Tuesday, 20 March 2012
Patricia had left for work before I got up. I wondered if the morning rain was connected to the tornado that had struck Townsville last night. Later it brightened up and was perfect for a spot of de rigeur opera house and harbour bridge viewing. First up, as I've nearly completed 1,000 miles, I had a new chain fitted, as well as doing laundry and shopping in salubrious Manly. The streets drip with beautiful, confident people carrying yoga mats and surf boards. The women, who look snooty and walk proudly, all seem to be with babies, pregnant or at least possess child-bearing hips. The men, who are obviously manly, all have toussled hair and look super-confident. Even the birds are assertive here - one clucked at me for not giving it a piece of bread. Sat by the beach (not on the beach) in the shade (not in the sun) with all my clothes on (not with everything on show). What is the thing with beaches? I don't get it and did NOT come here to get sand between my toes.
Took the ferry to Sydney with a thousand other tourists and came back in the rush hour with commuters who make this journey every day and don't look up from their Kindles. It has to be said that the gleaming city's outlook, huddled around a large bay, is amazing, and for a country that so far has seemed a bit lacking (in I don't know what) it's at least better to be lacking it in such a superb, sunny location. Off the boat I simply walked a long way up one street, crossed to another parallel one and walked back again, popping into book and comic shops along the way. I didn't know what else to do, as I'm not really interested in sight-seeing per se. Obviously I took photos and breathed in the atmosphere. The women mostly wear tight skirts and high heels, the buildings are tall and there was an old man in a mobility scooter with a stereo blasting Rawhide. That's about it really.
Reconvened with my host later, who had been at her French conversation class and we all dined at a succulent sushi restaurant. In class they weren't permitted to use English (although a couple slipped into Esperanto) but over their weekly dinner together they weren't supposed to speak in French - although some couldn't help themselves. Here I met Dee, an old lady from the Tablelands area near Cairns and urged me to go there. She said that people born there go back to die, so I said "Don't ever go back". She was entertaining and came out with, "Je suis full the noo," to keep the Auld Alliance strong. There was a German in attendance as well who has spent the winter months of the preceeding 12 years in Manly and the remainder in the Fatherland, as he can be based anywhere for his business consultancy work.