It was a Manly kind of a day….

The moment we stepped out of the hotel this morning, we just knew what sort of a day it was going to be…..a very hot one! Most certainly, I would never normally complain but we needed to do a good bit of walking, Carolyn was in some discomfort with the results of yesterday’s sun and Ann was all geared up to go and climb the Bridge. Carolyn and I played our part in Ann’s heroic walk by accompanying her to the starting point and then legging it back to the Quay to wait 3.5 hours for her return. (I will let Ann provide the details of her climb). But how good were we?


Time was not wasted and we busied ourselves with checking ferry times and prices for an afternoon trip to Manly (as well as drinking several cold beverages). We purchased Opal cards (the equivalent of the London Oyster cards) and, by the time Ann came back, we were ready to hop aboard the ferry. Riding the ferries is one of my favourite things to do in Sydney, and Manly was always, for me, a better place to watch the surf than it’s more famous cousin, Bondi.

Our luck was in and the surf was up. Surfers and kayakers braved the rolling waves (not always with success) and families and young people, along with those not quite so young, enjoyed the magnificent spectacle. Of course, the ocean cannot be tamed and seeing the spills was just as exciting as seeing a roller bring a surfer in to shore. But Ann and I could resist no more, so off with the shoes and in for a paddle. Big waves can catch out paddlers too and I was soon a bit wetter than intended!!


The evening ferry ride back was glorious. The late sun created a hazy skyscraper backdrop, the harbour sparkled, the bridge dominated the seascape and the sails of the Opera House positively gleamed. What a fabulous trip.

Tomorrow we are going on a ‘bear’ hunt…only koalas!!!

Carolyn’s Curios & Musical Notes

Banjo Paterson’s lyrics for Waltzing Matilda have been my earworm of the day. Regrettably, it seems, they came out of my mouth a few times resulting in looks of consternation and verbal rebukes from Kath. Fortunately, Ann was Bridge walking during this period or it would have been even worse for me.

I recognise that (a) I’m not always the most sensible carer of myself; (b) excess UV rays from a bright summer sun, say in Australia, is likely, very quickly, to burn! Hmm! One day, perhaps, I will have more understanding and consideration for my body. So, today, I wore a long sleeved top which helped… a little!

Elsewhere you will read of Ann’s Bridge walking exploits but Kath and I were not totally idle and our activities included discussing (one-sidedly) food and manners with an Australian White Ibis which is one of several round the harbour at Circular Quay (which isn’t circular!)1DB96F01-B394-4EF0-85F7-6C044086FE83

After visiting Bondi at the weekend, Manly Beach seemed even better. The waves were higher but the shopping, guru Guide, Kath, assured us, had moved downmarket. It didn’t spoil the day in any way and the ferry ride using our new Opal Cards gave some great views and fresh air.


We saw the signs, heard the megaphone warning but no music and no sighting of… SHARK!

We saw the signs, heard the megaphone warning but no music and no sighting of… SHARK!
No sharks but… there were, though, two suspicious looking, non-Manly paddlers,

There were, though, two suspicious looking, non-Manly paddlers,

Our hotel, named ‘Amora’, ensured that my journey back up in the lift tonight was accompanied, Dean Martin style, by a rendition of Amore. Rebuked, once more, I was – albeit, justly deserved.

A9B38B29-5817-4EEF-B9C9-DD81F04CE2E2#justathought Manly, like so many towns, has lots of shops where the type of shop is preceded in the title by the town. So, Manly Beach, Manly Burgers and Kebabs etc. But, what of Manly Fashion for a women’s clothes shop?!


Ann’s Bridge too far? No, just far enough! 

Would you like to do the Bridge Climb whilst we’re in Sydney, asked Carolyn? After some prevarication about the challenge and the cost, I decided that this was a one-off opportunity and not to be missed. Therefore, at the appointed hour I presented myself at Bridge Climb Sydney to be given necessary instructions, breathalysed and kitted out in the most amazing selection of gear, all of which is attached to the well designed suit by clips, everything from a handkerchief to your headphones! The most important attachment is the slider which keeps climber attached to the actual bridge at all times. After practising the climb on a short flight of steps, our guide takes us out into the open for the experience of the holiday.


The climbing doesn’t prove very difficult and, despite the hot sun, there’s quite a breeze at the top of the bridge. What is so awesome are the views of Sydney laid out beneath you. The Opera House is a stand out landmark but our guide points out many others, including the Anzac Bridge, the new cruise terminal, and Fort Denison or Pinchgut Island – so named because when the prisons were full, convicts were sent to the island and given no food or water …with inevitable results. (Not always proud to be British!) The Governor General’s residence isn’t too shabby either! We are given lots of interesting facts and figures about the construction of the bridge – most of the steel came from Middlesbrough (Proud to be British!) and the huge rivets were actually made up on the Bridge which is 134 m (440 ft) from top to water level.

The other really awesome thing about the day is not just the bridge and the view but the fact that it’s another challenge to tick off!

(Editor’s Note: One of Ann’s musical favourites, Bruce Springsteen, has climbed the bridge as has Paul McCartney a week or so ago. Many others including… an escaped kangaroo last week!!!)

Do you come from a land down under?

Had I discovered Australia soon enough, I could well have been tempted to live there, but the thought of leaving your nearest and dearest about 11,000 miles away and taking 24 hours to get here, perhaps ought to be sufficiently off-putting. The flight via Abu Dhabi was fine. Well, as fine as sitting in economy can be, considering… the delightful travel stockings still permitted your ankles to ooze out of your shoes and your bum refusing to release its muscles (what muscles?) and allow normal feeling to be resumed. However, the taxi drive from the airport was speedy and greeting Sydney felt like a homecoming as, once again, I was the kid who had all the sweets.

My friends hadn’t enjoyed the Aussie experience before and were magnificent about the joys of jet lag. It is such a bitch! Although we arrived late evening after a minimum amount of sleep on the flight, we all felt the wonders of stomachs being in a different time zone to your head and sleep being a reluctant bed fellow – even in a luxury hotel with sublime mattresses. If I am not selling it well, forgive me. I am feeling better now, ready to eat at approximately the appropriate time but still somewhat keen to kip in my cornflakes. Carolyn and Ann remain stoically determined to overcome all sleeping/sleepless issues and we are living it up in Sydney.

Yesterday, for our first day at large, we settled to sightseeing the old fashioned way – on foot. Ann is a very keen walker whereas Carolyn and I are fit enough to do it but not quite ‘enthusiasts’. But with great abandon we set off to check out Circular Quay and make sure that the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House were where I left them last. We admired the berth of a Celebrity cruise ship (presumably where ours will arrive on Thursday) and wandered off around the waterfront in search of breakfast. We first happened upon a Sunday market at The Rocks, found refreshment in an Irish hostelry and proceeded to climb heaven knows how many steps to reach the Harbour Bridge, whereupon we walked across it. This activity is not to be confused with the ‘Bridge climb’ which I did on a previous visit and which Ann has now booked to do on Tuesday, but is the free opportunity to pose on top of Sydney’s magnificent Harbour and think how wonderful life is and how lucky we are for the opportunity. Well, something like that. More walking followed, back around The Rocks, sustained by an Aussie beer, lunch, another loop around Circular Quay and at this point I gave in, let the jet lag in and went back to the hotel for a snooze. We did get to see Roger Federer win the Aussie Open in real time. Fabulous tennis.

Yesterday, I wore out my legs but today we took the easy way via a sightseeing trip on board The Big Bus. It is far too far to walk to Bondi Beach and at least we got to cover the rest of the city in relative comfort from the top of an open bus. Ah, did I mention it was hot and sunny? The last time Carolyn and I did an open topped bus tour was in New York when we got soaking wet; today, we got rather warm and a bit pink!! We hopped on and off the bus, as per recommendations, and particularly wanted to see the rollers and the surfers at Bondi. The surf was less dramatic than I had previously seen but the young and beautiful people appeared untroubled and still turned up, their surf boards being the “must have” accessory. Even without waves, the skatepark exercised balance and agility.  It’s been a truly wonderful day and, Sydney, you capture my heart every time!!

Carolyn’s Curios & Musical Notes

Disappointed… no-one has yet greeted us with “G’day” or called us “Sheilas”. We have, however, discovered that our “How are you doing?” is replaced here by “How are you going?” As Ann would say about the Aussies (and the Americans!), “We gave them English and look what they did to it?!” Part of the commentary on the bus tour today also reminded us that about 20% of Australians are direct descendants from our transported convicts. #justsaying

Kath began with Men at Work’s “Down Under” – we’re not from this land down under and not at work! The song begins…

“Traveling in a fried-out combie
On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
She took me in and gave me breakfast
And she said
Do you come from a land down under?”

Visions from childhood of being upside down and falling off the planet down here are long gone. However, my usually excellent sense of direction, it seems, is merely based on the Sun as I am struggling with remembering that, at noon here, the Sun is at due North rather than South. I’ll adjust, I’m sure.

As it’s my first visit to the Southern Hemisphere, I was prepared for most things. We flew from wet Manchester and landed half a world away effectively spending a day of our lives in the air. Having some inkling of how to deal best with time zone adjustment and jet lag, having failing to sleep at all on the plane, I wanted to stay up until ‘normal’ bedtime and begin the next day as if it was the usual. It has, for me, seemed to have worked. So, off we went.

Yesterday was a bit of ‘pottering’, aka walking over 10k steps and several flights of stairs, together with the Sydney Harbour Bridge (just the pavement walkway!). A beer and an ice cream helped the unaccustomed heat.

Today, we decided to do the Big Bus Tour and memories of New York’s torrential rain downpour was replaced by early gentle sunbeams which became red hot lasers by 4.30 pm as two of us ultimately began to sizzle and fry. Flaming pink is not a good look for the skin. And,… hmm, it’s tender!

The bus tour was good but the recorded commentary, although informative, was punctuated between segments with music. Regrettably, there were four tracks cycled over… and over… and over! We’ll come to Ann’s and Kath’s ‘favourite’ in a moment but Down Under (Men at Work), It’s a long way to the top (AC/DC) and Treaty (Yothu Yindi) exemplified Australian music. Kylie and Olivia Newton-John were mentioned in the commentary but not in the repetitious tape which was added to by the “unofficial national anthem” (according to Wikipedia!) of Waltzing Matilda which rapidly became for us Piggin’ Waltzing Matilda and we were resolute in resisting the singer’s “All together now..” for the repeated final verse. Nope!

I was concerned at the outset that ‘Waltzing Matilda’ wasn’t a waltz but in 4/4 time but that was the least of the issues!

Of course, this bush ballad wasn’t intended as other than about a sheep stealing itinerant who was chased, fearing capture and imprisonment, committed suicide and his ghost still haunts the area. Uplifting, eh?

The title was Australian slang for travelling on foot (‘waltzing’: derived from the German auf der Walz) with one’s belongings in a “matilda” (swag) slung over one’s back.

One of my two favourite punctuation signs (interrobang) is used as the logo for the State Library.
A final note was a pleasant sign I spotted for the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and simply said, “Literacy is freedom”

A final note was a pleasant sign I spotted for the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation and simply said, “Literacy is freedom” and one of my two favourite punctuation signs (interrobang) is used as the logo for the State Library.

Sydney is a truly impressive, vibrant and laid-back city. The next few days look promising!

Ann’s absent answers

Why, if I don’t enjoy flying, do I prefer sitting in a window seat?

Why, when I try to settle down to sleep on a long flight does the Captain turn on the ‘Seatbelt’ sign and turbulence commences?

Why, does an urban area have roadworks in proportion to the size of its population?

Why, when a great photo opportunity occurs do structures block a split second later?