Australia · Christmas · Travel

Week 64: Aussie Christmas Approaches

Monday was a beautiful morning in the Adelaide Hills, and so I was intent on going out for a bike ride. I wanted to head to many of my old favourite roads in and around South Australia, and so I intended to climb Fox Creek Road. Dad asked if he could come along, and so we headed down to the shed to set out for our ride. Before we set off, I tried to adjust my rear derailleur, which had been very poorly aligned on my last ride and had resulted in very bad skipping of gears. I noticed that a bolt that normally holds the derailleur in place was missing, and so slightly tightened the other one to keep it in place.

We headed out up the road, heading up Fox Creek and into Lenswood. The climb follows the valley for a few kilometers, before steeply climbing out of the gully through a stringybark forest; tall trees and green undergrowth hug the roadside unlike many of the more open roads in the state. The final kilometre is steep too, with a sharp hairpin halfway up giving a moments respite.

Over the top, we headed through the apple orchards of Lenswood, the smell of the soon to be flowering fruits hanging in the air. I left dad for a little and headed up the short climb of Leslie Road, one that I’d never done before. It was narrow and steep, but short. Over the top, I looped around and met up with Dad again. We rode on to the town of Woodside, where there was a bike shop where we could see if we could get my rear derailleur fixed. However, when the mechanic started fiddling with the drivetrain, a brittle hanger connecting the derailleur to the frame snapped cleanly in two. It would require a part to be shipped in and meant that my bike was unrideable for the next week. Dejected, I called Nana, who lived in nearby Lobethal, and asked if she could come and pick me up and take me back home. We met her at the bakery in Woodside, getting a coffee and pastries, and generally catching up. She later drove me home, while Dad rode back. There would be no more cycling for the rest of the week.

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The next day, I had a dentist appointment in Lobethal. I drove over and went in, the first appointment of the day. It featured the usual uncomfortable deep cleaning of my teeth, and he requested a follow-up appointment the following week. After the appointment, I went over to visit Nana, who lived just behind the dentists office, and we went over for another trip to the Lobethal bakery together. I had to make sure the car was back by lunch time for Indy too to go to the dentist.

Wednesday was an especially hot day in Adelaide; a strong northerly wind was blowing the warm desert air through the city. I wanted to take the opportunity to go to the beach, and so I headed down to Semaphore and met up with an old friend. After grabbing some fish and chips, I then drove on to Andre’s house where he had invited a few score people around for a drinks and snacks session prior to the midnight screening of the new Star Wars film. Andre, a massive Star Wars fan, had arranged for midnight screening tickets as soon as the release date for the film was announced. This was something he had done for the other recent films as well. People were discussing fan theories about the film, and generally hyping themselves up. As midnight approached, we drove in convoy down to the cinema in the West End of the City. We arrived relatively early and tried to throw back our tiredness. Eventually, the hour approached, and we made our way into the cinema for the screening. We were a rather large group, and took up most of the right side block of seats. Our midnight screening was delayed by about 15 minutes, though whether it was because of technical issues or to clear the line for the candy bar we were not sure. On the night, most people thoroughly enjoyed themselves, even if in the days and weeks afterwards they would be debating the merits or otherwise of the film. It finished at nearly three in the morning, following which I had a rather quiet drive home.

Thursday took a while to recover from the very late night, and was mostly spent at home watching the cricket on television. Much was the same on Friday, until I got a call from the bike shop telling me that my bike was now fixed, so I eagerly went out to pick it up from Woodside. On the way home, I stopped by Nana’s place for a quick visit, and we went across to the bakery for yet more bread and a chat.

On Saturday, I headed down to the City yet again, this time to get all of my Christmas shopping done. There were a few stores that I knew I could rely on to get gifts for certain people, but others where I was somewhat aimlessly wandering until I got a realisation of what to get someone. It lasted pretty much all day and was rather exhausting, but by the end, I had completed it all, even if I’d wandered around the book shop for an hour trying to relocate a book I’d earlier glanced out of the corner of my eye.

On Sunday, Indy and I went up into the forest in search of a Christmas tree for Nana. There has always been pinus radiata growing in and around the upper parts of our property. In Australia, that tree has always been a popular choice for Christmas trees, even if it doesn’t have the same density of branches as the firs or spruces more popular in Europe. Indy and I searched around the hillside for a suitable tree, and upon finding one, we harvested it and took it around to Nana’s. We spent the afternoon there setting up the tree and decorating it. Indy was meeting friends later that afternoon, so we had to go home before heading out to the bakery. But Nana gave me a pharmacy script that she needed collected, so I headed down into the suburbs to find a store open on Sunday. This meant that I could go past one of the local bakery’s on the way and get yet another variety of bun that I had been missing from Cambridge.

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That evening, Dad, Mum and I headed around to meet Nana in Lobethal. Every year around Christmas time, the residents of Lobethal put up very elaborate Christmas light displays around their houses. Even though the popularity has waned in recent years, it still draws many people from the city up to the town in the evenings in the weeks leading up to Christmas. During this period, the local Lutheran church puts on a nativity play at the Lutheran school for the visitors to Lobethal. It is a narrated production, with a local newborn chosen to play Jesus. Nana’s church had volunteered to perform as the choir in the evenings two performances, and Nana had requested that we come along to help boost the numbers. We stood up on the hill and sang our way through ten Christmas carols for each performance, punctuated by the narrator telling the nativity story. The first was much better attended than the second, but the younger kids especially enjoyed seeing the sheep and goats on the stage. After the show, we went up into the activity centre at the school for nibbles, before heading home once again.

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