Tag Archives: Sydney Opera House

Weekend Coffee Share August 20, 2016.

If we were having coffee today, I’d throw you a cushion and invite you to join me on the couch for some home made banana muffins. I almost didn’t mention the home made bit. Or, that I made them from scratch. After all, that goes without saying. I don’t know how to make banana cake without real bananas, and I don’t want to find out.

How has your week been? I hope you’ve had a good one.

Have you been watching the Olympics? I’ve been winning heaps of Gold Medals from the couch. Don’t you love it? After starting at the top of the medal tally, Australia is now 8th…not bad given our smaller population. Obviously, my use of the remote has made all the difference!

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Glebe Street, The Junction, Newcastle.

The highlight this week was driving my daughter to her violin rehearsal in Newcastle. It was held at The Junction Public School, which is in an older boutique part of town and is absolutely delightful. I love the quaintly painted timber cottages with their picket fences and frangipani  trees, which are currently naked and undressed. I’d love to come back and see them in full bloom. They’d be stunning. Not that they weren’t photogenic as they are.

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Talulah Bar, The Junction, Newcastle.

With three hours up my sleeve, I parked myself at Talulah Bar, a fabulous Cafe/restaurant/writer’s retreat.  After feeling  lost in Newcastle driving into Newcastle, I felt I’d  found myself here. Before your mind start wondering and you’re picturing me downing cocktails at 10.00 am, I was strictly on the caffeine and nothing else. In fact, I didn’t even think of alcohol. I’d had enough trouble finding my way around Newcastle sober and I definitely don’t drink and drive. Nothing like a rustic cafe to pull out your writer’s notebook and feel inspired. I was particularly inspired by an antique piano in the corner which had those old brass candle sticks stick onto the front. It seemed strangely haunting and I started writing a short story. I might have to turn it into a piece of flash fiction so I can get something finished and come back to it later. Anyway, I ordered sweet potato falafel for lunch, which was a fabulous twist on an old fave and that 3 hours flew by and I was needing to get back to the school without dessert…damn!

On the way home, we went on what proved to be a huge detour via the Bloch’s Dance shop in Charlestown, on the Sydney side of Newcastle. Again, we got thoroughly lost but found it eventually and I managed to try on my beautiful pink satin ballet slippers, matching pink tights and dance leggings…all but a leotard. Definitely no leotards! I was in seventh heaven, even though I wondered whether I was too “mature” for all of this. I didn’t care. If I was going to do ballet properly, I needed those pink satin shoes. They had to be satin. You can read more about it here.

Speaking of ballet shoes, I suspect these could be my mid-life crisis vehicles and in my defense, a pair of pink satin ballet shoes is much cheaper than a new red Porsche!

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Thursday night, I had my second adult ballet class and headed off wearing my new shoes, stockings and black leggings. I think I’d probably look like a basketballer next to a real dancer but I didn’t care. My shoes were a hit, although my ballet teacher showed me how to do up my ribbons properly at the end. I should’ve known you don’t have huge pink bows out the front, looking very much like clown feet on an adult. Rather, you tie them in an elegant knot on the side of your foot and tuck the ends in. So, I guess next week, I’ll at least look like a real ballet dancer. Or, will have the shoes done up properly. You can’t become a ballerina overnight, even with those years of ballet as a child.

Margot Fonteyne

Dame Margot Fonteyn…what dreams are made of!

In between what felt like driving somewhere over the rainbow this week, I also finished reading a great book…Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies. Have you heard of her? She’s an Australian author. This book is about a murder at a school function. Right from the start, we know there’s been a murder but we don’t know who is murdered or who done it. So instead of the story starting off with a body, we’re drawn into a tangled social web and we know all the players and I certainly knew these people. By the way, I should mention that she even had a “Rowena” on the P & C (Parents and Citizens)…just like me. that intrigued me as there are very few Rowena’s around and it’s very much MY name. Thief!

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The final countdown is on for my daughter’s performance at Sydney Opera House on Monday night. She’s playing in a huge multi-school string ensemble with her school. Even though she’ll be a speck in the crowd, for us, she’s a star and might as well be playing solo. She has essentially picked up the violin this year and they’re playing at about a grade 1-2 level and so I’m really proud of her and myself. I drive her up to her lesson every week and as most parents testify, their kids don’t practice with a bit of “encouragement”. It might not be the Olympics but it’s a huge effort.

To that effort, I’d just like to point out that while she might be swanning off to the Opera House, you wouldn’t believe the organisation involved in getting her to the Opera House with the school and then get my son, husband and parents organised. I have a disabled parking permit so we can get free parking at the Opera House, which is great. I also have a companion card and I requested disabled seating and the only spot they had left was a wheelchair spot so they’re providing me with a wheelchair. This all feels a bit fake but I wasn’t doing so well when I booked the tickets and what with crowds and stairs to contend with, I chose to play it safe. I’ve also had to sew up the hem on her skirt, which was a bit tough with my bad eyesight. That’s what it means to be a real stage Mum.

Hope you’ve had a good week and I look forward to hearing from you!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the Linky  to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

Driving to Newcastle …Mum’s Taxi Seeks Gold!

Shame I didn’t have the meter running yesterday. Mum’s Taxi clocked up some serious K’s (kilometers) driving to Newcastle for my daughter’s violin rehearsal, especially returning via the “scenic” route. However, being only ten years old, of course, she couldn’t pay the fare.Perhaps, she could find me a gold medal? I certainly deserved it!

Milly Violin

Before I delve into our travels, I should clarify that I was driving to Newcastle, Australia and NOT Newcastle in the UK… or anywhere else for that matter. Although I can get catastrophically lost, the last time I checked, the car can’t fly or swim. So, no matter how badly we got lost, we were still confined to the Australian continent! Phew! That’s a relief. Wandering into another country can get dangerous, and I’d hate to cause an international incident in addition to the usual road rage.

Newcastle is 168km North of the Sydney CBD and 110 KM up the freeway from home. As we have family in Newcastle, I’ve been up there quite a few times, but usually as a passenger. We were actually on the outskirts of Newcastle on the weekend, but that didn’t prepare me for finding yesterday’s rehearsal at The Junction, near Newcastle’s CBD.

All went well until we took the Newcastle turn off from the freeway and we pulled over at a servo (petrol station) to consult the map. My daughter had been on her iPad so far, which of course, does nothing to hone your map reading or navigational skills. I wrote out a list of streets for her to find and walked her through the route on the map. For some reason, I’d assumed she’d inherited her father’s sensational spatial skills and not my Blindis Mappis, or map blindness.

Big mistake. We’re driving along in very unfamiliar territory when she tells me she can’t read maps. That she couldn’t find where we were, where we were going or the all important Crudace Street where we need to turn right.

Meanwhile, I was peering through the windscreen trying to read street signs needing a magnifying glass. Of course, I only picked up the street names too late. Don’t you hate that?!

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Mind you, that’s why the U-Turn was invented. Indeed, my husband’s done quite a few U-turns over the years thanks to my navigation and I’m not mentioning a certain trip to Canberra, which nearly ended in divorce!

But, as I’m sure you can appreciate, the U-turn is a last resort. Missing your street can be incredibly stressful, especially when you’re on a main road. Moreover, although the sign should have been bigger, a miss always feels like a personal fail…a mistake. Nobody likes making mistakes, even when you’re used to it.

Abandoning the map, I get my daughter reading street signs. We never found Crudace Street but instead, she’s calling out names of streets further down our list. I don’t know what’s going on but Newcastle’s on the coast and we’re running out of road. Surely, we’re not going to drive into the sea looking for this !@#$% street??!!! Suddenly, I see our destination, Union Street, out the window. It wasn’t the route we’d planned, but we’re there.

I don’t know whether I was being too hard on Newcastle’s signage. However, despite The Junction’s popularity, I was surprised not to see one sign for the place. Isn’t that strange? Or, with my fixation on street signs, I might have missed them. Quite aside from the usual street signs and directions, I’d also been expecting a bit of a welcome. Wasn’t Newcastle expecting us? Hadn’t the Mayor stuck up a few extra signs for us, preferably in neon…such as: “Ro, turn here!..Left…right etc”

Apparently NOT!

Not unsurprisingly, as soon as we pulled up outside the school, I parked the car and wasn’t driving anywhere. I had 3 hours up my sleeve and set out to find a cafe on foot where I could write, read and chill out without getting lost.

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Hello Talulah. You wouldn’t believe I’d stumbled into Mum’s cousin’s restaurant. Unfortunately, he wasn’t there. Had lunch and wrote a short story and arrived back at the school in time to hear a full run through of their concert repertoire. It sounded heavenly en masse and I can’t wait…Sydney Opera House here we come! Thank goodness we know where that is! No navigation required.

Now that we’re back in the car, I can hear you pleading with me to drive straight home. Get out of there before we’re in a major accident, as our drive-by-feel tour of Newcastle continues. In that case, driving home would have been a no brainer. I just had to turn the car around, and drive out the way we came in. Simple Simon…even I could do that!

Except…(and as we know if there wasn’t an except, there wouldn’t be a story. I don’t need to write fiction to come up with plenty of complications!)

I wanted to buy myself a pair of ballet shoes and there was a Bloch’s store conveniently located in nearby Charlestown. We don’t have a local dance shop. So, you could say “it seemed like a good idea at the time”. However, this little excursion meant that we weren’t going back the way we came and trouble was looming. Just how lost could we get in one day?

You’d be surprised!

Spotting a huge Westfield Shoppingtown out the window, I didn’t even question whether we were at the right place and was very unimpressed to find out we were in the wrong suburb and Charlestown was still out there somewhere…lost.

Or, was it us?

By this stage, I was starting to wonder whether the ballet shoes were worth it. Somehow, I’d managed to live 36 years without a pair of ballet shoes. Yet, suddenly I had to get these shoes. There was such an urgency, a determination. I yearned to have my daughter with me when I bought them so we could do it together…the same way my mother came with me to try on my wedding dress. I wanted Miss to see me slip my huge clodhoppers into those dainty pink ballet shoes, pointing my toes and dancing away. Forget that I haven’t done ballet in 36 years. I had changed.

Charlestown Square

Finally found Charlestown Square shopping Centre.

Finally, we found Charlestown. Found Bloch’s and bought my shoes, satin ribbons, pink tights and some black dance pants. I was a real dancer and it was time to drive home.

Oh! If only I could slip into those same precious ballet shoes and tap my heels together saying: “there’s no place like home” and suddenly find us parked in the driveway at home.

Alas, no such luck! More caffeine required!

Worse still, we were on the slow road home, via the scenic route…the Old Pacific Highway. What with driving through 60kph zones, stop-start traffic lights and peak hour crawls, an hour’s journey stretched into two without even stopping to photograph the sunset over Lake Macquarie.

After all of this, I almost fell through the front door when we arrived home…a marathon driver falling over the finish line, dry retching and completely spent. While nobody would expect a marathoner to cook dinner straight away, I could forget that! Should’ve ordered takeaway. What with all these medals in Rio, surely they could spare a weenie gold medal for me?

I deserve it.

However, unfortunately driving Mum’s Taxi hasn’t become an Olympic sport.

Meanwhile, thanks to my daughter’s teacher, I at least had a thank you box of chocolates.

It was great to be appreciated!

Do you have any good getting lost stories? Of course, getting lost is an important part of travel and so many travel stories simply wouldn’t exist if we directly went from A to B!

xx Rowena

 

 

 

Weekend Coffee Share August 14, 2016.

If we were having coffee today, would you be game enough to join me on the wild side for a Beetroot Coconut Chocolate Latte at Terrigal Beach? Since I usually go for a stock standard Cappuccino, trying this was the cafe equivalent of extreme sports. However, watching Masterchef has extended my palate and beetroot featured regularly on the show and we even have some growing in our veggie patch. I really loved it with it’s smooth,velvety texture and it tasted fantastic. Who would have thought?  The closest I’ve come to having something like this before, was a divine Coconut Chai Latte in Sydney’s Surry Hills and that cafe’s closed down. I am still grieving.

How has your week been? I hope things have gone well!

Mack Horton with Flag

Have you been watching the Olympics? Even though I’m not into sport, I’m loving the coverage, especially the back stories of the athletes. Of course, you don’t expect a gold medal to arrive on a platter but these stories are so encouraging. I also enjoyed Day 1 when Australia was at the top of the medal tally and watching Australian swimmer Mack Horton take out gold followed by the Women’s 4 x 100 relay. I really felt for the Campbell sisters when they missed out on medals in subsequent races.

Spring has arrived with glorious sunshine, muted blue skies and explosions of golden wattle glowing through the bush.Even though it doesn’t get that cold during Winter, there’s still that temptation to hibernate and in the last week, it’s been like the doors have sprung open and we’re all getting back out and about.

Monday morning, I was back at the beach  walking the dogs. It’s been awhile since I’ve been walking them regularly and I’m hoping that the regular exercise will stop Lady from trying to get out. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve  boarded up underneath the house, put chicken wire in beside the house to curtail our digging wombat as well as fencing off the back shed to stop her from jumping off over the back fence. I hope that from a doggie perspective, that our place has now become Alcatraz!

The Cast from Thursday’s Dog walkers’ Birthday Party.

While we’ve been working hard to stop Lady from jumping hurdles,  I leaped over a gazillion hurdles myself to get through my first adult ballet class on Thursday night. It was an exhilarating thrill and way better than I’d ever imagined. As soon as I walked out, I was already counting down to my next class. Not that I’m not a bit concerned. Moving from 1st to 2nd position is very different to pirouettes, jumping and goodness knows what else lies ahead over the next 5 weeks. I told my daughter to watch out! Her look told me I was dreaming…or insane!

You can read how I went here and the kids’ reactions here.

On Saturday, our daughter competed in the Mini Ev Spint Race at the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival with her school. The students formed teams and built their own solar cars, which they raced on organised by Newcastle University. We drove our Morris Minor up there and converted into the school’s mascot with loads of balloons and streamers. Naturally, Morrie attracted the organiser’s attention and our kids posed in front of Morrie with their cars and I emerged as the Official Photographer for the event.

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Pokemon Racer getting some pre-race treatment.

By the way, I should tell you that our daughter wasn’t so keen on our car being the school mascot. “You are NOT decorating our car!!!” I overcame that protest but backed down when refused to have a teddy bear on the roof in school uniform. Where’s her sense of fun? I think she voted me the most embarrassing mother on Earth!

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The class had been slit up into teams with 5 cars from their school. These had some very inventive names: The Pokemon Racers, The Lambergini Llamas, Speedy Narwals, Lightening Strikes and Outside of the Box. Unfortunately, my daughter’s team’s car The Pokemon Racers conked out half way down the track on its first heat.

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Geoff relaxing at Terrigal Beach, NSW. Check out the surf. it’s as flat as a pancake.

This afternoon, Geoff and spent a few hours at Terrigal Beach having coffees and fish cocktails and scallops. The kids were off at their Scout Gang Show Reunion. Terrigal was stunning but I’d forgotten how flat the “surf” is there until Geoff was taking photos. I remember Mum loving the lapping waves when I was a kid. She’d had a bad experience in heavy surf.

Do you have anything special coming up this week?

Tomorrow morning, Mum’s taxi heads back up to Newcastle. It’s an hour’s drive but navigation could be a problem.  Driving Mum’s Taxi is one thing but navigation is quite another. While I could have succumbed to GPS, I didn’t want my navigational abilities to deteriorate any further. That could be very dangerous indeed! I get so lost, I even lose myself!

It’s now only one week until Miss performs with the school string group at the the 2016 Festival of Instrumental Music at the Sydney Opera House.

Milly Violin

The 2016 Festival of Instrumental Music features musically diverse performances by NSW Public and High School students in the Concert Hall of the Sydney Opera House. It  involves more than 400 schools and literally thousands of students from across NSW in Combined String and Combined Recorder Ensembles.

The Combined Strings repertoire includes diverse compositions with a “natural world” theme. Vivaldi’s Autumn from the Four Seasons, arranged by Richard Meyer, is an introduction to programmatic music in a Baroque setting. Terra Nova, a Richard Meyer original, is an exploration of rhythm and metre musically describing a new territory of the imagination. Mala Rain, a specially commissioned work from Sydney musician and conductor Wendy Ireland depicts Uluru and its surrounds during very rare storms. And in a grand finale to the concert, a percussion ensemble will join both the recorder and string ensembles to perform the world premiere of a new commission by Stephen Chin, Pagodas by the Heavenly Lake, in the presence of the composer.

So, there’s been a lot going on.

How has your week been? I’d love to hear from you and thanks for joining me!

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click the  to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

 

 

 

 

Off With Her Fingernails!

Just as well my violin teacher is nice. After all, if she was anything like the Queen of Hearts, she would’ve cut my fingernails off with a guillotine weeks ago. Too bad if she also took off my fingertips! The Queen of Hearts doesn’t care about little details like that! If you refuse to cut your own nails, you pay the price.

All this is rather new to me. Although I am heading down the other side of 40+, I’ve only been playing the violin for a few years. Indeed, I only took it up after sitting in on my 5 year old daughter’s lessons. After she quit mid-term, I kept going. That was four years ago.

What nobody tells you about taking up an instrument is that so many of them require you to cut your nails. Seriously, cut your nails so there’s no clicketty clack all over the piano keys and if you’re playing any stringed instrument, so you can play the notes. Trust me! You want to play in tune and that means no nails. Not even the hint of a fingernail.

There is no middle ground.

So, even if you’re half-serious about playing the violin, you need short nails…especially on your left hand. It’s the same with the guitar.

That’s just the price you have to pay.

When you‘re a serious musician, you don’t even think about cutting off all those precious fingernails. No regrets. You just want to make music.

Of course, if you have crappy nails, it doesn’t matter either. You have nothing to lose.

However, when you finally have beautiful, long, strong nails for the very first time in your life, you hang onto them for as long as you possibly can. Cutting them off almost feels like murder.

So, despite being back at violin lessons for three weeks, I still haven’t trimmed my nails. I’m still hanging on!

It’s not that I’m vain or even fancy myself as a bit of a Princess. I’d just like to pretend I was Sweet 16 again. Be pretty!

Surely, there’s nothing wrong with that?!!

Yet, there comes that point where things no longer compute. You can’t call yourself a violinist when you can’t hit a note and you’re playing out of tune.

When your violin is how your express the inner beatings of your heart and those notes are infused with such emotion, even the best set of fingernails can’t stand in the way forever. They have to go. They might look good but if you’ve ever heard fingernails scraping down a blackboard, you know they can’t sing!

However, while I can sort of justify the long nails and dreadful playing to myself, it’s quite another thing to face up for yet another lesson with super long nails and painful playing. After all, I’m paying for these lessons and they don’t come cheap.

Either I shape up, or I ship out.

Deferring the inevitable only makes it worse.

So, it’s off with my nails!

If only that’s all it took to make it all the way to the Opera House!

xx Rowena

 

360 Degrees Around Sydney.

On Monday, my daughter and I visited Sydney Tower Eye, which is the tallest point in Sydney and offers such an expansive view of this sprawling city, that you can see about 80 kilometres away in all directions.

Construction of the Sydney Tower was completely in 1981. It is 304 metres tall and weighs 2,239 tons. It cost $26 million to construct the entire building. Taking the lift, it takes 44 seconds to get 250 metres above sea level.

Sydney Tower might not be the tallest in the world but it overlooks the world's largest natural harbour.

Sydney Tower might not be the tallest in the world but it overlooks the world’s largest natural harbour.

Of course, the incredible beauty of Sydney Harbour makes this a knock out view, it’s also so intriguing to view my home town from a different perspective and be a bird for a few hours looking down. It reminds me of that great scene in the movie: Dead Poet’s Society where Mr Keating gets the boys to stand on their desks to see that same old ordinary classroom with fresh eyes.

Miss standing next to a model of Sydney Tower.

Miss standing next to a model of Sydney Tower.

So, please come and let your eyes do the walking. Join me on a 360 Degree Photographic Tour of Sydney where I’ll share views from the tower with views from the ground and even a few intriguing facts about this incredible place.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge viewed from Sydney Tower Eye.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge viewed from Sydney Tower Eye.

Unfortunately, the view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, also known as “the Coathanger”, wasn’t great from the Sydney Tower Eye, being seriously over-cluttered by other buildings and poor urban planning.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House viewed from a ferry looking East.

Sydney Opera House

Speaking of crowded views, here's a back-end view of the Sydney Opera House. It's a bit like reading

Speaking of crowded views, here’s a back-end view of the Sydney Opera House. It’s a bit like reading “Where’s Wally?”!

The Spectacular White Sails of the Sydney Opera House.

The Spectacular White Sails of the Sydney Opera House.

East Looking Towards The Heads and the Naval Base at Garden Island.

Looking East Towards Sydney Heads and the Naval Base at Garden Island.

Looking East Towards Sydney Heads and the Naval Base at Garden Island.

HMAS Toowoomba

HMAS Toowoomba at Garden Island.

Darling Harbour and Looking West Towards the Blue Mountains.

Darling Harbour viewed from Sydney Tower Eye.

Darling Harbour viewed from Sydney Tower Eye.

St Mary’s Cathedral

St Mary's Cathedral viewed through Hyde Park.

St Mary’s Cathedral viewed through Hyde Park.

Catching a glimpse of the funeral of much loved Australian Horse, Bart Cummings from the Sydney Tower Eye.

Catching a glimpse of the funeral of much loved Australian Horse, Bart Cummings from the Sydney Tower Eye.

St Mary's Cathedral -street level.

St Mary’s Cathedral -street level.

Inside St Mary's Cathedral.

Inside St Mary’s Cathedral.

ANZAC War Memorial, Hyde Park.

ANZAC War Memorial, Hyde Park.

The Queen Victoria Building.

Queen Victoria Building, viewed from the Sydney Tower Eye.

Queen Victoria Building, viewed from the Sydney Tower Eye.

The Queen Victoria Building or "QVB" , Southern end.

The Queen Victoria Building or “QVB” , Southern end.

The Lavish interior of the QVB.

The Lavish interior of the QVB.

Kings Cross's Famous Coca Cola sign viewed from the Sydney Tower Eye.

Kings Cross’s Famous Coca Cola sign viewed from the Sydney Tower Eye.

Goodbye from your tour hosts.

Goodbye from your tour hosts.

Thank you very much for joining us on our 360 Degree Photographic Tour of Sydney!

xx Rowena & Miss.

Seal Performs at Sydney Opera House.

On Monday, I walked around the Sydney Opera House with my UK friend, Wally photographing him in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Of course, these are two incredible, architectural icons which literally scream out: “Sydney”!!! You couldn’t be anywhere else.

Or, so I thought.

That was until we reached the end of Bennelong Point where the Opera House is located and came across barricades and a huge banner: “Please Do Not Feed the Seal”

Seal?

What seal?

A seal in Sydney?

By now, I should expect the unexpected but although I’ve lived in and around Sydney all of my life, this is the first time I’ve heard about a seal being in town. Well, that is in recent times.

Sydney's Celebrity Seal.

Sydney’s Celebrity Seal.

I walked up to get a closer look and sure enough there was a seal sprawled out at the bottom on the stairs soaking up the glorious Autumn sun.

What the?!!!

What was a seal doing in Sydney Harbour…especially sunning itself on the Opera House steps?

Was it lost?

Or, was it crossing off its bucket list? It, too, wanted to visit Sydney and check out the Bridge, the Opera House…or even sample our local cuisine?

I can understand wanting to travel. See the world. However, I’m sure there are better places to catch fish but each to their own. I just hope it doesn’t start glowing in the dark. I’ve heard there’s all sorts at the bottom of the Harbour…not to mention a few crooks and corrupt politicians from the 80s what with the “bottom of the Harbour” racket. All that drama resulted in a Royal Commission but that was long before this seal’s time.

Another possibility is that despite the banners asking us not to feed it, the seal has actually come to Sydney to sample our Aussie fish and chips. Not exactly a healthy choice and more than likely to make the poor seal sick but tell me who actually does read the fine print? Certainly not a seal!! I can’t help wondering whether it was heading for Doyle’s at the Beach, an iconic Sydney seafood restaurant, at nearby Watson’s Bay? Perhaps, the seal, like me, was directionally challenged and ended up at the Opera House by mistake? Took a wrong turn? Had trouble with its GPS? Palm Beach fish and chips shop might also have been on it’s list, although I’ve never seen a seal at Palm Beach.

However, thanks to the signage, there’s certainly no fish and chips for this seal. No! It has to fend for itself and I must say it’s looking nice and plump. It certainly isn’t wasting away!!

Another potential destination was Taronga Zoo. Perhaps, it fell for rumours something along the lines of a lifetime’s supply of free fish and thought it was worth a visit? I don’t know but we all know the game “Chinese whispers”. It doesn’t take long for the message to change and distort completely!!

Yes, that was quite a plausible explanation.

Hmm…thinking of Finding Nemo…did the seal come to Sydney looking for someone? Somehow, I doubt it. It’s not exactly moving around all that much.

Anyway, whatever brought the seal to Sydney, in between fishing trips, it is simply relaxing. Soaking up the glorious Autumn sunshine while the paparazzi snap away. It doesn’t even attempt to pose for the camera. No! It’s quite happy for you to photograph its butt and post it on Facebook and goodness knows where else. Doesn’t insist on a better perspective.

It even has its own Twitter account: @SassySydneySeal and hash tag #sydneyseal.

As Wally and I left the seal and the Opera House with it’s panoramic view across to the Bridge behind us, I couldn’t help but appreciate those unexpected surprises which somehow leap across our paths. That we should never over-plan or micro-manage our lives to the extent that we haven’t got time to take the detour, pause for five minutes and watch a seal sleeping beside Sydney Harbour or the golden light of the full moon rising illuminating the black, inky sea. We not only need to leave a little breathing space but also room to stretch out and even swing the metaphorical cat. Yet, although time shouldn’t be a luxury,it’s only when we value something that we truly appreciate its worth.

It’s always hard to get that balance right!

Have you come across something unexpected on your travels lately? Please share your stories in the comments.

xx Rowena

PS You can read more about our walk around the Opera House in my previous post here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/sydney-opera-house-new-perspectives/

Sydney Opera House: New Perspectives.

Go anywhere near Sydney Harbour and there are those omnipresent, white sails better known as the Sydney Opera House…such an iconic beauty!!

Yet, being Sydney born and bred, she can become a little ordinary. Indeed, as the train rattles over the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the umpteenth time, she becomes little more than a white “blotch” beside the Harbour.

After all, like so many special friends, it’s so easy to take her for granted and look overseas for those incredible cultural icons: The Taj Mahal, The Pyramids, the Great Wall of China and sentimental favourites the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Being local, it’s not often that we actually stop. Stand still. Simply gaze into her wondrous face. Let alone take in a performance.

Wally Opera House Steps

Wally on the Opera House Steps

However, yesterday I saw the Sydney Opera House through fresh eyes when I was introducing it to a British tourist, Wally the Wandering Wombat. Don’t ask me how an Australian wombat became an English tourist. I am just the paparazzi, following Wally for an upcoming book.

You see, Wally is touring the world promoting Mysotis, which is the umbrella term for a group of neuro-muscular auto-immune diseases, including dermatomyositis. This is a pretty tough job for anyone. Myositis is an exceptionally rare disease and can be quite debilitating. So, if you have it, you’re often not well enough to organise sporting events, races, marathons and other physical challenges to get the word out. Indeed, if the disease is in an active phase, you could well be glued to your bed. That is, unless you have a mobility scooter or some other form of technologically-enabled transport to get you around. Moreover, publicising anything which is rare, unknown and impossible to spell and pronounce might not be completely and utterly impossible but…@#$%!! As you can probably gather, I haven’t had hoards of journalists desperately camped outside my front door just waiting to catch a glimpse of Wally. Not at all! Wally, sadly, has flown right under the radar on his travels and remains quite the nobody…just like myositis!!

Crowds cheering for Prince Harry. There were no such crowds waiting for Wally!

 

He’s also had some very stiff competition lately what with Prince Harry being in town. Wally might be cute and furry but he certainly isn’t a Prince and Prince Harry isn’t your garden-variety prince either. Not only has spunk but he’s also single!

While Wally might be cute with a huge heart, the reality is that he’s small, blue and…wallyish.

Wally at Circular Quay Station.

Wally at Circular Quay Station.

Anyway, yesterday I took Wally down to Sydney to get some publicity shots in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We caught the train down to Wynyard and changed trains for Circular Quay. As soon as we pulled into Circular Quay Station, Wally was immediately struck by the panoramic view across Sydney Harbour.There was the Sydney Harbour Bridge on your left, the ferries straight in front and the Sydney Opera House just around the corner. That was almost too much for my humble camera lens to process. These days, it’s much more accustomed to capturing sunsets, kids and dogs. Later on, it was almost in shock when it captured two icons in one image!!

Incredible! Incredible! Incredible!!

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Wally & I with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Taken beside the Sydney Opera House.

Although I’d planned to photograph Wally in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, I’d quite literally forgotten all about the Sydney Opera House. I don’t know why. My best guess is that I’m so used to it, that she’d simply become part of the furniture. For this reason, I am so glad I took Wally over to Circular Quay. So often I gain such a richer appreciation and insight through observing and capturing it through my camera lens. It’s almost like a re-birth and so it was that I saw the Sydney Opera House through fresh eyes, gaining a whole new appreciation of this incredible architectural marvel.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

Wally climbing the Opera House.

I really needed that reminder as well. As Australians, we so often think that anything of cultural note is overseas. This dissatisfaction even has a name: ‘cultural cringe”. Last weekend, my sense of wanderlust was stirred up yet again when I heard how a friend of mine had just returned from Gallipoli via Paris where he proposed at the Eiffel Tower. Wow! That brought back memories. Certainly NOT of when Geoff proposed (the pouring rain wasn’t great for romance but it was Valentine’s Day!!) but of spending 6 weeks in Paris back in 1992. Back in the day, I sat in view of the Tour Eiffel which was all lit up for Bastille Day and enjoyed the fireworks. I also photographed the Eiffel Tower in some detail, even though I didn’t pay to go up. Just listening to my friend’s bit of romance, I found myself yearning to go back and revisit the “grand dame” but as a parent, responsibilities come before expensive travel these days.

Wally posing between two incredible Aussie icons: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Wally posing between two incredible Aussie icons: the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

Designed by Danish architect, Jørn Utzon, Sydney Opera House (1957 – 1973) was inscribed in the World Heritage List in June 2007: “Sydney Opera House is a great architectural work of the 20th century. It represents multiple strands of creativity, both in architectural form and structural design, a great urban sculpture carefully set in a remarkable waterscape and a world famous iconic building.” UNESCO

Shadow Selfie on the Opera House Front Steps.

Shadow Selfie on the Opera House Front Steps.

The expert evaluation report to the World Heritage Committee stated: “…it stands by itself as one of the indisputable masterpieces of human creativity, not only in the 20th century but in the history of humankind.”1.

Wally on the Opera House Steps

Wally on the Opera House Steps

Anyway, with what started as a quick photo shoot in front of the Bridge, turned into a photographic walking tour around the outside of the Sydney Opera House. As luck would have it, and I can assure you that this was one of the few strokes of luck I had yesterday, it was a gloriously sunny day with a deep azure blue sky, which made the perfect background for those striking white sails. As the day went by, the wind whipped up and I can assure you that it was just as well those sails were made of heavy concrete because otherwise the Opera House would have sailed away!!

Opera House Behind Bars (the fence at the Botanical Gardens)

Opera House Behind Bars (the fence at the Botanical Gardens)

So I hope you enjoyed Wally’s Tour of the Sydney Opera House.

xx Rowena

Heading home...walking beside Circular Quay.

Heading home…walking beside Circular Quay.

 

Sources

1. http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/about/house_history_landing.aspx