52

Coogee

C_Intro

 

What’s slower than a snail? Whatever it is, I’ve moved slower than it the last couple of weeks. Not only am I hopeless in Sydney’s steamy summer heat – my body must have also got wind of the fact it was home; after a year of pounding pavements and putting up with late nights, jet lag and whatever, it decided to slow to a crawl.

But I suspect I’ve also been dragging No 52 out – it’s the last one! Wah!

Added to all that is the fact that life finally intervened – bits of work, kid stuff, etc – and I’ve let it. After so many months of feeling a constant pressure to post every week, I decided to take my sweet time. Why rush the last? Who’s counting?

Anyway, they’re all the excuses I can think of right now. I could probably rustle up a few more but do we care? Shouldn’t we just press on – to the very last suburb on 52 Suburbs Around the World?

Ladies and gents, teens and tweens, may I present suburb No 52… Coogee.

To be honest, I’ve never really known what to make of the place despite the fact we live in the suburb next door. While I loved one small corner of it – Wylies Baths – the rest never enticed. Too crowded with people and buses maybe? Impossible to park? For whatever reason, Coogee has always been just somewhere to drive through on my way to visit friends in Maroubra.

So why did I choose it to finish the project with? I was curious, would my impression of it change once I’d actually had a closer look? But mainly it was the fact it had a pool. A body of water I could submerge my tired, hot body in – with a camera! Shooting underwater is something I’ve always wanted to try – when Uge from the blog Aquabumps offered his underwater housing for me to play with, I jumped at the chance (thanks Uge!).

A little background to Coogee… Eight km SE of the city, Coogee is part of the ‘Eastern suburbs’ of Sydney. Name comes from the Aboriginal ‘koojah’, meaning smelly place, which may or may not refer to the copious amounts of seaweed that wash up on the beach. Anyone wanting a dip here is spoilt for choice, from Gordons Bay to the beach itself or one of the four ocean pools around the place. One of the more sporty suburbs – aside from swimming there’s surf lifesaving, beach volleyball and rugby.

Grab your swimmers, slap on some goo and let’s get beachside.

 

Part 1: First impressions

As I said, I haven’t necessarily been a fan to date. But when I actually took the time to really look around, I was delighted by the old word charm of Coogee; okay, the way they’ve landscaped the beach isn’t to my liking (is it the tiles? the awning?) but I loved the few remaining examples of kitschy signage and original flats around the place, and the incredible charm of Wylie’s Baths.

 

 

blue world :: 1

blue world :: 1

 

 

 

 

blue world :: 2

blue world :: 2

 

 

 

 

colours of the ocean

colours of the ocean

 

 

 

 

vivid - Jemma and Jade

vivid – Jemma and Jade

 

 

 

 

two, one, pull!

two, one, pull!

 

 

 

 

Wylie's and Boo

Wylie’s and Boo

 

 

 

 

of the sea :: 1

of the sea :: 1

 

 

 

 

written on his body

written on his body

 

 

 

 

circles

circles

 

 

 

 

seascapes

seascapes

 

 

 

 

we're all boat people

we’re all boat people

 

 

 

The one advantage of taking so long with this final post is I’ve seen Coogee in hugely different weather. While the last few days have been sublime, I loved the drama of the stormy big seas and wild winds we had a few weeks back.

 

 

"It's too windy to do my fire tricks" - Melba from Chilee

“It’s too windy to do my fire tricks” – Melba from Chilee

 

 

 

 

tangled

tangled

 

 

 

Stormy Sunday

Stormy Sunday

 

 

 

 

I think the image below is my favourite. It was so windy, I’m not sure I caught the words – but I think Venus said they were from Parramatta. You can’t tell from the picture but all the kids had gone in the water fully dressed – and why not? Too much fun not to.

 

 

visiting from the suburbs - Venus and her family

visiting from the suburbs – Venus and her family

 

 

 

 

Part 2: Heidi

Coco and I were hanging around the pool at the southern end of Coogee Beach on a stormy afternoon when I noticed an older woman emerging from the pool. I probably wouldn’t have looked twice had it not been for the snorkel and the bronzed skin – or the bikini.

It turned out that 63 year old Heidi owns a handful of bikinis. Because every day she swims. Not just once but up to seven times a day. And each time, she likes to change into a dry bikini. So she can do what she does in between swimming – paint.

Heidi was born in Germany, coming out to Australia at the age of seven. For 40 years she’s been swimming every day at Coogee, no matter what the weather. Usually across the beach, retreating to the pool only when it’s just too rough.

When she was working as a graphic designer and art teacher, she would always find time to throw herself in the salty stuff at least once a day. Now she’s retired, she fills her days doing what she loves – swimming and painting.

Hooray! I want to be like Heidi when I grow up.

 

 

first she paints :: 1

Heidi’s studio :: 1

 

 

 

 

first she paints :: 2

Heidi’s studio :: 2

 

 

 

 

then she swims :: 1

water colours :: 1

 

 

 

 

then she swims :: 2

water colours :: 2

 

 

 

 

water colours

water colours :: 3

 

 

 

 

of the sea :: 2

of the sea :: 2

 

 

 

 

Part 3: Beneath

Swimming, love it. Photography, love it. Combine the two and I’m in heaven. Which in this case ain’t skyward – it’s beneath…

 

 

last day of summer

last day of summer

 

 

 

 

above - Mali

above – Mali

 

 

 

 

between

between

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 1 - Adam and Jess

beneath :: 1 – Adam and Jess

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 2 - Briar

beneath :: 2 – Briar

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 3 -Tia

beneath :: 3 -Tia

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 4 - Coco

beneath :: 4 – Coco :: 1

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 5 - Coco :: 2

beneath :: 5 – Coco :: 2

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 6

beneath :: 6

 

 

 

 

beneath :: 7

beneath :: 7

 

 

 

 

As much as I loved the experience of shooting underwater, I left feeling like I barely touched the surface, so to speak. I could do a year long project just on that alone – 52 Suburbs Underwater?!

 

 

The Wrap

What I loved about Coogee is its faded seaside-ness and its lack of pretension or feeling of exclusivity. An Eastern Suburb it might be but everyone is welcome here.

And I have changed my tune about the place. It’s gone from just a place to drive through to somewhere I’d actually like to go. For one, I rediscovered the joy of Wiley’s Baths – amazingly no one has buggered it up and it looks pretty much exactly the same as it did 20 years ago when I used to drive all the way across town just to enjoy it.

Shocking I know, but in all that time I never once hopped over to Coogee Beach itself. This time I actually got sand between my toes and had a look. I loved the northern headland that catches the last light, and the way the beach is bookended with ocean pools, one hemmed in by walls, the other a more natural affair. And I particularly enjoyed it when the wind was so strong you had to walk sideways, much like a crab.

 

 

Oh no, really? Is it that time already?

I’ve been so looking forward to and so dreading this moment – talk about mixed emotions.

Coogee Beach was a lovely place to express my thoughts…

 

 

this has been 52 Suburbs Around the World

this has been 52 Suburbs Around the World!

 

 

 

 

a tale of two chicks circumnavigating the globe

a tale of two chicks circumnavigating the globe

 

 

 

 

we've walked and photographed our butts off

we’ve walked and photographed our butts off

 

 

 

 

thank you everyone, wherever you live

thank you everyone, wherever you live

 

 

 

 

gratitude

gratitude

 

 

There are so many people I want to thank.

To everyone who joined us on the journey, thank you! Not only were you the best virtual travel companions ever. You also played a critical role in keeping me going. It was hugely motivating to know you would be checking in each week – it made me push myself that little bit harder, to make the experience the best it could be for you. And every comment anyone left would give me a thrill – every single one.

Thank you in particular to those blog followers from other cities who sent suburb suggestions or invited us to meet up with them – while we met countless wonderful people on the streets every day, to actually have a local we could call on who would happily share their knowledge of their city as well as their support for the project was very special.

So thank you, thank you!

I also want to thank everyone who helped to make the project fly, literally – from my wonderful Kickstarter supporters to my fabulous sponsors. The project has ended up costing me personally more than I’d expected but if I hadn’t gotten that initial support from you in the beginning, I would never have embarked on the journey. 

Thanks to those amazingly clever people who were on the tools behind the scenes. Stephen Lead for dutifully updating the map every week, thank you! And Kate Johnstone and Kat Clark for designing and revising the blog whenever required.

Many thanks to our friends and family for your constant love and support. And to the wonderful friends who housed us in NY, LA, Auckland and Melbourne, and put up with us either never there or me huddled over the computer all day and night.

I am of course eternally grateful to everyone who appeared on the blog – in many cases you let me take your photograph even though we could barely communicate. I’d stumble over my written script in Japanese or Italian or whatever and you’d kindly nod and smile. You’re all legends in my eyes.

And finally I have to thank a kid called Coco. It’s too early in the morning to spout tears so I’ll be quick. Given what a marathon this project was, given all the hours spent wandering aimlessly, given the fact there were no friends around for a year – given all this, I’m not sure I could have done this project with another child. Coco, thank you, for being an absolute bloody trooper and the most delightful person to spend a year with, 24/7.

Remember Coco at the beginning of the project? Eight years old and seemingly half the body size she is now.

 

 

only a year ago - Coco in Hong Kong

only a year ago – Coco in Hong Kong

 

 

 

You’ve watched her grow over the year – and in more ways than one. Always caring and kind, her experience of seeing the world and of meeting people often much less fortunate than herself has made her an even more compassionate human being.

And you know what was an unexpected delight? The way many of you became defacto aunties and uncles to Coco. Given it was just she and I for most of the time we were away, it was incredibly comforting to know you were there, like an extended virtual family. It warmed my heart many times.

Ultimately I feel extremely lucky. I’ve been able to do what I love for an entire year – exploring, photographing and sharing. Looking back, I can’t believe how little else I did, aside from keep Coco fed and watered. It’s been an obsession alright but a most wonderful obsession.

And to share it with my daughter as well as you all has been absolutely incredible.

So dear virtual travel companions, this is where the journey ends. Not entirely – I intend to keep the blog going until at least July when the images you’ve been looking at on your computer screen will take on another life at the Museum of Sydney for a four month long exhibition. I’ll be blogging about things various, details TBD.

But as far as our traipsing around the world for a year, well yes, that part is over. But whatever happens, we’ll always have Paris – and Hong Kong, New Delhi, Istanbul, Rome, Berlin, New York, LA, Tokyo, Kyoto, Auckland, Wellington, Melbourne and Sydney.

Much much love from Coco and I.

 

 

bye

bye

 

 

 

 

the end

the end

 

 

 

This suburb has been brought to you by Chris Korczowski • Ben Ho • Jennifer Parker

See you soon.

 

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?

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See you next week – for the very last post.

 

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