Saturday, 26 December 2015

December treats

December is quickly rolling past, what a month I've had! Sydney never fails to surprise me. Some people said that it wasn't a friendly place, some that living where I live wasn't as safe as it might be, others that it was expensive. Well, while it is a little expensive, there are plenty of things to do that cost nothing or so very little that the cost is very much worth it. And then there's all the choices of things to do. As for the people, my neighbourhood is really friendly, my neighbours helpful and the others I've met very inclusive of this traveling kiwi. And it is safe, very safe when people know you and you say hello with a smile as you pass.

I'm never one to say no to an adventure or an opportunity. I'm not exactly what people might call risk adverse. And oh don't my best adventures start with taking that risk. With saying yes when others may have hesitated. Take my recent rock climbing expedition, well that sounds a bit more than it was because it was indoors rather than in those amazing Blue Mountain rocks. That's for another day.

I've always wanted to try rock climbing, always thought I was not strong enough in my upper body or that I was a bit on the older side of having a go. Seems I was wrong on both counts. I met a friend who's an experienced climber at the wall, strapped on a harness, had some belaying lessons and off I went. Literally up the wall! Seems that leg strength is the key and I have that. It was so much fun, and something I would like to try outdoors. Overhangs were beyond me this first go, maybe next time.

I've been out on the water a bit too. Heading out on Australia One still thrills me, the majestic lady usually causes a stir with others who understand her history. Last sail we got to watch Wild Oats in action and a couple of other Sydney to Hobart hopefuls. Plus the extreme sailing series with the crazy cats clocking up some serious speed on a short course plus the smaller cats and moths (I think they are more like dragonflies) honking down the harbour. It was exciting at times, dodgem boats.

And today, today's very special treat. A wander down to Rushcutters Bay to see the Sydney to Hobart boats off on their way. There was an air of excitement from the watchers, exclamations as people saw boats they'd heard of. Then there was the cry of a small boy, joined by a smaller boy and his mum.

"Dad, dad, dad!" the little boy frantically waving to a boat in the not too far distance pulling out from its mooring. When the second one joined in and mum, there was a lovely moment as they all saw each other. Dad responding with a big wave, matching the on shore waves and shouts of joy. They kept waving until he was out of sight, mum, sons and a little one looking a bit confused by the emotion.

Then it was a wander home to watch the start from my magical balcony. Such a view, out came the long lens and photos were taken. I quite often miss my tripod here, maybe I was a bit quick to sell it when I left NZ. 108 boats altogether jostling for the line in three waves. Amazing, exciting, especially as I could also watch the close ups on TV. Getting all perspectives. It was fantastic to see the start from up here and I was wishing I hadn't had to off load my granddads precious binoculars on my last trip to play Santa. The zoom lens worked okay.

Best of all was being here for Christmas with the Sydney lovely ones, a second Christmas after the first with the small boy and his mum and dad in Christchurch. Taking over the gifts and enjoying the special way of unwrapping that 18 month olds have. That paper is so much fun! She loved the gifts, taking all the attention in her stride. Then there was the amazing hospitality of the Sydney family related by marriage. A sumptuous lunch with the best plum pudding and brandy butter. Lovely, gracious hospitable and friendly Sydney folks. Mary was a treat, a fellow traveler with similar views and experiences of the world. We have a coffee catch up planned soon.

So, all is very well in my world. I have a borrowed car for this short break and plan to do some Sydney towning around, exploring places I've always wanted to. Like the coastal walks and northern beaches. This has turned into a longer piece than planned, it's nice to be having a break from work writing and the head space to write here. There are work changes for next year, a new team and new role and I'm looking forward to that.

The early morning five cruise ships arrived at once

Chaos! The start of the 2015 Sydney to Hobart from my place

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