Newcastle is about two hours drive north of Sydney, and has a distinctly Californian feel about it. Firstly, despite it being the middle of the winter, the temperature today hovered around 18C, which is quite respectable by UK standards; what’s more, there wasn’t a single cloud to be seen in the sky. Consequently, I was a bit puzzled by people constantly muttering to themselves how chilly it was.

Secondly, I’m staying right by a beautiful beach that has an incredible sunset, great waves for surfing (if I actually knew how to surf, that is) and generally lots of interesting-looking and big houses.

Thirdly, everyone seems healthy and quite happy. Hence the California comparison.

Today, I helped cut down some overgrown hedges, went to a christening at a cathedral and walked around the beach. ‘Visiting Australia isn’t about seeing the sights, it’s about the experience,’ I was told. It’s a good experience.

Something that I forgot to mention about the flight over was that they had this Disney album that had covers of famous Disney songs by so-called famous artists. So there was S Club 7 doing ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (or something like that) and Ronan Keating doing ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’. Now, is this really necessary? I mean, the latter song was already sung by Elton John, it’s not as if it needs anyone else to sing it – and Ronan isn’t about to do the job any better. The world is just too strange for my liking.

And in reply to the comment on the last post, while I’m sure that there are police with submachine guns at UK airports, I can’t remember having seen them. Maybe they just blend in better, or there are less of them. In any case, the Singaporean soldiers had a much more menacing look about them (which is arguably more honest on their part).

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