Sydney Sojourn: family, friends, love, joy

Last weekend I went back up to Sydney to visit family and friends and had a fun-filled two days. I arrived Friday night and went to meet by bestie at Quay Grand in circular quay – stunning location – to catch up on the last few months since I saw her last. A couple of friends dropped by and we never actually made it out … must be getting old but the thought of hitting the Cross in the rain after midnight not so appealing anymore!

On Saturday I met my sister to take her shopping for a birthday present at the newly opened Westfield Sydney. It was busy, shiny and new and we were not in the mood to shop so headed to Sky Phoenix for yum cha nearby. It was ok but would not recommend it – food was average, prawns tasted slightly too prawny and not a massive range of items trolleyed past.

Then we hunted down a shirt, the winning garment found at Country Road, for our younger brother who is going to a school formal soon. We met up with one of my sister’s friends for a Devonshire tea followed by hot chocolate made with peppermint tea (sounds strange, but it works!) at a charming place in the city called The Tea Centre. It’s adorable and has all things tea – a must visit and the scones were perfect.

I headed home and was picked up from by my brother on his L plates and our mum who was caught between joy to see me and nerves from my brother’s Learner driving. Settled in for a lamb roast with the whole family; such a treasured rarity these days to have everyone together.

Sunday morning I took another bestie C and my god-daughter to Bondi Junction Westfield to shop for my god-daughter’s birthday present. I’m the kind of fairy god-mother who like to encourage ‘educational’ gifts over useless plastic toys… yes, I am THAT person! We headed to Borders and in the kids section Miss C found a kit to make giant bubbles. God-mother approved… I wish I had more time to stay and make them with her!

Headed home to pick up siblings for attempt at yum cha number two for the weekend. We went to a tried, tested and loved place in Kogarah where we indulged like only my family can! Sister went to work and brother went home to study for uni exams so I headed out for a pedicure.

Arrived home and packed up to head back to Melbourne but not before heading out with a friend for an early dinner. Friend picked me up then we swapped car for motorbike and whisked away to Doyles for a lobster mornay. Next stop, Sydney airport and back on-board.

A packed weekend full of family, friends, love, joy and all the things I hold nearest and dearest.

Up north at Brunswick Heads with the Lee family

I spent a gorgeous four days up the NSW north coast with my family to catch up with mum’s side of the family for our Christmas celebration. Stayed at a charming place called Brunswick Heads which I highly recommend. Cute little town with enough to keep you busy for a few days and only about half an hour drive from Byron Bay.

We stayed in a great big holiday house facing the river on one side and the ocean on the other. Ideal really. Had a laugh pumping for nippers and then using them for bait to not catch fish. Although Mum caught some decent dinner size bream after I’d left. Had a plunge in the surf and visited the Brunswick markets which come round once a month. The frozen mango coated in chocolate is better than any packet dessert and the active honey is addictive.

If you do get along be sure to dine at Rice – it’s Indonesian and is stunning. The chef is genius and blends and balances the flavours of the fresh ingredients to perfection. The Bruns (as locals call it) pub is also a winner. Everything you need is in the one block of shops, services, cafes and restaurants.

I did leave a little piece of Melbourne there too – my cousin is 10 and loves the Melbourne Storm even though he has never been to Melbourne or has no real reason to feel emotional about them. Funny little misguided boy but he is emotional about them nonetheless so I took him a cap from the Storm shop in Richmond (VIC). Definitely worth his massive grin and remark “Is this from the real Storm shop? Wow! I’m glad I didn’t get one from the markets.” Bless.

Appreciating the differences

I went back to Sydney on the weekend for a wedding and the trip really made me appreciate the differences between Sydney and Melbourne. The old Sydney versus Melbourne debate is a farce and not something I support or weigh in to because the cities are just too different to compare in a ‘which do you like better’ poll.

There are a few ways of describing the differences between the cities. I have been using the Sydney as bling, Melbourne as classic style simile for a while which was only highlighted during my trip back to Sydney. But one of the funniest I have heard came from someone who was perhaps from Sydney. It goes like this:

Melbourne is Sydney’s uglier sister who has had to develop a better personality than Sydney.

I don’t know about the ‘uglier sister’ part of the analogy but I do think Melbourne has a warmer, more welcoming personality than Sydney where everything is shiny and showy and just a little bit tacky in some places.

No matter how many pros and cons there are, I will always have a special place for both cities in my heart. There will always be a little more something special for Sydney but only because it has the advantage of being the place where I have grown up and where my family is. There is nothing better than family. Perhaps I can get them to move down here….

My family