I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


My debut Nothing To Declare appearance did not materialise. As it turned out, I got through Sydney arrivals quicker than ever before: no chaos at the carousels, no quiz at quarantine, no issues at immigration, no cameras at customs. An absolute and amazing absence of Australian airport alliteration. Which meant, as it happened, that I was out landside before Kevin had made it there to pick me up. Good. I could have a nice sit down.

"Hey, mate, how you going?" came the half London, half Aussie accent over my shoulder. Hurrah! Kevin! Hurrah! My nieces were there too! Dressed fantastically as the gruffalo and Spider-Man, like a golf matchplay score Harry and Alex have moved from 0&2 to 2&5 since I last saw them. Uncle Darren, uncle Darren! I did smile. Heeding the request made before I realised I'd be there first, Kevin bought me a diet coke and the four of us trekked back to his huge bus of a people carrier. It was about 7am but the girls were already dressed for, and excited about, their party at 1030 - but before that we had to break a toll booth attempting to leave the car park, and then go to Maisy's in Neutral Bay for some massive breakfasts, banana bread, and for Harriette to lock the door from the inside, taking us all hostage.

I couldn't finish the breakfast at all. The hangover was actually kinda gone and I rehydrated a lot, plus I was just excited to see everyone and be on the relaxing, familiar, chill part of the holiday for the next 8 days. Drove back to the house, said hello to Rowlf and Sal, and alternated between chatting and helping the girls do their puzzles. At 1030 all three lasses went off to the aforementioned party and I considered taking a bit of a nap, but ended up deciding to try and power through. Me and Kevin caught up about all kinds of stuff, spoke about running, my diet, etc. We hadn't moved by the time everyone else returned, and with the nieces off for their lunchtime snooze I felt pretty dead. It was about 1pm I think, so a truly terrible time to go to sleep.

We came up with a plan. I wanted to get some money out, a diet coke, and an ice cream. And just to be active. So we walked into Seaforth and the ATMs refused my card. Bastards. Bought a bus ticket and a diet coke, borrowed a load of cash from Kevin, and we got a bus into Manly. It's a sunny hot summer afternoon, so let's go drinking in a pub overlooking the Pacific Ocean, which brews on the premises. Hello, Yardarm Taphouse, Manly!

The first tasting paddle was a struggle. We had four 1/3rds of their darkest beers, which were none of them outstanding. Well they might have been nicer if I'd not been struggling SO MUCH. But after them I perked up.. a couple of wheat beers, then off to the Steyne for two or three more. A garbled conversation with Sal as we attempted to coordinate our attempt to get home, we refused a lift and said we'd make our own way, which given the rubbish Sunday bus services meant getting a cab. A proper, bonzer, fair dinkum "ah yeah?" bona fide Bruce Australian racist driver 'n all: after asking where we were going, his next sentence started with "now I don't mean this to be a race issue, but..." and proceeded to tell us about this girl of Indian descent who'd got in and asked him if he knew Balgowlah Heights. After he'd said "a bloody sight better than you!" she'd taken offence and got out, and into the next cab. HOW DARE SHE. These bloody foreigners, I tell you, they're so rude and ... then he said that of course, they're not all bad - his cab firm supervisor is an Indian guy y'know. But he's sensible and makes sure he only employs proper Aussies to drive for him.

Thank fuck the drive wasn't long.

Back at the house, Sal had pie ready for us. Personalised pie. Mine had a pastry DAZ on its lid. It was lovely. Then out came the gin, I had two .. er .. trebles, apologised for being a bad influence on my brother, and apparently went to bed. With a mixture of exhaustion and drunkenness, I honestly have no idea what time or anything. The next thing I remember is waking up feeling wretched, in a spare/guest child's bed upstairs, with all my stuff in the guest adult room I should have been in. My nieces were laughing at me, attacking my belly with a balloon sword, as the house was getting ready for daycare, school, and work. I hung around for breakfast, and to walk Alex to school at 0830, and then went back to the house. Sal was working from home and I said, y'know, I think I'll just grab another hour's sleep before I head into the city.

When I woke up it was 1pm, and I apparently was feeling human again.

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