Back to back overnight flights and a small kip in Melbourne had left me properly deprived, so my body insisted on me sleeping - albeit with a couple of short interruptions - until midday on Friday. The downside of spending so long in bed is that I was massively dehydrated, but fixing that is quick. The shower here is viciously hot but requires only the deftest addition of cold water so as not to become freezing, and suddenly I'm feeling human again.

There's just about enough time to write up my experiences from Jakarta to Sydney before it's pick-the-nieces-up-from-school o'clock, on their last day of semester. The playground is a predictably chaotic scene, and cups of rice are bought. Harry has a toy snake, and back at the house she reads me a book.

It's an excellent book with decent plot twist at the end. Then, the three of us do the "Tim Tam Slam" - that is, drink a hot drink using a Tim Tam (Australian for "Penguin biscuit") as a straw, having bitten off the ends. Mine ends in disaster almost before its begun, as the whole biscuit melts too quickly and drops into my green tea. It no longer looks nor tastes quite as appetising as it once did.

Once everybody is home from work and changed, it's Friday-night-is-club-night: we're off to the local RSL (military/working mens' club type thing) for dinner, a beer, and lots of attempts at building houses of cards. My burger is amazing, and I'm totally allowed my chips.

Back at the house via a couple - literally - of beers purchased at the off licence, where even the staff don't recommend the coconut flavoured stuff, and Harry and Alex deliver an impressive full dance routine to some song I don't recognise. Off to bed with minimal hassle, us adults settle down to a nice cheerful movie: Aftermath, an Arnie dramatisation of a plane crash disaster I'm sure I've seen on Air Crash Investigation. Overall it's been a low key Friday, which is good because Saturday started early.

It's all my fault. It really is. I wanted to do it, it's a kind of centrepiece of this trip, etc etc. So 3 of us - me, Kevin and Alex - are up and in our running kit at 0630 on a Saturday morning in the middle of winter to go do parkrun. I've had 3 forms of performance enhancing drugs: two inhalers and a diet coke - and am ready to go.

Kevin's shoes are ... special

By 'eck it's cold out there. Seriously, it's about 6 celsius but with an "apparent temperature" of -1.5. Parkrun in Australia is at 7am, not 9am like us civilised Brits. Sunrise today is also 7am. It's dark, fer chrissakes, as we park up and find the start. We've been naming alternate names for themed Parkruns en route: Darkrun, Markrun (for people called Mark), Sharkrun (along the beach), Barkrun (with dogs), Clerkrun (for legal industry workers), etc.

This is blurry not because I took it badly, but because we're all shivering at a very high frequency.

By the loos, people are streaming in to the park, and everyone looks cold. I'm one of the only people in short sleeves and am finding the weather hilarious.

There's a pre-race briefing delivered using a mic and speakers, since there's a couple of hundred or so people here. They ask if there are any first-timers, a few hands go up. Then they ask about tourists. One guy says he's from Canberra, I pipe up with "Bushy, from the UK" and there are audibly impressed "whoa!" reactions from a few people. Check me out!

Barely anyone is in parkrun merch. I've got my 100 shirt on, I see one other en route, and a 50, and that's about it. But this run - Curl Curl - has been around for a long time and plenty of people have picked up serious amounts of runs. That said, it's by far my best metric on the results: I've run the 3rd most of any participant today, being my 161st run.

Of far more import, though, is that Alex completed her first (having done a partial at Mosman once or twice), and I beat Kevin for the only time ever. We all ran together for the first km or so, then I zoomed off and was way too stupidly fast for the second, regretting it for the remainder. But I came in at about 28:30, within 5 seconds or so of each of my last 4 runs back home. My 14th different venue, first run at the age of 43, etc etc.

Oi, bro, look at the damn phone!

We've totally earnt breakfast so we totally go for breakfast. Off to Queenscliff, the north end of Manly. 8am on a chilly winter day is meant to be grim, right?

It's not grim. But it is damn cold. That changes quickly though, as we're seated underneath a heater in Jellyfish and I'm now utterly boiling. Drinks arrive quickly but the food takes an age to even order; my omelette is lovely once it finally arrives.

On the way back I totally win the themed Parkrun game by suggesting one only for corrupt Russian oil barons: Oligarchrun. Have that!

Back at the house, Sally and Harry are now up and about. It's almost time for the kids to go swimming, so Kevin takes them and I go for a nap. Look, I'm on holiday, OK? Plus I've just been for a run and stuff.

Upon their return the girls upstairs are noisier than my neighbours back home, and that's saying something, so I'm abruptly awake and go upstairs to be interviewed about why a company should adopt agile methodologies. No, really. Then suddenly it's time for us to go out again, because Kevin and I have an appointment with a pie and a brewery crawl. Hurrah!

Pepper wants to come with us

First, the pie. Brooky Pies, in Brookvale, has just this week been voted Sydney's best pies, after Kevin had already discovered the place and decided I needed to visit. So we're there, getting a chicken and bacon and cheese pie and holy pastry it really is very bloody good.

Then, the crawl. Brookvale has an industrial estate kind of area where loads of small alcohol makers have set up shop, so first it's a beer at Dad & Dave's. Their number zero is a fantastic porter which, of course, the don't have on. In fact the guy serving us said it was so popular he didn't even get to try it himself. No matter, we'll sit next to the brewing vats having a #3 (pils, for me) and a #1 (pale ale, for him).

Next up is Nomad. We went there last year, but there was a kind of mini music festival taking place and it was mad crowded so all we did was get a couple of takeaways. This time it's pretty empty, so we have a glass but start off with a Stone anniversary porter. Stone are from San Diego. It's a nice drink 'n all, and this place also has tons of other guest beers in cans and bottles, but it's daft to come to a brewery and not try their own beer so we get a second.

Kevin has warned me off the Salt + Pepper ale, so naturally I opt for that. He has an orange and caramel ale that tastes and looks like neither substance has been anywhere near it. Mine does taste salty though, and is actually quite nice. Interrogating the bar staff we learn that the recipe did indeed change, as they chose not to persevere with undrinkable shite.

Next isn't a brewery, but a distillery: Manly spirits. I've been bought a bottle of these guys' gin for my birthday, but I'm not going to open it until I'm back in Blighty (Helen, take note). But I now know what it tastes like, since we sat at the counter drinking it neat, talking to the distiller and the couple up the way, because Kevin thinks he recognises the bloke from racing (he doesn't) and ends up talking at length about running stupid distances.

There's not just gin here, they have two kinds of vodka: Marine, and Terra Firma. We order one each, again neat, and when they arrive I say "I'm on the ground, he's in the water" which utterly confounds our server. How can that not make sense? I'm not trying to be a clever dick here, you're the ones who called them Marine and Terra Firma ffhs!

Anyway, they're lovely. Mine tastes like no other vodka I've ever had, while his is a bit more straight ahead. We pay, but before leaving are finally convinced to try - for free - a small bit of the final drink they make, a 43% base spirit they'll be using as the basis for whisky. It really does taste like "whisky without the stuff I don't like about whisky". Blimey.

Finally, our final stop: Four Pines. Came here last year, but this time is different - they're staying open late to show the All Blacks vs British and Irish Lions rugby union match taking place in Wellington. The place is pretty rammed, and we join the queue for the bar with the game about 15 minutes in to the first half. It stays even, going in 9-9 at the break IIRC.

The stout takes a while to arrive but is worth it. Some people shuffle about and we manage to get seats at the back but with a good view of the TV, and with all the booze in me I'm suddenly a big fan of rugby. With about 10 minutes to go, and a gorgeous hefeweizen in my hand, I'm an even bigger fan when holy shit it looks like the Lions might win this. And then, fuck me, they do win it and I'm a huge fan. Hurrah for rugby!

With the game over, the brewery is about to shut. We go for an encore, a celebratory pint at the Brookvale Hotel because neither of us have been there and perhaps it's a nice pub.

No, it's not a nice pub. It's a cavernous hole full of TV screens and pokeys and things, and the Carlton Black beer I get us both is outright disgusting to the point of hilarity. Jesus H christ why did we do this?

Kevin has no real clue how to get home, so I order us an Uber and before we know it the drunken pair of us are back at the house, disturbing and/or amusing Sally while interrupting her watching of San Andreas. If memory serves, I stop being an idiot by almost instantly falling asleep, after trying a bit of whisky from a posh glass. There might have been some snack food involved too. Honestly, I don't really recall: I've had a bit to drink, sure, but not such a quantity that should make me riotously pissed. But without much food, with early morning exercise, and despite the late-morning nap, I am utterly exhausted.

They scoop me up off the sofa at about 11pm, and I stumble downstairs into my temporary pit. Apparently we have no plans for anything at all on Sunday, except perhaps going to Manly for some food. Suits me.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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