I make no apologies for the lateness of this post.
I spent eight days in Sydney over Christmas, visiting my cousins. I had a vague plan for it even before I left Ireland for Japan, because I thought that it would be too soon to return home only five months in, when there were so many places in the world that I have yet to visit. Going to Australia was the perfect combination of family and adventure.
My cousin Catriona has been working as an accountant in Sydney for about four or five years, and I hadn`t seen her since she left, as I was out of the country both times she came back to visit. Her twin Damien moved over to Australia last year and is now living north of Brisbane so he came down for the holidays too. We stayed with her and her boyfriend Mark, and we were adopted by his family who are originally from Dublin, so it was a very Irish Christmas. It was so strange to have a traditional Irish Christmas transposed to the middle of summer in a place that feels alien underneath its familiarity.
On Christmas Day, Damien and I were granted a lie-in til 8 o`clock while Catriona and Mark were up at 6 to go to his parent`s house, as Mark`s mother`s enthusiasm for Christmas rivals that of a five year old. We went for breakfast at 9 o`clock at the home of Irish friends of Mark`s family. The breakfast was just like being in my granny`s house – sausages, rashers, black and white pudding, homemade brown bread and tea. I managed to stick to the tea by saying I didn`t drink before midday, despite the best efforts of the man of the house to get me to start off the day with beer.
We went back to Mark`s to open our presents from Ireland before we went over to his family`s house for dinner. We relaxed outside in their back patio complete with bar, hammock and swimming pool. Catriona had gotten a bottle of Moet as a present, so we drank champagne flavoured with hibiscous flowers. It was most luxurious. Our entire day was based around food and the intervals in between where we digested. When we arrived, Mark`s parents put on the turkey and ham and we had a shrimp starter to keep us going. While we were waiting for the big dinner we watched The Guard.
Dinner was outstanding; very traditional, the only acknowledgement of the season being the substition of salad for roasted veggies. After dinner, we attempted unsuccessfully to finish a game of cranium while successfully finishing a tin of roses. As the evening wore on, it became more and more like an episode of Neighbours, as many residents of this version of Ramsey St joined us for a drink out the back, while we were serenaded by a chorus of unbelievably loud frogs.