Journal: 12 January 1999

Back from a brief holiday - and some more cricket.

After New Year in West Wyalong with Katie's mum, we set off for the final Test Match in Sydney. The first day's play was spectacular: 320 runs, 10 wickets, a Gough hat-trick, big innings from both Waugh's. We were guests of the Australian Cricket Board, along with lots of English Cricket Board members - and John Howard (very relaxed, and buoyed by news of his son's exam results) and Jackie Kelly the new Minister for Sport.

We were still buzzing when we caught a bus from the SCG to the Opera House for the opening night of the Sydney Festival. The bus was full of the Barmy Army in equally good spirits - but in a pleasant rather than an obnoxious way. They are getting quite a good write-up in Australia, partly from relief that they're not the soccer hooligans that some were expecting.

The opening event of the Festival was Belshazzar's Feast with the London Symphony Chorus - and the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, with Katie's niece Sarah singing - we tried not to be too obvious waving from the VIP box! The performance was great, especially the singing. Lady Walton (Sir William's widow) had come over from Italy where she lives - she and Katie discovered a common love of gardens.

Then on to the opening night party, in the passenger terminal opposite - a lovely walk round Circular Quay with the Opera House lit in red, the theme of the Festival. The party was loud and boisterous, with lots of people we knew.

Back to the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday via breakfast at Bondi. A more dour day on the field, with England struggling with the bat. Then a couple of days at work in Canberra, catching up after the Christmas and New Year break.

We'd decided to have a couple days on the beach after all this travelling. So we invited ourselves to stay with various friends in Pittwater and Palm Beach, just north of Sydney. First at Towler's Bay, which can only be reached by boat. So we parked the car and rang up our host, who came across in his run-about to collect Holly while Katie paddled her surf-ski and I wind-surfed across. We both got rather sunburnt - the weather was around 30 degrees, which made it great to be by the water. That evening we sailed in a very informal race on Pittwater, marred by me putting a hole in the Commodore's boat. Oops. Some drinks afterwards to recover left Katie and me in good form to play and sing at the barbecue - Katie had had a wonderful mandolin made for my Christmas and birthday presents.

Back across the water the next day and a couple of days in Palm Beach with friends not doing very much except mucking around in and on the water, then back to Canberra via a night at Katie's aunt and uncle at Newport Beach. I feel fit and relaxed for work - except that this is holiday time in Australia so things are pretty quiet! 

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