We bought another car this weekend. This time not so much from anxiety as from necessity, as our jobs no longer afford us the luxury of taking public transportation. The city is a big flat grid, and travel by car is most practical, if not essential. However, we are within walking distance of the Central Business District of Adelaide, so weekend entertainment will not jeopardize my precarious driving privilege.
Of course, the most natural thing to do with a new car is to take it on a long drive, and here in South Australia a natural drive in any direction will land you in the middle of wine country (save for any westerly direction, which will land you in the middle of the Gulf of St Vincent.) We opted to take the scenic route, up into the South Hills and through the quaint German village of Hahndorf - where one can stock up on fudge, cuckoo clocks, strudel, and attitude. We hooked right in the town of Mt Barker, where Kevin works, and dropped into the luscious McLaren Vale Valley (is that redundant?) through golden vineyards and rolling green pastures studded with towering gum trees and shaggy brown cows - who, curiously, were all pointing in one direction, causing me to question whether they might possesses magnetic qualities.
We stopped into the visitor center to collect maps and brochures. The kind lady behind the counter asked if had plans for lunch. We mentioned we were hoping to eat at the d’Arenberg Winery.
“Oh, they are booked out. We’ve had to turn away dozens of people already today.”
“The d’Arenberg Winery just called – they’ve had a cancellation – someone had car trouble – they can seat you immediately. Is a window seat ok with you?”
We did not hesitate.
“Well, aren’t you the luckiest couple in McClaren” oozed our hostess as she led us across the verandah (which, coincidentally was the name of the restaurant – imagine the odds!) to a table with a sweeping view of blustery vineyards and sun spotted hills.
And the food wasn’t bad either, as evidenced by the number of people with cameras pointed at their plates, who moments later dissolved into puddles of fluttering eyelids accompanied by robust yummy noises – myself included. I can’t wait to burp and savor once more the delicate joys of ravioli stuffed with blue swimmer crab and lemongrass topped with fresh lobster and a brandy cream sauce.
We took the direct route home, an engineering marvel in the face of limited funding. The Southern Expressway is fickle piece of roadway, swinging North or South depending on the current commuter demands. On weekday mornings it is a conduit into the city and reverts to southbound for the afternoon rush. On the weekends, the commute is reversed in order to efficiently whisk city-dwellers off to the vineyards and back again come dusk. Within 45 minutes, we were back home, reversing the new car into the garage…
Oops, well, it’s not quite so new anymore! Obviously, we aren’t the luckiest couple in Adelaide…