G'day!! How are you? I can't believe that this day three weeks ago we were just about to land at Sydney Airport having travelled over 10,000 miles… well I say travelled, but it felt more like a fabulous night in with lovely food, champagne, and movies of our choice to watch. Etihad Airways had upgraded us to Business Class, and so we felt seriously spoilt
Apart from a mild struggle with my flight socks (unbelievably tight!) and nearly choking on a mysterious delicacy I believed to be part of my Mezze, but turned out to be an ear plug, all was well and before we knew it we were grabbing our bags and heading for the arrivals gate… I have to be honest and say that my heart was in my mouth as we pushed our baggage trolley along the concourse – which in itself was no mean feat due the ENORMOUS amount of clothing I had decided to bring.
It's hard to describe how it feels to see someone after eight years, but suffice to say I shouldn't have bothered reapplying my mascara! Peter didn't really look any older and inspite of all that's happened over those years, I felt the memory of it falling away as we walked out into the rain.
Yes I would have liked to tell you that it was a warm balmy evening that awaited us, but sadly the weather was wet and chilly, but nothing could have dampened my joy at seeing the family again, or my anticipation of what was to come.
Peter lives in a suburb of Sydney which is about 40 minutes out of the city and quite beautiful. Wide tree-lined roads, and no two houses that look the same. Some have wide verandahs, other's – beautiful wrought iron balconies and some, like Peter's, are shuttered. After a good night's sleep we bought a boot full of food at the local grocery store (by jingo it's pricey in Oz!), headed back and spent the rest of the day in the garden as the sun broke through and brought the temperature to a heady 28 degrees.
That evening we went to a 1950s themed party which was great fun, and the next day visited Balmoral – one of the 120 beaches which surround Sydney.
Sarah and Clare (my sis-in-law and niece) made a fabulous picnic and we sat eating a beautiful salad and drinking a glass of wine, while watching the sun go down over the sea. Much grander than the usual ham and pickle baps I come up with, but requiring meticulous balancing skills so as to avoid sand in your salmon fillet!!
We decided to make our way into Sydney centre by train the next day to begin our week-long stay at the Marriott Hotel in Circular Quay. Both Peter and Sarah work and had very busy schedules, so with a few evenings planned for later in the week, we headed off.
Trains in Sydney are on two levels which I think is a cracking idea – hardly anyone has to stand even in rush hour – and the fares are seriously cheap! During the following week we used the train many times to get about as well as the buses, but our favourite mode of transport were the ferries that leave Circular Quay and take you to any number of fabulous bays and beaches that make up the coastline around Sydney.
Inspite of the weather, which was again cold and grey, we headed of to Manly beach and spent an hour or more huddled up on a towel, wearing jumpers and watching the surfers who were clearly a great deal hardier than us!
Tuesday was also wet, but we visited the Art Gallery which was fascinating and then as the skies cleared and the sun broke through we spent the afternoon walking around the fabulous Botanic Gardens that stretch for miles along the edge of the city.
They were initially opened in 1816 and now include plants and shrubs from all over the world and some pretty unusual creatures too. Grey-headed flying foxes can be seen hanging like large furry ornaments from the trees and raucous cockatoos screech across the skyline, followed by the more sedate kookaburra.
Actually all the pedestrian crossings in Sydney use the kookaburra's call to let you know it's safe to cross – very peculiar!
Over the next few days we visited The Rocks, The Australian Museum, Darling Harbour, and Paddington. We had a fabulously sunny day on Bondi Beach and met up with Peter to watch a movie in the original 1900s cinema in Roseville. We saw a live band in the Marble Bar beneath the Sydney Hilton Hotel, and had a lovely night out with the family in a restaurant called Ripples, which was situated just underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The weekend we spent with Peter and Sarah and they took us to all the places they had lived in prior to Pymble. We visited Double Bay, then Seven Shillings Beach where we had a swim, Rushcutters Bay for lunch at the Sydney Cruising Yacht Club (anyone who lives outside of Sydney is allowed in?!) and then on to the open market in Paddington.
We also had a wonderful time in Watson's Bay where they have the original Doyles Fish Restaurant serving fabulous fare such as Barramundi – which I can tell you is delicious. The sun was hot and the sky was blue and so to round the day off we headed to the Opera House, where we sat drinking wine and watching the sun go down… perfect
Monday saw us checking out of our lovely hotel and heading back to Peter's before the next leg of our journey – Tasmania! And to be honest there's so much more to tell you about that trip that I think it best if I save it until next week… so I very much hope you enjoy the photos and my memories, and it brings you a little flavour of all that is Down Under – so to speak!!
Have a great weekend, and I'll look forward to being with you on Wednesday at noon with Laura Geller's TSV. Always a treat to spend time with her, and to have the added bonus of a make-over from the lovely Johnny! Being a leap year we've got everything on 4 Easy Pay ALL DAY, so see you there! Love Ali xx