7.4.2017 Australia to New Zealand

So, second flight of the trip and we had a breakfast to line the stomachs. 

B.L.A.T. (Bacon, Lettuce, Avocado, Tomato) for me, and I did actually say BLAT when ordering it, in a slightly English, ‘I feel a numpty saying this’ kinda way.

Guy’s usual of eggs, toast, arvo and bacon

A film crew were also filming in the tiny cafe, we kept out of the way.

Using up the last of our Aussie dollars we showed our age by buying boiled sweets to help with the ear pressure on planes, and to put in our car when we get home and have a Sunday drive out.

On checking into the flight we were told we needed to book flights out of New Zealand otherwise we can’t go there. We attempt to book flights home using my credit card, the only one we have left, which is declined before being approved. If nothing else, we need to get home to get our driving licences and new credit cards, Guy’s card having been cloned whilst in Australia and a new one sent to my Mum who is having a ball with it. 

Our panic bought flight is booked to leave on Star Wars Day (yes, Guy did tell me that) and arrive on 5th May which involves the longest flight you can take in the world…  17 hours. See Guardian article. Bring it on! 

We hope to see all our readers welcoming us back at Heathrow on the 5th May…..ūüėā (Blog will have intermittent service after this date as our lives will be dull and boring, again).

We are now able to check in and our flight to Auckland was short and noisy with families containing small kids all vying to see who could scream the loudest.   

Touchdown in NZ felt like home with the green fields covering the landscape but the stringent quarantine laws quickly confirmed it wasn’t when they needed to check the shells we had picked up in Hawks Nest. They passed, and we were allowed in. Our last visit had involved indepth questioning from quarentine officials over a box of Bisto gravy powder and whether it had BSE in it. Like a box of Bisto had seen any cow….. let alone a mad one?

Our Air BnB place was 2 min walk from the SkyBus, and it was 17 degrees outside….. what??? It felt cold, very cold.

Anyway soon we were in the loveliest home ever, chatting with Richard, our host, and eating excellent fish n chips from the local chippy he had recommended.

Kumara chips, delicious

UPDATE: For those of you wondering what we are doing on our return to Blighty, we are planning on renting a small flat in Birmingham, getting jobs and saving for our next adventure. We will of course be in touch with friends to sort out catch ups, but flat and jobs will be our focus to get us back into society again. We are also going to try and do without a car!!! Using public transport and bikes…… we will see how that dream goes though.

6.4.2017 Camperdown

Our last day in Sydney gave us blue skies and warm sunshine to encourage us to walk around and for Guy to take a lot more photos of this beautiful city. 

Blue skies make everything gorgeous

Coffee was courtesy of Runcible Spoon cafe around the corner from our home.


A bus ride later we were at Central station and having another coffee. Delicious.

Coffee turned upside down by Google who think it looks better that way

Caffeined up to the hilt we marched around the waters edge,  past Macquaries point and into the other side of the botanical gardens. They are stunning. We decide to forgo the $24 each to go to the deadliest spiders exhibition, really? As if this country isn’t scary enough, they charge you to be scared even more.

A ferry ride across the harbour and many, many photos later, and we were back at the fish market. 

Us posing on the ferry

Before you could say white wine, we had Barramundi, chippies, fish cocktail and white wine laid out for us. We also liberally scattered it with the chicken salt we had purchased. Love chicken salt.

Fish n chippies Aussie style

We made our way over to Newtown, via Glebe and a couple of bars. One of the bars, Deep Groove you can choose the vinyl to play so we choose Led Zeppelin and Bowie, you can probably guess who chose which?

Deep groove record collection

It was a lovely last day, reminiscing of our stays in Sydney and how much we love the Australian outdoors lifestyle. Also how we have learnt about strip shopping and Sydney Meetup Groups engaging in naked board games on a Saturday night (and nothing more involved, honest)……..who knew???

Dinner was dumplings. They were good.

Dumplings drizzled in chilli oil

It was accompanied  by VB 

Last drink was at Wayward brewery, 5 mins from our home, for craft ale.

5.4.2017 Camperdown 

We walk into town along the canal path towards Tramlines, a swanky converted warehouse with bars and coffee places looking out onto a car park! 

Beautiful architecture, crap car park view

We stop for a caffeine‚Äč shot, Guy has a cold brew, chilled and fruity.

Cold brew coffee, not as good as a hot coffee

We carried onto the waters edge and walked around Blackwattle Water, past the cement works.

Sydney cement works, stunning view

Onto the Sydney fish market which was full of tourists enjoying fresh seafood and the odd glass of white wine.  We join in with calamari, soft shell crab, seafood kebab and chips.

One of the many fresh fish counters at the fish market

Another walk into Sydney CBD and we are going through QVB (Queen Victoria Buikding) which is photogenic and full of expensive stores.

QVB stained glass window

We carry on through Hyde Park and onto the Botanical Gardens. 


It was getting late and feet were aching so we went home by bus and relaxed back at our apartment. 

Ummmmm wine……. 

Wines tasted:

Hunter Valley McGuigan shiraz cellar door 

Hunter Valley Tintilla shiraz 

4.4.2017 Waverley to Camperdown

We got up early to see the family get ready for school/work at a leisurely pace.  We said thank you and goodbye to our wonderful hosts.

Again, we went to Ruby’s diner for a healthy breakfast of Bircher muesli for me and brown rice pudding for Guy. 

Off across town we were smoothly into our next Air BnB apartment in Camperdown. It was proper city living, and we eyed up the washing machine for later!!!

We caught a bus into town, to St Martin’s place and had a final check at Post Restante to confirm that our driving licences are nowhere to be seen and we try to forget all about it, like a bad dream. Maybe they will be returned to the UK? 

Lunch was in an Asian food court, heaving with office workers, mainly Asian, looking for good grub. We had a lush Malaysian curry plate, followed by samosa and onion bhaji. 

We met up with Julia and her mates, on their way to a Cyndi Lauper / Blondie gig, for her to hand back some hair products I had left at her house (the horror, 2 days with no hair products!!!!) and a catch up in Hard Rock Cafe, a first for Guy. 

Guy popping his Hard Rock cherry

Light tea as we were still full from lunch, and breakfast!!!!

Darling Harbour at night

3.4.2017 Waverley 

Eventually we got up, made our way to a cafe we had spotted yesterday, full of Sunday brunchers, so we thought we would go on a Monday morning and avoid the crowds. Rubys diner is a lovely place, the menu is full of chia seeds, alternative grains,  sourdough and the like. It also has bulletproof coffee, so Guy had to try one. He loved it, like a high calorie, creamy filter coffee, coffee, butter and coconut oil……

Bulletproof coffee, no low calorie version available!
Guy’s usual, eggs on toast with extra bacon and arvo. Note the arvo is sliced; not smashed or shagged.
Gluten and dairy free banana bread, served with homemade honey ricotta, so not completely dairy free

There was torrential rain outside whilst we were enjoying brunch, which was slightly concerning as we were planning a few miles walk along the eastern beaches. We carried on regardless, we are British and waterproof, and we avoided too much rain.

What a stunning flower shop?

The walk was into Bondi, then along Bronte, Clovelly finally ending up at Coogee beach. It was stunning scenery even without the blue skies.

Bondi before the clouds gathered….
Swimming pool by the beach, just so the sharks don’t bite you. Health and safety gone mad!!!

We sat and watched the surfers enjoy riding the waves. 

Guys cool photos of dudes surfing

Then it was back Ness and Matt’s home for wonderful food, gin and wine!!!

Matt pouring us some of his home brew, it was actually pretty good!!!!

A pint in Matt’s local meant we were embroiled in a pub quiz which we came last, spectacularly. We blame the fact the questions were all Australian based…..Matt kept the ‘winning’ voucher.

2.4.2017 Woy Woy to Waverley

Jules celebrated her 42nd birthday by getting up and making us raisin toast and dropping us off at the station. What a fab person??? Thanks Jules ūü§£

We got the train from Woy Woy to Bondi, via Central then the bus to Waverley in about 2 hours and it cost about $3. 

We had a coffee on the way!!!

We were off to stay with my cousin (well, 2nd cousin if you are being pedantic) and his family in Waverley.  They had kindly offered us accommodation, food and a family vibe. We had a great afternoon meeting family members, being entertained by the kids, having a drink and some fantastic food cooked by Ness.  It was a fabulous evening that we really enjoyed. 

No photos taken.

1.4.2017 Hawks Nest to Woy Woy

Due to circumstances well beyond her control, the whirlwind known as Julia Caunt was unable to come up and meet us in Hawks Nest last night. She had promise to get up at sunrise and do the 2 hour journey up to Hawks Nest to see us this morning, we only just managed to get out of bed before she flew through the door.

We had a lovely morning having a cup of tea and catching up, reminiscing. 

We then had a coffee, another pie (in Guy’s case) at the bakery and a brisk, breezy and, in the end, damp walk along the beach.

We had lunch booked at the Boatshed, which was a lovely family affair with great, fresh good.

Family photo, Peter nearly smiling ūüėĀ

We then had hugs and farewells with Bette and Peter and we were driven to Woy Woy listening to film music theme tunes from the 80s and singing along to many songs we thought we had forgotten.

The evening was spent chatting with Jules and Peter, drinking fizz or beer and singing Five, Journey, Bon Jovi etc etc at loud volume. An absolute hoot!!! 

31.3.2017 Hawks Nest

After our late night we were slightly sluggish at getting up!  We breakfasted and headed out, inbetween rain showers, for a coffee at the local bakery, obviously Guy couldn’t resist an Aussie pie.

And Peter couldn’t resist a large slice of carrot cake, it was so big he shared it and saved some for lunch.

Afterwards we had a car based tour of the area in slightly less summery weather than we were expecting. Guy manfully got out the car to take photos.

We sheltered from the remains of Cyclone Debbie and stayed in the car. 

After a visit to see Gordon and Trish, Bette’s brother and sister in law and viewing their amazing collection of shells and fruit trees, we headed off to an excellent seafood shop nearby. Bette got a kilo of cooked, fresh prawns and we had them for lunch with cobs, avocado and seafood sauce.  It was hands on food and absolutely delicious, sweet and so fresh, the best prawns we have had. We may have had wine with the meal as well!!

The rain was persisting so we ventured out again to the Tea Gardens Boatshed for Peters favourite drink, a London Fog. Earl Grey tea,with frothy milk and vanilla syrup. Not for everyone but Peter and Guy loved it.

We may have had a delicous cake as well!

Gluten free chocolate and macadamia nut cake

Bette and Peter are obviously well known there as we got a sample of one of their desserts, popped onto our table, just to taste!

Strawberry compote, pistachio parfait, cake

Also on chatting to the owner, we found out he had grown up in Bloxwich, the same town as Guy’s mum, June. Small world, innit?

We then went kangaroo spotting and saw them roaming people’s gardens happy to pose for photos.

We had a lovely last evening with Bette and Peter, drinking more wine and watching some English tv and putting the world to rights!

30.3.2017 Hawks Nest – Hunter Valley

Today my wonderful godparents had arranged to take us on a tour of some vineyards in the Hunter valley. Peter drove us 234km around the vineyards and both him and Bette imparted their knowledge of the area onto us, which is considerable!

First vineyard was a new one for Bette and Peter, Adina. Beautiful setting and a cafe which we took advantage of for a coffee and dessert. Yes, I know it was 11am, but we wanted something sweet. We bought a Sangiovese 2014 which was light, long and a great summer wine. 

Waiting for dessert and coffees. Note: Cyclone Debbie not appeared….yet
Clouds gathering over Adina vineyard, Debbie is approaching

Tintilla was the next vineyard, it was a recommendation from my cousin, and it was stunning, a lovely Italian style villa, the scenery was amazing even though the aftermath of cyclone Debbie was starting up. With rain lashing down all around us we sampled a whole variety of wines and fortified wines.

Coats are out, Debbie is in full swing, and so are we….
Tintilla looking good, even in the rain

Drayton’s is a staple vineyard for Bette and Peter, they enjoy going for the food, which was excellent, and the bargain wines.  Blue smurf wine was a particular specialty, made even funnier by the dry humour of the Mackam behind the counter. We bought a butterscotch snapps infused with hot, hot chilli. This is well packaged up and will be used on unsuspecting visitors to our abode back home. Ha ha!

Lunchtime Verdelho please waiter

McGuigans is a massive international name in wine, they also make my Dad’s favourite wine. At the Cellar door we were lucky as they hosted a members day so we got to taste some very expensive wine. $180 a bottle of wine???? Tasty!!!! It bloomin should be.

As we were all still full from lunch when we got back so supper was cheese and biccies, oh, and more wine. 

What a wonderful day, I wish all Thursdays were this good…….

29.3.2017 Sydney to Hawks Nest

We are up, packed and leaving our hostel by 9am. 

Happy to be leaving this place!!

Plenty of time to get the train to Newcastle.  We stop at a cafe next to the station which is always busy when we pass, Cuckoo Callay, it has bacon, pork and anything piggy as their specialty. They also have the usual kiddy menu and the more unusual menu for doggies, puppachino anyone?

Beautiful dog (not puppy) enjoying his puppichino

For the record, they served the best bacon and eggs Guy has ever eaten.

Bacon steak and 63 degree poached egg

Sourdough raisin toast

We then had a relaxing 3 hour journey to Newcastle for $5.85, at home an unrelaxing journey to Newcastle costs $150.

Meeting up with relatives you haven’t seen for ages always gets you a little worried just before you meet up. Questions fly through your head. What if they have changed? What if I don’t recognise them at the station? And the most worrying, what if they don’t drink wine anymore? Thankfully none of these questions were a concern, Peter was waiting for us at the end of the platform wearing his usual outfit of shirt, shorts, socks and sandels with huge sunglasses, it could only be Peter, no doubt about it. We hugged and navigated our way through Broadmeadows station renovations to the car and hugged Bette, who also had not changed a bit, isn’t it wonderful how some people are so familiar yet you don’t see them for years?

Peter, with wine, smiling!!!

With the sun blazing down, we had a tour of Newcastle and the surrounding areas from the comfort of an air conditioned car, it was stunning scenery of bays, green fields, beautiful beaches, and art deco buildings. Getting out the car we were greeted with 34 degree heat and 84% humidity, crumbs.

It was time for wine, nibbles, more wine and a lot of catching up.  After a tour of the Crossley Regis we had a lovely meal of spaghetti bolognase cooked by Peter and more wine and chit chat. It was a lovely evening.