Archive for June, 2013

Fairy BowerChris is up for another surf before the weekend is over, so we go in search of a good wave. The wind seems to have dropped, it has stopped raining (albeit briefly) and we opt for the break at Fairy Bower beach near Manly. It is a gorgeous break where the waves breaking over rocks wrap all the way around the headland and you ride the waves all the way around too.

We have been a bit slow getting started so just have a short period of time before the sun sets and the angry fish go looking for food. It isn’t very crowded and the waves come through pretty regularly.

For one reason or other I haven’t clicked with my new board up until this point but the two of us have a great time here. I catch loads of long snaking rides before the fear of Noah’s gets the better of me. (Noah’s Arks = Sharks in Australia)

Drop In

This is despite one of the most blatant drop ins I have ever seen by Chris on my wave, who freely admits to it after the fact. These ladies demonstrate that the person nearest the camera should have priority because they are up and riding as well as being nearest the curl. Chris was neither but still barged in. I wouldn’t mind if the view of him doing so was as good as my demonstrators, but it isn’t even close. Bad form.

Apology accepted though and after getting changed in the dark because the sun had actually gone down we go to meet Ben and Kirsty, who is another old friend from London for beers in the Steyne in Manly.

I never found out why but have assumed it was something to do with the lions supporters’ Scottish contiongent, because halfway through the evening there a marching bagpipe band was doing laps of the hotel. Good fun.

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george-north-folau-carryI am going to be brief here because the result is a long time passed. Well played Australia. It was another nail biter that could have gone the other way, but it didn’t so congratulations to them.

However for the rest of my days my recollection of this game will be of George North who should have been in the process of being tackled deciding that he would simply pick up the tackler rather deal with being hindered by him, and just run with him as well as the ball.

I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years I’ve been watching rugby. Just Awesome! Here is a clip if you would like to see for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVgc2JVNGaE 

 

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Love Surfing 2 

I love it.

 

I really do!

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WP_20130629_015It is the weekend and because like normal people with work commitments he is unable to go surfing during the week my old flat mate from London Chris has picked me up in order to go to the beach.

We check out quite a few breaks in the pouring rain (still without a raincoat! #$%&!!!) and all of them have pretty poor surf conditions, so having exhausted our options we opt for Bilgola Beach where there is some shelter from the wind in the bay.

Whilst we are getting ready I manage to finally get a picture of me with my new board and its lop-sided wax job, which has since been addressed.

WP_20130629_005The surf is a bit rubbish everywhere today, and Bilgola was really just the best of a bad bunch. the bay itself is pretty cool though and the cliffs at the north end are lined with fantastic houses overlooking the bay.

As you can see I still haven’t attached my camera to the board because other technical issues had been taking up all my time, which means that I don’t have any pictures to share with you of the few waves I caught here.

WP_20130629_008I have to say I wasn’t all that comfortable whilst in the water at this beach because before getting in we had looked at a number of seals which were relaxing in the designated seal resting area on the beach.

For the whole time I was in the water it struck me that any shark which knows the local area (and they generally do) might think that a beach where tired seals (and therefore an easy meal) can be found might represent a fast food option in the same way McDonald’s does for humans.

I didn’t need too much persuading to get out as a consequence.

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The LawBoth my hosts in Sydney are lawyers and they run a successful practise specialising in family and employment law north of Sydney in Newport.

I am told that a regular treat for them and their staff is to go for a wonderful meal together, and I am lucky enough to be invited to join them all for a thank you lunch for one of their secretaries who is moving on.

Judge DreddI know a little bit about the law but really the extent of my own experience barely goes beyond reading the exploits of Judge Dredd in the 2000ad comic.

(As an aside on this I bought a great book at Universal Studios in Hollywood, which is a combination of all the stories written which combine Batman and Judge Dredd. it has been posted home but I can’t wait to read ‘Judgement on Gotham’ and others!)

Prohibition

Given this well versed history I was a little nervous that I may be out gunned on the conversation, but I needn’t have worried because everybody was so relaxed. We were at The Tilbury in Woolloomooloo where I couldn’t fault anything. The food, wine and service were all impeccable.

Bit by bit everybody fell by the way side but I had friends still in town so walked up over The Domain to Circular Quay. (Sadly I got soaked in the process due to my raincoat still not having arrived!) I had a great evening with my old flat mate Chris and his wife Rachel who I also know well, which ended in a fantastic Prohibition themed bar in some basement just off George street. Based on how the afternoon had started I felt ready for any raid by the police.

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Whilst sight seeing upon arriving in Sydney I saw this glorious open air pool right next to the famous Harbour Bridge and because I enjoy swimming so much I couldn’t resist going for a dip.

The pool is 50 metres long and heated, but I still got a bit of a shock when jumping in because it is salt-water. That is nothing compared to the shock of the price though. Nearly $20 when you add in the optional extras of a shower after swimming and the use of a locker!

WP_20130627_011Sydney is currently the most expensive city in the world and after a few days here I can see why.

When I first saw the pool I thought I might make use of it frequently but when surfing is free I cant justify that kind of expense even if the setting is majestic.

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Sport BillyWhilst taking it easy for a few days in Sydney my attempts at addressing all the technical issues I am having have been easily distracted by all the sport going on at the moment.

Apart from the British and Irish Lions tour, there is so much going on that I think even Sport Billy would have struggled to keep up! 

It is well known that Australians are massive sports fans and  it seems like there are huge matches going on almost every day.

Australia vs IraqWith Adam, Rosanna and Rosanna’s son Romy I watch Australia defeat Iraq 1-0 in a play off to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

There are Australian Rules Football matches going on almost every night. I used to watch some of the coverage back home when channel 4 first started broadcasting so must catch a game while I am here, although I understand the MCG in Melbourne may be the best place for that

State of OriginI am not entirely sure that the Lions is the biggest rugby series going on here at the moment either because the annual 3 game State of Origin series of rugby league matches is also being played. An all star team of those born in New South Wales plays and all star team of those born in Queensland and the Maroons are on a 7 year winning streak.

I still have the rest of Wimbledon to watch and the Ashes cricket matches are still to come too!

 

 

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Me and RickI have been in Sydney for about 10 days and am delighted to hear from one of my old neighbours in the flats I used to live in back in London. Rick is a Kiwi who works in the oil business and is now based in Singapore.

However he is in town for a couple of nights on business and we take the opportunity to catch up over a few beers.

Lions vs RebelsWe meet up in a rugby club that is located right in the heart of the city. There is not a rugby pitch in sight, but the atmosphere there for the game between the Lions and the Melbourne Rebels is like any rugby club in the world.

We are joined by one of Rick’s colleagues James and have a great laugh watching the game, whilst reminiscing about motorcycle trips across Europe to Austria with the rest of our ‘chapter’ Dom and Adam, who join in the fun back in London via the internet. A great night.

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HangoverIt is the morning after the night before and I feel rough as dogs, but have already arranged to go surfing for the first time in Australia at the crack of dawn having only got in from my Lions 1st test a matter of hours before.

Safe to say I have felt better!

Duke StatueAnother ex-pat surfer called Richard who knows my buddies is kind enough to come and collect me, as well as put up with the alcohol seeping out of every pore of my body!

After a few quick surf checks at other local beaches, he drives us to Freshwater Beach, which rather appropriately is where Duke Kahanamoku gave his first demonstration of surfing in Australia that ultimately led to the explosion of surf activity here.

This statue of the Duke has been erected here to commemorate the occasion, and he casts a watchful eye over my own efforts when I paddle out having given my board a coat of cool-to-warm water wax.

Freshwater-beachI was in no state to be attaching cameras to my board and don’t think I would want evidence of how I started the session anyway so you will have to make do with this photo I found online. It is warmer than New Zealand, but not by much and I am having a bit of a shocker when I first paddle in with the guys.

Ben and Chris are also in the water after the night in the pub, and we are joined by another Brit called Keith.

choppy-waterFreshwater is not that big a beach any the swell is far from clean. It seemed to be bouncing off the cliffs on both sides of the bay, and it was further chopped up by some currents which I never really figured out. Not the best surf session of my life but I did end up bagging a cracker with all the guys watching, which at least demonstrated that all this surfing has done me some good.

Nobody stays in for long and I had decided to get out before I got absolutely hammered on the way in. The backwash off the shore pitched me and my board into the air only to then have the wave land very badly on both. I still think it a miracle that I didn’t snap my board on my first session, but all was well as I crawled out of the ocean and went back to bed!

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It is somewhat ironic that Adam and Rosanna’ household is as uninterested in the lions tour as I am enthusiastic about it. As a consequence I go out to watch the game with some ex-pat surfing friends of mine from back in the UK.

Chris is another old flat mate of mine from back in London and I have surfed with Ben many times in the UK. We are joined by Saul who also lives locally.

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All are now living in the Sydney area, and we bump into countless others because there is an army of lions fans who are all out in Manly, where we are watching the game.

We have opted for The Steyne Hotel and the bar is packed so there is a fantastic atmosphere. It also appears that Brits outnumber the Aussies because a lions’ score always gets a bigger cheer than a Wallabies one. 

NailbiterThe game itself was a nail-biter going down to the last kick of the game where had Kurtley Beale not slipped over there is every chance that Australia would have won the game. However he did, and they didn’t. Unlucky!!!! 1-0 Lions, lions, lions!!!!

Things get a bit chaotic towards the end of the evening when one of our party who shall remain nameless gets shown the door. Although it brings an end to our evening I am quite impressed by the approach to booze in Australia. If you have had enough they stop serving you and you are asked to leave. There are sobriety checks on every door to stop you moving your grief to somewhere else too. There was a time when the landlord did the same in the UK but we seem to have lost that somewhere down the line. Shame.

You can’t by alcohol to take home anywhere other than a pub or an off license either. I haven’t seen one drunken brawl anywhere in Oz yet. I will leave you all to make the connection yourselves, because I was too drunk by the end of the night to make it myself!

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