So many things seem to have happened since we last spoke that it is hard to think where to begin. If i was a better write than I am I would write in a nonlinear fashion, dropping crumbs all over, then bringing them all together at the end. Like a literary masterpiece. However, you don’t have Hemingway. You have me.
In the spirit of seeing as much as we can, within Australia, a couple of weeks ago we took an early mark from work, and headed downtown, to our usual car hire place, and from there headed off to Kangaroo Valley. Somewhere new. For a couple of nights.
In Friday afternoon traffic, Kangaroo Valley is almost 3 hours south of Sydney, in an area called Shoalhaven. We have been down this part of the world previously, having once spent a great weekend in Jervis Bay with friends. Kangaroo Valley is a little further inland, through the picture postcard village of Berry. And if you know of Berry, you know of the “Famous Donut Van” in Berry. Needless to say, we got ourselves acquainted.
Talking of “famous” food outlets, Kangaroo Valley has it’s own. Not wanting to be outdone, there is the “World Famous Pie” shop, something I was not going to miss. And my oh my. The pie was outstanding. Best I have ever had. Period. If it wasn’t for the pre-holiday health kick I am about to embark on, I would have brought enough home to fill up the freezer.
Despite the name of our home for the weekend, ironically, we saw very few kangaroos. Not as many as we see when we visit our favourite spot in the countryside, Mudgee. I had been teased with the prospect of seeing wombats in the wild, but despite trying to make myself invisible, and wait for them to come out in the evening, the reclusive little blighters never showed their cute, fat little faces.
Our accommodation was a perfect little cottage, called “The Hammock”, with an open fire that we got roaring in the evening. The temperature drops a lot when the sun goes down, and when I saw the open fireplace I was in my element. I am not sure what it is about fire, but getting it started becomes an obsession. Then keeping it going becomes hypnotic. Hearing the fire crackle, feeling the heat, watching the flames, with the alcoholic effects of a few large, full bodied, glasses of red wine (bought from the local winery, some 20 minutes from the cottage) it was a heavenly evening.
We were soon back in the real world, back in the city life, so why not make the most of it. As we had been away so recently, we decided to remain closer to home for the Easter break, and instead booked one of our famous city "staycations". We seem to be getting around most of the hotels in Sydney, and Easter saw us staying at the Old Clare Hotel, in Chippendale. On the site of the old Carlton and United brewery. For UK readers, it is where your Fosters lager used to come from. The area has gone, and is going, through massive regeneration, and is fasting becoming one of the places to be in Sydney.
The hotel is on Kensington St which has become a restaurant hot spot, which also incorporates “Spice Alley”, a fascinating blend of old and new, housing numerous excellent Asian eateries. Definitely worth a visit, if not an overnight stay, if you are in the neighbourhood.
And with all the eating and drinking that has been occurring, virtually non stop since Christmas, there has been the inevitable addition of a few pounds around the waistline. If you love food and fine wine as much as I do, who said bon vivant?, you will know that it is not a one way street. You have to put the effort in to keep from blowing up like the Michelin man.
I continue with my gym work, and weekly 5 a side run out, but have added something else to my repertoire. Dynamic Pilates. Yup, you heard right, I have started doing pilates. The kind where you lay on what looks like a torture bed. Or something you may have read about in 50 Shades of Grey. All springs and straps. With less pleasure. I’m assuming about the pleasure, of course, having had no experience of anything you may have read in any of EL James’s “best sellers”.
It is amazing how fast an hour passes when doing pilates, focussing the mind, breathing in tune to the exercises, compared to time spent on the treadmill in the gym. I’m not afraid to say I loathe running. Unless it is on a football pitch. Running, for runnings sake is not what i was created for. And the time I spend knocking out a few kms on the treadmill seems to drag in comparison.
That said, needs must. So, for the next few weeks, my aim is to shift my “winter coat”, in time for my European summer. Alcohol canned (which means abstention, not drinking tinnies) for a month. Exercise upped for the month. And no treats in between (after I have eaten all my Easter chocolate).
Wish me luck friends.
P.S. voting in Australia is compulsory for all citizens, which now includes me of course. So this month also saw me casting my first ever vote here in Australia, in the local by election. This Yorkshire lad is already making his contribution.
P.P.S. In the last couple of weeks, the government has announced sweeping changes to how you achieve citizenship. Seems I got in just in time!