Archive for November, 2008

Sydney Opera House & Enigma Variations

November 13, 2008

After spending a lovely afternoon with mum’s frends Marg and Ian (Maaag), thursday evening we all polished up our duds and joined Wendy and Pete in Sydney for a real cultural treat – Wendy treated us all to a symphony concert at the Sydney Opera House!

The local Sydney Orchestra perforrmed Elgar’s Inigma Variations flawlessly. It was great to see inside the infamous concert hall, and even better to experience an actual performance! The main performance hall is beautiful – the organ pipes are monsterous… too bad it wasn’t Phantom!

Ah – It should be mentioned that the seats of the main concert hall were designed by the husband of the family Roger’s mum nannied for years ago when she met all the friends that are now freeloading from!

Prior to the show we enjoyed dinner at the Opera House Cafe where mum sweet talked our way into a free bottle of wine! That’s two so far on this trip! It always pays to ask.

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Bondi Beach

November 11, 2008

Roger’s Mum lived in Sydney back in here 20’s and today we had a chance to drive around her ol’ stomping grounds – Rose (Nose) Heights, BellView (BellJew) Hill etc! We got out for a walk along South Head (shown in photos link below) and Mum suggested we walk around to the point while they drive and meet us. We managed to get as far as a navel base and were sent away by a very bored but intimidating gate guard.  Along with very confused looking Japanese family we headed back down the hill with out tails between our legs… hot, lost, and emasculated. Fortunately met up with the parents on a nearby road – after THEY had found, and enjoyed, the lookout from the point.  Oh well, reason to come back.

Back in car, we drove to the infamous Bondi beach – Sarah’s first warm sandy beach! Had a great pizza lunch… at the second restaurant we tried. The first restaurant’s waitress kept telling us they were out of each thing we ordered.. after trotting to the kitchen and back each time of course. That included us fighting over their LAST bottle of beer! Dad got so fed up, he paid for the drinks, passed on some carefully considered opinions, and we left.  Upon reflection later that day, I’m glad he did it – it made me again aware of a common problem in our society of how we are so shy to complain, calling it ‘patience’, ‘compassion’ or ‘understanding’ but all the while allowing customer service to degrade, expectations to slump and corporations to walk all over us without a single complaint!

But I digress…

After lunch we spent an hour wandering along the beach and ‘paddling’ in the water.

paddle 1 |ˈpadl|
noun – To walk up to ones ankles or knees in the water

not to be mixed up with wading as seems a common mistake

wade |wād|
verb – To walk up to ones waist in the water

That evening we had a great dinner with Pete’s older (but wiser?) brother Jerry and family – good laughs as always!

Click here to see some fabulous photos…

Sally & Craig’s Wedding, Bathurst, Hill End, Jenolan Caves and the Three Sisters!

November 10, 2008

On Saturday we attended the wedding of Roger’s Dad’s God-daughter Sally, to Craig. Roger has known Sally since we were both kids and this was a huge reason we are in Australia.  Pictures say 1000 words – here are a few.  Sally has others up on Facebook.  The wedding was great, even if it started off a touch on the cold & windy side!

The wedding took us all to Bathurst for the weekend where we (Sarah, myself, the parental unit, and a few other family-friend couples) explored the area over the following days.

First stop was Hill End, an old gold mining town from back during the gold rush, for a pub lunch and wander.  Like England, Australia has pulled itself past the over-bearing alcohol rules and allow pubs to serve drinks across their entire property instead of charging additional licencing fees – i.e. we enjoyed our lunch at a picnic table, in the grass of their large back ‘yard’!  Lovely.  The town itself was rather run down old buildings but full of charm and mental tid-bits.

The highlight of the afternoon was a Rose Garden Wendy found in Germantown, a short walk from Hill End – see the pictures below.  It was by far the most immaculate garden Sarah or I had ever seen! Maintained by a lovely woman in her 70’s it is run as a tea house.  Naturally we had to stop for High Tea. (For those that don’t know, High Tea includes the use of TEA only – no other leaves needed!) Served on linins and beautiful china!

On the drive back we saw some Bull Ants, and loads of Kangaroos…. some of them seemed to be, er, partaking in, er, Spring Time activities…. Randy Roos Rogering… really!.

here are a few more photos

On Monday we drove out to Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains.  These are HUGE caves that are still being discovered.  It’s pretty expensive so we only did a guided tour of one of the caves (Lucas).  check out the photos! Most were done without a falsh so the colour’s a bit off.

Before heading back to Sydney, Sarah, Roger and his parents spent a day out at The Three Sisters – a huge rock formation fit for climbing. Sarah and Roger decided to take a ‘short’ hike, only to realise (half way through) it would in fact take THREE HOURS and involve climbing a rather rediculous number of steps.  Hats off to Roger for not throwing up or passing out. And for the record, Sarah only carried me up the final 3rd.

We made it!

November 7, 2008

Rog and I are here in Australia soaking up some of the sights and sounds and loving every minute. After a lovely visit with Catalina in San Francisco for Halloween, we spent 13 hours on a 747-400 to get ourselves from San Fran to Sydney. The time difference is a substantial 18 hours ahead of Pacific standard time.

On Monday Nov3, we were my Roger’s parents and whisked away to a 70 ft. racing sailboat for a cruise around Sydney harbour with the soon-to-be bride and groom Sally & Craig. Through slightly tired but dazzled eyes, we took in the opera house, Luna park, the Sydney bridge, and the waterside parks covered in "exotic" birds and trees. Amazing!

Afterwards, we went to Pete and Wendy’s house (Roger’s "Second parents") in the bush and immediately saw possums, cockatoos, and a few other native Australian birds. The possums in AUS are very cute and an entirely different species than our possums in the northwest. They actually put apple slices out in the railing of the back porch so that we can see them make their way from morsel to morsel around dusk.

From Nov. 4-7 we all stayed in Wallearang near the Blue Mountains with some of Roger’s family – Chloe & Buck who moved here a few years ago from England.  During the week we visited all sorts of interesting places, including an excursion to a glow worm cave! It was a gorgeous display of tiny blue lights like LED’s all over the roof and walls of the cave like the night sky. The worms themselves are no bigger than a pin with the light shining out of their arses :). On the drive home, we saw about 20 wallabies in various places near the road that would look curiously at us before bounding off in to the bush. Now we really feel like we’re in Australia! We also visited Leigh and his partner Jane (Chloe & Buck’s son) for a great Aussie backyard lunch, as well as the Secret Creek animal conservatory & restaurant where we played with some Kangaroos.

See photos of this week!