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Saturday, 4 September 2010

Home is Where The Heart Is

I have been back in Australia for three weeks now and it has been exhilarating and exhausting. I've barely stopped to catch my breath as we've moved on from place to place in an Antipodean journey down memory lane.

Sydney was pretty much as I'd left it twelve years ago. There was no love between us then and there is none still. Lindfield where we stayed was lovely with its wild squawking birds and verdant bushland. Bankstown where we spent an afternoon was also charming in a 1950's retreat-back-to-the Orient way. Our family and friends welcomed us in their warm embrace but Sydney still felt aloof, hungover and suprisingly stale. We made it to Bills in Darlinghurst which according to the New York Times has the best scrambled eggs in the world but unless you like your eggs 70% cream, I'd give it a miss.

Melbourne, dining capital of the world lived up to its reputation ten times over during our stay there. As well as seeing old, dear friends, we ate up a frenzy and left the city with bad indigestion. As soon as we landed I hotfooted it to the Shanghai Dumpling restaurant on Tattersalls Lane.

This way to Dumpling Heaven

To my relief it was still  there, intact and slightly less grubby than before. Comforted by a steaming hot bowl of noodle dumpling soup, I had a feeling that our Melbourne soujourn  would be A-OK. After scouring for bargains at the best car boot market in the world (Camberwell) , we met up with Tim and Cory to feast on Chinese nosh and talk about the old days of environmental campaigining and the election fallout. In the days that followed our mate John feted us with a Mexican lunch at Mama Sita, Spanish churros and drinks at Movida and a ten course French degustation menu at Vue du Monde. As if the sight of two stuffed walruses was not enough to suggest that lettuce was in order, he invited us to dine the following night at his own restaurant Carsons in Yarraville. How we managed to put away all the delicious food coming from the kitchen I do not know. We rolled out of Melbourne content and already nostalgic for the food that we had seen but not had time to sample. We'll be back Melbs, with Gaviscon in one hand and a fork in the other.

After long last we landed in Perth, my home town. Once I see that clear light sky with minimal pollution, I know that I am back. The elements in Perth are what draw me back in at first. The big sky, blue in the daytime and star-filled at night. The ocean  that is ten minutes drive away and the smell of air slightly crisp with sun.

And slowly then come the people whom I have known for many a year and shared much with. Last night in a big group reunion at Clancys, I sat amongst my old, dear friends, some whom I have not seen for three, four years. Time seemed to have preserved us in a bubble for it was as if we had spoken and laughed together only yesterday. Closeness really has nothing to do with distance. Last night reminded me how lucky I am to have those old bonds still.

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