As usual, we left past the advertised time for departure but it mattered very little.
Owing to Sue's repairing back, we drove in one hour lots and then stopped for twenty minutes so she could walk and do her exrecises. Our first stop was at Burning Mountain, not far from the small town of Wingen, named using an aboriginal word which meant fire. Burning Mountain is pleasant enough little rest stop which provides shelters and toilets and a walking track to the top of the mountain. The mountain gets its named for the sulphur deposits which are below the surface and seep out through several vents at the summit, giving the appearance of smoke.
The next stop was lunch at Singleton at the lovely rest stop on the Maitland side of the town, in which a modern information centre is located. We enjoyed a free cuppa from the Driver Reviver before moving on in 37C heat. At Branxton, we took the short cut through Cessnock to the F3 until our third stop at "The Twins" - the Caltex service stations not far from the Warnervale interchange. It was wall to wall people so we made the stop a quick one and rejoined the growing gaggle of cars on the F3.
The remaining 90 kms of the trip were a lot smoother than we expected and apart from missing our turn onto Moore Park Rd, we found our digs with relative comfort. The next hour was spent settling in and carrying everything up the three flights of stairs to our unit. We have clearly lucked in with both its position and what it offers, including pool, spa and sauna! When I recovered my breath, the three of us (Chris, Sue and myself) drove on to Bondi for some shopping.
There was drizzle outside and 85% humidity. It was 7:30 on any other Sydney Sunday night and in Bondi Junction my wife was doing a quick shop for food for our first three days - a quick shop which started a bit after six. She waved encouragement from behind the checkouts about ten minutes ago and then disappeared and I'm wondering if aliens perform abductions in Coles and if so, where would I find find a pizza joint. Not my real hunger anyway.
Its not just any Sydney Sunday night because five minutes down Oxford St into Moore Park Road my digs at the Paddington Barracks are waiting to try and console me into sleep because tomorrow isn't just any Sydney Monday morning. Tomorrow, Australia has its last chance to recover pride and respect lost completely to a rampant mob from England. Even their spectators have outperformed us.
Where I'll sleep tonight, British soldiers once marched and polished and paraded and "yes sirred" and earned only two rewards - a small quoter of rum each day and some time off to wander down to the cricket which was being played at their recreation ground only 300m away. They would sit around the Paddington end of the ground and would yell loud encouragement to the cricketers there and often offered disparaging comments to the "colonials" who were attempting to play their game. They became known as the barrackers and so a term was born which has found its way to sporting events world wide.
Its raining slowly now and might do so through offs and ons for the next twelve hours but I'll not provide the weather with the satisfaction of altering my anticipation.
Despite new blood, a new captain and new expectations from a result starved Australian public, nothing but an English victory seems likely.
Now, if I can only get to sleep. After all, I have that long 300m trek to make in the morning among the ghosts of the barackers and then the Barmy Army to great me on the concourse.
No, not just another Sydney Monday.