Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Sydney icons

We've had a wonderful long weekend in Sydney; three days of the bluest of blue skies, sparkling harbour and ocean views and the company of dear friends Jane and Tania.

Jane arrived Thursday lunchtime from Brisbane, and in a very short time we were headed off on a sparkling (and warm) afternoon coast walk between Coogee and Bondi. The three of us have been teaching colleagues and friends for over 25 years now and even if we haven't seen each other for a while we can always pick up wherever we left the conversation, no matter how long it is between visits. 
We started slowly on Friday morning. Jane and I joined Tania at the Art Gallery of NSW (and the surprisingly long queues) to see the Frida Kahlo Diego Rivera exhibition and the Archibald, Wynne and Sulman Prize exhibitions. It was very difficult to ignore the beautiful 7 sisters painting (by the Ken Family Collaborative) that won the Wynne prize this year.
It's hard to get away from the Sydney icons in this part of the city so after the gallery visit we took full advantage of the views of the Harbour Bridge, from the 4th floor Museum of Contemporary Art Cafe, over a leisurely lunch with Rob.
After lunch Tania was keen to show us the Salon des Refuses exhibition at the SH Ervin Gallery in the National Trust building attached to the old Sydney Observatory, which was new territory for Rob and me despite its proximity to Millers Point. 
We enjoyed the exhibition which was much more quirky and thought provoking than the finalists' exhibitions at the AGNSW.

This picturesque part of Sydney is very popular for wedding groups........so we indulged in a bit of photobombing of this gorgeous old Rolls.
With the sun slowly setting we made our way to the Opera House bar for its spectacular setting and a glass or two of bubbles - along with hundreds of mainly young things celebrating the end of the working week.
As the lights dimmed and the sound level rose (and the cool breeze off the harbour started cutting through the layers) we decided to party on at the 36th floor Blu Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel - with its beautiful full length window views of the harbour icons below. We made one very generous Thai Me Up (gin based) cocktail and a few tasting platters last us a few happy hours at this stylish venue.

I was able to introduce Jane to my favourite crafts people at the Paddington Markets on Saturday morning (including Melaney from Ant Haus designs) before we set out north of the harbour to Balmoral Beach for lunch.

We found a good table at the Balmoral Beach Bathers Pavilion Cafe and settled in for another long lunch, made all the sweeter by the fact that the winds had turned cold today and it was actually much nicer to be sitting behind a sunny window than to be outside by the beach.

We were impressed by this group of hardy souls who braved the conditions for a serious swimming workout off Balmoral Beach.

This part of Sydney was new territory for Jane so we drove her a bit further north to exclusive Chinamans Beach, a 250 metre stretch of sand at the northern end of Mosman, not too far from the Spit Bridge.We oohed and aahed over the beachside mansions and marvelled at how few people were using the beach (apart from that hardy paddle boarder setting off from the rocky headland).  
Tania, Allan and Aine hosted us for dinner at their house on Saturday night. Tania prepared beautiful food, Allan served wonderful wine and there was plenty of entertainment provided by, the 1979 Corvette.........

.......and discussions with Aine about music, school and flag symbols and a long session in Tania's studio looking at her current projects and the meaning of art - an altogether inspiring evening!

Luckily we could start late on Sunday morning: bus to Circular Quay, then ferry to Taronga Zoo Wharf.........

.....then 300 metres or so along the Bradleys Head bush track to the beautiful Athol Hall for lunch.

Talk about Sydney icons!
It's very understated at Athol Hall. The cafe has stayed very small and no one rushes you through your meal - there's good wine, pretty good food and this amazing setting overlooking the bush land and Sydney Harbour - idyllic!
..and the friendly kookaburras too of course......

We ended off our day and our long weekend together heading back to The Rocks, around to the spectacular Barangaroo Reserve.......

and a search for a suitable spot for our last few hours together Sunday evening (not too loud, great atmosphere and good food and beer on tap). The newly restored Palisade Hotel at Millers Point had the views and  was "very cool" - but not quite our scene (too crowded for one thing)!
....but the trusty old Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel (Sydney's oldest continually licensed hotel) in the The Rocks precinct was just our "cup of tea".....a very laid back way to end a wonderful weekend together. We're making plans for our next get together already..... Melbourne icons maybe??

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Beautiful progress

The pic below of our apartment block under construction in Campbell was taken on the 16th July
..and here we are today, 4 weeks later, and ... we think it is making beautiful progress!!
 It's not hard to convince the girls to come and check progress at C5 with us.
However Abi remains quite resistant to having her photo taken - unlike her big sister who has always been comfortable with having my camera pointed at her........
The girls were trying on their wedding guest outfits during the week but even then despite all the excitement, Abi did not want to co-operate with picture taking!
But I had more luck this afternoon...no sugar was involved...just a few well spaced fart jokes (always guaranteed to get a laugh from a 4 year old!)

 It's not hard at all to take a great shot of Ella......
 ....who is making beautiful progress with her toe touches on the trampoline.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Snaps of Sydney

We're in Sydney for a few days (again) - not doing very much other than enjoying ourselves and justifying our mini break by dutifully attending our Body Corporate AGM (which is tonight!).

It's been ages since we've stopped off at our fave Thanh Binh in Cabramatta on our way into Coogee for the best Pho in Sydney (and the divine rice vermicelli and sugar cane prawns). There are a lot of changes in Cabramatta - so many of the little bakeries are being taken over by the bigger franchises so it's much harder to find all my old favourite sticky rice dumplings with their varied fillings!!
 Coogee Beach looked beautiful in the very late afternoon light on Friday.

Rob has a decent smart phone (Samsung) at last...and his picture (below) is so much better than mine (iPhone) (above). I will have to watch out or he will overtake me in the happy snap taking department!

The southern end of the beach still looks very scarred from the bad storms in June. The Coogee SLSC is looking very vulnerable now, built so low on the rock platform.
Rob was quite entertained by his new phone in Hyde Park while I was looking at some shops in Westfield CBD on Saturday. He was thrilled with this brilliantly lit, foreshortened view of St Mary's.
 ....and his bubble pic (kids playing in Hyde Park)...I am really worried about the competition from Rob in the taking snaps department now!!!
Yesterday we went walking around the new Barangaroo development to the south west of Walsh Bay. Apparently James Packer is planning a 1.5 billion casino and apartment block/s in the area south of this landscaped part of Barangaroo Reserve - and the opening is planned in 2021!
This part of Barangaroo Reserve (below) is rather amazing with its huge carefully placed blocks of Sydney sandstone and native vegetation. It has won major landscaping awards.

We finished off our morning's walk around Barangaroo at Cafe Sopra in Walsh Bay and a gelati for dessert at our fave Gelato Messina in Darlinghurst. We were on our way to the Palace Verona in Oxford Street to see "Love and Friendship"...a deliciously witty way to end our day in Sydney!