The late Bill Hicks once described the beach as being 'where dirt meets water'. For a long time i would have been inclined to agree with that sentiment. But against all the odds i have become a convert...
The beach in Sydney is far more than just a stretch of sand which separates the ocean from the promenade. Here, the beach is where the city and the sea meet. Everyone is on the beach - young and old, active and lazy, tanned or pale, beautiful and less so.
Whilst watching the surfers on Bondi it's difficult to imagine that by turning your head 180 degrees you'd be looking at a sprawling metropolis bigger than any other in Australia. But the beach seems to be an intrinsic part of life here. The laid back, friendly atmosphere which Sydney exudes almost seems to waft in on the ocean breeze.
Of course, one of the advantages of the beach is that it's free. As Rachel and i try to eke out an existence on a meagre budget, the beach has become our greatest ally. Armed with little more than a book, an iPod and a towel a full day of fun can be obtained for free - although the subsequent sunburn can take off some of the gloss and glory later in the evening.
Other than lazy days under the sun we have been busy indeed in Sydney. We've already met up with friends from the Great Ocean Road, Kuala Lumpur and university days, strolled around iconic landmarks like the Opera House and Harbour Bridge, watched flying foxes nesting in the trees at the Botanic Gardens, visited the amazing NSW Museum of Contemporary Art, taken the ferry to Manly, nabbed ourselves two free nights in a swanky hotel, walked the beautiful cliff-top trail from Bondi to Coogee, waltzed around the most beautiful shopping arcades i've ever seen, and more besides.
This weekend looks set to be action packed, too. Tomorrow we're heading to Palm Beach (where Home & Away is filmed - Maggie will be so jealous), meeting up with some of Rachel's friends from home, possibly attending a party, organising a barbecued fry up for fellow hungover travellers at the beach on Sunday and then finding somewhere new to live for a while on Monday.
Strangely, the festive season hardly seems to be in full swing here. Unlike in Britain, where Christmas starts somewhere around the 17th of October, the Aussies seem to be a lot more low-key about rampant commercialism and drunkenness. Given the blazing heat and lack of tinsel, it's difficult to imagine that a fortnight from now we'll be wishing Jesus happy birthday on the beach.
We're here until after New Year now, largely thanks to the amazing generosity of Samantha Brookman, who's letting us house-sit for two weeks while she returns to the UK. We shall be forever grateful and promise to return the favour if she ever needs somewhere to stay in Morley or Roundhay.
Love to your mothers.