Tripping the Northern Beaches in Sydney

Graham has offered to take us up to the northern beaches today –

including Manly, an area that is very difficult to get to by public transit. We go under the harbour and head east, covering some of the area we have already walked to – Creemorne and Mossman. We drive past the Zoo, with its commanding position on the Harbour, past Obelisk Beach and across the Spit to Manly. We drive through to the North Head, which from this side we can see is much higher than the South Head, where we went last week.

Manly is, of course, home of one of Australia’s most famous beaches. There are actually 2 beaches, one on the harbour side and, just a short distance away, the more famous beach on the Tasman. We pick up takeaway fish and chips for lunch, and sit on the beach wall watching the swimmers, the lifeguards and the tourists.

From Manly we continue on north, ending up in Palm Beach and Barrenjoey Head. I admit to having a good nap on the drive. Palm Beach was once a summer resort for the very affluent. It is now a far northern suburb for the very affluent.

Driving home we stop and meet Graham’s mother, who lives north of the city. At 79, she is still very lively, and a charming hostess. She offers us a cold drink 3 times, we decline 3 times, and she brings us our drinks. We note to Graham afterwards that she won’t take no for an answer, and he says she’s hard of hearing.

We get home in time for much-needed naps before the social whirl starts again. Lynne drops by on her way home from a job interview for a glass of champers. Then out at 7:30 to meet Graham, Jens, Jeroen, Simon and Christina at the Colombian for a quick drink before dinner. Jens and Jeroen are visiting from Amsterdam for Mardi Gras, Simon and Jens went to uni together back in the UK before Simon, originally from Wales, moved to Australia 4 years ago. Christina is a good friend of Graham’s who has flown in from Melbourne just to come out for dinner with Jens and Jeroen, who have visited Australia before and chummed around with Graham and Christina on their previous visit.

We move to the restaurant, and start with champagne – the real thing tonight, Veuve Cliquot – as Jens and Jeroen hand envelopes to Christina and Graham (Simon had already been given his). Inside are invitations to their wedding, next June in Amsterdam. Everyone cheers and cheers some more, and over a discussion of the wedding plans, dinner commences.

We are dining in RQ (unfortunately now closed), another Thai restaurant, but of a very different quality than most. The menu is fixed, the quality superb, and the multitude of dishes with little tastings becomes very complicated, as we try to figure out what we’ve tasted and what we haven’t. Then the food stops coming, they clear, and we think it’s over; but they reset the table and start bringing out the mains. Absolutely delicious.

The gang head out for after-dinner drinks, but we are both beyond exhaustion and it is already close to midnight, so we head home to drop, marvelling at Graham’s stamina.

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