I had a week to spend in Adelaide, which would culminate in Josh and Raquel’s wedding. But in the meantime, I had a chance to spend time with family and friends. On Monday, I went to Lobethal with Dad to check up on Nana, and we all went out to the bakery together. I showed her some photos and stories from my time in the UK since I had last seen her. From there, I drove down to the CBD to head into uni. Once again, I didn’t tell anyone exactly my date of arrival, so there was a little shock when I walked through the door of my old office once again. Andre, Zach, Rob and Kim were all around, but Jason was in Switzerland this month. I got lunch with them, before sitting at Jason’s desk and doing a little bit of PhD work myself.
On Tuesday, I had offered to take Nana to the orchestra in Adelaide, and she gleefully accepted. I spent the morning at home, which included going up into the forest on the mountain bikes with Mum. I also went with Dad to the neighbour’s place to readjust the cattle yards we had set up over the weekend. Then in the afternoon, I drove around to Lobethal to pick her up from the care home where she was spending the fortnight in respite. Her condition had deteriorated over the course of the year, and now was using a wheelchair for her longer outings. I helped her into the car and packed in her wheelchair, and we headed for the CBD.
We packed in the south parklands and took a tram up to the Town Hall, where the concert would be held. We went inside and picked up our tickets, and found ourselves with an hour spare, so we headed out to find some dinner. We settled on a new Asian fusion restaurant. Returning to the concert hall, we found our way inside and I helped her to her chair. The concert was performed by the Australian Chamber Orchestra, led by violinist Richard Tognetti. Strangely for an orchestra, every player except the timpani and double bassists spent the entire concert standing. A couple of the shorter players were given risers to stand on. The lead violinist also conducted, adding to the the spectacle. The concert was two pieces by Beethoven; first his Violin Concerto, and then his fifth Symphony, which the orchestra raced through at a blistering pace. It was great to be able to share in music with Nana again, as though I have had plenty of musical opportunity in Europe, she was the key to getting me interested in the first place.
The following day was spent doing a uniquely country Australian activity: Mum, Dad and I headed out to the Mount Pleasant stock auctions. It was one of the busiest sale dates of the year, and the entire yard was full of sheep. Dad was in the market to by a dozen or so, but many of the big farms were looking to purchase a few hundred young ewes. We milled around people-watching, before the bidding started. I was desperately trying to follow the bids, but the gestures were often quite subtle. Dad had his eye on a pen, and when it came up, the starting price was lowered down to $270 per head. However, he wasn’t the only interested party, and he nervously pushed the price up to $302 per head, winning the auction. The sale continued, moving on to some of the older animals. Finally, Dad wanted to beat the rush and pulled his trailer up first, and we loaded our newly bought sheep in and drove home to release them into our paddocks.
On Thursday and Friday, I headed in to the CBD again to meet up with my undergraduate friends again. Once again, they offered me Jason’s desk for the time I was there, and I both got some work done and engaged in the all to familiar debate and banter.
On Saturday, after spending most of the day at home, we arranged a family dinner. Mum and Dad agreed to come, and even Indy decided to tag along after discovering we would be having Indian food. We drove by Lobethal to pick up Nana and headed out to a nice Indian restaurant in Stirling. Indy was keen to show off her new Nintendo Switch, and it gave Nana a chance to ask each of us about how we were and what our plans were going forward.
Sunday was finally the reason for my visit to Adelaide: Josh and Raquel’s wedding. It was held at Ayer’s House in the centre of the city, just a short walk away from the university. In the morning Urwah messaged me asking for a lift, so I keenly obliged. We arrived about half an hour before the ceremony was due to start. We met up with Andre, Donna, Rob, Zach, Kim and the rest of the class of theoretical physicists at Adelaide, minus Jason. Whilst dressing up was a common thing for me, having spent time in Cambridge, and Zach, who used to work at Myer, the others were all slightly out of their comfort zone dressing up, and many of them had bought new suits and failed to unthread their vents or pockets. It wasn’t a big deal, but it did show a contrast between the relaxed, care-free Australia and the more formal, showy Cambridge.
We went into Ayer’s House and found our seats. Josh, as the groom, was hanging around but clearly nervous, he seemed visibly distracted and his hands were shaking a little. At half past two, Raquel’s limousine arrived, and she came out looking absolutely elegant. She wore a long white dress with a size-able train, a large veil and a pretty tiara. She was blushing her entire walk up the aisle. Josh was trying to calm his nerves, but when they held each others hands at the altar, you could see that they each were holding on very tightly.
The usual ceremonial things followed. There were a few bible readings from their brothers, and then we proceeded onto the exchanging of vows and rings. They had each written their own vows, which were cute in their complementarity. After their kiss, they both relaxed a little more, and were able to breathe again. The father of the bride read an interesting quote from Einstein, and the two were on their way to get wedding photos. As guests, we got to throw rose petals into the air at them before they got into their car.
We now had two and a half hours before the bridal party would return for the reception. We agreed to head to a nearby pub, and after discovering that the Botanic was closed on Sundays, we headed to the recently reopened Stag Hotel. We stayed for drinks and a little nibble of food, but I got to catch up in depth with Urwah and Dona.
As half past six approached we headed back to Ayers House for the reception. The hall had been laid out Cambridge-style, with a long head table for the bridal party, and three long tables stretching the length of the room for the guests. All of the physics group were sat together; I sat with James and Urwah and opposite Dona. We had a great time chatting and catching up. Though, when the food came out I found it a little hard to drop my Cambridge table manners for the more relaxed Australian ones. On the menu was a nice piece of chicken for the entree, followed by a proscuitto-wrapped lamb shoulder for the mains, and chocolate mousse for dessert. Before the dessert, the bridal party each gave speeches, some longer than others, before the ceremonial cutting of the cake.
After the food, we all moved to the dance floor. They had brought a grand piano in for one of their brother’s to play the song for their first dance. It was a nice moment, as we all stood around and watched them, before breaking off into father-daughter and mother-son pairs. After that, Andre took over as the DJ, and we danced through the night. Andre, it turns out, is quite adept at DJ’ing weddings, and had a very good idea for the songs to play. I finally got a chance to chat to Josh and Raquel and give them my support and well wishes. I discovered that Josh had had a nasty bug bite on his cheek on Wednesday, and had had plastic surgery to bring it to a level acceptable for the wedding. Both of them were happy to see me and I was happy to see them. I also got to catch up with Josh’s supervisors Ross and James.
Soon enough, the time came to finish, and the newlywed couple made their exit. Andre finished up the music and it came time to leave. I drove back home, trying to get a little sleep before my flight home the next day.