some past years – the heat had driven a few people away. Nevertheless, a jolly good size crowd had turned out, so as the sun was setting we were treated to some of the better sights of Adelaide and the Torrens Lake at sunset.

Large and exceedingly well behaved crowds:
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A full orchestra getting prepared in over 35 degree heat:
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Paddle boats and black swans as the sun was setting:
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The sun giving its version of a starburst from behind the clouds:
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Just over the other side of the river – the South Australian Redbacks were playing Tasmania at cricket. I quite liked the lights at Adelaide Oval reflected in some of the glass of the Festival Centre:
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Having been to this event a couple of times before – admittedly quite a while ago – I never cease to be amazed at the “picnic” dinner that some people bring. Perhaps it’s an Adelaide thing – but there were a huge number of bottles of wine being consumed. Sensibly. A Lot of sparkling wine. A lot of red. There were people making up sophisticated salads on the spot, mixing dressings, dishes on rugs full of all manner of enticing goodies. In my stickybeaking I don’t think I saw a single sandwich, though I’m sure they made their appearance in some small forgotten corner. Unlike some years, there were no small portable BBQ’s – probably too hot.

By 8:00 pm the sun had just set, and the show began. The compare announced to the relief (?) of all that the temperature had just dropped to a much more manageable 35 degrees. Hooray!

The next two hours were a collection of music, old and new, punctuated by occasional bursts of cheering from the Oval just the other side of the river as the Redbacks clawed their way closer and closer to their eventual victory.

The evening finished with the traditional 1812 overture, with the part of the cannon played by fireworks. Timing, it seems, had to be coordinated carefully due to an overhead aircraft flight path!

In normal settings – certainly in a concert hall, the part of the cannon needs to be substituted for something a little less destructive. If the only thing you know about this piece of music is that it is about war – then just listening tells the story. We get distress, attack, retreat, victory bells and of course the chase and cannon shots. Perhaps an outdoor setting with fireworks is a little frivolous, but actually as a celebration of the defence of Moscow against the invading army of Napolean, I think old Tchaikovsky would have approved. Some decent bangs and some visual sparkle just adds to the occasion.

During all this, the orchestra ploughed on, in their specially made sound shell, under lights. If we were hot out in the park they must have been sweltering. The conductor had a jacket on the whole time, god only knows how. Hero’s, the lot of them.

As for bad drunken behaviour: None. The cricketers finished up about the same time and some were a little the worse for wear. For the free community music event though, it was all terribly civilised.

And CowPatBread? Actually it tasted pretty good.

Oh yes, and the Redbacks won.

—–

To cap off the weekend, we finally made the McLaren Vale wine region trip that we’ve been too busy to manage for the last three or four years.

Lunch at Woodstock Coterie included one of the best green salads ever ever ever. Amazing how using good produce makes such a difference: good tomato, good olives, a very good fetta cheese and a decent dressing makes simple ingredients into something sublime. Everything else was good too – apart from getting a little lost finding our way there.

Along the way we managed to stock up on some excellent red and fortified wines from Kay Brothers. And finally, some decent McLaren Vale olives: good Kalamata olives properly cured in brine instead of chemical muck. What more could one ask for? In hindsight we didn’t buy enough. Oh dear… that means we’ll have to take a trip back soon. What a shame!

Bathrooms. Sigh.

Once upon a time, Wally had a nice bathroom.

In fact, Wally had a couple of bathrooms: like most modern houses, Wally has a BATHROOM, and an EN-SUITE. And, as Mr Hogan says, it is (was) “Kinda sweet”.

Anyhow, Wally also hates cleaning bathrooms so when the small wallies (aka, The Chaps, aka, the Walrii) grew out of having a bath, it became the family habit for all the Walrii to just use the en-suite, on the grounds that this makes for only one shower that needs to be cleaned.

Over the years this has worked reasonably well, except for increasingly older Walrii using the Mum and Dad Walrus’s bathroom… which sort of irritates everyone – as the young ones get older and as the old ones approach their dotage.

A little problem popped up though: the en-suite shower was getting fairly grotty. Various attempts at cleaninghad various successes and various failures. The biggest trouble though was GROUT.

Yep, the shower grout was gradually disappearing… getting more and more eaten away, and more and more grotty. Keeping the ever growing mould away was getting more and more difficult.

So… says Wally… easy peasy I go fixey. Clean it up and bit and shove some new grout in over the top. This has worked a couple of times before; never a complete solution, it seems to buy another 6-12 months before the new addition disappears as well.

This time around, the problems were far, far worse – the grout just washed out in the first oncoming shower. Time for a proper fix. A grout cutting tool seemed to help: Well, it sure made a big mess. But it looks like the secret for grout is you need a decent thickness – cutting back 1/2 or 1 mm really does not make for a good result.

The normal bathroom reno questions apply: rip it all out and start again? Or do a minimal makeover? The tiles, fortunately, are not the 1970’s floral or burnt orange disasters. While not modern and current, they are ok – after all, 1991 was not really that far away. The passage of time and the cheapness of original tradies have taken their toll, but it’s not an unrecoverable disaster.

So in the end, the bathroom is not getting a gutting, but it is getting a decent renovation, only 21 years after it was built. The rather horrible shower screen is gone, as is the awful and cheap shower curtain. The cracked taps are gone. All the tiles have had the grout completely cut out using a small rotary abrasive saw (imagine the dust this might make, then triple it). The painted finish shower head, complete with peeling paint and blocked jet holes, is gone.

The tiles around the taps had such large holes cut out that the new taps were never going to cover them, so with a vast effort Wally has been able to remove them, as well as the old soap dish, and some of the tiles where the old shower screen was. The carefully stored stash of spares from all those years ago is finally getting used: to carefully replace the tiles that needed to be removed, with original new ones. This appeals to my pale-green principles of not wasting things. If it can be repaired and improved without pulling everything out and starting again, then that has to be a good thing.

But the old basin needs to go. It was horrible cheap pressed enamelled steel, and the enamel seems to be worn through so that it constantly rusts – both around the taps and the waste exit. Likewise the toilet cistern does not shut off properly, it’s cheap plastic and has deformed so it is leaning off the wall, so it probably needs replacing as well.

Like many things, that quick fix job has turned into a major undertaking. In another couple of months it should be all nicely fixed. right now, its an unusable disaster zone. The cunning plan, my lord, should fix it all though. That and a couple of thousand dollars. Gutting the lot and starting again would be 10 times more expensive. Would it look 10 times better? Nah. Thought not.

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