Sunday, 29 August 2010

We currently have two visitors

from Germany. I have known my friend and her daughter for almost seventeen years. Her daughter was about six months old when we met via the internet. We had not actually physically met each other until late Friday afternoon. Now they are staying with my sister until Tuesday - and the time will be much too short.
We wanted to show them some of the sights while they were here. Adelaide is a very car dependent city. Public transport at weekends is infrequent and rather unreliable. I do not drive but my sister does so we decided on "girls day out" and set off confidently for Port Adelaide. There is, among other things, a Maritime Museum down there. Our family has a close association with the seafaring history of the area and we like to take visitors to see it. The museum is a major tourist attraction. It was not open. Nothing else seemed to be open either. It was Saturday. Our visitors could not climb the small lighthouse or visit the small aircraft and railway museums. We felt embarrassed. These things used to be open on Saturdays. The literature we had said they were.
All we could do was take them for a short stroll along the wharf to where the "Falie" is docked.
The Falie is a ketch that used to ply the gulf. It is now used as a training vessel for young people to learn maritime skills. It is interesting enough but it cannot compete with a visit to the Museum.
Our visitors were very good tempered about all this. It was my friend who was alert enough to discover what really saved the trip from being a waste. There was an exhibition of wood turning in the old courthouse. Suddenly they were able to see something very Australian indeed.
Australian timbers tend to be dense, close grained hardwoods. This is because our climate tends to be very dry. Their colour range is magnificent. Their markings are often very unusual. My friend is a craftsperson. She can knit and spin and sew and do other things. Here was an exhibition where things could be picked up, a place where you could run your hands over the glasslike surface of a bowl or plate and press your thumb gently into a bark rim. The two men minding the exhibition actually encouraged us to pick up the pieces. They were happy for my sister to take photographs to bring back for my father and to answer questions about the way things had been done.
My friend could not resist. She came away with a small bowl. It is an unusual but still practical shape. The timber is dark but there is a ring of lighter timber around the top. The bark has been kept intact along the rim. The rest is polished as smooth and as glossy as a glass straight from the most efficient of dishwashers. It was one of the loveliest pieces in the room. She showed my father last night. He knows about these things. He was impressed.
I will be left with a lasting impression of my friend's delight in finding something unique.
Tomorrow we plan to take them to a wildlife reserve. It had better be open. I will check first.


Anonymous said...

When is the museum open? Or isn't it?

Judy B

Rachel Fenton said...

It's so annoying when that happens - as it does here frequently. The whole region seems to go to sleep at about 3pm on Saturday! Very odd for us - having come from the UK where there is always something to visit/see/do. So glad it wasn't a wasted journey. The wood sounds beautiful.

catdownunder said...

It is supposed to be open on Sundays and during the week but we won't get back to it. Infuriating!
The woodturning really was lovely though. I feel it saved the day!