Boxing Day is celebrated the day following Christmas Day throughout the United Kingdom. Originally, it referred to the day when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box,” from their bosses or employers. According to internet sources, Boxing Day is a holiday that generally takes place on 26 December and is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica and other Commonwealth nations, as well as Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden. It is also a major shopping day, similar to our after-Christmas sales.
Bob and I went to the library to get some internet time on Boxing Day morning, while our hosts and their other two guests chose to go to the beach and hike along the Yacaaba Headland. We all caught up again early afternoon and the Boxing Day feast fest preparation began in earnest. Seafood is traditionally served as a mid-afternoon meal on Boxing Day in Australia, and our hosts’ choice was shrimp. Along with that we helped prepare grilled veggie skewers and a variety of cold side dishes including Greek mezes (that we made), a platter of cold ham and chicken, cheeses and crackers.
The meal was set up on the deck under a brand new canopy erected for the occasion. Other friends came by, and there were nine of us around the large, square table. Following lunch, we had a yummy dessert of a luscious chocolate concoction that one of the guests had prepared.
The next morning, 27 December, we packed up for the drive to Sydney. After saying goodbye to the country home and its pets, we stopped to have coffee with and say goodbye to the two charming ladies from Tea Gardens that we had met—dropping by for coffee and/or tea, announced or unannounced, is common practice there—for us it was like stepping back in time, when people talked to each other rather than text or email.
The 2+ hour drive to Sydney was uneventful—by leaving mid-afternoon we managed to avoid the rush of holiday travelers. We made one stop, at a roadside coffee kiosk set up as a respite where travelers can use facilities and get coffee to help them be safely on their way. It’s done as a fundraiser for local schools and manned by volunteers. How civilized is that!
We arrived in Sydney around 5:30 pm and went up to our hosts’ new residence (they had lived in a nearby building when we visited in 2006). Their apartment is on the 22nd floor of The Hyde, a luxury high-rise overlooking Hyde Park. It’s a beautiful home with an amazing view that includes a war memorial, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and part of the Opera House. Located in the CBD (Central Business District), it’s walking distance to the Botanical Garden, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbor, the Circular Quay, and Queen Victoria Building to name just a few highlights. And it was going to be our home-away-from-home for the next ten days!