We actually managed to stay up until midnight – surprised both of us, as normally we are in bed a couple of hours before then. After the girls went to bed, we finished the blog and had some yummy cheeses and terrine from Shut the Gate winery along with a bottle of the chilled Sevenhills Four Buckets Touriga Shiraz Malbec – it was a beautiful wine and so glad that the lady at Sevenhills suggested to try it chilled. We woke the girls at 845pm to take them down to the camp kitchen so that we could watch the family fireworks at 9pm. Both of them didn’t really show much interest in them when we mentioned it during the day, but as soon as we woke them, Ava rattled off what fireworks she saw last year including Humpty on the Opera House (celebrating 50years of Play School). They both stared at the TV along with a few other children from the Caravan park and kept asking questions about how fireworks were made, why boats were allowed on the harbour and how the boats didn’t get burnt. Then Ava remembered that Theo and Chloe would be on the harbour and that it was probably past their bedtime. We put the girls back to bed and then instead of our normal evening routine of reading books, we actually decided to play our first game of cards (can’t believe its taken us 8 weeks to get the cards out!) to play S’Head. Lach started off so confident that he would win, even though the last few times he has always lost. I was on a winning streak and freezing cold, so in order for Lach to get more chances to play so I didn’t retire, he got me his socks to wear and even offered to get my sleeping bag to wrap around my legs (I wasn’t that cold). At 1115, the odds were definitely against Lach – he was down 6:2, but persisted to play. After another 30mins of playing, we then picked up our phones to message the UK and Sydney before the mad rush of text messages. To then receive a call from my Mum wishing us a Happy New Year – we had completely forgotten that Sydney was 30mins ahead of us – whoops, so were late in our wishes whereas we wanted to be early. Lach wanted to squeeze in another game which took us literally to 1159pm, and Lach is officially the S’Head of Burra and 2016 – loosing 9:3.
Neither of us can believe we were awake to welcome in 2017 – what an amazing year we have had in 2016 and a new years eve to remember sitting in a caravan park in the middle of SA alongside the Burra Creek with no-one else around apart from the park owners and a few of their friends at the other end of the park. Reflecting back on 2016, Lach and I have definitely made an amazing life decision which was to take our family travelling around Australia which is a reward that we have both been given by our respective employers for having worked for them for so long. Words cannot express our gratitude to Bec and Ryan for their generosity to enable us to fulfil this dream of ours by being able to use their amazing caravan for this extended time. We look forward to 2017 and all that it brings – a huge year for Ava starting Kindergarten at Arden in 30 days, and Audrey starting Pre-school at Arden in 33 days. Who knows what else this year will bring? At the end of the year we will have Nanna, Gramps, Nicki, Ines and Ranulph to stay – something so special to look forward too – I’m not sure who is excited the most?
The girls awoke and we had a casual breakfast having already fed the ducks, and FaceTimed Nanna and Grandpa. Then we set off for our first winery of the day – I was designated today so that Lach could fully appreciate the wines. Our first stop was Sussex Squire, which is a small vineyard having only 9hectares of Shiraz on site, and has only had a cellar door for 5 months. The owner, Mark, was exceptionally engaging and very passionate about his craft. His speciality wine is Shiraz, however Lach started with a Pinot Grigio before interchanging between Shiraz, Malbec and Shiraz Mataro. Lach particularly liked the 2015 Thomas Block Shiraz, 2015 Raging Bull Malbec, 2015 The Partnership Shiraz Mataro, and 2015 JRS Barrel Selection Shiraz. We left the vineyard with a couple more bottles for the car:
- 2015 Sussex Squire The Partnership Shiraz Mataro
- 2015 JRS “The Sussex Squire” Barrel Selection Shiraz
Upon leaving the vineyard, Matt took our photo for his Facebook page and mentioned that there were sheep to feed, so the girls wondered over to feed the sheep and then he gave us some suggestions of vineyards to go to in Barossa and McLaren Vale knowing what style we like. So great to get advice from the ‘locals’.
We headed just 3km down the road to Eldredge Vineyard which is a beautiful vineyard with a lake out the front. There was also a Toy Corner for the girls which is always a welcome sight.. The owner, Leigh, planted 45 hectares of vines in 1993, opening the cellar door in 1994. He is hoping that one of his daughters will take it on when he retires in a few years time. A really engaging guy who started life as a farmer and who is passionate about his wines. Lach was really impressed with these wines with the SSB, Rose and Cabernet Malbec being the main standouts all with exceptional value. I noticed that he did two ports too – a 1992 Blakey Dell White Port – which is still stored in the barrel and only bottled when needed, and a 1996 Aged Tawny Port. The white port was outstanding, with the Tawny being a lovely drop, but just not as good as the white. We purchased a good selection to send back to Sydney:
- 2016 Eldredge “Mollie” Semillion Sauvignon Blanc – Named after his mother in law
- 2016 Eldredge “Kitty” Rose – named after his mother
- 2014 Eldredge “RL” Cabernet Malbec – named after his father in law
- 1992 Eldredge Blakey Dell White Port
We left there to head to lunch at Skillogalee, when arrived at a rustic cottage with a beautiful garden and terrace. The tasting room was packed, so we made our way through to our table out on the terrace – it was a perfect setting for a summers lunch – we could have been in Italy, there was an elderly man sitting on a table reading his book with a glass of wine in hand (he looks like a regular with his own cushion). The girls went to play in the garden and spent most of the time playing and running around, apart from when they came back to eat. Lach went into the tasting room so that he could do a tasting before we decided which glass of wine to have with lunch. The restaurant was packed and I reckon we had one of the best seats. We could watch the girls play, overlook the vines, vines growing around the terrace as well as be in the shade.
Every mouthful of the food was exceptional – even the girls lunch where they made vegetable beards trying to look like Daddy.
The wines which Lach chose were of a similar standard. Lach was impressed with the 2013 The Cabernets, 2014 Basket Pressed Shiraz, 2014 Malbec. For lunch he had a glass of the Shiraz and one of the Malbec, and I had the 2016 Chardonnay. The Shiraz was really lovely and the Malbec was smooth and well balanced. We purchased for our collection:
- 2016 Skillogalee Chardonnay
- 2014 Skillogalee Malbec
We noticed upon entry to Skillogalee that the vines weren’t linear, so Lach asked them why, as they looked liked rice fields going around in curves around the land. The response was that they run in the contours of the land to minimise erosion. Looks like a nightmare to farm, but definitely a unique looking set of vines.
The girls had been playing so beautifully in the garden with some other older children who arrived later on, that when i went to tell them it was time to go, the other children all knew their names and their toys had been shared amongst everyone and hey helped them pack up Ava’s backpack ensuring everything was in the bag. Audrey today decided that her Baby is now called ‘Tilly’. Baby has been known as Baby since Audrey’s first birthday. Tilly has been known as Tilly for the rest of the day – now I wonder how long this will last or whether she reverts back to Baby. Off the back of this, Ava has renamed Dolly to ‘Judy’…
On the way back to the caravan park, we popped into our last Clare Valley vineyard called Mad Bastard – aptly named after the owner (Mark Barry) who is the son of Tim Barry (one of the largest vineyards in the Clare), whilst visiting France one of his mates said that if he went off on his own, rather than work with his brother, then he should have a wine label called Mad Bastard. The vineyard is quirky with signs upon entry saying “Watch out for Wabbits, and Woos”, “Wurtles and Wocks”, then throughout the cellar door funny signs such as “S’itter this way”, “Lollies for all children over the age of 60” and “First four tasting free”. Lach wasn’t impressed with the Shiraz, commenting that one imparticular smelt like ‘armpits’, but he did like the Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the Gold Medal winner in November in the Clare Valley. The addition to our car selection was:
- 2015 Mad Bastard Cabernet Sauvignon
We headed back to the caravan park and the girls and Lach slept in the car (I wanted a lunchtime snooze too after the filling lunch we had and late night). I gave the girls the craft box for this afternoon for them to be creative – normally I give them bits and pieces from the box they ask for, not the entire box. Today I thought i would see how they went with the free reign. No mess and they packed up when asked (albeit needing some help to fit it all back into the box). At one point Audrey bought out the pipe cleaners for Lach to make something – Lach made two very impressive head bands – the girls transformed in an instant to hippies.
Lach and I wont be eating much tonight – still full from lunch – so a light dinner for us, as I am sure over the next 8 days we will be eating well with Nanna and Grandpa in tow. We cannot believe that we only have 2 more sleeps until we see them. The girls have been telling us how many hugs and kisses they are going to give them, and who is getting cuddles first. Tonight is an early night and i am hoping to make a big dent in my book. I have been recommended some more books today, thanks to a fellow Beecroft mum, so I want to see if I get through them before we get to Sydney. Lach wants to play more cards, maybe I can play some with him for a bit – he has to learn strategy sooner or later, but I dont want him to practise too much, else he may reverse the odds which have been consistent in 2016. Thanks Alex Swain for teaching us – we nearly had to message you last night to check up on some rules, but luckily it was NYE and I refused to text you about something so silly on NYE. We worked it out in the end. We also need to start planning our Barossa vineyards….hmmmm where to start.
Today we changed our plans to arrive in Barossa a day early, so we leave tomorrow morning and will therefore have a lovely afternoon just chilling out in the caravan park and hopefully swimming pool (if the weather is kind).