Reflections on a fantastic Xmas 2016

I have said it before.  And it needs saying again.  I live in a very beautiful, picturesque part of the world.  The village I live in has everything I could ever want, or need, without having to leave the confines of the post code.

But when I do venture out, beyond 2088, I am always greeted with new, and amazing sights, and experiences.

That said, into year 5 of living in Sydney, and with the daily drudge of the commute into the city, with everybody else, heads down, engrossed in their smartphones, it is often easy to miss what is in front of you.  Slightly take for granted that my office, in the architecturally magnificent, restored old General Post Office in Martin Place, is in the centre of Sydney.  One of the world’s most visually stunning cities.

So, it is with delight, that when we have first time visitors to Sydney, as we have had over Christmas, I get to see Sydney all over again, vicariously, for the first time.  The first sight of THAT bridge, and the Opera House, as the Mosman Bay ferry rounds the bend at Cremorne, and Port Jackson comes into view, in all her glory.  This time of year, we also have the joy of seeing one of the many large cruise ships, docked in Circular Quay, speculating on where they are headed for the season festivities as they enjoy their sail away party, which is an actual thing, apparently.  Which you would know, if television programmes about cruise ships were amongst your favourite shows too.

In the beautiful Hunter Valley

So, how to best plan for visitors?  Regular readers of the blog will be aware of my love of a spreadsheet.  Not the boring kind I have to maintain at work, tracking annual budgets, and project forecasts.  But the more exciting kind, if there is such as thing.  Burger rankings.  Wine tastings I have done around the world.  And the one that gets recycled the most, the “See everything in Sydney in a week, or two, tour” spreadsheet.  Where all that seems to get changed each time it is used are the dates.

Planning for our visitors, the most recent of which arrived on these shores on December 18th, is spreadsheet nirvana.  Into Google Sheets (other applications are available) I go, save a copy of the last used, update the names of the guests, and away I go.  Wine tour, tick. (Special thanks to Sam at Kangarrific for what is perennially the world’s best day trip).  Bondi to Coogee walk, tick.  Spit Bridge to Manly scenic walk, tick.  Blue Mountains day trip, tick.  Proper Aussie barbie, tick.   Xmas day on the beach, with beers, tick.  Chicken schnitty, tick.  Nothing gets left to chance.  Nothing gets left out.

I’d like to think, and hope, that all our guests go home with a real sense of what Sydney is like, and having had some quintessential Australian experiences.  Tim Tams included.

And in return, I get to learn things myself. Who knew “dabbing” is not just the latest dance craze?  That you could get “black jack” scented vapers? (a pretend cigarette, if like me, you were clueless).  And that you can actually buy “In The Navy” briefs.  Say whaaat?!?  Every day is a school day in my life.  Thank you Serge, and Serge, for those snippets of information.

Much fun was had over the holiday period, and I am just thankful we still had a regular bottle recycling collection.  I think we kept Dan Murphy’s in business over Xmas.

The lads obviously brought their drinking boots.  After we warned them we would be sup’ing.  Being from the area in and around infamous Blackpool, they assumed it would entail many visits to Yate’s wine lodge, Wetherspoon’s, and the Tower ballroom type pubs and bars.  Little did they know this entailed a long board, a paddle, and much balance, as we attempted to traverse middle harbour at Balmoral.

Stand up paddle (SUP) boarding is harder than the people gliding out in the water would have you believe.  That said, one of our party was annoyingly good at his first ever attempt.  Most of the hour was spent trying to dunk him in the invigoratingly chilly ocean, once he had been suitably reassured there were no sharks lurking ready to take a large chunk out of him.  At least in the water he was safe from spiders.  And safe from pictures of spiders, which seem to cause the same involuntary reaction, which at first I worried was a stroke.

What is the first thing an English person wants to do in Australia?  Yes, determine the hottest part of the day, find the spot with the least amount of shade, and sit there.  And sit.  Well, I don’t need to spell out the result to you.  You have all (Aussies excepted) been there yourself.  Day 1, first degree burns.  Whilst my call for shade on the first day ignored, the rest of the holiday followed a “safety first” approach.  Slip, slop, slap.

End of the Bondi to Coogee walk – beer awaiting

I’m sure the good memories will last longer than the pink faces that were still in evidence as we said a very sad farewell.  A great holiday, with great company.  You are welcome back anytime chaps.

Squish squish.

One Reply to “Reflections on a fantastic Xmas 2016”

  1. How cuddly is that! Reminds me of my goodbyes;) The migration agent I had hired ( DMS- did help me with lots of information on Australian life and people. Comfortably settled after over 3 years now! Lovely post. Look forward to read more from you:)

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