So It’s back to work but ….

It was back to work today after the Christmas Break.

I love the Christmas New Year period, it’s totally relaxing, the phone doesn’t ring except when someone wants to catch up for a drink and there are no emails!

This year we didn’t go to far spending our time between home and our beach house.

20140107-070825.jpg

What could be better than few days at Second Valley , South Australia’s best beach.
20140106-191511.jpg

Just so quiet and peaceful in the lead up to Christmas. A great place to walk the dog, ride the bike and just take it easy.

Then there was Adelaide’s Central Market. It’s a unique experience, right in the centre of the city. Awesome fruit, vegetables, meats and cheese. Sure wine tasting is fun, but spending time at The Smelly Cheese Stall is just as good – always better to do this on my own so my wife can’t see how much I’ve spent!

20140106-185442.jpg

Christmas Eve at the Central Market is complete bedlam, but such fun. Happy people shopping for their Christmas goodies. One of those not to be missed Adelaide experiences at Christmas or anytime of the year.

Then it was Christmas breakfast, which is my favourite part of the day as it’s just with our children. This time it also included my dughter’s partner a new and important member of the family. We always have Pantone, a Christmas tradition, with Nutella and Mascarpone. It’s definitely a Christmas only treat, truly yummy. After lunch it was back to the beach for French Champagne on the deck with some cheese and a delightful sunset.

20140106-185751.jpg

Apart from some great riding across the break I did plenty of writing, something I am finding so relaxing – even my thesis proposal! That involved a lot of research and writing quite a structured piece for my potential supervisor to read. I also enjoyed working on my blog. The timing of the Zero to Hero Challengecouldn’t have been better.

As for eating and drinking there was plenty of that! New Year’s Eve was a feast topped off by some amazing mango sorbet and a walk home on a very hot night!

20140106-195431.jpg

My favourite meal was the catalunya seafood dish and of course my favourite drink was Aperol Spritz of which we had an ample supply!

20140106-195619.jpg

20140106-195735.jpg

I also watched a lot of soccer!
For me, it started watching Arsenal V Chelsea at the beach on a glorious sunny morning, whilst it was a dreary wet windy night in London, not the best game of the break which I think goes to Manchester City v Liverpool, although Arsenal beating Tottenham was pretty close ( I am an Arsenal supporter after all). I also took in a couple of Adelaide United home games cross the break, a win against Newcastle United, which included a cameo from Emile Heskey and then a full house when Adelaide United drew with Sydney and the opportunity to see Del Peiro play.

20140106-200519.jpg

20140106-200811.jpg

Of course there was also The Ashes – 5 – 0! The Boxing Day Test for all its hype is absolutely required viewing whilst lazing around on the day after Christmas. It really is an Australian tradition.

As I’m not a traditionalist the chance to go to the 20/20 also wasn’t to be missed.

20140106-201314.jpg

Also there was great music. I rediscovered Badly Drawn Boy, had a fantastic night listening to 70s music, watched lots of music videos and started to ready myself for the Springsteen Concert in my home town.

So as I reflect on it, a very enjoyable 16 days all spent in fabulous South Australia, a time with friends and family. What could be better?

Second Valley, South Australia

20131020-092744.jpg

Second Valley is located on the western shore of Fleurieu Peninsula and is surely one of the most beautiful spots in South Australia. The natural beauty of the undulating hills and the rugged coastline is always picturesque whether seen in the dry of summer or the green of winter.

So says Ron Blum as he opens his book The Second Valley A History of Second Valley South Australia

It was during the public ride for the Tour Down Under that I really discovered Second Valley. A day which was so far beyond hot it didn’t matter. I had cramp early in the ride not surprising given it was 40c plus and which made all of the hills a major challenge. The road was melting under my wheels!

I reached Leonard’s Mill and sat in the shade simply to recover before attempting yet another hill. One which on a normal day would have been simple. While I was sitting there a group of locals rolled out of the pub after a cold beer and had a chat. I must have looked quite a sight!

20131020-171825.jpg

In any event, I took a mental note of the place as we searched for a new beach house. We had a place at Aldinga but

Continue reading

Reflections of My Life

I was listening to the 1969 Marmalades’ hit Reflections of my Life on Spotify.

It’s a forgotten classic by a band from Glasgow, however as I listened to it this time around, it was with quite different ears to those of the 12 year old who bought it in 1970 as a 45. I don’t think it was just being forty plus years older that gave the song a different feel.

It is a very melancholy song. For me, as with so many others, a couple of lines stood out,

The world is a bad place, a bad place
A terrible place to live, oh but I don’t wanna die
.

Given the song was written at the height of the Vietnam War its anti war sentiment is easy to understand as is the reference to the the world as a bad and terrible place. This time around though, it was not the Vietnam War that I was thinking about when I listened to the song, but a photo I had seen on our recent trip. I could neither get the photograph or the lines out of my head.

20130811-142816.jpg

The photo is on display at the Topography of Terror in Berlin,

Continue reading

One last city – Paris and then Home

Off the train and straight into early evening Paris traffic as we arrived at our last destination and headed to our last hotel of the trip – Jules and Jim in the Marais. The hotel was highly recommended, something I questioned as we turned into a very dodgy looking street. The hotel has a narrow entrance opening into a courtyard and bar not at all evident from the street.

20130725-081409.jpg

Imagine our joy as we found the lift not working and our room on the sixth floor! The staff were so apologetic and helpful in minimizing the disruption. I felt sorry for the young porter who had to lug everyone’s luggage up and down the narrow staircase.

We arrived to a sharp downpour and a warm night. Very pleasant for a stroll in what is a magical city.

20130725-081946.jpg

Our last full day. We decided to take it easy and stay around the Marais.

Continue reading