Ever since I photographed Lush Pastures a few years back, I knew I wanted to come here for a night (or more). Now, I'm here. And not for work. And I'm excited.
The experience, for me, all starts with the drive down. Lush Pastures is just outside of Yankalilla, so I get to drive along one of my favourite roads away from Adelaide. The winding curves, the big bosom hills (that are looking so lush after winter) on one side and sparkling ocean on the other. I feel like I am a race car driver, scooting around the hillsides - even though I'm sitting on a speed that is similar to Granny driving (well, that's what I'll tell my Mum and Dad anyway).
When the road turns to dirt and we venture upwards, I know we are getting close. Surrounded by green paddocks, trees arching over the road and the odd farmhouse... Mother Nature's design of countryside, hills and valleys, I have no choice but to breathe deep and soak it in. Relaxation begins.
Cheryl and Andy greet us as we are getting out of the car, and show us around the property. The views from the pavilions are beautiful - especially with the blue sky and green winter grass. We look out over the hills to the ocean.
It's mid-afternoon, I have grand ideas of tramping around the paddocks but instead, find ourselves sitting with a bottle of wine and cheese board in the huge chairs that look out of Romeo, our pavilion. It's like a painting, the panoramic window framing the hills, ocean and sky perfectly. Chatting away, sipping wine and nibbling Fleurieu cheese, figs and gourmet crackers, it's hard to move. So we don't. Until dinner. When we have to wander a few metres over to the Lodge for more wine and three-course meal with Andy and Cheryl.
Blue cheese and fig creme brulee, spanakopita and dill pancake rolls with smoked salmon start us off. Beef short ribs, potato crisp and bok choy fill the tummy even more. Homemade vanilla ice cream with red desert lime marmalade, chilli plums and chocolate brownie nearly make me burst. All washed down with local K1 by Geoff Hardy wine.
The conversation goes from personal stories, the theatrics of a soccer game, sports stars, hilarious Australian humour to wine. Cheryl and Andy are great to chat to - but by 10 pm I'm ready to collapse into a food-induced coma. I waddle back to Romeo.
Waking up with no blinds, I love watching the sun change the shape and tone of the hills from under the covers. Gemma comes to the door for a pat before breakfast - and probably to tell us breakfast is ready, which (in the gentlest way) finally forces me out of bed. It is 9 am after all.
Breakfast is waiting for us in the Lodge. Luckily, I had a good nights sleep to rest my tummy after yesterdays food because this is a big, yummy feed of cereal, fruit, eggs, toast, yoghurt and endless coffee.
Now is definitely a great time for that walk. We wander through the paddocks to the dams - with Bella and Gemma in tow. Or, more so, leading the way. And then it's time to leave.
Driving back to Adelaide, we stop off to walk Normanville to Carrickalinga beach. My body is craving movement. I wonder why? Food coma, lots of wine and a good dose of relaxation... I feel like a different person.