Archives for posts with tag: Sydney

I’m standing on the old Edo trade route, or Kisoji, on the way to Tsumago. Gill is shrieking at me, her face a mask of horror. This is our second day in Japan, after leaving Sydney, and we are walking the lovely old road from Magome. The weather is beautiful – immediately after the chilly autumn of Australia, we have flown straight into the late spring of Japan, where, here in the mountains, the cherry blossom is heavy on the trees.

I was apprehensive about the Japanese part of the journey – and the autumnal Sydney day had a back-to-school feel. But I had an email from someone called Owen, apparently from Lewes, who’d seen my blog on VivaLewes, and is currently living in Sydney. In fact, coming to King Street in ten minutes! We met in the street, and of course, I know his father. He knows our son. A small world, indeed. He told us about his life in Sydney, learning to be a baker, fruit-picking in Orange, living eco-consciously, and enjoying life. A very impressive young man.

The only drawback about this Kisoji trail seems to be the bears. It’s easy walking, the signs are very explicit, parts of it are even paved. But every kilometre or so through the woods, there’s a brass bell hanging, with a sign that tells you ‘Ring the bell hard Against the bears’ (sic). There are black bears roaming the woods and we really don’t want an encounter. So we ring them really hard and hurry on to the next bell.

So – Gill is yelling my name at me while I’m thinking about the bears, but I’m on a wide paved bit of the path, and I can’t think what the matter is, until I see her pointing at my feet, and I suddenly get the dread realisation that I am, in fact, standing on a five-foot long green snake. And I do a sort of strangled gulping scream of my own and a sort of shuddering, scissor-kick little jump sideways – and the snake slithers off into the ditch. On the Kisoji there are also well-appointed toilets from time to time; and yes, they have heated seats.

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In Sydney’s Botanical Gardens there’s a perfect rainbow over a tree full of sleeping fruit-bats. I can’t help myself – I clap my hands, and their furry foxy heads jerk out of their hanging bag-shapes, indignant at being woken. They squabble a bit, then tuck themselves back into their sleeping-bags.

We get to to the Art Gallery just as it’s closing, so we walk on down MacQuarie Street, and turn into Alfred Street – and there, set up in front of the Customs House with its royal coat-of-arms, is a big TV screen, beaming images of the beginnings of the Wedding Of The Century, intercut with interview footage of the Happy Couple, to the throng. There’s an enclosure set up in the square, with several bars, and seats, and hotdogs. There are three TV networks, cameramen and technicians, and at least three nicely-coiffed blonde presenters in very high heels, getting ready to do their pieces to camera. Lights, cameras, and, any minute, action. A big fruit-bat flaps by, over the screen.

A young woman in an attempt at a naval officer’s uniform, topped by a grim rubber ‘Prince Charles’ mask, is strolling around, chatting to the TV people, and there’s a stall promoting gay marriage. We’re transfixed by this scene, and watch for rather too long; a crowd of after-office-hours drinkers are watching from the bar under the Customs House portico. Eventually we stamp off, scornful, and go back to Newtown, where we watch the Wedding on Neil’s TV. I’m allowed to make comments only on the proviso that they are funny. None of them are. We switch over to a programme about Stalin.