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Beyond the Pale - A 'pale' is a fencepost. The English Pale was a boundary in Ireland marking out the part of Ireland under direct English rule circa 1450 (which included Dublin and environs). Those that lived 'beyond the pale', outside of English rule, were considered out of control and uncivilised. You decide...

Thursday, November 2, 2000

Fragments from the Australia Diaries 2000 (part 22) - Hunter Valley


ROAD TRIP

Well, I had the best weekend last week (it was road trip time). The morning was a mad dash as we had to get over to Katrinas house in Sydney's North Shore, she had picked up the rental car. The car was perfect, very city slickers. We piled in, threw some road music in the CD player and away we were. I was pretty quiet on the way out, things on my mind. We arrived in Hunter Valley, that’s a wine valley about 2 hours from Sydney. We were sooo lucky Katrina was with us, aside from the dazzling company, she knew the place like the back of her hand and was able to scoot us along to one vineyeard after the other.

Also, we were able to take our lead from her with the whole wine tasting thingymajig. It was tempting to prise the bottle from the attendant's hands and chug-a-lug till noon. By the end of the day we were all smelling bouquets, savouring the aroma, swillin’ & spittin’. Katrina was Redser (red wine, keep it comin' sweatheart), Sharon was Sweetie Dahling (dessert wine, can I get a spoon with this) and Lian and myself were Dry Sh*tes (white wine for de laydeez), these may or may not be the official terms!

Katrina managed to buy 6 bottles of posh vino, the rest of us a bought a bottle of plonk each. We also picked up some cheese, bread and crackers for our Cheese & Wine gala buffet back in our bedroom. Hunter Valley had the most beautiful views, it was perfect wedding picture place. We actually saw a wedding, with some dodgy looking outfits. Sharon had to be restrained from shouting out the window “I hope your choice in men is better than your choice in dresses”. (I kid, Sharon is a gentle soul who would never shout anything out a window).



We got to the motel in Port Stephens, a sea side resort past Hunter (yes, I said 'motel'). The wine was cracked open and the endless talking began; life, futures, past, present and the bits in between, an unapologetic big time girlie bonding session. 

Empowered by our "you're amazing, NO, you are, you are" pep talks, we decided this town deserved a bit of city girl action and headed to the local watering hole.

As expected the place was wall-to-wall rednecks (in Aussie speak they are called 'bogans'); mullet hairstyles, ill fitting black jeans, I can't even go on. A troop of aul fellas were propping up the bar, with their ZZ top beards. The drunken women who were propping up the men propping up the bar were wearing a haphazard collection of 1980s attire but there was nothing ironic or retro about it. The live band kicked off with a C&W chart topper and the dance floor filled with snazzy women saying things to eachother like "there's two kind of music I like, Country AND Western". Meanwhile the men stood on one side of the room and compared the lengths of their beards and the redness of their necks.



I woke up at the crack of dawn, Dolly Parton still ringing in my ears. I went for a walk down to the beautiful harbour, it was incredibly peaceful, like something right out of a postcard. I came back to the room and sat out on the balcony with my cuppa tea, my feet up and found 'On my Own' from Les Mis on my walkman. I burst into song and kept it up all morning until it drove the girls out of bed. 

We plodded down to the seafront where an Irish breakfast was in order. The lady sitting across from us was clearly a cross dresser/transgender (the hands were the giveaway, always the hands). And by 'lady across from us' I'm not talking about one of the girls!

I have to admit I did do a double take and my eyebrows probably shot off my face, but I immediately felt terrible as it was clear the lady was very self conscious. She's just living her life, no big deal, get over it. How would I have felt if she started whispering among her friends about me, "Oh my god, there she is, the Irish mutant, look at the state of her, and she was singing her head off this morning, I thought someone was murdering a dolphin. Gawd, if I had a face like that I'd live in a shoe and never leave it".

Live and let live I say, it's all about being coooool :o)

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