Our focus for the next day was to take to the water. It is a must on any visit to Sydney to take a ferry somewhere. You can either just do one of the circular trips round the harbour, hopping on and off wherever you fancy - or go to a specific destination. We chose the latter. So first stop was to have lunch at Doyle's in Watson's Bay (three friends had recommended this famous fish and chips restaurant). We bought tickets down at the ever-buzzing Ciruclar Quay, hopped on the ferry and 20 minutes later were stepping off onto a wooden jetty leading to a small, attractive sandy bay, backed by appealing looking properties and an even more appealing looking beachside restaurant. Having not booked, we jostled our way gently forward and managed to bag a table outside (thankfully many locals were finding it a little chill and had opted for inside).
So we were sitting feeling gently pleased with ourselves and perusing the menu with anticipation when G suddenly announced she was going to be sick. Not a moment to dally. I grabbed her in a slightly unseemly fashion, while trying to be discreet, and bundled her down to the sands where, as luck would have it, a waitress was emptying a wine bucket of its melted ice. I asked politely if I could borrow it (resisting the urge to snatch), and mercifully she handed it over swiftly and obligingly. Damage limitation exercise complete, I filled it with sand and hoped that some poor unsuspecting toddler wouldn't come along and try to make sandcastles with it....
Poor G sobbed in only a way that G can sob, lamenting how unfair it was that she had got ill at the start of our Big Adventure. I commiserated with her (I too had started the worst cold I've had for years the day we left England and had been feeling pretty wretched throughout Bangkok) and tried to reassure her that she'd be feeling fine again soon. All too often, it seems, by the time one gets to a much-needed holiday, one's defences finally relax and in sweep the germs, laughing awhile. 'Tis the nature of things.
Equilibrium partly restored, we enjoyed this very Australian scene, surrounded by loud jollity (it was the season of the office Christmas party) with the towers of central Sydney drawing one's eye in the distance, reminding you of where you were. How wonderful to have such a relaxed beach-side scene so close to one of the world's great cities. Yes, we liked Syndey.
From here back on the ferry to the hustle and bustle of Circular Key and thence on another ferry to Manley, about 40 minutes across the water. It is another popular destination for a fish and chips lunch and a glimpse of the larger ocean. Dog-like, G marked her territory by being sick again on the beach, bless her, tragedy written all over her pallid face. Not such a good day for her.
We lay on the sand and paddled in the sea, took photos, ate ice cream and relaxed before heading back across the water again in time to have a wash and brush-up and meet our friends for supper in Darling Harbour. It was an easy walk from the hotel, in the opposite direction to Circular Quay, and was absolutely heaving. Friday night is clearly party night. The volume of noise coming out of the wall of waterside restaurants was quite extraordinary. We finally settled on one which could squeeze us in, having not booked, and settled down to catch up on the nine years which have slipped by since we last saw eachother in England before both our lives went in very different directions.
Old friends will always be old friends however much water flows under the bridge. It is one of life's more reassuring aspects. But saying our goodbyes in the hotel foyer well after midnight, while Sydney still reverberated all around us, it was hard to believe we were actually on the other side of the world. This could have been the end of a night in London, so familiar and accessible did Sydney seem. Not like Bangkok with all its Asian chaos, mysticism and exotism (despite encroaching western consumerism). No, this was as chalk is to cheese. We were on the other side of the world, but we were home from home.
|Doyle's at Watson's Bay|
|Sydney skyline from Watson's Bay|
|L enjoying the rooftop pool|