Day 178: 24 November – Being kind to our bodies!

Author: Mrs A

Location: Adelaide

Distance cycled: 24 km

After several days of excess – fabulous food and wine and not too much exercise – we decided to start the day early before the rain came across and jump on our bikes for a ride. We were out before 7am and cycling along the shared pathway along the seafront, heading for the port.We saw dolphins fishing in the shallows and a lot of coastal birdlife flitting around the dunes. There was not a breath of wind – the water on St Vincent Gulf was like a lake.As much as we enjoyed cycling the hills of the Coromandel Valley, it was exhilarating to whizz along on the flat pathways, giving a chance to look around and chat as we travelled. We reached the boat ramp to the dolphin sanctuary and watched a couple of kayakers launching for an explore before returning to camp.

The rain started late morning, by the time we’d showered, done a load of washing and consumed a couple of cups of tea.

Those that know us well may recall that in ‘real life’ we follow a 5:2 diet (two days a week we fast and consume no more than 500 calories). While we managed it occasionally in the early days of our travels, we have definitely let it slip the past few months (the last time I fasted was before my operation in September!). It’s all too easy to give ourselves excuses to not fast (‘we’re more active’, ‘we’re not eating bad stuff’ etc) but we (I!) have decided to try to get back in to the habit in the lead up to Christmas. It also forces us to be alcohol free for a couple of nights a week – something we haven’t been good at doing at all!

Mr A spent an afternoon chilling out and reading while I had a hair cut – not quite as successfully bouncy as Margaret River’s blow dry, but definitely feeling more human now!

We’re getting fairly packed up this evening in preparation for moving on tomorrow morning to our next region, friends and more wine in the Adelaide Hills! Tonight will be vegetarian and alcohol free…

Day 177: 23 November – Friends new and old

Author: Mr A

Location: Adelaide

We’d hoped to burn off some of our excesses of last night with a bike ride, but the weather was wet and windy with a severe storm warning…fair weather cyclists indeed. For lunch we met up with friends made back in Margaret River. We’d shared some good food and wine and kept in touch. It was great to swap stories of our respective travels since then and reflect on what will come next. It’s easier to get enthusiastic about our experiences and plans with other travellers, compared to friends who are still in corporate life and don’t always want to be reminded of our footloose and fancy free lifestyle!

After an afternoon spent driving around Adelaide on various chores we were reminded what ‘city life’ is like. Traffic, congestion, noise, the anonymity of being just another driver on the road – no raising of the finger off the steering wheel in acknowledgment, as we had experienced whilst driving across the country. Sydney is going to be hard to adjust back to in a few weeks.

For dinner we were excited to be meeting up with the rest of the family and friends who Catherine has known since growing up next door to the in the UK in the 1980s (about 34 years!). Good food and conversation about our respective lives. Sad though to say good bye so quickly and not know when we will see them again. Life on the move.

Day 176: 22 November – Farewell bush, return to the beach

Author: Mrs A

From: Coromandel Valley, Adelaide

To: Semaphore Park, Adelaide

Distance driven: 33km

As we emerged from our bed this morning Kim and Mike queried how we slept. ‘Fine, thank you’ we answered this typical morning question. But then it emerged why the question had been asked – right above our caravan last night, was a rather handsome male koala, who had apparently been doing his donkey-pig impression all night. We hadn’t noticed a thing, being completely shut up with our air conditioning on!

For a koala, he was a rather active male, as he moved positions three times throughout the morning, before climbing down the tree and strolling off down the valley to do more donkey-pig impressions up another tree. If you have never heard a male koala, click here for a link to YouTube – the sound is incredible, and so unexpected coming from a cuddly creature!

Below, Mr K senses another male koala in the air and plans his next move….

He begins to make a slow descent….All that work deserves a break, so it’s time for another rest and stretch out those hand muscles…Finally down to the bottom of that branch, another rest before making the rest of the journey to see the other male off…About 20 minutes after this photo was taken we once again heard the donkey-pig sounds in the valley – he’d made the final climb down and made it to a new tree to do some grunting from!

While I was taking wildlife photos, Mr A was doing a cooking demonstration for Kim and Mike, whipping up a fine breakfast on the Weber Baby Q accompanied by a delicious sourdough loaf he’d picked up from the local bakery.

After breakfast it was time for us to pack up, say our farewells and move on. Only a short journey today, down to the Adelaide coast. Our first choice of caravan park had refused us entry, stating they allow small dogs, but not small cats. We don’t really understand that decision, particularly given Tassie is indoors 90% of the time, but grudgingly accepted it. This means we are nearly 25km away from the friends we planned to see.

The positive thing about our current location is the wifi on the park – we have access to the NBN (National Broadband Network – a faster speed of internet) and unlimited usage. Very rare – most caravan parks have offered us 300MB – open a few emails and it’s all used up, and usually tortuously slow. We have learned to not rely on getting any coverage in most places.

We had been invited to catch up with Bob and Ann Gadd, friends we had last seen back in May in the Hunter Valley just as we were setting off on our adventure. We decided to Uber over to see them – driving would not really be an option – they are wine connoisseurs and we were taking one of our favourite prize winning wines from Amelia Park.

Lots of delicious food was eaten, amazing wines consumed and many travel stories and tips shared – Bob and Ann have been all over Australia and have plenty of ideas of locations to visit that are off the beaten track…we have a long way to go!

A surprise visitor arrived at the end of the evening, their son Mike over from the Margaret River for a wine judging course. It was the first time we had met Mike in person (see him in Cathy’s photos on Facebook occasionally) – though we talked about him and his wife Virginia a lot in the Margaret River!

We caught another Uber back home at the end of the evening – our latest night for a while at nearly 1am!

The below photo (as we were leaving Glenelg) is quite unflattering, but mostly taken for Cathy, Mike’s sister!

Day 175: 21 November – Biking and financial planning – now thats a combo

Author: Mr A

Location: Coromandel Valley, Adelaide

Distance cycled: 18km

Today was going to be a corker – 35 degrees – so we set off reasonably early for a ride to beat the heat. Kim was tour leader taking us up and down the significantly undulating paths of the Coromandel Valley. It was a pleasure to have cars behave so respectfully towards us. A pleasant change from Sydney.

The girls were turning a few heads of course…

Kim had the advantage of skinny tyres I must add in my defence:

Catherine just powers along: And the most common view for me was from the rear: I finally got them ease up for a lakeside stop:

And with not a scrap of lycra to be seen we had a great ride!

After some food shopping (we seem to go every day!) we had a Skype call with our financial planner, Paul Brady. Now I am going to unashamedly plug this guy as he and the amazing team he has hired at Brady and Associates have just been life changing for us. In an industry with its fair share of charlatans, Paul has been a standout quality advisor, who we now call a friend, and has helped us making some smart choices with our finances. But much more than that, we feel we share some common values about living and loving life that have made him so easy to work with. Having a safe pair of hands to help you plan your wealth creation is one of the most important decisions to be made I reckon.

So we talked through our two year plan for how we ideally want to live our life, and yes we can make it happen. Oh what a feeling. I know luck always plays a part in how your life plans out, and we have had some very good fortune in our work lives, and some not so good in our health, but even that could be so much worse. We have taken some risks, both leaving family and friends and our comfort zones in the UK, and both pursued very different careers, but shared a value of trying to do the right thing by our respective customers, and that has been the key I think to how rewarded we have been by our jobs. Clients have turned into friends, friends into customers, it’s too connected a world to not do the right thing, and yet many businesses don’t seem to yet realise that.

The day ended with a lovely long birthday dinner for Mike, fresh seafood, salads from their garden, a beautiful aged Grenache, neighbours dropping in.

These last few days with our hosts have reinforced the importance of being part of a community. The way neighbours help each other out, as some age or lose their partners, this is how people are meant to live. Mutual respect and a sense of belonging.

We miss our friends and the identity that comes from being part of a team at work, travelling does bring some challenges in that regard, but the mobile community of grey nomads (in which we have made so many new friends) has helped offset some of the potential isolation.

We appreciate your efforts at reading this blog and sending us comments, keeping us connected. Thank you!

Day 174: 20 November – Exploring the Coromandel Valley

Author: Mrs A

Location: Adelaide, Coromandel Valley

A warm day was promised with blue skies overhead as the morning dawned. We decided to pop on the air conditioning to ensure Tassie was kept comfortable as the temperature climbed to the early 30s…she of course responded by hiding behind the pillows on the bed and snuggling down – there’s no pleasing some people!

Mr A decided to do an early morning cycle to try and get a handle of our surroundings, returning at 7.30am with a face of shock at the number of and steep angle of the hills around here! After several months of pretty flat cycling we suddenly feel like we are in the foothills of the French Alps!

We joined Kim for some breakfast of bacon and freshly laid eggs, before bringing Tassie out to the garden for an explore, the dogs safely locked away. She had a good stroll around and came face to face with her first chicken, which she didn’t think much of, before returning to the safety of the mobile apartment for a nap.

Next it was the dogs turn for some exercise, so we joined Kim on a stroll around the neighbourhood with Cooper and Riki.

Mr A and I volunteered to pop down to the shops to buy a few supplies for tonight’s and tomorrow’s dinner, and Kim pointed us in the direction of her favourite supermarket. OMG. What initially was meant to be purchasing some fish, chicken thighs and a lime turned in to an almost $300 shop!!

What a fabulous supermarket – why there are not more of these (and why Adelaide deserves this one and not Sydney’s northern beaches, I don’t know!) in Australia, I have no idea, but Foodland Frewville really sets the bar. The fruit and vegetables are set out like art displays…

There is a breadbar instead of a bakery, with all sorts of goodies on sale – Mr A was like a kid in a sweet shop!He emerged with a caramel donut – to share with Kim over a cup of tea when we got back!The Cheese was from all around Australia and the world – Mr A collected some washed rind sheep cheese from France and a bitey Stilton from England…after our journey through small town Australia, this was paradise.

We returned to unload our wares and Kim advised us there was some local wildlife up the road – in fact we probably strolled right under him on our return walk this morning. Yes, a young Koala chilling out in a eucalyptus tree…

Kim and Mike’s garden is also a haven for birdlife, with parladotes nesting on their patio, honeyeaters in the bottlebrush flowers, and pink and grey galahs looking down on us. Just a little paradise.

Our day concluded with a fabulously decadent evening of oysters, followed by a delicious Thai green chicken curry and dessert – Mr A delighted to find Kim had baked a fresh lemon meringue pie, and me perfectly happy with the final scoop of my dairy-free ice cream from Bunbury in Western Australia, along with a selection of fresh berries from the garden. Oh and I almost forgot the wines – an excellent selection from our tastings in the Margaret River region…Fabulous!

Day 173: 19 November – Farewell to the Clare – hello Adelaide

Author: Mr A

From: Clare Valley

To: Coromandel Valley

Distance: 152 km

After spending the morning cleaning the car and van, we reluctantly dragged ourselves away from the Clare. It was a slow drive down into Adelaide, I’m pretty cautious behind the wheel, knowing I have several tons behind me you don’t want to be trying to stop too quickly. Late afternoon saw us winding our way though the city streets and then climbing up a winding steep hill into a really scenic part of Adelaide we had never been before.

Catherine’s friends and neighbours from when she lived in Hastings moved out to Australia 30 years ago, and we have visited them a number of times over the years. A surrogate family really. We had been invited to stay with Kim and Mike for a couple of days, so first job was to park up on their drive, a proposect that at the beginning of our trip would have filled me with horror. Now…easy peasy.

They have a lovely home with a massive ‘market garden’ at the back, brimming with fruit and veggies, some of which were incorporated into a fantastic dinner.

Oh the potatoes fresh from the ground – the fresh berries and strawberries – so delicious. Local wines were produced, of course. A cracking night was had.