Trip Start Jul 05, 2009
Trip End Jul 04, 2010

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Where I stayed
Joe Ward's Flat

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, December 21, 2009

After completing our road trip (from Sydney to Melbourne and back) we arrived in Manly, and made it our home between December 21st 2009 and January 4th 2010. Please find below details of the important features of our stay:


Manly is a cosy suburb of Sydeny, a twenty minute ferry ride from circular quay. It has a bunch of busy shopping streets with cafes and bars just minutes from several beaches, bicycle tracks and areas of national park. This is where Joe Ward, an old family friend, has made his home since moving to Sydeny last year. It just so happened he was back in the UK for Christmas and needed someone to watch his flat for him, just as much as we needed somewhere to stay.

Joe's Flat

We gratefully accepted the offer of having our own space for two weeks, with hot water, laundry and cooking facilities; a widescreen TV, DVD player and surround sound system; a double bed, sofa and Joe's 'Dog bed'; Joe left us the keys and we made the most of it. Joe has a great setup there - wonderfully located, just five minutes from the the wharf and main shopping street, he's got a bachelor pad with all mod cons. Decorated with large posters of Mohamed Ali, boxing trophies and marathon medals, there was a kit bag in one corner and a racing bike in another; a man's man's DVD collection in the living room and four wine glasses and only one dinner plate in a kitchen full of empty cupboards - Finola set about giving the place a woman's touch, and stamped her feet until I promised to help make the place Christmassy for the fast-approaching feast-day, as things just wasn't feeling Christmassy enough for her yet!

The Dog Bed

A bigger, badder, comfier brother to the highly relaxing beanbag, this multi-person 1.5m diameter seating experience filled the living room and carried us through Joe's DVD collection and beyond.


We picked the best of Joe's bunch of DVDs, watching a shitload of films, enjoying the convenience of time and space to ourselves, at our leisure. Once we'd worked our way through what Joe had on offer we became temporary members of Video Ezy and rented a further few films for our viewing pleasure. All of this we supplemented with the offerings of Sussie TV stations and DVDs of 'The Office' which we had bought way back in China, and had been working our way through for some time, timing things perfectly to leave ourselves the two Christmas Specials for Christmas day.

Christmas Day

Our Christmas morning was spent on Shelly beach, because hey, we're down under and that's what happens on Christmas. The weather wasn't the best, but the crowds were out with Santa hats and tinsel, and a good few BBQs were being prepared! It was a surreal way to spend any part of Christmas, and it just wasn't the right sort of 'Christmassy' out there. People were eating ice creams and popping into the shops along the highstreet, which for the most part were open for business as usual. As for the crowds outside McDonald's, ordering themselves an Xmas McDinner, Santa's heart must have been a-breaking. We hurried back to the flat to make pretend that it was Christmas as usual!
We had a tree with an angel, tinsel, crackers and a feast of a Christmas dinner with a whole load of trimmings. We also had a larger than expected pile of presents and cards, and are really grateful to our families for sending things overseas. Thanks! We served our candle-lit, three-course feast on Joe's plate (and a second we had bought from The Salvos), and using his ironing board as a table and a Cambodian Sarong as a tablecloth, we had ourselves a traditional meal that satisfied Finola's six-month craving for a roast dinner.

Boxing Day

Avatar at the Imax - "I see you" in 3D!

Surf's Up

I thought I'd tame some of those badboy waves that were rolling in off the South Pacific... but rather than show up all of the people who's been surfing for years with my amazing first-time skills, I thought that I might as well see what the Manly Surf School had to offer.
Surfing is hard work, and after an hour in the water my arms were almost ready to fall off. Before you can actually ride a wave in, you have to swim out against the breaking waves to a point where you can catch a wave from, and you need plenty of arms for that. It was worth having the lesson just so that we had people in the water who could shout at us when it was the right time to paddling with a wave, and they'd give you a little push up ointo it - so I was able to get up onto my feet a few times, and it was damn good fun.

New Year's Celebrations

We were rejoined by Sarah, who had spent her Christmas with a mate in Adelaide, for New Year. We checked out Circular Quay, the Opera House, an Aquarium and indoor wildlife centre, before deciding that we'd prefer to spend the first few moments of 2010 watching the fireworks from Manly's side of the bay. Rather than have to spend the whole day saving a spot close to the action, we took a cab up to Manly's North Head in the early evening, watched the sunset over the Sydney skyline and drank our way through a lot of wine, until we were ready to watch the fireworks from afar. We had a lot of fun, and drank far too much, as one should at this time of year. That evening/night/new year morning the three of us worked our way through a 4litre cask, five bottles of wine, and six beers (beer after wine - bad idea). Good times.

Bridge Climb

Finola and Sarah spent their New Year day recovering from the night before, and psyching themselves up for climbing the world famous Sydney harbour bridge. Finola does not recommend turning up hungover for this sort of thing, but reveals that it's still possible to really enjoy it in such a state. They enjoyed wearing jumpsuits and had some photos taken with a Sydney skyline backdrop.


We vacated Joe's flat in time for his return, but with a day to wait until our flight up to Brisbane, we decided to hang around in Manly and so checked into a hostel. Thank God that Joe did lend us the flat, it would have been shit to be in that hostel over xmas and would have depressed the hell out of us. Maybe it just wasn't the best hostel - no, it definitely wasn't the best at all... and we're aware that people do spend their Christmases in places like it, but they are probably very depressed right now.


On a jet plane, up to Brisbane...
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Erin on

hey, it's great to hear from you and to read some new entries reporting things you've been doing. it was strange seeing photos from the NZ people as i couldn't really put them into any context but i love reading the blog. it's time for some new finola entries too though - i love when you get the alterating narrative voice!
i can't wait for the next batch to come in from south america, though it's great to know you're getting on ok out there. loads of love
Erin xxx

shiovaun on

I want those socks Finola!! Thank you for the lovely Christmas pressie. Lovely to hear from you . Hope you got the dvd from skydiving.

eithnemac on

Lovely to read these entries, about seems ages ago, now doesn't it? And miles away for you two, too.

I haven't seen the NZ pics erin referred to...will keep looking.

Love you both

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