Monday, 19 December 2011

A Room With a View?

Cadogan and Hall were at Adelaide Oval yesterday afternoon/evening for the SA v Victoria (or rather, Adelaide Strikers v Melbourne Renegades) T20 match.  A splendid win for Adelaide and, having also seen them play well in the 50-over competition, it is something of a mystery as to why there are doing so poorly in the Sheffield Shield.

However, cricket is not the focus here.  Rather, it is the new(ish) Members' Dining Room.

This was the first time we had taken up one of SACA's Summer of Dining offers and were looking forward enthusiastically to the carvery and booze package.  The food, incidentally, was good and the bubbles flowed freely, so no complaints there.

Our point of contention, put quite simply, is that we couldn't see the game!  We were in the front row of the dining room and had anticipated being able to scoff and watch the cricket throughout, the only movement necessary being that of getting up to fill another plate at the buffet.  Nevertheless, we couldn't see a thing.  Now, as astute as we are, we can't possibly be the first people to have noticed this, so surely it is not beyond the wit of man to rectify the situation.   Our understanding is that part of the whole rationale behind the western stand redevelopment was indeed to create a room in which members could enjoy a decent lunch, a glass or two of claret and watch the cricket.  And yet this last, some may even say vital, element seems to have been completely overlooked.  How this was not picked up during the design process is somewhat bamboozling, but what is more baffling is why no-one has done anything about it as the new stand enters its second year of existence.

Taking out a row of seats in front of the dining room, or simply raising the floor by about 30cm would seem to our untutored eye to be enough to do the job.  I understand, of course, that it is probably not as simple as this but surely some relatively straightforward solution can be found.  As much as we enjoyed the game and the atmosphere, there is little likelihood that we will take up one of these options again in the future (at the test match, for instance) given that it is literally impossible to watch the game while troughing down.  Fellow members had to resort to standing against the window of the dining room (after the roast pork and before the pudding) in order to be able to see any of the cricket at all.

Of course, for corporate bods at Adelaide Oval on a company jolly, watching the cricket is a secondary concern and so in this case poor sight lines might not be that important, but this is the Members' Dining Room we are talking about, for heaven's sake.  Membership of SACA does presuppose that one has at least a passing interest in the game of cricket.

We are of course fully prepared to admit that we are completely wrong about this and that other members have no issue at all with the arrangements, but in all honesty we suspect that others must have felt the same frustration.  If this is the case, surely a time will come when members decline to use the dining room at all,  and then where will be?  Perhaps some action should be taken before it comes to that.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Oakbank - a national treasure

Cadogan and Hall were at Oakbank races last Friday afternoon (9 December) for the Christmas in the Hills meeting.  It was a splendid occasion and this event really should become one of the social highlights of the run-up to Christmas.  There was a good-sized crowd (many firms treating the event as a works outing) but it was not excessively large, meaning that there was room for kids to run around and play (and well done ORC on all the free entertainment), you could get a bet on easily and there were no queues for a drink or a bite to eat.  Even getting in and out of the carpark was without anguish.

The racing itself was not necessarily out of the top drawer in terms of class, although there were some tight finishes and it was pleasing to see a race over a bit of distance, the Austbrokers Terrace Handicap being run over 2150 metres (Forcryingoutloud being caught on the line by Birchmore Road in the best finish of the day).

But at this time of the year, the racing is not the real reason for going to Oakbank.  The atmosphere is of course what draws us up into the Hills and in this respect Oakbank can't be bettered.

There is - thankfully - nothing manicured about Oakbank.  It looks as it has looked for as long as we can remember and no doubt it was looking the same for some time before that too.  There is wood, there is corrugated iron, there is grass.  That's about it.  The toilets (the gents', at least) look as though they haven't been altered since before the last war, while the horse stalls and parade ring too seem to have been unchanged in any of our lifetimes.  The stands are rickety, the steps uneven and the Tote is essentially a hole in the wall.

It is wonderful.  You can smell the history and tradition.  More importantly, you can see that the Oakbank committee has remained true to its roots.  It is a country, picnic racecourse and, despite the huge numbers that attend the track over Easter, it remains a picnic racecourse.   They have not been seduced into a ghastly 'modernisation'.  They have sought to attract the corporate dollar through offering a unique product, not by trying to make the track into something it isn't.  Kudos to them and long may this remain the case.

We shall be back at Oakbank at Easter (of course), along with about half the state's population and the atmosphere will then be very different - not queuing to put a bet on then will be nothing more than a dream. Nevertheless, we most earnestly hope that the committee continues to remain true to the real essence of Oakbank and we urge them most sincerely, between now and then, to do absolutely nothing.  Long may Oakbank avoid all change!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Adelaide Taxis - why, oh why...

We here at Cadogan and Hall are not inveterate night owls.  Indeed, most evenings you'll find us tucked up in a bed with an improving book at a reasonable hour, in order to be able to face the new day with at least a modicum of optimism.  However, every now and then, circumstances are such that we find ourselves out on the tiles, attending some binge that would stagger humanity and turn the moon to blood.  This weekend was one such occasion.

Which brings us to Adelaide taxis.  Where to begin?

At Cadogan and Hall, we are fairly cultured chaps.  We've been around a bit, as they say.  Having just recently returned from a somewhat lengthy sojourn in Asia, where taking taxis is a part of life for just about everybody, regardless of their station, we have been staggered by the cost of catching a cab in this town.  For instance, we had some old friends in town this weekend and we went to collect them from their digs on North Terrace.  We were running a little late for a reservation in Rundle Street and so decided to travel there by taxi.

It cost $10.00.  From North Terrace to Rundle Street.

At first, we assumed there was some malfunction with the driver's apparatus, but no, $10.00 was indeed the fare.  We then spent the next hour or so translating this exorbitant sum into foreign currencies and trying to work out how much time in a cab this would have bought us in one of our neighbouring countries.   Even in an expensive city like Singapore, for the same amount of money we decided that we could have been driven from one side of the island to the other - and then back again!

Despite this early evening setback, the night progressed well - perhaps a little too well - and before we knew it, it was 1.00am and time to find one's bed, trying not to rouse the neighbours with too many raucous, off-colour songs.  Such a wish was to prove futile.

We could not get a taxi for love nor money.  And believe us, after we had been standing on the road for about an hour, no amount of money would have been too great a sum to pay.  After over an hour and a half - quite literally, an hour and a half - of waiting we had to bite the bullet and phone home and make a plaintive request to be collected and driven home.  We will be paying for this - in so many ways - for some time to come...

The point, however, is this.  One cannot switch on one's television set without being bombarded with advertisements warning us of the perils of drinking and driving.  And we applaud this, we really do.  However, commensurate with this, the city needs infrastructure that is designed to cope with the demand.  And, quite frankly, it doesn't.  Had we taken a car out with us, it is a distinct possibility that we may have been tempted to get behind the wheel, despite drink having been taken by this point in time, simply because an alternative could not be found.  If you also factor in the exorbitant charges that taxis subject us to, doing the decent thing can easily add $50 - $100 to one's tab on a night out.

In all honesty, it is no wonder that so many people take the risk and drink and drive.

Lots of people going out on a Saturday evening and wanting to take a taxi home cannot be a new or unexpected phenomena.  It should not come as a surprise to anyone that people like to a take a glass of wine or two with dinner, or that they may get together for a pint or two of Pale Ale.  Yet we seem to have no way of delivering these people home safely at a reasonable cost and without a great deal of inconvenience.

Next time we see an ad urging us to act responsibly and not get behind the wheel after that third glass of  Mr Riggs Riesling, we shall have to fight the urge to fling the remote control at the screen and shout loudly to no-one in particular that that is what we indeed tried to do.  But it simply wasn't possible.

Taxis.  Make them cheap.  Make then plentiful.  Maybe then, otherwise upright citizens won't be tempted to do the wrong thing.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Norwood Oval - old world charm

Norwood Oval - or rather, Coopers Stadium as we are told we must call it - is the wonderful setting for the home games of Adelaide Bite, our team in the Australian Baseball League (now in its second season in its revamped format).

And it really is a splendid place to watch sport.  Norwood Oval (as we are going to continue to call it) can certainly be called old school, and it is none the worse for this.  In fact, this is the essence of its charm.

Sit where you like, even - heaven forbid - stand to watch the game if it so suits you.  Walk around the ground in order to gain a different perspective.   Move around freely without a ubiquitous burly security guard scrutinising your every move.  If you have children, there is actually room for them to run about.  It reminds us of what going to watch the football was like in the dim distant past of our youth.

What this visit has achieved, however, is to make us think more keenly on the tragic fate that is about to befall the Adelaide Oval.  Is it too late to prevent the sacking of our once beautiful ground, once the envy of the world's cricket-going public?  And if not, where will it end?  We very rarely find occasion to agree with Mr Peter Goers but, sadly, we think a recent prediction of his is correct, namely that the internationally renowned Adelaide Oval scoreboard and the Moreton Bay fig trees at the Cathedral end of the ground will be gone in five years' time.  And what will we be left with?

A sports ground that could be anywhere.  That looks like every other concrete bowl. We once had an icon and we seem determined to replace it with a stereotype.

We shall be returning, therefore, to Norwood Oval as often as we can to savour a unique, authentic sporting experience, rather than one manufactured to suit those from out of town who visit us once every year or so and moan because Football Park is not on the doorstep of their hotel.  Frankly, we would leave Adelaide Oval just as it is to encourage them to stay away!