Grandchildren, street parties & hills

January 24, 2009

Kai playing hide-and-seek with his grandfather, David (Robin's twin)
Kai playing hide-and-seek with his grandfather, David (Robin's twin)

We spent the last week in Adelaide, enjoying beach walks and meeting more of David’s and Jeannette’s wide circle of friends, as well as 22-month-old Kai and 3.5-month-old Finn.

The latter are two of their three grandchildren. Son Mark is a policeman in Port Elliot, his German-born wife, Inken, a physiotherapist. The third grandchild, Ella, is in Bangkok, with her English-born father and Adelaide-born mother (David’s and Jeannette’s daughter), writes restaurant reviews and freelance articles.

Cathryn holding Finn, who's smiling at his grandmother, Jeannette
Cathryn holding Finn, who's smiling at his grandmother, Jeannette

The world has shrunk for young people with a sense of adventure. There have always been restless souls who set off to explore far parts of the world, but never has it been so easy or so common as it is now. Everywhere we go we meet people whose children live in some other state or country. Grandparents regularly fly halfway around the world to see grandchildren, but occasional visits don’t lead to very strong intergenerational relationships.

And there’s the dilemma for us. Do we stay in Kelowna, where we have a wonderful circle of friends and a satisfying life? Or do we move to Australia, where we can be closer to Robin’s children and grandchildren, knowing they could follow the call of opportunity to some other state or some other country?

But all that is in the uncertain future, waiting for the world economic situation to give us more room to contemplate alternatives. In this current, quite wonderful life, we are extraordinarily fortunate.

This has been the week of the Tour Down Under, which gives world-class cyclists a chance to compete in the southern hemisphere while winter shuts down their sport in the north. Communities that agree to be part of the route celebrate their participation with street parties.

Body painter and topless model
Body painter and topless model

We went to the one in Unley, an Adelaide suburb. We’re all getting too old for packed crowds and ear-hurting noise levels, but wine and gourmet food purveyors were doing brisk business.

Halfway along, we came across a body painter, working on the nude upper body of a curvaceous young woman. I took a couple photos of them and then Robin suggested I take some shots of the people coming across the scene.

I’ll post a few of them here, taken just at the moment they realize the model is topless.

Guys realizing the model is topless
Guys realizing the model is topless
Yes, friends, that colourful top is just paint
Yes, friends, that colourful top is just paint

Friday evening we were guests at a storytelling gathering. Pretty hard to beat the combination of delicious food, friendly company, and good stories. I was delighted to have the chance to connect with Adelaide storytellers, who made David and Jeannette and Robin and me feel like honoured guests.

Saturday we went for a drive to the top of Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills. At 727 metres it wouldn’t qualify as a mountain in Canada, but it’s high enough to provide a sweeping view of the surrounding plans, the city of Adelaide, and the sea beyond.

Robin and David at the Bridgewater Mill
Robin and David at the Bridgewater Mill

Our route through the hills took us to the old Bridgewater Mill, where we had a picnic, and on through the village of Hahndorf.

Named for Captain Dirk Hahn, the German-flavoured tourist spot is a cluster of half-timbered original cottages, later stone cottages, and modern eyesores that don’t mix well with the heritage feel of the place. The main street is lined with trees whose branches touch overhead, creating a shady bower.

The Prussian Lutheran settlers who boarded the ship Zebra in 1838 were seeking religious freedom. They were prepared to work hard to establish themselves in a new land. The good captain who settled disagreements and navigated fierce storms en route did not just drop off his passengers and sail back home. He spent considerable time making sure he was delivering his charges to a land appropriate for a new settlement.

One of the charming cottages along Hahndorf's main street
One of the charming cottages along Hahndorf's main street

In gratitude for his care and concern, the newcomers gave his name to their new community. Tomorrow we leave for Port Elliot, on the coast south of Adelaide.

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