Down Under

I’ve arrived in Queenstown, New Zealand, for season number 2 of 2016, and I am pretty excited. So excited in fact, that I decided to bake a cake; I have access to an OVEN! Yes, an oven! It’s been months!

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A sticky lemon drizzle cake

Last week though, before I start on New Zealand, I squeezed in a cheeky trip to Australia; it would have been rude not to as it was on route from Japan. I’ve just read back over that sentence and had a ‘pinch me’ moment; quite the jet-setter!

I landed in Sydney and stayed with Tom & Emily at her parents’ (who appeared to be kindly putting up a few Pro Powder squatters…THANK YOU!) for the weekend. With instructions from Tom on how to get to Manly, I blinkered my vision to focus solely on signs and directions and not get lost. It wasn’t until I was on the ferry from Circular Quays to Manly that Tom’s ‘enjoy the views!’ comment realised.

“Oh wow, that’s Sydney Opera house and that bridge and…oh, where’s my camera?’

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I was suffering a little with reverse culture shock; signs were in English again and I could communicate with people. I felt like a tourist in disguise. Only when I opened my mouth was it very apparent that I wasn’t from Australia. Until on the ferry, when with camera in hand and looking overly excited, there was no mistaking the tourist.

That afternoon I went for my first run since the marathon (I survived and still like running!), to North Head, exploring the area and taking in some pretty views.

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Friday morning we swapped skis for surf boards (the leg/hip/ankle situation seems to have improved…rest does work) and tried my hardest to remember all that I learnt last year. Much to the amusement of the others, I was not very elegant nor apt at even just sitting on the board – the word ‘punter’ was thrown around more than I would have liked. I suppose having trained them on snow over the winter, they had every right to laugh as I struggled in the waves. However, to give myself credit, I still attempted to catch vaguely ‘proper’ waves and managed to get up once. I had a great morning and loved being in the sea again.

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Rocking the foam board

Then the storm hit. When I say storm, we’re talking similar to the awful Paris flooding where roads turned into rivers, trees were uprooted, coastal paths were washed away and people evacuated from their homes. Heavy showers on Friday afternoon meant whale watching was sadly cancelled, and we settled for wandering around Sea Life, seeing Nemo and Dory. Eating dinner overlooking the water in Darling Harbour was a treat, watching the Vivid Festival displays.

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Sydney Opera House

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The Rocks

Saturday was wet. I joined Emily and a friend of hers at the Isabella Blow exhibition after indulging in some fish ‘n’ chips โ€“ yum! Otherwise, it was not really a day to be out and about.

An early start on Sunday, mainly due to the rain falling incredibly hard, to catch a plane down to Avalon (just outside of Melbourne) and stay with some family friends, The Prings (Mark of Prings, pre Bar Bush in Les Gets).

They kindly let me have access to a car and I fumbled my way to the station to get the train into Melbourne. A very nice lady, who was going in the same direction, let me follow her and gave me further tips on what to do whilst in Melbourne. How I love being a tourist!

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I went up the Eureka building to see the view, and walked and walked to see as much of the city as I could. Conor ‘the cripple'(or gangster lean as he preferred) who I met in Niseko, came in to meet me and I made him feel sick by taking him to Koko Black where they serve tasty hot chocolate and desserts. We also found the ‘graffiti street’.

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Not a great photograph as Conor couldn’t believe I was one of those people who takes photo’s of food. This was incredible though with a hundred layers of different chocolate and caramel.

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We then saw this…!

On Tuesday I set out to get to the 12 Apostles on The Great Ocean Road. The weather was very pleasant to begin with…

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…but unfortunately, as soon as I arrived at the 12 Apostles, the rain hammered down and the wind whipped up a storm. Watching other tourists, and myself, trying to take photographs made me giggle. A lot.

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A long day in the car, but it was worth it. The drive was stunning, especially along a road heading between Beech Forest and Tanybryn where trees towered up either side of the road.

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I stopped off for a beer at the Forest Brewery, and couldn’t resist one of their chocolate, caramel and peanut butter slices – I was on holiday! I will definitely be trying to recreate these.

Seeing a koala and a kangaroo was definitely the highlight of the trip and confirmed that, despite the rain and horrific weather, I was in Australia.

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I had a fantastic time and glad I went. I’ll definitely be going back, but I think I’ll wait until it’s summer!