Nights in the Big Smoke

Sydney.  A city of contrasts.  Each suburb has it’s own distinct personality and the people who reside there have each chosen their location based on subcultures and routines of that suburb.  It’s quite amazing to see how even by crossing from one suburb to the next how, not only the architecture changes, but also the vibe of street life. Last year I spent the majority of my time, okay all of my time, in what is fondly referred to as the Manly bubble so this year I decided to branch out.

Funky cloud formations over Manly Beach
Funky cloud formations over Manly Beach

Friday night I remained securely in my bubble, yacht racing and sharing beers with new and old friends alike, watching the city burn in the storm.  I can’t think of a way I’d prefer to spend my Friday nights.  However the rest of the weekend wasn’t spent in the safety of the bubble.

Sharing beers with these lovely ladies.  PC: Stephanie Burke
Sharing beers with these lovely ladies. PC: Stephanie Burke
RAINBOWS  PC: Stephanie Burke
RAINBOWS
PC: Stephanie Burke
Towards the storm we go.  PC: Stephanie Burke
Towards the storm we go.
PC: Stephanie Burke
FIRE FIRE, CALL THE ENGINES PC: Stephanie Burke
FIRE FIRE, CALL THE ENGINES
PC: Stephanie Burke

The city.  To a beach bum like me, big, scary and full of people.  But also plays host to cultural treats which will never make it to the Northern Beaches.  For me Saturday night brought a visit to Newtown for a Tom Stoppard play called “The Real Thing”.  The play was not only sad, funny and an interesting comment on modern day family life, infidelity and relationships but was also brilliantly written.  Given the play is set in the UK on the most part the actors did an amazing job at the accents, apart from when a Scottish character was introduced.  Olivia and I could not keep a straight face.  However no one else in the audience seemed to notice his atrocious accent skills, granted he did a better job than either of us could have.  But he is being paid!  It was really nice to go see a play performed and not on a screen.  There’s a feeling that goes with being close enough to the action that you could walk onto the set and having to use your own intelligence to piece together what the set and costume changes mean.  In “The Real Thing” costumes were used to show passing of time and the movement of a few simple props showed where you were.  There is also an odd sense of community when you go to the theatre.  Obviously I enjoyed it, but you can’t go see it because we saw it on the last night. Sorry.

I have an obsession with purple and flowers. It's everywhere at the moment brightening up the streets. This was in Newtown.
I have an obsession with purple and flowers. It’s everywhere at the moment brightening up the streets. This was in Newtown.

The rest of our evening was spent eating at our stock favourite “Lentil as Anything”, where we the quirkiness of Newtown could fully be appreciated.  Our neighbours were 2 bongo drummers who were definitely high on something, whether it be life or something slightly more illicit.  They were Newtown personified, with incredibly alternative views on the world.  The chattiest one not only busked for a living but is also a professional squatter, doesn’t believe in over cleanliness (as a result doesn’t shower) and doesn’t identify as male or female – he made for very interesting dinner conversation.  We then ventured to Bondi for a rather disappointing party.  Only adding to my already strong dislike of this overrated suburb.  Some people love Bondi, but I find it overly touristy and if you’re not drinking the right juices and going to the right exercise classes you don’t fit.  To top it off the surf isn’t great either.  Pretention is high though.  However, getting ready was fun and I discovered the joys of late night buses.  People are so much more willing to talk on a night bus, either that or my drunkenness was giving me verbal diarrhoea.

And tonight, I once again ventured into the city to meet someone from the café I work in for drinks.  We went to Olivia’s work, “The Winery” in Surrey Hills, which is a beautiful wine bar, although pricey.  But that’s Surrey Hills for you, full of young professionals with nice wine bars.  Also if you tell them it’s your birthday you get a free cocktail with a sparkler and roses.  I approve.

Waiting for yet another bus isn't so bad when the sky looks like this.
Waiting for yet another bus isn’t so bad when the sky looks like this.

I am slowly learning if you open yourself up to other people’s lives they are more than willing to share their stories.  Such as the guys I met on Saturday night who will probably still be busking outside Newtown station and not showering, that’s what makes them happy.  Each to their own.  At the same time I’m also learning more about my own beliefs and what makes me happy.  Take today, after work, there was nothing I wanted to do less than go to the city, so I went surfing and postponed my city visit.  Being on the water makes me happy, Dad says it’s something to do with high ozone levels released by moving water which gives you a natural high.  That combined with the endorphins released by exercise and I think I’m onto a winner.  The surf was not great, with very small swell and an onshore breeze knocking down most of the surf.  This meant I was sharing the whole of Manly beach with 3 other people, and as a longboarder I find 2 foot waves go alright.  For me, that’s what life is about.  Finding what make you happy and building your day around that happiness, otherwise what’s the point?

Don't be scared now. PC: Stephanie Burke
The Big Smoke is on fire.
PC: Stephanie Burke

My flirtations with the city have been fun, but I wouldn’t change my Manly bubble for the world.  This is what makes Sydney so fun though.  You can have both the outdoorsy lifestyle and the perks of living in a city, it’s like the best pick ‘n’ mix stall ever.

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