This was what we had worked for all our lives – to enjoy old friends reminiscing about our youth. When you meet up with a friend you grew up with and shared common history with on the other side of the world to where you lived is pretty special. This time spent in Sydney will be added to our archives of beautiful memories!
I was met at Sydney Airport by my childhood friend, Pam. We had done so much of life together in Rhodesia and it was only when the Diaspora happened in the 1980’s that we lost touch, our lives took us on very different paths, yet at the same time very similar. It was only on social media that we found each other again. This was my second visit and we had much catching up to do. We chatted the whole way back on the train to her home in Woy Woy, a small town about an hour from Sydney in the Central Coast region of New South Wales
Our first trip was to the Gosforth Art Gallery and Japanese Gardens. We spent a very happy day there being inspired by a local artist, Helen Geier’s, work with her multilayered colors and geometric shapes. This was my second visit here and I enjoyed it as much as the first. We also saw an old VW Camper van, a symbol of the Hippie era when we were both teenagers. A trip to Umina Beach was next where we walked along the beach enjoying the ocean and the sea breezes, wiggling our toes in the sand and feeling the waves lapping around our feet, hoping the big one wouldn’t wet our trousers! Fortunately, there were handsome young lifesavers there to rescue us should we have got into trouble! We saw a massive jellyfish on the beach and finished the day out at the Beach Café for a milkshake, gazing out at the ocean with its rolling waves and reliving our teenage years! This was what we had worked for all our lives – to enjoy old friends reminiscing about our youth, drinking milkshake as we would have done at the old Emperor Café, and eating our 6d packet of chips from the Sunflower Chip shop on the corner of Moffat Street and Jameson Avenue near to our high schools!
We spent some time viewing the most amazing stained-glass windows in St Luke’s Church near her home. The artist was the vicar’s wife who had skillfully told Bible stories in each of the thirty-seven windows. We travelled to Hornsby to visit Pan’s daughter who joined us at the Empire Marina Bobbin Head at the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, a few miles from Hornsby. We ate a delicious lunch with crispy, curly sweet potato chips on the salad, something I had not tried before. We walked around the marina enjoying the peaceful atmosphere of the Cowan Creek River with boats gently bobbing away at their moorings at the quay. We returned home after a lovely day catching up with Pam’s family news in this magnificent environment.
We took a drive out to a specialized fabric shop to find matching fabric for a bedspread Pam was making. The owner of this interesting shop travels to teach fabric craft in USA, Pittsburgh and other places, she had also written a book on her fabric craft and quilting. The final trip in Sydney was to the Penang Botanical Gardens, with its large waterlily gardens and Sculptures Park. We had lunch in the café there over-looking the water gardens. Walking around we saw a number of different birds and parrots in the gardens, bright red flowers that looked very similar to a passion fruit flower, as well as pink gums hosting a rainbow lorikeet nibbled away at the flowers.
There was an interesting variety of trees, including bottle trees and of course the bark of different trees that totally fascinated me especially the one that looked like it has been scribbled on! The lotus and waterlily flowers were amazing with their delicate flowers and leathery leaves. The lively tropical plants caught my attention with their large banana like leaves and giant ferns. There was a golden shower of grevilia with spiky flowers, hanging over the wall. We also came across a Christ Thorn plant reminding us of our childhood days in Rhodesia. Christ thorn bushes were grown at the base of hawthorn hedges to keep out wild life and intruders. And so, ended a wonderful time of renewed friendship, and memories relived as I came to the end of my stay in Sydney.