Trip Start Jul 05, 2009
96Trip End Jul 04, 2010
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
Where I stayed
Joe Ward's Flat
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.
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
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.
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.
Avatar at the Imax - "I see you" in 3D!
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
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...