If I had a bucket-list, it would have been one item shorter as of yesterday.
That because I stumbled on a chance to watch a live Ashes test – at Adelaide Oval – yesterday.
Me and my bike took the train into town, with plans to wander about the city gawping.
As I sat slurping my second coffee in Adelaide central, my phone reminded me that it was final day of the second cricket test between England and Australia.
I rode 5 minutes or so to the stadium, to find that tickets were $2.
I’m not the kind of cricket fan who can sit for hours watching, but here was a one-off chance.
I found a local supermarket ,and tap, and loaded up on meat, cheese, and water for the duration.
The Oval itself is a monument to Aussies’ love of cricket. It seats 53,500,and is surrounded on three sides by covered stands.
It shows instant replays for those spell-bound by their phones. It is crawling with ushers quite happy to answer stupid questions from Confused of New Zealand. There are clean and well-appointed toilets. There’s an orderly bar and eaterie with no mud in sight. Everything is signposted, and there are lifts and escalators aplenty.
In a word, modern.
Is something you don’t get sitting at home. After two early successes, the Aussie bowlers were having trouble making further in-roads, and the crowd became restless. There were hopeful cheers with every bowling change.
And then the slow-clapping started. First to gee up the bowlers, and then, after a while, more of a demand for a scalp.
Finally, a huge concerted roar as Jhye Richardson let rip with a snorter, getting rid of stubborn Chris Woakes. It was a sublime sporting moment. I was there.
The downside of crowds, of course, are neighbours. One an over-sized young woman chattering away to her silent middle-aged friend. And the other, behind me, a Pom who cheered “battiiing”, like some medieval lord tossing out favours to the local knights. Twat.
After Woakes went, the sheen dimmed and the shadows lengthened. I wandered in and out, postponing the 45-minute train ride back to the ‘burbs.
There were a couple of spanners in the works, but I made it to Adelaide OK.
The first spanner was getting my bike through the baggage check-in. After pestering Virgin for dimension limits, and trussing the bike up with wrapping and padding for Africa, airport check-in staff greeted me with hems and haws;
It would need a protective box. Which would cost extra. But it’s within your size guidelines. OK, we’ll provide it free. The box isn’t big enough. We don’t have a larger one … We’ll need to see the contents. You want me to unwrap three hours’ work? OK, just a peek then. Righto, it’ll have to go in Oversize. And just like that – an hour later – my bags were checked in.
I made the dubious decision to cart the cheap bike I bought in Cairns because;
I didn’t want to add to the flotsam at Roger T’s place
no-one on Facebook wanted to buy it
I used credit from shysters Kiwi.com ( Ukranian ) to pay for the trip. The few dollars leftovers dollars of credit for a standard fare would have either been wasted, or meant dealing with them again.
As a reward, I had a rare second coffee, and settled in to listen to audiobooks for three hours before the flight.
Because I was on board, there was an obscure “technical hitch” to delay take-off, and add further grist to my persecution complex.
Within a jiffy hour, we were airborne. The flight was uneventful, and took about 10 games of phone sudoku.
The owner of the shared house where I’m staying was good enough to pick me up at the airport, and a 30-minute drive later we were at the seaside village of Moana Sands.
The house I’m sharing is older in the sense that it’s mainly wooden, with high ceilings. I’m on the bottom floor, near a quiet road. The view from the top balcony alone, overlooking the sea to the East, is worth the price.