Take me to Church…..

Oh the places my role as an internship coordinator has taken me, the people I have met. I wrote this piece one year ago. Declaring August 2017 the month of the recycled post, putting this little gem back in the spotlight.

There was a conversation I had last year with an Anglican Priest in Dulwich Hill Sydney.

Over black coffee we chatted for two hours and it transpired that yes, he was interested in hosting a student intern. His questions for me, would I be interested in taking up boxing and joining him on tour of Syria?

That conversation was one of the most interesting I had ever engaged in….it was magical, joyous, life affirming, and it was over too soon…So today, 8 months after my path crossed that of Fighting Father Dave Smith, Australian of the Year Nominee, Work Record holder & all round awesome person…. I returned to his hood, his church, his parish, his people, his Sunday Celebration at 9.15am.

But he was not there – He was doing a peace tour of Iran…

Fighting Father Dave Smith, Martin Place, Sydney

Fighting Father Dave Smith Artwork, Martin Place, Sydney

Physically he was far from home, but by God did I know I was in Fighting Father Dave’s Parish!!
For a start I was set upon my a young boy of 6, he ran down the foot path as he saw me approach the church. He handed me a prayer book and asked if I had ever been to church. I said ‘ yes, but not this one’. He looked puzzled by my answer but let me enter.

Church started at 9.15am, but people arrived when it suited them. This made me smile.

A church band consisting of a drummer, saxophone, piano, guitar played glorious tunes, backed by glorious singing voice.

Children ran joyously around the church during the service. They were free to express themselves even more at what felt like intermission, a Sunday school sing-a-long for kids, complete with instruments for all, dancing and hand gestures. Hard to tell if the kids enjoyed it as much as the adult congregation?!

The open mic announcement mid service were indeed my highlight. Updates from Dave’s wife about the Iran tour, and his boxing for peace work. Parishioners followed with updates on aid work in Fiji, volunteer roles available etc. My favourite announcement was that one parishioner had been unsuccessful in her submission to this  years Archibald portraiture exhibition.

There was singing, sermons, a 5 minute ‘ peace be with you’ approach to spreading the good news, morning tea, birthday cakes, conversation galore, I was clearly an out of towner and people were keen to hear my story.

The morning had it all. Everything except the man himself- Fighting Father Dave Smith.

But by golly gosh was he there….He was everywhere.

A testament to the community man that he is, the church was buzzing with joy, conversation, compassion & kindness, for the young, old and the curious ie me.

My Island Home

Yesterday morning I felt compelled to write a blog post. But as I tried to come up with an angle for a story, scanned the week that was, and those that lay ahead, I deemed nothing noteworthy.

Yet I knew that if I just left my apartment, peeled myself of the couch and actively engaged in the world outside, I’d be bombarded with ideas and inspiration.

Not till 1.57pm did I emerge from my self-imposed cocoon and brave the afternoon. And as I put one foot in front on the other, traversing along the foot path with fellow members of the human race, the story I had wanted to write earlier that day appeared.

As I crossed Abercrombie street, and entering the Block, Redfern, music filled the air. I was drawn to it, and rather than heading straight down Eveliegh  Street, I crossed the road towards the community centre.

The sweet melody that filled the air was by Christine And ‘ My Island Home’ and I slowed down my walking pace, so that I could enjoy the entirety of the tune. The sun shone and I stood transfixed by the lyrics. They were not lost on me, nor the significance of the suburb in which I stood.

This is the type of story that does not have an ending, the narrative continues.

Though confroning, I’m thankful that I stepped outside yesterday and got to witness first hand community issues that are ever present. Stories are everywhere, you just have to step outside yourself to notice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross

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2009 visit to Hernandez with Lisa

A week-long staycation in Sydney comes to an end.

A beauty of a week, winter sunshine, yoga, time by the sea and the company of cherished friends.

A week to indulge in all things I love about city living….and so a visit to Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross. Atmosphere alone, this place is a winner.

It has not been hipsterfied, not a beard or moustache in site, drinks served in coffee cups, not jam jars. A long black is a long black, not a dirty chai latte with a side of nut butter and a butterfly.

Coffee straight up, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

It is iconically Sydney and rightly so – it remains timeless, may it never change.

On this visit I asked for a Vienna Coffee ( long black with whipped cream – I was on holidays after all!) but was informed the cream order had not come in that day.

So I offered a Bon Bon ( sweetened condensed milk, coffee shot topped with frothed mild) – a drink common to the cafe owner’s native home of Spain.

I deliberated over this for some time, then opted for a long black.

To my surprise a complimentary Bon Bon arrived, baby chino size, with my coffee order.

It hit the spot, sugary and sweet. I buzzed out of the coffee  shop, two coffees under my belt and onto my favourite op shop.

A staycation in Sydney should always include a coffee at Hernandez Coffee Shop, Kings Cross, but why stop at one! Timeless, iconically Sydney – may it never change.

 

http://www.cafehernandez.com.au

 

Inner City Living

Today I feel a little more in love with Sydney.

Having recently moved, to what may or may not be my final resting place in the big smoke, I am starting to adjust to my new surrounds.

In all my time as a renter in the city I have always lived in houses, in quiet residential areas with great access to the CBD, always had a garden of sorts, ample street parking for a car and the ability to be beach side in under 20 minutes ( if you left the house at 7am)

It is new for me in live in an apartment, inner city living, constant traffic. I can no longer walk out my front door and feel the earth beneath my feet. Now I walk out the front door, into a lift, ascending four floors before I can be truly grounded.

And within the four walls of my apartment, my life is compact. Everything is shiny and new. The odds and ends that survived the constant move – unpack – eviction – repack – relocate cycle that was my life for 12 years, did not cut the mustard upon unpacking THIS time.

A total overhaul, long over due, much longed for.

It has not been love at first sight by any means, but every time I discover a new convenience that is inner city apartment living, I thank my lucky star that I took this leap of faith back in 2014 and entered the property market.

So why all the gushing today? I discovered the 355 bus, which departs a mere 5 minutes walk from my building, and travels from East to Inner West – joining my favourite parts of the City of Sydney.

I drank an almond piccolo in Eskineville, I shopped at my favourite book store and health food shop on King Street, Newtown. I indulged in some people watching and window shopping, all the while reminiscing about my life as a renter in the part of the city. Fond memories.

So life as an inner city apartment dweller….so far so good.

Each day it gets a little better, deep breathing helps. Change is good, and I am happy with the direction I am headed. This time on foot,public transport, Uber.

The car was sold last year…inner city apartment living does not come with a car space.

But that is just how I like it!!

A place to call home

That view..without big boat

Having lived away from Sydney for the last 4 months- I find each time I return, a sense of disconnect prevails.
Whilst it may not be the Amalfi Coast or French Riviera, there is lavish beauty, opulence and excess to be seen on every corner. It is simply inescapable.
It is a city on heat, a city that is conscious of its good looks and always up for an opportunity to flaunt them.Perhaps I had to retreat South for while to finally see the city in this light- for it had been my home for 14 years & I was seemingly blindsided by its vanity.

In a matter of weeks I will be back ‘ home’ & I’m not sure how I feel about it. If I’m honest, the town I grew up in, Austinmer & surrounding suburbs, has gone though a transformation of its own, and now resembles Byron Bay & the Hipster invasion of the ‘ almond piccolo lattes with a side of kale’ kind.
So I guess I feel a sense of disconnect…. in general.

But beneath the beauty and buzz of Sydney and the South Coast is the ‘ in your face’ awareness of personal suffering, sadness, struggle & hardship. It too is inescapable. Not everyone is ok, not everything is all glitter and light. With both eyes open I am painfully aware of this.

My desire to foster a sense of belonging where ever my ‘home’ may be comes with a sense of social obligation to extend a sense of belonging to those within my local community, and beyond. Everyone has a right to feel safe and loved, a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging, a sense of security, a sense of home.

 

 

 

Roger

image

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Rogers Shoe Repair’s – 88 Redfern Street, Redfern.

The only boot maker worthy of a blog post.

The only boot maker I will probably ever write a blog post about.

The only boot maker I know.
The only boot maker worth knowing.

No boot beyond repair, no sandal buckle beyond salvation.
No high heel unscalable.
Sneakers, flats, clogs, tap shoes, ballet slippers
All worthy of Rogers exquisite craftsmanship
Shoe respite & repair.

Roger is known to repair for free, a smile his only service charge
And if you are lucky, the restoration may come with a perfectly pitched compliment, taking an average encounter to the realm of extraordinary.

‘Thank you for being you’
‘ I don’t need to flirt it get business, so listen when I tell you, I don’t say this often, you are a beautiful women’
‘ I don’t want money, your beautiful smile is enough’

How many people have experienced the ‘ Roger treatment?’

Today, after I collected my boots and newly stitched handbag, I stopped by the local grocery store to buy strawberries & rocky road – for the shoe man who would not take my money.

I feel old when I say ‘ in this day and age, this type of service is unheard off, is other worldly’

But I am old and it is true!

So Roger, thank you for being you.
Your craftsmanship inspires, as does your dedication to promoting goodwill and cheers to the humans of Redfern & their shoes

 

Take me to Church…..

There was a conversation I had last year with an Anglican Priest in Dulwich Hill Sydney.

Over black coffee we chatted for two hours and it transpired that yes, he was interested in hosting a student intern. His questions for me, would I be interested in taking up boxing and joining him on tour of Syria?

That conversation was one of the most interesting I had ever engaged in….it was magical, joyous, life affirming, and it was over too soon…So today, 8 months after my path crossed that of Fighting Father Dave Smith, Australian of the Year Nominee, Work Record holder & all round awesome person…. I returned to his hood, his church, his parish, his people, his Sunday Celebration at 9.15am.

But he was not there – He was doing a peace tour of Iran…

Fighting Father Dave Smith, Martin Place, Sydney

Fighting Father Dave Smith Artwork, Martin Place, Sydney

Physically he was far from home, but by God did I know I was in Fighting Father Dave’s Parish!!
For a start I was set upon my a young boy of 6, he ran down the foot path as he saw me approach the church. He handed me a prayer book and asked if I had ever been to church. I said ‘ yes, but not this one’. He looked puzzled by my answer but let me enter.

Church started at 9.15am, but people arrived when it suited them. This made me smile.

A church band consisting of a drummer, saxophone, piano, guitar played glorious tunes, backed by glorious singing voice.

Children ran joyously around the church during the service. They were free to express themselves even more at what felt like intermission, a Sunday school sing-a-long for kids, complete with instruments for all, dancing and hand gestures. Hard to tell if the kids enjoyed it as much as the adult congregation?!

The open mic announcement mid service were indeed my highlight. Updates from Dave’s wife about the Iran tour, and his boxing for peace work. Parishioners followed with updates on aid work in Fiji, volunteer roles available etc. My favourite announcement was that one parishioner had been unsuccessful in her submission to this  years Archibald portraiture exhibition.

There was singing, sermons, a 5 minute ‘ peace be with you’ approach to spreading the good news, morning tea, birthday cakes, conversation galore, I was clearly an out of towner and people were keen to hear my story.

The morning had it all. Everything except the man himself- Fighting Father Dave Smith.

But by golly gosh was he there….He was everywhere.

A testament to the community man that he is, the church was buzzing with joy, conversation, compassion & kindness, for the young, old and the curious ie me.

Rent Rent Rent

The monopoly board of rental properties in the city of Sydney.

12 years paying weekly sums of my wage towards someone else’s mortgage or investment property

  • Summer Hill
  • Petersham
  • Leichhardt
  • Lilyfield
  • North Randwick
  • Erskineville
  • Camperdown

Shared and solo living

Flora the cat

Mould, cold, flea infestations and make shift solutions to lawn mowing, window cleaning and house improvements

Fabulous flatmate friendships and meals shared over daggy reality television finals of the Bachelor and Farmer Wants a Wife

House and neighbourhood parties, dinners alone & with Flora

Each Sydney Suburb I have loved –Each move prompting me to declare I could never love a Sydney Suburb more.

And as I prepare to pack up my belonging in Camperdown – my personal favourite– I got chatting to a local lady, estimated age 80 +, who joined me in praise for my current ‘hood.

‘Everything here, so easy. I walk to the shops. I walk to the park. No need for change’

I agreed with her whole heartedly.

‘ When I change, I will go to the cemetery! ’

I laughed….’ That too is close!’

Shared laughter

Will it be possible to love another Sydney suburb more?

My track record suggests YES…..but it tugs at my heart-strings to say goodbye to yet another Sydney community I have come to LOVE.

Onwards and Upwards…..

Change is on the horizon!

Danny Lim & Smarty

Having called Sydney home for 11 years I have met a few people in my time. I have even met a few people I would call ‘iconically’ Sydney….and this post series will be dedicated to them.

Icons of Sydney…. A humble person that epitomises this life affirming, pulse racing, draw droppingly beautiful city.

Danny Lim and his dog Smarty.

The pair first caught my attention last year as I drove I along Cleveland Street, Surry Hills. There he stood at a major intersection, adorned with a sign that read – smile, be happy. It was a confronting sight… Heavy morning traffic, a glum winters day, commuters travelling at snail pace, frowning, distracted and dissatisfied with thoughts of yet another 9 hours at a computer desk.

But smile I did when I saw Danny Lim, arms outstretched, smiling, beckoning us all with infectious enthusiasm to do the same.

Fast forward a year, and I run into Mr Lim in North Sydney. I could not help myself- I stop to chat.

‘ You crossed the bridge, you are North side now. Why?’

‘ My work in the city is done. I am needed here’

I look around. He is right. No one is smiling. Danny and Smarty have the work cut out for them.

But they are the right people for the job, if they can’t turn a frown upside down no one can.

Danny Lim & Smarty the Dog- Icons of Sydney.

Why write when you can RUN!!

On Sunday the 11th of August I completed the City2Surf.

City 2 Surf

City 2 Surf

It was the BEST day EVER….

What is the City2Surf? It is the largest fun run in the world. 85,000 people run, walk, hop and or skip the 14 km track from the CBD of Sydney to Bondi Beach.

It was the BEST day EVER!!

For so many reasons….

The sense of community was alive and well. I arrived at the bus stop at 7.21am, only to realise that no bus would be able to stop to collect me….they were filled to capacity. People were squashed like sardines in a can, being propelled forward in big blue rectangles on wheels.

Not I….I high tailed it as soon as I realised a bus ride was not an option, only to be rescued by a lovely lady named ‘ Kerry’ who was driving her husband ‘ Larry’ into the city for the race.

Not only did ‘ Kerry ‘ transport me, but two other men who had remained at the bus stop….‘ Boys, do you want a lift?’ Kerry had yelled out the car window on approach….and sure enough, the two men ran like the starting gun had gone off at the City2Surf….and joined me in the back seat for a ride to the city.

The sense of wonder and fun that comes from running with 85,000 other people along the magnificent running course that is the City2Surf. I ran with the blind, the able-bodied, professional athletes, families, the young, middle-aged, and ‘young at heart’….I ran with people dressed in costumes, from Big Bird and Elmo, Superman, Pokemon and the Smurf Boys of Double Bay.

The sense of happiness and satisfaction that comes from doing something you NEVER thought you would EVER do…And for me, that was run 14kms…I never thought I would possess the fitness level to complete such a task. But I did…and I think I smiled the whole way from Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach.

And when it was all over the accolades poured in…

My Mum and Dad called me a ‘ Champion’

Friends congratulated me on ‘ surviving’, said they ‘ knew I would be ok’, along with lines of ‘ congratulations’ and ‘ well done’

But the text message that inspired me most came from my friend Belinda, who I am told after a few wines, sent me the following well wishes on Friday the 9th of Aug:

‘Just want to wish you all the best for your City2Surf…..You are so COOL, BraVE and CrazY’

Yes, I am cool, brave and crazy cause next year I vow to do it all again!!

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