Sydney #2: New Year’s Eve and the wedding

Our second stint in Sydney had us living it up like locals. Less backpacker (grimy) chic, more Mosman ‘burbs style was the order of play, thanks to Emilia’s awesome find in the form of a mahoosive family home for us all to rent in the area of Sydney where she grew up.  Housemates for the week, Tony and Emilia, Neil, Paula, Betty, Nick and I were only momentarily put out that the owners of the house had locked up their (reportedly impressive) wine cellar, as we were able to make our own (largely rum based) fun in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve and the Wedding.

The house itself was perched up above Sirius Cove, a lovely bay where rich people park their boats. The views back to Sydney Harbour and the Opera House kept us out on the deck all day (apart from when the cricket was on the TV of course) and meant that we were able to watch the New Year’s fireworks without having to leave the front door.

View from the deck

But I’m getting ahead of myself – a road trip to the Blue Mountains was had ahead of New Year. The guidebook labelled the drive as uninspiring, a description I think Nick, Paula, Neil, Betty and myself would be inclined to disagree with, given that it sparked a plethora of poetry, musing and song (the highlights of which were greatly appreciated in haiku format at the wedding itself… ah hem). Maybe the less said about that the better. Unfortunately it seemed half of Sydney had also decided to go and take a look at the Blue Mountains on the same day as us, so whilst the views were without a doubt impressive and worth seeing, they were the fleeting reward of ‘a bit of a push’ to the front of the crowd.

The Blue Mountains
The Three Sisters in the Blue Mountains

New Year itself went off with a bang. Ha ha. From the deck we got the party started early after an episode of Grand Designs with the first bunch of fireworks at 9pm. Partying vicariously through the house next door who had much louder music and a greater extent of nudity than we did, we filled the hours leading up to midnight with some swimming in the pool (surreal) and more of the rum based stuff until the big moment itself, followed by a whopping 12 minutes of fireworks from the top deck. A great experience.

New Year's Eve
It's all going off in Sydney

The morning after Nick and I managed to stumble our way to the nearest ferry wharf (the picturesque Taronga Zoo just round the corner) and caught a ferry over to Manly. Once there we brought ourselves back to life with a pizza and watermelon cocktails overlooking the sea, before wandering along the beach itself (again, surreal: a beach?! On New Year’s Day?!). Hopefully the rest of 2014 will continue in this vein.

The next couple of days were spent in various states of relaxing / frantic organising as we got closer to the day of the wedding.

Feeding a Kookaburra on the deck...
.... Possibly choking a Kookaburra on the deck

On Friday 3rd January, Tony and Emilia saw in 2014 in style when they got hitched in the beautiful rotunda at Balmoral Beach. The reception at Bathers Pavilion was equally lovely and had us reaching for our food cameras again (I’m not going to talk about the food, don’t worry). Both bride and groom looked very happy and not even too disturbed by Neil’s haiku. Betty even took a moment to enlighten Emilia’s Grandma Mary on the celebration rituals of folk from Northern England, with her uncanny impression of Peter Kay at a wedding (‘Garlic Bread?! Cheesecake?!… and then you slide on your knees like this and make the sound of an aeroplane…’). I think Mary enjoyed it.

Mr and Mrs Stuart
Mr and Mrs Stuart
Mr and Mrs Stuart
Mrs Stuart and not a cheesecake in sight....


Our last full day in Sydney coincided with the last full day of the Ashes, and that was where we found ourselves. A big thanks to Tony’s old friend John McMurtrie who invited Neil, Nick and I into his box for a day of cricket at the SCG, right before we lost dismally to the Aussies. Despite defeat being inevitable, we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and not just because we got free food and drink (and not just because Stuart Broad is lovely to look at).

The Ashes

And so we came to the end of our week. After 4 months travelling, Nick and I both agreed that it was great to spend the week with family and in a real house rather than a hostel (the pool helped as well). We were especially sorry to say goodbye to Neil and Paula again, after all the fantastic times we’ve been able to spend with them and their family in the last month or two. Hopefully we will see you all again soon closer to home! Equally, it was brilliant to spend some quality time with Nick’s Grandma Betty, who is truly an inspiration (and I’m not just on about her Peter Kay impression!).  Tony, Emilia and Betty – we look forward to seeing you back on the other side of the world.

Having said these goodbyes in Sydney, we’re now looking forward to our next family get-together in Vietnam…. Sally and Dan, we can’t wait to see you very soon!!