Saturday, 30 November 2013


Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

What can I say? A lot actually. This is the first and hopefully not the last time that I have visited this fine city. Having taken the train, (electric, no noise, clean, with available seats despite being rush hour), from the suburb of Rhodes where I am staying, to the CBD (Central Business District) of Sydney at a reasonable and fair price (unlike England), I emerged from the once again incredibly clean and tidy station of Wynyard. Emerging with me were an amazing cross-section of people, workers, tourists, people of nationalities and cultures too numerous to mention, all heading in different directions according to their daily plan.

So, exiting the station and walking down George Street, one of the main streets in Sydney, we stop at "The Rocks", say cheerio to our son who is off to work nearby and set off to explore on foot. The Rocks is an area of supposedly up market shops and outlets designed to rip off the tourist and other unsuspecting souls, just as we do in good  old blighty! So, being of wise and cynical mind, we head off to the outer areas to see the real places of interest.

The thing that strikes me most of all is the amazing contrast between the "old" and new buildings. There is some lovely architecture, all reminding me of England at its best and then alongside is the concrete, glass and steel high rise monstrosity which looks as if it was built by a two year old with not enough standard, same colour, Lego building blocks to finish the job. These high rise office blocks are not of course exclusive to Sydney but are found in most cities of the world, much to my disdain.

However, Sydney has some wonderful parks and green places, all havens from the traffic noise and hustle and bustle of the everyday world. One of these is the Royal Botanical Gardens. This is an amazing place. Situated just a few strides away from Sydney Opera House (more on that structure later) it is a place where you can enjoy a picnic, lots of places to sit and just look at all the wonderful surroundings, fabulous plants and trees, no cyclists or dogs allowed (great), fantastic structures and architecture, all beautifully tended and everywhere completely litter free. Also, because there are no dogs allowed, therefore no dog shit to step in, courtesy of irresponsible owners as is often the case back home. Curiously and happily, I have only actually seen two dogs since I have been here, another reason to like this place immensely. Dog  lovers, I offer no apology whatsoever and expect bad comments on this post which I shall of course delete.

We walked in light rain over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a lovely structure designed to take trains, cars, buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians, all in separate areas. Sixteen people lost their lives building this bridge, the rivets used to hold the structure together number in the millions and were all fitted by hand. Walking back again, we toured the Circular Quay, another rip off area for tourists, from which ferries transport workers and tourists alike along the Parramatta  River to various destinations and it is a great place from which to see all the famous sites. Again, more on this later.

To end this post, I have to say that this is a lovely city and one that I will have to return again many times before I have to go back home.

Until the next time, take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.

Thursday, 28 November 2013


Well now, it has been  a little while since my last post. I do hope all my faithful followers will forgive me and understand that I have had a lot to do to prepare for this trip. Where is Grandad? You might well ask. Presently, I am on the other side of the world to where I live, visiting loved ones and enjoying a well earned and well deserved holiday with my good lady wife. Yes, you have guessed correctly, we are in Australia!

The flights were absolutely wonderful, business class and worth every single penny. Collected and transported by limousine to and from the airport. Special priority check-in, executive lounges with superb food and wine, great champagne and spirits. Then, priority passport and security clearance, priority boarding, escort to our seats and welcome aboard! Nothing has been too much trouble, anything that you feel you require is on hand within moments. Lie-flat seats, additional mattresses, pillows, loads of films to watch, food cooked to order, wine list that anyone would be happy with, Dom Perignon or Moet Chandon champagne and as much as you want. 30 year old brandy and whisky, snacks, liqueurs, super cheeseboard and fine chocolates. Magic!

It all makes the journey seem so easy and enjoyable. The time difference has not seemed to have affected us, as we tried to adjust during the flights to Australian time, which is currently 11 hours ahead of England. So we are just as we would be, body clocks all sorted.

This really is only our second day here in Sydney, but we have already sussed out the local shops and produce. The food here makes England look like a 6th world country. The meat, vegetables and fruit are of the highest order and quality, with very little difference in cost which has surprised us a little. Yesterday we went for a stroll though one of the many parks here, crossing rivers, walking through mangroves, (yes, really!) and enjoying the warm sunshine and clear blue skies. For my artist friends, who shall remain nameless, (John, Dave and Rod), the sky is a wonderful, cloudless, ceruleum blue, with just a touch of cobalt blue at the top.

I must go now, as we are going to the pool again to cool down and relax. I know, it is tough, but someone has to do it, so why not me?

Until the next time (which will be very soon), take care of each other, all the best, Grandad.