Sunday, 12 February 2012

To The Fat Ladies House

2913 kms from Bradninch

Well, we had a great time staying in the Hunter valley with David and Sophie even though it rained every minute. This is a rolling hill area studded with horse farms, though the coal-mines are spreading like gangrene. Thanks guys for a great time.
The train back to Newcastle, well Hamilton really, was a pleasure and the sun came out as we set of for Lake Maquarie.  We camped by the water in Swansea (a little different to its Welsh counterpart) and then rode down the surfywild road to Matcham, a beautiful house in the woods, and a ‘welcome to Sydney’ banner hanging over the door.
We met Chris and Rita over breakfast in Bali, I was looking at a map of Australia as I remember, and hearing Chris’s  antipodean twang began pestering with questions about the land downunder. Coincidentally we ended up being neighbors for some days in Samur and they invited us to visit when (and if) we made it through Oz. We spent a great few days being lazy, climbing to the tree house, wrestling alpacas and going to the beach to watch the surf roll in and the experts on their boards. The surf was huge, sadly far too big for beginners like us but fun to watch.
Where the Fat Lady Sings (but it ain't over)
Thanks also Patsy and Julian for good food and good company. We used the time to organize ourselves for NZ, well for the flight anyway, which is always the stressful and boring with the bikes.
Finally we dragged ourselves away from this haven and headed for the big city and the final leg. By Bike to Sydney it has always been and Sydney the goal since you set up and named our blog Derek, and I was too technically retarded to change it. So to Sydney we headed and here we were getting closer with every turn of the pedals.
To avoid a lot of traffic and an unpleasant last day on the road we followed the coast to Manly and hopped on the commuter ferry to Circular key. I am not sure how many boats we have been on since leaving England but I guess over thirty, could be more. This trip was one of the finest. Sydney is a very beautiful city.
We pedaled the few hundred meters to the steps of the opera house and there were Rita and Chris and the Banner. In fact there was a small gathering as Rita, with her exuberant personality had collared a number of passing tourists, largely Chinese, to form a welcoming committee.
Matcham Barbie
We posed in true celebrity style for a photo shoot (Rita juggling four or five cameras) and caused a small amount of interest as people examined our bikes. The photos show us looking a little bewildered and slightly embarrassed but really quite flattered and pleased at such a reception.
Rita is originally from Hong Kong and is a one woman phenomenon. We were taken to a restaurant in Chinatown and had a real feast before she and Chris rushed off to the airport to catch a plane and spend six months in Hong Kong.  Very special people.
We stayed in a campsite on the edge of town, had a look round the next day and went to the airport.
Matcham Pier
I put on a good Mr Bean show for the security camera, putting one boxed bike in the lift, (they wouldn’t fit in sideways on the trolley, turning round for the other and letting the door shut. Pressing the button to no avail I got in the other lift and went up expecting alarms to go off as the cameras picked up a huge unattended box. I got to the top, no open lift. Frantically punching the button I intended to go down again when finally a door opened and an Indian floor cleaner came out with both boxes turned upright on a trolley. He handed it to me, shaking his head and went back down again. Finally Anja appeared with the bag trolley not knowing whether to laugh or cry. Never have I felt so stupid.
We are now in Auckland and have spent a great weekend with  family there, Wendy, Julia and Michael, and are being well fed and looked after. It is very sad that my uncle John died a few weeks ago. I was looking forward to seeing him.
Today we had a look round Auckland and tomorrow we catch a ferry to the Coromandel peninsular and begin our tour of the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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