Broken Bay Writers – Stories of NSW Central Coast and beyond

Scribbles on life, the universe and everything… Woy Woy, Ettalong, Umina and teh Central Coast that is!

Tag Archives: friends

Hunter Valley Shiraz and two wheels – there is a god!!!

Sunday June 14 dawned a little grey, perhaps a chance of showers and a cool breeze was blowing the Ettalong Beach palms about. Undeterred Al and Judy cranked up the Triumph and headed north with great friends, Virginia and Tim. Muffled like burglars, with more layers than ‘Black Forest Cake’, we rode up the F3 and veered off to Freemans Waterhole. Once upon a time, when the world was simpler, and I was still

Nice bikes!

Nice bikes!

young, we used to stop a the giant Oak milk bar for the best milkshakes in New South Wales here. It is a little run down now but still good for a quick coffee and chat.

From Freemans the road wanders lazily over the mountain and into the beautiful Hunter Valley ( Motorcycles buzz by in both directions, this is the last hurrah for the ‘fair weather’ riders, winter is well on the way. We ride through Cessnock and on to Pokolbin. I am looking for a winery described to me by a mate. I had a great Shiraz from there and was eager to find more. After all, the big bold Hunter Shiraz is legendary and I love em! Also, Judy and I have orders to fulfill from friends in Canada next month.

After some very friendly assistance from the guys at a petrol station in Cessnock, we venture to the back of the valley. The road turns to an unsealed number, dusting up the Triumph and Tim’s beautiful Harley Road King. After a small search – eureka! Audrey Wilkinson’s Vineyard (, resplendent with Shiraz vines planted in 1866.

The vineyard is gorgeous and, as we are now high on the hill, the view across the Hunter is stunning. A couple of wine tour buses are in so we don’t expect to get much attention. Happily, we were wrong. Ross was very helpful and even got our the private bin tasting stock. As it happens, I was hooked on an first class Shiraz at $20 a bottle. It was not long before a dozen had been organized for shipment home for the princely sum of $6 – BARGAIN!!! Shame I will have to share it with my buddy Marty (I promised him good Shiraz and he is putting us up after all). Curiously, Ross from the winery shares my birthday which had just passed. He was very helpful and lots of fun.

The ride home was a little cool to say the least. When we arrived home the road was wet and it turns out we had unwittingly been dodging rain all day! A great ride with great friends and a dozen very bold, peppery reds into the bargain!!! Life is good!

Following up with old friends

I have been thinking about my friend for a few days.  I am not sure why.  I have woken up twice in the morning with him on my mind.  I think back and realize that it has been some years since we have spoken.

I am not sure how we drifted apart.  We have known each other since we were 12 and became friends when we were 13.  It was a bumpy friendship.  In school and out of school he became more like a brother, close, but we locked heads often.  Darrell is my son’s (Jason) Godfather.  Darrell’s mother was my Jason’s Godmother.
Darrell’s mother became one of my best friends and babysat my children as they came along.  I drifted apart from her life when my children no longer required babysitting and she moved to another town.
Darrell and I drifted apart because we started to lead different lives.  And, even after our lives took different turns, we stayed in touch for the longest time.  Then days turn into months, months turn into years, you one day realize that you haven’t heard from him since you don’t know when.
He called me when is Mother died.  We talked for about 1 hour.  We have shared such a past.  We went to school together, worked together, supported each other in tough times and played together.  We went on a white water canoeing trip that could have been deadly.  We were ill-prepared and ill informed.  That day and a few others like it gave us many stories to “mull over” whenever we had the chance to catch up.
Exactly one year after calling me about the passing of his Mom, he called to let me know that his Dad had passed away.  He was angry and bitter.  We did not talk for long.  The grief would not allow for a long conversation.
I didn’t call him when my Dad died.  I didn’t call him when Jim and I separated.  I didn’t call him when I was depressed, I didn’t call him when I met Al,  I didn’t call him when I moved to Australia.  Our lives have gone their separate ways.
So, why did I go to the trouble the other day of looking his daughter up on facebook, sending her a message asking her how her parents were doing and to send along my “hello’s”.  Is it because I am nostalgic during the Christmas season?  Or, because I am living on the other side of the world?  I don’t know and will never know.
His daughter sent his cell phone number with a message saying to call him.  He is going into surgery tomorrow for two spindle cell tumors.  One tumor is in his ear and the other is on his frontal lobe.
I called right away.  He is sounding very chippy,  very positive and is truly happy to hear from me.  He is in a great mood.  He has been dealing with this for 3 months and is happy that the surgery is tomorrow.  He is ready.  Ready for whatever tomorrow brings.  If he dies, he says he has no regrets.  If he lives, he will be happy to be rid of the pain.  His headaches have been debilitating.  He has lost hearing in one ear.
We talk about the past, about our children, about our families, about our antics when we were young.  We talk about everything.  It is so great to hear his voice.
We end the conversation on a positive note.  He is going to bring his wife to Australia for a honeymoon.  They have been married for 23 years and he has always told her he would give her a honeymoon.  This setback has woke him up.  He feels it is time for the honeymoon before one day  time runs out.
I can’t wait to see them.  It will be a wonderful visit, to be able to sit and catch up on what we have been doing in the years that have gone by.  It will be great to share our thoughts and hopes for the future.  It will be great to live…in the now and share the now.  We all want and hope for a future, but what we really have is now, just now.