Boxing Day - headed up to Sydney along the coastal road. Really brought home the size of Australia. Drove all day and yet had to break journey in Merimbula (saw a bunch of kangaroos loitering on the green of a golf course on the way in!). Even saw a sign telling us it was 126km to the next McDonalds!
Got into Sydney a little after lunchtime the next day, checked into the hotel then left parents and sister there to hhop onto Manly ferry to meet Ursula, a MBA classmate, who was hosting a BBQ. Saw her new baby, got immediately grilled by Harry, her SO, on the vital Xbox 360-PS3 question, drank lots of wine and did lots of scary reminiscing - over 10 years since we first met, some 4.5 years since she moved out here to Sydney, gossiped about classmates and life in general, including a grilling and exhortations about my personal life. Heh. Even discovered she'd done some English Civil War re-enacting too - memory was a bit hazy, but recalled being dragged by a friend at university to a very cold field and lots of pikes and muskets!
Alas, not so successful with catching up with Jennifer aka Smoke, an ex-colleague from Renaissance days. We spent close on a year working together in Amsterdam. Amusingly, she was trasnferred to London from Boston, went straight to a project in Amsterdam, then South Africa, Switzerland and then Australia and never left. AFAIK, she never actually got round to getting a place in London! Alas, while she was hosting a BBQ too the next day, I was occupied going round Sydney with family and we were off again the following afternoon. Damn.
Still, it was fun going round Sydney again. Had to be a lot more focused as I had a full week last time. Started at Chinatown, through Hyde Park, into the Botanical Gardens to McQuarrie Point (Governor Lachlan McQuarrie seems to have done a pretty good job of getting almost everything in Australia named after him...), to the Rocks and then back via Pitt Mall and Town Square.
Heh. Even finally found a surplus store in Australia worthy of the name near Circular Quay. Lots of AUSCAM kit. Only, not my thing as I have no desire to look like a giant pile of mouldy jellybeans. And definitely no ration packs. This, along with my cousin saying he couldn't get Singaporean ones as he wasn't infantry, means my hoped for contribution to International Cuisine Night at Beltring this Summer is looking a bit thin...
Spent the next morning taking a bunch of ferry trips from Circular Quay, including a return to Manly. Would have been nice to catch up with Ursula again - she'd even offered to head in at short notice if I found myself free but, alas, we didn't get off the boat. The Sydney harbour area is amazing though, between the water, the opera house and the bridge.
Drove back in the afternoon on the Hume Freeway. Much more direct and hence quicker route but we still had to break journey in Albury. I swear the place, including the motel, looked like a small town out of a 1960s or 70s US TV programme!
Overall, fun trip but defnitely reinforced my impression that Melbourne's a more civilised, if less exciting place.
My sister's new Tomtom Go 500 GPS system proved invaluable on the trip, bar the occasional glitch with getting an initial fix when starting up in high-rise areas. I think I shall have to get one of the Bluetooth PDA units for my Dell X50v, especially as the re-enactment and airsofting sites invariably seem to be in places where route plans label the last few critical roads as "unnamed" or "unclassified"!
Also starting to wonder about Australia - couple of things I noted on the trip: A book entitled Trotting - A History of Harness Racing in New Zealand and an ice cream from either Walls or Nestle called Golden Gaytime!
And now, the A-Z meme, stolen from various sources:
A - Accent: English-educated Malaysian-Chinese (you may well laugh but I think it is distinctive - to me anyway although even my mother seems to think the Malaysian-Chinese part is doubtful...)
B - Breakfast Item: Cereal
C - Chore you hate: Ironing
D - Dad's Name: Cheok-Hun
E - Essential everyday item: Mobile phone
F - Flavour ice cream: Chocolate
G - Gold or Silver? They both have their places and roles
H - Hometown: Where I live: London, where I was born: Kuala Lumpur
I - Insomnia: Not even slightly. Friends and relatives have occasionally been appalled at my capacity for sleep
J - Job Title: Consultant. Actually, it could be anything I damned well please, being a freelancer and all
K - Kids: Never can tell...
L - Living arrangements: Live alone in parents' house in North London
M - Mom’s birthplace: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
N - Number of significant others you’ve ever had: 5
O - Overnight hospital stays: Once, after unfortunate encounter with a jellyfish (plus, of course, when I was born)
P - Phobia: Broaching the subject with women I am attracted to...
Q - Queer? Orientation - no. Abnormal behaviour - it has been alleged at times (unjustly, I feel)
R - Religious Affiliation: Methodist according to my mother, Anglican according to my House Master
S - Siblings: One sister, a couple of years younger than me
T - Time you wake up: Typically around 7-7.30am
U - Unnatural hair colours you've worn: None
V - Vegetable you refuse to eat: None but can't say I'm especially fond of many of them
W - Worst habit: Procrastination or untidiness
X - X-rays you’ve had: Lots of dental ones, plus a chest one when a TB test at school turned out positive (actually turned out to be because I'd been innoculated at a much earlier age in Malaysia!)
Y - Yummy: Medium-rare South American steak washed down with lots of caipirinhas
Z - Zodiac sign: Virgo (Western), Monkey (Chinese)
Bloody Hell, it's only 9.46am here and it's getting a tad hot...