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Monday, April 03, 2006

Road Trip To Quandialla #2

Oh. Ow. Oh, Jeez.
Cold, leaden vise clamped firmly around my brain, I somehow managed to open my eyes on Saturday morning and drag my dinner-deprived, beer-flushed body into the shower, ignoring any temptation to look in the mirror. I already knew what I would have seen there. Pale Green Badness.

After about a year in the shower, I called Milly in her room to wake her up, got her voicemail, mentioned that I thought my hair was bloodshot, and sat down to try and figure out a clothing concept. Like how to put on my pants. I desperately wanted to slip back into a coma, but the Knickerbocker Hotel has a kind of Third Reich breakfast policy - we'd already paid for a cooked brekky, and, as we were informed with underlines and highlights - if you want breakfast at a minute past nine, bad freakin' luck mate.

Somehow we found ourselves in the Knickerbocker dining room, being served bacon and eggs by a go-getter probably known as 'Jude', and wrestling with a temperamental toaster probably known as 'Toast On Both Sides, You Piece of Sh*t'. Milly seemed to be in much better shape than I was, what with her ability to form actual sentences. She even managed to both listen earnestly to my babble and pull a hair out of the eggs in her mouth. We both hoped it was Milly's. It was a bit long to be one of Jude's.

We left Bathurst just after 9am, and headed west under an increasingly sunny and cloudless sky, through rolling hills and fields, on a smooth road punctuated with furry globs of roadkill. Milly had quite a talent for recognising what the globs were pre-semi-trailer, chanting "fox", "wallaby", "rabbit", and then finally "what the f*ck is that?!" when her talent ran out. We decided we'd check out the large, dark brown mound on the way back.

After a couple of hours we were both feeling almost human, and decided it was time to stop for a lemonade at the next town. The next town happened to be Grenfell, the birthplace of Henry Lawson, and a lovely spot. After taking a comedy photo of me outside the town's premier boutique, named Fashion Addict, we made a beeline for The Albion, one of those quintessential dark, cool country pubs, complete with three Stubbied locals at one end of the bar, and every sentence uttered by the barmaid ending in "love". We took our softies out to the beer garden, taking turns to visit the Ladies for a long overdue hangover ritual - dropping the kids off at the pool. Milly interacted briefly with one of the locals, who offered "This wind's a bastard, isn't it?", before moving along, and we agreed that if we had grown up in Grenfell, the Albion's beergarden would've been a tops place to have your 21st. We inspected Grenfell's main street, including the obligatory poke-around in a couple of second-handy, antiquey shops, where we tut-tutted at the obviously exorbitant mark-ups Sydney shops whack onto gorgeous rustic bits and pieces like this. Antique price comparisons. Very rock n' roll.

Refreshed and almost ready for a hair of the gigantic, slavering dog that mauled us, we completed the final leg of our inward journey, and pulled up outside Quandialla's Bland Hotel (it's a name, not an attitude) just after lunchtime. What a great pub. Front bar, ladies' lounge, dining room, beer garden. Cat. Bushy-bearded fellow perched at the end. Sarah had told us that one of the regulars at the Bland was a guy, named Brian, who had a hook for a hand. Milly and I tried to see if our hairy-faced companion was, in fact, Brian With The Iron, but he never really had his hands in view. Shy, perhaps.

Onward. We were still about fifteen minutes away from the baby shower at Sarah's parents' house via a dirt road, so we made our way with care, Milly commenting that, due to our impressive dust cloud/vapour trail, she felt like she was driving a plane. We made the appropriate noises and, at one stage, each stuck an arm out of the front windows, wing-style. We finally arrived at the picturesque homestead, got out of the car, dusted ouselves off, tiptoed our way across the cattle grid, walked up the path, realised we'd forgotten the present, turned back, did it all again. Stripy monkey and red baby jammies gripped tightly, we found Sarah, who, apart from the fact that she's now incubating a human, hasn't changed one bit. At the risk of diving straight into cliche, she really did exhibit that special pregnant lady glow, especially when she stood next to the comparative long-and-sodden-car-journey- pastiness of Milly and myself.

Sarah's mum welcomed us warmly with hugs and coldly with champers, and for the first ten minutes, Milly, Sarah and I had absolutely bugger all to say beyond the awkward "Well, isn't this nice! Hasn't it been a long time!". We soon relaxed as we started reminiscing about our art school days, who snogged who, who drank what, who made it big, who's in jail, and who should be. We met Sarah's excellent mate, Fiona, also from Sydney, and settled in for a lazy afternoon of sipping drinks and grazing on the astounding gastronomic offerings piled high on a couple of tables in the yard. It was a brilliant afternoon - I realised that I didn't have a romanticised memory of how much fun these two brilliant chicks are - we slipped very, very easily into our old sarcastic banter. It was like falling off a log. Into a vat of oil-paint and beer.

When most of the guests had dribbled off, Milly, Fiona and I helped pile Sarah's obscene pile of baby-loot (including the stripy monkey, which had been received with the appropriate hoots and clucks) into her car, and the four of us drove ten minutes to Sarah and Trev's house. There are two houses on the property, one belonging to Trev's mum (referred to as 'the big house'), and Sarah and Trev's adorable three-bedroom cottage (referred to as 'the small house'). People who do not live in Sydney can call a three-bedroom house 'small' without irony. Or sobbing.

Trev can only be described as an excellent bastard. No bullsh*t, funny as hell, down-to-earth, and the kind of bloke who you'd be sure has every size of bolt and drill-bit in easy reach, all of the time. We lounged around after a quick tour, collecting ourselves before the inevitable evening pub-visit. Sarah dragged out some old uni photos, so 'lounged around' turned into 'nearly regurgitated a lung laughing'. Milly did at one stage think she would actually throw up. Which we just thought was funny.

The four of us made our way to the Bland and settled in for the evening. Milly and I withheld our comments regarding the smallness of our beers for as long as we could, until Sarah enlightened us - apparently in the country you're given a middy unless you specify otherwise. Lesson learned, we specified with abandon from then on. It's been a long time since I've laughed that much, that often, with that high a risk of a nasal beer-spray. Brilliant. We moved into the dining room for an excellent pub meal, and the conversation turned, perhaps inappropriately, to horror hospital stories. Fiona told a startling Japanese three-pager, and Milly gave me schtick for having more ailments than most grandmothers. Sarah's foetus decided to join in the merriment, causing her to shout "Oh, Jethuth! Right in the bladder!". Bless.

Several beers and a couple of wines later, Cuzza was getting a bit weary, what with a tummy full of person and soft-drink, so we called it a night and headed back to the house. With the knowledge that, unlike the Knickerbocker, breakfast at The Small House would take place whenever we deemed it necessary, we all plummeted eagerly to sleep.

1 comment:

milly said...

oh dear

i just laughed so much a little bit of wee came out