THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SMALL TOWN FOLK HIT THE BIG SMOKE.
After leaving Lithgow, it was time to see family. But, that meant a trip to the big smoke. Can’t be good for us small town folk. We were dreading taking the bus through Sydney traffic, so opted for the back roads, and instead of taking the freeway down the mountain, we used the Bells Line of Road. For those who know it, you will know how long, narrow and winding it is but, the scenery was spectacular and well worth it. And the descent into the west of Sydney wasn’t as bad as we thought.
The kids were so excited as we drove into Mum and Dad’s street. The “Oldies” were out the front waiting for us, I think they had slept out there all night, I am not sure who was more excited; them or us, but it was good to see. We just managed to squeeze in through the driveway with about 5cm to spare on each side. Dad has five acres to spare, but decides to build a gate wide enough for motorbikes. Go figure! Once I managed to squeeze in through the front gates I found myself the most level piece of grass to park on. It just so happened it was in the inner circle; Dads manicured piece of lawn where no-one is permitted to drive, park or sometimes even walk on. But, I took advantage of the fact they were happy to see us and picked prime position on the back lawn. We settled in to a nice bowl of pasta for lunch and then another feast for dinner, and this continued for the rest of the time we were there. Loads of Nona’s home cooked meals, home grown Macca Nuts and Spuds from Nono’s Garden.
We spent most of our time in Sydney catching up with friends and relatives before embarking on the biggest part of our trip. We didn’t do much sight seeing here, but after a few months on the road, and no time without the kids, it was the perfect opportunity to get Mum to look after the kids, so we could have some quiet time together. We decided on a Gold Class movie and a special lunch. What could be more relaxing? So off we went, no kids in the back, we could actually talk. She was just starting to relax when I decided to upset the apple cart. You see, before we left Brisbane, we needed more storage space, so I went and bought one of those luggage thingies that sits on the roof of the car. Quite a big unit and adds a bit of height to the vehicle. We managed to get around with it OK in Brisbane, so I couldn’t see any difference in Sydney. But, apparently, there is. In Brisbane, the car parks are all 2.3m high. In Sydney this is not the case. We went to the Castle Hill Towers, probably one of the busiest and biggest Shopping Centres in the Hills District. I decided we will try and fit into the car park. Michelle questions me as to whether we will fit under. “No worries,” I tell her, “Paul and I did it in Brissy.”
So we proceed to the first entry, I see the warning bar in front of me, 2.1m, it’s going to be touch and go. I edge up to it, still not sure, and get Michelle to open her door and look out. She’s not sure either, but is very concerned and doesn’t want to make a scene. “Don’t risk it,” she tells me so, obediently, I listen to her. But, I am still not convinced. You see in my mind, I did it in Brisbane and there was no reason I couldn’t do it here. Not satisfied that my wife was correct, I let my male ego take over and, much to her distress, I found another car park; same height, same warning bar, same roof rack, but I thought it was worth one more shot. This time I would look and see if we would fit under. Who knows, maybe they got the heights wrong. Michelle gave me the look, (You know the look where they are saying, “You are such a stubborn bastard” without even moving their lips). But, all I really wanted to do was to see if I was going to touch the bar. After all, that’s what it’s there for; if you touch the bar, you don’t go under. I edge forward, ever so carefully and, guess what, I touched the bar! Oh well, I thought, ‘no biggie’; Michelle was right, I was wrong. I just reverse out and we’ll find somewhere else. Or . . . . . . . maybe not.
You see, while I was carefully trying to satisfy my curiosity, and prove my wife wrong, the traffic was backing up behind me. The entrance was quite narrow, and my only way out was backwards. Trouble was, the lady behind me didn’t want to budge. I put the car into reverse and slowly went back. Nothing. I could see her in my rear vision mirror. Looked like a lovely, older lady probably in her late 60’s, some type of ethnic origin about her.
No worries I thought, and asked Michelle to kindly ask her to move back a bit so I could back out of her way. Michelle, who was clearly not happy with me by this time, quickly gets out of the car to ask the old dear to move. Well, the dear, old lady turns out to be a cranky, old biddy, who has better things to do than waste her time with some Queenslander who is trying to fit his car into a spot, where clearly it will not fit. Poor Michelle cops a mouthful of abuse and the old girl refuses to move. “I not move, you take it off!”, she says, referring to the roof rack. The standoff is on and soon another five cars join the cue.
I decide I need to help my wife and promptly get out of the car, geared up to give Granma a mouthful but, she beats me to the punch. She gets stuck into me, fair and square in the middle of the car park. She sounded just like Rose Hancock going off at the media; looked a bit like her too. I explain to her, that if she moves back just a little, I can get around her and we can all get on with our day. But she refuses and actually called me an ‘Idiot’. Perhaps she was right, and perhaps my wife was also thinking this but actually calling me an idiot, I thought, was probably a bit harsh.
So, ego now battered, I got back in my car, and just sat there, and sulked. Didn’t budge. For the next 5 minutes, I had my say. I probably held up more traffic in Castle Hill that day than peak hour traffic. Finally, I calmed down, got out one more time, asked ‘Rose’ to move again, and this time forced my way back. This pushed back a line of 6 other cars and I was able to drive off with my tail between my legs, with the parting words from Rose ringing in my ears, “You are an idiot!” Several of the other drivers, all women I might add, also hurled abuse at me. My wife who had by this stage, looked very red, was now in a state where she really needed to relax.
So my mission was accomplished, and we could now find another spot to park and go enjoy our movie and lunch. Ah, Sydney-siders; got to love them and their patience. Anyway, the rest of our time in Sydney was less stressful and we enjoyed catching up with as many family and friends as possible.
We saw over 80 people during the course of the week, most of them family and, whilst it was exhausting, it was great. We spent a bit longer in Sydney and then had to hightail it out as we were booked on the Spirit of Tasmania for early December, and we still had some ground to cover