Princess and I have just spent 4 days together in Sydney, and she tells me it was "The Best!".
We needed to (1) attend a birthday party and (2) see an eye specialist, so we made it into a long fun weekend.
On Saturday morning we drove an uneventful 3 hours (hooray for cruise control and seatback media players) to get to my goddaughter's birthday party which was held at the Concordia German bowls/croquet club in Tempe. The food and wine was cheap and plentiful and there was lots of space for the kids to run around and kick a ball.
After the party we went to stay over with J&B and their son H who is the same age as Princess. Princess and H played nicely together, shared a bath and stayed up late talking while I caught up with J&B. It was a very pleasant evening.
On Sunday morning everyone was up at dawn, and after breakfast we all headed to Doll's Point on Botany Bay for some beach time. It is winter here, but with enough layers and some sunshine the kids were happy to build sandcastles and paddle. Another friend with an 18 month old boy who I hadn't yet met came to see us briefly too, and it was fun watching the little guy toddling along determined to get into the sea!
We had a nice lunch in the restaurant at Doll's Point and then H and Princess played in the rather awesome playground there for a couple of hours. Princess was having so much fun that we stayed on for an extra hour after H and his folks left, and then we went to B&A's house for the night.
B&A have 2 kids, D who is Princess' age and L (my goddaughter) who is now 3. They played well together, especially on their trampoline, and after squeezing all 3 of them in the quite small bath (!) Princess slept in D's room and they chatted until late.
On Monday we were up at dawn again, D went to school, A went to work and B and L had errands to run. Princess and I took a walk to the train station and caught a train into the center of Sydney. We got off at Town Hall and walked down the hill to Darling Harbour and the Chinese Gardens, which is a gorgeous oasis of ponds, waterfalls and pavilions in the middle of the city. Princess loved it, and I was able to allow her to disappear exploring as the whole place is walled in and safe for a sensible kid. Another old friend came to meet us there with her 18 month old daughter whom I had not yet met, and we had a cup of tea and then the kids fed the koi before we left.
Walking in the direction of the Aquarium I met up with other old friend, and we stopped at a seafood restaurant for lunch before Princess and I continued to the Aquarium.
Princess adored the Aquarium! I hadn't taken her there before for various reasons, so it was a new experience and she is definitely the right age to really enjoy it. We ogled at fishtanks, saw a reclusive platypus, glowing jellyfish, lots of seahorses, and of course the shark tunnels and the dugongs. We even saw fish :-)
When we finished at the Aquarium it was late afternoon and Princess was a bit weary, so we took a taxi back to the train station and caught a train back to B&A's. We stayed another night and the kids stayed up late yet again.
On Tuesday morning we were all exhausted, but B&A had to get to work and D and L had to get to school and daycare, so up everyone got at dawn again. Princess and I didn't have to rush off so we had a quiet morning after everyone left, and at 10 we headed out to do a little shopping and then to Princess' eye specialist.
Princess was born with strabismus, or a squint, in both eyes. She has had surgery twice to fix it, and now her eyes are 99% straight but she is still not using both eyes together. She also needs glasses for slight astigmatism. I thought I'd take her back to the specialist for a check up.
Princess didn't do all that well in the eye test, but part of me wonders if that isn't because she was just so very tired! The doctor gave me a new glasses prescription too, as she didn't agree with the script the local ophthalmologist gave us. There isn't anything we can do for the eyes working independently, unfortunately, but it isn't going to impact on Princess' life too much. She just won't be a great tennis player or be able to watch a 3D movie.
After the eye testing was finally over Princess and I got on the road back to Canberra. We stopped for burgers on the way and got home after dark, not long before bedtime.
It was lovely to be home in our own beds, and after 2 sleeps Princess and I are pretty much back to normal.
Sydney is certainly "The Best!"