Somewhere in Surry Hills

Heading down a tangent… through Surry Hills

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Took the afternoon off to attend an invitation-only event with a world renowned photographer, producer, artist, you-name-it-he’s probably-done-it.  Arrived at the event only to discover that it had been cancelled as the man of the hour had to leave for LA.

So now I have the afternoon and I don’t know what to with myself. Should I be outside? I think I should… which explains why I’m looking at photos of people on the street, walking – trying to psyche myself into doing just that. It simply feels odd not to be at my desk. Not to mention, the sun is out this afternoon, after two days of apparently apocalyptic weather – so now what?

Griffiths Teas Building

I’m rather fond of the Griffiths Teas Building because it sort of reminds me of the Flatiron Building in New York (very vague facsimile, I know, but I take what I can get) and the fact that every time I see it, my brain goes off into one of those tangents where it tries to imagine what life was like in the old days, c. early-1900s Sydney. And I don’t know anyone who’s ever drunk Griffiths Tea, do you? I know it’s derelict right now, but I live in hope that one day someone will decide to restore/revive the old dear so that we can all enjoy a piece of Sydney’s historic architecture.

Somewhere in Surry Hills

And as this particular tangent goes, after loitering around the Griffiths Tea Building, I always end up somewhere in Surry Hills, still thinking about the ups and downs of the old suburb, and Ruth Park’s The Harp in the South, which I had to read when I was at school, and before you know it I’m on a long trip down memory lane… I always wonder how I would feel about Sydney -and how I would’ve turned out- if I had grown up here rather than out West.

Hyde Park reflections (1)

Morning in Hyde Park

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No doubt about it, I’m a morning person – always have been, always will be. Although I admire the idea of sleeping in, and sometimes express envy at those who seem to do it regularly and easily, the truth of it is that I don’t feel I’m missing out by not indulging in more sleep. Instead, on the rare occasions when I have risen after the sunrise, the overall feeling is a combined sense of loss and disappointment at having missed out.

Hyde Park reflections (3)

I don’t actually need to see the sun rise, but I like to watch the darkness turn to light, and listen as the silence becomes filled in by the sounds of waking and routine, whether it’s street-sweepers or birds.

I like that hour (or two) of aloneness. It’s peaceful, the morning is mine, all mine, just for this time; it’s seems to offer a promise of ‘something’, hopefully amazing. An ellipsis of expectation. Admittedly, the days don’t always turn out to be the best ever, but it’s the feeling of hope that I cherish for just that hour.

Hyde Park reflections (1)

I did my usual stroll yesterday morning, through the city, to Chinatown, then Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, then back to the city via Hyde Park. Going through the park was a foolish decision because the hay fever, with which I’d been struggling for the last couple of hours or so, really ramped up, and I sneezed my way through the park seemingly non-stop. I’m amazed I managed to take these photos – I think I held my breath throughout – and when it was all done, inhaled and sneezed at the same time, sneezed some more, and ran to find the closest pharmacy for some anti-histamines. (None were open because it was still only about 8am but thankfully they sell them at supermarkets these days and of course those are always open!)

Hyde Park reflections (2)

Old banger in The Rocks (1)

Time goes by

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I realise and hereby acknowledge that I’ve been on a bit of a downer of late, dissatisfied, restless; and for this I apologise.

We weathered winter, and now spring has sprung – and I won’t continue with the clichés – for which I’m sure you’re relieved! But what I mean is, in this nether hemisphere, springtime reminds me that we are rushing toward the end of the year and I start to wonder about what I’ve done so far… has there been anything of note? It’s almost like I’m prepping myself for the year-end retrospective, because if I want to make 2014 count: there is still time!

Besides the usual angst about the turning of the seasons, I’m being my usual fretful self about the passing of the years (my birthday month is October, you see) and [blah, blah, blah]. Oh gawd, even I rolled my eyes at the ridiculousness. Anyone would think I was the only person on this earth subject to this ageing business!

And so… you’re probably wondering what a photo of a beaten-up old banger driving through The Rocks area of Sydney has to do with my musing here…

This is where I remind myself that old things can be, nay, are, interesting: The Rocks, for instance, which is one of the oldest parts of Sydney and a major tourist attraction for this very reason; and knackered automobiles well past their prime – they add something to the scenery. I couldn’t help but wonder where the old wheels had been and if any/some/all of those miles had been memorable. And not only that, I heard it approaching well before it arrived in frame. It announced itself quite unapologetically, oblivious to the notion that serenity might have been shattered just for those five sputtering minutes.

I’m sure I know some older folk who have the same effect on those around them. We always laugh and say, “Ah, isn’t s/he a character?” and everyone nods agreeably.

Old banger in The Rocks (2)

Sydney Opera House and cyclist (bw)

Thinking out loud

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Early morning on a Monday public holiday. No one around but the odd cyclist, me and my restless feet. I took the photo because if I had to describe how I was feeling at the time, I’d have said: this colour is how my ennui feels.

Sydney Opera House and cyclist

I’m not happy, I’m not sad. I think I could be at that stage in the relationship where I’m comfortable but no longer excited being around her. Glad to come home, always, of course – but catch myself wondering if I could be enjoying myself somewhere else.

It happens with humans, it happens with cities. Especially, if like me, you’ve lived in a few of ‘em. (I wonder where I’ll end up…?)

Sydney Chinese Garden (2)

Chinese Garden of Friendship

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Another Saturday, another morning of wandering around Sydney looking like a tourist (i.e. with the camera in hand). Yesterday saw me in the Chinese Garden of Friendship – a place I hadn’t visited in two decades!

I was reminded of its existence only recently due to the Hub finding some old photos, a few of which had been taken in the very same Chinese Garden. So the seed must’ve been planted in my subconscious because when I set off yesterday I had not planned to go there. (In fact, I had intended to go to Surry Hills – so much for that! Perhaps next weekend.)

Anyway, these old photos, yellowed with age… Ah, Sydney! Ah, those days! My enduring memory of the time was of how new everything was to me – small town (Perth) girl new to the big city. Being in Sydney was thrilling and terrifying by equal measure. But, wait – look at that grin, half obscured by the hair – perhaps ‘thrill’ won by a smidgeon.

Old photos

I must’ve gone around the Garden twice or three times yesterday trying to locate the same statue but couldn’t find it. (Would I have given it a hug this time had it been there, I wonder?)

Sydney Chinese Garden (1)

The Garden was quiet and calm yesterday, the only sounds I heard were that of rushing water from the waterfalls and the occasional screech of a bird. With hardly any other visitors around, it was a tranquil and refreshing visit. Of course I spent most of it pointing my camera at things instead of contemplating too much about life, which I’m sure is what one is meant to do in such surroundings. Perhaps my form of contemplation is achieved via a viewfinder.

Sydney Chinese Garden (3)

Sydney Chinese Garden (4)

Sunset hour

Sunset

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Long shadows signal the final hour of daylight. There’s something sad and yet unsurprising about this time of day. You expected it, you knew it was to come, and yet, it still has the means to wring a sigh from your heart.

I had some long shadows on a couple of friendships this past year or two. The day called time on those, for whatever reason. When it’s time, it’s time. Suddenly what you’ve been ignoring for so long comes into sharp focus and you realise: time to make a change.

Take a look

Spring flowers

Up and at ‘em!

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I’m not one for sleep-ins so being up and out of the apartment at 6am this morning wasn’t too much of a hardship. I know that for most people this would seem insane – especially on a Saturday – but I love the city when it’s early and most of its dwellers are still down for the count. Besides, I wasn’t having much joy trying to get back to sleep after waking before 5am so I figured I might as well do something else than create more crinkles in my sheets.

So I walked. Through the city first, then down to Woolloomooloo (where I snapped a quick shot of Finger Wharf still at rest, outdoor heaters ‘asleep’ – with my new iPhone 6), followed by a brief stop in Potts Point to buy a takeaway coffee – caffeine, for a change! -, sipping it slowly as I headed back to the city, making a beeline for the Royal Botanic Garden where I got my flower fix.

Three hours later, the FitBit had registered just over 10km and I was home again. Exercise, Vitamin D, and some shutter therapy – done, done and done. Hello Saturday!

Finger Wharf

Sydney buildings (2)

Spring flowers

York Minster (5)

York Minster / revelations

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I’m extremely late with these photos of York Minster but better late than never, so they say…

Anyone who has been to York feels the presence the Minster has over the city. Whenever I’m there, I subconsciously set my inner compass to point in the direction of the Minster – not that I’ve ever had to really tax that inner compass too much, I haven’t gotten lost in York for a while – but I think the point is well understood. The enormous and grand Gothic structure is hard to miss, and being the second largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe, it’s quite the tourist attraction. Even for those of us for whom religion does not play a part, it would be impossible to not appreciate just how magnificent this building is.

I was one of those ‘tourists’ in July, even though I long since qualified as a true tourist: I’ve lost count of the number of times in the past I’ve visited York, strolled past the Minster, seen it from the distance, been inside, taken a photograph of it… I could go on. But this time, I allowed myself the indulgence of getting up reasonably close – as many shots as I wanted – to my heart’s content. (Well, no, not quite, I suppose – there was always someone waiting for me to be done with it.)

Thoughts now as I look back at these photos… I’m struck by what they reveal, I think, what they confirm to me. I don’t mean the obvious i.e. that I like buildings, although that much is true. What I am referring to is: the preference for details over big picture almost all the time (really, I need someone to pull me back to the wider angle almost all the time); no people if possible (as I said, the place was teeming with tourists, but I managed to avoid including any people with my shot selection); a desire to be up close although the exterior is often enough – no need to go inside (I’ve felt this way about many of the buildings I’ve ‘met’. OK – that was a weird sentence. I’d better quit while I’m, ah, I’m not ahead now am I? As I said, revealing.)

York Minster (2)

York Minster (6)

York Minster (3)

York Minster (4)

York Minster (1)

Dusk-city (1)

At dusk

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During the week, I barely notice the dusk. I’m either still at the office or I’m in a hurry to be home. But on this particular evening, a few nights ago, with no task or time pressures upon me, I stopped in the middle of Pitt Street Mall, pretended I was back in Barcelona and took a shot. (It is quite a touristy thing to do, isn’t it? Taking a photo in a mall of nothing in particular.)

It’s only now I notice, and wonder: what was it that had caught the eye(s) of the both the ladies on the left, below?

Dusk-city (3)

Bondi buddies (2)

Bondi buddies (and a few kites)

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Started yesterday morning early by saying goodbye to the Hub, who was off to Mooloolaba to meet up with a couple of friends from NZ, one of whom was competing in the Ironman 70.3 Sunshine Coast Triathlon.

Then it was off to Bondi for some breakfast with the Bestie and H. Afterward, we wandered along the beachfront waiting for the [Festival of the] Winds to pick up. We were there a little early, some 40 minutes before the official start time so there were only a handful of kite flyers, and not that many more beach-goers, on the beach.

It was a shame, I wasn’t really feeling the kite thing; the kid and the pug were far more interesting subjects, to be honest. Oh well, I got my dose of Vitamin D, anyway, which is always a good thing.

Bondi buddies (1)

Festival of the Winds-Bondi (1)

Festival of the Winds-Bondi (2)