Our time in central Sydney and the surrounding stunning harbour (which we secretly preferred) drew to a close on Friday last week. The three days staying between Rose Bay and Bondi had gone all too quickly but our charming hosts, Ezri and Liz, invited us to join them, and some other friends, for a meal. As they both follow the Jewish faith, we knew it was a very special time of the week for them and felt both honoured but also curious about the traditions, food, blessings.
Sabbath, or Shabbat, commences at sunset on Friday evening. So as the sun went down the hive of activity in the kitchen that had been going on most of the afternoon came to a close. A Shabbat candle was lit with a blessing for peace in the home and wider world. From this point onwards, followers of the Jewish faith should refrain from 39 prohibited activities. These are mostly based around work activity, ie not lighting a flame, not sewing but the strangest of which is not making 2 loops (maybe weaving?). These prohibited things include use of technology – so no phones, no flames to cook by, no TV just time to concentrate on the family and the day of rest. Jon had Ezri’s phone thrust at him at one point to answer on his behalf. He coped remarkably well explaining to the caller who he was and why he spoke funny. All this abstaining continues until sunset on the Saturday.
We were joined by Liz’s two Columbian friends, Milana and Luce. Milana was with her German boyfriend, Chris from Hamburg and Luce was with her Australian boyfriend, Liam. After an initial blessing and the blessing of the wine and bread all in Hebrew, we enjoyed a kosha feast prepared by Ezri and Liz. I think part of the philosophy behind the large quantities is that the leftovers can be eaten throughout the day on the Saturday so no prepartion is required. They very kindly said it was OK for Jon and I to introduce some non kosha wine and beer to the table and even our phones to take a photo as a memory of the occasion…….
Jon was even handed a selfie stick which caused a lot of humour as he hates them with a passion, or should he say he hates the mostly incompetent users. Another first for him.
We had intended to only join the meal for a few hours as we had a very early start the next day but before we knew it it was midnight. It was such a fun evening and humour and good will spanning the religions, nationalities and age differences. All down to Ezri and Liz and their superb hospitality. תודה
A reunion in Melbourne
We tried to creep off without disturbing our hosts early the next morning and headed to the airport for our flight to Melbourne and long awaited reunion for me with my friend Shelagh and her husband Brian.
Shelagh and I met at primary school and lived around the corner from each other. After searches through photograph albums on both sides of the world, we think it was over 30 years ago that we were last together. Christmas cards and updates over the years have managed to keep us in touch but I did get emotional when we finally saw each other at the airport. I suppose it was because coming to see her so far away was never a possibility yet here we were together again. I think we drove Brian and Jon mad coming up with names of teachers, friends and experiences from our childhood on the journey to their house in Mornington.
We enjoyed a spot of lunch at the Counting House and Shelagh and Brian were introduced to my love of a plaque and I even managed to bore them with the dates I had seen displayed on the wall on our entrance to the restaurant. On arriving at their beautiful home later in the day we met up with Shelagh’s Mum who, when I was a child, cooked me many a tea. She is such an elegant, witty and warm lady and the picture of health. She lives in a unit (what we would call an annexe) at the rear of Shelagh and Brian’s house. We also met Raf the extremely excitable dog who took rather a lot to Jon. The day went so fast and before we knew it, Brian had BBQ’d and we had enjoyed a few glasses of wine and a beer or two. With aching jaws but happy hearts we headed to bed around midnight. Two late nights on the trot for the JWalkers!
A surprise night visitor
Tired and all tucked up in our comfy bed for the night we enjoyed sweet dreams until around 3am. I know all the UK readers will be wondering what the surprise visitor was: a snake, spider, possum but none of these it was a MAN. I had been dead to the world in the land of slumber when Jon sat bolt upright and shouted, “WHO ARE YOU?” He shouted so loud I jumped out my skin and stuck my head out of the covers. There was a man at the bedroom door, he had his hands up and was said, “Its OK, its Dan!” With that he backed sheepishly out of the room. I explained to Jon that it was Shelagh and Brian’s son but he was in shock and continued to sit on the edge of the bed heart racing and shaking for a good few minutes. He then decided that he needed the toilet but was too afraid to leave the room in case he frightened the life either out of himself or Dan a second time.
In the morning, I found Shelagh in the kitchen speaking to her daughter, Bec, on the phone. They were both in fits of laughter and it was then that I got the other side of the story. Dan lives a 15 minute or so walk away. Shelagh had told Dan that friends would be staying in what was his old room but after a few drinks and being unable to get a taxi home from town he decided to walk to his Mum and Dad’s and bed down there. After finding “Someone has been sleeping in my bed” he texted his Mum (at 3am) to say sorry. Shelagh read the text but couldn’t understand what he was saying sorry for. She had heard the shouting but thought it was just Jon having a bad dream. I think it was Brian who realised first what could have happened and Shelagh found Dan on the sofa in the lounge. Full of apologies and too scared to venture into the other bedroom that used to be his sister’s in case there were more shouting English strangers in there. Jon’s blood pressure is back to normal but I have yet to regain full hearing on my left side.
William Ricketts Sanctuary
Shelagh and Brian took us to the William Ricketts Sanctuary. William Ricketts was born in 1898 and was an artist/environmentalist. He strived to unify and understand the indigenous Aborigines and most of his clay artwork reflect this. The Sanctuary is located on the side of a hill and 92 pieces of his work are displayed. It was an interesting collection but it felt like it was created by a troubled mind.
Despite Brian’s efforts to track down Puffing Billy the steam train, we didn’t get to see it. We think secretly he wanted a ride! Another perfect day had taken it’s toll on all of us so it was feet up and a take away for dinner, all to the accompaniment of the most terrific thunder storm.
No surprise night-time visitors this time just hours of peaceful sleep before heading off to the east of Melbourne for a few days. Thankfully it was not goodbye to Shelagh and Brian as we are getting together a few more times. Got to make the most of being in the same neck of the woods!! For the next overnight stay, I have bought some post-it notes for the door, Jon has upped his blood pressure dosage temporarily and Dan is probably now tee-total.
23.10 – 25.10.2015