When we saw a house-sit advertised in Sydney, we jumped at the chance to spend time in the same city that our daughter lives. Our hosts accepted our application and we prepared for a long weekend in the suburb of Ashfield, conveniently located on the T2 train line.

Getting out of Wellington on what must have been one of the worst days possible for air travel was a mission – many smaller planes were grounded and the larger planes delayed, due to almost hurricane force southerly winds. We were most concerned that we could miss our connection to Sydney in Auckland, so asked nicely at the counter when an earlier plane was boarding if there were vacant seats we could possibly transfer to, and providentially there was. It meant we had a longer wait in Auckland, but were not in danger of missing our flight, which would have been disastrous.

Safely in Sydney, we caught the train to Ashfield and walked with our bags 20 minutes to the location of our weekend sit. Our hosts were off for an adventure on the Hawkesbury River, but we got to meet them briefly as we transitioned. We were introduced to Edmond, their fluffy black cat and explained the routines. Sarah told me that he liked to spend time in the laundry basket, and in fact that’s where he spent most of the time we were there. A couple of times, he ventured out to see who was there, but if anyone moved, he was back into his cubbyhole like a shot. On the second night, as I relaxed by the TV and Chris was in another room, Edmond did come out for a sniff, and decided that he could check me out, as long as I stayed seated. He allowed me to give him a bit of a stroke, but as soon as Chris appeared in the door way, Edmond was off again. By the third night, he was a little more relaxed and spent some time smooching and enjoying a good rub, as long as we both stayed seated. Over all, he was extremely easy to look after and in no way demanding. I do think if we had stayed longer he would have become more used to us and we could have enjoyed more of his company.

Since Edmond did not demand our company, we enjoyed spending more time with our daughter and exploring parts of the Sydney food scene she recommended. Some were places we had heard of, others were new to us but our daughter took the opportunity of having parents to entertain to explore a variety of venues.

The Rook, a rooftop bar/restaurant on York Street – thankfully we were there on a Thursday night so were able to walk in and get a table. Portions were generous and the food was tasty.

Pablo and Rusty, in the CBD off Pitt Street for lunch. The smoked corn chowder and the heirloom tomato agrodolce were delicious, generous and served promptly despite being a busy lunch service.

The Meat and Wine Co in Barangaroo offered a great range of meaty dinner options – my kangaroo skewer was excellent, as was the New Yorker steak and the lamb shoulder. Great location, good choice for carnivores and wine lovers. Oh, and how could we resist gelato at Rivereno just along the road. It was so creamy and delicious.

The Grounds of Alexandria is one of my daughter’s favourites, and we arrived early Saturday morning to put our names down for a table – at just after 11, there was an hour wait for a table, but there is plenty to see and do while you wait – the market, the gardens, the cafe interiors, the animals make for a real destination and the place was bursting at the seams. It was worth the wait and once seated orders were taken quickly. Fresh food, well presented – I can see why this place is so popular. And the cakes…. well we looked and drooled, but didn’t succumb.

Mejico – we had been there previously and were happy for a return visit for Saturday dinner. Starting with cocktails and freshly made guacamole, then seated at table to choose a variety of sharing plates. Although the food was good, we waited a long time for any to arrive, finally an apology that they had misplaced our ticket and once food started arriving there was also an incorrect item. It was soon fixed and we enjoyed the experience.

Mecca – we visited this small cafe on King St several times for great coffee and an excellent breakfast – Granola and Bircher muesli done right. Great value and fun to sit and people watch – as long as you were near one of the heaters outside. There is no inside seating.

Sunday saw us catch the ferry to Manly with plans to hire cycles and explore the area. Manly cycle hire fixed us up with bikes and maps and we headed up to the National Park for views towards Sydney. The roads were reasonably easy with a couple of steepish hills, but once in the park, the road flattened out and we could enjoy the ride a bit more. There were lots of people out enjoying Sunday drives and time together – Sydney is fantastic for using public transport on a Sunday as there is a cap on what you pay for all your trips of around $2.60 in total if you have an Opal card.

Belgrave Cartel in Manly was our lunch stop and did the job for us after our ride. Great coffee again and a range of delicious lunch selections.

The Winery in Surry Hills that night for dinner was delightful in ambience and delicious in taste. The only downside for me was that we asked for a basket of bread, expecting it to be our starter, but after waiting more than half an hour decided it had been forgotten, only to have it turn up with the mains. It would have been much better to have had it to stave off the hunger pangs while we waited for our mains to arrive, but in saying that everything else was really good.

Messina is a must do when in Sydney. They have very good gelato and the range of interesting flavours and daily specials are excellent. I can understand why they are voted best gelato in Australia. We managed two visits this time.

Our last day was spent in the city before farewelling our daughter in order to head home. We were keen to experience the Grounds of the City in the Galleries and lined up at midday to secure a 1pm table. Again, they do it very well, the ambience is fantastic and they have taken time to create a real atmosphere here. The food was fantastic and their berry smoothie was the best I have ever tasted!

Overall it was a great food experience in Sydney and we explored new places and returned to some familiar favourites. Now home its back to strictly home-cooked and rationed to try and work off the additional calories consumed during this house-sit in Sydney.

sparkling views of an iconic harbour

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