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Winter in Sydney

I’m so far behind on blogging that I’m not really sure where to start. You may wonder why I’m still in Australia, since I initially only planned to stay six months. Well, there was a lot more I wanted to do in the southern hemisphere, and I decided that I wanted to stay on for another year. The visa application was a stressful procedure, involving reams of paperwork, medical examinations and police checks, and I can’t imagine how much harder it must be for someone without a British passport. I now have a lot of sympathy for anyone dealing with immigration issues. Fortunately, after a couple of long months, I received confirmation of my new visa.

We’ve had two school terms since then, and my work has been hugely enjoyable. The choir went to sing Evensong in a local church, and I’ve continued to provide academic tutoring and flute teaching. Rowing is not a winter sport here, but I’ve been coaching an U13 soccer team, and it’s been BRILL. I ran everything for my boys: writing their training program, making selection decisions and dealing with injuries as they came up. It definitely made me want to return to the sport (I played it throughout primary and secondary school, although it wasn’t taken as seriously as here). My players were very enthusiastic – check out these cakes that they made for our end-of-season BBQ!

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We had several matches here at Centennial Park:

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That was my favourite match location… We had a really exciting season, and I’m going to miss coaching those boys a lot.

Some of the places I’ve visited lately deserve posts of their own. During the last school holidays I went back to visit my family in the UK, circling between home, Oxford and London. I also took mini-breaks in Canberra and Brisbane, went skiing in Thredbo, and enjoyed Sydney’s winter lights festival, Vivid.

I should mention now that Sydney in the winter is freezing. All those commercials you’ve seen depicting Australia as a year-round beacon of light and warmth? Probably shot on the Gold Coast. Whilst the temperatures in Sydney are not as cold as the UK, the houses are not as prepared for seasonal change. There’s no double-glazed windows or central heating systems here, so I’ve had to stock up on jeans, jackets and sensible shoes.

Despite the nippy climate, I ended up buying myself a surfboard and steamer (long wetsuit designed for winter use):

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Cue some very cold afternoons spent wiping out, often with one of my surf buddies, Isabella or Julian. The commitment did pay off because I now have slightly greater control of my board, but the difficulty of the sport shouldn’t be underestimated. As we move into spring, it should become easier to motivate myself to get out in the surf. It’s very relaxing, as I forget everything but the waves!

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NB. The blue sky makes it look deceptively warm.

Manly itself is lovely, and I often visit my friend Laura there, going for drinks at the Sugar Lounge, or the Moonshine balcony bar above the Hotel Steyne. I enjoy getting Nutella crepes after a surf, and sometimes walk along to cute little Shelly Beach.

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Aside from surfing at Manly, I have been:

  • Coxing ex-internationals on Sydney Harbour (social rowing – there is such a thing!)

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  • Eating skewers at the Manly Food and Wine Festival with Laura
  • Relaxing with a couple of work friends at Siam Cabana in Crows Nest (Thai massage for the win!)
  • Attending Don Carlos at the Opera House with Bianca

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  • Bowling at the Strike Bar to celebrate Elizabeth’s last night in Australia

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  • Watching Mad Max at the cinema with Hayley
  • Composing a dance track in a recording studio with Mohit
  • Taking the ferry to Parramatta

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  • Attending Balmain Rugby Ladies’ Day with Anne, and going out with the rugby boys afterwards

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  • Admiring contemporary Chinese art at the White Rabbit Gallery

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  • Shopping at the Macquarie Centre with Alica and Saskia
  • Lifting weights at the gym
  • Reading PG Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Buying candyfloss at the school fair (hey, you’re never too old for candyfloss right? Right?!)
  • Repeating three of my favourite walks: from Bondi to Coogee, across the Harbour Bridge, and around Balls Head Reserve

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In addition, I’ve been doing a fair amount of socialising over the last six months. I’ve eaten out (and in) with work friends from my department, and spent time getting to know the city:

  • Going for drinks with Laura at the Bavarian Bier Cafe
  • Sweating at the spicy Thai food in Fok Factory and dancing at the Ivy for Elizabeth’s birthday

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  • Partying at Bungalow 8 for Claudia’s 21st

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  • Listening to live music on the King Street Crawl in Newtown
  • Meeting randos with Chris and Nick at Scubar and Soda Factory
  • Dancing at the Orient with Jessica on Anzac Day
  • Singing at a karaoke bar in an Indian restaurant with a drag queen  for Becky’s birthday. (If you want this kind of experience, go to Oxford Street in Darlinghurst.)

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  • Chilling at a real Aussie Sunday Session in Redfern
  • Dancing at the Argyle with a lot of Germans

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  • Celebrating my birthday with shopping, surfing and drinks at Bar Century and Greenwood Hotel

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So yeah, it’s been a fun six months… Next up, Vivid.

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