Well that took a bit longer than expected. The smug sojourn Down Under nearly became an involuntary sabbatical thanks to peevish Eyjafjallajökull's epic tantrum. Short of hopping aboard a cargo ship, there was no way of getting back from Oz, so I sat out the flight ban under uncomplicated blue skies, flat white in hand.
It was torture.
Back in Britain a week later, where the trees are blossoming and the politicians are bitching, Australia already seems like a faded Polaroid. In Sydney: a blurry, delicious mash-up of bircher muesli and passionfruit friands, barbecued lamb shoulder on a Surry Hills roof terrace, artery-bothering ricotta hotcakes at Bills and bacon hash at the superlative Danks Street Depot.
Bacon hash, Danks Street Depot
Sydney Morning Herald Growers' Market
Of ripe avocados and 'fancy' lettuce from the Sydney Morning Herald Grower's Market crammed into hunks of soyabean and linseed sourdough from Bourke Street Bakery, eaten in the car sailing south on the Princes Highway to Pebbly Beach, where wallabies bounce on the sands.
Sourdough loaves at Fratelli Fresh, Sydney
Bowl of flat white, Danks Street Depot
In Melbourne: creamy, steamy flat whites served by beautiful boys with tattooed forearms in cafes turned inside out - chairs on the ceiling at Brother Baba Budan, trees in the middle of the room at Cafe Giraffe, punters perched on milk crates outside cafes up and down grungy Brunswick Street.
Of live chooks for sale at Victoria Market and souvlaki shops on every corner. Of banana smoothies drizzled with agave nectar at beachside cafes. Of double chocolate TimTams and $12 'pot and parms.'
Like I said, torture.