"Heard it through the grapevine"

 Peter Abbott and Katie Blair celebrating Peter's 24th birthday.
Peter Abbott and Katie Blair celebrating Peter's 24th birthday.

UK VISITORS: Last week I met John and Tom Crosby. Tom promised me a story on their visit and this is it. “For the last year or so there's been a calendar hanging in the small toilet under the stairs of my parent’s house, in Hull, UK. It sticks out from all the rugby league memorabilia by virtue of the fact that it's of the Australian bush. There's always been subtle signs of Grenfell dotted about the house as I grew up. My grandmother has some Henry Lawson tea towels, there are photographs of dead cracked trees and dry-looking farmland on the walls, and also there's all my dad's old photographs. Dad first came here in 1973 when he was a 'Ten Pound Pom', at the frighteningly young age of 17. A lot of his pictures of that time are of young lads with long 70s hair, sitting or motorbikes by barbed wire fences - looking sunburned. He got to Grenfell after meeting David Lee at a boarding house in Lewisham, Sydney, and arrived on Christmas Day in 1973 courtesy of Dave's mate Wayne Heathcote; who we note is now in the Grenfell Bowling club Sporting hall of Fame.

(L-R) David Lee, Tom and John Crosby (from UK), Cathie Lee and Helen Howlett.

(L-R) David Lee, Tom and John Crosby (from UK), Cathie Lee and Helen Howlett.

After five or six visits to Grenfell, and subsequently returning to the UK in November 1975, it took my Dad until 2011 before he managed to get out here again. I was living in South Korea at the time and he took my old traveller's backpack and spent a month visiting those he'd met all those years ago. This trip is a little different. Our rugby league team, Hull Football Club, are in New South Wales to play Wigan in Wollongong and St. George in Sydney. I'm now living in China and my father is a semi-retired nurse, so has far too much time on his hands, we essentially had to come here. (Mainly to marvel at the shear lack of traffic lights in Grenfell and the curve in the main street. As, of course, no other Australian town of a similar size has one).

Riley Gray celebrating his 12th birthday with his parents Karen and Brett (Con't).

Riley Gray celebrating his 12th birthday with his parents Karen and Brett (Con't).

Dave Lee has been keeping us fed and watered up at Gritty Base on Makins Street. However, before we even got into town, Dave had me riding around in Andrew Baker's shiny new British tractor as he essentially 'shaved' the a paddock of Canola, trailing clouds of dry Australian dust in the process. We hadn't a clue what Canola was, until Dave explained and we realized it was what we call 'oilseed rape' and that it is grown all over East Yorkshire back home. After a steak dinner with the Lee family in the Railway Hotel (A place where big farming men drink small pints called schooners), we spent the best park of Wednesday morning driving around the local area. We climbed up to Ben Halls' Lookout, whilst Dave 'stood guard' over the car. Upon our return, scratched knees an' all, we were glad to see that Dave had indeed warded off any approaching bandits on the Forbes Road. Our skin, however, is dangerously English, so we refrained from climbing The Pinnacle in case we acquired third-degree burns. Lunch was held in the Bland Hotel, where, aside from a few farmers picking up take-away, we were the lunch time rush. That evening was spent in the Bowling Club, for Pizza night, with Helen and Colin Hewlett. The following day was spent down at Andrew Bakers' farm. Breakfast was a 'plain pie', which tasted anything but. Taking our cue from Dave, we decided to watch the lads build an extension to Andrew's sheep yards with a cement mixer, rather than actively help. Following that we had a tour of the farm, something very everyday to the average Grenfell-ite, but quite unique for us as we saw a kangaroo tackle itself against a fence as it ran at our approach. We also checked Andrew’s sheep. They are all still white and some fluffy. Dave said they looked good, we just nodded in agreement. In the evening Helen and Colin treated us to a dinner of pork chops and quiche (bought from the new butcher, apparently). This was followed by an obligatory Golden Gaytime ice cream.

We finally left early on Friday morning after acquiring postcards and an excellent Grenfell "Goanna’s" RL shirt, to get the train from Lithgow back up to Sydney in time for the World Club Challenge between Leeds RL and Melbourne and the much more important game, to us, between Hull FC and St. George Illawarra on Saturday 17th. Once again, Grenfell has left its mark on another Hullensian. I assume you'll be just as welcoming to my kids when they arrive?”

Carolyn and Stephanie Davies and Barbara and Bec Knight celebrating Barbara's birthday.

Carolyn and Stephanie Davies and Barbara and Bec Knight celebrating Barbara's birthday.

BIRTHDAYS AT THE RAILWAY: Barbara Knight celebrated her birthday with her husband Tom, son David and daughter in law Bec, daughter Carolyn Davies and grandchildren Jack and Charlie Knight and Stephanie Davies last Saturday evening. Riley Gray celebrated his 12th birthday on Friday evening with his parents Karen and Brett Gray and Grandparents Margaret and Alan Knight. A highlight for Riley was when Terry Carroll called him to announce his birthday and push the button for the meat draw. Peter Abbott also celebrated his 24th birthday with his friend of four years Katie Blair and their many friends on Saturday evening. Peter was a little ‘camera shy’, but allowed a photograph once he put his hat on.

 Barbara and her grandson Charlie Knight.

Barbara and her grandson Charlie Knight.

Carolyn Shaw enjoying a special dessert on her special birthday.

Carolyn Shaw enjoying a special dessert on her special birthday.

The Railway Water Tank - June 2014 before the perimeter fence was erected.

The Railway Water Tank - June 2014 before the perimeter fence was erected.