Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
Last weekend I flew to Sydney to present at a conference at Darling Harbour. My husband and children drove there and met me in the late afternoon. We were staying in the Novotel Hotel which is not in excellent condition but it is very close to the harbour. For dinner that night we donned our rain jackets and walked to the Quarryman’s Hotel in Pyrmont. Downstairs was bustling with 20-something year old semi-inebriated men. Upstairs is a quiet and nicely appointed restaurant. We were seated in a room on our own where we did not disturb other patrons which was just as well because both of our children (5 & 7 yo) were unwell and overwhelmed from the long day. We had lovely meals of delicious and carefully prepared food but nothing spectacular. My husband had ordered the soup of the day which was supposed to be vegetarian. After he had started eating it the waitress returned and nonchalantly told him it contained ham. My husband conscientiously objects to the growing, slaughtering and eating of pigs because they are intelligent mammals so he was mildly horrified and sent the soup back to the kitchen. The waitress didn’t seem very bothered but did remove the charge for one drink from our bill.
We all slept poorly that night in our two double-beds side-by-side. I had requested a quiet room and I did not hear any other hotel guests the whole time that we were there. Our children had the breakfasts that my husband had packed for them while we both fasted as usual. We packed our day bags and rain gear and set off to explore the harbour area. It was not raining initially so we spent over 1 hour playing at the excellent and huge adventure playground at Darling Harbour. It has a wonderful water play area where children can stay dry while learning to divert and control the flow of water through a series of channels. When the rain became more persistent we sought shelter in the foyer of the Monkey Baa Theatre Company. They welcome children to use their foyer and have books, beanbags, and colouring in at desks (they also have toilets). While there I was delighted to see a sign for a Room to Read fundraising event (I run fundraising events for that excellent literacy charity too).
We walked to the aquarium and considered seeking shelter from the rain in there but we were horrified to discover that it would cost us $140 to go in there. Instead we decided to catch a ferry on the beautiful Sydney Harbour and enjoy the views from the dry vantage point of inside the ferry.
My husband selected a Japanese restaurant with a good rating for us to eat a special lunch and reminisce about our recent trip to Japan. We made a short walk up the hill from Circular Quay and found Masuya Restaurant down a staircase near Martin Place, tucked away below ground level. It was very popular and we waited about 1/2 an hour for a table. We ordered lots of dishes and shared an excellent seafood bento box, edamame, eggplant miso, salad and more. The food was oishii (delicious) and we enjoyed being served by Japanese people who were delighted when our children greeted them in Japanese. My husband and I shared some hot Japanese sake which was a perfect accompaniment to our light and nourishing meal. We followed our meals with green tea ice cream for our children, tofu cheesecake and sake ice cream for us. We admired the ikebana (flower arrangement) and decorative sake bottles. It was an authentic experience that we will fondly remember. It cost almost as much as our aquarium tickets would have cost but we enjoyed it immensely.
After lunch we rolled up the hill and played in Hyde Park for a while before our children and I dashed back to Darling Harbour to meet my brother (who came into the city to see us after work) and my husband went to the David Jones food court to buy some special and rather expensive dark chocolate. My children delighted in playing with my brother on the play equipment for 1 hour until it was raining enough to send us to a bar on the waterfront where we enjoyed the setting sun and a drink. Afterwards we walked back to Pyrmont and had dinner at the Dunkirk Hotel. It’s not as nice as the Quarryman’s Hotel but the food was carefully prepared and tasty and the eager fellow that served us was super friendly and encouraged our children to enjoy jumping on the circular lounge etc. There was a tennis match showing on the enormous screen in the dining room. My daughter has never seen tennis before and was transfixed by the screen (we don’t watch tv usually).
We put our children to bed at 8 and squeezed ourselves into the small bath where we enjoyed a warm soak while reading our books. We all slept well that night and in the morning we met my sister-in-law for breakfast at the waterfront. It was interesting to be served by Russians at Darling Harbour and contrasted strongly with the authentic experience the day before. After checking out from the hotel we drove to my cousin’s home where he and his lovely wife and children welcomed us with a delicious meal and a fun backyard for our children to play in. My favourite aunt and uncle dropped over to see us too which was lovely. So, in 3 days we saw 3 different family groups, we had some splendid meals, a cultural experience, we took a ride on the famous Sydney Harbour and we all relaxed and enjoyed the break from my work demands. We were back home on Saturday evening and on Sunday our children had their soccer lessons, I ran in a 10km fun run with my colleagues and we celebrated Father’s Day with my terrific husband. What a great weekend!