Due to be on BC

July 27, 2006 at 10:13 am (Boat, Holidays, Quick News)

We’re off to BC today, and board tomorrow.


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Remember this photo?

July 15, 2006 at 10:24 pm (Uncategorized)

This’d be the life, eh?

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

Back in Sydney, I took this photo thinking “that’d be the life”.

Now… it’s the target!

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Leaving on a Jet Plane….

April 28, 2006 at 2:47 am (Australia, Quick News)

On the Great Ocean Road

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

Well, I knew we wouldn't get anywhere with access during the last week, so here's the last report from Oz itself. With luck, I'll get a chance to write some more reports during the journey back, and load them when we get home.

Many thanks to all the people who've made the journey exceptional – and especially to Rod & Sue for spending most of the last week with us – at least the bits during the day, anyway 😉 – and showing us around a bigger selection of places than we'd seen so far. We've enjoyed it immensely, and are very sad to go!

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The Wedding

April 28, 2006 at 12:24 am (Australia, Quick News)

Flower Girls in Action

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

A quick taster of the photos from the wedding.

As you can see, Gabby & Samantha had an important job to do, spreading the rose petals around Rod & Sue.

The wedding was outdoors (just warm enough) at a vineyard in the Yarra Valley, just north of Melbourne. Very different & individual, but a touching affair. Tissues were needed…

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In Melbourne

April 22, 2006 at 3:16 am (Australia, Quick News)

We're safely in Melbourne, and off to the wedding now. Don't know when I'll get chance to write again…

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Tuesday – Shopping & Manly

April 20, 2006 at 11:43 am (Australia, Report)

Tuesday morning was a spot of relaxation for me – I'm sure you could tell by all the photos and reports arriving online. Ann & Samantha went for a spot of shopping instead. They bought shoes and stuff for the wedding, but I think they might have missed out on my cufflinks.

After lunch we took the ferry out to Manly. As ever, we cut the timing just beyond the point of perfection… Sam and I got the man on the ferry door to wait, while Ann had to vault the ticket gates & get shouted at by an Attendent. Ooops. Samantha called her "naughty" for the rest of the day…

Manly is a town on the peninsular that forms the northern barrier for Sydney Harbour (you can certainly feel the increase in the swell as the ferry crosses the narrow opening to the sea), in a narrow & low-lying spot, so has beaches on both the harbour-side and the ocean-side of the land, with a short walk between the two.

One thing I didn't mention about Monday's walk around the Rocks was that we wandered into the oddest department store… called the Galleria. It was full of high-end goods such as Burberry, Cartier etc, that were all being marketed to the Japanese (OK – they could be any of the Asian nationalities, but they *looked* Japanese to me). The signs were all 50:50 English & Japanese, the assistants were overwhelmingly Japanese, and the customers were entirely Japanese, and the line of tour-buses outside had Japanese hanging around sneaking a cigarette. We only used it as a cut-through to get to the next street, but we got such strange looks as we went, and even asked whether we needed help! I don't think I've ever felt so out-of-place, so unexpectedly (in the shadow of the harbour bridge). Anyway, my overwhelming feeling on exiting was that this was trashy tourism for the seriously-well-heeled.

Manly was catering for the opposite end of the universe. In being the closest seaside resort to Sydney, it must be something like Southend is to London. It caters for surfers, and has its share of back-packers doing the service jobs in the shops & cafes. And yet, while it was obviously a seaside resort, it was far less tacky than almost any resort in the UK. And it felt considerably nicer & cleaner to walk around in, less noisy, and with a conspicuous absence of drunk yobs. Perhaps someone has a better place to compare it to in the UK…

I don't want to do a disservice to the surfers or the back-packers here either (or to anyone actually). Everyone here (not just Manly) is extremely friendly. I find it hard to compare to the UK, but I have to both go back in time, and further to the north to find comparisons. There is a lot of pride in the place they live – the town/city as well as the country, as well as more of a recognition towards their place on the planet. Being ECO is a bigger thing here.

The ferry back to Sydney was just as the sun went down – and it goes with great speed here, around 6:30. There were good views of the city skyline appearing around the corner as the ferry sped along, but unfortunately a speeding ferry also brings a speeding wind, so we went to sit at the back, in much calmer conditions. Not so good a view though… and it was pitch black before we'd finished the 30 minute journey.

An early night needed tonight, as tomorrow has a really early start for a tour of the Blue Mountains.

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Monday – Opera House

April 18, 2006 at 2:47 am (Australia, Report)

Opera House

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

I'm sure we didn't intend to spend most of the day at the Opera House when we went out this morning, but it seems like we did.

It was meant to be a stroll around the outisde, followed by a wander around the botanic gardens. However, we did a tour inside the opera house instead.

From that, we discovered that they were putting on a ballet at the time, and that evenings was earlier than the rest of the week – so decided to get tickets.

And before lunch, Samantha announced that she was really tired, and wanted to go to bed – so it was back to the hotel. She did actually sleep for a couple of hours, while we organised room service for lunch.

There was time for a quick wander around the Rocks before we went back to dress. We ended up late, of course, so Samantha and I rushed over to get our seats just in time, while Ann got delayed and had to wait until the interval before joining us.

It was a modern ballet, so you just had to let the experience wash over you without necessarily expecting any kind of story. We got there too late to see the synopsis & cast sheet, but I'm not sure it would have helped. Samantha enjoyed it though, and that was the point…

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Ah… Dinner

April 18, 2006 at 2:35 am (Australia, Quick News)

Ah… Dinner

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

An excellent shot this – I think by Ann.

This was from the underground area that juts out into their enclosure, leaving you with a view through glass rather than steel mesh.

I'm sure he wasn't looking at Samantha with thoughts of dinner though…

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Sunday – Sydney Zoo

April 18, 2006 at 2:32 am (Australia, Report)

Sydney Zoo – Kookaburra

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

Sunday was a fine day – The weather forecast was probably a bit cold for the autumnal Sydneysiders, but pretty hot for us – so we decided to take the ferry across to the Zoo.

It seemed like half of Sydney had the same idea. It was pretty busy getting in, and around the top entry, but as you moved around, the zoo seemed to cope with the numbers well.

The zoo itself is perched on the side of a steepish hill, down to the water's edge. The main entrance is at the top, and they provide a cable-car to get you up there from the harbour entrance… but the queue was horrendous, so we took the bus up instead.

On the whole, the zoo is pretty compact, and has to make do with some relatively small enclosures. But they seem to be doing it well, and also seem to be rejuvenating the tired areas well.

For the lions & tigers, they have an underground area that juts out into the middle of the enclosure. It gets you close to the animals, and some good views – a bit like the aquariums do nowadays. I don't know what they can see of us in there, but they ignored the people totally, while they were prowling around. From their activity, and keen looks, I'd say they were expecting some food in the near future.

One show we did stop to see was of various birds in flight over an amphitheatre – where the backdrop view was of the city & the harbour. An excellent view!

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The Endeavour?

April 18, 2006 at 2:20 am (Australia, Quick News)

The Endeavour?

Originally uploaded by MikeWilcox.

We spotted this in the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour, and wondered whether it was the replica of the Endeavour that we saw in Hull a few years ago?

This was the closest we could get from outside the museum, so couldn't see any notices.

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