Sorry to keep the gap between blogs so long. We have not really done a lot since we arrived in Australia and internet access away from Sydney has been expensive and patchy.
Get it hot
Where is the good weather? Certainly not in Sydney where it rained a lot and long trousers have been required on occasions. Let's get this in perspective though - the average temp is still high teens /early twenties Celsius and the evenings are still warm compared to UK early summer.
Hell ain't a bad place to be
Whilst we have completed a few walks including some of reasonable distance, we have not been able to keep up our regular fitness regime of picking a height with a stupid angle and marching upwards for 10km or more.
As a result I decided to join Karen in Beelzebub's favourite boredom room, the gym. As would be expected, the Aussies have superb local sporting facilities with easy access and good concessions for the wrinklies, hobbled and free-loaders (i.e. children). Despite Karen's views on my age, I do not fall within any of the concessionary categories but have been happy to pay full price for the cardio equipment.
I am quite pleased with progress particularly as I have done a few sub-hour 10kms on the treadmill. My legs are complaining but my lungs are working fine. I might have to have a go at a proper road race to see how fast I can go (and work out if I can actually run the whole way instead of slowing to a fast walk every 10 minutes!).
I almost have a recognisably human figure now but the white belly is still there - just smaller and no longer big enough to rest my pint on.
Nothing fits me anymore. I have been eying the shops for bargains so that I have something to wear when I get back home. However, the fashion for men here seems to be split firmly in two: giant baggy shorts worn with an old polo, socks and boots/shoes or ridiculously effeminate (in colour and shape) eighties styles suits, turned-up drainpipes and shirts with epaulettes.
They make boys wear shorts right up to the end of their school days down here. With hair being grown long and shaggy, at the end of every school day you see mini Angus Young conventions on every corner. Neat.
The Sound of the Suburbs
So, what did we do with our remaining time looking after Tahoe in Loftus?
Well, after months of marital bliss that I believe was enhanced by the absence of shopping, we hit the malls with a small amount of enthusiasm (primarily Karen's). We had already wandered around Bondi junction so took a couple of trips out to Miranda - an area between Loftus and the lovely beaches of Cronulla.
The shops were well provisioned and all services (food courts, buses and trains) right on the door step. However, the quality of some of the goods left a bit to be desired. It was also painfully similar to UK shops so nothing really stood out for us. That said, we were able to get some items to say thanks to Russ and Vanda for the accommodation and get some ideas for future shopping in Melbourne.
On the beach Day trips to Manly and Cronulla
We managed to fit in a trip across Sydney harbour to Manly and ventured out to Cronulla for a walk along the coast line around the headland.
Cronulla has excellent surfing and a long sandy beach. The beach curves north eastwards to a point near to an oil refinery. Heading south, we walked past a smaller beach and around the coast until we arrived back at the railway station we had arrived at. The place is vibrant and full of small cafes and good small shops. We liked it.
We also really liked Manly and would recommend a visit there for anyone with time to get around the City. It is reached via a ferry ride that skirts the place where the harbour meets the Tasman (next stop New Zealand). Manly has great beaches and a good coastal walk. The atmosphere during the day is café culture but you could see that the place must really come alive during the evening. The day we went was sunny so the ferry from Circular Key (by the Opera House) was packed both ways.
Problem Child Train from Sydney to Melbourne - 13 December 2011
Melbourne was to be our next stop. The city is a major cultural and sporting destination - a cross between the West end and an Olympic village.
Our mode of transport was to be the train and we arrived early at a scabby Central Station (pigeon poop everywhere) to catch the 7.42am. The journey was scheduled to take 11 hours but despite starting on time eventually took nearer 12 hours.
Like a big kid I bagsied the window seat so that I could spot the Roos along the way. I saw a few but always too late to ensure that Karen had a chance to see them as well.
It was a long journey, made even longer at times by a challenging small child in the seats behind us. The views from the train were mainly of farmlands and cattle with the odd bits of sanitised bush every now and then. The early part of the journey presented scenes that were just like travelling from Oxford to Southampton or Salisbury to Exeter.
Miss you nights
We have missed you all back home and really look forward to getting back and kicking off a new entry in the blog of our life (cheesy or what!). Honestly we really do miss you - not just the beer, chocolate oranges and access to a personal trainer. Australia has reminded us that people count and has confirmed that we are home lovers - no emigration for us.
That's why we will be coming home for Christmas (I could have used Chris Rea song here but I'm primarily running with an ACDC / Cliff Richard riff). We will be arriving back in Blighty on 22nd December.
Mistletoe and wine
We are nearly at the magic moment where Santa (in his red baggies, shades and thongs) surfs into town pulled by his Kangaroos before completing his rounds and heading to the beach where Mrs Claus will be popping another prawn on the barbie.
We wish both of our readers and their dogs a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.