My last weekend at the Abermain housesit. I have a couple of outings planned, so fortunately the weather has changed and a sunny, warm w eekend is forecast. I begin the weekend with another workout at the gym, followed by another walk up Heart Start Hill. I left a few bookmarks promoting my book with the instructor at the gym, in the hope of some of the ladies showing some interest in it.
In the afternoon I head back into town for the Reg Lindsay Rodeo (Reg is an Australian country music icon) at Cessnock Showground.
Haven’t been to a rodeo for some years – my youngest daughter’s first long term boyfriend was a bronc and bull rider, his father had been a champion cowboy so we attended quite a few rodeos during the time they were together and always enjoyed them. I learnt that cowboys are true gentlemen – very respectful to women and the animals they ride. I always say you can judge a person’s character by the way they treat animals – and I would put cowboys at the top of the tree in that respect.
Also very easy on the eye, I have to say. There’s something very manly about a guy in a pair of Wrangler jeans, a cowboy shirt and a big belt buckle! I used to have a bumper sticker that read – “Wrangler butts drive me nuts” – enough said!
Luckily for me I had my fold-up camping chair in the boot of my car, as there was no seating at this country showground. Some of the events watched were junior bull riding, ladies barrel racing and breakaway roping, steer undressing – these capable female riders chase down a young steer in an attempt to remove a red ribbon from its back. Steer wrestling – riders chase and lasso a steer, dismount their horse and wrestle the steer to the ground – fastest time wins.
The rodeo princess parade displays the ladies riding abilities and horse handling skills. A cute little six year old on a stubborn little grey pony won the title of “Itty Bitty Rodeo Princess” – a new category I hadn’t seen before.
Then the main events – the ‘Open Bull Riding’ – for the adult cowboys to try their luck on the back of almost a ton of raging bull with a girth strap tightened around its flank to fire it up – there were some angry bulls in this lot. Not too many cowboys made the full eight seconds, but fortunately no injuries that we could see. Just bruised egos.
Bareback bronc riding was next on the agenda – in my opinion the toughest and most physically demanding sport in the world. How and why these guys do this event is beyond me, but certainly very entertaining as a spectator sport. Maybe not so for the riders – their bodies must pay the price for being tossed around like a rag doll the following day, I’m sure. I managed to film a rider complete the full eight second ride and score 78 points, putting him in the lead.
As I was viewing the replay, the next horse out of the chutes had tossed his rider and headed straight for the fence a metre in front of me. Having an enraged horse bucking wildly and heading your way is always a bit of a heartstarter! As is usual with these bucking horses, they turn on a sixpence just before slamming into the fence – as this one did – and a pile of dirt flung straight into my face! It was in my eyes, my mouth, down my top, in my handbag – I really copped a mouthful! With no water to wash the dirt out of my eyes, I just had to soldier on not wanting to cause a scene, but it was not pleasant having a mix of cow dung and alluvial soil swishing around in my eyes, I can tell you. Ahh well, it’s the mark of a good rodeo to have dirt flung at you, I always say! I headed on back to my car after the final event and finished the recording of my first podcast with the band playing in the background – which I will attach to this blog post when I can work out how.
As you can imagine, my first job when I arrived home was to wash my eyes out, and my face – I even had dirt stuck to my lips and cheeks – must have looked a sight!
Sunday morning I headed out to Pokolbin after a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and a fry up of tomatoes, capsicum, onion and mushrooms. I always try to make Sunday breakfasts a bit of a treat, to break the monotony of weekday routine.
Another beautiful sunny autumn day as I arrive at Drayton Winery’s Vintage Fair day. Beautiful views surrounded me in every direction – a mountain range as a backdrop, rolling hills full of grape vines and lush farmland, picturesque homesteads and dams dotted here and there. The residents in this part of the valley must feel like they have died and gone to heaven! It is beautiful here.
The Vintage Fair was delightful. Much more than I expected – there were market stalls selling all manner of unique, quality handmade goods. I watched a sheep shearing demonstration, patted a baby alpaca (cria is the correct term), watched the littlies in a pen full of chickens, ducks and other fowl.
Of course a winery tour was available, as was wine tasting and chocolate tasting – Drayton’s have their own chocolate range. Two beautiful big bay horses pulled a dray around the fair for a small charge, there were Shetland pony rides for the kids and Harley bike rides for the oldies.
A band playing seventies music had set up amongst the trees in the grassy picnic area, where families enjoyed their picnic lunches listening to the entertainment.
I chatted with an artist who had created beautiful unique mosaic wall plaques depicting frogs, lizards, kookaburra’s, dragonflys, lighthouses (there’s my fascination with lighthouses again), pelicans – Paula from Peach Tree Mosaics is based in The Entrance on the Central Coast, and will take orders for commissioned works on request. Check out her website at www.peachtreemosaics.com- worth a look.
Another chat to Alison Mortiss, a glass artist whose stall of amazing coloured glass works caught my attention. Her entire stall had a citrus green theme – the velvet table covers, the bunting, even her outfit and her hair were that lovely, refreshing lime green colour.
After discussing the merits of my new ‘vagabond’ lifestyle, she disclosed that she had attended an invitational scholarship last year in Murano, Venice to hone her glass art skills. That’s an impressive addition to her C.V. – Murano is the glass making capital of the world. Check out her works at www.creativemoods.com.au and www.alisonmortiss.com.au
I enjoyed the latter part of the afternoon sitting on the grass (memo: don’t wear white pants if you plan on sitting on grass) and enjoying the music from my era.
A lady came up and joined me for a chat – she said something just told her she needed to speak to me. The universe sending people to me again – she had recently lost her husband of fifty four years, so was a bit of a lost soul. I was able to lift her spirits and hopefully inspire her to learn to enjoy her solitude and live each day like there’s no tomorrow. A lovely, friendly lady who just needs to learn to live alone and seize opportunities when they present to her.
On my arrival home, I decided I wanted a photo of myself on the swing in the beautiful back garden. I piled a couple of chairs on top of each other, set up the camera at the right angle and set it to a ten second self timer setting. On the third attempt at making it onto the swing and setting it in motion within the ten seconds, a muscle in my right calf ‘popped’ as I ran to the swing. I went down like a ton of bricks! Now I know what pain footballers go through when they pull a hamstring or cork a groin muscle! It was agonising! I ended up with a photo on my camera of my bum (in the white pants with grass stains) – and me bent over grabbing at my cramped calf. I couldn’t walk, but persisted in getting another photo – I’d gone to so much bother setting the camera up, I wasn’t going to let it defeat me! So do appreciate this photo won’t you – it was taken under much sufferance!
Of course the remainder of the evening was spent in absolute agony, and in a house with the bedroom at one end and bathroom at the other – I eventually relented and rang the local hospital for advice. With no idea where to find a bandage, I wrapped one of my long neck scarves around my leg and ended up driving to the hospital for some crutches and painkillers. With advice to return in the morning if it was no better.
After a very sleepless night, I did return to the hospital the following day – I have a constant awareness of the possibility of blood clots, after enduring a rather large one ten years ago after a long haul flight from Paris. So cramps and any circulation problems in my legs are something I can’t take lightly.
My third visit to the local Kurri Kurri hospital and the resident ER nurse recognises me from my previous visit two weeks prior. He has a great sense of humour and I end up chatting to him for over half an hour about common interests we share. Gave his name as ‘Underpaid’ Robert! Didn’t resolve anything about my leg problem, but I left having had a great laugh in the emergency room at the local hospital! Laughter is the best medicine!
I’ve reached the end of my Abermain housesit. A bit of a tearful farewell between me and my host, we have formed quite a special friendship. I set off on my way to my daughter at Avoca Beach to fill in a few days before my second Hunter Valley housesit in the lovely town of Broke.