Wednesday 30 December 2015

Sydney Chinese Gardens

Bonnie Ronnie and I had called our wonderful friends Paul and Cheryl whom we had met during our world tour in 2011 and invited them to join us for lunch at the Chinese Gardens. We keep in touch through social media for the most part and they happened to have some free time and I suspect that Paul welcomed the opportunity for a break from the arduous gardening tasks he had set himself. We just knew that Cheryl and Alison would hit it off as Cheryl is a retired Head Mistress/Teacher as is Alison who does still take on the odd commission to teach the handicapped.

We were so worn out from the previous day that we decided to simply relax in our hotel, catch up on some emails and social networking where possible as the Wi-Fi situation had not improved until 11h00. I really welcomed the opportunity to put the old feet up and look at some options for the following day's activities since nothing had been planned ahead of our trip - deliberately. I love doing things on the spur of the moment but I'm afraid this has caused a few issues in the past as Ronnie prefers solid plans, particularly if there is any hint of danger and for me that just adds to the thrill. Alison it seems has an attitude similar to my own so I was in my element and we discussed visiting the Blue Mountains on a day tour, there would be much sitting and less walking which would suit me to a Tee.

We made our way over to the Chinese Gardens by way of a leisurely stroll through the Darling Harbour promenade and Darling Harbour Quarter, arriving by coincidence at precisely the same time as  Cheryl and Paul. Once introductions had been made and photo's taken we made our way through to the Tea Garden for lunch where we spent a wonderful time catching up on all the news. Cheryl and Alison got along like a house on fire much to Ronnie's delight as stories were exchanged. I'm always fascinated by Paul's recounting of his outback days, I have a real yearning to explore the outback and perhaps one of these days the opportunity to satisfy this yearning will present, who knows!

After lunch we took a stroll around the gardens which are modeled on the typical private gardens of the Ming Dynasty. I became separated from the group - typical, I become so absorbed that I lose track easily and then made a wrong turn while attempting to catch up at my own pace. Once I realised my error I decided to simply continue rather than spend time trying to catch up and our paths did cross again so nothing was lost after all.

It was on the latter side of mid afternoon before we bid each other adieu and while the girls returned to the shops at Darling Harbour I set off on my own to see if I could capture a sunset with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the foreground, not knowing the area I used the ferry and thought I would try getting to Cremorne Point but in my haste I boarded the North Sydney Ferry in error and of course by the time I had discovered my error it was too late. 

Once I returned to Circular Quay there was colour in the sky and usually this only lasts about 30 minutes but on this occasion it lasted the better part of an hour so I would have had enough time to make it to Cremorne Point after all. Oh well as they say in the classics "Thats life!" I did manage to get some rather nice shots but I was really off my game so it was more by good fortune rather than good planning - my photography mentor Gerry, would be disappointed in my lack of technical planning and rightly so.

Once night fell I thought I would return to the hotel, stopping off at Luna Park for a long shutter shot of the Harbour Bridge with the Opera House in the background. I loved the angle and by the time I had setup my tripod and camera I had to hang onto it for dear life as 60km wind gusts threatened to blow me over, gear and all - this was just not my day. Another photographer was in close proximity and his gear was blown over but fortunately I was close enough to prevent it from hitting the ground. We decided to reduce our tripod height to a minimum and try to position ourselves with a tree trunk for cover unfortunately though this interfered with my shot. I decided to simply adjust my settings and try for a shot between gusts and whilst this was more miss than hit I did manage to get a couple of reasonable shots.

I caught up with the girls for a nightcap at about 22h30. Alison had been concerned for me but Ronnie had assured her that the late hour was not unusual for me. The girls enthralled me with an account of their evening having dined at one of the restaurants on the Darling Harbour promenade which reminded me that I had forgotten to eat or drink - oh well "Tomorrow is another day!" as my dad used to say. We decided that apart from a plan to explore the harbour by ferry the following day we would leave the day open for whatever took our fancy.

Once again I'll leave you with images of our day and continue our story in the next blog - Sydney Harbour.