If you can't talk proper, shut your mouth Your garage awaIts

Sunday morning. Neither Australia nor the UK have a useful prime minister . The girls come wake me up at 7am. "Can I please have go on your iPad?" I tell them yes, take it away, they can't come climb in with me until 8am. This is a ruse; I get an hour to listen to podcasts and wake up, then as they return say, nope, I'm getting up for a shower. We all need breakfast!

This morning's breakfast is in Manly, at the same cafe me and Kevin went to on Thursday or whenever it was. Sal has what she claims is the best French toast ever, and there is a great deal of bacon.

Most of it is being held aloft.

In the car, amid logistical arguments about parking and our post-bacon plans, there is a linguistic dispute raging between the hemispheres. I claim that "garage" is pronounced such that it rhymes with "carriage"; the Sydneysiders all (wrongly) claim it sort of rhymes with Nigel Farage's surname. Conversation goes something like this:

Savage! Montage! Spillage! Barrage! Postage! Collage! Damage! Sabotage! Vintage! Mirage! Sausage! Corkage! Breakage! Advantage! Haulage!

With more words supporting me than them, there's an attempt to claim that it's the letter 'r' preceding the -age which governs the pronunciation and makes the rhymes-with-barrage version correct. I'm still not having it. The internet is no help to either party, full as it is of unreasonably reasonable people saying either way is acceptable and there are better things to care about. Fuck you, people of the internet.

Anyway, after bacon and lists of words it's time to get on a boat.

Seagull catches a side-slipstream lift.

It's the Manly ferry, staple ride of every visit to Sydney by every tourist and public transport for the locals. Half hour to the city centre next to the harbour bridge and opera house, on a gloriously sunny day. Sal is making her way over there by bus while we four sit on deck enjoying the view. Someone may or may not stick their tongue out when posing for photos.

This boat ride is always great. I add to my collection of identical pictures taken with slightly better phone cameras, which started in 2006. We're actually only about 2 months away from the 10th anniversary of my first ever visit to Sydney. Back then I thought zooming around the world in business class was a once in a lifetime holiday, yet here I am pretty much once a year. I do feel pretty damn lucky y'know.

Talk of -age words is totally behind us, and replaced by a thorough piss-take of my accent. This starts when I say "photo" and Alex asks why I didn't bother with the letter 't'. I tell her it's because I'm from London and that's how we speak; this is hilarious to her and Harry, and for the rest of the day every dropped T is pointed out. "Uncle Darren, can you take a photo of forty bottles of water?" I might be hamming it up like Danny Dyer but actually maybe I just do sound that uncouth.

Our reason for heading into the city is to experience winter, Australia style. Regular readers of my blog may recall that the 2015 edition of my trip down under involved a proper 2 day excursion up country to where there's real snow and everything. Well, this year we've headed to the Sydney Winter Festival, behind the cathedral and near the museum. It's meant to be like Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland, with a pop up Munich beer hall and ice skating and a toboggan run and other fun stuff.

After a little while spent in a Japanese book store looking at hipster stationery and books in the kids' section that really bloody shouldn't be - like, swastikas on the cover and stuff - we walk to the festival venue. It's fucking awful. Like, hilariously so. OK so the first thing we see isn't really a wintery thing at all, it's a big rubber tube in which kids are meant to run like hamsters to propel it along a long stretch of water. It looks like it might be fun. But beyond that... the ice skating rink is about the size of a postage stamp and crowded as hell. No-one has the room to get up any speed, and anyway the ice is more like crushed snow. The pop-up beer hall looks like a greenhouse in a down at heel gardening centre and the toboggan run is about 8 foot tall and your are plunged into grey slush at the bottom.

The best thing there, and the only one for which tickets are bought, is the unwintery bouncy slide. 5 dollars gets you 3 jumps/bumps/slides down it, so Harry and Alex leave their shoes with mum and head in. First time they reach the summit together and launch off. It does kinda look like fun. Alex takes her next two goes and then comes out; Harry, despite our shouting to and at her, manages to take the piss to the tune of 3 extra goes. Behave yourself, miss.

Anyway, we're done. Let's walk back through the park and maybe get some food. No-one is hugely hungry, but a snack might be nice.

After some faffing, and a brief moment of listening to the really loud god botherers outside the QVB we decide to go to Chefs Gallery, a Chinese place Sal has been pimping. Despite appearing to be rammed to the gills a table for five is found almost immediately and we're seated. We're now all starving hungry, based entirely on everything looking and smelling so nice.

Can't remember what we ate. There was loads of it. Some pork chilli noodles and some dim sim and some lettuce thing with mince and it was all just bloody lovely. The girls got to go see noodles being made through the floor to ceiling glass at the kitchen, and once or twice were made to lose their underwear having been made to first look, and then stare, at something which wasn't actually there. This brought the tally back a tiny bit in my favour, but not much, after they'd convinced me earlier to look at dragons and camels that simply were not where they said they were.

Also, we learnt that San Miguel is a Filipino beer and not Spanish. Who knew?

After food, Sal took the girls home by bus while me and Kevin went for a drink. I was close to my 300th unique beer of 2016, and anyway fancied a beer somewhere near the bridge. As we approached The Australian, Kevin piped up that perhaps we could nip into the bar in the Shangri La hotel, which has an alright view.

Holy frijoles! You what? So there's a waiting list, permanently, for good seats in this bar; we arrived with only one table by the window left and were given it immediately.

Some gig venue over on the right.

Much playing with cameras while drinking as the sun sets over Sydney Harbour bridge. Finally got a decent long exposure light trails pic, plus a fairly cool (but portrait, sorry) time lapse video.

Didn't really like the beer though. Once it was actually dark - which doesn't take long in the winter - we headed downstairs and out into the adjacent pub, named Harts. It's a craft beer place neither of us had ever known about, making a mockery of our claims of area knowledge. They have guest beers for 4th July weekend as well as loads of their own, and aren't afraid to play up to the whole "we're criminals!" thing.

The Manly ferry, being public transport, still runs after dark. The view is still spectacular. Sydney's alright, eh?

And, as usual, we're greeted by a daft puppy who'll roll onto her back a mere split second after a hand first goes near the belly. Good lord, what a tart.

Created By
Darren Foreman

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