Edit Blog Post
Published: January 4th 2016
It's Christmas Eve and there she is - all I want for Xmas, our daughter, waiting ever so impatiently for us but at least has the grace to comment, well it wasn't your fault! Bless her, she has been here for 90 mins waiting thanks to the fishing rod saga and customs but patience doesn't come naturally to Melissa. I have to confess though, that is a trait picked up from me.
Thanks to FaceTime, it really doesn't feel like it was 8 months ago since we last saw her but that hug is sooo good. She is simply glowing and eager to get to show us her apartment and get out to meet her flatmate Emily and Emily's Mum and Nan. Poor Martin is going to be outnumbered by women by 5:1 but that won't phase him, he'll soon be making us all laugh.
The taxi driver tells us that he has been in Sydney for 15 years and he doesn't really like it. Whereas Melissa who has been her for 18 months loves it. That's because of her age he comments which was a bit of a clue of what was to come!
We arrive at
the apartment and wow this is just fabulous, a 2 bed beautifully clean, tidy and spacious apartment for just the 3 of us - Emily's Mum and Nan have rented an apartment nearby and Emily is staying with them to have Xmas morning together. We move into Melissa's room and I can't help but smile at the Ozzy girl wardrobe - shorts all hung up and none of them longer than the width of a clothes hanger! Clearly the opportunity to maintain a set of brown legs is common place.
This is lovely I say as Melissa shows me the balcony and a view of Darling harbour - their regular hang out.
We take a walk down to the harbour and have our first Aussie beer and chilled glass of wine. It is great to be back together. We arrange to meet Emily and family at the fish market for a takeaway fish platter and stop on the way to pick up more wine and disposable glasses, we've only been here a few hours and already the party has started. It's important though to stay awake today if we are to get our body clocks synchronised with local
The fish market is heaving but it is Christmas Eve and the locals are also collecting their Xmas orders. Eventually we find a table free for the 6 of us and we get to know Emily, Michelle (Mum) and Maureen (Nan) a little more. Emily persuades us all to try oysters, just swallow them whole, I am encouraged and so I try oysters for the first time in my life. What is the point I ask? All I could taste was the lemon squeezed over them and decide I am in no rush to try them again! This whole family gathering came about after Emily had been admitted to hospital and Melissa was her nurse. At the time Emily was sharing with a couple of lads and hadn't been here long so didn't know many girls - Melissa had invited Emily out with her friends and here they were over a year later best of buddies and flat sharing.
It occurs to me that this is a second patient that has influenced Melissa's life. The first was a patient called Jo. Melissa was working at the JR in Oxford and was about 7 months into her first
full time post qualified job. She had taken a gap year and travelled the world with one of her best friends Robyn before starting work and was telling Jo how amazing it was and that she was bored in work already. As it happens Jo was also a nurse although older than Melissa and she said that when she was Melissa's age, she worked in Australia for 2 years and it was the best experience of her life. That was it, Melissa came home to say she was off to Oz, what on your own I ask? Yep she replies, but you don't know anyone I say, that's ok, I'll soon make friends she says very confidently. Fast forward a year or so and Melissa is settled in Sydney. My sister Amanda calls to say that she been out in Oxford the night before with a local friend who was meeting an old friend from Newbury (about 40 miles away). Now Amanda had never met or known of this other friend previously but they had all got on really well and the subject of travelling came up (no surprise really, Amanda is a travel agent). Amanda comments that her niece
Melissa had just gone to Sydney to which this new friend asked what her full name was because she knew a Melissa who had just gone to Sydney. Melissa Exley replies my sister and this new friend said, you won't believe this and got out her iPhone and found an email to show to Amanda. It was from Melissa and said: Hi Jo, just to let you know I took your advice and I'm sat in Heathrow airport and I'm off to Sydney! Sure enough the very same patient Jo who had inspired Melissa's trip.
I wonder whose Eleanor's influencer was? Eleanor is my friend's daughter and she arrived in Sydney just 3 weeks ago. Her Mum Jackie had given me a stocking for her and her boyfriend Ben. We had arranged to meet them at the Opera Bar on Sydney harbour so we took the ferry and got our first ground view look of Sydney harbour bridge and the opera house! We had first seen them from the air as we came to land, somehow it doesn't look as big as I thought it was. We do however have a bridge walk planned for next week and I
have no doubt it's size will take on a different perspective then!
Eleanor and Ben arrived without jobs but have secured some already and are sharing accommodation with another young couple. It's fascinating to watch the ease with which they take everything in their stride and swop experiences and advice with Melissa and Emily. I feel excited for Eleanor and Ben and can't wait to catch up with Jackie. We are all planning Xmas day on the beach, we are off to Coogee but Eleanor and Ben will go to where the surf takes them! Nonetheless Eleanor reminds us of the races on Boxing Day where anyone carrying an international passport gets free entrance. Emily and her family are going to New Zealand and Melissa had planned a walk for us from Bondi to Coogee beach but we change our plans and decide to head for the races instead - let's hope Martin can break his losing streak! He has been to Ascot, Newbury and Cheltenham this year, all to poor returns.
Finally we all make our way to Melissa's home feeling exhausted!
Tot: 1.592s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 14; qc: 47; dbt: 0.0259s; 1; m:saturn w:www (18.104.22.168); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb