Reporting in from Sydney.
Finally I have access to a computer and the net so I can get a fix of blogging! My hands have stopped shaking!
I'm in down town Sydney, it's wet and cool outside but from here on the 7th floor of the Dymocks building on George St at the Traveller's Centre (thanks Rach for the use of your Lonely Planet) it is warm and dry and I've removed both my jacket and jumper.
I arrived yesterday morning on Jetstar which flew out of Avalon airport. I'd forgotten how far Avalon is from Melbourne, confusing it with Laverton which is closer. We used to drive past both as kids on our regular trips to Melbourne to visit Nan and Pa. Avalon is near Lara, not far from Geelong, and overlooked by the You Yangs, a small "mountain"range where I infamously got lost as a child on a picnic. Unable to find my family after taking a wrong track down from the summit I decided to set off for home along the Lara Rd but was picked up and retrieved by a passing family who had heard there was a lost child being looked for.
When we come back to Victoria in September I will take Sport Boy and Jordan to the You Yangs. Perhaps they'll have their own adventure!
The flight to Sydney was smooth and uneventful and I enjoyed the daylight views of the towns and hills and farmland below me though I was disappointed not to see any snow-capped mountains; apparently there have been good falls this week in the snow fields but it appears Jetstar flies around them rather than over them. It's certainly been cold enough to expect snow. Victoria in winter = cold wet and grey. NSW at this stage is no better.
I took the train into Central and headed for Eddy Ave and my rendezvouz with Rachel and Michael, enroute to the footy at the Sydney Cricket Ground.Rachel was chaplain at Perth Modern School for many years but has since gotten married and joined the yuppie life in the BIG city where she now manages a Gloria Jean's Coofee Shop with a community development philosophy and mandate. Michael is no recent johnny-come-lately convert to Aussie Rules courtesy of the Swans 2005 premiership, no, he discovered the joys of footy while at high school, originally barracked for Essendon, and proudly displays his Life Membership plaque to his local footy club on the mantel piece next to the portrait of Rachel painted by her friend from Kazikstan (sp?). They're now both devoted Swans fans and members and had a spare ticket for me to use at the game against Fremantle. The Dockers looked a little strange playing in blue and white as their Heritage Round strip. It was the first time I'd seen them play away from Subiaco Oval and they gave a good account of themselves until late in the 3rd quarter when Sydney kicked away and ended up winning comfortably.
The rain came down most of the game but Rachel and Michael are nothing if not prepared, not only having extra rain coats to drape across our knees to keep us warm but also a little towel with which to wipe down the seats before we sat down!
After the game we wandered around the Fox Studio precinct for a little while before driving back to their place at Melrose Park.
They've recently completed some major extensions and renovations and now live in a very nice home complete with "Holt Wing"visitor's suite!
For pics of my current accommodation check Rachel's blog on the sidebar.
As I mentioned recently, Rachel is the one who introduced me to the joys of blogging. As Michael commented yesterday, but for her I'd have a couple of extra hours everyday to do other things!
It's not an easy time for Rachel right now, her brother Cameron was diagnosed with cancer last week and today undergoes tests to determine the extent and severity of it. They are a very close family and Rachel has taken the news pretty hard, Cameron is only 33!
After dinner we chatted with the TV in the background until it was time for the tennis at which point they retired to bed. I struggled to stay awake, nodding off periodically but still managing to last the distance to see Roger Federer outlast a very game Rafael Nadal to win his 5th Wimbledon Title in a row. It was a regular sporting gourmet last night as I flicked between the British Grand Prix, the Tour de France, the late AFL replay and even the Australia v Jamaica netball game as well as the tennis.
Needless to say I slept in late this morning!
My long service leave has started.
I'm on holiday.
I'm staying with friends in an exciting city.
Geelong are two games clear (and percentage) on top of the AFL ladder.
All is right with (my) world!
Just to recap, on Saturday I went to the MCG to watch the Collingwood v St Kilda game and it was a ripper, a real thriller fought out in tough conditions, a see-sawing battle that Collingwood eventually won. Geelong play Collingwood at the MCG next weekend and the media are suggesting there may be an 80,000+ crowd at the game. It will be another good test for the Cats who have now won 9 games in a row, there best effort since the early 80's.
I'm joining a bloke called Cameron for the game, he's a Cats fan I made contact with via the Big Footy website, along with 8 of his family and friends. There'll be both Cats and Magpies fans in the group which should make it interesting!
Saturday night I joined my niece Rachel and her grandmother Vera for dinner and painted while they both knitted as we watched Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets on tv.
The countdown to the release of the final Harry Potter book is in full swing. I wonder how long after it's release on the 21st of July before there are spoilers on the web and in the media revealing Harry's fate. Personally I think he's in big trouble and will be very surprised if he survives alive!
I'm in Sydney for another couple of days and plan to wander around a few galleries, have a look around Olympic Park at Homebush Bay, and enjoy Michael and Rachel's hospitality.