Petra and the Sydney Book Club
Sydney is across the international date line and nine hours ahead of BST, so I don’t know if I’m coming or going timewise after flying in from San Francisco. I’m staying with Petra, who I met on a boat in the Antarctic at Christmas. Her book group, of eight very welcoming ladies, is meeting in a very fine wood panelled café. It's part way along a headland in a park on the huge Sydney Harbour. It’s all exceptionally civilised. Not least, because the largest natural harbour in the world (almost, it's lost its title to Poole because of land reclamation) ) is looking its best, basking in the winter sunshine.
After tea (in fancy pots) and chat, Petra and I leave the women to talk about their books. (They're Australian authors and I've never heard of them). We follow the dirt trail round the edge of the shore to the zoo. The water is clear blue and sparkling, criss-crossed with the foaming wakes of boats.
The ferries are full to the gunwales (the whole of Sydney is out to enjoy the best day for months) and the sailing dinghies pose gracefully in front of the Coat-Hanger Bridge and the Opera House. I’ve viewed these two iconic structures from every possible angle today: the shore, the road over the bridge itself (when Petra picked me up at the airport), the ferry from the zoo to the city, (scrapers and the Sydney Tower thrown in here too), a pub rooftop in the Rocks and finally from the ferry across to Manly, where there is hardly any room left to sit down on the famous beach. Darling Harbour with all its ferry terminals is packed. But, it’s an exceptionally pleasant way to spend a Sunday, revisiting old haunts.
Next stop Norfolk Island