Not going back to the UK much, you may think that 2 weeks with the family would be enough. Not for me. Oh no. I am what you would call in the common vernacular, "a glutton for punishment". After an amazing couple of weeks in the UK seeing family and friends, old and new, I then brought my mum and one of my sisters BACK with me! Albeit, the quietest sister. I swear, at times you wouldn't even know she was there. Apart from sporadic "marvellouses" every now and then she is an introvert's dream. Marvellous.
Cast your mind back 18 months and you will recall mum came back to Sydney with me for her first Australian trip. And, some might say surprisingly, she also found her way back home at the end of her 3 weeks. Yes, she did 4 loops of Sydney international terminal, and almost got on a plane to Qatar from Singapore. But, she made it home safely. And that is the important bit. OK, i made the bit about the plane to Qatar bit up, but you get the picture.
So, with mum now being a seasoned traveller, and knowing a bit of Sydney, a few weeks back here, with my sister would be a breeze. Wouldn't it? The only danger, as I could see, would be that mum would leave my sister sat in a cafe somewhere in Mosman, forgetting she was there. It's easily done. She is so quiet and reserved that you think you are sat in glorious isolation. It's like forgetting your umbrella on the train. Kind of. Up you get, and you are halfway home before you realise she is missing.
It turns out mum has her own inimitable way of navigating Mosman. "Look for the man's head", she said. Man's head? What the devil is she talking about? "I walk up the road, to Vinnies (local charity shop), and on the way back, walk past Bird Bath Table (actually Bed, Bath, and Table!), past the kid's toy shop (to see if there are ANY kids she hasn't yet bought a gift for), and when I see the man's head, I turn right down your street."
Let's get one thing clear. Mosman is no war torn village, in a country ravaged by civil war. So you don't go around expecting to see the heads of men casually on street corners. But on my next visit to work, the penny dropped. She was looking for Dom. A brass bust of a late, former local Mayor of Mosman. Strategically located, for mum's navigational purpose, at the top of my street. Now, like all good family histories, mum was passing this knowledge on to my sister, so future generations don't get lost wandering around Mosman. Let's hope Dom doesn't fall foul of the local council, and get removed. Where would we be then? Or, more specifically, where would mum be?
Thankfully, as it turns out, mum, or my sister didn't get lost. At least not in a literal sense. Although, if she described her day to you, you could be forgiven she had been on a different planet completely.
She wanted to meet me in"Darwin Harbour", til I explained to her that Darwin was many, many miles away, in the north, and it would take us a long time to get there. We established she meant Darling Harbour. A similar thing happened when she wanted to meet for lunch in Canary Wharf. Now, I am sure there are some cracking food options in Canary Wharf, the thing is, it is in London, and we were in Sydney.
When I suggested somewhere closer would be more convenient, she piped up, "how about Neutron Bay or Split Junction?'. Yes mum, would that be Neutral Bay or Spit Junction? As long as she made sure she didn't get on the "hopalong bus". Worked that one out? The "hop on, hop off" tourist bus.
And the fun just continued. She wondered if Milo was a wine? Tried to order "spankyoli" in the Greek restaurant, in place of spanakopita, and then got home and asked if i would "get the Skype box out" so she could call home. You couldn't make this stuff up. Well, you could, it jut wouldn't be as funny.
You could possibly think the coup de grace would be the time she locked herself into the toilet, getting her leg up on the frame to try and force the door, only to realise she was pushing, and not pulling. But no. For me, the best was saved til the last days of a very enjoyable, and very memorable holiday, when she looked aghast when i informed her that dinosaurs are real. "You mean they were not made up for Jurassic Park?" she genuinely enquired?
Mum, I salute you. Once again I loved having you here in Australia with me and giving me the opportunity to spend quality time with you. It makes me realise how much I miss you, and having you around. I look forward to our next adventure.
Oh, you see, I almost forgot. My quiet sister. It was great having you here too, and so glad that you managed to get to do the things you wished for. Although, you come all the way to amazing Sydney, with it's iconic sights, and your highlight? Alf's bait shop in Summer Bay (Palm Beach)! Rubber dinghy rapids bruv. Marvellous.