Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mawson: Day One - Part 2

I got to Bike SA headquarters in good time. I saw plenty of familiar faces, and a few new ones too. Cloudy skies ensured that it wasn't going to be an overly warm ride. The Linear Path was pretty easy, and Castambul was the usual biathlon. It tried to rain but it wasn't too much of an inconvenience. The fast section through the forest was welcomed, and we arrived at Lobethal at 12.35. We made camp and then enjoyed an afternoon of beers and catching up with friends. Very satisfied to have arrived in good spirits and in OK weather. I get the sense that I might be back in the groove. The next few days will tell...

Mawson: Day One - Lobethal

So here I go again. My fourth crack at riding the Mawson Trail. The 900+ kilometre off-road route from Adelaide to Blinman will transport me to the Flinders Ranges, one of the state's most beautiful areas. If everything goes to plan, in two weeks' time I will be waking up in my tent, a very satisfied man, having completed the journey. Right now though, that seems a long way away.
I think I am well-enough prepared physically and mentally, and I spent a bit of money on the bike last week, so everything should be OK.
Despite the significant challenge, doing something like this has plenty of benefits. I find the long haul treks quite meditative, and the single-purpose nature of most days provides an escape from the usual monkey-minded nature of modern life.
I will be glad to get to the top of the Castambul climb this morning, and even happier if the rain stays away.
Farewell, my safe, suburban life. See you in a fortnight...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I'm a lazy sod

I finished off what had been a very busy week by going to a birthday party on Saturday night. It was a 40th, it was family, it was rock 'n' roll fancy dress.
I wasn't sure I had the energy for all of that.
If someone had just presented me with a Sgt Pepper's outfit it would have been fine, but most of my attempts at striking a balance between making the required effort and still feeling comfortable in myself were feeble at best. Johnny Cash? Easy to do, but the hat didn't fit. Alice Cooper? Done it before. Angus Young? There will be half a dozen of them already at the party...
Ultimately, my Never Mind The Bollocks t-shirt and my old 10-hole Doc Martens were put to good use.

Now that's Rock 'n' Roll! Or, quite possibly, not.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Phoenix nights

As I'd hoped, I got to visit The Phoenix, albeit briefly, last night.
Work had gone horribly overtime, so I was faced with a choice. I could race back to the hotel, freshen up, then reconvene with my colleagues at the pre-arranged dinner. Or, I could go to The Phoenix, spend 60 minutes in my favourite Canberra venue, and go straight from there to dinner, still in my work clothes.

No contest.

I got from the office to East Row in what seemed like seconds. I walked into the pub, sat at the bar, and ordered a Guinness. The chap next to me introduced himself as 'Murray' and proceeded to tell me his story. He could certainly talk and, after a full day, I was happy just to sit and almost listen.
The sixty minutes I had at my disposal flew by. I had two pints, heard enough about Murray to fill a book, experienced the twin joys of Going Underground and Fairytale of New York as they were pumped out from the (now digital) music system, and I left a satisfied man.

Farewell Phoenix, until next time!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The national capital

Staring out of the window, watching Mount Ainslie fade into the warm autumn evening. No one can touch me here.
I flew into Canberra tonight, for work purposes. I have two days of talking and listening to endure, before flying home to a gig. In fact, I will be going straight from Adelaide Airport to Higher Ground on Thursday night. It sounds very rock and roll, but it isn't. It's just necessary.
I like Canberra. I always have, and I don't really understand why. I know a lot of people think it is boring, but it seems to suit me. Perhaps that says something...
I've done a couple of 3-4 month stints over here, for work, back in the mid-90s. I was impressed with the compact nature of the place, and the fact that I was still able to source most of the things that bring me pleasure - books, music, non-Hollywood cinema, a variety of restaurants and a decent pub.
I saw the Sex Pistols here, at the Royal Theatre in 1996, as part of the Filthy Lucre tour. It was, surprisingly, one of the best gigs I've ever attended, so I guess that gives me some sense of a special connection with Canberra.
One of the best things about this town is the The Phoenix. A great little hole-in-the-wall public house, where the wait for the Guinness is well worth it. When I first started going there, none of the furniture matched, the seating comprised a raggy-arsed collection of old bus seats, kitchen chairs and the like, and it was fairly rough and ready overall. The pub's music, Willie Nelson being the highlight, emanated from an archaic compact cassette player sitting on the bar.
Since those golden days of yore The Phoenix has undergone a bit of a face-lift, without going overboard, and now presents itself as a music venue most nights. It's still cool; the walls are festooned with what I assume to be local original artworks, and you still have to wait five minutes for your pint.
I hope to get there tomorrow night.

Monday, April 4, 2011

On my radio

On Saturday morning I ventured into the studios of Radio Adelaide, a long-time supporter of SCALA and of local music in general, for a chat about this week's gig.
As is the norm, it was a lot of fun. The real challenge is to fit in as much as you can in the allocated 15 minutes, without speaking at a million miles an hour. Ewart Shaw, a stalwart of the station, asked the right kind of questions so I think the chat went well. I got to perform two songs live-to-air; I kicked off with Shining Light, and finished the interview with Say Goodbye. No sweat.
There was, however, an interesting dimension to this early morning experience. There was no signal coming through the headphones, so it was like trying to sing with my fingers in my ears.

I really have no idea of the size of Radio Adelaide's listening audience. I wonder if I was singing to three or four people, or perhaps a few hundred? Either way, I hope you enjoyed it; I was singing just for you.