Men behaving Manly Independence day

Not much morning hassle from the girls on Monday morning. It's clear by now that they're not hugely interested in spending time with uncle Darren; well, they are, but not as much as spending time with my iPad. They come in, nick it, and go upstairs to slice fruit for the next hour or so. At some point they're taken to vacation daycare. Kevin grabs me on messenger to say that our Tuesday plan may be better used as a Monday plan, what with the weather forecast turning sour, and so the day is set: we'll do the Spit to Manly scenic walk.

It doesn't start for hours though, of course. He doesn't get back from work until around midday so I can laze for hours watching wrestling, listening to podcasts, and the like. But once he's home and changed, out we go, via a slice of apple crumble for breakfast/lunch. That'll be enough to sustain me, right? That and the diet coke I've had.

Through Seaforth, down the steps, down more steps, under the bridge, and round to Clontarf reserve. I've got a bag with me today, largely as a means of transporting table tennis equipment plus glasses case and my phone's holster-y thing. Mocking my confidence, the sun barely stays out for longer than 10 minutes at a time all day. Bah.

The beach has an animal track crossroads, and the word IDIOT.

The official guide to this walk says it takes around 3-4 hours. I've scoffed at this ever since I read it. It's a 10km walk and, from memory, largely flat. How can it take 3-4 hours? I guess if you stop off to take loads of photos and read all the signs about fauna and flora, and the carvings, and the detours to lookouts and beaches. But come on, even then it's a long time.

It's nothing like as flat as I remember it being. There's a ton of steps, firstly very undulating then a long and moderately steep climb. My lungs are like, oi, Darren, have a word, this isn't what we signed up for. And my blue suede shoes are worried about all the water and mud. It's a very cool walk though, lots of interesting vegetation interspersed with views which would be much better if captured on a sunny day by a competent photographer. But hey, the "noir" filter always saves the day.

Arabanoo Lookout is a place from where you can see all the water - that is, both the harbour and the pacific over the other side of Manly. At least, you could if they bothered to keep the trees pared back so that the view matched the sign which describes the view. This is near a park named after an Australian Miss World contestant, not even a winner. Stay classy, Bruce.

The little beaches you can pop down to are very cool. I think I would very much like to do this walk over the course of a full day sometime, and just sit on one of these doing nothing for a couple of hours.

The whole walk is very well signposted, at least in terms of there actually being signs present. However, there have been numerous detour signs which actually point to the regular route, and then signs like the one below whose arithmetic plainly doesn't match that of those earlier in the walk. Is this route 8.1km or 10km?

At Fairlight and beyond, we are set about by vicious local wildlife. Remember, all animals in Australia are like their equivalents elsewhere except way more deadly.

Lots of the proper beaches in the inner harbour have rectangles of water cordoned off by either netting or stone, and this makes for a marvellously flat reflective effect. This really would be a great place for people who can compose and take good pictures to visit.

At Manly, we stop. It has taken us just over 3 hours, god damn it. Being in charge of the plan, I had said the two things we'd do here would be

  • get Mexican food
  • play table tennis

First, to the Steyne for some ping pong action. I've got bats and balls in my bag and there's no wind and the table has been empty every time but once since arriving and... there are 4 girls playing on it. For fucks sake. OK, let's think about food then. Except, oh, it's actually quite late and we've promised Sal we'll be back in time for dinner which is only in 90 minutes time. Fuck it, pint?

Pint. Well, bottle, to begin with. I'm explicitly trying to reach Peak Twat by having a drink at 7am UK time, Monday morning so that I can post a gloating dick of a post to Facebook. But neither the view nor beer are particularly impressive, so instead I send it only to Helen who essentially ignores it.

She does however acknowledge that the view from the second beer is somewhat worse, facing as it does a bus stand and Aldi car park.

It's worth it. We're back in 4 Pines, wherein Untappd rewards me for having 10 beers from the same brewery in 30 days. It's actually only been 6 days, but I'll let them off. I try on a hat, and it obviously doesn't fit; the barman feels my pain and loves that I've discovered honest "one size fits most" hats elsewhere.

Just as we're about to finish up and head off, I spot a sign that says there's a new beer released today, for July 4th: an American IPA. I can't resist the opportunity to have a zero day beer in the premises where it's brewed - and it really is the premises. Because we'd been to the larger 4 Pines place on Saturday I'd kind of assumed this one in Manly had brewing kit mainly for show, but it turns out all the small batch stuff is made right here and only the big hitter "mass produced" stuff comes from the warehouse.

I'm as pleased to have zero day beer as I am confused by its taste. Still now 24 hours later, I'm unable to really describe it. I kind of thought it didn't really have much of a taste or texture at all - but what little there was defies explanation. Bizarre.

Back in a cab to Seaforth and we're there in time for dinner. Sal has made a pork belly roast with all the trimmings. The fact I am here to help eat it is somewhat disappointing to all concerned except yours truly, because no leftovers means no bubble and squeak on Tuesday. Had it. not tasted so outrageously wonderful I might have had a pang of guilt; instead, I had seconds.

Created By
Darren Foreman
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