“Pinch me” was all that Gustav could say after he’d entered the water at North Bondi this morning. This was a defining moment, he really was in Sydney now on the white sands, in the blue-green water, under the white foam. The water temperature was about 22C, the conditions great for body surfing. I warned him earlier about aquatic dangers like the up-bear but he survived to tell the tale – or at least I await his account on I am Jack’s Beard.
We walked around the lower end of Bondi Beach, where Gustav got his first pair of Aussie thongs, and was introduced to toasted banana bread as a coffee accompaniment. We then caught a bus up through Bondi Junction to Paddington to view the weekend markets, and then a gentle descent along Oxford Street through Darlinghurst and back to Woolloomooloo.
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Friday, March 29, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
I didn’t sleep at all last night, and Gustav probably only managed a couple of hours’ worth, but that was no obstacle to us being in the swim lanes at Andrew Boy Charlton Pool and doing laps early on our first morning. Gustav had the benefit of some adrenalin, having seen his first golden orb spider close up, hovering next to the path by Woolloomooloo Bay.
Swimming was followed up by a big breakfast bruschetta with grilled haloumi and Campos coffee in the cafe above the pool. I ordered a flat white for Gustav but I don’t think he’s ready for the strong stuff yet, pronouncing himself as “shaking” after a few sips. We’ll scale him back to a methadone latte for a while.
Our walk continued around to Lady Macquarie’s Chair where he could look across to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We cut back across Farm Cove where the staging for a floating production of Carmen is moored.
Vance accompanied us into the city where in under an hour, Gustav got his bank account set up, and we got new SIM cards for our phones. If it had been that easy to do these things in France, I would have had about three months’ fewer angsty blog posts!
Many of the changes in the CBD, particularly around the Westfield military-fashion-foodcourt complex near Pitt St mall were quite dramatic for my eyes after three years. I certainly don’t miss working in the CBD area – thankfully twenty blissfully remote years have passed since that era.
I had to get some chest medicine as a mild tickly cough I’d been bequeathed by London had now blossomed into a painfully wracking cough. Vance said that he’d just started getting over a similar ailment from his recent time in Europe.
While picking up some groceries for the Easter weekend, I marvelled at small jars of duck fat selling for $27 or around €22 – at least twenty times the cost of the stuff we collected from primary producers in France.
I crashed for four hours in the afternoon, which was probably not going to help my sleep endeavour tonight, but my body had screamed its limits.
I also learnt that Munson had been rebooked for his Sydney flight, now arriving a week later (because of Easter holidays), so I likely won’t see him before April 5th. Look after yourself little buddy.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Monday, March 25, 2013
|I’ve been bouncing around from place to place white a bit over the last few weeks – I count 9 beds across France, England and Sweden since leaving the farm – but today is the last full day in the northern hemisphere before Gustav and I fly to Sydney. |
I’m glad that I got to see his parents one last time before departure, and Gustav had a few friends over for morning coffee. He had been best man at the wedding of two of them only the night before I arrived.
We had some troubles with seat check-in on the airline, as Etihad’s booking system didn’t acknowledge Copenhagen as a possible starting point for a journey. I finally got through to their helpdesk and got seating for one of our three flights but were told we’d have to wait until we got to Abu Dhabi before we could fix our seating for the final thirteen hour leg to Sydney. Some hours later I got an email from another part of Etihad suggesting I call their Johannesburg office, and supplied a local South African number. Somewhat mystified by this, a friend in the travel business suggested they got CPH and CPT (Capetown) confused. I hope that our pilot is better briefed.
After dinner and slightly tearful goodbyes at the railway station we travelled to Malmö to stay at our friend Hugh’s for the night. Some others came over for late drinks before we settled on the sofa ahead of a 3.45 alarm.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
|This morning I dropped Munson off with Airpets at Heathrow in preparation for his flight on Tuesday, just as I did with Bondi just over five years ago. I will next see him just after Easter at the Sydney quarantine station. It’s unfortunate that we were not travelling later in the year, as the indication is that quarantine time would be cut from 30 days to 10. Even the time between now and seeing him in quarantine is longer than any separation we’ve had thus far. It already feels a bit weird not having him under the same roof. |
I took Munson out for a special day around central London yesterday – I’ll post about that and Paris later – in which he got in his last train rides for the foreseeable future. I’ve read that Howard Collins, the head of the London Underground will be taking over Sydney’s half-hearted equivalent later this year. I wish him well in turning this organisational trainwreck into a service-oriented organisation like the Tube.
Tomorrow I’ll be flying to Copenhagen, and thence taking the train across to southern Sweden where I’ll be meeting up with Gustav and family. We fly out of Copenhagen, Sydney bound on Tuesday morning. It will be quite a temperature change for us – it’s been snowing in London all day today, and Sweden is offering me temperatures down to –9C, while Sydney beckons with 25C.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
|With Munson now bedded down at Airpets, I went to Kensington to check out a book fair specialising in children’s titles and modern firsts. There was an interesting selection but nothing that cried out “buy me!”. My eye was drawn to a couple of Moomin cartoon strips by Lars Jansson and a couple of shelves of titles by the English nature writer Denys “BB” Watkins-Pitchford. |
Spring snows continued to arrive through the day, and I found myself waiting on a friend at Earl’s Court Station, watching the snow descend like white soot over the deck-chairs and fake grass outside the Ideal home show across the road.
Gustav is giving some last minute football tips to Lucy. Munson’s interest is split between playing with them and sniffing out treasures with Tosca.
At the end of the day, he’s too tired to bother with any moving anxieties.
|It seems to have become somewhat of a ritual that I visit Spitalfields market in the days immediately before leaving London. I miss the rather ramshackle old weekend I visited originally, but the sparkling new daily market still has its attractions. On my final visit with Bondi in 2007 I bought two big paintings which now feature in my living room. |
The noticeable loss this time was that Monmouth Coffee no longer have an outlet here, which meant an inevitable compromise in the first cup of the day. Fortunately I found a Costa with some Italian baristas who knew how to make a proper flat white rather than the “standard Costa version” which is basically an oversized weak latte with a foamy head.
The new market stalls have less variety to them, one particular stall seeming to have a copy of itself every three rows or so. Still, it was warm and I found myself falling into easy conversation with several stall holders.
We walked up to the start of Brick Lane before going on to Borough Market, but the chilly wind which carried midwinter into this first day of spring was not to be endured passively. I turned us around and caught a tube down to Monument, so we could walk across the Thames to the market. As we reached London Bridge I caught my first view of the completed Shard, the tallest tower in Europe, although on this viewing, it doesn’t seem as lofty as Malmo’s Turning Tower, probably because of the way it dissolved into London’s misty sky.
Munson’s nose was immediately engaged by the rich scents of the market. I’ve been there with him several times before, and before that so often with Bondi. It’s one of our favourite London haunts … until today. Apparently “management” now have a no dogs policy (not posted anywhere I saw) so we had to leave – the faceless grey suits are winning over the welcoming smiles and treats from the stall holders and customers. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the policy were enacted entirely without their knowledge.
Back across the Thames, we walked westwards towards Covent Garden again, this time passing St Paul’s Cathedral (my first time). One of the days I’ll get to visit it and the British Museum, I think my two major omissions from London visits … and I just remembered that I had intended to go the Cartoon Museum, and forgot about that.
Covent Garden market welcomed Munson warmly, especially at the Lush store where I went to buy some of their Aromorant deodorant I’ve used for the last decade. I learnt it had been discontinued, but was brought down from my entirely appropriate incandescent rage by the staff swooning over Munson and picking up our spirits after the Borough disappointment. A few people asked where we’d been that day and so I mentioned what had gone on at Borough and they were really surprised, but immediately began suggesting alternate markets to visit in future.
The last stop for the day was the Moomin store, which I discovered purely by chance. Even better news was that they had Moomin tablet sleeves that would fit my new Lenovo Yoga 13; extremely fortuitous given that Lenovo mysteriously abstained from selling the custom cover for this device outside of North America.
The day was concluded with us taking Chris out to dinner at the Ealing Park Tavern, another regular visit when we’re in this part of London. Tonight’s meal neatly bookends Munson’s first night in this hemisphere nearly three years ago.