Day 111 Christmas BBQ
Today is Christmas Day and it doesn’t feel like it. We are 10,500 miles away from home and this is the first Christmas Day we will not have seen Alex in thirty-eight. We have decided not to try to replicate back home but do things completely differently.
I wake to a stocking of sweeties and chocolate from Mark and it also contains a stress ball which is a globe. This is to get me through anymore fires and the flights we still have to take. Our present to each other is this trip which is probably the best present ever. Marcus wants shoes but has been unable to find any he likes so he has the money.
Marcus wakes very late; the weather isn’t too good so there’s no point rousing him. Cards are given and we have bacon and egg rolls for breakfast. We prepare the food for lunch and pack the cooler box, collect together the cutlery, crockery and plastic cups (glasses may not be a good idea outside).
The sun has decided to come out, the sky is blue and we make our way to the BBQ area we identified as a good spot yesterday at Pyrmont Point. It seems everyone else has had the same idea and the park is heaving with families and groups of young travellers.
The atmosphere is lovely with everyone chipping in and sharing space on the BBQ’s. A large family group move some of their belongings to make room for us at a park bench and I set up our place settings.
Mark is trying to clean the BBQ which is a bit of a mess. A young Spanish girl gets him foil so that he can get on with BBQing the steak and prawns. She is travelling and is really chatty, explaining that she is with a large group of young travellers from Spain, other European countries and India. They are all friendly and we spend time comparing our journeys. They have been in Sydney nearly a month and this is the first day there hasn’t been smoke from the fires. We realise how lucky we are to be having a sunny Christmas Day with blue skies.
We eat lunch in the most wonderful spot, the Harbour Bridge behind us and the city skyline and the shore of the harbour at the side of us. We are surprised to see that the city ferries are running and then even more surprised when the Big Bus (hop-on, hop-off) stops at a nearby stop. Then to top it all the bins in the park are emptied by council employees!!
The party atmosphere continues with eating, drinking, children playing with their presents, babies oblivious to the importance of the day and games being played (particularly drinking ones). Some start to wander off and yet others join the party.
Marcus and I decide to walk along the coast and Mark sets up his fishing gear, using the prawn heads for bait. We leave him to it and head towards Darling Harbour not sure of what we will find. The wharfs around Pyrmont are very quiet but as we approach the Maritime Museum there are more people about.
Although the museums are closed the restaurants and bars around the harbour are all open and really quite busy. People are milling about examining the yachts which are readying for tomorrows race and strolling the shorefront.
There are a number of entertainers offering the crowds a variety of shows. We watch a chainsaw juggler and an acrobat. Both of these street entertainers involve the audience and pick volunteers to help with the show. Both are good at what they do and manage to collect quite some payment at the finish of their show.
Suddenly we realise it has been 2 hours since we left Mark fishing and we make our way back. He hasn’t caught anything but he’s thoroughly enjoyed casting out and waiting for a bite. We’ve all really enjoyed this alternative Christmas Day and after packing up make our way home.
Video calls are made to Alex and my mum, it’s almost like being in the room with them. It must have been awful for families who were separated by so many miles before this was a possibility. It is lovely to see Alex, Claire, mum, Nicki, Rachel and Rosalind, because for us Christmas is family.
We watch typical Christmas TV whilst eating cheese and biscuits and Eton mess for supper. Meringue is very popular here and most seem to have pavlova at Christmas. A fitting end to a great Aussie BBQ Christmas Day.
Day 112 Royal Randwick Races
What to do on Boxing Day? Mark has always wanted to go to the races on Boxing Day but it’s usually a day to see family. This year that is not a possibility so he will get his wish.
The weather is hot and sunny and we are hopeful of a fantastic day. We have found out that oversees nationals get into Randwick for free today on production of their passport so we make sure we have these and set off to catch the bus. There is no direct bus but we are able to catch one at the end of the street and make one change at St James Station.
The first bus driver is really helpful letting us know when to leave the bus and where to catch the next one. The second driver not so helpful. Mark asks if he can let us know when to get off and his response is that it’s not his job. Hopefully the bus stops where we are able to see the course so we don’t miss it.
The drive is very nice, taking us through the suburbs and past the cricket ground. We don’t need help from the grumpy driver as the bus drives right past the race course and we are able to get off opposite one of the gates. Here we fall in with a crowd of other race goers making their way to the turn styles. Going to Gate B, on production of our passports we are given tickets which get us through the gates.
Making our way through the modern stand we arrive at track side on a lawned area with tables, chairs and sun brollies. Settling down I make my way to the bar for drinks; beer, cider and pink fizz. Although the sun is shining and it is hot there is a really fresh breeze blowing and there goes my drink. A bottle in a plastic bag of ice seems like a good idea and I’ll keep hold of my flute for the rest of the day.
Mark collects a programme and we all scour the form to choose our horses. No not really, I chose the ones with the names I like. There are eight races and the first one is at one o’clock. We were here for just after noon so were able to find a table but as the first race approaches the course becomes busier and groups sit on the grass.
And they’re off!! Marcus wins and Mark has a place, I think mine decided to run the wrong way or went to sleep as it was never mentioned. Mark has a win on the second and then a big win on the sixth with Luvaluva (one of us had to, right) which saved the day.
As the sixth race finishes, I feel a little uneasy. The crowd is quite young, has been drinking all day and is getting a bit leery. A family sat near us makes a quick exit and we decide to leave after the seventh race before the crowds start to make their way to the gates and public transport.
The light railway terminal is opposite the main gate so we head for that. It terminates at the town hall today so we get off there. Crossing the road, we come across the Queen Victoria Building, a Venetian Romanesque-inspired shopping mall. Built in 1898 it was restored to it’s former glory in the 1980’s. The interior reminds us of the Victoria Quarter in Leeds; tiled floors, galleried levels, glass roof, wrought iron balustrades and two huge clocks hanging from the ceiling. Oh and of course the designer shops which have massive queues today because of the sales.
Leaving the shopping streets behind we head towards Pyrmont looking for The Star, a casino complex near to where we are staying which towers above nearby buildings. Again, we get lost and end up walking on the side of a busy flyover. Eventually we come to Harris Street and know we are nearly home.