Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Big Adventure - Week Two: Sydney

Monday 23rd November:
Despite my cold, I have tried to get out and about.   But I gave up today, and spend most of the day indoors.   I am hoping that I can finally shake off this cold.

Tuesday 24th November:
The cold is no better, but we had booked a day tour of the Hunter Valley vineyards, so I had to get up and go out.   By the time we had finished our second session of wine tasting, my cold was much improved!    All those tablets and lozenges did not work - but a few glasses of wine did the business.   Despite the longish journey to and from the Hunter Valley, today was an excellent day.   Our guide, Sasha, was excellent and it was good to get our of Sydney into the countryside.   Non only did we taste a huge variety of wines, but we also learned a lot.   An educational day.

Wednesday 25th November:
We had a quiet, museum day.   This morning we went to the Australia Museum, which is about the geology, geography, fauna and flora of this nation.    Then we headed for the Museum of Modern Art, which had a mixed selection of exhibits.

Thursday 26th November:
After a day at the Andrew Charlton pool, we went back to the same area this evening.   P&O had 5 cruise boats in the harbour and celebrated by providing an excellent firework display.

Friday 27th November:
Today I went off to the Australian Golf Club to watch the Australian Open Golf Championship.   Really enjoyable.   I followed Jordan Speith and Lee Westwood for a few holes and then just generally followed a number of groups at specific holes.  There was some good golf being played - and some not so good.   The eventual winner was Australian, Michael Jones.

Saturday 28th November:
We are staying in an apartment using airbnb.   This evening there was a Christmas BBQ for residents and we were allowed to go.    It was fun meeting some of the permanent residents, and the food and drink were plentiful.

Sunday 29th November:
An enjoyable day in Manly.    The ferry to Manly must be one of the best communing rides anywhere in the world.  We then took the bus to Dee Why beach where we had lunch.   Then  we went back to Manly and had a walk along the beach before taking the ferry back to Circular Quay.    A nice relaxing day.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

The Big Adventure - Week One: Sydney

The Australia and new Zealand Adventure
November 2015 - January 2016

Wednesday 11th November 2015:
And so the adventure begins - with a slightly fraught journey by taxi to Heathrow at rush hour.  Traffic was stationary for much of the time - never a good sign when trying to catch a plane.    But we got to Heathrow on time to board our BA flight to Sydney via Singapore.  And in time to buy some duty free.
The first leg to Singapore was fine.   We had 90 minutes at Changi airport during which time we had to leave the plane taking our hand luggage with us so that they could clean the plane.   On reboarding, Singapore Security confiscated all the duty free which was in bottles or jars of over 100ml - which was most of it.   Deeply frustrating.    The duty free shop at Heathrow, despite looking at our boarding card, had not told us that this would happen.
Anyway we tried to put this frustration behind us and managed to sleep pretty well on the final leg to Sydney.

Friday 13th November 2015:
The plane touched down at Sydney Airport at around 6.30 am.   Security was okay.  We bought an Opal card for our transport needs and caught the train to central Sydney.   Timing was good.   We had to collect the key to our apartment from Copydex store just as it was opening.  So by 8.30 am we were in the apartment which would be out home in Sydney for the next four weeks.
We had, with a degree of trepidation, decided to use Airbnb to find an apartment in Sydney rather than stay in a hotel.   We'd had a number of positive conversations, in advance of our arrival, with Neil, the apartment owner.    And the apartment was exactly as described;  a modern two bedroom apartment on the edge of the Sydney Central Business District.   It was more cluttered with Neil's stuff than we had expected.   I had thought that Neil lived somewhere else and that this apartment was always rented out, but it is obviously his only residence and therefore contains all of his staff.    Neil will be in  Cape Town during our stay.    But the apartment is clean, has all of the facilities we need and I am sure will be a good base for the next four weeks.

Saturday 14th November 2015:
Time to explore.   We took a stroll around Sydney, through the main part of the City up to Circular Quay and the Opera House.   I lived in Sydney for a year in 1979, so I could not help but reflect on my time there 36 years ago.  Of course it has changed, but not in a major way.  The view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from the Opera House is a stunning as ever.

Sunday 15th November 2015:
It was a bit cool and cloudy, but we decided anyway to head for Sunday lunch at Watson's Bay.  The view out to sea was amazing, the vista in the other direction towards the city was vast and beautiful.   We just obtained a table at the famous Doyle's fish restaurant.  Yes the meal was pricey, but surely one of the best fish and chips  have ever eaten.   Moist fresh Barrimundi.  Wonderful.

Monday 16th November 2015:
It had been 36 years since I had a swim at Redleaf Pool.  In fact it has been renamed the Murray Rose pool since then, but otherwise it has not changed at all.   It is an inner city bay with a fence surrounding it to keep out sea creatures and also large waves.   I loved it today as much as I loved it all those years ago.  For someone whose swimming ability is not great, it is the perfect place to swim.

This evening we headed for a classical music concert in the Opera House.  The final piece, Moussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition is one of my favourites.  We are still not quite over jet lag, so it was difficult to keep awake at the end, but it was a good concert and of course great to experience a concert in the iconic Opera House.

Tuesday 17th November:
We went to City Gym this morning and I had an afternoon walk to Mrs MacQarrie's chair, which is  lovely spot on the edge of the botanical gardens.  In the evening, we had an excellent Thai meal in Stanley Street.  The benefits of living on the edge of the city include the ability to walk to all of these places.

Wednesday 18th November:
I have been considering whether or not to do the bridge climb.   Of course it is listed as one of the things to do in Sydney, but I don't have a good head for heights and it does cost upwards of $300.  So today we had a stroll to the Rocks and then walked over the bridge.   Great views, and all for free.  Not sure that the bridge climb would add a lot.

Thursday 19th November:
Back to the Opera House for a performance of Hamlet.  Mind you our performance in getting there was a bit of a drama.   We failed to get off the bus at the last stop before it headed over the Harbour Bridge.  So we had to sit on the bus in heavy traffic as we went over the bridge and into the wrong half of Sydney.  Then we had to come all the way back again on another bus.  We still made it, just, to the theatre but a relaxing journey was rather more stressful than it should have been.   The performance of Hamlet was a bit disappointing.   Heavily overacted and not very original.

Friday 20th November:
Today was Sydney's hottest November day since 1982.   42C.   And certainly it was hot.   So we went to the Andrew (Boy) Charlton pool during the afternoon.   We sat on the shady side and had frequent dips in the pool.  Very relaxing.

Saturday 21st November:
Weird weather.   42C Thursday.   20C today.  We went to Bondi and did the walk around the headland to Tamarama.   Locally known as glamarama - but not on a cold day like today.

Sunday 22nd November:
We took advantage of the Sunday travel discounts.   Bus to Parammatta and boat back.   Excellent Pizza lunch in Parammatta.   Not a scenic journey outwards, but Paramatta was nice, especially down by the river.   Sauntered over to the Opera House afterwards for an indigenous music and dance performance.   Had a Prosecco overlooking the harbour and enjoying the sunset.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


After the wedding comes the honeymoon.  Though in this case we booked the holiday long before we decided to get married.   Nonetheless, the holiday started just a few days after the wedding and we are happy to call it our honeymoon.
We were married on 6th November 2015 and on 11the November we boarded a cab in Hertford and headed off to Heathrow.
Some 24 hours later, we landed in Sydney, Australia.   We are tired and somewhat jet-lagged, but also very excited.   We will be away from the UK for 11 weeks in total.
I have been neglecting this blog in recent years, but will try to update it over the next 11 weeks, mainly so that in future years I can look back and remember the adventure more vividly as the memory fades.

Sunday, 8 November 2015


On 6th November 2015, my boyfriend, Andrew, and I were married in Hertford Registry Office.   We are now officially husband and husband.
We have been together for over 18 years, but of course marriage has only recently become available to a same-sex couple in the UK.
The day was amazing.   We had a small ceremony at the Registry Office in front of three witnesses.   Then we had a wedding luncheon at the Sun Hotel in Hitchin with 52 friends.  We are grateful to those friends for coming along to help us celebrate our big day.  The whole day went very well.  We really enjoyed the day and out guests have told us that they did as well.
This has been a major milestone in my life.   I am looking forward to the future.