Sunday, 7th October

Justine was long gone by the time we got up. She is to spend the next week in Hong Kong working. She also had the added issue of an hour less in bed as the clocks here went forward an hour last night – they are just coming into Spring as we head into Winter – but it is all very confusing……

We had our brunch breakfast inside as it was already raining.

We had planned a walk, but by this time pouring rain put something of a dampener (!) on that, the second thought was the cinema. Having headed off all sort of unsuitable films (it is me that does not do horror!), in the event we did not get out. Poor Mickey is – very reluctantly – off to a cadet camp for the week tomorrow and there was a lot of prep to be done. The weather forecast is wet all week. A wet week, not much fun, a wet week camping, misery!

Tony was in the ‘supporting cast role, so we took responsibility for dinner and we watched a film in the evening.

Saturday, 6th October

It was very overcast but, leaving Keith to carry on sleeping, I joined the boxing party on the trip down to Long Reef in a borrowed, very robust, if a bit crisp, raincoat. It proved to be a useful precaution!

There was no sign of cricketers, but the golfing fraternity were in evidence and a few dog walkers, but really only the die hards. I had probably got a third of the way round before the ominous black cloud burst over my head. The sea was very impressive and the surfers were having a great time. However, my rather crackly raincoat did its job and I stayed reasonably dry. Thank goodness for the shorter haircut. It does not really spoil.

We collected the meat ration and went home for the usual Saturday brunch which had to be eaten indoors due to the weather. Later the boys went off to do the supermarkets shopping and us girls took off to the Mall for a bit of shopping and overhauling. Interesting and educational!

The afternoon saw us at a 2 year olds birthday party – surprisingly in the brilliant sunshine. The day had really turned around. The young birthday girl had already learnt the problems of house to party shoes………

Found on the drive……

We then took the girls home and Justine, Tony, Keith and I took off for a new brewery that needed exploring. It was good. Another paddle of beer was tasted (I sampled their bubbles!). Tony took it very seriously……..

We were just settling down and minding our own business, when a bride and umpteen bridesmaids arrived in a VW van. All very exciting and colourful.

These Australians are fascinating creatures!

It was then back home for a takeaway curry………

Friday, 5th October

It was still very overcast and rainy, so we took ourselves off to the Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery in the old Doctors house looking over the lake, for a bit of culture. They had an exhibition called a Celebration of Steel – an important commodity to the nearby Newcastle. It was really interesting and there were some amazing pieces.

Keith even managed to get himself included in a marketing photograph!

The grounds of the gallery also contained some interesting installations.

We had a lovely chat over coffee and then went back to the house to say goodbye to Nelson and collect our bags. It was then time for lunch back at Toronto and then on to catch our train and leave Peter in peace. It is such a privilege to spend time with him. He will be joining us in Sydney for the gathering next week.

We told Peter to just drop us off at the station where, rather unusually it seemed, there were a number of police cars parked. Thinking nothing of it, we hopped on the train that pulled in just a few minutes later only to be told to get off it again another few stops down the line – due to a fatality at Fassifern!!! Where we had got on the train.

As I said to Keith when we were standing on a very cold and windy station – however bad it was for us, the fatality had a worse day…….

We eventually got back into the City and up to our Collaroy eyrie. It was hot showers all round to warm us up and then catch up with the family. The rain looks to have set in. Good for the farmers. Not so good for holiday makers.

Thursday, 4th October

We woke up to more rain, but Keith did the morning dog walk with Peter. After breakfast we took off for a look around the area. It was Redhead Point near Swansea where we saw whales in the grey water. Keith had the binoculars and said he could see several. I could just make out the occasional spouting, but somehow a whale sighting is always exciting.

We had hoped to go for a walk but it was too inclement, so we took off for Newcastle where the ships we had seen waiting in the ‘roads’ off Swansea, were waiting to berth and be filled up with coal. Newcastle is the main coal port of Australia and is reckoned to be the largest port exporting coal in the Southern Hemisphere. Most of the coal goes to China.

We had lunch looking over the entrance to the port.

As it was still raining hard, we adjourned to the house and had the indulgence of an afternoon snooze – a real excitement on this action packed trip.

Much revived we decided to have a television supper and settled down to a Julia Roberts evening courtesy of Netflix. The Pelican Brief followed by the ever lovable Notting Hill.

Wednesday 3rd October

As the there was to be a bit of ‘hot bedding’ taking place at Wightman Towers while we are away – other friends were making a flying visit! – a bit of tidying and bed changing had to be done before we left. We definitely had to hide the red dust covered rucksacks from public view……..!

We set out at about 8.30 to get to the Central Station to go to Fennel Bay to meet up with Peter, our friend from the Silk Road. We are now getting very slick at getting around the City stations. It was a pretty dull day. The first day we have donned our wet weather gear in earnest.

The journey out to Fassifern, his nearest station, took about two and a half hours. It was slow going again, with lots of stops at leafy stations. We passed the Hawkesbury River – looking very different in the rain to when we cruised up it in the sunshine on our last visit.

Peter was there to meet us and we took off for the riverside cafe n Toronto ( the names of these places are hysterical!) where we had eaten before on the edge of Lake Macquarie. It was lovely to be there again with him.

As usual, once the chat started, it did not stop! After lunch, we took advantage of a break in the weather to take a walk in woodland on the lake edge.

You cannot do a walk with Peter without learning something! We saw all sorts of things including possum claw marks on a tree, stringy bark trees that Aboriginals used to make string (funnily enough)

The bulge of a white ant mound on a tree

Apparently small birds make nests in the ant mounds – and the ants do no more than block that bit off to ant life and ignore them! Fascinating.

It was then time to go home to meet Nelson………

The smiling Labrador.

A jolly evening was had by all!

Tuesday, 3rd October

We decided to pop into the city to check out Cirrus, the chosen venue for my Australian birthday gathering. It was another sunny day, although the weather looked set to change later in the week.

After a bit of shopping, we set out for the Barangeroo area of the city, a sort of side arm the harbour, but still on the water, where the Cirrus restaurant is situated. We had a look around and talked to one of the chaps there and then adjourned somewhere a little less ‘up market’ for a light lunch.

We then headed back to the Opera House to meet up with Yael for the last time before she heads off to Asia.

We then toddled off home to Collaroy Plateau. Tomorrow we head to Newcastle to spend a couple of days with our friend Peter.

Monday, 1st October

Monday dawned bright and sunny again and the boat trip looked on the cards. By the time we got up, Justine and Tony had run the Long Reef circuit and the prep had been done. Sometimes one can feel really lazy here in the face of the commitment to exercise! At 10.00 we were near to the off. Tony had some last minute boat prep to do as the boat had not been near the water for over year.

The plan was for Justine and me to take ‘Priscilla’, her pink jeep, and the boys would take the girls and the boat to the water for boat launching. We followed them to the boat ramp to ensure all well.

On the thumbs up, we departed to drive to the final cruise destination too set up camp for the barbecue at Clareville Beach Reserve. Sadly – despite the initial optimism – word came through that there was a problem and our excited sailors were not going to be able to take to the water. As tables are very sought after on sunny long weekends, I was sent on ahead to stand guard at a table. This was not such an arduous responsibility, especially when I was joined by a sulphur crested cockatoo, who decided to keep me company while I waited for the others to arrive.

There was a lot of barbecuing activity taking place a day very soon Keith and Tony had arrived to take up their station.

Initially there were two chaps using the second barbecue. Upon enquiry, we found they were from Faversham and one had only been living here for three months. It is a small world.

Despite the sunshine, there was a fairly brisk breeze, but when the sun came through the trees it was lovely. Yummy food over, we set off for a walk along the beach to view the amazing houses that skirted the sand and choose the one we would have if the opportunity arose. It was then time to set off to find ice-cream.

Unfortunately the requested ‘gelato’ was not available and we had to make do with a very lacklustre offering. However we found another beach to wander before returning home to family film time.