Thursday, November 29, 2012

5 year reunion

For the fifth year in a row we three sisters (and spouses) met up in Sydney for our annual reunion long weekend: four days together, enjoying each other's company and all the delights that Sydney has to offer.  We weren't able to time it this year to coincide with "Sculpture by the Sea" - but found lots of other alternatives to enjoy on a warm, sunny (mostly) late November weekend in Sydney.
With a wedding to plan for, we three girls spent ALL of Friday in the CBD... 7 and a half hours (which just flew by).  We did enjoy a long lunch at a window table at the Cloudy Bay restaurant in Westfield, overlooking Hyde Park, but the rest of the time we were SHOPPING! (And the wedding outfits are all sorted!)
The boys took themselves down to Wollongong for the day (sensible!) and had a meal ready for us when we arrived home - exhausted. 

We took ourselves to inner city Glebe on Saturday morning: coffee at Badde Manors in Glebe Point Road to get our hearts racing then an hour or so wandering around the laid back Glebe Markets (our new favourite Sydney market we've decided).

By now it was after twelve and we were feeling hungry - so I gave up all ideas of searching for the historic Walter Burley Griffin incinerator on Blackwattle Bay and instead suggested we head straight down Bridge Road to the Sydney Fish Markets.  Saturday lunchtime is an absolute bunfight at the Sydney Fish Markets with coachloads of Asian tourists revelling in the quality and choice of food on offer - in this amazing setting facing Blackwattle Bay.

Somehow or other we scored ourselves a table on the bayside deck and were able to enjoy a feast of seafood for lunch - fresh prawns, dozens of Sydney rock oysters, baby octopus, all washed down with cold Hoegaarden beers - heaven!

Although sunburnt, seafood smeared and wind tossed we then headed back to Randwick, to the Ritz to catch the 5.15pm session of "Skyfall". Just as well we did as the queues for the later sessions after ours were a mile long.  We saw Quantum of Solace together on our first reunion weekend 4 years ago and decided we approve of Daniel Craig as James Bond. We all loved Skyfall!

Sunday, we headed to the Domain to see the remarkable 5 Decades of Francis Bacon exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  Over 50 paintings collected from major galleries and private collections from around the world plus artifacts from his incredibly chaotic studio in South Kensington, London. How lucky are we to have this exhibition in Sydney!

My plan was for us to enjoy lunch at the Poolside cafe overlooking the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool in Woolloomooloo Bay. Unfortunately it was too busy (can't book tables there) so after a bit of wandering by the Bay around the path to Mrs Macquarie's chair we headed back to the very airy and laidback cafe at the Art Gallery of NSW for a lovely lunch there.

Sunday afternoon we all headed back to the CBD to get "the boys" sorted for a few things for the big OS trip next year - but we couldn't resist the opportunity to smell a few roses along the way in Hyde Park, looking particularly shady and gorgeous on this hot afternoon.

These reunion weekends are very special to us - and it's hard when they come to an end. The next time we will be all together will be in London next year!!!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Garden musing

At this time of year as I slowly work my way around our garden with my hedge trimmer I always think of those hard working gardeners at the Chateau de Villandry in the departement of Indre-et Loire, France.

We enjoyed a lovely day at the chateau in May 2005.  May is the northern hemisphere equivalent of our November so I have been trimming our plantings at the same stage of the season as this gardener was back then.  This was a fine hot day in country France, swarming with insects in the hot dozy air (so I wrote in my journal!).

Of course this hedge trimmer has a much more challenging job than I have trimming my garden's drought proof diosmas and Japanese box.  He has to maintain the love knot garden (which looks like an outdoor textile viewed from the window of the chateau interior).

Today, as I am trying to sculpt my mounded organic garden shapes with my trusty hedge trimmer I also think of the stunning English box garden at the Chateau de Marqueyssac in the Dordogne - which we visited a few days later, back in 2005 - with the L family. This garden was more inspiring for me here in dry old Canberra than the aristocratic gardens of the Loire Valley.

We're doing a lot of planning for our 2013 OS trip now. This makes me think a lot about France too as we will have a few days there (in Paris) at the end of the trip while we show Ros and Pete all our favourite places in this wonderful city.

We've seen four films over 10 days this month - thanks to the Canberra International Film Festival and a screening of the Intouchables at the Randwick Ritz. Three of the four films have been French with Rust and Bone being the most memorable. The incomparable Marion Cotillard plays an orca trainer at Marineland in Antibes, France who loses both her legs from the knee down in a freak accident with one of the killer whales.  She becomes involved with a struggling single father and former boxer (and budding psychopath).  It was all probably a bit too visceral for me at the time (especially the fight scenes) but it's a movie I have found myself thinking a lot about in the days after.  If nothing else it showed there is a significantly large group of poverty stricken, desperate people in France - even on the French Riviera. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sydney Sunday

We had a lovely Saturday in Sydney including a morning visit to the AGNSW to see the Eugene Atget exhibition of over 200 original photographs of old Paris, lunch at the Poolside Cafe at the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool overlooking Woolloomooloo and a movie night at the Randwick Ritz (The Intouchables).

Sunday being the first of the month we headed out to the Everleigh Artisans Market in Darlington, a favourite spot of mine for some early Christmas shopping.

And afterwards we were able to catch up with the Sydney ZACS for lunch at Rubyos in nearby Newtown.

We had a great excuse to celebrate Alexander's recent first birthday.  He was in a beautiful mood over lunch - allowing us a very long lunch together: time to catch up with everything the kids are doing (and saying), plans for 2013, some family news and time for me to garner a few more technical tips on using my Canon camera from Spiros.

Zoe is very protective of her younger brother and was a great help in unwrapping that present.  Zoe was in a very chatty mood and I heard quite a few of her "incriminating stories".  Rob helped her make paper planes, courtesy of our visit to the AGNSW and this proved to be a good time filler - luckily the restaurant was not very full by now.

Spiros and Clare are as busy as ever and both back in fulltime work - but they seem very happy and are doing such a good job of raising family in inner city Sydney - with all the difficulties and opportunities that poses.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Sculpture By The Sea

It's barely an hour's walk around the coast line to Bondi Beach from Coogee.  There was a cool wind blowing on Friday afternoon as we made our way around all these gorgeous bays and beaches to see the 16th Sculpture By the Sea - Sydney's most accessible and promotable art event of the year - but probably not the most profitable in these penny pinching times.

Heading north from Coogee Beach around Dunningham Reserve, Gordon's Bay was looking unusually messy with all that weed tossed on the beach from the choppy seas.

And Bronte Beach was practically deserted with not much swimmable water at this lowest of low tides.

We always try to strike a sombre demeanour as walk around the gorgeously situated Waverley Cemetery.  This part of the walk has been much easier since this 550metre long boardwalk was opened in 2009 (very grandly named the Sesquicentenary Boardwalk to celebrate Waverley Council's 150th anniversary).

And in no time we're overlooking Bronte Beach where hardy souls are braving the cool temperatures to celebrate the end of the working week with a late afternoon surf.

From Bronte we're quickly approaching Tamarama Beach where Sculpture By the Sea always takes over the beach area, setting the scene for the year's 3D preoccupations.

As always I am struck by the way installations work in and with this incredible environment: intense light, swathes of every shade of blue, white and yellow, reflections, movement, sea salt wind and playful people.

Two of our favourites on Tamarama Beach were: Surprise by Karin van der Molen (from the Netherlands)....

and the highly reflective Kaleidoscope Cube by Alex Ritchie (from Manchester UK).

Back on the headland walk between Tamarama and Bondi Beach I was struck by Jock Clutterbuck's Waterlily

and this shot of the day..which sums up the more fun and accessible aspects of this unique exhibition - Dave Mercer's View TM (in powder coated stainless steel, acrylic).  Dave's from Wollongong and is currently working in advertising!!

We loved Cave Urban's (a design collective focusing on sustainable living systems) Mengenang (memory) wind driven bamboo installation 0f 222 bird scarers tuned to D-minor which apparently began as a reflection on the 222 lives lost in the Bali bombings in 2002. An awesome work, in the prime position, on the headland overlooking Bondi and the east coast beaches beyond.

Sculture By the Sea did not have a top tier sponsor this year (a sign of the times) and it was quite noticeable that there weren't as many exhibits as previous years - although the quality of the majority is consistent with previous years.  We don't like to miss it anyway!!!!