Tuesday 3 October 2017
On our taxi ride to Kingsford-Smith airport, the driver treated us to the usual complaints about how close we live to the airport and how this undermined his livelihood. The whingeing is a small price to pay for cheap fares. The real challenge lay ahead, on the Tigerair Flight from Sydney to Adelaide.
After we settled into our seats, she gradually announced her presence with wet, rattling noises that emanated from mucous membranes deep inside her head, neck and chest. She was the Snot Queen. She had a streaming head cold, and was bravely accompanying us on the flight without a single tissue. As the flight wore on, with frequent and nonchalant delicacy she lifted clear drops from the underside of her nose using the back of her forefinger, and wiped them on her jeans.
Ruby picked us up from the airport in Adelaide in her signature pink Toyota called Floyd. The radiator grill was adorned with cobwebs; the bonnet was artfully splashed with bird shit, and it still displayed the flaking green P-plates I had sticky-taped back together months previously. Her beaming face made me forget all about the Snot Queen and we sped off towards Brompton together in a cloudburst of animated conversation.
After Ruby had shown us around her tidy new digs, brought us up to date with her work, love and life, and lightly fed and watered us, she drove us to Mount Lofty Botanic Garden.
Mount lofty is located in an eponymous mountain range a short drive west of Adelaide. We seemed to have timed our arrival perfectly. It was the first warm spring day, and the flowers were putting on a display. You could hardly walk ten yards without stopping in rapture and asking What is that lovely scent? Distracted by the rambling conversation, we got pleasantly disoriented, and let the garden paths lead us where they would.
Towards the end of our walk we arrived at a rotunda in a formal section, and took a few photos which I have uploaded with this post. Even though the sun was still shining, the gates close at 4 p.m. so we took a shortcut back to the car park across an artificial lake where ducks and frogs were plentiful and noisy.
Ruby pointed her gaudy chariot towards the summit of Mount Lofty where we admired panoramic views of Adelaide in the afternoon glare. At length we retired to the bar to enjoy a glass of wine from one of the many wineries that was located only tens of kilometres from where we sat. We watched a wily crow ply the lookout for scraps of food and chase away smaller birds, and we basked in each other’s company as the shadows got longer. At length our thoughts began to turn to dinner.
On the drive back to Brompton we stopped at a bottle shop and bought some more local wine, and then at a supermarket to pick up some supplies for the evening meal. Soon after we arrived home, Ruby’s boyfriend Rob got home from work and there was another reunion. Rob told us about his new job in Adelaide while we ate a meal that Ruby prepared from “vegan meat” out of can.
After dinner, we all played a word game called Bananagrams which we had brought from Sydney as a gift for Ruby from one of our close friends. Rob was quietly patient with the intense competition and triumphalism as old rivals locked linguistic horns.
Eventually we retired to the bed prepared for us in the spare room. We were glad to again be in the company of our effusive, irrepressible daughter. As I drifted off, I hoped that I would not wake with a viral curse inflicted on me by the dreaded Snot Queen.