1.04pm, Thursday 5th April, Yalumba Clocktower, Eden Valley Road, Angaston, SA, Australia
There’s a reason why the flag on the Yalumba Clocktower is flying at half mast today folks – we just lost a great bloke last night – Guy Wilkes. I was lucky enough to have had a lot of adventures out at the wine selling coal face in both England and Ireland with Guy when he was part of the crew at Negociants UK – based up in Harpenden, about an hour on the train north of London. We talked our faces off about all things Yalumba, crisscrossing the countryside from St Albans near Harpenden right down to the southern coastline from Cornwall across to Dorset.
When you’re stuck in a car with a bloke for hours on end, it can be hell, believe me. But when Guy and I travelled, I always threatened to tape the conversations and release them as edgy comedy specials! Guy was about 90 pounds wringing wet, with serious young insect glasses perched on the end of his nose, a totally innocent choir boy look that belied a very naughty sense of humour, and he always wore big sensible lace up boots that were the only thing I’m sure that stopped him getting blown away in a stiff breeze. I liked him. A lot. And he loved this place, loved the family, and loved being the man with the Yalumba connection.
One of my favourite meals with Guy was when we were working events down in the Poole area – a very hot seaside spot in Dorset on the south coast. We were fine dining worn out, so we found the best fish and chip shop in the area, and parked ourselves on a proper park bench on a windswept piece of sand overlooking the super trendy Sandbanks Beach and ploughed into the best greasy battered cod and big fat handcut potato wedges ever! I don’t know what the rich folks were doing that evening as we watched the sunset and cleaned up the batter scraps that are the best bit, but they weren’t doing as well as we were.
So today is brought to you by Guy Wilkes, who did the business well and gave me a lot of laughs doing it. You never knew what the next project was going to be – I remember the dry stone walling moment – he was always on about preserving the English traditional things – and I learned a lot driving around the countryside and getting endless lectures on why certain towns had certain names. That’s why I loved his town – I’d tease him about ending up in a place called ‘Wivverliscombe’, and look on the road map constantly for weird towns and landmarks for him to explain. I liked him. A lot.
Guy Wilkes – top bloke.