Thursday, June 14, 2007

Come fly with me...

...said the Birthday Boy's stepmother, Joy, when she realised they would both be celebrating significant birthdays this year.

This, by the way, was only the latest of many treats Joy has given us, including dinner at Maxim's in Paris and taking us to afternoon tea at the Ritz in London.

So, after a laughter-filled dinner the evening before, hosted by Moo in her usual splendid fashion, we three met at Rose Bay to join our morning flight to Palm Beach by sea plane.

For years, as I've sat on the nearby beach, I've watched the sea planes taking off and landing and imagined what a thrill it would be to hop aboard one of these little craft and fly north for lunch. A little like the idea of flying from London to Paris for lunch - but not quite as ritzy!

There were 5 passengers, so someone had to sit in the cockpit beside the pilot. Guess who volunteered for the job? Doesn't he look the part? The headphones were to muffle the noise of the engine which is very loud in the tiny cabin. Conversation is a challenge so sign language becomes the order of the day.

I had fresh admiration for my nephew Matthew (see earlier blog entry describing his wedding) who proposed to Michelle during one such flight over North Curl Curl Beach. No wonder her initial answer to his romantic proposal was to shout "What????"

The flight was spectacular. The day was one of those sparkling autumn days Sydney does so well and the harbour waters glistened as we took off. The plane flew low up the coast, and the sea was emerald - really!

In around 30 minutes we landed gracefully on Pittwater and taxied to the wharf where a car transported us to nearby Jonah's Restaurant, perched high on the cliffs at Whale Beach. You can just see the sea in the background of the photo above.

Such an exciting flight north, full of promise and picturesque delights, would be hard to top on the return trip, I imagined. However our pilot managed to have us gasping with delight as we circled Sydney Harbour several times, amazed by our bird's eye view of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge.

We even flew close to our home! In the photo of Darling Point above, the red arrow points to it. If it weren't for the giant Port Jackson fig trees you'd be able to see it.

I have always maintained that you'll never, ever get me in a small plane, thank you very much. So why wasn't my heart in my mouth in this tiny craft? Call me senile and deluded (many do), but I told myself that since our little sea-plane had "water wings", and since we were flying over nice soft water and not hard ground, if we ran into any trouble we would gently land on the water and float. Of course I now realise this was nonsense - the sea would have made a mighty hard landing strip at high speed!

Wow, what a spectacular finale to the "Season of turning Sixty"!

"Spoiled!", I hear you mutter? He certainly was! So much for a "no fuss" birthday!

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