Going home

Friday 10 to Sunday 12 March 2023


Anita had kindly arranged for me to be picked up at 11 by driver Sharon. We had a smooth journey into Sydney and Sharon dropped me at my hotel around 12:30. My room be ready on arrival as requested so I could drop my luggage and enjoy my last full day in Sydney.

I walked down to Circular Quay, had some lunch and took the ferry to Bangaroo. I walked around for a while, then indulged in a coffee and Australian honey and seasalt doughnut while I was there. Yum!

I decided to take a taxi to the Queen Victoria Building, (or QVB as it is known) which Sharon had mentioned to me. It was indeed worth visiting, for the gorgeous building as well as the eateries and shops inside.

After that I walked around the area, got some snacks then returned to my hotel.

Beautiful floral arrangement in the hotel lobby

It’s a 5* hotel in the Central Business District, with over 400 rooms and 4 lifts.

I stayed there 6 nights in all and for the whole time there were long waits for the lifts, which often seemed to have a mind of their own. I heard lots of people complaining about them.

When I got in the lift that evening it wouldn’t register floor 16 which is where my room was. Some other people got out at floor 5, then it continued up, stopping with a jolt and wouldn’t move any further. It was 16:50.

I ended up trapped in there for over 90 minutes!

I tried various buttons with no success, then used the emergency one to call for help.

The call went straight through to the lift company and it took 2 calls and a wait that seemed like forever to speak to Henry. He took details, asked me to try different buttons and when that did not do the magic said it would take about 40 mins for a technician to arrive.

Shortly afterwards Charlotte, the duty manager, spoke to me through the lift doors, asked for my phone number and called me. She apologised profusely and said the technicians usually came quickly. That was reassuring.

She said she could see me on CCTV and asked if there was anything she could do. It was nice to be asked but realistically there was nothing apart from to get out of there! I told her how shockingly bad the lifts have been while I’ve been staying at the hotel.

35 mins after the lift had stopped, Charlotte called again to say the lift engineer had arrived and was currently working to resolve the situation. By now it was very hot in there 🥵

A few more jolts later the indicator said floor 17. The doors were trying to open – unsuccessfully! The inside doors opened first, then both sets opened. The lift was between floors. Great to see the technician, but how to get out?

View when the inside doors opened

He asked if I could climb out, which was impossible for me without steps or a ladder. So the guy said it would be another 10 mins!

At 18:20 I finally got out with help of 2 lift engineers and a pair of steps. What a relief!

My friend Karen happened to message me to wish me a good journey home. I was very pleased to have the support of someone I know while I was trapped in the lift!

After I got back to my room, Charlotte called to ask if I was OK and offered me a free meal or bottle of wine. I said I’d already eaten and did not want wine as I was leaving the next day. I suggested she refund breakfast, which she was happy to do. I also asked her for the email address of the general manager to make a complaint. He’s emailed me already.

Quite an eventful evening!


I enjoyed my free breakfast! However, the long waits for the lifts continued and I was reluctant to go in them (especially the one I had been trapped in!) but with a room on Floor 16 needs must.

When I checked out I received an in person apology from the duty manager (not Charlotte) who said ‘it wasn’t deliberate…’! What a strange thing to say…!

I left my luggage with the concierge and spent my last few hours in Sydney at the Royal Botanic Garden. It was a beautiful day and 27C.

I enjoyed it so much I lost my bearings and only just got back to the hotel in time for the taxi I had ordered to the airport.

Duty free kangaroo and joey

After checking in I had lunch in the Qantas lounge before boarding the plane for the first leg to Singapore.

It was a through flight with the stop at Singapore for cleaning and crew change for less than 2 hours. It was a long walk to the lounge and back during which I had a what’s app conversation with Zoë.

Take off was delayed by one hour and we got on our way.

Despite the comfort of Business Class, which was worth every penny, I got very little sleep. I watched a couple of films – Elvis, and an excellent Aussie film with Kate Winslet called The Dressmaker.


After landing there were huge queues at passport control and the ladies loos, but my luggage was waiting and had already been taken off the carousel. And my taxi home was waiting. Yet more queues for the lifts in the car park and at the exit, but I was home by 9:30am.

These tulips were waiting for me at home from my neighbour Biz.

And these arrived from Zoë later in the morning.

Lucky me! It’s good to be home!

Avoca Beach – Part 2

Wednesday 8 to Thursday March 2023


Anita had booked tickets for today for a trip on The Riverboat Postman, on the Hawkesbury River. We drove to Brooklyn, about an hour from Avoca, to catch the boat. When we arrived at 9:30 it was already very hot. A perfect day for a river cruise!

The three hour trip offers the opportunity to look at the Hawkesbury River and some of its more isolated outposts as it doubles up as a post boat, delivering post and packages on behalf of Australia Post.

The delivery route covers about 40km of the lower Hawkesbury River. We travelled upriver as far as Marlow Creek, stops include Dangar Island, Kangaroo Point, Milsom Island and Bar Point on the way up and Fisherman’s Point and Milsoms Passage on the way back.

This is the last remaining mail boat in operation in Australia.

On arrival we were shown to a table inside on the lower deck and had tea and an Anzac Biscuit, homemade daily to Grandma’s recipe!

First delivery and collection
Oyster (or prawn?) boat
Area of landslide on one of the islands

On the way back after the boat trip we stopped at Saddles at Mount White, a lovely restaurant with gorgeous gardens.

Saddles for seats at the bar

We were offered a complimentary glass of Prosecco to celebrate International Women’s Day, to have with our cakes. Anita’s choice was a lamington and mine was a coconut & almond meringue with passion fruit cream. Yum! It was a great choice!

Flowering gum

Our next stop was Bunnings garden centre in Gosford as I was interested to see the plants on sale. I was surprised to see that a high proportion of plants were familiar and can be found in garden centres in the UK.

Our final stop was at the Gosford/Edogawa Commemorative Japanese garden in Gosford. What a tranquil and beautiful place it is.


We watched more Clarkson’s Farm 2 in the evening.

29C here. This photo of home was sent to me today! It’s going to be quite a temperature difference when I get back!


Anita has a regular get together on Thursday morning for tennis and coffee with a number of her friends. So our first stop of the day was to meet the tennis girls for coffee. They were all so friendly.

Afterwards we went to Ettalong Bay on Brisbane Water, where there was a fantastic view of the North Head and the mouth of the Hawkesbury River.

We visited Umina Beach
Barrenjoey Lighthouse is (just about) visible on North Head and Lion Island

We drove to Pearl Beach and then on to Patonga to see the creek and beach.

A swag – tent and sleeping bag combined, in use at the Patonga campsite on the creek

Lunch of mussels for Anita and a delicious spicy pepperoni pizza for me at the Patonga Boat House Restaurant, sitting outside enjoying the view over the water.


Then into Woy Woy and back along coast.

Last view of Avoca Beach

We watched the final episode of Clarkson’s Farm 2. We’re both looking forward to Series 3 now!

This was our last day together as Anita leaves for Temora early in the morning to look after two of her grandchildren, while I head to Sydney ready for my return to London on Saturday.

Avoca Beach – Part 1

Monday 6 to Tuesday 7 March 2023


A FaceTime chat with Zoë and Tim was a lovely way to start the day 😊

Then I sat in bed with a cup of tea and enjoyed listening to the bird song – very exotic compared to that in the UK!

View from Anita’s balcony

After breakfast we set out to explore some of the Central Coast.

The Central Coast of New South Wales lies on the Pacific Ocean north of Sydney. Avoca Beach is known for its beach and surfing. A saltwater lake, Brisbane Water, lies behind the coast and feeds into the ocean.

We headed south and our first stop was the Captain Cook Lookout for beautiful views of the ocean.

Copy of entry to Captain Cook’s ship’s log

Then on to Copacabana Beach and MacMasters Beach.

Marie Byles Lookout at Killcare, looking over towards Sydney

We stopped for lunch at Hardy’s Bay on Brisbane Water. It was 39C.

Thirsty bird!
Brisbane Water at Hardy’s Bay

We visited the Erina Fair Shopping Centre before returning to Anita’s house.

In the evening we watched several episodes of Clarkson’s Farm 2, which was fun.

I’m loving the opportunity to explore this beautiful area.


Today we went north on the Central Coast. We drove to Terrigal, walked along the boardwalk and had a coffee in a waterfront cafe.

Then on to Bateau Bay in the Wyrrabalong National Park.

We passed The Entrance, Tuggerah Lake and carried on to Norah Head lighthouse….

… and down the steps to the rocky beach.

After lunch nearby we drove back to Avoca.

In the late afternoon we went to the Avoca Beach Theatre to watch the film Women Talking, which we both found very thought provoking.

We had a choc top icecream before watching the film. Rum & raisin for me this time.

Pre-cinema icecream with rabbit looking on

We went for dinner at the Avoca Surf Life Saving Club, then back to watch two more episodes of Clarkson’s Farm 2.

Avoca Beach at sundown

This area is really stunning. Another lovely day!