Adelaide you are THE Festival City

Last year was my first Adelaide Writer’s Week, Fringe and Festival visit.

It was so good I came back this year – and brought friends for Writer’s Week if you read my earlier blogs you’ll know how much we enjoyed that week.

This week is I’m spending time with the family. My niece Vashti is a musician but isn’t in any festival shows this year, unfortunately. But we’ve been to a few great shows.

Last week we saw a band playing Blues & Soul , for women comedians and a very funny choir.

This week we went up to the Adelaide Hills to Ukaria. This cultural Centre is purpose built for chamber music.

Beautiful Indigenous artwork at Ukaria.

Today we went to a play called Blindness.

It was a very different experience.

Based on Nobel Prize-winner José Saramago’s dystopian novel Blindness, England’s Juliet Stevenson’s gripping narration unfolds around you through headphones handed out on arrival.

The theatre goes dark, the seats are grouped in twos around a large warehouse space. The story is about a city facing an epidemic of blindness. Those affected are moved to a disused asylum. The city panics.

There are strobe lights that flash occasionally, surround sound so you feel like someone is whispering in your ear.

I listened mostly with my eyes closed!

The end is hopeful – but what an experience.

Later tonight. In fact st 8.30 we went back to the city for a cabaret jazz show.

In 1956, acclaimed jazz vocalist Ella Fitzerald did a season at Zardi’s Jazzland in Los Angeles. Tonight sublime jazz singer Louise Messenger and her band recreated the show at Zardis.

Louise Messenger

What a great night. This Festival is great. It’s well supported by locals. It’s struggled a little during covid probably more with this years very contagious omicron. Some shows cancelled during to the performer catching it.

But the show goes on.

I can recommend visiting Adelaide during this time. There is so much on at such a variety of venues. It never feeling over crowded.

Last Writers to Last Laughs

We are rather enjoying our walk to the Pioneer Women’s Gardens. We walk down Melbourne St past the Lion Hotel then across some parklands to the pedestrian bridge and along past the Uni.

A lovely flat walk that I will miss. Unfortunately Lindy left her phone at home so had to retrace her steps! I’m fancy by the end other day she has walked 18,000 steps! She definitely deserved her ice cream treat this afternoon.

While Lindy walked back we started the first session. It was a look at Charmian Clift. I’ve been very interested in Charmian and her husband George Johnson since I visited Hydra island in Greece.

They were Authors – Australian , which ended up living on Hydra during the 70’s at a time when it was a place where creative bohemian types lived there. A young Leonard Cohen spent many summers there writing poetry.

Anthony Doerr author of All the Light We Cannot See talked about his new book Cloud Cuckoo Land in which he writes an imagined novel written by historical author Diogenes for his recuperating niece.

Doerr had us eating out of his hand. Such a great person. So engaging. He talked about his writing, his family and how life is here to be enjoyed. We shouldn’t sleep walk through it. And that we will never be as young as we are today!

Next up was Shelia Fitzpatrick

She is a leading historian on Russian history. She is one very knowledgeable lady who is able to explain things very succinctly. So if you want a book The Shortest History of the Soviet Union, is a lively, authoritative distillation of seventy-five years of communist rule and the collapse of an empire, and an examination of Russia’s ongoing influence on global politics under its current president.

Had a quick listen to Hannah Kent talking about her book Devotion. A change of pace for her.

Highlight was the duo of crime writers. Christen White and JP Polmare. Crime writing, Australian style. Young, sharp and engaging. These two are the ‘almost’ newcomers to the crime writing scene.

You have to check out their books. there are quite a few of them.

Christian wrote Clickbait for TV. You may have seen it ? Clever writer. Christian’s wife proof reads and advises him. Josh’s mother in law proof reads his! I was going to offer but it seems they have proof reading covered.

My sister in law had met up with us and I drove her home before heading off to the Fringe again

A great comedy show with four women comedians. Not Lizzy Hoo unfortunately! We missed her but had Mel Buttle, Claire Hooper, Nikki Britton and Zoe Coombes.

A good laugh to a small audience. I think covid is making a bigger impact this year. Shows are being cancelled with performers getting it.

I’m moving to my sister in law’s tomorrow so I’ll have to be careful around her teenage grandchildren. They have lots of friends at school catching it!!!

To my friends : Jill, Lindy and Ros – farewell and thank you for coming along to the Writers’ festival. I talked you into coming and I think we all loved it

Eating, Drinking Adelaide Day 5

Today a day off the Writers’ Festival.

Not because we’re not loving it – we are. But we want to be tourists as well.

The David Roche House & Museum is a favourite of mine. Located in Melbourne Street not far from our Airbnb we decided on a tour of the house then a visit to o the museum.

Arriving right at 10 we were disappointed to hear that the tour was full.

So we regrouped and went into the museum. It was a collection of fashions by designers who were up and coming in the 70’s then died of an AIDS related illness.

Some great fashions by well known designers Halston, Moschino. A great exhibition.

Like any tourist we decided to get the free bus. It’s a great service that travels quite some distance around the city in a clockwise and anticlockwise direction.

Next stop the wonderful Adelaide Markets. If you visit Adelaide these markets are a must. We explored each aisle. Coffee and a pastry called so a visit to Skala

Gorgeous lady with her Turkish Delight

We stopped for lunch at a delightful Colombian restaurant. The waitress was just gorgeous and before we knew it we had a Pisco sour in our hands and we were ordering some tapas.

A great lunch. We just wish we were here Friday night for their live music with dancing.

Back home on the free bus with a few bags with fruit ‘ vegetables as well as a gorgeous frittata – in case we get hungry!

Oh and a lovely bottle of Pinot Noir.

Monday Day 4

No earth moving this morning. Just a slow moving start to our day.

The pace has been quite brisk so we took it slower today and walked to a coffee shop in Melbourne Street !

Then into the Writers Festival. Today we started with John Bell and Jonathan Biggins.

John Bell and Jonathan Biggins have spent their lives on the stage. John is famous as an interpreter of Shakespeare. Jonathan is best known as a leading political satirist and his show, The Gospel According to Paul, recently adapted into a book. They discuss their lives in the theatre, the essence of leadership and the power of imagination.

What a great session. Both so clever and their comments on leadership & politics both past and present were so insightful. And the comparisons drawn with Shakespeare were very clever. Must look at John Bells book

Next up Linda Jaivin.

Linda has written a sprawling history of China into a pacey, readable account of its origins, impact and influence. Named as one of the top five books on China of 2021, Linda Jaivin’s The Shortest History of China explores everything from China’s philosophical genesis to its contemporary political system.

Her session in China was informative and entertaining. She predicts that in the next ten years that these four things will be in the forefront of China’s planning.

Strong women, succession planning, corruption and disclosure of information.

Further information on China followed.

I caught some of the session with Jacqueline Bublitz author of Before you Knew My Name and Laura Elizabeth Woolley’s The Newcomer – a fictionalised account of the murder in 2002 murder on Norfolk Island.

So that was it for today.

We finished with a walk along North Tce calling in at the Museum, The State library past the Art Gallery and the University of Adelaide – where Ros studied Librarianship.

We walked back to our house via the beautiful Botanic Gardens.

Adelaide is a great city – a mix of old and new, great gardens, parks and walkways.

A lovely glass of Prosecco was our reward for over 11,000 steps today.

Then we headed back to the city to The Garden of Earthly Delights. Part of the Fringe Festival – there are many venues for events. we had dinner – Com hooding from the many good trucks around the gardens. We avoided the fairy floss.

Tonight for us it was the Real Housewives Choir. A fun one hour show, it gave a great taste of what is on at the festival. We sang along to some of the songs

Sunday Day 2 of the Writers’ Festival

The earth moved this morning!

I was awake and about to get up when there was a rumbling and shaking. I laughingly called out to the girls ‘perhaps an earthquake! Or a train has run under our house. ‘

I didn’t think much more of it until Ros pointed out later that she read there had been an earthquake in Adelaide. Very brief and quite light on the scale but nonetheless an earthquake.

What a start to the day. It was also very cloudy and cool but the forecast predicted a nice day , no rain, so no umbrella needed.

We walked another way to the Pioneer Memorial Gardens checking out the trees And today we all had our phones so no problems checking in!

We checked the daily program because things change and unfortunately Brian Brown is unwell and won’t be speaking today. Instead there will be a tribute to Shane Warne.

For those who don’t know…… Shane Warne a former spin bowler of great fame passed away in Bangkok yesterday. He is a sportsman , a larrikin and always talked about with huge affection by Australians. He was once engaged to Liz Hurley the actress.

Our first session today was with Charlotte McConaghy. What a smart articulate young woman who has written a book so different that it should be read. It’s about wolves! After the culling of wolves in Yellowstone park the author was interested, researched the topic and decided to write a fictional book about introducing 14 grey wolves to the Scottish highlands.

The same author has written another award winning novel called Migrations. It explores the last journey of the arctic terns on their migration to the Antarctic.

Lots to read!

The next session was with Jennifer Downs. Another young author who has written a book of great sadness and empathy. I haven’t read this but it’s now on my list.

Next up a big story session Empire of Pain. Such a well written investigation by Patrick Radden Keefe. His account of the OxyContin abuse in America and the family of Doctors, the Sackler family, who developed it and made a fortune out of it – but have never acknowledged the damage done by this dangerous drug.

This is a really well written book , lots of detail but so accessible.

Next up, two icons of science in Australia. Peter Doherty and Barry Jones. both had some interesting points to make about the pandemic and the way it’s been handled in Australia.

Next up a big choice. Two young writers Diana Reid and Indiana Schneider. Both have written novels set in universities around the concept of consent.

OR The Big Switch with Saul Griffith who has developed a blue print for an approach to climate change that ensures more jobs and a healthier environment.

I took a little of both. Saul Griffiths is a laid back metallurgist with a lot to offer in getting people to accept we can do things differently when it come to renewables.

Time then to head up town.

And time for a cocktail. We visited 2KW a roof top bar.

Great views. Great cocktails.

A quick trip up to the Treasury Courtyard for a Fringe event. A bit of Soul & Blues by locals Mensforth Quintet. Featuring songs by Etta James, Nina Simone we were entertained for a good hour – enjoying a glass of wine.

What a day!

We finished with dinner back at our local pub The Kentish on Stanley Street.

Adelaide Writer’s Festival – Day 1

Oh Adelaide you have turned in some great weather for the first day if the Writer’s Festival. Not too hot, not too cool.

We made a few plans over breakfast and walked down Melbourne St towards the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden.

Adelaide is a beautiful place to walk. It’s mostly flat, lots of parklands and a lovely river flowing through its centre.

We had an unhurried walk towards the river crossing on the footbridge arriving at Adelaide University.

Installation outside Adelaide University

Arriving at the entry gate I realised I had left my phone – and more importantly my covid certificate back at the house .

A little shuffling …….A paper sign in and I was in.

First session was Annabel Crabb. For those who don’t know her she is a lawyer, political journalist turned media personality, author, Podcaster , mother and great friend of Leigh Sales of 7.30 fame.

She is also a talker or as she admits is a babbler. She talked with another friend Miranda Murphy who stood in for Leigh Sales and is the editor of their book. Well Hello.

The book sounds great. It’s full of stories and recipes and funny stories.

Annabel kept us entertained for the full hour.

Coffee called so we took a break and explored the festival site. There are many more people here this year. In fact they were queuing at the entrance waiting to get in.

The next session was Christos Tsiolkas and Charlotte Wood. Christos is perhaps best know for his books The Slap and Barracuda – and both have been made into TV series. His latest book 71/2 is something different. it’s fiction but based on his own life experiences. It called auto fiction a term which he himself didn’t fully understand! In it he finds himself cut off from the world and becomes lost in the beauty of his surroundings.

Christos is friends with Charlotte Wood another well known highly awarded Australian author. I’ve read her books The Natural Way of Things and The Weekend.

Her latest book explores creativity.

Two talented authors talking about creativity and writing.

We enjoyed lunch under the trees taking in from afar the talk with Clem Bastow and Emma Jones. Both authors have written about their late diagnosis with autism.

Our last session was Liane Moriarty. Very well known for her popular books Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers she is a down to earth lovely person.

Her books – and there are many are very popular here in Australia. Her latest ‘Apples Never Fall’ is another well told story set in Sydney.

We decided to leave and walk back in the sun to get ready for a 6.30 Fringe Festival performance of Soul & Blues. Only it sold out ! So I’ve booked tickets for tomorrow night.

We spent some time choosing a few Fringe shows and booking tickets!

Tonight dinner at The Lion. My sister in law Marg, daughter Vashti and little Florence met us for dinner. Such a great catch up.

Hotel on Melbourne St.

Arriving in Adelaide

Please Adelaide don’t rain. We have had way too much rain in Brisbane. It seems strange to be leaving when so many people are still cleaning up after the floods. Our thoughts are with you all

But here we are in Adelaide, ready to enjoy the Writer’s Festival. I loved it so much last year I talked a few friends into coming along with me.

An early start to avoid traffic, we had time for coffee before boarding. An easy 2 hrs later we landed in beautiful Adelaide.

Ros and I had found a great little terrace house in North Adelaide . This area is full of heritage, gorgeous stone terrace houses. The streets are lined with the most beautiful trees ready to change colour as Autumn arrives.

Our house is a charmer.

We quickly left bags and headed around the corner to a great little pub. The Kentish Arms. We sat outside and enjoyed a Gin & Tonic and a few shared tapas plates. This could become our ‘local’. Shortly after the Friday afternoon crowd started to arrive. It’s obviously a popular place.

The afternoon sun started to come out so we started exploring the streets while walking towards O’Connell St.

They don’t call Adelaide the city of churches for no reason.

The Adelaide Fringe Festival has started and there are lots of shows on offer. Comedy, singing, dance burlesque, bands …….We hope to get to a few, in between the Writer’s Festival. The first was a quick look at the O’Connell Twilight Fringe.

Jill waving to a friendly local

Laden with shopping bags we headed back to our lovely house – with a quick dash to The Kentish Arms for a bottle to share.

Dinner in our courtyard and we are feeling very happy to be ready to enjoy the Writer’s Festival.

What book have you enjoyed reading lately?

I’ve just finished The Island of Missing Trees by Turkish writer Elif Shafak. Set in Cyprus it was a fascinating read, where a fig tree is one of the main characters in the story. Elif is speaking at the festival. I loved it!

Farewell Lord Howe

We’ve been here seven days but it feels much longer. I think because we were digitally removed from the world we totally rested.

No phones, wifi, tv, emails ……..

It’s quite refreshing. Try it sometime.

Our last morning was beautiful. Sun shining & water glistening. The quiet ….

Most of the friends we made over the week were leaving today. The airport is busy with four flights in and out. We exchanged email addresses and promises to keep in touch. Perhaps swim together next year.

After breakfast we visited the family cemetery next to Pinetrees Lodge. They have a long history with the island.

Pixie a 5th generation died in 2010

Walking through the little cemetery connected me to the family. They are a close family who care about Pinetrees and treat all guests as friends.

The present owners / managers of Pinetrees are Dani – daughter of Pixie and her husband Luke. Along with their two daughters Elsie and Pixie they continue the tradition.

Each guest is gifted the beautiful cookbook The Lord Howe Island Cookbook.

This beautiful book tells the story of the island and the families.

It’s a great read and is full of the recipes of the food we enjoyed so much this week.

Thank you Pinetrees and LHI for a wonderful week of memories. We’ll be back.

Readers I’m off to the Adelaide Writers’s Festival for a second year. Watch out for my posts.

Saturday … last chance to ramble at LHI

I hadn’t done any of the longer walks here so decided to leave Steve to rest a little after his morning swim and head off.

I was on my own and Lindy the helpful activities adviser warned me to be careful on the slippery tracks. Especially going downhill.

I headed off for Transit Hill which climbs up behind Pinetrees, winds along the ridge and then drops down to Blinky Beach , then swings back along past the airport.

Of course I missed the arrows at the turn off for Transit Hill and continued up the hill I was already walking. It came out near the path to Middle Beach.

The track going up was leafy and damp and so quiet.

Wonderful old Banyan Trees
On the ridge overlooking Middle Beach a poignant memorial

I passed the solar farm and continued gently sloping up to Clear View. A wonderful outlook towards Ball’s Pyramid. The weather today is beautiful so you could see the Pyramid in the distance.

I returned along the same track back down the hill and joined the Transit Hill track. It started off gently with a timber walk over the rain runoff, then became a track of steps. Climb, climb, climb. I passed some people who again warned me about the slippery path down the other side. They had turned back!

The track looked back over Pinetrees to the lagoon

I went up to the lookout and joined two men there to see the plane take off. There are about 4 planes a day in and out. The wind was good. The plane revved it moved down the runway and after a good ten minutes of revving with no take off the plane ended up back at the little terminal. A mechanical fault?

View from the lookout
The boat returning from Ball’s Pyramid. A much smoother trip than ours yesterday.

By now my red face had recovered and as I was setting off one of the men said I didn’t look right for a walk – my silver FRANKie 4 shoes, stylish hat and painted nails. I decided to take the hard route down.

In fact in wasn’t hard. It was slippery but I took it carefully and eventually ended up at Blinky’s Beach. It is a beautiful spot. There are waves here and the surfer man staying at Pinetrees tells me it’s a good place to catch a wave. He was out there in the distance enjoying some waves. And unlike most beaches he was alone. No crowded surf break.

The final walk along the airport road was hot and boring. Except for the farm with the Dorper sheep. These unusual sheep from South Africa shed their own wool. No shearing involved. The ones here are not for wool – but for meat.

I arrived back thinking Steve would be wondering where I was. He was about to send out a search party but as he joked with our beautiful French waitress if would involve too much paper work. Nice.

We had lunch on the deck for a change. No picnic or bbq for us. It was delicious. Fish cake with a tomato basil salsa.

We walked off lunch, heading to the pontoon beach for a swim then to the jetty to watch the fortnightly shop unload. What a spectacle.

Loads of crates where being fork lifted up to the town. The PO staff were there receiving the crates and helped by a dozen children who were unloading the crates.

Saturday is busy ! More cars than I have seen all week. All collecting parcels from the shop

Box after box of wine from Dan Murphy’s made its way into the PO storage area.

I wondered what they were paying the kids. Turns out they got a packet of lollies and a can of soft drink! The kids looked very happy.

Island life for locals particularly kid looks idyllic. There were a handful of kids we recognised from the schools Discovery Day activities all splashing around and jumping in from the pontoon. Others were riding bikes. Others helping unpack crates. Saturday bliss.

We enjoyed a bubble on the deck of the Crooked Post. A small pub / bar with a great verandah overlooking the water.

View from The Crooked Post

Sundowner drinks were a very friendly gathering. It’s amazing how you bond with others staying at a place like Pinetrees. You can mix in as much or as little as you want.

We joined AnneMarie and Greg again tonight. They are from Wollongong and we’ve shared many chats and laughs with them this week. We finished the night with Greg offering to order & pay for the cheese plate. Such a love gesture as that is what it was – the cheese plate is complimentary!

Lovely Lisa wishing us farewell.

Ball’s Pyramid near LHI

We woke to torrential rain. Would our plans be spoilt?

Half our friends were doing the difficult Mt Gower climb. Others were joining us on the boat trip to the iconic Balls Pyramid.

The weather (mainly wind) has been so bad that the trip has been constantly cancelled over the past few weeks. The rain definitely put a dampener on it but after a quick phone call – it was on!

Balls Pyramid is composed of nearly horizontally-bedded lava flows, the remnants of a volcanic plug formed in a former vent of a volcano. It is about 21 km from Lord Howe and is 551 m high and 1 km long.

Steve decided to swim the distance to the jetty to save him the 2 km walk. I walked in the rain. But by the time I got there at 7.30 it was clearing.

Steve came swimming in much to the amusement of our fellow travellers! He climbed up the jetty steps, dried off, got changed into dry gear and we all boarded the boat.

He needn’t have worried about dry clothes. The rain started! Out came the rain jackets and for me a poncho as well. Our seats at the back near the open sided boat meant we got not just the blowing rain but the spray as the boat hit wave after wave.

We cruised along the coast past amazing rock formations. you can see how choppy the water is!

A half an hour into the trip I was seriously wondering why I had come. It was so tough and soooooo wet.

The trip was nearly aborted but the captain decided we looked hardy enough to press on. So at the end of LH we headed towards Balls Pyramid 22km away in open water. Luckily the rain stopped, the sun struggled through and it was a lot more comfortable.

A dolphin accompanied us to Ball’s Pyramid

We could see the rock rising out of the water shrouded in clouds. In 1964 as a 20 year old Dick Smith along with some friends sailed to LHI and attempted to climb Balls Pyramid. They didn’t make it.

It was successfully climbed a year later by some Sydney climbers.

Dick Smith returned in 1980 and made it.

Finally made it.

The sun shone through just as the snorkelers entered the water. I couldn’t resist so I got in with no wet suit. It wasn’t too cold and I found myself swimming along with big yellow fish and even spotted a shark. It was just a smallish Galapagos shark. Nothing to worry about.

Adjusting my mask with a small stack behind me.

Back onto the boat and with dolphins swimming alongside us it was a smooth trip back. We went around the rest of the island stoping at the base of Mt Gower.

The side of Mt Gower. It doesn’t look easy to climb!

Oh those poor climbers. Today was not a good day for climbing what is known as a fairly difficult climb. Part of it has ropes that you must use to pull yourself up.

Today we met John, a swimmer from Sydney, who had the bruises to prove he had done the climb.

We arrived back fairly dry so stopped for coffee at Anchorage, one of the few restaurants here on Lord Howe.

We’d missed lunch at Pinetrees but they very kindly got us a bowl of the Asian style broth with chicken. Delicious. We had two big bowls so shared with Graham & Gail who we’d met on the boat. Poor Gail was not a good sailor. It was so rough she needed the sick bag so thoughtfully provided !

An afternoon swim and then it was drinks time. Time passes easily on island time.

We met some more lovely people at sunset drinks. Jenny & Bill from Glebe. Lots of fun.

Sunset drink anyone?

Dinner was once again amazing. The nicest Japanese style eggplant. Yum.followed by swordfish for me pork belly for Steve.

Dessert was a crème caramel with citrus served with a smile by Lisa.

Our new friends Graham & Gail left a little Cherry Ripe chocolate on our placement. A thank you for sharing our lunch. Lovely Swedish Lisa laughingly called them grandma chocolate- they don’t need much chewing!

Congratulations to Helen , AnneMaree, Greg and several other brave souls who made it up Mr Gower. It can’t have been easy.