My visit to Hobart had started off in strange fashion, and it continued to surprise me. The next incident was at a pub called Knopwood's Retreat, where I was sitting outside having a nice, peaceful Cascade (the local Tasmanian brew, which is apparently made from the purest water in the world – it certainly tastes good). These two guys were sitting a couple of tables down from me, and an argument erupted, about nothing in particular. It got a bit noisy, and then one guy threatened the other – who was trying to calm it down, to be honest – and the publican jumped in to calm it down. This failed, so she called the police. Meanwhile the noisy one kicked over the calmer one's bike, and walked off in a huff, and the calmer one got on his bike – a moped, really – and drove off down the road. Just at that moment the police arrived, and the publican pointed out that one of the troublemakers was heading off on a bike. The next thing you know it's all red and blue flashing lights and screeching tyres, and the police car shot off after the bike.
We all thought that was the end of it – the publican even got a round of applause – but, whaddya know, two minutes later this yellow moped screamed past, followed by a cop car, closely followed by another copper. It turned out one of the men – the touchy one – was trying to come off heroin using methadone, which is bound to wind you up, I guess.
The entertainment was so good I decided to stay for another beer, it being rather good in Tassie. As is the way with pubs, I bumped into this old English guy in the pisser with whom I struck up a conversation, and eventually joined for some more beer. Dicky was his name, and he was out having a beer with his son, Nick, who had emigrated to Sydney; Dicky was on holiday visiting his son, and they'd both come to Tassie for a holiday. What a nice couple of people; they even gave me a lift to the hostel, which was about 2km out of town, which isn't a particularly big walk, but it's a whole lot bigger when you're zigzagging in a contented stupor.
That night I decided I'd like to visit the Cygnet Folk Festival, a three-day collection of folkies and hippies on the south coast of Tassie; it seemed like a good place to find some real Australian music. However, the coach didn't leave until late the next afternoon, so there was time to kill on Friday. I spent this visiting a folk museum in Battery Point called Narryna. The museum is actually a house built in 1836 that has been restored and filled with lots of interesting historical bits and bobs from the colonial days, and I struggled up the hill to the place carrying my overstuffed backpack.
You have to ring the doorbell to get in, and this quiet little man comes and lets you in. I obviously looked knackered as I dumped my bag, and I struck up a conversation with the guide as he asked me where I was from. I told him I was from London – I always do, because people have heard of London, and I can't be bothered to explain about the Midlands, when they all think Liverpool is a suburb of London – and he told me about the history of the house. Five minutes later he looked at me and said, 'You're not originally from London, though, are you?'
Impressive deduction: I assumed he'd spotted an accent, and said so, but he said, 'No, it's just that you've got a sense of humour.' Which was an interesting take on events...
Wandering round Narryna was delightful and very interesting. There were some great bits, with old collections of homeopathic medicines, and ancient books on etiquette, but the best part was when the guide invited me to have a cup of tea with him. It turned out he was a real Anglophile, and we sat and chatted for a couple of hours in the (authentically old) kitchen while the other visitors looked around us and assumed I was part of the staff. What a nice bloke he was; he gave me some great hints on what to see, and I told him the best parts of the UK to visit. He was planning to visit in about a year, and he said he knew that when he eventually got to England, he'd stay there forever. I hope he does.