About 5 years ago I did some consultancy work for a recruitment company. They employed a bookkeeper and I think she was terrified that I was there to take her job off her and push her out of the way. All I wanted to do was show her that what she was doing was amazing and that she could do so much more if she was coached and managed properly. It’s not for me to say if that worked out or not, but she now lives in Adelaide and I think that if we didn’t catch up while I was in town, she would have killed me.
There is no better feeling than knowing that you made such an impact on someone in such a small space of time that they would be willing to disrupt their lives to come and see you for a catch up. We arranged to meet up in a cafe called the Wholly Belly just over the road from where we were staying. By night it was a pizza restaurant that specialised in wood fired cooking but during the day it was a coffee shop and a cool hangout.
I wandered over there on my own so that we could catch up without kids getting bored and creating hell on and, as usual, I was there 20 minutes or so early which is pretty impressive for something 5 minutes away. The place had a family-run-feel to it and, on hearing my English accent, I was embraced into conversation with the lady that I assumed was the mother to the two kids running around keeping things ticking over and the owner.
No one in Australia was unpleasant. We chatted for a good 15 minutes and I was advised to sit around the corner where it was more comfortable and cooler. Maybe they just didn’t want to have bloody pommies on display?
Bang on time my former colleague arrived with her husband. There was lots of shrieking (from her I must add) and it was great to see her after the years had passed. She had arrived in Australia via New Zealand and was loving the way of life and the new life that they were building for themselves.
I think that they were both happy when I said that they had not lost their Geordie twangs and had zero hint of an Aussie accent. They spoke about how warm and welcoming the people were, which was of no surprise, but pointed out that it was easy to spot the ex-pats houses at night as they were the only ones that had the lights on after 10pm as everyone went to bed early. That might explain the early morning traffic wake ups.
Titchy and the kids joined us after a while for smoothies and more chatter before we said our farewells and parted. I hoped that this wasn’t the last time that we got to share a smoothie in Adelaide.
Our plan for the day was to head to the tree climb centre called TreeClimb. The cousins we had met the day before had been, and highly recommend it so we thought we would give it a shot. We got the bus to the tram stop from which we would head to the other side of town. At the stop was a Japanese shop, which charged $2.80 for everything in there. A weird number to pick, but why not? We picked up some treats and some tat before jumping on the tram.
It didn’t take very long at all and we jumped off next to the park and playing field on the outskirts of the city. We passed groundsmen cutting the grass of the outfield and preparing a wicket for a cricket match that must have been coming up and I was thankful that I didn’t have to play in that sort of heat. The sun was directly overhead and was unforgiving to just walk in, never mind run about.
We arrived at reception and chatted with a young chap called Alex. We had just missed the last group of the day and were told that we should really have booked in advance. He was a really nice bloke and, taking pity on us a bit, let us join in outside of their schedules. Customer service at its best.
Titchy and her boy went on the junior ropes and I took my kids on the adult version. It was the first time that I had ever seen a rope challenge course up close and I really had no idea what to expect. We undertook a 15 minute training session before being allowed up to the tree tops.
Essentially, you wear a harness with a metal hook on it and then attach yourself to a rail that meanders through the tree-line. It is impossible to get out of that looping rail until you get to the end of the course at ground level. Sounds easy enough, but that loop takes you over steps and moving walkways around 20 meters above the park below.
Despite my common sense telling me that these sorts of places don’t just let people drop out of trees to die in a bloody crumpled heap below, my logic was bypassed by nature and I was terrified. I was locked into position behind my daughter and ahead of my son and so couldn’t drop out even if I wanted to (in more ways than one I guess!)
I was once told by a boss of mine that fear is something that you learn. It was very apparent as my two kids raced around in the sky without any apparent fear in the world and I had to hide my nerves (very badly as it turned out with the ribbing I got afterwards) and force each step forward. Oh to be young and fearless again.
Full of stories to share with each other, and a pair of underpants filled with either sweat off my harness or ‘fear’ I wasn’t sure which, we got the bus and tram back home. We had a quick shower and change and headed back to the Wholly Belly as we had enjoyed it so much that morning.
The pizzas were great and the whole place had a busy and excited buzz about it. I had the cheeseburger pizza and could have eaten it two or three times over it was so nice. Everyone else agreed that the food was superb and we had a lovely night. We headed home, conscious of the busy day ahead tomorrow. We had ironing and planning for the wedding day and wanted to be fresh and ready……those shirts were not going to iron themselves you know!