The Semaphore Library's Art Deco interior: originally the Mechanics' Institute, 1883.
My closest beach, five or ten minutes' drive away, is Semaphore in Adelaide's north-west. Heading towards the north-south coast at right angles across the flat, flat Adelaide plain, straight down into the sea (the jetty is pretty much an extension of the road), is the long, broad, boulevardy Semaphore Road, famous for its slightly run-down, out-of-the-wayish antique shops and currently enjoying a renaissance as a bit of a foodie haven.
There are several good restaurants, lots of substantial takeaway/eat-in places in various cuisines, an excellent bakery and ditto fruit and veg (beautiful produce plus local gourmet treats), a bunch of, erm, Alternative cafes, and several pubs -- one of them, the Federal Hotel, still seriously old style, by which I mean dusty blokes in dusty boots watching the races.
If you go for a walk out to the end of the jetty at dusk, past the hand-holding couples and the dedicated dog-walkers, past the rowdy, gawky teenage boys and the quiet Vietnamese families fishing off the side, you can look back at the shore and see a straight wide border of white sand, and across the esplanade a line of lights and giant pines, and behind the lights the black silhouette in the lavender sky of the Adelaide Hills across the city.
But in the daytime, which was what it was when I went down there last Sunday, everything is still blue and green and yellow instead of lavender and pearl. There are armies of kids and dogs. You can buy a fairy dress, some industrial-strength analgesics, a yiros with garlic sauce, Dutch-iris and hyacinth bulbs, a slab of coffee-and-walnut cake, and a bottle of what Leunig once called hospital brandy. You can borrow a basketful of library books. The signs say there'll be live music in three different places over the coming week.
And if you come to the Fed on a Thursday night, you can get a seven-dollar schnitzel and sing karaoke -- not necessarily in that order.
My kind of gig.