06.07.2010 - 06.07.2010 13 °C
I am woken suddenly again by squawking birds, and I am beginning to see why people shoot the buggers... Thoroughly disgruntled, I head for the kitchen and tea. Something stops me in my tracks as I glance left out of the window - the south shore has completely disappeared behind a curtain of lilac cloud and is all but invisible. Fred is then woken my my squawking ("there'd better be snow or something") and grudgingly comes to the window with the camera to witness it. The cloud makes it seem as though Sydney just ends, the opera house standing raked and proud on the edge of the world. The cloud dissipates to purplish mist as I watch and soon the skyscrapers loom once more through the morning gloom.
It is another bad-weather morning so we take our time getting up. Fred comments that he misses English tea - "I don't know if it's the tea or the milk, but its just not as good here" and we watch some rugby. After an hour or so we set off with a mind to head to Watson's Bay for lunch - there is a famous seafood restaurant called Doyles on the beach that we have been told about. A quick ferry switch gets us on a service calling at Garden Island and Watson's Bay. Green Island is the site of the a Royal Australian Naval base and the ferry passes straight across the north section, also open to the public, and rig past the huge warships in for refitting. I can see barrels being loaded, trays of shells winched up to hatches and men conducting drills on the decks. About twenty minutes past is Watson's Bay.
At first sight there isn't much there despite quite a few hoards of winter tourists wandering around. Right on the wharf is Doyles Cafe, and it is teeming.
"The cafe's packed," Fred observes.
"Well for God's sake unpack it, we're due for lunch."
We spot another Doyles, a more formal-looking one, at the edge of the shallow beach and we head for that instead. To our delight it is empty save for a few pensioners so we sit down and peruse the menu. It tells the history of the restaurant all the way from 1885 to the present day and has some interesting information on all the fish they serve - I had always (erroneously) thought of tuna as a medium-sized fish but it turns out that the Yellowfin tuna that Doyles use for fillets weighs up to 150kg! One hundred and fifty! That's nearly three times what I weigh... I opt for mussels and ocean trout, Fred goes for calamari and snapper and chips.
The portions are sizeable but not ridiculous and we plough through our starters quaffing coke and cranberry juice. The marketing of the "freshest seafood in Sydney" is confirmed in my eyes as I open a mussel and find a tiny sand crab inside it. I set the thing aside and take a photo for posterity but five minutes later, I have found another one. No crabs in Fred's salt and pepper calamari but it is very tasty. There is a nice break between courses and the place begins to fill up considerably with families and more pensioners and by the time the mains arrive it is full both inside and out.
Our main courses are simple but delicious, and I find myself wondering what size of fish the ocean trout has come from. It has lovely pink flesh and a crispy sea-salt skin and is an absolute joy to eat. It is also nice to admire the view over the bay, watching ferries come and go and taking bets on whether the moored sailing boats caught in their wake will tip over. After lunch we have a quick meander around but decide not to go up to the points on either side (the weather is still overcast) and catch a ferry back as there is not much else about but houses. Despite the biting wind that has got up Fred sends me outside to take pictures of the Naval base and so, a slave to my art, I stand like a muppet in the rain and freezing wind taking pictures. This is actually easier than getting back into the ferry when it really starts to piss it down as the wind is so high i cant open the door. With great heaving I drag the door from it's rest, toppling forwards into the aisle with a purple face and damp hair, panting (much to the amusement of all the pensioners on the ferry sat in the front seats).
As soon as we disembark it begins to spit and soon it is bucketing down, raindrops the size of your fingertips, so it is back home again to try and decipher more Australian sport. We have a big night booked in for tomorrow.