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The miraculous disappearance of the tourists

I have never seen so much empty space here.

Last Sunday afternoon, the heavens opened and the rain came down — much needed rain, actually. It came as quite a surprise to the hundreds of tourists in the vicinity of the Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay. Five minutes before I took this photo, you could not have seen 10 feet in front of you, let alone all the way to end. Everyone is cowering behind those columns to the left, jammed together as tightly as pencils as in a box. I did feel rather smug with my showerproof jacket and umbrella. Walking along this east side of Circular Quay is usually immensely frustrating, trying to dodge and weave around strollers and families and tour groups; for once, though, I could walk at will!


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Random Fridays: Hot Chocolate Trio

I’ve had a number of “tasting flights” over the years — wine, beer, whiskey, port — but never one featuring hot chocolate. From left to right: chili (too fiery for my taste), standard (good), gingerbread (excellent). From The Gingerbread House in Katoomba, Blue Mountains (west of Sydney). I’d just spent 1.5 hours walking in the ceaseless rain and 15 degrees C, and these hot chocolates were wonderfully warming — as was the heater I sat beside. 😉


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Random Fridays: Eternity

Eternity, Central Station 2019

Eternity, Central Station 2019

“Eternity” — the word was found on the pavements of Sydney for 30 years, handwritten in chalk. This was decades before I moved to Sydney in 1999, by which time the graffito and the man responsible for it had become embedded in the city’s psyche. You can read about Arthur Stace and his graffito here.

The photo above was taken at Central Station a couple of weeks ago. I was there for the steam trains and noticed that the food court area, which has been closed for years, had finally re-opened. But what a difference! Gone are all the ugly 20th century fake walls and ceilings and now we have the original Victorian glory of the rooms. In the original booking hall there’s now a sleek bar and grill — named Eternity, and featuring Stace’s famous script as its logo.

The photo below is truly awful quality and I apologise for that (scan of a poor print) but it shows “Eternity” in use again. On the eve of the millennium, when Sydney put on a show to exceed all other new year’s eve shows, the last of the fireworks fell to the harbour’s water — and “Eternity” appeared on the bridge, shining through the smoke.

Eternity, NYE 1999

Eternity, New Year’s Eve 1999


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Random Fridays: Crypt-ical

Crypt, St Martin in the Fields, London

When I moved to London for the first time, in 1989, the crypt at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square, was one of the first places I went, and often. The food at the cafe was cheap, you could nurse a coffee for hours, the surroundings simply oozed history, it was quiet and serene, and there was the added thrill of walking over dead people. Well, walking over old, worn, carved stone panels in the floor memorialising dead people, anyway.

During the 15 years I lived in London, I returned many times, often in conjunction with a concert in the church above (in 1991, I attended the concert to celebrate the church’s new organ, “in the presence of HRH The Princess of Wales”, the ticket words it; as I recall, we had an encore singing of “Jerusalem” at Diana’s request).

The crypt has changed over those years, less a hidden gem now and more another tick on the tourists’ bucket list, but the history and the architecture is still there — as is the thrill of walking over dead people.

If you’re curious about the church: It is dedicated to Saint Martin of Tours. There has been a church on the site since the medieval period. The present building was constructed in a Neoclassical design by James Gibbs in 1722–1726. (source)

Crypt, St Martin in the Fields, London


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