Easter holidays 2019: trains, buses, taxis and crowds.


Well we’re about to hit day 2, week 2 of Term 2, and I can’t believe we’re nearly in the middle of 2019. George was not excited about school starting last week, still being in “holiday mode” he said, the night before. I was still in holiday mode too last Monday morning but now back into the swing of things well.

This holidays, after our afternoon of bath products window shopping, I worked for a couple of days and then we hot-footed it to my Dad’s in the Blue Mountains. This involved a Murray’s Bus from Canberra then a train from Sydney’s Central station. Why did I not drive? I’ve caught the anxiety of the M5 from my parents. So 6 hours after leaving Canberra, we arrived in the Blue Mountains, about 90 minutes west of Sydney.

We witnessed an altercation on the train between two young women over one of the women saving a seat for “a friend getting on at Parramatta”, and taking up four seats (2 for her luggage, one for her bottom and another for her legs). George was quite interested in all the lively high-school/uni student conversations, including from a group of six skateboarder-types perched on chair arms, as there weren’t enough seats.

“Next time, we’re driving!” I whispered to George in a wave of middle-aged defiance against my parents.

In the mountains we met up with Dad’s partner’s daughter and her boys aged 8 and 11, so George had plenty of play time with them. We had some lovely late afternoon walks admiring the red and orange leaves and Dad cooked a lamb roast on Good Friday.

Autumn parade in Blue Mountains streets.
It was a scene from a fairy tale in a local park!

We battled the crowds in Leura Mall (Pitt Street Mall, more like it) while we were coffee-chasing (me) and lolly-shopping (George) and sneakily vintage-clothing window-shopping (me). Leura on Good Friday was like Campbell Parade in Bondi on a Summer Saturday, proportionately speaking.

Bustling Leura Mall on Good Friday

George was disappointed Woolworths was shut – he couldn’t get his hot fried chicken wings, but he cheered up with pizza at Leura Garage, a cafe with Bondi-style prices in a charmingly decorated converted garage. It was very good Margarita pizza though. We bowled up to the host standing behind a lectern at the cafe entrance who informed us we could go on a “wait list” for a table and he would phone us when one was ready. To make the most of our time, we hurried over to the gourmet chocolate shop “Josophans” around the corner and selected a few items. Just as I was about to queue up to pay, I got the call from Leura Garage… a table was ready now! No time to purchase chocolate, I planned to return later. So much for peaceful village life.

Chocolate bunnies perched on some kind of car thing.

After our late lunch George felt better so was tolerant of my browsing (Yes, I was happy browsing) in a few arty and vintage shops. And we went back to Josophans for Easter chocolate gifts.



We got a taxi to Dad’s in the next town as it was late and Good Friday – I did consider waiting for a train but a lamb roast waits for no one!

The rest of our holidays was more trains, buses and taxis. Because our train to Sydney the next day was delayed by 30 mins, it meant we had time to duck across the road for this…

Easter in Sydney was a whirlwind of wheeling luggage around from Central to Bondi Junction, lunches, family, chocolate, pizza, no church, no beach and an Easter egg hunt in Granny’s courtyard.

We caught a bus and taxi (thanks, “track work” on the Eastern Suburbs train line), and then met my friend Nadia to catch a train to the Royal Easter Show with our boys aged 8 – 13, then a train, bus and another bus back to Mum/Granny’s.


Boys 8, 11 and 13 ready for the journey home

After the Show, it was a bus from Central to Darlinghurst to Nadia’s amazing new pad – location, location, location! Then we hot-footed it to Kings X to get a bus back to Granny’s. 14,000 steps later, I collapsed on the couch and George carefully examined his Warheads (sour candy) showbag.

Location, location, location! Perfect for Mardi Gras.

The next day was lunch with Sister Señorita Margarita in the very lunch-friendly Woolworth’s* express in Pitt Street Mall (Leura Mall, more like it), before catching a train and a bus to Skyzone in Alexandria to meet my cousin and her son and then catching a bus back to Bondi Junction where the thought of a train and another bus back to Mum’s was all too much so I jumped in a taxi. Which really was all too much, in the dollar sense.

George found his mothership in Sydney’s CBD. He looks a bit tired. Too many holiday late nights!

The next day, we got a Murray’s bus back to Canberra, then a taxi home to my beautiful, scratched little hatchback that gets me from A to B.

Before the Easter holidays ended, we managed to fit in another Easter, Greek Easter, with family friends of George’s dad. George found a canine friend there. I still haven’t managed to get him a dog. I can’t remember this dog’s name, but I think it was a Greek name and she’s part husky.

George and his Greek-Siberian friend



Much fun was had by all cracking these beautiful creations, by knocking them together and seeing whose egg cracks. It’s sort of like pulling Christmas crackers without the cheap plastic trinkets and hats.

I hope you’ve had a great start to Term 2, or May, if you don’t think in school terms. Less than four weeks to Winter, my second-favourite season! I’d better fit some decent Autumn walks in before then, since it’s my favourite time of the year.

Canberrans say you don’t turn your heater on until after Anzac Day. It’s not that cold yet, so I haven’t needed to. I’m really enjoying sitting with a blanket over my knees in the evening when there’s a bit of a chill. It is SO cosy.

*This post is not sponsored by Woolworths. I just go there a lot.

Easter 2014: in search of hot cross buns and cross ninja-bread men

There are many things I love about Easter: all the new-life symbolism, holidays, seeing family and friends, the first hint of Autumn weather, the Easter show, the Easter Sunday church service, the Easter-egg hunt and hot cross buns!

This Easter, Sydney had the special treat of hosting Prince William, Princess Catherine, baby Prince George and his cute little squishy baby cheeks. Sydney put on its finest Autumn weather for the occasion.

Here’s a couple of photos from my Good Friday walk, but unfortunately not of the royal family, who were on the other side of the harbour at the time.

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And now to the big issue of hot cross buns. Last Wednesday I was in a mad rush so had to resort to Aldi to get my hot cross buns. I knew I would be super-busy on Thursday and I didn’t know if I would get a chance to get to Baker’s Delight or any other actual bakery by Good Friday, so Aldi it was.

As I rummaged through the Aldi hot cross bun bin, I came across bag after bag of “fruitless” buns. It was proving to be a fruitless task, until I finally found one sad little bag of “fruit” buns.

“Aldi hot cross buns are better than no hot cross buns on Good Friday.” I reasoned. Aldi is great at many things (such as cheap unknown brands from a parallel universe and dishevelled shelving), but hot cross buns are not one of them. I tried a bun on Wednesday night and it was squishy, yet bizarrely brick-like. How does that happen?

On Thursday I had a serendipitous moment and found myself in a position to go into Coles, where the buns, while not the best, are superior to Aldi’s. So I submitted to the call of the Coles choc chip hot cross buns. But when I got home, my mother was waiting with a tell-tale white paper bag. Bakery hot cross buns. “They’re from C’est Ci Bon”, she said excitedly. I was grateful.  And on that note, grateful to be in a position to be comparing baked goods at all.

C'est ci good.

C’est ci good.

The next morning, Good Friday, I offered Spider Boy a hot cross bun.  After a moment’s consideration, he said, “OK… as long as it doesn’t have those crosses on it… because they don’t taste very nice.”

He settled for his usual breakfast of “Vegemite toast with margarine – but not the butter melted.”

On Sunday as we were leaving church I asked my sister, Senorita Margarita about her buns: “Where did you get your hot cross buns? I hissed “Zumbo” she said, “a chocolate and cherry one”.

“How fantastic! Do they come in a six-pack?” I demanded. “No.” She looked incredulous. “They’re $2.50 each, I just got one!”

The closest I got to a Zumbo hot cross bun was a sneaky Zumbo hot cross bun macaron last week. It smelt like bread, specifically, hot cross bun bread. I don’t know how Mr.Zumbo does it. The inner texture was smooth, the shell was crumbly and light. It tasted like bread, sultanas, cinnamon, marzipan and citrus.

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The perfect hot cross bun. Except it was a macaron.

 

The Aldi buns remain in the freezer. “Maybe I could make a bread and butter pudding with them. How would I do that?” I asked Mum. “You’d need to make custard first” she said. Forget it. Not a custard fan. I really don’t want to make that.

So my Easter baking this weekend was the ninja-bread men from a baking set I’d bought as a stocking-filler for Spider Boy at Christmas. They weren’t hot cross buns, but they were pretty cross. That’s now our ninjas roll.

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Ninja – or zombie?

 

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Well, you’d be cross too.

The result was more ninja-crunch than ninja-bread. Perhaps more zombie than ninja. But the fun was in the cookie-cutting and decorating! Just like play-dough, only crunchy.

Happy Easter!