Australia, July 2015 the insular peninsular

Kevin had fetched me from the airport alone, what with it being very silly o'clock. The drive to his house looks much like it did last year and en route Sal calls, so I answer his giant comedy Trigger Happy Samsung thing. We're not stopping anyway but going straight home. Unlike last year I am far from brutally hungover, in fact I don't feel bad at all, but my original "I've beaten jet lag totally!" boast has given way to a huge amount of yawning.

At the house I am eyed suspiciously at first by my youngest niece, Harriette, who then proceeds to say "why are there two uncle Darrens?" and is beaten to the first hug by Sal. I say hi to all the girls and then there is a very blurry hour or so which ends with me being presented with a clean red towel and everyone disappearing to go get breakfast and a movie, while I catch what I believe will just be a couple of hours sleep.

I wake 4 hours later when everyone gets back. Huh. Maybe I hadn't quite escaped jetlag. Still, it's only just gone midday. I'm given a long sleeved shirt present - there is lots of "aren't you cold?" going on - and out on the deck I shove Alex and Harry around, mainly towards Kevin and back, on skateboards. I'm told I have much smoother hands than their dad. Score one for the Cathay Pacific/78 percent hand cream.

Then we decide it's time to go get pie.

There's a pie and pasty shop, far removed from Greggs, down in, ... um ... I don't know the name of the place. It's beyond Dee Why I think. Really, it is just a small pie and pasty shop on a main road, fairly nondescript and badly located but the food is fantastic. There are gardens either side with seats and not seats, just people eating pies. The queue on a Sunday at 1pm is out of the door and we struggle to park. We buy a Mexican pie for me and some other pies and some carrot cake and the queue when we leave is as big as when we arrived.

A short drive further and we park up by Griffith Park and Long Reef and go for a wander. Here in the middle of winter it is a gorgeous mostly cloudless day and around 19c, and basically awesome. There are loads of people about having a walk and then, hello, there's a bloke paragliding next to us. Ace.

There's a concrete whale the kids play on for ages, sliding down its nose, until they are stopped by a supremely curmudgeonly piece of work by an adult who cares not for the fun of children and just sits square in the middle of it for 10 minutes. Games over. A little lad swears blind that Alex(andra) and Harriette are boys, despite the exhortations of me, his mum, and the girls themselves.

There is a long beach next to us at the edge of a golf course. Looks awful.

Many more paragliders take off for a go, though one bloke takes about 5 attempts to get going. There's someone flying a remote controlled stunt plane and someone has a drone.

Out to sea we spot a few whale spouts which bodes well. Some sea planes fly overhead. I take a few photos of Kevin taking photos of all the ace stuff.

Apparently the girls need the loo, so we wander down towards the other beach beyond the car. This previously urgent requirement is forgotten numerous times due to the intrusion of pretty stones, or a tree to climb, or another paraglider, or whatever. Eventually after carrying Harry across the treacherous gravel and mud we reach the loos just beyond a seres of excellently rusted boat winches. As we leave, a pelican poses for us on a lamppost.

The route home through the 'insular peninsular' goes past the large crowds turning up to watch some egg chasing nonsense, of a team nicknamed the Sea Eagles who apparently get very antsy if referred to as the Seagulls. Our journey is punctuated by a stop in Porters, the supposedly best off licence in the world. It's pretty good, tbh. The range of bottled beers is pretty staggering and we load up with 5 bottles of various dark ales including the "one per person only" limited edition local stuff.

one of these beers is 12.7%. ouch.

Back home and we eat tea, after which I am presented with a present from the girls of a book they have written. It has my name on the front, spelt correctly, and tells a story of how amazing Australia is because they live there with their mum and dad and there are animals and shops and sometimes they go to the movies and it has winter and summer and water and fun, and the words buy, by and bye mean different things.

Alex dances and sings for me along with Uptown Funk and sundry other songs while Harry screams her progress in the bathroom. And then, bed time for the girls and we adults retire to the living room to watch The Voice. I've not seen it before so do my typical thing of asking how and why the show works, a lot. Then 60 Minutes comes on for a delightful story of a rugby player getting properly crocked with an illegal tackle. Eurgh.

Kevin gets a text message saying our whale watching trip on Monday morning is cancelled, but we are offered tickets on a boat 4 hours later and leaving from a much less convenient place. Huh. The TV mysteriously changes channel by itself which confuses me; then on comes a drama about Jesus. Methinks it's time to go to bed.

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