Sunday 17th February

This morning we got up early and headed off in to the city centre to have a look around The Rocks area, something that I hadn't covered last time I was here. The whole area is filled with lots of artsy little shops and stalls, including an amazing little puppet workshop tucked away in a basement. They had these really old and decrepit looking string puppets that looked really fragile and cost up to $AU 800.

The mob in Circular Quay.
The mob in circular quay

Karen must be jinxed - while we were looking around she thought something was leaking in her bag. It was. A bottle of extremely runny factor 30 was coating the contents of her bag and we spent quite a time trying to degrease everything with just a handful of McDonalds serviettes!

After The Rocks we headed off to Victoria Park in Glebe where there was a massive fair happening. It was the opening salvo in this year's now famous Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi Gras festival. It was very funny to see how Daisy and Toby reacted to seeing these 6ft 5 drag queens in bright pink dresses and enormous hairdos in the baking sun. They were completely oblivious to what it was all about - as Karen put it, it was like a cartoon to them!

We watched a bit of a drag queen contest and had a laugh at the things they set the contestants - they had to choose a 'celebrity death' from one handbag and a piece of music from another handbag. And so it was that we saw another 6-footer enacting the dying throes of Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure to the sounds of Carmen Miranda. Only when he fell over and the oversized hat and wig combo fell off revealing a very shaved head did Toby yell out "Mummy, it's a man!!"

In the evening I met Manda. Yes, that's right - she was just 'passing through', so to speak! While I was holidaying with bruv and sis and co, Manda was on holiday with her parents, on a whistle stop tour of Singapore and Hong Kong, by way of Australia.

I'd arranged to meet her at Darling Harbour, outside the hotel she was staying out. However, as had happened a fair amount with her tour (as I found out later), plans were changed and she discovered that they were to be at another hotel. Thankfully she was able to call Andy who got a message through to me on my mobile (despite setting up International Traveller Service on the phone, we've had nothing but problems getting them to work properly!)

I met Manda outside the Imax theatre then we had something to eat in Zenbu - a Japanese noodle/sushi restaurant right next to the Imax. The meal included a free massage at your table, but somehow we missed out on that.

Afterwards we took a leisurely stroll around the harbour and the shopping centre before heading back to Manda's hotel where I met her mum and dad, then it was off back to Bondi on the bus for me.

Darling Harbour at night

Darling Harbour at night