Friday, 28th September

A travel day. We were leaving Aileen and Mick in Canberra (Aileen and I decided to defer sobbing at our separation as they will join us in Sydney in a couple of weeks for the birthday celebration). It has been such fun. However, I must make a comment on train travel here. The fact is – it is a nonsense! To take a train from Canberra to Sydney, you need to set aside a good five hours of your life!! The train would seem to stop at every station and lamp post!! We were amazed and, given that we had a lunch date in Sydney, were going to be hard pressed to have anything but a Bungle Bungle (ie 4.45am) start to get there. Until we heard about the bus. This takes just 3 hours……

How extraordinary. We could not believe that there was no fast train between the capital of Australia and – arguably its next most important city. Who would have thought it?

Anyway. There it was. We were up to go out to breakfast at 7.45. We ate at Silo’s, apparently a famous early morning eatery. We did well to get there before 8.00. At 8.00, almost on the dot, the world and his wife arrived. City suits rubbed up against yummy mummies, expensively casual tots and young chaps in school uniform in the queue for skinny lattes and expresso coffees. Breakfast meetings and girlie gossip took place all round us while we had a great breakfast served on excellent sourdough bread. A great start to our perambulations.

Breakfast over it was ‘hunt the parking spot’ near the bus station to enable us to be deposited on the bus bound for Sydney. It was all very civilised. It was also a very full bus – no surprise there. I think the train company could learn a thing or two from the bus company – first stop Sydney airport!

I dozed away the journey and we crossed Sydney to meet Tom (from our Overland trip) at the Lord Nelson, said to be the oldest pub in Sydney. In fact when we got there, there was no sign of Tom but the lovely Yael and her big smile was awaiting us. A great surprise. We had a merry old chat over a pint (or two) while waiting for Tom. It was good to meet up. Tom did eventually materialise – in fairness Keith had set a bit of a task to find the place – and we whiled away a happy hour getting up to date with news of other Overland chums. Tom leaves for England on Monday and Yael continues her world backpacking adventure by heading off to Asia midweek, so there may be the opportunity for another sighting before she goes……

For us it was time to head back to Wightman towers and the Collaroy Club for meat raffle night. Here we joined other to-be birthday party guests, David and Lesley for a couple of drinks prior to the ‘draw’. Having failed to win any meat, we trundled back up the eyrie for supper. Here Tony demonstrated the skills of a misspent youth by shredding a chicken in the fastest time possible……

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