[Disclaimer: as the title suggests, the month started with a bang because of fireworks, but I meant it to represent it being a busy week. Just wanted to make it clear!]
It’s amazing how quickly time can fly. Everyone was saying it would before I left, but it was still surprising. Before I knew it, it was the first week of April. In other words, I had experienced a complete month here. I was definitely starting to settle in. Another good thing about April was that the weather began to dry up. March had been an unusually rainy month; it was good to finally have some dry spells.
I had a few more essay deadlines before the mid-semester break, so a lot of this week was spent in the library (I’d found a hidden space in the Law Library which was really good to study in). The main essay I had to write was on Australian history, regarding Paul Keating’s attack on the cultural cringe. Despite what it seems, it is actually an interesting topic. One of my study strategies is to use Thursday and Friday for work so that my weekends are free.
Every year in Australia, Ben and Jerry’s, the ice-cream company, has a day where everything is free. Yes, you heard me. Everything. Is. Free.
It’s known as ‘Free Cone Day’, and luckily for me, there was a Ben and Jerry’s five minutes down the road in Broadway. Anna and I decided to go after uni. It was a great decision! There was a very queue but it moved fast, only taking about 10 minutes to get to the front of the queue. There was no limit on how many times you could go, so we went up again to get more!
This time, there were some staff members towards the back of the line, offering a queue jump if you could hula hoop for five seconds (basically trying to create a fun vibe). Since no one else offered, I thought I might as well give it a go. I failed miserably. But, the staff felt sympathy for me, and so as I volunteered myself when no one else did, they let me and Anna cut the queue anyway. I would have gone for more, but I had to leave to go to SCH on that night.
On Thursday, Maddie needed to stay up late as she could only enrol on her home university modules at a certain time. With the time difference, this meant that it was taking place in the early hours of the morning in Australian time. Being the awesome friend that I am, agreed to watch a film with her (after proofreading each other’s essays) so that she wouldn’t fall asleep. We just about made it through, with Maddie successfully changing modules.
Although I didn’t get much sleep that night, I was out the following night for a Sydney Youth Band rehearsal. This was the final rehearsal before the Bill Himes Profile Night, so it was the final chance to prepare the music. We were also fortunate enough to have Bill join us for the rehearsal. It is such a great experience to be under the leadership of a fantastic musician and composer.
The rehearsal overran as we needed to get everything ready, but it was all ok as there was an SYB sleepover at SCH that night anyway. The reason for this was that some of the members travel over three hours to get there, so it made for them to stay in Sydney overnight. I’d forgotten about this, but luckily I only lived 10 minutes away, so I resolved to stay until it was late then get the bus home so I could sleep in a good bed.
The night was incredibly enjoyable; it had a Salvo music school vibe to it. We even had a running competition around the main hall in the style of track cycling, plus a time trial race up and down the stairs. But before long, it was time for me to leave (I think at around 2:00 in the morning) and get to a comfortable bed.
There was another reason for me to get home and get a good sleep. I had to be up early in the morning to get to Circular Quay. The reason: the visit of Michael and Jean Whybrow as they stopped off in Sydney as part of their cruise.
When you are so far away from home, it is great to see some familiar faces. I met them as they got off the cruise ship which had now docked. It was a really nice time in the morning as it was before the tourists arrived to see the Opera House. The first thing we did was to go on an open top sightseeing bus. Even though I’d already seen most of the city on foot, it was an interesting thing to do as it took me to places where I doubt I would have visited (including Woolloomoolloo, where the ‘adult’ industry thrives).
The tour took about an hour and a half, showing off all the best sites in the city. Unfortunately, it didn’t take us past my uni, as I would have liked to have shown them where I live and study. The idea of taking a bus was that you could then revisit all the places you found interesting. The Whybrows wished to see St Mary’s Cathedral again, so we journeyed here after breifly visiting the rocks (and the street market).
Before going in, we stopped for lunch at a restaurant tucked away in the park next to the cathedral. This was called ‘Bodhi’, which served Yum Cha at lunchtime. Essentially, you sit at a table and waiters come to you with small plates of food that you share – a bit like an Asian tapas. I enjoyed it as I got to try lots of new foods, plus I may have ‘accidentally’ slipped some chopsticks into my bag!
After exploring the cathedral, it was then time for me to go to rehearsal for the Bill Himes concert. Mike and Jean joined me (very much against Jean’s wishes, I might add!) as they are fellow Salvos. Unfortunately, after listening to Bill’s workshop with Salvation Brass, it was time for me to rehearse, so I had to say my goodbyes to Mike and Jean. It had been great to see them, and I hope they told Mum how well I was doing!
That evening, we had the Bill Himes concert. The first half started with a small group from SYB (including me) playing a quartet at the back of the hall, before everyone else joined in. We did various other items in the first half, most of them written by Bill, plus the songsters sang. The second half consisted of Sydney Congress Hall band. The band played really well, and it was encouraging to see so many young players in the group! I’m honoured to be part of such a great night.
After the meeting on Sunday, the youth from SCH travelled out the Olympic Park to go to the Royal Easter Show (thanks Joel for the free ticket)! For those reading this from Norwich, this is along the lines of the Royal Norfolk Show. For those from elsewhere, this is a traditional agricultural show where various animals are judged. It’s also combined with lots of stalls for companies and even a rides section!
We started off by going to see the animals, as these were closest to the entrance (although we did go through a staff only door by accident to get there!). Although we all like to see animals, it wasn’t exactly exciting, so we ventured to the Woolworth’s area (known for its free food).
There wasn’t much food this year, but we were able to see some massive displays off produce, representing the various areas of New South Wales. It was here where we also got out matching tattoos and hats from the NSW Police Force.
The next item on the plan was to go see the rides. These, as per usual, were incredibly expensive and overpriced, so I decided to pass on this. While some people went on rides, the rest of us went to see the show bags. These are bags that are sold at the show, filled with lots of goodies, often for a really good price. I didn’t buy anything as nothing really appealed to me, but the others got something. It’s a bit of a tradition for them.
Finally, we headed to the central stadium to see the finale show. As we arrived, there was some sort of cattle event going on, but this soon finished. Although the day had been sunny, a storm was moving in quick. In fact, a message had been announced declaring that it was ‘extreme weather’ but it would pass over in a short amount of time.
We had to move from out original seats because of the rain that was starting to fall. It’s a good thing we did as the rain started to pour after we moved. There was even lightning!
Luckily, the rain had dried up in time for the Rodeo (Australian country culture is very similar to that in America]. Even though we were far away, it was an exciting event to watch. It started with ‘Advance, Australia Fair’, the national anthem. I didn’t know the words, so I just mumbled and then proceeded to sing ‘God save the Queen’.
The next event was a theatrical horse show, known as ‘The Man from Snowy River’. Using lighting and music, the horses (and their riders) tell the story of Australian agriculture. Lots of Australian tunes accompanied this, but I could only recognise ‘Waltzing Matilda’.
A motor show followed. I’m pretty sure this was staged, and it was virtually just a race around the field, so it wasn’t too exciting. In other words, it wasn;t the type of show where bikes do flips in the air.
The fireworks finale was a great to finish the night, sitting with friends in the cold. I think I got some pretty cool shots too.
As we were leaving, we went past a ferris wheel. The people who went on the rides had leftover tokens, almost enough for everyone to go on! After most of us chipping in some cash, we bought some more tickets (I’m not sure the attendent was impressed with the amount of change we gave her to count) which allowed us to go on. We had to split into two groups as we all wouldn’t fit into one booth, so we ended up starting a video call on facebook for the others to join us. They didn’t pick up, so we were all on our phones speaking to each other, even though we we in the same booth! It was one of those moments when you can’t stop laughing!
It was a perfect way to end a great week!
P.S. I’m sorry for how cheesy that ending sounds.