Friday, January 26, 2007

Summer in Sydney- cool cats, hot dates!


Well, summer holidays on the Australian Riviera offer endless twists and surprises- and I'll be up all weekend blogging if I had to list them all, but as one friend said: "You should be on the payroll of Sydney Tourism"! This city offers so much....and we didn't even do a fiftieth of what is on offer!

It started with my 45th Birthday, the mystery roses, the weekend party in the country, the first swim in the Murrimbidgee, visits to the capital city, the Science Exploratorium and the Telstra Tower.

There was the wonderful Carols by Candlelight on Balmoral beach -a gentle stroll from home- a first for me and a breathtaking night it was too.

Other fantastic memories are cloudless night skies filled by a fabulous rising orange, then later big full silver moon dancing her moonbeams right off the bay and into my home and my heart! Closer to magic and amazement and wonder you cannot experience- its positively metaphysical.

There were passenger cruise ships - bedecked in fairy lights glistening like diamonds, simulating a brightly-lit floating wedding cake - slipping through the Heads at midnight as I sat quietly in the dark contemplating life and love, enjoying the night breeze.

Contrast this with the dramatic and glorious start of 78 spinnakers billowing at the start of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race, shared with a group of friends on my terrace on Boxing Day while cooking on that infamous BBQ!

Then the launch party at the trendy OTT Slide Bar (official festival bar for Sydney Mardi Gras) in Darlinghurst of the first rock concerts webcast to hundreds of thousands in internet land. There was also the first Oscars night for NiceShorts- at the Paddington Chauvel, and winning a bottle of rare single malt Scotch whisky in the lucky ticket draw!

Maintaining the gaiety, the stage production of Australia's very own home-grown musical about the misadventures of a colourful gaggle of drag queens in the Outback - the hilarious and over-the-top Priscilla, Queen of the Desert! was a real treat and masterfully executed!

Of culinary note, there were the dinners with the charming Frenchmen at the Watermark guzzling down exquisite fresh saltwater barramundi with Louis Roederer, and the discovery of new culinary gems-Alchemy (French) and Il Perugino (Italian, in fact Umbrian to be precise)with other friends- all of them in the neighbourhood, creative and atmospheric. Reminiscent of fine European traditions more commonly found in Melbourne!, love, love it!

There was nippers, kayaking and windsurfing and skiffs at Middle Harbour and Balmoral Sailing Club....blisters, sore arms and a bit of sunburn too! There was a dusk-walk to Clifton Gardens and that picnic with quail's eggs and an "oyster and champagne tasting competition" wearing blindfolds!

And how can I not mention the cricket and that final day at the Sydney Cricket Ground? But the BEST thing about the cricket was England's Barmy Army- what a wonderful spirited and well-mannered crowd of supporters and ambassadors for their island home! They lit up the whole city- thank you guys!

We also did the beach marathon...7 beaches in 7 days from Palm Beach to voted Bondi best- think that lunch at Icebergs had a lot to do with it as well as the festive crowds from all over the world...we counted 15 languages just in the 30 m2 around where we sat! Pity the storms at sea stirred up the cold water because swimming in 16 degrees was a SIGNIFICANT challenge. But here's an urban myth that really made me laugh...common wisdom proclaimed that the cold water was the result of the ice-shelf in Antarctica breaking off!

One of the best things about summer is the Sydney Festival with its exotic, innovative and breathtaking artists and experiences....the Jazz in the Park, Symphony in the Domain, and open air theatre at Custom's House and Hyde Park. All the more impressive because of the amazing spirit of Sydney's festival crowds.

Another highlight was the workshop at the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Paddy Bedford exhibition- an Aboriginal Artist who was a stockman and cattle musterer in the Kimberleys all his life and took up painting his life stories only at the age of 80!!! He is one of the artists commissioned by the new Musée du Quai Branly in Paris which profiles art from the New World. (Do click on the link provided through his name- its well worth the read!)

And the contrast of a rapid 54 degree Celsius temperature shift as we crossed from 39degree temperatures on the Opera House Forecourt to the -15 inside the Ice Bar (Minus5experience). Don't worry, only da mamee consumed the anti-freeze, the cubs stuck to mocktails which would explain why they nearly turned into popsicles! They had better practice for the skiing holiday in Aspen in March!

Oh gosh...and the Moonlight Cinema in the Botanical Gardens which I prefer to the one at North Sydney Oval, though the summer noodle markets there are a heap of fun!

Coming up towards the end of January, there was my 2nd Burns night supper, and the much-lauded "Toast to the laddies" by yours truly who can't do the accent, have never been to Scotland and can't stomach (scuse the pun!)the haggis, tatties and neeps, but the whisky-tasting and dashing Scotties in kilts showing off great legs provided a wonderful alternative feast. (Sexiest guys in the world- next to those smouldering Chilean tennis players!)

The school holidays sort of end officially with a very special Birthday Party- Australia Day! Its an all-day water-borne party with every man and his boat taking to the water dressed with flags, streamers, balloons, boxing kangaroos, and this year-a few "Priscillas", one of which won the best dressed vessel in the parade past the Jackson Landing Jazz on the water concert. After a long day in the sun, we decided we could forego another spectacular pyrotechnics and fireworks finale at Darling Harbour seeing we are hitting the road early tomorrow to return Cub1 to boarding school.

But not before we have a few more adventures! A farmstay in the Barrington Tops riding horses with a Captain Thunderbolt-type character- a storyteller like you have never come across in your life and in itself worth the drive! Then onwards to the final day of the 35th Tamworth Country and Western Music Festival-yeehaa cowboys!

Monday we check Cub1 back in for further educational enrichment (which means financial impoverishment for mum!) at her boarding school for Year 7 studies.

That will signal the end of a wonderful summer that was never very hot and most of the time unusually and pleasantly cool.

What made all of this so special? The kids did....they are at the age where they are becoming intellectually and emotionally aware....of course same goes for the physical changes to their bodies...and exposing them to a variety of new experiences on a constant basis is my innovation mantra! Laugh....I think it already shows in their school work, vocabularly, maturity and creativity.

Long live curiosity and the human fun button! Anytime you need fun, just dial me!
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