Posted by: Rebecca | March 30, 2012

Friendship knows no boundaries… but they do know some great restaurants!

It’s now 28th March and, whilst birthdays have been and gone, we still have one celebration on the agenda. A friend of mine from University, who has since moved to Sydney, married an Aussie and had two beautiful daughters, would never have forgiven us if we got this far and didn’t meet up. The slight snag, is that we passed him in the airport, as we were coming in, he was heading out to Singapore & Hong Kong for a few days’ work.

However, as soon as he’s back in town, and back at work, I get a call and we speak for the first time in 15 years! (We’ve kept in touch on Facebook, but not actually spoken.) After the usual – wow you sound great! How are you? – type introductions, it turns out his office is in the building next to the hotel! Fancy a coffee? See you in the lobby in 5? Sweet. And it was. Australian life clearly suits Neil, who looks ten years younger than last time I saw him (although, as students, most of us looked a tad rough round the edges I guess!) He’s developed an Aussie twang, looks right at home in the CBD, and is just as smiley, charming, chatty and courteous as he ever was. Was grab a coffee, chat for an hour, and spare the parents the boredom of our first catch-up in 15 years! We’re planning to go for dinner with the parents and their friends this evening, so this is literally just a coffee and a chat, but it’s fab to see him again.

It’s raining today, and having spent ages listing all these great things to do in Sydney, Neil is apologetic that, because the weather is unusually rubbish, he’s not sure what there is to do when it’s raining, except maybe go shopping? He still knows me well! So I head away from the harbour and towards the city. There are some pretty amazing big buildings and heaps of shops, but, to be honest, it’s not too dissimilar to Oxford Street in London. So I grab a coffee and sit outside a café and people watch.

By the time I get back, it’s about time to get ready to go out again and we head across town to Darling Harbour… wow! From King’s Wharf, I suddenly feel like I’m back on the South Bank in Melbourne, albeit on a larger scale. There are bars, bridges, people to watch, and it feels much less touristy than Circular Quay (where the Opera House is). I like this. We have a pint, sneak in a cheeky Schooner, then head up to the restaurant to meet Pat & David.

Firstly, Pat & David. They have three children, Sara (my age), Rachael (a couple of yrs younger) and Nathan (a couple of years younger again). They lived in Easingwold and whilst I’m friends with Sara and Rachael, our respective parents are closer friends. Sara moved out to Sydney about 10 years ago, and is now married. Nathan lives in New Zealand, and Rachel moved out to Sydney a few years back, and is now engaged to an Aussie guy. Given that their kids are all in the Southern Hemisphere, Pat & David decided to emigrate just before Christmas and join the girls in Sydney. They’re much like my parents; fun, a bit mental, like a beer and live life to the full.

So, we walk into the restaurant and bump straight into David, who remarks across the reception that ‘they let anyone in here’ – mum squeals and jumps on him, dad shakes his hand for a good ten minutes, whilst Neil and I are tutting (in a nice way) and wandering off towards the table.

The Malaya is heaving. For a Tuesday night, I’d expected it to be quieter; we hope this is a good sign. So, how do we want to order? Any dinner sitting must allow a good 30 minutes for this quandary, especially in larger groups. It’s right up there with the taxi chat of ‘so, busy night then?’… Are we sharing or going individually? Sharing. Shall we each pick a dish? What if we all like the same dishes? What’s this? How is that served? Does it come with rice?… This could’ve gone on for hours, so Neil suggests we go for a banquet and just take our luck. Genius. The food was fabulous. There was plenty of rice to keep David happy, dishes came out a couple at a time (so things didn’t get cold), they were all tasty as hell, with enough spice to give it a kick, but not to blow your head off. The waiting staff were all over the job, topping up the beers and clearing the plates and we just chatted, laughed a lot, and had another awesome night.

We flag our respective taxis at the end of the night, there are cuddles all round, and we head home. Great choice of venue, great food, great company, and great to see distant friends again.

ttfn /Boxy xx

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