51

Rose Bay

RB intro

 

Dear Melburnians, I’m so sorry! I had planned for the 51st suburb to be in your fair city. But as soon as I’d finished Footscray, I made a snap decision to race back to Sydney so my daughter, Coco, could start school along with the rest of her class. After being a complete trooper for the entirety of this project and feeling she’d been out of the loop long enough, it just felt like it was the right thing to do.

We arrived late on a Sunday two weeks ago, rustled up a uniform and Coco was back at school the following day.

I loved Melbourne and was keen to explore another suburb – I hope you can understand.

And so to Sydney. Home. A home I’d fallen even more in love with in 2009/10 after spending a year exploring and photographing 52 of its suburbs, in a project that inspired this project. Although I was disappointed not to be staying longer in Melbourne, I was so looking forward to returning to Sydney after more than a year away.

It was going to be a blast. It was going to feel fantastic. It was going to be the best.

Nup. Not even close.

To begin with, the familiarity was frightening. It felt like coming to a screaming halt after 13 months of wonderful discovery. Instead of the shock of the new I had the shock of the known.

Then just one of our two beloved cats was returned to us; Jinx, whose disappearance I spoke about at the end of this Paris post, had never made it back.

And to top it off, I was worried about my finances. Although I’d been lucky enough to get some support from my wonderful sponsors and Kickstarter people, the project had ended up costing me a pretty penny. Plus I was no longer getting any rental income from my apartment, something I’d relied on to pay my mortgage for the year away – although I knew it would happen, the reality hit home the moment we landed. I’m used to the insecurity of being a freelancer but after such a long absence it would take time to get work.

So instead of rejoicing, I found myself marching to the bottle shop around the corner, tears streaming down my flushed face, conflicted about being home, feeling deeply stressed about money and just so sad about the cat that didn’t make it – this was not how I pictured my first week back.

My blueness was compounded by shame – I’d just had this most amazing year, what right did I have to feel so low?

But as the days passed, my mood improved. It was wonderful to see family and dear friends, and Coco – my amazing little girl – was so happy to be back at school. I loved seeing her being swamped by her mates on the first day – they ran from all points of the playground, “Coco! Coco!”, arms wide open to embrace their long-lost friend.

By the end of the first week back, I was ready to raise my head again and look around – and my first thoughts were, oh god, I’m running even later than usual and what was Suburb No 51 going to be?

A week before we’d floated earthwards into Sydney right over the harbour. A year away had given me the eyes of a tourist and it almost felt like I was seeing the landscape for the first time. But I wasn’t a tourist – I’d explored this city and knew how rich it was with different cultures, that it wasn’t a city without substance, just a pretty face. Its natural beauty was the icing on the cake – but what icing! Not even the leaden sky could take away from its brilliance.

 

arriving back home to a land of water

arriving back home to a land of water

 

 

What struck me the most were the long fingers of water jutting into the green land – and I realised that Sydney’s beauty was as much a part of it as the incredible mix of people who call the city home. Something I’d previously almost eschewed, I now embraced.

Having emerged more or less from my little hole a week later, I decided to make Suburb No 51 somewhere watery, to honour Sydney’s aquatic nature. It also suited my state of mind – and body; I was tired, it was stinking hot and I’d forgotten how blinding Sydney’s sun was.

So I decided on Rose Bay. Somewhere I’d driven through many times before but never really explored.

Some quick facts. Rose Bay is seven km east of the CBD. The largest of Sydney Harbour’s bays, it was the site of Australia’s first international airport – the Sydney Water Airport, so named because the only aircraft that landed there, landed on the water. These ‘flying boats’ operated from 1938 to 1974, through peace and war times. Today, the suburb is noted for being affluent and very Jewish.

Let’s nose.

 

Part 1: On the ‘beach’

Years ago one of my best friends lived in Rose Bay in one of the many apartment blocks. I must’ve visited her there dozens of times but not once did I cross New South Head Road to explore the nearby bay itself. But then as one local said, “we do a good job of keeping it secret”.

What’s so special about it? You can see the city – it’s a 10-15 minute drive – yet when the tide’s out, the place transforms into a South Coast-ish paradise. There’s hardly anyone around except for a few dog owners letting their four-legged ones run madly around the enormous flat (it’s one of the few places dogs are allowed), and fit looking bods paddle-boarding their way around the bay ($10 an hour from Rob who looks on from his chair under the swaying trees). Oh, and crazy people who still think tanning themselves in the midday sun is a good idea.

 

 

from Rome to Rose Bay - Marina, here for 20 years

from Rome to Rose Bay – Marina, here for 20 years

 

 

 

 

crucifying himself - Matteo in the midday sun :: 1

crucifying himself – Matteo in the midday sun :: 1

 

 

 

 

crucifying himself - Matteo in the midday sun :: 2

crucifying himself – Matteo in the midday sun :: 2

 

 

 

 

up vs down the hill - Kincoppal, formerly Rose Bay Convent, and Rose Bay 'beach'

up vs down the hill – Kincoppal, formerly Rose Bay Convent, and Rose Bay ‘beach’

 

 

 

 

dancing dog

dancing dog

 

 

 

 

South Coast-ish

South Coast-ish

 

 

 

 

black and white vs colour

black and white vs colour

 

 

 

 

Part 2: On the promenade

Having had my fill of sun and sand between toes, I walked around to the other side of the bay, past the ferry wharf to get to Rose Bay Promenade.

On the way I met…

A man whose suit I admired who’d just got off the ferry and was walking home – “I like your yellow suit, can I please take your photo?” – turned out to be a famous Sydney businessman called Bill Ferris. What, I asked him, did he think about the cliche that most of Sydney regards the eastern suburbs as being snobs-ville.

“Well”, he said, “the cliche may be well earned but envy abounds”.

As he pointed out his house – one of only a handful right on the beach – I had to agree. I felt positively green.

 

 

"Envy abounds" - Bill Ferris

“Envy abounds” – Bill Ferris

 

 

 

 

On another visit I met an Irishman wearing very little at all – “I like your body, I mean green shorts, can I please take your photo?”. Ricardo – “Well, it’s Richard but people call me Ricardo” – turned out not to be famous at all – just a lovely Irish man in green shorts.

 

 

the Irishman

the Irishman

 

 

 

 

Irish Ricardo

Irish Ricardo

 

 

 

Then there was Harvey, walking home past the ferry with family and friends after a late afternoon play on the sand. I wanted to focus on his charmingly dishevelled straw hat but he had other ideas.

 

 

Zeus, god of dramatic skies - Harvey

Zeus, god of dramatic skies – Harvey

 

 

 

 

Harvey

Harvey

 

 

 

 

And lastly Rowen, who was taking his life in his hands by being in the harbour water at “shark time” – he and his mate had lost their surfboard which had a video camera attached to it for filming their surfing escapades on the harbour. He was retrieving the board from under the jetty when I forced him to stay one moment longer in the sharky water.

 

 

"hurry up, it's shark time" - Rowen

“hurry up, it’s shark time” – Rowen

 

 

 

 

Part 3: At Rose Bay shops

I really only had eyes for Rose Bay’s shore and promenade. But I reluctantly dragged myself away from them to try and capture other aspects of the suburb.

I’m so glad I did or I would never have met a delightful Polish woman called Barbara. She and her Polish husband, Tadeusz, have run the Craftsman Bakery on Old South Head Road for 20 years. They fled their homeland in 1983, arriving in Sydney not long after.

When they first got off the plane, Barbara asked her husband, “Why are they blowing hot air at us?” Now, decades later, she loves Sydney’s heat and sun – “Every day is like a holiday!”

Which is amazing considering the workload they both have – Barbara gets up at 4am six mornings a week, and works through to 4pm. Her husband then bakes from 7pm to 4am. “So you never see each other?”, I asked. No, she said, we do – every Friday afternoon when they both down tools to celebrate Shabbat. “I thank god there’s a Friday”.

 

 

"When do I see my husband? For Shabbat, on Friday night, I love it!" - Barbara

“When do I see my husband? For Shabbat, on Friday night, I love it!” – Barbara

 

 

 

 

and challah

and challah

 

 

 

 

"I grind the poppy seeds myself, makes it special"

“I grind the poppy seeds myself, makes it special”

 

 

 

 

I don’t imagine Barbara’s popular Poppy Twirls and challah bread will be around for too long – the rent has recently gone up and at 65 years of age, she and Tadeusz are nearing retirement. Yet nothing seems to weigh Barbara down – she’s one of those incredibly kind, happy people. What was her secret to happiness – “Working and talking to people, sharing problems, yes, that’s it”.

Across the road from Barbara’s little Polish corner is Rose Bay’s Greek one – St. George Greek Orthodox Parish.

I caught the end of the Sunday service there last week and met little Yianna, newly Christened.

 

 

three flowers - seven month old Yianna being christened at St. George Greek Orthodox Parish

three flowers

 

 

 

 

tiny frills

tiny frills

 

 

 

 

Some days later I was wandering around Old South Head Road when I noticed twins dressed for the beach. Brothers Eidan and Osher, who are actually a year apart, were off with their Israeli mum to a friend’s pool. Would they let me take their photo? No! What about if we gave them a chocolate? Yes!

 

 

Eidan and Osher - pre-bribe

Eidan and Osher – pre-bribe

 

 

 

 

post-bribe

post-bribe

 

 

 

 

Part 4: On the water

Having at least explored a little of Rose Bay beyond the bay, I let myself be drawn back to the water’s edge. One afternoon I took Coco down there after school. While she was busy cartwheeling and drawing in the sand, I got chatting to a Danish man who was dangling his feet into the shallow water from a small runabout. As I took his photo, Lars explained that he lived on a boat moored out in the bay, and was just on shore to walk his small dog, Maddy.

Oh, I said, really. Any chance of us having a nose around your boat?

Total cheek. But as his wife was off visiting a friend and he had no plans, he said we were welcome to.

Motoring out to get to his boat, 49 foot long ‘Nanok’, I was partly excited and partly crossing my fingers Lars wasn’t an axe murderer. As you do.

Thankfully he turned out to be a most charming man, without any axe murdering tendencies, married to an equally lovely woman, Elise (we ran into them both by complete chance the next day).

 

 

waiting for Maddy to finish her walk - Lars

waiting for Maddy to finish her walk – Lars

 

 

 

 

bound for Nanok :: 1

bound for Nanok :: 1

 

 

 

 

bound for Nanok :: 2

bound for Nanok :: 2

 

 

 

 

Once on board, we had a snoop around as Lars told us more about their life. Twenty odd years ago, when their kids were three and five, they’d spent four years cruising around the Pacific. They’d all loved it – even the home schooling part. Having endured rather than enjoyed home schooling last year, I was curious. But as Lars explained, they’d had plenty of time to do it – it had only ever become challenging when they met other boats without any kids who wanted to kick back and enjoy the sun and island life.

20 years later, with their kids now adults, Lars and Elise were back at sea – they’d left their home in Brisbane and had been travelling for six months with no plans to stop. “I could do this forever”, Lars said, “but I’m not sure about my wife.” Out of ten, how much did he love it? “12”. And Elise? “Maybe six.”

Lars had spent five years full time building Nanok, a boat designed in the Colin Archer style – which meant it was an extremely safe, sea-going vessel with four corner sails rather than the usual triangle shape.

And how did they end up moored in Rose Bay? “Some friends told us about it. Pretty nice isn’t it?”

 

 

five years in the making - Lars on board Nanok

made with his own hands – Lars on board Nanok

 

 

 

 

"It's my dad's mandolin"

“It’s my dad’s mandolin”

 

 

 

 

what's up there?

what’s up there?

 

 

 

 

getting towards sunset

getting towards sunset

 

 

 

 

time to go

time to go

 

 

 

 

goodbye Nanok

goodbye Nanok

 

 

 

 

The next day Coco and I were back in Rose Bay when, as I mentioned earlier, we ran into Lars and Elise. All Coco wanted to do was go back on their boat – it was so much fun, and we hadn’t even sailed anywhere. I agreed – having never really ‘got’ boats, I found myself wondering if I should learn how to sail. But small problem – I’m not so keen on the keeling bit.

 

 

rigging

rigging

 

 

 

 

snakes and ladders

snakes and ladders

 

 

 

 

Part 5: In the air

While walking along Rose Bay Promenade one day, I met Valerie and John. Now in her 70s, Valerie had come to Sydney from England as an 11 year old, 66 years ago. But instead of arriving by ship as most did, she was one of the lucky few to arrive by “flying boat”, right here at Rose Bay.

I knew about the seaplanes that took off from Sydney Seaplanes at Rose Bay – I’d walked past their base many times in the past week, watching their footed planes rise from the water into the sky – but I had no idea they were part of a long tradition of aquatic aviation in the area. Because Rose Bay was in fact the first international airport in Australia, the Sydney Water Airport – from 1938 to 1974, passengers arrived and departed on a watery runway, from and to all parts of the world.

Valerie’s journey from England to Sydney had taken just 9 days – amazing at the time when a flight in a normal plane required a whopping 31 stops.

But not everyone could afford to fly on the luxurious Empire Class flying boats – one ticket cost the equivalent of an average annual wage.

After meeting Valerie I researched the whole flying boat thing and got more and more excited about the idea of going up in one. Maybe not the Empire Class of old but one of those nifty looking seaplanes based at Rose Bay.

Which is how I ended up strapped into a de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, camera at the ready…

 

 

Valerie arrived in Sydney 66 years ago, landing at Sydney Water Airport, Rose Bay

Valerie arrived in Sydney 66 years ago, landing at Sydney Water Airport, Rose Bay

 

 

 

 

ready for boarding - our plane arrives

ready for boarding – our plane arrives

 

 

 

 

preparing for take-off

preparing for take-off

 

 

 

 

a sandstone city

a sandstone city

 

 

 

 

turn left at Bondi to circle back

turn left at Bondi to circle back

 

 

 

 

far from China

far from China

 

 

 

 

at an angle

at an angle

 

 

 

 

double coat hanger

double coat hanger

 

 

 

 

icons dwarfed by harbour

icons dwarfed by harbour

 

 

 

 

let's keep going please captain!

let’s keep going please captain!

 

 

 

 

arrivals lounge

arrivals lounge

 

 

 

 

pumping out the floats

pumping out the floats

 

 

 

 

hosing off the salt

hosing off the salt

 

 

 

 

goodbye de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver

goodbye de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver

 

 

 

 

Long a fan of flying – the wilder and more turbulent the better – I felt so uplifted (no pun intended) by my 15 minutes in the air. Really, we could’ve flown anywhere and I would’ve loved it. But the fact that we flew over one of the most beautiful harbours in the world, with the light turning its surface into glistening snakeskin, well, that just made it even better.

It was a wonderful way to finish in Rose Bay. Many thanks to Sydney Seaplanes for taking me up!

 

The Wrap

After my flight, I walked into Catalina restaurant, a Rose Bay/Sydney institution perched over the water, right next to Sydney Seaplanes, and was treated to a five course dinner and champagne.

 

 

sunset at Catalina

sunset at Catalina

 

 

Okay, no, that bit didn’t happen. I actually went home and cooked sausages for Coco and I, and was happy as Larry. Perfectly content after my week in the elements – I’d gotten sand between my toes, pretended to live on a boat, and soared into the heavens.

Rose Bay for me is all about that stuff. And while not everyone can afford to live there – or take to the skies or water – it doesn’t cost a cent to sit out on a picnic blanket, right on the water, and take it all in.

It was the perfect way to re-enter ‘normal life’ – by realising that you can still have mini adventures, even in your own city.

 

 

 

finally, friends

finally, friends

 

 

On the ‘home front’

After spending just over a year setting up temporary homes in 13 cities – a total of 18 different addresses – we’re finally back in our own city and home.

So what’s it like?

As I said at the beginning of the post, for me, it’s been a little stormy, much like the skies in Sydney this past week. But for Coco? Smooth as.

For example, a friend asked her how the trip was. “So much fun”, she answered. And then he asked, so how’s being back at school? “So much fun”.

She’s really just one of the happiest, ‘go with the flow’ people I know. Stuck in my little hole last week, doing circles in my head and not much more, I watched Coco attack the unpacking with great gusto and organise her room, chirpy as ever.

And school? Given how unscheduled her life has been for so long, I really thought she might struggle with the routine, and just having to sit down and pay attention. But so far so good. While maths might be a bit of an issue, she seems to be okay with the whole lessons-classroom thing.

And her friends? It’s like she’s never been away. She just slipped right back into her group as well as making a new bestie within the first few days.

In short, I find my daughter inspirational.

While I’m at it, can I just say to those who’ve been on this journey with us for quite a while, I reckon you’re pretty fabulous too. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again a few hundred more times before I’m done – truly, this whole thing would not have been what it was without you. Just Coco and I travelling around the world on our own? Nah, never. What fun would that have been?

  —

This suburb has been brought to you by John Agostini

See you next week – for the very last post.

 

46

Prospect Park South

PPS intro

 

Bit late and a little early but Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hope it was and will be a wonderful time.

To the final NY post before we jump on yet another plane to fly to… Let me get to that. First, let’s wander around a neighbourhood I had no intention of doing – but am very glad I did.

Remember last week I said I wanted to see how the ‘tale of two cities’ was going by exploring a neighbourhood that barely noticed Hurricane Sandy and then one that most definitely did? Well, after doing the UWS as the former, we were all set to do the latter by trekking out to the Rockaways. But then I was told by someone who’d recently been out there that it wouldn’t be easy to actually photograph the aftermath of the storm because so much of it had been cleared, and I was better off going somewhere like Coney Island, where perhaps I’d see more.

So off we went to Coney Island – but found little there too. All the areas that were affected by the hurricane face real long-term problems – you just can’t see them easily.

As much as I’d like to have documented a neighbourhood struggling to regroup, I decided to cut my losses and go to plan B – a tiny neighbourhood called Prospect Park South in Brooklyn.

If you ask the average New Yorker about PPS, they’re likely to say, “Where?”. Admittedly it’s small – around six by two blocks with just 206 homes – but it packs a punch for a micro-neighbourhood. Because most of the houses here are big. In some cases, huge.

Some facts. PPS was designed by developer Dean Alvord at the turn of last century as a piece of “country in the city”, just south of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. But instead of building humble cooker-cutter cottages Alvord dreamed up an eclectic, whimsical and somewhat crazy mix of Colonial, Queen Anne, Italianate, French Renaissance, Japanese, Elizabethan and Jacobean. I can only imagine this was a man who wore interesting suits.

The really amazing thing is that if Alvord could walk the streets of his creation today, he’d barely notice any changes. The community who live here are pro-preservation and in 1978 PPS was designated a historic district. Something Miles the artist-preservationist from last week’s post would’ve no doubt raised a glass to.

Let’s stroll…

 

Part 1: Where did Brooklyn go?

Like I said, first we visited Coney Island, a low lying area of NY and one that was affected quite badly by the storm surge. Not that you’d know it if you just glanced at the place. On a day where there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, it was easy to think that the hurricane had never happened.

 

 

what hurricane?

what hurricane? :: 1

 

 

 

 

Maybe a little dirtier than normal…

 

 

what hurricane? :: 2

what hurricane? :: 2

 

 

 

 

But that was about all you could see – sure there was a Cyclone there, but that was just one of the rides. And even it was still standing after the storm. So we trotted off to Prospect Park South for an entirely different experience.

 

 

we trotted off to Prospect Park South

we trotted off to Prospect Park South

 

 

 

 

It’s so weird. You exit the subway at Church Avenue, which is kind of down at heel. You walk a little and then suddenly you realise you’ve crossed an invisible line, one that separates normal Brooklyn and Prospect Park South…

 

 

Church Avenue, where you 'leave' NY to cross into another world

Church Avenue, where you ‘leave’ NY to cross into another world

 

 

 

 

that's a house?!

that’s a house?!

 

 

 

 

As I said, there are about 200 homes here, in varying states ranging from pristine to those in need of repair. Because as much as the people who live here adore their old homes, they cost an enormous amount to maintain. The one below, for example, is apparently costing its owner over a million just to bring it back to life. These homes are clearly more than a roof over one’s head – they’re love affairs.

 

 

being "loved back" to life

being “loved back” to life

 

 

 

 

I was lucky enough to meet the woman they call the “Queen” of the neighbourhood, Mary Kay Gallagher. Not long after moving into the area almost 50 years ago with her husband and six kids, she became the neighbourhood’s only real estate broker – if you wanted to buy in PPS, you had to make it past Mary Kay. She also played a huge role in getting the landmark designation through in 1979 and is active in the local resident’s group, the PPS Association. At 92 she’s sharp as a tack and still running her real estate business, although now her grand-daughter is her “legs”. How many homes come onto the market each year, I asked her? “Ten would be a good year”. And the price? “Around 1.5”. Cheap by Sydney standards.

 

 

the Queen of Prospect Park South, Mary Kay Gallagher

the Queen of Prospect Park South, Mary Kay Gallagher

 

 

 

 

surveying her kingdom

surveying her kingdom

 

 

 

 

So who lives here, aside from Mary Kay? Things have changed a little from the early 1900s when you had to be of a certain type. Alvord’s comments in the original prospectus were: “In fixing upon a location for a home, it is pleasant to live where wife and children, in going to and fro, are not subjected to the annoyance of contact with the undesirable elements of society”.

But you still have to be wealthy enough to afford both the initial purchase price as well as the hefty ongoing costs. Which might explain why the area has always had a huge number of doctors and still does – like Chris, who despite his flamboyant style of dress, is an MD, living in one of the more moderately sized homes with his wife and daughter.

 

 

Chris the doctor

Chris the doctor

 

 

 

 

Dan, who lives down the road from Chris, with his wife and two boys, isn’t a doctor. But he bought a famous surgeon’s house just over three years ago. He’d spent years searching for the right house in the area – and tried Mark Kay Gallagher’s patience in the process. In the end she rang him and said, “Dan, I’ve showed you loads of houses. I’m going to show you one more and if you don’t like it, never call me again”.

Luckily for both of them, Dan loved the last house she showed him. It wasn’t a mansion – because Dan didn’t want anything too big – and it was a great deal. While it’s not the grandest or prettiest, Dan’s completely in love with both the neighbourhood and his home – “We live in a palace. We have chooks and I grow my own fruit and vegetables out the back. There’s space for the boys to run around and it’s really safe. The Upper West Side where we used to live couldn’t have given us any of this.”

 

 

room to move - Nathan and Calvin :: 1

room to move – Nathan and Calvin :: 1

 

 

 

 

room to move - Nathan and Calvin :: 2

room to move – Nathan and Calvin :: 2

 

 

 

 

happy in their hood

happy in their hood

 

 

 

 

"We live in a palace. A palace with chooks" - Dan

“We live in a palace. A palace with chooks” – Dan

 

 

 

 

Part 2: The Japanese House

My favourite house out of the 200 is the one everyone calls “The Japanese house”. Built in 1902, it looks so out of place in Brooklyn, NY, it isn’t funny. But that’s what’s so cool about it. What was Alvord thinking?

 

 

the Japanese House :: 1

the Japanese House :: 1

 

 

 

 

the Japanese House :: 2

the Japanese House :: 2

 

 

 

 

the Japanese House :: 3

the Japanese House :: 3

 

 

 

 

Given the temple-like exterior you almost expect to walk into a zen-like, sparsely decorated interior. But no. The home of Gloria Fischer and her late husband, Albert, is anything but sparse. They’ve lived here for 40 years and have been collecting things from all over the world for just as long.

 

 

40 years of collecting later :: 1

40 years of collecting later :: 1

 

 

 

 

40 years of collecting later :: 2

40 years of collecting later :: 2

 

 

 

 

I loved Gloria. Like Mary Kay Gallagher, she ain’t a wallflower. But once they work out you’re not a total idiot, it’s just fine. Then they’re only a little bit scary.

 

 

Gloria

Gloria

 

 

 

 

"My house is very much part of me, yes"

“My house is very much part of me, yes”

 

 

 

 

Like me, Gloria loves juxtaposing the unexpected – as must have Alvord. Why else would he have plonked a Japanese house right next door to a Greek one?

 

 

Gloria's Greek neighbour

Gloria’s Greek neighbour

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Showing their age

Unlike the 100+ year old homes that are well maintained, there are a handful of ones in the neighbourhood that have let themselves go a little. The result varies – some look lovely in their old age, others more than a little spooky.

I particularly like the one where an entire side is covered in some sort of vine. It’s right next door to the one that’s being “loved back to life” – whereas with this one nature is busy reclaiming its ground.

 

 

nature reclaims its ground :: 1

nature reclaims its ground :: 1

 

 

 

 

nature reclaims its ground :: 2

nature reclaims its ground :: 2

 

 

 

 

bird on a branch

bird on a branch

 

 

 

 

And I’m intrigued by the spooky house down the road that is apparently used a lot for films – spooky films I’m sure.

 

 

the spooky place

the spooky place

 

 

 

 

Part 4: The sage green house

Now what I haven’t told you is that I’ve been to PPS before, many times in fact. Because this is where the sister of our friend Chris from the UWS lives – Mary K, with her husband, Bill, and their three kids. Had I not come here with Chris many years ago, I would probably never have known about it either.

When plan A fell through this week – to visit an area affected by the hurricane – I immediately thought of PPS. I’ve always loved it and since this was where we were going to spend Christmas eve and morning, it made sense.

Plus we were invited to their annual Caroling Party a few days before Christmas, where around 80 of their friends pile into their home to make merry around the piano.

A perfect opportunity to test out something I’ve never tried before – a flash!

 

 

109 years old and still going strong

109 years old and still going strong

 

 

 

 

Silent Night, not - the Caroling Party

Silent Night, not – the Caroling Party

 

 

 

 

The house isn’t the biggest in PPS but it’s plenty big enough to keep every age group happy: the adults downstairs, the teenagers on the third floor and the kids, on the second floor in the TV room or running up and down wherever they fancied.

 

 

the teenagers room

the teenagers room

 

 

 

 

the kids room :: 1

the kids room :: 1

 

 

 

 

the kids room :: 2

the kids room :: 2

 

 

 

 

the chill-out room

the chill-out room

 

 

 

 

Previously always opposed to using a flash, I decided to make a feature of it and have some fun. Helped along no doubt by the malted red wine Mary K insist I try.

 

 

engaged couple No 1

engaged couple No 1

 

 

 

 

engaged couple No 2

engaged couple No 2

 

 

 

 

1am and still singing

1am and still singing

 

 

 

 

Part 5: Christmas morning

Coco and I joined Chris and Mary K’s family for Christmas eve dinner and then stayed overnight. Christmas morning was no different to any over – the kids are awake at the crack of dawn, dragging bleary eyed adults downstairs to the tree. A flurry of present giving and then everyone kind of flops.

Unless there’s a pesky woman with a camera ushering you out the door for a Christmas morning shot.

 

 

Christmas morning - Ellie and Audrey

Christmas morning – Ellie and Audrey

 

 

 

 

no snow but at least the sun is shining

no snow but at least the sun is shining

 

 

 

 

Coco and I had time for one last look around the lovely old house and then it was time to thank Mary K and everyone, and head back to the UWS.

 

 

looking down from the third floor - PPS, where even the traffic island is beautiful

looking down from the third floor – PPS, where even the traffic island is beautiful

 

 

 

 

The Wrap

People don’t come to Prospect Park South for the interesting street life – there is none. They come because of the houses.

“I, Home Owner, do take thee house… in sickness and in health, till death – or lack of funds to keep you in new clapboard and shingles, dormer windows, stained glass, and the odd Greek column or two – do us part.”

They’re commitments, often life-long ones. And they must be buggers to heat. But what houses they are.

 

 

 

Coco's favourite plaything on Christmas morning - Moo, a rescue kitten from the hurricane

Coco’s favourite plaything on Christmas morning – Moo, a rescue kitten from the hurricane

 

 

 

On the ‘home front’

‘Christmas in NY’ is quite something. What with all the shows, the ice-skating, the walks in Central Park and along Fifth Avenue. Not that we’ve done any of that – no time I’m afraid. As it was, just adding a few social events into the mix has meant I’m yet again running late, later than usual even.

But it was a wonderful thing to spend it with our lovely friends – many thanks (again) Chris, Mary K, Bill, Ellie, Audrey and Quentin. 

And although my ‘tale of two cities’ didn’t pan out quite as I would’ve liked, I loved the two neighbourhoods we ended up exploring.

Tomorrow morning Coco and I are on the move once again. After much deliberation – so much – I’ve finally fixed on the next three weeks of this project. New Zealand!

Remember we had to use our existing Round the World tickets back to Sydney before 30 December? So just as exciting as the prospect of seeing NZ for the first time is that we’ll be home in Sydney on Sunday morning! Oh my god. Home. H.O.M.E. I actually can’t believe it!

Our Round the World tickets take us from LA to Sydney and then we’ll catch our breath for two days before catching a short flight to Auckland. So the first post will be the end of next week hopefully.

And after New Zealand? By then we should be up to ‘Suburb’ No 49 with only three more to go. Three! Of course I don’t quite know exactly where they’ll be – but between now and then I’m sure my brain will let me know.

 —

This suburb has been brought to you by Sarah Trew

See you next week.

 

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