One of the trips we had planned while in Sydney was a jaunt up to the Blue Mountains. Andy had said we could take Winnie and either find a lodge in the 'mountains' or just sleep in the van. This week we were going to take him up on the offer, but after the weekend's Olympic activites, we decided to have an easy day today.
We did our usual bus-train-ferry thing, but this time the ferry was to take us out east from Circular Quay and then take the 40 minute trip to the North head, ending at Manly Cove. Manly has perhaps the second best known beach in Sydney after Bondi, and it also hosts a great jazz festival (which was on while we visited). It's also got one of the grottiest shopping precincts going known as The Corso.
The Corso joins the Cove with the beach itself. It could be so good, all that passing trade, but it's absolutely full of bargain shops (it's the old Poundland thing again). The best thing you can do if you visit Manly is to breeze straight throught the Corso and get straight to where you want to be - the beach.
The beach here is longer than any of those we had already visited on the southern head (Bondi, Tamarama, Coogee etc) and the fact that it is so open means that swimming here is a tad easier. Surfers certainly won't be as interested in Manly, this is for sure. I swam while Manda sat in the shade and read her book. And I swam and swam. When I returned to shore, it was 40 minutes after I entered the water, so Manda knew, at least, that I hadn't been taken by a great white.
This was a lazy day, and so this is a short diary entry (well, by my measures!). The day came and went, was pushed aside by evening and the obligatory meal on Campbell Parade. But not all was done for the day - I had to test drive Winnie, as tomorrow was to be the day we headed off to the Blue Mountains. I was nervous about this, because of course I did not know the roads, and the old camper van is not the most responsive vehicle, nor is it particularly quick off the mark at traffic lights. Conversely, the drivers in Sydney are quite pushy, and quick to change their minds. The two were at odds. But to get out of the city, I would have to drive through the city and deal with its power steering-enabled driving population ...
I took Winnie around the block and on to a busy-ish road to get the feel of her (I couldn't refer to Winnie as an 'it' now - this van had character). The gears were tricky, the handbreak required a hefty pull and the steering was challenging, but this was nothing compared to the exit/entrance to the garage underneath the flat. To get to this required a drive around a bend that I would normally take it easy with a Mini Metro, let alone this clunky old beast. Oh, and once you're around the bend, there's the tree and the bins to avoid before lining up for the garage itself. If I didn't get it right now, I'd have problems tomorrow when Andy would not be at hand to help!