Was it a good trip?
Wintry mornings were spent at a park in Sydney sipping coffee, writing my middle-grade novel, watching birds waddle close, listening to the soft roar from a nearby fountain and to the songs on my iPod, all under grand knowing trees. I still have no idea what the name of the park is, I just know it's right next to St. James Station. I don't mind not knowing its name. I know how it made me feel and that was enough.
Random notes at the park:
White body, black wings and feet.
Surfing across the Prussian blue and white sky.
Birds (Pelicans? No idea ...) rummaging through bushes, walking across parkways, strolling, hopping, not hosting, not frightened, not nervous. Living like breathing.
Dok-dok pigeons. Cooing barritone.
Kids laughing. Wings flapping dry.
A boy shouts for Mama.
A Russian lady getting her family to pose on the grassy field.
Pat-pat little feet hitting the ground, chasing after birds.
The bubble man nearby, weaving big bubbles over wary but excited kids.
I'd go for walks, destination nowhere, in the afternoons. Saw bustling streets, saw dubious streets, saw a tattoo parlour named 'The Illustrated Man' and thought about Mr. Ray B., and once walked to the Darling Harbour from I-don't-know-where while munching on a chocolate muffin. Busy meanderings for a stranger.
The blues of this country are insane. The sky is a chalky bold blue and the waters is a clear, heart-slowing, bold blue. I'm not even sure if the pictures from the camera's point-of-view match those I saw from mine ... The blues made me stop and listen. They made me notice and observe. They made me pay attention to thoughts and flits of things I was feeling right then and there.
We watched two movies in Sydney at a theatre called 'Dendy:' a French comedy and a Russian drama. Le Chef was light and tasty. Elena was dark and delicious. I've never been much of a musical/play/opera kind of person, so foreign films at a clean, comfy theatre work better than an elaborate night at the Opera House. (And Elena was so, so good. So depressing. So quiet. So much to interpret.)
Lifelong Dream Fulfilled
When we went to Melbourne, we went up to the mountains ~ Mount Dandenong (meaning 'high and lofty'). It was freezing and there, I fulfilled a lifelong dream of riding a steam engine. A proper steam engine. Rather 19th Century, I thought. His name is Puffing Billy. When the whistle moaned and the train puffed alive, no cold wind could sweep the smiles from our faces. A mother at a rest stop below the railway tracks nudged at her young daughter. They waved to us in glee. A man walking his dog saw our train passing by, muttered to the mutt, smiled and waved to us, too. The dog swished its tail. My sister said there must be an unstated universal law to wave at trains when they pass by. Steam engines are such delightful iron beasts to watch.
*I should've taken pictures of Puffing Billy, but then I was busy taking pictures with my eyes. (They were possibly the only organs not frozen. It may sound as if I grumble about the cold, but really, it was something I haven't truly experienced before. I do enjoy winter, and would love to visit another country in winter again. Especially since Singapore is so sticky warm ...) If you're interested, here's the link to the glorious Puffing Billy: http://www.puffingbilly.com.au/
More, More, More
The colonial architecture. The gargoyle laughter at a school yard. The paintings I saw at the Library of Victoria. The smell of pee from the horse carriages. The barren trees. The pair of brothers singing for a living outside a cafe. And the bookshop after bookshop I'd visited - A big chain; a cozy one near Chinatown where I'd bought a Joyce Carol Oates novel at only AUD$10; and a fabulous one in a quiet alley. It appeared un-boastfully clever, that last bookshop. I told myself to get one book for this trip. I came back with five. Chatting with my sister, Pamela, and her boyfriend, Fei (both featured below). We talked about our careers, about religions, about politics, about the films we saw, about soccer and Fei's disappointment in Italy's loss in the Euro Cup finals. Scrumptious breakfasts. Juicy bacon. Fat but not fattening fries.
And get this, not one dissatisfying cup of coffee in Australia. That was how good this trip has been!
The Best Part of This Travels
In Sydney, when I returned from my walks and explorings-around, I would head back to the hotel room, dump my folder, notebooks, hot tumbler, and all the stuff weighing me down in winter. It would be around half-past four, and I would return to my park, bringing along only a jacket, my iPod, and 'Great Expectations.' There I would read about Pip and Estella until the sky darkened into a glow of orange and pink. The best? The best.
More on the progress of my writing/book projects next week. Just want to end by letting you guys know I have missed you! I haven't missed social media much, but I have missed your soft 'hellos,' your passionate and quirky posts, and your voices through words on my screen. How. Have. You. Been?
Grab My Button!
<div align="center"><a href="http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog.html" title="CarryUsOff Books" target="_blank"><img src="http://www.weebly.com/uploads/5/6/8/1/5681205/5653609_orig.jpg" alt="CarryUsOff Books" style="border:none;" /></a></div>
Hey, I'm Claudine. Welcome!
Want to know what children's stories can inspire & lead to?
by Kate Hanney
Really enjoyed the honest voice of this narrator ~ a teenager let down by his mother and the foster care system, and almost-picked up through his involvement with a gang.