2002-09 (SEPTEMBER, 2002)

Paula & Paul Come Out To Play - Sydney, Australia

This week Paula was in Sydney for work. Paul joined her on the Wednesday and they both stayed on for a weekend of eating out (and not just 'lunch or dinner', but breakfast as well) and sightseeing.

We all went out on Wednesday night and, as is the way of these things, I spent the whole evening chatting to the people I hadn't seen in a good, long while whilst leaving our other guests to chat amongst themselves - fortunately Dave and his brother seemed to be having a bonding moment, and so were happy to be left to their own devices. We had a great evening despite one small cock up - the Welcome Tavern (our excellent local) is about 10 feet by 10 feet square; we occupied a large table in the middle of this non-cat-swinging-sized space; and yet when Andy came down to join us, she was not able to find us!? Very odd.

On Saturday we all met up for dinner. I get caught every time I try to book a restaurant in Sydney (i.e. in 1932 my great-grandfather neglected to make a booking for me for a Saturday night in 2002). We ended up at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown - not bad (good, fresh seafood) but no view and pretty atmosphere-free. I doubt Paula will be going there for lunch, for example. After dinner, Andy & I demonstrated our ignorance of city-centre night spots by dragging our visitors around various empty streets before ending up at a random pub near George Street. One drink later we decided to call it a night.

On Sunday Paula & Paul came over to Balmain for breakfast. We went to the always-great 'Kazbah On Darling'. After a long, leisurely and, above all, yummy breakfast we walked the length of Darling Street to pick up the ferry into town from the Balmain East wharf. We bid them farewell and parted company at Circular Quay. It had been great to see them both.

Melbourne, Australia

Andy spent the week in Melbourne on a course. She told me to keep the weekend free and left me with a set of clues, one for each day, as to where I was going. Friday's clue revealed a return ticket to Melbourne for the weekend staying in Andy's favourite hotel, the Sebel.

I arrived just after 17:00 and joined Andy at the hotel just as she was getting back from her last day on the course - what perfect timing. We cleaned up, drank a bottle of bubbly and then headed out for a late-ish dinner at a cute little restaurant in Block Arcade.

Saturday began with a wee tram ride and a good breakfast in Babka's on Brunswick Street. Next up was a good, long walk around East Melbourne. We took in Fitzroy Park (with its Fairies' Tree and Cook's Cottage), the Treasury Gardens (JFK Memorial) and part of the Golden Mile walk. We returned to the Sebel for a wee siesta before heading out again for dinner. We were joined by Roger, an ex-colleague from London (originally from NZ), who now lives in Melbourne. Roger took us out to a good restaurant in the beach-side suburb of St Kilda. After dinner we explored the nighttime streets of St Kilda, stopped for coffee and finally for a nightcap. We returned home tired and full.

We didn't get the earliest of starts on Sunday and by the time we had wandered past the dreadful Victoria Markets and up to Lygon Street we had missed out on breakfast and were on to the Lunch menu. After another good meal (Melbourne is pretty good for food, in general) we continued east and began the Golden Mile walk from its terminus at Carlton Gardens. We wandered the route in reverse and happily whiled away the rest of the afternoon. After another siesta we decided to pass on going out again and instead ordered room service and watched a movie on the TV at the foot of our bed. Bliss.

Andy was up very early on Monday to catch her flight back to Sydney and work. I followed at a more civilized time and was back home by lunchtime. A splendid surprise weekend away.