February 2015: The Chinese Gardens at Darling Harbour in Sydney

Two things I’m rather fond of are visiting art galleries and visiting gardens. Here are some photos from a visit to the Chinese Gardens of Friendship at Darling Harbour in Sydney. I also recommend the White Rabbit Gallery for some great art that just about always inspires a conversation.

November 2014: Poor John and his holiday from California.

Sometimes you find strange things in hostels.  And sometimes, late in the evening early in the week, the Opera bar is calm and quiet and pleasant.

August 2014: An afternoon at Middle Harbour

  

July 2014: Watson’s Bay to Circular Quay

It turns out that if you go looking for stuff to do in Sydney, there is actually stuff to do and people to do stuff with! One beautiful winter day in July I met up with a bunch of complete strangers and walked along the coastline from Watson’s Bay to Circular Quay. There were cliffs and bays and delightful gardens and places to swim. There was also coffee and pie. Damn fine way to spend a weekend.

 

Jazz picnic on Berry Island

Once a month, Sydney Jazz Club puts on a performance around Berry Island near Wollstonecraft. They played some fun old standards and channelled Louis. We sat on a picnic blanket under the gums and ate cheese.
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Same again please

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The Bloody Soufflé Girl

To celebrate Mum’s 60th 21st birthday we had a very special lunch at the Boathouse on Blackwattle Bay in Sydney. Hats were involved.

Oysters, champagne, roast barramundi with hazelnuts and roasted heirloom (not Dutch) carrots and blood plum soufflé with early grey icecream.

No complaints here.

20140119-205505.jpg Clara should try making this one! Blood Plum for the Soufflé Girl. Speaking of bloody children, check out Jody and Ken’s amazing cooking at Garum Factory.
20140119-205529.jpg Pistachio cannoli and rhubarb icecream
20140119-205537.jpg Variations on cherry ripe
20140119-205544.jpg Buttermilk pannacotta with watermelon

What a bloody delicious day!

Circular Quay at night

A snapshot of Sydney harbour on our way to a train station after seeing Sydney Theatre Company’s production of The Maids.

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After High Tea at Gunners’ Barracks

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Cruising Day 1

On the 26th September I boarded a P&O cruise ship. The itinerary included New Caledonia, Port Vila, Lifou, Mystery Island and the Isle of Pines. My friends had thoroughly enjoyed their previous cruise. I was a little more sceptical.  Today Tonight had provided a glowing advertisement of the Pacific Jewel to its audiences. I generally find that taking the opposite view of current affair programs is a sensible approach to life. For example, I think taxi drivers on a whole do a good job. I try not to misrepresent people I’ve never met (like immigrants and people on welfare). I am not interested in diets or shopping and I think Media Watch, libel laws and accountability are fine ideas. What could a business who targeted Today Tonight viewers possibly offer me? Two thousand people drinking, partying and participating in group activities in a confined space? If only pyramids could float.

It could be an upside-down floating pyramid if you squint really hard

I joined my friends at Hickson Road wharf in Sydney, dreaming of a stress free holiday with cocktails and tropical islands.We were effeciently herded through large temporary shelters that evoked a certain post apocalyptic atmosphere, through check in, identity photographs, customs and onto the cruise ship.

First we stopped at the Plantation restaurant for a belated buffet lunch. There was a lot of food that reflected its mass production and cheap, frozen ingredients. Knowing that this was my future breakfast and lunch for the next nine days made me sad.

We made our way to the Sailaway Party on the top deck. Waiters handed out cocktails and beer. The MC required that the people on deck respond to her question “Are you ready to party?!” positively, loudly and in unision. On stage, entertainers dressed in Australian flag shorts land skirts sung a medley of Australiana songs. Vanessa Amarossi, Men at Work, Christine Anu, Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, Waltzing Matilda. There was a mistimed countdown to pass under the Harbour Bridge. One of the circus performers waved an Australian flag. As we sailed past the Opera House, people happily waved to one another – ship to shore. Behind us, some individuals tried to raise an ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie, oi oi oi” but lost enthusiasm after two rounds. The Governor Bligh harbour master guided us out of the harbour and the sun began to set. The jingoistic performance petered out and people begun to drift back inside the ship.

Exploration of the ship ensued. Today Tonight had not lied. I was on some kind of bogan-boat – a floating amalgam of a live-in RSL and Westfield. I booked myself into an overpriced massage to get over the shock.