Thursday, 4 January 2007

A sad farewell!

After an amazing three weeks away, work is the furthest thing from my mind and the thought of heading back to work on Monday morning frankly fills me with dread! Yesterday I had another lazy day. Spent my day wandering around the shops then I headed to Hyde Park and back to the botanical gardens. I saw a whole heap of massive fruit bats arguing amongst themselves as they hung in the trees then spotted a few hundred jellies in the harbour - nice! After much ado I managed to get a ferry across to Milsson's Point - the ferry was delayed and it took me an hour to get across (I won't mention my bad luck when it comes to boats). Anyhoo, it served me right for being too lazy to cross the bridge by foot for the third time.

I met up with Wayne and his ex-work mate Frank ( think big, think Greek) who was lovely. Lid joined us after a while and we ended up in big debates over religion (or lack of). Three atheists and Lid (in the midst of organising a big fat Catholic wedding) - I felt a bit sorry for her in all honesty! For once I wasn't the most vocal.

We had dinner and a few more drinks then I headed back to my hostel. Today i'm hopefully catching up with Wayne over coffee to say goodbye and I may catch up with Justin at the airport hopefully without his rubber gloves (he's a customs officer).

Well i'll be seeing you or speaking to you all soon hopefully - just got an epic 23 hour journey until then. Tata.

Wednesday, 3 January 2007

Drinks in Darling harbour!

My hunt for jeans turned out to be relatively successful. I am the proud owner of Levi's, which although fit well, are not as good as my beloved 35 quid jeans from Sisley. I'm still a flare (not quite 70's flare) girl at heart and these days they are so hard to find because everyone is obsessed with 'skinny' jeans which in turn make you look 'fat' if you haven't got the legs of a stick insect. Anyhoo, I am now decent when i go to work on Monday...although i may resort to patches to resurrect my old pair.

I get deeply attached to certain items of clothing and it hurts to get rid of them. I am currently in denial about my flip flops - a pair of Reefs i bought four years ago that i have literally worn to the ground so that my big toe on my left foot now touches the ground as I walk. I have had a look round at replacing them but they have travelled the world with me - from the sands of Whitehaven beach, the red mud of Laos and the camps on the Inca trail - so I have a certain emotional attachment to them. They may have to be framed!

As I was wandering around Sydney shopping I suddenly heard my name called and guess what....yep, Wayne was stood right there! I had managed to bump into Wayne hours before we were due to meet which was very random indeed - although admittedly I have had similar things happen in London. We caught up briefly but he had to meet Lid (his missus) for lunch so we met up properly as planned in Darling Harbour for a few drinks. Over a few schooners of Asahi we went over old times and put the world to rights (the distinct lack of shops that sell Reef flipflops in Sydney being one of the main topics - he is another ardent wearer!). It was great seeing him. It's been six years. Poor bugger is getting married in seven weeks time hehe! I can't believe it's been 10 years since I met him. Life goes far too quickly!

Lid met us at the bar and we grabbed some nosh before heading to the cinema to see Borat - I've been wanting to see it since it came out but everyone at home had already seen it. Thankfully, Aus being a bit behind in the times, it had only recently been released here so Lid and Wayne hadn't seen it. What a great movie. Such a laugh.

Tonight i'm catching up with Lid and Wayne again for dinner. In the mean time the search for Reefs goes on!

Tuesday, 2 January 2007

Lazy days in Sydney

Well i'm making most of the sleep that I won't be getting for the best part of the next year. I imagine i'll be down to my usual five hours by...well Monday let's face it! And it's been really great not doing very much at all. Yesterday I spent the best part of my day sat at Darling Harbour watching the world (and boats) go by and finishing off The God Delusion ( I would recommend it to everyone - the religious, the atheists and the downright confused - it is the most enlightening piece of work i've ever read!). I had a wander around the city then headed up to the botanical gardens where I chilled out and read some more. I've realised how much I miss reading - I just don't get the time anymore and I spend great chunks of my day proofreading so I'm usually done with reading by the time I get home at night. I remember spending hours reading as a kid and it's great to have time to sit and bookworm again!

I've really fallen for Australia and especially Sydney (I felt remarkably at home when I woke to the pitter patter of torrential rain yesterday morning but thankfully it cleared up!). Some of the little things i've noticed about Aus:

1. The buses are powered by natural gas. Why do we still have manky, smoky beasts in London?
2. Every toilet has a short and long flush. Ok so a bit of a weird observation but in today's world where water is scarce it's important...oh and they recycle EVERYTHING - listen and learn Wandsworth Council!
3. Pavements are three times the width of those in London. As a major city, Sydney feels positively empty compared to the claustrophobic chaos of London.
4. It's clean, modern and easy to get around. Ok well let's be fair to London - it does have history and it was bombed extensively in the blitz but it is quite refreshing to be in a modern city where the roads are in a logical grid so you can get around easily.
5. It has a skyrail. Just cool.
6. The men have suntans. Need I say more.
7. Flat white coffees are the best. Charlotte, I now completely understand your disappointment with the coffee situation in London!
8. The girl's are seriously fiesty. Which gives us Brits a better chance.
9. The Aussies can play cricket. I have become French overnight because every time I say i'm English I get 4-nil (or is 5-nil now??) rubbed in my face.
10. It's warm yey!

Today i'm off shopping to buy jeans. I noticed my beloved pair that i wear to work have a rather endearing hole on my right butt cheek where they have worn through - gutted!

Monday, 1 January 2007


For once in a long, long time I wasn't hung over on the 1st January and admittedly I felt rather smug seeing everyone dragging themselves around the hostel looking like shit warmed up! I left for Manly Bay in the peeing rain (as I said EVERY time I need to get on a boat it rains). Nearly broke my neck on a couple of occasions due to extremely slippery flip flops but I continued in earnest, beach gear to hand. Thankfully by the time I got to Manly ( a 35min trip from Sydney Circular Quay) the sun was out and I no longer looked like an overzelous Brit heading for the beach in the rain.

I met up with Justin (a volunteer on the jungle project I worked on in Peru) and his girlfriend Liv and we caughted up over a lunch of salt and pepper squid, which was surprisingly delicious.It's been two and a half years and Justin hadn't changed at all - apart from the rather large scars on his hand and arm from Leishmaniasis (flesh eating parasite caught from a sandfly bite).

After a catch up over a few hours, Justin and Liv had to head off so I headed for the beach where I chilled for a couple of hours, ploughing through another chapter of my new found 'Bible'. Had a wander around the coast and watched a guy with his dog swimming in the sea. The dog was hugely amusing - he kept climbing onto flat rocks, then running and launching himself into the sea. He looked like he was having an amazing time. It was 8pm by the time I got home, so just enough time to cook some pasta, meet some hostel pals, then head here to nerd!

2007 off with a bang!

Happy New Year everyone! I would have texted except the network died for 2 hours at midnight because everyone was trying to text at the same time. What an awesome day! I set off around 10am and headed north of the river and west - beyond Lunar Park. North Sydney was lovely with a true community feel and a fabulous green grocers - about 10 times the size of a UK store with every fruit and veg you can imagine. Popped by a bottle shop and picked up some Smirnoff Double Black in cans (like Smirnoff Ice but a double shot) then headed past Lunar Park and along the coast.

I came across a really beautiful grassy area with an absolutely stunning view of the bridge and decided to camp out there. When I arrived at 12 there were a few people with tents up already; by 12 pm there were 10,000 people on site. Needless to say I was not on my own but I guarded my square of sarong space with my life so, come the fireworks, I had a spectacular view. There was an all day bbq, a bar and a measly 15 toilets for women. Thankfully, it turns out that aussie birds are more brash than the average brit chick so many of them squatted behind the portaloos and raided the men's loos.

A group of English guys were seated in front of me and I got chatting to them on and off throughout the day although they weren't really my type of peep - they considered Vang Vieng, the druggie tourist trap of Laos, their favourite part of their trip so far...enough said! They were entertaining after consuming VB upon VB (Victoria Bitter) for 12 hours though - out came the footy chants to a suprisingly subdued Aussie response of 4 -nil, 4 - nil, 4- ni (something to do with The Ashes I believe :) ). Thankfully, it was all taken in good spirit so no fights kicked off!

I was sat next to a lovely lady called Kerrie and her son, Craig, who were really sweet and kept offering me food (a light relief after a couple of warm festering cheese sandwiches that had sat for hours in the heat of my bag). The 9 hour wait until the first set of fireworks went by surprisingly quickly!

Even the fireworks at 9 (so that children can watch them and go home early) were spectacular by English standards, but the fireworks at midnight were positively breathtaking! If you haven't done so already, you MUST go to Sydney for New Year once in your life. The fireworks are out of this world. Words can't do justice to the experience. Fireworks go off simultaneously in four areas of the bay. You don't know where to look. They even had fireworks come off the top of all the main skyscrapers in the city. It was positively awe-inspiring and definitely worth the 12 wait, numb bum cheeks and lengthy toilet queues. The atmosphere was electric.Then, after 15 minutes, it was all over

After 12 hours in the sun, I was pretty shattered so I decided to head back to the hostel. After only three cans of Smirnoff DB I was completely sober, which made for an interesting walk home as everyone staggered around in drunken messes. I even had my first eye-opening event of the year. Walking along the waterfront towards Lunar Park I walked past a grassy area with not a bush in sight and there - literally 2 metres from me - a couple were having sex. Yup no bush, not even a tuft of grass to hide the man's luminous white bottom glowing in the moon (and lamp) light. I averted my eyes and continued on, only to come to a barrier and be told to turn round and take another route to the bridge. By this time a couple of guys who were walking behind me had come across Bonking Couple and, finding it all very amusing, had decided to take a photo of the event. As the flash went off, I have never seen a man move so fast. Within a split second he was cowering in a bush trying to preserve what was left of his dignity, whilst his missus was left, legs akimbo, in said grassy area with two blokes laughing their socks off at her. It was all rather entertaining and a New Year's Eve Bonking Couple will remember for some time I imagine! The rest of my trip home was rather less eventful and I was back in my prisonesque hostel room by 2pm