Letters to my parents – 1968

In February 1968 I traveled to Australia as a young Karitane Nurse. Recently the letters I wrote home were discovered, my Mother had kept them all and some of the snippets, I think, are worth repeating here. Remembering  I was raised on a farm in Central Otago and then I had been to boarding school so I had a rather sheltered up bringing!!  My letter writing was prolific, 3-4 pages hand written most weeks. Postage was 7c Airmail to New Zealand. Continue reading

Sydney for EASTER or VIVID –

If you are travelling to Sydney read on..image

I always book a Silver Service cab to take me to the Sydney airport from wherever I am. They are reliable, an excellent service. However they are more difficult to locate on arrival in Sydney so I usually take pot luck with a taxi off the ramp or better still take the train to the city then find a cab…much cheaper.
On arrival I had pre -booked  Corporate Cabs Australia and they didn’t turn up!!

I’ve blogged about Sydney several times, check out this blog for day trip ideas and other tips.

Cafes, there are hundreds to choose from and some are doing very innovative food creations.

Menu items that caught my attention in Sydney this week were:
At my local Clovelly cafe The Top Hat I spied these:

Toast with sour cherry, fresh figs, ricotta and honey served on sour cherry toast.

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Drinks
Cold Drip Japanese filter coffee served on ice

Iced Chai
Affogato Expresso served with scoop of ice cream; Yes we have affogato on menus too, desert menus but this was on their drinks menu-
You could easily swap the Sour cherry toast for raisin bread I think!

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Lot 19 Cafe in Elizabeth Bay –
Poached eggs in clay on ratatouille with grana Padang and dipping toast
Juice
The Horny Bunny – Apple carrot ginger and celery.

I only had coffee and that was excellent and the folk were friendly.

Lunch
Fratelli Paradiso

A fabulous small Italian restaurant serving fresh cuisine, menu sample here.
Calamari Sant’ Andrea
squid fried, rocket, balsamic  22
Crudo
tuna ‘tonnato’  23
Bufala
heirloom, figs 24
Risotto
prawns, clams, cuttlefish, bottarga 29
Movies
I headed to the historic old Art Noveau Ritz Theatre in Randwick – interesting one car park building but no vacancies – not good for business and the street parking was only 1 hour! Anyway I enjoyed the movie; The Lady in the Van with Maggie Smith. A great $9.00 worth- I thought Maggie Smith brilliant, I’d expect nothing less. The story is one most of us would rather not face – about being old and dealing with the elderly!
Re the theatre, it was built in 1937, it is an example of the art deco cinema architecture that found a home in Australia during the 1920s and 1930’s and has 5-6 theatres. It seems to have lost much of its elegance and style which is rather sad but it does run the best art movies.IMG_3612IMG_3609

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The Opera Houseimage
I parked underneath in the enormous car park. They validate your ticket if you attend a show, parking was only $19.00 for 2 hours. So always ask. Sometimes there is a seal basking on the steps – a local resident so watch for him ( or her!)  One of Sydney’s top restaurants is in the Opera House complex. Treat your self before or after the theatre Reservations suggested.
Lunch (Friday – Sunday 12:00pm – 2:00pm): 2 courses $100, 3 courses $130
Dinner (Monday – Sunday 6:30pm – 10:00pm): 3 courses à la carte menu $130

Another fun place to visit is The Grounds at Alexandria. A great selection of eateries  and a few animals to amuse the children. Look out for Kevin Bacon!

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Bus tickets sometimes cannot be purchased on board the buses, so buy an Opal card at a diary and put ten or twenty dollars on it, no expiry date. Efficient way to get in and out of the city. Parking in the city can easily be $50.00 for two hours!!

So this is just a few brief comments on our nearest getaway, Australia.. Air fares are cheaper than ever and Sydney has sooo much on offer. Watch for VIVID in May and June. The sails of Sydney Opera House will be lit with works by Indigenous artists for the first time this year for the Vivid Sydney festival from May 27 to June 18.

To photograph Vivid watch this video. and impress your friends with amazing images.

The shopping is amazing, remember to claim your tax back as you depart Sydney airport. Westfield in the city Level 4 has 3-4 fantastic women’s shoe stores, trust me I know!! There food hall is excellent, yes they have a  Michelin Chinese eatery there. Din Tai Fung Restaurant… I love it. 188 Pitt Street | Shop 504, Level 5.

An Aussie  funny to wind up with. 

”  We live in a semi rural area. We recently had a new neighbour call the local council   P & W office to request the removal of the WOMBAT CROSSING sign on our road.
The reason: ‘Too many wombats are being hit by cars out here! I don’t think this is a good place for them to be crossing anymore.”
True Story from Australia.

Pondering’s.

LMC-9323People doing what people do – at a Sydney family bar…The Pavilion in Clovelly.

Being away from my normal surroundings for 5 of the last 7 weeks  has been an interesting time in many positive ways.

I observed a lot of different age groups, cultures and behaviour. I came across snippets that amused me and moments of pure joy. I watched less television and met many new people. I watched the movie Frozen more than once and had to admire creepy crawlies and other strange and precious objects according to an 8-year-old boy! I made Leggo towers and dressed dolls and people say ‘what did you do on your holiday’!!

I had fun watching another generation learning, living and loving as many my age do.

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We all have sweet memories of children playing in shopping bags.

My grand-daughter aged 2 1/2 gave me pure love, no questions asked. My oldest grandchild at 8 1/2 ( yes half years are very important) also gave me unreserved love, but in a different way to the toddler. These are precious times and I know in a few years this will all change. I spoke to the mother of a 15 year old daughter( almost 16 she kept reminding everyone). She prefers her friends company than her Mum’s. Her Mum understands this but never the less it is a profound change in allegiance. Mothers ( and fathers) do everything for a child from birth and in a blink of an eye the roles are reversed.  My boys are middle-aged business men, husbands, fathers, career people with mortgages and families. Men who still care about their mother and actually talk with their mother? They ask how I’m doing and feeling. I can start to see the beginning of the role reversal. Scary from my point of view… but it is the natural order of life and one cannot fight it.  One must be grateful and enjoy the moments. We see life being snatched away from family and friends, we don’t know when our number will come up. But we do know it will come up. So savour the moments my friends, make peace with your family and friends, forgive those who have hurt you and move on. “Make each day count” is a real concept, not a dream.

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I watched my daughter in law organise her 3 children, coping with a husband that travels a lot, not an uncommon lifestyle. She organises the summer holiday activities, the family outings, the ball games, the summer camps, the food, the shopping and so much more. I was total impressed that she has help to do the never-ending food shopping, how sensible is that, after all it’s a thankless task and one that is difficult to do with 3 children in tow, and every week the food needs replenishing. I thought why didn’t we do that when we were young Mums’ !  At least order groceries on-line to be delivered. Such a time-saving concept.

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Simple healthy eating.

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My other daughter in law has meals delivered every Monday. They come with the recipes and they take no more than 30 minutes to prepare, many take much less. Well balanced, fun food. The herbs and spices arrive measure out, the vegetables, the vacuum packed meat or fish and a selection of fresh fruit. A wonderful time-saving concept for working parents. I totally get why mothers shop online. The American ‘on line’ catalogues are awesome and it is so much easier than carting kids around shops. Many shops do not even have seats or what I call book corners for kids, they certainly don’t encourage you to bring your children shopping. I think they miss out big time. My grand children will sit and read or play on their Mums’ phone quite happily for 10 minutes or longer. Especially when screen time is a treat for them not away of life! Retailers complain about ‘on line’ shopping but they need to look at the experience they are offering. One of my gripes is changing rooms to try on clothes that have no chairs, no shelves and no mirrors in the cubicle! These shops don’t deserve customers!

If you wonder what to buy your adult children for  presents, there are many  great ideas, think outside the square.  A contribution to food deliveries or I also like the idea of museum annual memberships or zoo passes. All great family gifts. Tickets to musicals, cultural events and so forth. After all most children have more than enough toys.  Another great gift is the annual photographic sitting with a local professional photographer. Every one takes snaps of their children these days, mostly on their iPhones and they are good. But professional photos have that “extra” something. iPhone photos get lost in cyber space. Seriously family photo session every year or two at least  gives  treasured memories for years. As grandparents you will appreciate these photos to look back on them as the twilight years come along.$200.00 goes a long way. ( I personally do free sittings regularly)

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This photo will keep that family smiling for years.

I heard some young Australians talking about a party they attended and they kept talking about the “Mossman Housewives”..sounded like a TV  sitcom. Perhaps it should be. I asked what was meant by this and was told that these women were fortyish and sat around waiting for the party to happen..rather than being the party that happened.!! They were mothers and career women who were probably dead beat tired on a Friday night, they had organised a sitter, worked all week, and suddenly had a chance to sit down!! I kind of felt sorry for the Mossman Housewives! I recall those years only too well

Family holidays are a great concept too, especially for spread out families; a week together on neutral territory every 2 years becomes a special and integral part of life. The memories are ongoing and the relationships strengthened. My family live in 3 countries so meeting up somewhere makes huge sense. Hawaii here we come!!

During my adventures I had the pleasure of going whale watching in Sydney. Within 20 minutes from Circular Quay you are out on the water beyond the heads in whale territory. Money back if you don’t see whales ! Between June and late August 20,000 Humpback whales pass Sydney migrating north to the tropical northern waters where they calve, then they return to the cooler Antarctica waters for our summers. This year 122 Humpbacks have been seen passing in the last few weeks through the Cook Straight in New Zealand so numbers are definitely increasing.These animals have a natural curiosity and often when they see a boat they pop their heads up and say hello. They are massive and yet so gentle, they make amazing snorting /calling noises to each other and seem quite playful.  When they breach they are like a missile rising above the water surface to crash down again. On this last trip they were inter acting with a large pod of dolphins. This is nature at its best and so easy to get out and enjoy. Reservations advisable at Sydney Whale Watching.LMC-9311-Edit-Edit

You can see the Manly high-rise in the distance and Maquarie Light at the Gap.

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Note the whale appears to be chasing the dolphin.

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The best dumplings in Sydney.

Sydney CBD has so many people and at lunch times the streets are crowded, the Pitt Street Mall is crowded and the entertainment is wonderful. I look at the Britomart or Queen Street in Auckland and the lunch time crowds are really  small. Sydney is so buzzy…maybe NZ  needs a few more thousand people. I know there are no houses to live in but surely more people would create more of everything including houses. There are eateries everywhere and the Westfield Mall in the Sydney CBD has the most amazing food hall called Food on Five.  Din Tai Fung is a chain of eateries and claims a Michelin Star.Our food halls are  absolutely awful, as is the food and the atmosphere and most of us don’t go near them. Why can’t we have a food hall styled on Westfield in the Sydney CBD?? Come on Westfield you treat us like poor cousins on this side of The Tasman!! Let’s change the culture and create something special, we might even support you. I would.

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Pitt Street Mall, Sydney foto from rediff.com

I’m delighted to observe that passing through International Customs in NZ, Australia and the U.S.A. has improved out of sight in recent times. Traveling has become far more enjoyable and affordable. Airport lounges are now available to most people for a small cost, ask about day passes etc. The Emperer Lounge in Auckland is one such lounge.  If they can sort the air quality on planes I will be really happy!

I wrote a blog about packing recently and I must say reading my own blog did help me on this past trip… So My packing is improving! I could have done with a woolly hat and gloves in Sydney but it was colder than it has been in 50 years! One can’t pack for every possibility.

I’m quite looking forward to returning home, I miss my friends, but I know I will miss my family sooo much after spending so much time with them.I’m writing this at 30,000 feet as we commence our descent into Auckland.

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Home to roost at the end of the day, and I’m home for a month or two as well.

Welcome home Kiwigran 😍😍

If I were your tour guide – SYDNEY

SYDNEY –  AUSTRALIA   (remember all links are in pale blue)

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Seeing the real Sydney.   (I’d skip the main events!)

Dozens of guidebooks give you the major sites, some with great  enthusiasm but mostly they just repeat other brochures info. This is not a foodie guide either.
Sydney is a city I am fortunate to visit quite often. It is only 3 hours on a big plane; a movie, a meal a glass of vino and you are there 🙂  how easy is that! It  is quite spread out so being a tourist requires plenty of energy or time, or both. Map reading ability and walking shoes are also essential ! And a deep pocket if you want to drive and park! $49.00 for two hours parking in the inner city.
However it is a city full of vitality and the public transport is pretty good. Silver Service Cabs are reliable too.
What do I suggest you do ??? These are in no particular order and are  maybe aimed more at my age group rather than young party goers!! These are the activities that I love doing in Sydney.

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The Iconic Opera House with early morning fog.

I always visit the Museum of Contemporary Art at Circular Quay.They have amazing exhibitions and a rooftop cafe with stunning views of Circular Quay with or without cruise ships. They have a great gift shop too and the locals call it the MCA.

Sydney G10-1501Roxy Paine sculpture outside the MCA from a previous exhibition.
Because I’m a photographer I always pop into Stills Photography Gallery in Paddington. The staff are happy to discuss the work and impart their vast knowledge. Stills represent Narelle Autio and her husband Trente Parke. Narelle Autio has an impressive list of accolades. She was named in the Australian Art Collector Magazine’s “50 Most Collectable Australian Artists” in 2001and I think her work is exciting.

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Image by Narelle Autio  – 1 of 16 finalists in the of the Basel – Sellars Award 2014.

One of my favourite  day trips if you have a car is to drive to WOY WOY.( I love the sound of that word!) At Woy Woy there are two places where they feed the pelicans at 3pm daily, rain or shine. I have only been to the Restaurant on the water at Woy Woy itself but 45 minutes further on at The Heads they also feed these amazing funny birds! Woy Woy gets 5 stars from Trip advisor!  While there drive to the beaches and poke around the region, it is very picturesque.

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This is the restaurant on the water.  There is also a fish shop if you wish to purchase seafood to take home.

Centennial Park is magnificent and opened in 1888. At dusk the bats start to fly around in the hundreds and the chattering noise is sensational! Prior to dusk one can watch Cockatoos,  Egrets, Ibis, Ducks and Long Billed Corella Parrots, or just walk amongst the paperback gums.  FullSizeRender corella IMG_2771

Shopping – Westfield in the city has floors of stores, all the designer labels for sure. I like the 5-6 shoes shops on level 4  – And you get your tax back at the airport! Peter Shepherd is an Aussie institution when one talks about shoes. But There are other shops equally exciting. Beautifeel, Stewart Weizmann etc.
Kate Spade have recently opened too and the unique jewellery shop Linneys is always tempting. On the top floor is the best food hall ever. I know food halls are fast food outlets but this one is different, I promise you. There is a Gluten Free restaurant, an Italian, a noodle and Sushi to name a few… and so much more.
Then of course there is David Jones and Myers the iconic department stores. Myers has better service these days. Across the street is the  famous QVB another favourite iconic shopping centre. Check out the Stained glass windows and the tiled floors. The ladies loos are quaint too. Then there are more shoes upstairs that are whimsical and pricey!

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My other shopping places are in the Eastern suburbs.  Woollahra has some great stores for my age group. ‘Artwear on Queen’,  ‘Reads’ and a few others, on Moncur Street is Ma Maison en Provence; at the back of this store  are cute ‘French designed  ‘doll’ pendants. Check out the butcher Victor Churchill in Woollahra , the most expensive in Australia and the door handle is a string of brass sausages.  Well I warned you this is my travel guide…not the normal! Lately. I’ve had great success shopping in Rose Bay at Arielle – Sometimes  I visit the optometrist in Double Bay for the best ever selection of spectacle Frames at Eye Wear  !!

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The Maquarie Light built in 1880

Day trips are plentiful, the guide books have them all listed, Doyles at Watson Bay, Manly Beach ,The Zoo, The Blue Mountains even Wine Tasting in the Hunter Valley. I’d never do that in one day!!   All worth a visit though.

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 Rose Bay, home of the Catalina flying boats.Now that’s a great way to see Sydney.

imageBale Island at la Perouse

I recently did a day trip to La Perouse, what a delightful coastal community, full of history and secluded golden sandy beaches. Enjoy a visit to Bale Island followed by lunch at a seafood cafe. No fine dining but Danny’s grilled Basa fish was cooked to perfection, salad and chips…take it or leave it. The view was fine. You could drive to Icebergs at Bondi for lunch and spend a fortune there, and from all accounts pretty average fare. On some Saturday’s Bale Island have an Aboriginal Market.

I read of a tour about the non touristy Sydney via a Holden V8 – how Australian is that? You can also do a boat trip south from Circular Quay, through the Heads to the Royal National Park, so there are some less common destinations available. Check out the Viator website, you can stay the night on the beach down there!

 

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Angel Place “Forgotten Songs” art installation.

In the city is a street called Angel Place, the home of a cool art installation consisting of fifty or more bird cages and  bird song whistling over the pedestrians  ‘Forgotten Songs’ commemorates the songs of fifty birds once heard in central Sydney, before they were gradually forced out by European settlement. The calls, which filter down from the canopy of birdcages suspended above Angel Place, change as day shifts to night; the daytime birds’ songs disappearing with the sun, and those of the nocturnal birds, which inhabited the area, sounding into the evening.   ( some great special occasion restaurants near there too. “est., Mr Wong & Felix”)

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Entrée at ‘est’ Tortellini and absolutely mouth-watering.

I love Coogee to watch the Tasman Ocean sweeping over the saltwater pool; absolutely mesmerising when the tide is in and a few large swells arrive, always waiting for the BIG one! Take your togs and cool off. The opposite end of the beach has a fun bar and eatery called The Pavillions, a great fit out in the old bathing Pavillion.

image imageSeveral of these photos  are available as limited edition prints – poa
Architecture in Sydney for years consisted of monotonous but practical blonde or red brick, thousands of homes are built of brick in Sydney. However Ultimo around the University suddenly has several new and exciting architectural gems worth visiting. Why they build these gems and supply no visitor parking I don’t know, but I did discover a parking building tucked into a side street for only $18.00 an hour. I suggest you visit this area on a Sunday if possible, less traffic, fewer students and I’m sure a more relaxed time to enjoy.

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The ‘paper bag’ Frank Gehrys latest Sydney landmark – an interior and exterior shot.image1 Central Park
The Frank Gehry ( paper bag) building and nearby the apartments at 1 Central Park with their 100 thousand plants are a must see. Try and go inside and see they architectural spaces – WOW!
Then there is another awesome building wrapped in punched metal sheeting! Faculty of Engineering and IT Building so check that one out too, it is on my to do list!

Whale watching – One of my favourite activities between May and August approx is Whale watching of Sydney heads.  If you follow these guys on Facebook you will see if the whales are out there as they post a daily report. The boats are super fast and stable; and they refund your money if no whales are spotted. I’ve been out three times and have seen whales every trip, and I plan to go again. To see enormous mammals interacting with boats and people is exhilarating, memorable moments especially when they rise up right beside the boat smacking the water as they descend – un forgettable. They are half day trips leaving from Circular Quay. I note too a super fast jet boat trip leaves from Manly.

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Berowra is a secret part of Sydney – sooo beautiful. 

We hired a boat from the Boab boat hire at Berowra one day and cruised up the Hawkesbury River with our picnic lunch. even just a drive to here is fun for visitors to Sydney. The most memorable aspect of the day were the big lizards called Lace Monitors prowling along one of the beaches! Give them a wide berth and they won’t bother you. Averaging 1.5 metres in length, the Lace Monitor has been known to grow to 2 metres.

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The Lace Monitor ambling along the beach.

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Cruising up the Hawkesbury from Berowra.

So  my suggestion: do all the regular tourist trips of course  – they are great. Then explore Sydney further and see the less touristy aspects enjoy.

Thinking… it keeps me awake!

imageA memory I enjoyed and enjoyed photographing

Thinking can be a problem it’s great when you reach a successful outcome, however it can create restless nights when the brain goes over and over ones thoughts!

I’ve been thinking…
Photography is my passion, my addiction if you like. So when I read in a magazine that photography is not about keeping memories but about ‘missed memories’ or ‘lost momentos’ I was immediately challenged. Challenged in a good way! The suggestion is that photos are missed memories because instead of taking in the site with your eyes, brain, heart etc and remembering the moment you took a photo, you actually missed the moment – the camera recorded the moment. There is a point of difference, I do get it. Do I agree with it? Well, that is my dilemma. That is what keeps me awake! This is food for thought without a doubt.

Evidently you remember less detail when looking at a photo as opposed to looking at the real thing. Now that’s a big claim. Should Linda Henkel break her findings up to iPhone happy snappers as separate from serious photographers? Or does she mean anyone taking photographs?

In a new study, psychological scientist Linda Henkel of Fairfield University, Sydney presents data showing that participants had worse memory for objects, and for specific object details, when they took photos of them. The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. Quote…
“People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them,” says Henkel. I can accept this sometimes, however is she referring to i-phonology rather than serious photography? imageI believe I remember the exact  location in Turkey I took this, and I believe the photo reinforces what I initially saw and remember! Incidentally it is a street water mains manhole lid!! 

Her full report is http://www.australasianscience.com.au/news/december-2013/taking-photos-may-impede-memory-museum-tour.html

I take photos every few days, some weeks every day, I don’t enjoy it, I love it. I love to share the things I see through my lens with others, my point of view on the world around me I guess. Others enjoy seeing my imagery, well they say they do.
Photographers see the world differently from so-called  ‘normal’ people, yes I’m suggesting we are not normal. I can walk along the street with a non photographer and they see little around them. I see moments of good light, oddities, the unusual, the new graffiti post, the newly opened flower etc. we are taught to study the light, and to see, Consequently I usually know whether I’m facing North, South, East or West. My non photography friends don’t always have any idea. So am I missing the moment? Am I just recording missed memories? I just don’t know! I may need a few more nights to think on this one! Meantime I won’t stop making photos; I wouldn’t know what to do with myself.

Love others to comment 🙂

Sydney observations.

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Flying into Sydney

Flying into Sydney

SYDNEY – a regular destination these days, now that I have family living there I venture across the Tasman at any opportunity. Shopping is great and the airport have an efficient refund system if you buy anything worth more than $300.00. You can check out the details about the tourist refund scheme here!

The price of avocados and bananas are steep in their shops.. $4.95 for avocados in the Eastern suburbs! Even bread is dearer than NZ. Although it seems costs are more expensive across the Tasman it possibly all works out the same as in NZ. At the rate Miss 2 year old eats avocado and ‘nanas’ her parents better keep working!!

I went to the beach almost every day, well why not, it is a great way to entertain a 2 year old! LMC-1053-Edit
I notice different beaches have different cultures, Bondi is all about flesh and tattoos, Coogee too really, whereas Clovelly is push chairs, plastic buckets and spades, snorkelling and small people. I tried to buy an ice cream at Coogee Beach on a Thursday afternoon – ha ha, no way, but on Saturday there is an ice cream truck parked up enjoying queues of prospective ice cream lickers. Sadly the corner dairy has been replaced by very expensive ‘convenience’ stores, totally misnamed- they sell absolute rubbish!


I also noticed there are now salons to remove tattoos popping up in these beach suburbs. What does this say about the very popular fashion trend sweeping through our young beach goers? Regret obviously…and they go through repeated pain😳 initially and then more pain to remove the boyfriends name when they break up. Pain in the wallet and the flesh. All rather sad really. Ink is permanent and many teens seem to forget this. Is this a subject discussed at college these days? Perhaps it should be. LMC-1025-Edit
Anyway, I did like seeing young people greet each other often with a hug or small fist pump…good to see them showing their feelings. Generally behaviour was good and everyone was having a great and happy time, me included.