Fowles Wine and a Chauffeur Driver

Yes, that is the title of the entry, as this is what the day was when we travelled an hour and a half outside of Melbourne, to visit the Winery called Fowles Wine. Another one in the series of Bank of Melbourne Prizes, it also included a Chauffeur driver, a new aspect to these prizes!

Where do I start. Probably from the beginning. We were picked up on the dot at 10:30am, by George, our driver. I became one of those people who says, “our driver”. For seven hours. He was a very friendly and hospitable bloke, he had chilled water for us in the back of his flash car. There also was the option of watching Finding Nemo or Dora the Explorer. We chose neither and decided to just look out the window. The hour and a half flew by as we headed north of Melbourne, and arrived at the gravel drive that headed to the winery. George said to let us know when we would like to be picked up, he was off to hang with a mate nearby and have a nap. Thanks George.

We entered the building that housed the Cellar Door and the restaurant itself. The restaurant looked a little like a cafeteria or a road stop, and assumed that must be part of the charm. After sitting down we were presented with the menu. Everything was really well priced, very suitable for the passer by and noticed a lot of people were simply stopping in with no reservation. So it had a very relaxed and friendly vibe without any snobbery.

We ordered the Wine Flight, since it was a winery after all. This would let us try four wines with four different dishes. The speediness of them arriving was impressive and we were already tucking into the meal within fifteen minutes of being there. I will add at this point, that the Sydney Swans had won the Grand Final the night before and I may have been celebrating this with several beers. Therefore I was feeling a little fragile and so the wine wasnt necessarily exactly what I would have chosen, but I really couldnt complain. The wine really matched the different dishes and gave a great example of what they offered. And the amazing thing was, when the bill arrived we had only spent 1/4 of the gift voucher, that naturally led us to the cellar door to spend the rest.

The four wines and food taster ahead of me. Pretty swell hey!

Pretty keen to get stuck into it at Fowles Wines

I had text George what time to pick us up and also what type of fine he preferred. After some wine tasting, with myself naturally being drawn to the sweeter wines and Cal to the dryer wines, we walked out with twelve bottles, and a packet of mints. VERY chuffed and I would totally come back here. Our favourite of the wines was the range called “Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch“. I mainly liked it cause of the artwork, apart from the dead animals.

George was swift to pick us up (I rarely use the word swift so thankfully I have found a reason to, I have been wanting to for some time). And before we knew it, the city came into view and we were back in our apartment. We would also use George again, he was fantastic, especially cause he said he also does wine tours of the Yarra. Dont mind if we do.

So that was the sixth out of twelve dinners. Sigh, this prize truly is amazing.



Like the rest of Melbourne, today was a sad day. The dark clouds hung over the city and there was a sombre mood amongst people, a contrast to the usual upbeat nature of a Friday morning in the CBD. The papers and social media had begun to inform everyone what they had hoped to never read. That Jill Meagher was found dead and a suspect had been arrested for her rape and murder. We didnt know Jill, some of my friends did, but I personally didn’t, but I wanted to cry.

Jill had been on the front of the newspapers for a week now and Melbourne, and Australia had become so invested in the news story. An innocent, bubbly and fun woman in the community had mysteriously disappeared on her way home from work drinks, the haunting CCTV footage shown to the public of her last moments. And in those last moments, a mysterious man talking to her. Everyone knew a girl like her, it could have been a sister, a partner or a friend. For me, the fact that several of my friends knew her and adored her, made it hit home even more so. And so many friends had done a similar walk home from a pub. Australia’s heart simply broke today.

I dont even know how to sum up why it is so sad, other than how horrific the tale is. And how real it is. This time last week, Jill was out having drinks and having a laugh with friends, and in a few hours, disappear. And for the next week, have her face across the country’s media. To be then found in a shallow grave 50 km north west of the CBD.

To the beautiful young Irish woman that never should have gone through this, Jill, you will be remembered. And my heart goes out to her family and friends. Because I am a stranger to her, but mourn her loss.

The Book that always Helped/s

Seven years ago around this time of the year I jetted across the seas looking for answers and a home. In the process, I said goodbye to my concept of home, including my best friend at the time. She made a book for me that meant the world to me then and I found it in a shoebox (it seems precious things end up in a flammable and flimsy box). To this day the words still apply and they can apply to anyone.

What to say to you now? Am trying to imagine what this will be like for you – walking through those gates by yourself and then stepping out on the other side of the world… A whole new time in your life beginning. Completely out of your comfort zone, thrown into what you’ve dreamt about.

So just enjoy the ride Lloyd. Always remind yourself that this is exactly where you’re meant to be in your journey,and be at peace in that.
Your soul is so beautiful. I know that you will get through this and grow. You’ll do something amazing with your life. Something worthwhile.

You’re a safe place – there’s been so many times you’ve been there, holding broken people and being the comfort they needed.
You are a creative force. You have a unique ability to express what is at the deepest part of a human being. You also have a gift in creating stupidity and laughter!

You are intelligent. You’re organised and focussed when approaching the work you need to do.
You are a man, cause you’re going out to be independent, to make your way in the world.
You’re a man cause you answer to yourself, but also sacrifice yourself to take care of the people you love.

Many years have now passed and when I look back on this again I will laugh when I said “many years have passed” compared to when I do read this again.
I also found a key to the apartment I lived in, in London.

Hymns – Chapter One

I am going to simply start sharing some of the pieces I keep hidden. Have no envy, have no fear. Never be scared of writing, especially what is real or relevant. It may help someone.

Chapter One


The familiar sound of the wind chimes gently lapped outside. The sleepy branch that Dad hadn’t cut, scraped against the roof.

Though to him, the noises were silent. Long ago they became part of the blanket that was normality. He lay there, the ceiling a dim blue in the darkness, the bed sheets dead on his body, stifling him. The darkness bled into his eyes, which glistened with pain.

He shut his eyes, and his mind screamed. Butting out against the shadows that night brought.  He wasn’t sure what was better. The world inside or the reality that touched his skin, echoed in his ears, rubbed against his eyeballs. The reality that told him who he was. It ruled that throne over him, the screaming inside, an empty voice.

He rolled over and the tear fled into a muffled pillow.

“God, your hand created me. You died for me Jesus. You preferred to die for me than live without me. I thank you for that.

“I had such a nice day today,  I finished my kaleidoscope in class, and played soccer at lunch time. Ben kicked the ball with so much force, his shoe came off! Everyone laughed but then we got told off for teasing him. Thanks for the friends I have made. Thanks that I wasn’t teased today. Thankyou for dying on the cross for my sins, and loving me, when I never deserve it.”

He opened his eyes. In the black, he could just make out his poster of two puppies on the wall,  a present from his best mate. He glanced at it, looking through it. A shout within, though only a sniff exited, another wet blot disappearing into the darkness.

“Please forgive me Lord for the lies I have made. For the wrong and sinful thoughts I have thought, and the wrong and sinful things I have done and said.

I pray that Jess’s back gets better and that we have a good time on Saturday down at the picnic. Please keep us safe. Thankyou for this world you gave us. Help me to love you better and think about you more.”

His eyes opened again letting out another breath.

The ache, inside. How could he express it?  How could he make it just disappear? Squeeze his eyes tighter?

He tossed onto his other side. Why could he never mention what really went on in his head? Not even to someone who already knew. God knew everything.

It grew a little darker as he closed his eyes but then the usual colourful confusion entered.

“God.. “

The branch outside was happy talking to itself, Morse code to the unknown.


“Rud, rud rud”  came the only sound.

The branch outside oblivious to his plea.

He faced the puppy again. The laminated poster gleamed on the edges from a distant street light.

“I will try everyday, even if I have to begin from the beginning again, and again. I will try God. I will. I am so so sorry. Please forgive me. I wont think about IT again. Please just help me, cause you can do anything, you’re the all powerful God”

He moved his foot to a new cool spot under the comfort of the sheet.

“I ask all of this, in your name. Amen”

The ceiling above him appeared again. A sniff, the only sound exiting once again,

Shadows throughout the room gave way to any imagination’s interpretation.

The shapes around the room were allowed to be anything they wanted to be, the light had left for the night. But God was light, so he must be too.

The shadows around accompanied him as he let himself drift off, tired of another night. The beat of the branch and the wind chime, his only comfort.