So, when last we spoke, I’d just got back from Sydney, with blistered feet, a scuff on my head and a sore back. By this point, I was about halfway through my time in Australia, and even though I was ostensibly based in Perth for the trip, I’d hardly spent any time there, between Sydney and the jaunt to Kalbarri.
That was about to change, though.
However, that wouldn’t change before one last extra-Perthular excursion – two nights up in Ledge Point at Ceoil Na Mara, the holiday house Gordon and Nancy co-own with the Strouds, Peter and Martina (you may remember them from the Kalbarri blogs). Staying at Ledge was myself, Gordon, Nancy, Peter, Martina and Adam and Arlene McGregor, who you may remember we went out for excellent Chinese food with in Northbridge right at the start of this whole shindig. Not quite a full house (I was sleeping in a room that sleeps four folk by myself) but plenty of good company for a couple of days by the WA oceanside.
We headed up on Friday the 8th of April (in case you were wondering, the Thursday was pretty much a non event for me, still recuperating from Sydney. My back was pretty sore at this point, so I just rested and edited photos for a good chunk of that day). The drive up was uneventful, taking about an hour and 20 minutes. That evening, we were treated to an amazing Thai/Vietnamese fish curry cooked by Adam, who’s right into his Asian cookery. If I remember right, the fish was Red Snapper, maybe the one that was caught at Kalbarri, although I seem to remember Gordon saying he’d had some Snapper in the freezer prior to that, so maybe not. Anyway, it was genuinely immense. Prior to this I’d not really had much experience with fish curries, but between this and the fish curry I’d have a couple of weeks later in Perth, it’s something I definietly want to try more of in the future.
After Currypalooza 2016, we got wired into the drink, as befits a bunch of Celts on holiday (all Scots bar Martina, who’s Irish. Dunno how Adam and Arlene would feel about being referred to as Celts though, being the Rangers fans they are 😉 ).
We sat on the house’s balcony, looking out towards the sea to the west and an absolutely incredible thunderstorm to the north. The first time in my life I’d ever seen proper forked lightning, as far as I can recall. Pretty much any lightning I’ve seen before now has been the fairly mundane sheet-lightning variety – just a big flash of light in the sky. This stuff was proper Hollywood lightning. I tried to get a nice long-exposure shot of the storm on my RX100, but I made an arse of it due to trying to use Bulb mode rather than a pre-set long exposure with a self-timer. Me holding down the shutter button manually caused the camera to move just enough to make the picture really blurry. I’ll attach it to this post, even though as an image, it’s not great.
So, we sat on the balcony, watched the lightning and got merry. As the night wore on, it progressed from beer and wine, to port and eventually a wee dram or two. I was the first one to bed that night (lightweight that I am), and sometime after I went to bed, a minor problem arose. Adam took a bit of a tumble and cut his hand and eyebrow on some glass. Thankfully, we had a couple of nurses (Martina and Nancy) as part of the group, so repairs were effected with minimal fuss, even with a sasparilla or three in ’em. Professionals!
The next day, we were all a bit tender, but we got the barbie fired up and wired into square sausage, tattie scones and black pudding for breakfast. A proper Scottish hangover cure. All we needed was some Irn Bru. After that, we set up the new TV that had been bought for the house (after a bit of cable improvisation to get the DVD player working with the telly) and then a few of us set off to Lancelin, the bigger town just up the road. In Lancelin, we found a pub, had a couple of drinks, I played a pristine sit-down Sega Rally arcade machine (just about the last thing I expected to see in an Australian pub!), I hit the bottle shop for a case of beers (I made a poor choice though – Pure Blonde, a pretty weak-arsed beer. I thought it’d be a blonde ale, it was just a ‘meh’ lager. It should’ve been called Pure Bland) and we headed back to Ledge via a quick butchers at the dunes where some 4×4-ing went on.
Once we got back to Ceoil Na Mara, we got fired into a nice wee cheeseboard and some beverages, pregaming before the big Western Australian Derby AFL game that night – Fremantle Dockers vs West Coast Eagles. I still hadn’t entirely wrapped my head around the AFL rules at this stage, but I was starting to enjoy it. Being around enthusiasm like Arlene’s definitely didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the game. I don’t think it would’ve helped Peter’s enjoyment of the game, though, as his beloved Dockers got a hiding.
The rest of the evening proceeded without incident. More wine was consumed, chat was had, pretty quiet really.
That evening I was first to bed again, and I lay there thinking about how normally, at that exact moment for the previous 10 years or so, I would’ve been running around like a blue-arsed fly, as that day was Grand National day, the busiest day of the year for my job (now my former job) at Ladbrokes. My colleagues would’ve been knocking their pans in and there I was, halfway around the planet drinking beers and watching the footy with friends and family. Not the worst Grand National Saturday I’ve ever had, it must be said.
The next day, we ate another Scottish breakfast and set off back to Perth in the early afternoon. Nothing like slice sausage and a cup of tea on a Sunday morning, even on the other side of the planet.
Next time, I’ll be talking about the stuff I managed to get up to around Perth itself in the last 10 days or so of my time Down Under. Won’t you join me?