Sunday 21 April 2024

Sydney for David's birthday

Masked up onboard - we learned our lesson having got Covid on the flight to the UK last year ...
Crossing the Southern Alps - this sight always lifts my heart and reminds me of my times of flying to Hokitika.

 We had almost 5 full days in Sydney - from Saturday to Thursday. There were three reasons for the trip all of which happily coincided:

  • David turned 75 on the Wednesday
  • Kirsty lives in Sydney
  • we went to the Pub Choir event there.

 We had a lovely time with Kirsty. 

We went straight to her place from the airport. Well, when I say straight there, I neglect to mention the inordinate time that ACP took in sorting out where to call for an Uber from, and the internal, very steamed up and implosive tantrums I was having at having to traipse around while he tried to find the place we should wait, all without having made the call. I don't think I'd be exaggerating if I said there was a good 15 - 20 minutes faffing and to-ing and fro-ing. I had phoned Kirsty, who gave us the required info (call first, then the uber app will tell us where to wait - that was my memory of how it worked last time we were there ...), recognised my stress level and she had the kettle boiled for tea and a magnesium capsule waiting for me on arrival...

We walked altogether to the airbnb apartment, about 8 minutes from Kirsty's place. Catastrophe struck as we crossed the road to the building. David was following Kirsty and me, and hadn't noticed that we stepped over a low concrete traffic divider in the middle of the road. He tripped on it and went flying, face first on to the road. AAARRRGGGHHH!!! How he managed not to scrape his face off I don't know! God, we all got a fright, Kirsty and I more than David, I think. He was so fortunate not to graze himself much at all - he skidded on his hands but they were barely grazed. 

From then on, we didn't let him cross roads by himself and we made sure to use pedestrian crossings and warn him about the depth of the gutters - they are pretty deep in Sydney due to the intense rainfall. 

The apartment was a very good place to stay - good sized bedroom, well equipped kitchen, good lounge and dining area. some of the furniture was a bit large for the size of the place, but all was comfortable. We weren't sure about the cowhide mats ... The double-glazing was amazingly efficient, and even though we were on a busy intersection with 4 lanes of traffic in 3 directions, we could hardly hear any of it from inside. 

David made a pillow tower for me ...
The lounge, dining and kitchen. The laundry is behind the door to the left of the fridge. Washing hanging out on the balcony.

The downside of the place was that, for 5 nights we had been left 2 towels, one handtowel, one teatowel. When I asked for a change of towels I was told that would incur a cost of $50, and that we should buy some instead. Nope! Kirsty lent us some of hers. My feedback centred on that downside - I recognise they have a different business model from a hotel, however they are charging plenty, and making sure there were towel changes available at least every 2 days would not be a problem for them.

A very significant upside is its location - across the road from a supermarket, above about 3 restaurants and a block from a station. And of course, only 8 minutes by walk from Kirsty's. And the very pleasant riverside walk is not far away either.

On the Sunday we went to the Pharoah's Gold exhibition at the museum. 

Lovely sunny day as I follow David and Kirsty towards the museum.
Interesting skyline seen from a very lovely park
You can just see the top of the Sydney Tower. Irene says we should have gone there for David's birthday. A revolving restaurant is not quite my cup of tea, somehow ...
Probably the fanciest water fountain structure that exists, don't you think? Kirsty and David are lovely though.

And down we go to the start of the exhibition.
This struck a chord with me for some unknown reason ...

 Humans haven't changed much over the centuries and millennia - fighting over territory, strict hierarchical societies with rich people lording it over the poor and taking full advantage of them, and the same rich people being very keen to be remembered in perpetuity - if not reincarnated! But they all fade from memory and history.

It reminded me of the poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley 'Ozimandias of Egypt' **:

    I met a traveller from an antique land 

    Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone 

    Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand, 

    Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown 

    And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command

    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read 

    Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things, 

    The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed. 

    And on the pedestal these words appear: "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 

    Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" ***

    Nothing beside remains: round the decay 

    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, 

    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

(** Just so you know, I first read and learned that poem when I was 12 in Form 2 at Highlands Intermediate School in New Plymouth - our teacher was an avid poetry person, and we learned all sorts of poems with Miss Belsey. The best two years of teaching I ever had, I think. But I wouldn't have chosen poetry myself, honest!)

*** Let's hope Christopher Luxon, David Seymour and Winston Peters here in NZ and Boris Johnson and Donald the Dumpster see the hubris in thinking they are mighty enough to be remembered, when actually they too will fade into the dust. Sooner rather than later, I hope...

After the museum we headed for lunch nearby. 

On the way, David used the fancy water fountain...
The ANZAC memorial - more properly known as the AAC I reckon, as no NZ troops get mentioned...

Then back to the apartment in Canterbury. A blobby afternoon followed. Kirsty headed home early as she had to get things ready for work the next day.

Kirsty sent me the link to a lite version of Sydney's transport timetabling system. It's very cool! and extremely useful, esp when we were new to making our way around and very uncertain of the geography!

We had a boat trip around the harbour the next day - it is a beautiful piece of water. The trip was interesting, but we would have preferred a bit more commentary about the early history of the place, i.e. the First People's history, and the more prosaic convict history, rather than which houses were sold for multiple millions of dollars to whom ...

Before the boat trip. Finding where we were to depart from was a trick - we arrived early natch, and the kiosk that tickets were issued from is a portable one. So it wasn't there yet. Doh!
That bridge is much bigger than it looks, folks!
That is an amazing building!
There are over a million of those tiles on the roof. And they look different from different angles and in different lights. Very beautiful.
IIRC, this was used as a quarantine island at one point in the past.
A bit hard to see, but there's a tall sailing ship moored up there and the low building (3 storeys) to the left of the picture is something historic to do with the workings of the harbour - Note to self: I should take notes.
It's quite a busy harbour. At one point, a yacht came past on our starboard side between us and another boat travelling in the same direction as we were ... Maybe the skipper didn't know the rules of the waterways!


Still and all, the Opera House is spectacular, the real estate around the harbour is very desirable, and the harbour itself is impressive.

Tuesday night was the Pub Choir event in Enmore which Kirsty came to too - she shepherded us there on the bus... The Pub Choir event clearly has a following, and the woman who runs it is very very high energy. We did all wonder later if her energy was artificially or chemically high ... David said she was not quite so OTT at the Wellington event. Kirsty knew the song, I didn't and didn't ever remember hearing it before. David, on the basis of having poor eyesight, had got an early notification of it so he could familarise himself with it beforehand.

As an event it was pretty amazing - Astrid is a very talented musician and singer, and it tells that she has been a teacher. She is also a very skilled facilitator - she can get a group of a few thousand people doing what she asks of them without resistance and with a lot of humour. Watching her work was a pleasure.

I had to go to the back of the downstairs of the theatre and sit on one of the few seats - my back was clearly not going to cope with being on my feet for 2.5 hours standing still! It was pretty interesting watching from that distance.

Wednesday was David's birthday and as befits an aging couple, we had a very blobby day. David fielded lots of birthday phone calls and messages, which was lovely. I did make him breakfast in bed because I am a kind and loving wife. 

We had bought quite a lot of food at the supermarket on the Saturday, and of course there was stuff left over. Some of it unopened even. I washed and dried Kirsty's towels and then we packed up our two cases with them and leftover groceries and walked them to Kirsty's place. It meant we could have another cuddle with Luna, her cat (who, like all tabbies, is very very vocal!), and we could also fail to do anymore of her jigsaw puzzle... Native birds of NZ. Very complicated!

On our way back to the apartment from Kirsty's we saw this lizard basking on the brick wall in the sunshine. He had a companion who had already disappeared behind the metal. Very lovely!


This place is in the bottom of the apartment building. The woman gave me a really good massage and it was well worth $85 for an hour.
We investigated part of the riverside walk - some lovely homes there but none as flash as the ones on the harbour, which was a relief!
Parts of the river down this end were full of floating debris - reminded us of some bits of the canals in the UK. Near Uxbridge springs to mind, as does the junction of the Grand Union and Paddington Arm.
The ibis are ubiquitous around Sydney. People get cross with them, but they have adapted well to people taking over their habitats and now scavenge for food.
There are a few bridges that go over the river into other suburbs
Does anyone know this man?


On the side road, nearly back at the apartment, I saw this car parked in a way I would never dare to do!

We headed into town to meet Kirsty after work. While we were waiting for her, David had a call from Olek, then a call from Marta and then a WhatsApp message from Karol. Then dinner out at a place in Surry Hills called Don't Tell Aunty. Very yummy food! And these amazing things I need to find in NZ - little hollow spheres made of poppadom mix that are filled with a liquid of yoghurt and spices. Delicious indeed! Panipuri - known in English as waterballs. I've found that an Indian restaurant we like in Paraparaumu has them, and I'm going to ask where I can buy them to make at home.

A starter we shared was a platter of poppadoms and naan bread with about 10 dips and chutneys - that also needs to be replicated at home. We are so keen, that we have already commissioned Salvi to make us a wooden lazy susan to place the platter on!

The next morning, we were up really early - our flight wasn't due to leave  till 9.15am, but we are paranoid about being late for flights. And we did have a bad experience at Sydney once where it took us an hour to get through the Security line. Not sure why but there seemed to be thousands of people travelling that day. So this time we were in the cab at 6am, at the airport by about 6.25 and checked in and through security (5  minutes - the only delay was that I forgot to take my phone out of my pocket - doh!! ) with plenty of time for breakfast.

The flight back was pretty smooth and we arrived a few minutes early. Back to the motorhome and all I had to do was go to the service station next door to buy milk. On the off chance that the adjacent Burger King did vegetarian burgers, I went to check it out. Yes they do. So I bought two and went back with them for an early dinner. They are quite yummy. Not as good as the Pam's falafel burgers but acceptable. Definitely not as good as Ferg's Burgers from Queenstown either but significantly cheaper ...

North South Holiday Park has good laundry facilities so I did the washing  and drying from our time away, so we didn't have to find another campsite to get it done. After that, it was an early night - the double glazing on the motorhome keeps the heat in but isn't much good at blocking the noise of traffic. However the Loop earplugs sort that and we slept well.

The next day we were on our way south - more of that later!

Some political stuff. Look away now if the truth hurts!


Ian and Irene Jameison said...

Wow, David was one very lucky man not to have come away more injured than the odd scrape. And falling into the road? Good job no traffic was present!
As to the revolving tower, what a barely moves, and you would never know it was turning unless, like me, you left your handbag at what I thought was a convenient shelf, only to discover it missing and had travelled to the other side of the restaurant!
Glad you got back okay and enjoyed those 5 days in Oz. We like Sydney very much but wouldn't want to live there. Give us the serenity and beauty of NZ anytime.

Jenny said...

Happy Birthday David. He was lucky his fall didnt do too much damage. Looks like you had a wonderful 5 days in Sydney.