The Sydney Gold Cup

'Listen to that.'


'Exactly,' I smile, opening my eyes and squinting against the fierce sunshine that's beating down, even at this early hour - or at least it feels early, I'm not quite sure what time it is; that's what jet lag does to a girl. 'It's the noise of what. As in whatever we want,' I expand. 'No gruelling commute. No 9-5 grind-'

'7-8, more like,' Cal interrupts, rolling his eyes.

'No rain,' I continue because the last thing I want to think about is work - not here. 'No deadlines. No nothing if we fancy. Just rest and relaxation,' I sigh happily.

'Recharge the batteries?'

'Exactly,' I smile, as I take in the energetic surfers riding the swell at Bondi. 'A bit of culture, some sight-seeing-'

'A go at that, perhaps?' Cal nods towards the surfers.

'Maybe in a week,' I consider, 'but today I'm going to do nothing. Glorious nothing,' I repeat as I ease myself back into the beach to scorch up some sun ...

... only to be interrupted what feels like two seconds later by a booming voice.

'There you are! Honestly, you two are more slippery than a pair of crocs!'

' Ethan,' I weakly say, struggling to sit up. I'm dumbfounded - what's Ethan doing here? True, I knew he'd moved back to Australia, but still ... Cal, on the other hand, looks less surprised.

'Couldn't let you two Poms loose without returning some of that great English hospitality you once showed me,' he beams good-naturedly at me as he slaps Cal on the back. Ouch, looks like someone didn't put his suncream on judging by Cal's wince - he needs to be careful. 'I'm here to show you the real Sydney.'

'No, no,' I protest quickly sounding very plummy all of a sudden, sort of how I sounded when we first met Ethan back at a random house party in Shepherd's Bush nine years ago. Half the house had been full of Aussies, all buoyant because of Ian Thorpe's swimming medals, not to mention all the other medals the Aussies had won on home turf that Olympics. 'It's so kind of you to offer, but we wouldn't want to be an imposition, Ethan, put you out.'

'Nonsense! I'm not falling for that Pommy politeness, so there's no point arguing with me. I'm going to give you two a taste of Sydney you'll never forget. Ah look, here come the cavalry,' he nods towards some of the very tanned and fit-looking surfers I'd noticed earlier. 'On the north side,' he tuts. 'Wusses.'


'The rip, it's only a four this side. Piece of piss! Come on you drongos,' he yells at them, as Cal looks at me apologetically. I'm in for a long day.


When I pictured our trip to Australia, our romantic getaway, I pictured sunsets overlooking the Harbour with a nice glass (or two) of Penfolds Grange. What I didn't count on was this.

'Are we clear then?' says Hunter.

Or it could be Hayden. Maybe Mason? I can't tell anymore. I'm exhausted after the day we've had - volleyball, drinking, watching some Rugby League, drinking, more drinking - and with the jet lag, I just want to sleep. But I can't. Because we're in a pub. Well, hotel is how they keep referring to it. And we're about to play some drinking game of ... Cameron's? Brayden's? I just don't know, and you think I'd be happy being surrounded by five fit Aussie men (oh, and Cal), but recalling Ethan's competitive spirit, I know this is going to get messy. Plus, I'm already quite drunk, drunk enough to have eaten a pie floater (there goes the healthy holiday eating) to try and soak up some of the alcohol. It's likely with this game I'm going to get wrecked.

'No, no,' Ethan interjects, 'those are the Melbourne rules. The Sydney Gold Cup is played like this. We split into pairs - one person being the jockey, the other being the horse. The jockey is piggybacked by the horse, who has a pint on his head. The jockey has to drink the pint with-'

'No hands!'

'That's right, with no hands off the horse's head. If the pint is knocked off, there's a time penalty when it comes to the sprint, and it's likely it'll fall,' Ethan grins wickedly, 'as the horsey has to throw three darts at the board at the same time. But, whichever pair gets the best darts score, gets a head start on the sprint. First one to the Opera House entrance wins-'

'The golden cup!'

'The golden cup,' Ethan beams, 'full of the amber delight! Lucy, you can be the umpire.'

I'm relieved I don't have to actively take part.

'Head down to the Opera House because you have the important task of deciding who's first-past-the-post!'

Like I said, as I head out into the warm night after seeing Cal jump onto Ethan's back, when I pictured our trip to Australia, our romantic getaway, I pictured sunsets overlooking the Harbour with a nice glass (or two) of Penfolds Grange. What I didn't count on was this ...

... but, when in Australia, I suppose!

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