Monday, July 25, 2011

Sail Away

Waking up in Sydney, B and I then made our way to Wharf 5 to board the Pacific Jewel, for our 10 day cruise. Meeting Fiona and Dave as we dropped our luggage off, we walked through the tent to commence the boarding process.

Now this trip was an invite we had received from Fi at the beginning of the year, but with uni placement planned, I had thought it would not work for me. But as it happened, it fell into place nicely, with a winter escape found, and the chance to celebrate Fiona's 50th with her and her school mates, and a bunch of other mates from all over. The group numbered 25, with B, Dillo and I, Fi and Dave, 5 kids, the mayor of half of Queensland, a couple currently living in PNG, and of course, a pair from Ballarat!

Dillo found us as we were waiting to board, and we went through customs, being spotted by one of our group just from our chatter in the line! We then found our room down on Deck 8, before we found the soon to be favourite bar at the back of the ship, on the Oasis Deck. Beer in hand, sun shining, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge in our sights - perfect start!

The 3 of us then made our way to the top desk, ready for the sail away party, meeting the rest of the group, and watching our ship pull out from port, out under the Bridge, past the Opera House, and into the harbour. As the sun set, the city grew smaller on our horizon.

The three of us had our first dinner at the Waterfront Restaurant, for an amazing 5 courses, giving us a glimpse of the next 9 days of food! A bar crawl ensued, naturally, so we could check out all 8 bars on board, picking up Fi and Dave, Pete and Narda along the way.

The next 2 days at sea consisted of serious relaxation time in the sun, on the deck of Oasis, at the back of the ship. Lunch, or Linner really, after Brunch at the end of the breakfast buffet time, before starting with a late afternoon cocktail to begin the night. The second night we joined the large group for Sports Trivia at the Casbar, before dinner at Waterfront, where we met more of the larger group.

Nights ended up reaching The Attic, the nightspot on board, until stumps, then the best sleep, before starting again the next day. Awesome!

Sydney Arrival

Two weeks ago now, I had packed and managed to put in all the overtime that usually comes with pre-annual leave for me, and started a little holiday! For this trip to truely begin, though, I needed to get to Sydney. With much logistical planning and plotting, I flew on the Monday morning.

My first stop was to pop in and see Jess, and meet new arrival, baby Evie. Getting a cuddle upon arrival to Jess', Evie promptly fell asleep on me, while I met some extended family. This baby thing seems pretty easy! Ha! The lunchtime gathering to admire Miss Evie then ventured to the cafe near the Wilson's, the awesome Sideways, for lunch. Was so great to see Jess, in her new Mum glow.

After then enduring some Sydney rail delays, I made my way to meet B. And here, I finally visited the much coverted, much talked about, Spry Mansion. Which did not disappoint! Playground, pool, country land setting, and with the bar and beers on tap! Ha! We had a few beers, as we made our final trip preparations for the next day.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dan Sultan and Alex Gow

Mary and Nicole came up from Melbourne yesterday, ready for a gig in country Vic. We first went to the Black Hill pub, so that I could watch the footy, and we could have lunch.

Michelle joined us for the trusty parma, beer and footy on the screen, at this favourite venue of mine to watch the Hawks when they are away and only on Foxtel. After lunch, we got to sit in the side lounge in front of the fire, for the second half. A comfortable win for Hawthorn over the Lions, all good.

Michelle (now this is confusing, but a different Michelle!) met us at my place, and we started the drive across to Castlemaine, for our gig at a coverted venue of mine for some time. Mary's wonder at all her dusk countryscape views was quite entertaining - city kids!

We had dinner reservations for Public Inn, which was a recommendation for us, and it did not disappoint. Wine choices from the barrels on the wall, and quaint and classy decor, the meal was amazing and quite a treat, as a find in this little country town.

We then braved the cold night again, to get across to the Theatre Royal to see Alexander Gow and Dan Sultan. Touring together, these two Melbourne based lads come out together to play a mix of songs as an introduction to the show, before Alex then took the stage for his set.

Playing many of the Oh Mercy collection, plus a few songs he has been working on recently, Alex was chatty and told stories between each song. He fluffed the pronunciation of the town name, and that was perhaps when he started to lose the attention of the Saturday night crowd in this little town theatre, as there was much distracted noise from the back. He told us of the meaning behind Mercy Valley, which makes this track make of so much more sense. His sweet, melancholic voice was enchanting as always, but perhaps a little lost in the big venue on his own.

When Dan Sultan arrived on stage after the interval, he opened by requesting that people shush and listen, or go outstad and catch up. A commanding presence on stage, he then pointed out his grandmother in the crowd, just near us, and talked about his childhood visits to Castlemaine and all the memories of the town. Playing tracks such as Get Out While You Can, Sorrowbound, and Old Fitzroy, plus a couple I had heard from his set at the Flood Relief show, and demonstrated such immense talent. Such a great performer, and Aussie lad.

The boys re-joined on stage for the encore, which a couple of covers, topping of an awesome evening of music.
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