Meeting an Old Friend (from the other Side of the World)

After more than two weeks in Sydney I met up with an old friend today. It was as if we hadn’t seen each other for a few weeks. It was in fact half a lifetime ago!

Meeting an old friend

His name is also Chris – there are a lot of us about – and he spent quite a few years in Singapore before moving to Australia. We first knew each other back in our days working in Manchester. Originally through a mutual friend. The legend that is John Marshman. I trust you are reading this John.

It really was half a lifetime ago when we last saw each other. Wow! It sounds a long time when you say it like that. Neither of us could quite remember exactly when we had last seen each other. My best guess would be in the mid to late nineties. But the exact year escapes me.

Despite that Chris looked pretty much as I remember. He didn’t sound quite right though. During a decade or two in Australia he seems to have developed some kind of speech impediment. That’ll be that hint of an Aussie accent he has picked up.

It was a short meeting during Chris’ lunch break, but we talked non-stop. It was great to catch up and cheered me up no end. We will meet again but agreed we will only leave it a week or so this time.

Quick Wander in the CBD…

When I left Chris to get back to work, I took a quick walk around part of the central business district (or CBD as they say here). I saw the old Sydney Hospital and original Mint where the first Australian money was made. Oddly it is now some kind of conference centre. Then I had to get the train back to meet Dani from school. But near the train station I found a place to visit on my next trip into the centre. The Reserve bank of Australia Museum. More on that to come. There’s something I find interesting about banknotes in other countries. I can’t quite say why but I am sure I will enjoy that visit.

Part of an old Sydney Hospital
The Mint – the old coin factory

And of course, I visited a couple of old pubs. One of which, in keeping with the bank theme, was an old ‘Bank of Australian South’ building. It’s not just in the UK they do that to od banks then. A great building though. Old Sydney architecture with a new twist – above the door. This is The Three Wise Monkeys.

House-hunting, Eurovision, Another Great Pub and Pigs

What has house-hunting got in common with Eurovision? (That’s that European song contest in case you didn’t know). Or pigs for that matter? Well, nothing really only an extremely tenuous link… Our Saturday.

This Day in Australia…

Last night saw the live competition to be Australian representative in this years’ Eurovision song contest. I know. Me neither. But they had a full night long show for it on one of the TV channels.

Australia have been in Eurovision for some years now and I have no idea why. Since when was Australia in Europe? I know there are many others like Turkey, Israel and Azerbaijan (to name three) also in Eurovision but come on! Australia could hardly be further away! Not sure why they were ever invited to partake but I don’t really care. Suffice to say that I did NOT watch it nor will I watch the full contest.

Good old Abba

I have not watched Eurovision for more years than I care to remember. That said I am old enough to remember Sir Cliff Richard and Lulu representing the UK. And yes. I can remember watching the famous ABBA win it in 1974. I was not quite ten years old. They did OK after that I seem to recall.

Aussie TV?

Before we came over here I was told that Australian TV was worse than in the UK. Sounds like a race to the bottom of the barrel to me.
Anyway to my surprise I have seen some interesting TV programmes since I have been here. Admittedly they are mainly things like documentaries about Australian history or informative travel programmes showing places to visit like Queensland and Tasmania. It will all catch up with me in the near future I am sure. The novelty will wear off.

Meanwhile More Rain

It rained again today. Heavily. And as predicted we got caught up in the storms while flitting from place to place looking at properties.

Seven apartments inspected. $200 in taxi fares. 12 files uploaded. 4 house applications made and all of them are just about OK. Not exactly what we want. Tiring stuff. OK; I have to admit that Dani’s mum is doing most of the application form stuff. Still tiring for me and Dani though.

But then we came to rest in this pub. A classic old boozer in the heart of Bondi Junction. They even had the good sense to build the (relatively new) shopping centre around it. In the UK they would have probably knocked it down.

They have split this place up into two separate businesses. Downstairs is the old pub complete with the original oval bar in the centre. Plus interesting pop-art on the walls. Epic! Upstairs has been converted into a Mexican restaurant and tequila bar ‘El Topo’. A great place to take a break if you get fed up in the shopping centre…. Which by my reckoning should take about 40 minutes or so.

Pigs

A short time later we found a great shop selling games. Mostly board games. All sorts, old and new. Dani decided he wanted something – as kids do – and this was it.

A few beers have been drunk playing this one in the past…

This  brings back memories for his old dad. Of long boozy coach trips with mates to see the Le Mans 24 hour race. It made for a fun change from the usual card games.

And today(Sunday)? The weather is worse than the previous two days. This would be bad even for the UK !! House bound on Dani’s mum’s birthday.

Aussie Show and Tell

We just received an email from the mother of one of the kids in Dani’s class. She is the “class parent” this year. Well…I wasn’t quite expecting that one but OK. I will run with it…

Anyway. She included a timetable for all the kids in the class to do their ‘Show and Tell’. Dani has just over a week to prepare his Aussie Show and Tell… Not that he seems bothered.

Show and Tell

Here is the remit: “Research a famous Australian (artist, author, scientist, singer). Present some interesting facts to the class about this person. You can use photos, posters, or props for this presentation.”

Naturally I suggested Rolf Harris. He is all of those things – well almost.

Artist? “Can you tell what it is yet?” Of course. A very well-known artist.
Author? Yes. He has loads of books to his name.
Singer? Well, if ‘Tie me kangaroo down sport’ and – dare I say it – ‘Two little boys’ count as singing the YES, he is also a famous singer.

The least said about his version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ though, the better. I am still having nightmares about that one. As much as I have tried to erase that cover version from my memory, I have read that it got to number 7 in the UK charts. Oh no! (head in hands). How mad is that?

Dani’s mum didn’t know who I was talking about; so, I had to explain. In full! So that was the end of that idea then.

Back to the drawing board then.

Other suggestions were: Actors Eric Bana (once of Hulk fame) or Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) or Hugh Jackman (aka Wolverine). There’s a theme there eh?

Alternatively, there is rock legend Angus Young (of AC/DC, as if you didn’t know).

A couple of other famous Aussies are the motoGP stars Casey Stoner and Mick Doohan.

Can you suggest any others? If you have any suggestions please send them to the comments section on the website.

Here Comes the Rain!

Everybody knows how much this was needed here in New South Wales and in other parts of Australia.

Today it Rained

And how it rained! Very heavy. In the UK we are used to a lot of rainy days but very rarely does it rain as much as it did here today. We have had some rain over the past two weeks but nothing like this. I wouldn’t say it was ‘biblical’ but it was monsoon-like.


Rain. Sydney, NSW 7th Feb 2020

Apparently it is set to continue over the weekend. Great news for us – NOT! We have about 7 or 8 property viewings to cram in. Looks like taxis to get around. Which is good news or poor Dani. He gets really bored – generally after the first property. So not having to walk miles as well will be a welcome relief to the lad.

The fire service were most pleased as you can imagine.  One fire chef I saw on the news was almost in tears (of joy).

Bad Old Dad

Unbelievable. I can’t think how it happened but today at the end of his first full week in school here I forgot to pick him up on time. I arrived more than 50 minutes late to find Dani and one other child still in their classroom with their teacher. I made my apologies and ushered him out as quickly as I could, slightly embarrassed. In my defence they do finish early on Friday. 2.07pm in fact. An odd time but no excuses. I picked him up at that time last Friday so what on earth happened?

The only thing I can say as any kind of mitigation is that I have been bombarded today with property listings, cancellations and also the odd viewing. I managed to get a lift back to the hotel from the owners of one viewing as they took pity on me in the torrential rain. I have been trying to juggle the possible property inspections for tomorrow. Planning a route based on the locations and times. It would be so much easier if they allowed me to view some of these places in the week. Tomorrow there are simply too many properties that clash – with the same viewing time slots. Not great but we will have to make the most of it.

House-Hunting: As I Was Saying…

Well that was a good example of what I was saying in the previous post…

Typical house viewing capers…

I had two properties to visit. Separated but about an hour and a half – either side of lunchtime. Physically however only separated by a matter of 50 metres.

The agent was a little late turning up for the first place but that was not a problem. The second property was different though. I waited a good 15 minutes. Some of that time with another perspective tenant. An interesting guy as it happens. An Italian bloke about 10 years older than myself. He had lived in Sydney for over 10 years then chose to go travelling. It just goes to show you are never too old eh? Now he is back and effectively homeless. Just as well he was there because the agent sent him a text message saying that the place had just been leased. In other words, the agent wasn’t turning up and we had wasted our time. By the way; I never received such a message on this occasion.

Good old Google Maps

As luck would have it I did not have to hang around for nearly 2 hours between the two viewings. Thanks to google maps I found a pub some 5-10 minute walk away. As it was lunchtime this was the perfect place to take a break.

An interesting place too. Very much a British looking establishment (see photo). Very unlike the Aussie pubs I have mentioned in recent posts. But it certainly did the job.

Incidentally, I am not a fan of companies like Google and Facebook etc. Partly because of the way they dominate people’s thoughts and such-like and partly because of the Luddite in me. But that google maps is definitely one of the more useful applications on your mobile phone. During this house-hunting caper this mobile phone tool is proving to be very useful.

Good News…

Some good news. When we get a car the fuel prices will be much cheaper than in the UK or Madrid. In fact, almost half the UK price.

 Bad News

I just heard that Kirk Douglas has died at the grand old age of 103 !! He was in many of the movies that I watched when I first got interested in cinema.

All I can say is: “I’m Sparticus!” May he rest in peace.

Never Enough Hours

All this house -hunting is interfering with my plans to do some serious site seeing.

Plans to Explore on Hold

I have spotted a few interesting off beat things to look into but will have to put them on hold a short while. Finding a place to live definitely has to take priority right now. It can be time consuming. Even when there are two or more places to see in one small area the times can vary by up to two hours between properties. Often the immediate surroundings do not offer anything worth exploring so its back off ‘home’ (i.e. hotel) or to the nearest shops generally trying to kill the time.

On a similar theme I have completed my search for suitable gyms to do some training and generally get fit. There are many in the area and several are quite good. However, this will also need to take a back seat until we get settled in our new abode – wherever and whenever that may be.

House-hunting

Finding somewhere suitable to live is tricky anywhere. Of course, depending on your definition of ‘suitable’ this can be all the more difficult. In the areas we have been looking it seems that there are hardly any the size we thought we might get, at the price we can afford. Always the way I suppose.

Therefore, I have been scaling it down to the next size and there are quite a few. They still need viewing and then there is the application process to go through. Even getting to see a place is a job in itself. You can apply online for an “inspection” but they only offer certain viewing slots (often on Saturdays – understandable I guess) and even when you think you have booked one they text you to cancel it.

Even more frustrating is when two different agents offer the same time slots for viewings. Definitely not OK when the properties are a good 20-minute walk apart. The “inspection” slots usually only last 15 minutes.

Technically we still have over 2 weeks to find a place, but the clock is ticking.

Banks…The usual…

Meanwhile one of my first jobs needs to be done again. One of the jobs I gave myself on the first day here was to open a bank account. Which I did. Or so I thought. I am still waiting for my debit/ATM card which they promised would arrive a few days ago! No doubt it will turn up tomorrow. Why am I confident that will happen tomorrow? Because I am off to open another one at a different bank today. Isn’t that always the way it works?

Hey! You can’t wait for these people can you?

Happy Birthday to me – Sort of

In all the excitement I missed the fact that yesterday was the fourth anniversary of this Blog. That’s today still,  if you are reading this right now in Europe. Oh how time flies… I can still recall thinking about what to write in my opening post. Four years of articles and photos. Some nonsense, some I still find funny myself. Plus the odd rant. There’s certainly a lot of stuff for Dani to read when he is old enough to be remotely interested in this sh1t… Which I think is still a fair way off.

So; Happy Birthday to us!

Things that make you go Hmmm…

Remember these? Here’s a couple of things that some in the UK may recognise. Anyone over a certain age that is…

That’s the Wonder of Woolies…

Not to be confused with the Woolworths Plc that we grew up with in the UK. The one that went bust some years back. Woolworths is a big supermarket chain in Australia and ranks highly on their stock market.

It’s a Wrap

Here’s another one I haven’t seen for a long time. When did these go out of fashion? These were definitely used in the UK some years ago. I really can’t recall when they stopped using them though.

Why did they stop using them? It can’t be a plastic reduction thing because in Australia the green lobby is just as big (or bad?) as anywhere else. And besides, they were replaced by another piece of plastic – in the form of a sticky strip. Why are they still being used in Australia?

Who knows? Who cares? Just a couple of observations…

Gym, Super Bowl, Pub

From the Gym to the Super Bowl. Via the Pub…

After dropping Dani at school today I decided to visit some local gyms. It is about time I got into a routine. Fitness routine that is. Or just any routine really.

Along the however I got distracted.

Superbowl – Live.

First, I made the mistake of returning to the apartment. I switched on the TV and the American Football Super Bowl was just about to start. So, I started watching. Always a bad move that sort of thing…

I am not a fan of American Football but have given it a passing interest over the years. This was of course the climax of the season and one of the most famous events in the sporting calendar. Even if it is only played in one country – the USA. Anyone in the UK close to my age will know the name William Perry – aka ‘The Fridge. This was form way back, when the game was brought to British TV by the then newly launched Channel 4.

It seemed weird to be watching it live at a sensible time of day. Those who love the sport in Europe need to stay up all Sunday night and well into Monday morning. Then have to work. As it turned out I soon got bored with it. So off I went to check out he gyms in the area. I visited several and made some sort of plans to return for free trials. One or two I wanted to see were closed; only being open at peak times. Because I had been watching the American Football I had missed the staffed times. Ah well; maybe tomorrow.

The Nelson

On my route I passed a classic art deco pub called The Nelson. The sun was shining and I had walked a fair bit so it would have been rude not to try a beer there. In I went.

As it turned out the Super Bowl match was still on. I had forgotten that even though they only play 60 minutes the whole thing goes n for several hours due to all the stoppages and advertising breaks.

So, I watched it to the end. Kansas City Chiefs beat the San Fransisco 49ers. As I have said I am no big fan nor am I an expert but that Kansas quarter-back is definitely real class. Only 24 years old too! 

Fishing?

The idea of a sea fishing trip out in the Pacific sounds great to me. I have been thinking of looking for such a trip. Maybe this is the one. The Nelson Pub fishing trip? Tempting eh? when you read the poster. The only problem is that it happens on a Sunday when I want to spend time with my boy. Maybe I can convince his mum that we could both go? Would I be the one to win that third prize?

Finding a Place to Live

The first full week of school starts this week for Dani. He will probably be glad to get back to class after an exhausting weekend.

House-hunting

Having done all the usual internet searching online we narrowed it down to seven places to view on Saturday morning. It was a hot and humid one. Although they were all in the same area there was still a lot of legwork involved. It was a hot one – did I mention that already? Poor Dani had to traipse around the streets with us. This is the thing now. We have nobody to leave him with. If we go somewhere he has to come too. At least for the foreseeable future. Only one of the properties was anywhere near what we want but it was all an experience. we may just make an offer on that one.

Hardly my favourite way to spend a weekend but a necessity. Our time in the aparthotel will soon run out. At least we had a little time to check out the Waverley Oval. There was a cricket match about to start so we had a cold drink and watched the first few overs. Dani of course does not know how to play cricket – yet. So there were many questions. A lot! Once we are settled in our new place I will take him to see some more and teach him. They may soon be teaching them cricket in his school.

Cricket at Waverley Oval

.First Visit to the Pacific 

Today we visited Bronte Beach. This beach lies a short distance south of the more famous Bondi beach. Waiting for the bus it was clear we made the right choice. Several buses came for Bondi and they were all packed.

Bronte has everything Bondi has but is a lot smaller. We had a swim in the rock pool. These sea filled swimming areas carved into the rocks are all over the New South Wales coast. Most beaches have one for swimmers to do laps. It was cold but refreshing. Then it was down to the beach.

Later in the day it rained. The recent heatwave has broken and there may be more rain to come during the week.

More Pubs…

Meanwhile, I have spotted some more great looking pubs. Architecturally of course. I will be doing the pub round up at a later date.