Party like it is 1994

One of the pleasures in living in such a beautiful city, is being able to showcase it to visiting friends and family.  Seeing the city through the eyes of a tourist brings to life how amazing it is.  How picturesque it is.  As sometimes you can take it all a little for granted.

I had the opportunity to do this again this month, albeit one of my visitors has indeed previously lived briefly in the Harbour City.

He had last visited Australia 16 years ago, but it was our original backpacking trip, many lifetimes ago, that we mostly reminisced on, having a great time catching up, visiting haunts old and new.
I don’t think we have changed a bit!
The last time we roamed these streets together was back in 1994.  When we arrived as fresh faced 23 year olds, landing at the Youth Hostel in Glebe as our first port of call.  Little did we know just how much that first stop on the grand tour would eventually go on to shape parts of our life. That we were very green behind the ears in terms of travelling would be an understatement.  

Indeed, before embarking on our 12 month backpacking trip down under, I had only previously left the UK for as long as 1 week.  And only twice.  Formative trips to Ibiza, and Tunisia, were my maiden overseas journeys from England.  And these were on 1 year passports, that were made of cardboard.  Who is old enough to remember these?

And there we were, transitioning from colleagues at “the Halifax”, into friends who were planning (a term used in a VERY loose sense), to jet off down under, with nothing more than an over stuffed backpack, and a sleeping bag appended that looked more like a tog 32 quilt.  Something I soon dispensed of in a St Vincent’s charity bin.

Steve had packed his so full that he couldn’t even carry his on day one, his dad having to traipse through Manchester airport with a 65 litre Eurohike pack on his diminutive frame.

Fast forward 22 years, and on a wet Friday afternoon, I logged off for the week, packed away the laptop, and I made my way around the corner to Kent Street for our first drinks together in Sydney in many a long year. For the Down Under leg of the “annual boy’s reunion tour”.  Albeit without two key members.  Fear not chaps, we drank your share too.

Any of you that know me well will know that I love a spreadsheet.  Be that judging burgers, tracking my spending, or making sure I am in the right place, on the right day when I visit the UK.  Laugh as you might, the spreadsheet is an indispensable tool in my armoury.  One that people soon see the benefit of, and then request their own, tailored version.  Steve’s spreadsheet was under my aegis, baselined via a Skype call, and subject to change control.

Now, whether a daily breakfast of white toast, and a cup of tea, made in his hotel room, was in my version of the spreadsheet is debatable.  Once I had reiterated that Sydney, and Australia as a whole, is famed for the brunch offerings, he did finally venture out.

Then again, if the only eggs you will eat are of the fried variety, you don’t need to venture too far to satisfy your cravings. An insatiable desire for pineapple, on everything, proved a little more difficult to accommodate.

I used to, in fact I still do, to be honest, give my old mate some stick about his reluctance to part with any unnecessary cash. However, he gives me enough ammunition.  He may not like actually buying a newspaper, rather he treats WHSmiths as his own personal library. But as they say, look after the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves. And how else would he be able to act like the late Pablo Escobar, and
roll around on his bed full of notes.

Line of the trip following a farewell dinner in Mosman…

What is the fastest and easiest way to get back to the city?

A taxi.”

What is the second fastest?

I’m gonna miss you mate.  We had fun. Safe trip back to the UK, and, subject to you securing gainful employment, I’m looking forward to taking the Annual Lads reunion to Spain next year.  This time with a full complement.  ¡Adios amigo!

For me, it is time to repurpose the spreadsheet, and start afresh, so that our visitors at Xmas, get the full benefit.  

I need to start by checking those brunch options.