As I was saying.
Happy birthday for Tuesday, Chris.
The bushfires have abated. They have been contained and no residential areas are at risk. There are occasional hazy patches of blue in the sky during the day and stars can be seen at night. People who sleep with the window open wake up with red eyes and runny noses. My car is filthy with squashed bugs, from the trip to Sydney, coated in ash and baked in a long slow heat.
But before that, I went to Sydney for the weekend. I drove there with my mother on Friday listening to episodes of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue
on cassette. When we arrived we met a Rod and his dog, Ashley, who had a sore foot. They were resting Ashley's sore foot at Michael and Joanne's house on the way to the park. After we had unloaded we all went to the park, then Mum and Joanne and I went to Newtown to browse and buy food. There were some fascinating gift shops, I will have to make a list before my next trip as I was stymied by choice and purchased nothing. On Friday night after Michael came home we ate out at a Japanese restaurant.
On Saturday we went browsing through furniture stores looking for bargains in the January sales but the discounts were pathetic. Fortunately one of the galleries sold books and clothes and had a cafe so the shoppers did not have to return empty handed. Next we went to Galaxy Bookshop. Now I was motivated. My Doctor Who library ceased to grow nearly two years ago when I was preparing to leave Townsville so I grasped the opportunity to revive it and bought twenty-four novels. Then we went to Abbey Books and I resisted the temptation to buy another two dozen books and settled for Winnie the Pooh
and on cassette read by people including Stephen Fry (as Pooh) and Jane Horrocks (as Piglet). I don't know whether it's a gift for me or for a niece or nephew yet.
In the afternoon we played mahjong using thin plastic (American style, according to the box) tiles with four sets of Flowers, eight Jokers, and racks that could hold exactly thirteen tiles (i.e. not the fourteen you need to go mahjong). It was such a chore we didn't bother scoring. We also shared phone calls about the bushfires with many people. On Saturday night Michael and Joanne went to a friend's for dinner so I went to see a movie with my mother. She had seen The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Bowling for Columbine so we watched The Quiet American which I found to be ordinary. According to other people's reviews it is better than the other film version but not as good as the book. Michael Caine wasn't portraying himself for once so that was a good thing.
On Sunday, after a long breakfast over phone calls and ABC radio news updates, we set off back to Canberra. Michael directed us to Route 66 and told us to look out for the freeway entrance when we cross Cooks River. When we were almost at Circular Quay on George Street we decided we must have missed the freeway entrance, and the river crossing, so we turned around and retraced our path. Failing to locate either a freeway or a river on the second attempt we decided to take Parramatta Road to the Hume Highway and were much more successful at going home along that route.