Ciarán & Elaine's Travelog

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February in Sydney

I always love February because it's such a short month, and before you know it it's March and St Patricks day, and sure after that it's nearly summer! This February has been no exception, the time is flying by. I'm working 3 days a week and that's really making the weeks quicker too.... At times the weather in February hasn't been the great with some people saying that it's some of the worst weather they've had in 10 years (something to do with El Nino), but even so there were weeks of unadulterated sunshine! Anyway, no matter what the Ozzies say we're still finding it hot enough, especially when we hear reports of snow at home!!

The main event in February was a weekend trip to the Hunter Valley. The Hunter Valley is a wine producing region about 3 hours north of Sydney. We rented a big holiday home out in the middle of the countryside and 14 of us headed up there on Friday evening for what proved to be a fun filled weekend!

The fun and games began as we tried to drive out of the city, it's a bloody big city but we didn't even make it out of Bondi without taking a wrong turn! Not to worry, once we were on the road, we put the greatest hits of the 80's on, opened a beer (not the driver naturally!) and sang our way to the Hunter. Who knew Spandau Ballet were so cool!!!

We were in two people carrier cars and when we arrived at the house the others were already there. As it was out in the middle of the countryside we thought it would be funny to creep up and scare them so we parked the car down the road and started creeping towards the house. We might've frightened them except for Ciaran falling over a fence half way up the driveway, alerting them and giving us laugh too.

Later that night we held a mini Olympics (where Ciaran managed to fall again in the middle of a crucial relay race!) followed by a yummy bbq.

After not a lot of sleep it was time to head off on our tour of the Hunter Valley vineyards. The tour bus brought us to about 5 different vineyards, a chocolate shop and a cheese shop. It was a roasting hot day and everyone was in great form.

When we got back to the house there was a big huntsman spider and a big goanna sitting on our patio waiting for us - yuck! We cooked up a big huge bbq which felt more like a banquet with the amount of food we had!

Later on we were all sitting out on the patio. Paul lit a fire (there was firewood and a firepit) and we were having great craic when the local fire chief pulled up in his car to order us to put out the fire. Woops, apparently there's a severe fire warning at the moment, Australia's in drought and anyone caught lighting a fire can be hit with a $10,000 fine or time in prison.... Sure we didn't know!!

Well of course we offered the chief a drink to say sorry for the trouble. Turns out the fire chief is a funny old guy who didn't want to go home and spent the rest of the night sitting with us, laughing and singing and telling stories. With a bit of prompting he did his party piece for us - chugging down two bottles of beer at the same time followed by a whiskey chaser (with all of us cheering 'Frank the Tank, Frank the Tank' ala Old School in the background!!!). By the end of the night Frank the Tank was also being called Chief Wigum and said about a hundred times that 'this is the best party I've ever been to'.

Eventually he went home, although we're fairly sure he shouldn't have been driving..... While he was being distracted by the array of girls around him and his van (he felt like a lucky guy!) we managed to tie a load of beer cans on strings to the back of his car. By the sound of it he at least made it to the top of the street!! We all headed in doors and cranked up the music, dancing on the tables and had a bit of a party.

Sunday, was a much quieter day with hangovers all round. We went looking for snakes but didn't find any and everyone else went horseriding then it was into the cars and back to Bondi....