Sydney for EASTER or VIVID –

If you are travelling to Sydney read on..image

I always book a Silver Service cab to take me to the Sydney airport from wherever I am. They are reliable, an excellent service. However they are more difficult to locate on arrival in Sydney so I usually take pot luck with a taxi off the ramp or better still take the train to the city then find a cab…much cheaper.
On arrival I had pre -booked  Corporate Cabs Australia and they didn’t turn up!!

I’ve blogged about Sydney several times, check out this blog for day trip ideas and other tips.

Cafes, there are hundreds to choose from and some are doing very innovative food creations.

Menu items that caught my attention in Sydney this week were:
At my local Clovelly cafe The Top Hat I spied these:

Toast with sour cherry, fresh figs, ricotta and honey served on sour cherry toast.

Cold Drip Japanese filter coffee served on ice

Iced Chai
Affogato Expresso served with scoop of ice cream; Yes we have affogato on menus too, desert menus but this was on their drinks menu-
You could easily swap the Sour cherry toast for raisin bread I think!


Lot 19 Cafe in Elizabeth Bay –
Poached eggs in clay on ratatouille with grana Padang and dipping toast
The Horny Bunny – Apple carrot ginger and celery.

I only had coffee and that was excellent and the folk were friendly.

Fratelli Paradiso

A fabulous small Italian restaurant serving fresh cuisine, menu sample here.
Calamari Sant’ Andrea
squid fried, rocket, balsamic  22
tuna ‘tonnato’  23
heirloom, figs 24
prawns, clams, cuttlefish, bottarga 29
I headed to the historic old Art Noveau Ritz Theatre in Randwick – interesting one car park building but no vacancies – not good for business and the street parking was only 1 hour! Anyway I enjoyed the movie; The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. A great $9.00 worth- I thought Maggie Smith brilliant, I’d expect nothing less. The story is one most of us would rather not face – about being old and dealing with the elderly!
Re the theatre, it was built in 1937, it is an example of the art deco cinema architecture that found a home in Australia during the 1920s and 1930’s and has 5-6 theatres. It seems to have lost much of its elegance and style which is rather sad but it does run the best art movies.IMG_3612IMG_3609


The Opera Houseimage
I parked underneath in the enormous car park. They validate your ticket if you attend a show, parking was only $19.00 for 2 hours. So always ask. Sometimes there is a seal basking on the steps – a local resident so watch for him ( or her!)  One of Sydney’s top restaurants is in the Opera House complex. Treat your self before or after the theatre Reservations suggested.
Lunch (Friday – Sunday 12:00pm – 2:00pm): 2 courses $100, 3 courses $130
Dinner (Monday – Sunday 6:30pm – 10:00pm): 3 courses à la carte menu $130

Another fun place to visit is The Grounds at Alexandria. A great selection of eateries  and a few animals to amuse the children. Look out for Kevin Bacon!


Bus tickets sometimes cannot be purchased on board the buses, so buy an Opal card at a diary and put ten or twenty dollars on it, no expiry date. Efficient way to get in and out of the city. Parking in the city can easily be $50.00 for two hours!!

So this is just a few brief comments on our nearest getaway, Australia.. Air fares are cheaper than ever and Sydney has sooo much on offer. Watch for VIVID in May and June. The sails of Sydney Opera House will be lit with works by Indigenous artists for the first time this year for the Vivid Sydney festival from May 27 to June 18.

To photograph Vivid watch this video. and impress your friends with amazing images.

The shopping is amazing, remember to claim your tax back as you depart Sydney airport. Westfield in the city Level 4 has 3-4 fantastic women’s shoe stores, trust me I know!! There food hall is excellent, yes they have a  Michelin Chinese eatery there. Din Tai Fung Restaurant… I love it. 188 Pitt Street | Shop 504, Level 5.

An Aussie  funny to wind up with. 

”  We live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the local council   P & W office to request the removal of the WOMBAT CROSSING sign on our road.
The reason: ‘Too many wombats are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.”
True Story from Australia.


LMC-9323People doing what people do – at a Sydney family bar…The Pavilion in Clovelly.

Being away from my normal surroundings for 5 of the last 7 weeks  has been an interesting time in many positive ways.

I observed a lot of different age groups, cultures and behaviour. I came across snippets that amused me and moments of pure joy. I watched less television and met many new people. I watched the movie Frozen more than once and had to admire creepy crawlies and other strange and precious objects according to an 8-year-old boy! I made Leggo towers and dressed dolls and people say ‘what did you do on your holiday’!!

I had fun watching another generation learning, living and loving as many my age do.


We all have sweet memories of children playing in shopping bags.

My grand-daughter aged 2 1/2 gave me pure love, no questions asked. My oldest grandchild at 8 1/2 ( yes half years are very important) also gave me unreserved love, but in a different way to the toddler. These are precious times and I know in a few years this will all change. I spoke to the mother of a 15 year old daughter( almost 16 she kept reminding everyone). She prefers her friends company than her Mum’s. Her Mum understands this but never the less it is a profound change in allegiance. Mothers ( and fathers) do everything for a child from birth and in a blink of an eye the roles are reversed.  My boys are middle-aged business men, husbands, fathers, career people with mortgages and families. Men who still care about their mother and actually talk with their mother? They ask how I’m doing and feeling. I can start to see the beginning of the role reversal. Scary from my point of view… but it is the natural order of life and one cannot fight it.  One must be grateful and enjoy the moments. We see life being snatched away from family and friends, we don’t know when our number will come up. But we do know it will come up. So savour the moments my friends, make peace with your family and friends, forgive those who have hurt you and move on. “Make each day count” is a real concept, not a dream.


I watched my daughter in law organise her 3 children, coping with a husband that travels a lot, not an uncommon lifestyle. She organises the summer holiday activities, the family outings, the ball games, the summer camps, the food, the shopping and so much more. I was total impressed that she has help to do the never-ending food shopping, how sensible is that, after all it’s a thankless task and one that is difficult to do with 3 children in tow, and every week the food needs replenishing. I thought why didn’t we do that when we were young Mums’ !  At least order groceries on-line to be delivered. Such a time-saving concept.


Simple healthy eating.


My other daughter in law has meals delivered every Monday. They come with the recipes and they take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, many take much less. Well balanced, fun food. The herbs and spices arrive measure out, the vegetables, the vacuum packed meat or fish and a selection of fresh fruit. A wonderful time-saving concept for working parents. I totally get why mothers shop online. The American ‘on line’ catalogues are awesome and it is so much easier than carting kids around shops. Many shops do not even have seats or what I call book corners for kids, they certainly don’t encourage you to bring your children shopping. I think they miss out big time. My grand children will sit and read or play on their Mums’ phone quite happily for 10 minutes or longer. Especially when screen time is a treat for them not away of life! Retailers complain about ‘on line’ shopping but they need to look at the experience they are offering. One of my gripes is changing rooms to try on clothes that have no chairs, no shelves and no mirrors in the cubicle! These shops don’t deserve customers!

If you wonder what to buy your adult children for  presents, there are many  great ideas, think outside the square.  A contribution to food deliveries or I also like the idea of museum annual memberships or zoo passes. All great family gifts. Tickets to musicals, cultural events and so forth. After all most children have more than enough toys.  Another great gift is the annual photographic sitting with a local professional photographer. Every one takes snaps of their children these days, mostly on their iPhones and they are good. But professional photos have that “extra” something. iPhone photos get lost in cyber space. Seriously family photo session every year or two at least  gives  treasured memories for years. As grandparents you will appreciate these photos to look back on them as the twilight years come along.$200.00 goes a long way. ( I personally do free sittings regularly)

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This photo will keep that family smiling for years.

I heard some young Australians talking about a party they attended and they kept talking about the “Mossman Housewives”..sounded like a TV  sitcom. Perhaps it should be. I asked what was meant by this and was told that these women were fortyish and sat around waiting for the party to happen..rather than being the party that happened.!! They were mothers and career women who were probably dead beat tired on a Friday night, they had organised a sitter, worked all week, and suddenly had a chance to sit down!! I kind of felt sorry for the Mossman Housewives! I recall those years only too well

Family holidays are a great concept too, especially for spread out families; a week together on neutral territory every 2 years becomes a special and integral part of life. The memories are ongoing and the relationships strengthened. My family live in 3 countries so meeting up somewhere makes huge sense. Hawaii here we come!!

During my adventures I had the pleasure of going whale watching in Sydney. Within 20 minutes from Circular Quay you are out on the water beyond the heads in whale territory. Money back if you don’t see whales ! Between June and late August 20,000 Humpback whales pass Sydney migrating north to the tropical northern waters where they calve, then they return to the cooler Antarctica waters for our summers. This year 122 Humpbacks have been seen passing in the last few weeks through the Cook Straight in New Zealand so numbers are definitely increasing.These animals have a natural curiosity and often when they see a boat they pop their heads up and say hello. They are massive and yet so gentle, they make amazing snorting /calling noises to each other and seem quite playful.  When they breach they are like a missile rising above the water surface to crash down again. On this last trip they were inter acting with a large pod of dolphins. This is nature at its best and so easy to get out and enjoy. Reservations advisable at Sydney Whale Watching.LMC-9311-Edit-Edit

You can see the Manly high-rise in the distance and Maquarie Light at the Gap.

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Note the whale appears to be chasing the dolphin.


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The best dumplings in Sydney.

Sydney CBD has so many people and at lunch times the streets are crowded, the Pitt Street Mall is crowded and the entertainment is wonderful. I look at the Britomart or Queen Street in Auckland and the lunch time crowds are really  small. Sydney is so buzzy…maybe NZ  needs a few more thousand people. I know there are no houses to live in but surely more people would create more of everything including houses. There are eateries everywhere and the Westfield Mall in the Sydney CBD has the most amazing food hall called Food on Five.  Din Tai Fung is a chain of eateries and claims a Michelin Star.Our food halls are  absolutely awful, as is the food and the atmosphere and most of us don’t go near them. Why can’t we have a food hall styled on Westfield in the Sydney CBD?? Come on Westfield you treat us like poor cousins on this side of The Tasman!! Let’s change the culture and create something special, we might even support you. I would.


Pitt Street Mall, Sydney foto from

I’m delighted to observe that passing through International Customs in NZ, Australia and the U.S.A. has improved out of sight in recent times. Traveling has become far more enjoyable and affordable. Airport lounges are now available to most people for a small cost, ask about day passes etc. The Emperer Lounge in Auckland is one such lounge.  If they can sort the air quality on planes I will be really happy!

I wrote a blog about packing recently and I must say reading my own blog did help me on this past trip… So My packing is improving! I could have done with a woolly hat and gloves in Sydney but it was colder than it has been in 50 years! One can’t pack for every possibility.

I’m quite looking forward to returning home, I miss my friends, but I know I will miss my family sooo much after spending so much time with them.I’m writing this at 30,000 feet as we commence our descent into Auckland.


Home to roost at the end of the day, and I’m home for a month or two as well.

Welcome home Kiwigran 😍😍