We’ve had a delicious weekend in Sydney and are back on the Coffs Coast on a bright Sunday afternoon, still enveloped in that sense of well-being you have after a truly wonderful time.
Patrick, bless him, tugged some strings in his web of contacts in the hospitality industry and arranged for us to have a slap-up dinner at Felix at the Ivy on Friday night: we stepped off the plane, onto the train, into the hotel, did a VERY quick change and sauntered off down Pitt Street to find Ash Street, the little laneway where Felix lives.
On the one hand I sometimes feel that the speed at which one travels these days allows little time to adjust to the reality of moving from the life you were in (meetings, teleconferences, phone calls, running to the printer, preparing reports..) to another (walking gently down Angel Lane over brass plaques engraved with bird names, hearing them calling and looking upwards to a flock of bird cages, swaying overhead). On the other hand, how marvellous that we could leave Coffs Harbour at 4:30pm and be in our room at the Sydney Intercontinental Hotel less than two hours later, frantically ironing our smart clothes ready to go out! Mad, but in a good way.
Thanks to Patrick’s friend Tate, who looked after us all evening, we sampled oysters (well, husband did – I don’t like them), beautiful Queensland prawns, a quenelle of chicken pate, light-as-air twice-baked Gruyere soufflé with rocket and walnuts, a whole butterflied rainbow trout and a slow cooked herb- crusted lamb shoulder (in case you’re worried about our digestive systems, I can assure you that there were numerous vegetable accompaniments). After all that, we shared a single passionfruit soufflé with mango sorbet. Yum!
Naturally we had wine; I can’t remember exactly what we had (sorry Patrick!) but I do recall a rather lovely Chablis and sharing a carafe of St Emilion. We walked back to the hotel feeling rather tired and full, but very happy.
Yesterday was an altogether different day: my mission was to buy some clothes since my current “working wardrobe”, which consists essentially of 3 pairs of ancient black linen trousers and assorted T-shirts, will no longer do! For starters, it’s almost in shreds after well over a decade of constant use. Darling daughter and I headed off to shop the sales, while dearest husband sensibly found himself a book shop and then phoned a friend. When we met up, some hours later, he was half a bottle of wine down and having a great time with long-time friend and colleague Chris, on the café level of the MLP building, in the sunshine. I’m pleased to report that I accomplished my mission and came back with two jackets, two pairs of trousers and two tops – could have bought loads more, but decided I shouldn’t – plus daughter got a long-promised cabin bag and a pair of jeans.
In the afternoon we had tickets to see I, Malvolio at the Carriageworks Theatre in Redfern – daughter’s first real, adult play – and far from just sitting in the audience she got hauled out (as did the other two youngsters in the audience) to participate!
It’s been a long time since dearest husband and I have been to the theatre, stayed in a hotel together, gone shopping for clothes or eaten out in a really good restaurant and we are hoping that if we continue to have enough work and can dig ourselves out of our financial hole, then perhaps we’ll be able to do something similar again. Meanwhile, it’s been even more fun in that a lot of this trip was either free or very cheap! We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel in Sydney because we had a “2 nights for the price of 1” voucher AND 2 breakfasts for the price of 1 (both days!) AND another 10% off food, and because husband is a member of their ‘club’ we got a really good room and a free roll-away bed for darling daughter. Dinner on Friday was courtesy of Patrick, and we took advantage off the sales… so all in all it was budget-luxe.
When we got home we found a praying mantis beside the door, looking as if it was waiting for us.