Saturday, 18 August 2012

This is Big Brother (in-law)

We've got company. Rachel's brother Nathan is spending a couple of weeks Down Under with us and his infectious laugh has brought big smiles to our faces (along with the blocks of Cadbury's chocolate stowed in his suitcase). An international visitor merits a break from the weekly routine and we've been suitably busy.

In honour of Nathan's stay in Albury - and because we hadn't got around to doing it previously - we hosted 'afternoon tea' for the teachers of Albury North and their families. Our normally quiet house came alive with chatter and the clinking of crockery.

Sharing our home with so many people who have made us feel welcome in this town was a great feeling. As the champers flowed and the fire roared, it seemed hard to believe we were complete strangers here just seven months earlier.

It has to be said I've spent much more time working than entertaining my brother-in-law since he landed on these shores. After months of intermittent factory shifts, I have joined the Albury North staff as a part-time teacher aid and my hours in the classroom are being off-set by regular sports writing work for an English newspaper.

For the 'middle weekend' of Nathan's stay, we decided to visit Taronga Zoo in Sydney. This involved reacquainting ourselves with the north-eastern stretch of the Hume Highway and compiling both a picnic and playlist to see us through the journey of more than five hours.

Some pretty mucky weather the following morning had kept many people indoors. As such, we had almost a free run of the zoo, which exceeded our expectations. With military precision we consulted the fold-out map and planned our day around keeper talks and the seal show (above), which is always a must-see.

The gorillas were better value than the wind-shy chimpanzees and this silverback was the daddy in every sense. With the strength of 10 men, he not only commanded respect in the enclosure, but he would have smashed the Olympic weightlifting.

It was almost feeding time for the tigers. No messin'.

 This is the best view in Sydney. It's from the giraffe's back yard...

...and they're living there rent-free.

The king of the zoo, like his big cat cousins, only had eyes - and ears - for the keepers and their bins full of lunchtime steaks. It was awesome to see the lions so alert, at such close quarters.

We also saw koalas fighting and bears pacing before taking our leave. By now, catching a ferry to Circular Quay is pretty familiar territory for Rachel and I, but sweeping past the Harbour Bridge with Nathan for company was a moment worth savouring. Life's short and these are the sort of pictures you're unlikely to take twice.

Huge thanks must go to our hosts for the weekend, Margaret and Dave Wilson (pictured above). The parents of Rachel's friend Michelle - who now lives in the United States - accomodated us at very short notice and made us feel incredibly welcome. Hospitality like theirs is something you can't put a price on and, in black and white terms, they made the whole trip possible.

No comments:

Post a Comment