“Is that a doll in your sporran, or are you just happy to see me?”

"Is that a doll in your sporran, or are you just happy to see me?"

Pauli, a tall dark strange englishman in a military kilt, helped us celebrate Australia Day today.

We met this joyous riot of a man while we were having a few Coronas and a light meal at Scarborough.

In a few weeks, we might forget what we ate, but we won’t ever forget our serendipitous meeting Paul and the laughter he shared with us.

Thanks for the fun, Paul. You make the world a better place.

Old mates

Old mates
Old mates
Originally uploaded by MagicTyger

I finally managed to track Bob down the other day.

He was surprised to hear from me after such a long time, and came round for a while on Saturday afternoon.

It was strange looking at him for the first time in 33 years. Age has changed us both, but I could tell it was still the same old Bob I knew in the 70’s.

We reminisced about our school days. I’d completely forgotten that we both went to our first rock & roll concert together in 1975: Skyhooks at Festival Hall in Brisbane. He also came to my 13th birthday party that year and still remembers kissing Leslie Hillhouse when we played spin the bottle.

I got onto Google Maps and showed Bob some of the streets in the town where he lived before his family migrated to Australia. I’m hoping he’ll bite the bullet and go back there one day soon. When we were kids, he always said he’d do it, but he never did.

Bob has taught me that friends can change your life. Not through heroics. Just by being friends.

So when you look at it like that, friends are very important.

Friends that changed my life.

Friends that changed my life.

Late July 1974.

My mates, Robert Mason, Bob Wilson and Me.

This was the day Mum, Dad, Karen, Kevin and I flew to the UK, aboard a BOAC Super VC10 flying to Darwin, Singapore, KL, Abu Dhabi and eventually London (Heathrow).

It was really good of Robert and Bob to come up to the airport to see me off.

I used to sit next to Robert in grade three in Henry Palasczuk’s English class. Henry was really strict. He’d sorted the class into rows according to ability. If you didn’t do well on your weekly spelling test, you’d have to go down a row. Eventually, if you didn’t do well while you were in the lowest row, you ended up getting moved to lower level English class next door.

Robert and I used to do science experiments in our spare time, mixing up whatever chemicals we could find, or wiring up old radios to see what we could do.

Robert and I discovered our love of Science together.

When my mum and Dad needed some time alone together in the early seventies, Roberts parents (Brenda and Marshall) kindly let me stay with them for a while.

Bob was a ten pound pom like me, but he arrived in 1972. His family were from Nelson (near Manchester) in Lancashire. I actually visited Nelson in 1997 when Liz and I went back to the UK. Where their family moved to in Rosella Street Inala was much nicer than Nelson, although the view of some of the green hills around Nelson was quite pretty.

Bob and I used to ride our bikes down the bush and smoke cigarettes that Bob used to magically procure. He and his brother Graham were brilliant at soccer, and I think Graham actually went on to play it profesionally.

Bob was the main reason that I decided to go to Oxley State High School instead of Inala High or Richlands. That decision changed my life.

The schools in Inala were rough. As a result, most kids under achieved. I went to primary school at Serviceton South in Inala. I found it very difficult since I was younger than most kids in my class, and smarter than most of them. So in their jealousy they made life tough for me.

So Oxley High was a big step up for me.

I ended up being School Captian of Oxley High, and am very grateful that I did well academically, eventually being able to get into Uni.

It was at Oxley High that I eventually ended up getting mixed up in the church, which in a way was a good thing, because it’s how I got to meet my lovely wife, Liz.

So Bob, I owe you a hell of a lot, mate. You changed my life, and neither of us realized it at the time.

I am so glad I met both Robert and Bob, and I very much regret not keeping in touch with either of them.


(I think that glass is a bit big, Ewen).
It’s a dream come true for Ewen and Elissa.

As long as I’ve known them, Ewen and Elissa have had a passion for excellent wine. Eight years ago, they decided to follow their dreams and bought a farm near Ballandean in Queensland’s “Granite Belt” area. Working with Ewen’s parents Bob and Jill, they have transformed the farm into Symphony Hill – a premium quality vineyard that is taking the Australian wine world by storm.

In addition to the swag of Gold Medals and trophies they have won around the country, their most recent triumph was a Gold Medal at the prestigious Sydney Royal Show wine competition.

This success story is the result of courage and determination. It takes a special breed of people to leave their secure professional jobs in the city, and borrow bucketloads of money to build their dream. Add to that the sheer determination and back breaking work that is needed to prepare the soil, build kilometers of trellises, and plant hectares of new vines.

In 2002 that dream was threatened by some of the worst bushfires that the area had seen, with the blaze coming perilously close to the vineyards. Miraculously, the vines came through unscathed.

Today, Symphony Hill Wines is testimony to Ewen and Elissa’s uncompromising commitment to quality.