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!!

City 2 Surf 2013, 11th of August : Sydney CBD to Bondi

I have entered myself in the City 2 Surf, the LARGEST timed road race in the world!!

In two weeks’ time, on Sunday the 11th of August, I will run, walk and or crawl, with all 85,000 other entrants from Sydney CBD to Bondi Beach.

I have mixed emotions about the whole thing, but having been training one day a week with a personal trainer since March…I was questioning what I was going to do with my new level of fitness.

The answer?  A fun run

And I am running for charity. I have not mentioned this not for profit organisation in my blog writing before for fear that if I mentioned it I would not be able to stop.

Check it out via clicking below:

Sydney Story Factory

 The Sydney Story Factory is located in  Redfern Sydney, a not for profit creative writing centre which sole purpose is to encourage children to write.

Trained volunteers (of which I am one) offer free help to children write stories of all kinds. Programs target marginalised young people, and those from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds, but are open to everyone.

I won’t go on…I vow to write more about the Story Factory in other blog entries…but I mention it as it is the charity I have chosen to dedicate my City 2 Surf run to…And YOU can sponsor me!!

I am running with the staff from publishing house ‘Random House’, with all monies raised going to the Sydney Story Factory.

To sponsor me, simply click on the link below.

http://www.fundraise.city2surf.com.au/event/city2surf2013/sponsor_a_friend

Then you type in Random House and donate next to that name.

Thank you in advance, pray for me on the 11th of August and please check out the Sydney Story Factory (it will change your life, as it did mine!!)

Breakast with Kevin Bacon

This time last week I was on a breakfast date with Kevin Bacon at the wonderful cafe, The Grounds of Alexandria, Sydney

But just like the game ‘ Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon‘  wherein movie buffs challenge each other to find the shortest path between an arbitrary actor and Hollywood  actor Kevin Bacon…there was no separating me from the man last Wednesday!!

Kevin Bacon

Kevin Bacon

There can be no words when a picture so cute can say it all.

Kevin Bacon you stole my heart….Had I been introduced to you before I ate my breakfast I might have throught twice about ordering the Ham Hock on toast with smashed peas, parmesan and preserved lemon ( no doubt I ate one of your close relations….six degrees of separation and all)

Eating breakfast each morning with my black cat Flora just does not cut it anymore…my heart belongs to you.

Till we meet again Kevin Bacon….may the Ham Hock on the breakfast menu be removed, replaced by corn fritters or something of that nature…I want to see you on my return!

Kevin Bacon- The Happiest Pig in Sydney

Kevin Bacon- The Happiest Pig in Sydney

CUWAM- Mission Accomplished

All events this week were overshadowed by a single phone call….

‘The ring you had on order has arrived in store’

Time stood still…till I arrived at Tiffany’s and Co on Saturday morning…..

One might say it was lucky that this phone call arrived via mobile on Friday afternoon…for the working week required 99.73% of my attention.

The office focus was our annual International Exchange Fair, where partner universities from around the globe, send representatives to promote the benefits of studying overseas….It was a full on…and I was consumed by the event from Monday through to Wednesday….when I wasn’t awake living and breathing exchange, I was asleep dreaming about it…

Thursday came, and I could breath again….small breaths, in and out…I went shopping for socks and stocking and Target in my lunch break…….still in post-exchange fair recovery mode…only capable of amounts of joy….

And then Friday….a phone call…a mood change…and a new focus.

The little silver bow ring from Tiffany’s and Co that I had fallen in love with in New York city 8 months ago had made its way to the Sydney store…

When in New York, the jewellery focus has been on my friend Jenny, I was buying her a replacement necklace, the original piece had been lost….I had entertained the idea of purchasing myself a piece of silver …the silver ring had graced the middle finger of my left hand for a matter of seconds…and then been returned to the display cabinet….

Five months later, back in Sydney, and pining for the ‘ Big Apple’ it seemed to me that the little bow ring would elevate my mood…I just had to have it.

With the Australian Dollar so strong and with a family friend and cousin venturing to the States on separate holidays…I handed over instructions and payment plans in the hope that they would return to OZ bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and Tiffany jewellery.

Days, weeks, months passed…

Holidays started and ended….

And still the ring was not with its rightful owner…

Two tour of duties of the States had failed to locate a size 7 bow ring….I took matters into my own fingers….logic suggested I place an order for my specific size, in Sydney…

And that is what I did…and the ring is now mine

The ring is mine

The ring is mine

And it would not be a complete post without a song to commemorate this momentous occasion…So a duet, the King, Michael Jackson and Sir Paul McCartney ‘ The Girl is Mine’…when they say ‘ Girl ‘ insert ‘ Ring’…

So go forth and listen to ‘ The Ring is Mine’….oh, and I need to mention that I now have my sights set on a pair of Prada sunglasses? That in itself is another story!!

Whilst the ring acquisition overshadowed most events this week, it was closely rivalled by seeing Bic Runga and her band in concert at the Angel Place Recital Hall, Sydney on Saturday night.

It was inspiring to be in the audience on Saturday evening for on stage, was a women, born to entertain, to tell her story through the medium of music, voice.

Bic Runga’s lyrics captivate, her voice soars….effortlessly her music filled the concert hall….The audience tapped their feet, their hands, anything that the seating venue permitted!!, rested their head on the shoulders of love one when the tempo slowed down…

It was over all to soon… before I knew it I was back on the bus home…but happier, lighter, accompanied by a sweet melody that played over and over in my head…that and the fact that on my left middle finger was a bow, a little silver present to myself!!

Sunday…ah, the joy of Sunday…Inspired by Bic Runga, I dusted of her first album ‘ Drive’…got in my car and headed to Bondi Beach….The sun shone winter is seemed had arrived unannounced, the sea was being whipped by a strong icy wind, autumn leaves danced up and down streets…

I had a coffee at Café of the moment, Bondi Picnic, and then went grocery shopping.

Home by 11am I took part in my own personal cook-off….the rules…to make as many home style dishes whilst using as many kitchen utensils possible.

Two hours later I had one spinach and feta quiche, one batch of pumpkin soup and 24 Anzac biscuits….and as the photos suggest, I was successfully completed part two of the challenge, using every bowl, pot and knife I own!!

And as a result the remainder of Sunday was spent….washing up…

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