Henley Beach & Brompton

Wednesday 4 October 2017

The following morning I slept in until 8:30 a.m. Perhaps my immune system was working overtime. Irrespective, I was relieved to be free of any symptoms of a head cold.

When Ruby and Susie finally emerged into the daylight we set out for a cafe nearby called The Pixie and the Hawk in search of a decent vegan breakfast. The cafe did not disappoint, and we all did that cheesy thing where you take photos of the food and upload them to social media. The architecture of the dishes lent themselves to this practice. I was especially taken by the poached eggs atop my toast, which wobbled like a pair of globular breasts.

5. Pixie brekky 1
Breakfast by Gaudi?

Once we were sufficiently fed and caffeinated, we set out for Henley Beach. Because the city of Adelaide is located on St Vincent Gulf, there are usually no waves. Nevertheless there was a lovely warm breeze blowing from the north and a brilliant blue sky hung over us with high clouds arranged in a mackerel pattern.

Ruby coaxed me in for a dip soon after we arrived but the water was still fiendishly cold, and with no waves to frolic in, we were soon drawn back onto the warm, sunny beach. Susie took a hilarious photograph of Ruby frolicking on the beach instead.

Ruby and Susie went on a long walk north along Henley beach while I sat in the sun and did some people-watching. It was the school holidays, so families with young children were out in force. Nevertheless, the crowd was sparse compared to a popular Sydney beach on a warm spring day.

When we had soaked up enough of the warmth and sunshine, we drove to a market located in the centre of town to buy ingredients for the evening meal. Susie terrorised a shoe-shop by threatening to buy an expensive pair of boots that were on sale. At length we ended up in the food hall where Susie and Ruby shared a vegan dish of eggplant and mock fish. I sampled the local phở (Vietnamese noodle soup) which is a staple back home in Sydney. On the way out we purchased a box of fresh vegetables from a well-stocked market stall. It’s great that fresh produce is available for sale in the centre of town.

We drove homeward through yet another traffic snarl. (It appears that large sections of Adelaide city are being dug up for road works, much like the inner suburbs of Sydney.) On the edge of Brompton Susie spied a retro chic store which we walked back to in order to explore. She found a wooden thing that she liked, although its exact purpose remains a mystery. Ruby chose some earrings which I paid for to thank her for being such a gracious host.

Back in the apartment we conjured up a plan over a game of Bananagrams. Ruby had booked a table at a flash restaurant in town of Tanunda on Friday evening, and we toyed with the option of staying there overnight and spending Saturday in the Barossa Valley. We found suitable rooms in a house on AirBnB and sent the host a booking inquiry. And then we went back to the game which has so captured Ruby’s enthusiasm.

Rob eventually returned home from work and we headed out to a local night-market called Plant 4 in the neighbouring suburb of Bowden. On the walk there and back we gained a better sense of the locale where Ruby and Rob have settled. It was formerly an industrial suburb with modest but solid housing, which is currently being gentrified and developed for new apartments. Along the way there were several large fenced-off blocks where a factory or storehouse had been de-commissioned and was awaiting some new development.

18. Brompton 3

Plant 4 was a purpose-built complex that was a curious mix of market stalls, food stalls, and a bar that doubled as a music venue. There was a fountain outside and plenty of tables and seating. It was clearly a popular night-spot that drew people out of their homes into a communal space where they could eat, drink, socialise and shop and the same time.

We fanned out among the stalls and chose a meal. Ruby disappeared upstairs to buy four glasses of wine, and we re-convened at an outdoor table. The others had opted for elaborate vegan or vegetarian dishes with dumplings and noodles. I went for a simple Pakistani lamb curry with naan and a spicy salad. Music drifted down from the bar upstairs as a talented singer did jazzy renditions of popular hits.

After dinner Susie found a retro chic clothes shop inside and almost bought several items of clothing. By the time I joined her, the stall owner was desperately trying to convince her that she could re-locate the buttons on a gorgeous jacket that was nevertheless clearly unable to accommodate her bosom. We left the woman empty-handed as Ruby tempted us away with the last waffle of the day. We shared it at one of the indoor tables as the talented singer did an excellent rendition of a Fleetwood Mac song: Thunder only happens when it’s raining…

On the way home, through the spooky streets of Bowden and Brompton, Ruby re-told the details of a strange dream in which she was socialising with her sister, Clare, and her cousin Rosie. Clare was being friendly but also somehow melancholy, and Rosie was ignoring her—as it turned out, because she could not see or hear her. Susie appeared in the dream and told Ruby that she was actually dead, and that she should leave her sister be; and Ruby was instantly filled with regret and nostalgia for the life she never lived. Ruby woke as it dawned on her that Susie must also be dead.

The account of the dream left me intrigued but mostly desolated.

17. Brompton 2
Industrial desolation

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