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Last tango in Sydney

December 10, 2012

As we walked past the Vintage Cafe in Sydney on our way down to Circular Quay for breakfast, I was reminded that the night before, when we had eaten there, that Nice Lady Decorator has made use of the staff facilities whilst looking for the toilet. She had greeted the chef and a couple of startled kitchen hands on the way to the staff loo. This only came to light after I went in search of the facilities and was promptly ejected by the scruff of my neck from the kitchens for following her directions. The public toilets were on the right in a different block. An overcast start to the last full day in Sydney started with breakfast on the Quay, under the shadow of Sydney Harbour Bridge and within sight of the Opera House. A hop-on hop-off ferry took us back to Watson’s Bay where Doyle’s famous fish restaurant is located and which is pictured today. It was recently sold for Auz$30 million (you should check what that is in sterling by checking the Currencies Direct exchange rates today)  and has been established for 127 years. It is arguably the most famous restaurant in Australia but with weather more suited to Scarborough than Sydney we decided to head to Darling Harbour so that I can report back to my style guru, Mr Humphries, when he is free, about its relative merits.


Doyle’s restaurant on the beach at Watson Bay in Sydney

Largely a tourist trap, it still exuded a certain charm which was magnified by the application of a large Bloody Mary.  John “Chuckle Brothers” Surtees remained with a coffee and spent twenty minutes chuntering on, in true Yorkshire style, about why, when it was his round, the most expensive drinks were ordered. I did not have the heart to tell him it was deliberate. I am not saying he is mean, he is just from Yorkshire and it comes with the territory. If he just took the good with the bad he would be better off. As it is, we were all better off but with the added bonus that we  extracted extra amusement at his discomfiture. The tourist route was followed by some; we did the monorail tour but some Yorkshire chaps backed out. Perhaps it was the $5 charge. A brief siesta and them it was fine for our final (probably) rendezvous of the trip, a last drink with Larry Smith, Australian renegade from Cannes, at where else? The Australian Hotel, about 100 metres from the Shangri La, where we are staying for one more night. 5.30 is a little early to start, but needs must when the devil drives, and alcohol can be a devil, but as Peachy Butterfield would say “what could possibly go wrong?”. So, a chapter closes and this evening we will be London bound courtesy of a business class seat with Emirates. After the last debacle in Australia, where I purchased a British Airways economy class ticket and relied on my various BA pilot chums for an upgrade, I decided to take the risk out of it, and on the point of bankruptcy due to the extravagant cost of this trip, to take the bull by the horns and get a bed for the long trip home. It will be an austere Christmas chez the France’s. It may be impossible to post tomorrows episode on time as I shall be in the middle of a 24 hour flight back to blighty, but rest assured, if it possible to post then I shall. The 1000th column is coming up this month, so be prepared for an outbreak of self adulation.

Chris France


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