Good morning friends, It’s been a long time between drinks on the SS Letters from America that’s for sure but bear with me, 2020 has been quite a year. Scheduled tours in Sydney have been going well. I can also fit in ad hoc meetings on most Wednesdays after 3.00pm with a bit of notice. So if any one in Sydney wants to meet at short notice later on a Wednesday, you are welcome to contact me. Meet ups in the Southern Highlands, Canberra and Wollongong are great in between. The Forester has just sailed past 200 km and going just fine.
The dates for next scheduled Sydney tours, staying at the usual place, are:
Sunday 8 November to Friday 13 November 2020, and Sunday 6 December to Friday 11 December 2020.
I would love to write more but as I know the stalker snoops around on everything I do, it’s just made it less fun and it gives her more fuel for her obsession to feed on. As most of you know it’s a female stalker, obviously not anyone I’ve ever seen or know, she’s just filled with jealous rage because she’s had a long term fixation on my partner. Sigh. My happy life goes on but she’s kind of wrecked the pleasure I’ve always taken in doing MG. She’s got some kind of fantasy that she’s competing with me (I think?), and so she copies me too. Once her identity was found out though she stopped the threats, so that’s good. And I’ve shut down all the online avenues for her to reach me with her slimy unpleasant messages, so that’s something as well. We’ll just keep going. Perhaps she’ll find someone else to fixate on. Women who have no conscience engaging in violent manipulative behaviour toward a “rival” when the love object they are fixated on is not interested in them, really puzzle me. I mean there is no point sister, he’s not interested. You need to learn the bus stop theory. Just wait at the bus stop, one bus leaves and in 15 minutes another one comes along. With no disrespect to the uniqueness and intrinsic value of each person, the world is absolutely packed with good people to connect with, open your eyes.
To happier things, this is my overdue update on the swans. This video was taken 22 July 2020 when the cygnets were about three months old. After the loss of two little ones fairly early on, the fleet has stabilised at five cygnets. They are about twice this size now. Five cygnets is a very successful season. It’s been such a pleasure watching them progress.
My Sydney visit could not have started better than it has. I actually came up early for a girlfriend’s birthday drinks. That was so fun. While I stayed in the Campari lane (Negroni much as I love it, is too strong for me), I was also introduced to the pretty amazing flavour of an Australian “smoked gin”. Does anyone know about this? I will make efforts to penetrate the local gin distilling scene and report back.
This evening I’ve done one of my favourite things – walking at night. I can’t really walk at night in the country (a) because it is too dark (b) it puts the farm dogs into a frantic (c) walking at night is really a city thing anyway. It’s all about the quiet lights radiating from houses, glimpses of people at home in their rooms with books and paintings or in their kitchens, or watching the tv, still city gardens – intimate landscapes, the harbour, city lights, the racket of occasional flying foxes.
This is a slice of my night walk, coming back over Darling Point, looking through the terraces toward Elizabeth Bay.
The best of all, is coming down the hill to Rushcutters Bay to hear one of my favourite sounds, rope gently thumping against the mast. And once there are a few boats rolling gently it’s like a gamelan orchestra. You never hear them tolling so clearly and gently during daytime.
I made a lovely little clip of the full moon and the gentle sound of rope against mast.
Letters from America These letters are my glamorous aunt’s posts on her adventures and her life and times as a ♦ mature Sydney escort ♦
Sunday 26 January 2020
I can’t write much about the fires: the volunteers, climate change, the failure of political leadership and will, the animals, the forests. And it’s beyond me to do an “I will donate X% of my earnings in January” thing (which a lot of generous escorts are announcing on social media), I just don’t have “the spoons” as they say.
I have deep feelings of loss and I can’t say a lot about anything.
Here is a photo of the beautiful spotted gum forest on the South Coast – it will have been incinerated. I don’t think I can get myself to visit again any time soon.
I spent many wonderful holidays on the South Coast where my grandparents bought a hobby farm when they retired.
Here are links to a couple of small wildlife rescue operations local to my new home, if you would like to donate.
I have been directly affected by the fires too. I’ve been told to evacuate by the local RFS four times now. (I did go promptly the first three times, the fourth time I dragged my feet). We will just have to see how February goes. It’s very dry, hot and windy. There are two fire fronts active close by: one to the South about 12 km away and one to East which has been as close as 5 km when it has been on the move. This is the fire map published on Friday evening:
It’s Australia Day though, so it’s barbeque time, and here is one version of the case to change the date (CW: this Youtube video is probably, as they say, entirely “off brand” lol):
Following on from my earlier post about adventures in the Whitsundays, I wanted to add another image. These are the Norfolk Island pines, with their very distinctive geometry, everywhere on the Whitsunday islands. This is the ridge of the cove at Refuge Bay where we anchored overnight.
So it was Captain Cook who brought the seeds of the pines to northern Australia wishfully supposing they might provide timber suitable for masts.
I have always found it hard to be on the water in the Pacific and not think of Captain Cook, Joseph Banks and all the great naturalists. For quite a while one of my favourite non fiction books was a book called “Darwin’s Armada” by Iain McCalman. It’s an account of the great sailing voyages of Darwin’s peers. It’s absolutely compelling reading (if that’s your kind of thing). It’s ages since I read it but one of the passages that still stays with me vividly is an account of how the Pacific peoples must have experienced navigating, with only the simplest instruments and no charts – what resources, skills and understanding of the sea they must have had.
But then I am very partial to all things Charles Darwin (and his milieu). The Voyage of the Beagle is so engaging. Here is a favourite passage in which Darwin describes interactions with wild llamas.
I am back from lovely holidays sailing with friends in the Whitsundays. I have an excellent tan to show for it. I actually didn’t want to come back. The South African guy at the charter yacht company was no help either, just suggested I read the book with the self explanatory title “Sell up and Sail”.
This was the outlook when anchored overnight in a place called Refuge Bay:
In the evening I could hear a slightly mournful bird call. At first it sounded like a dove but it was too insistent. It turned out to be a couple of pheasant coucals calling to one another. (Don’t ask me how I figured it out, it was intuition confirmed by internet searches.)
Here are some images of the bird itself which I borrowed from Google:
I put this second image in because it has the fence wire for size. I have actually seen these birds and I can warrant they are concurrently large birds and small dinosaurs.
The “sell up and sail” caper is something I like to enjoy vicariously these days by watching youtube channels. My favourite channel is one called Free Range Sailing. It’s a youtube vlog maintained by an Australian couple who are cruising in a very modest yacht, mostly in tropical waters. Apart from the sailing, they do quite a bit of free diving on the reefs, spearfishing and exploring on shore. Pascal is a very good and resourceful cook. She also seems to be the creative lead in making the vlog – which is high quality well edited video. Her partner Troy is an excellent hand at keeping their 30 foot 50 year old yacht on track and in shape. He seems to handle the inevitable breakdowns of gear in good form and has a droll sense of humour. They are of course, “free range” so it all appeals to my tree hugging temperament. You aren’t going to find them zapping around churning up the peace of the natural world on jet skis any time soon. Highly recommend! And here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbU2ulPD3rJ4OZCNH7-gjjQ
It was a lovely visit to Canberra this month. On the morning I was due to leave Canberra it was raining very softly, exactly the way it doesn’t rain in Sydney (where it shamelessly buckets from all directions). I took a walk near where I was staying and saw many lovely things including this fine sculpture – an enormous sheet of steel unfolding up the hillside. And this trip, when I walked in the evening, I saw more bunnies on the lush Canberra lawns than I have ever seen anywhere. It was like walking into a Beatrix Potter story. The Canberra bunnies were out and about, mostly in pairs, quietly feasting in the dark. They were so fluffy and almost tame. Back in my day I think it was a bit of a heavy myxomatosis scene and there just weren’t a lot of bunnies anywhere at all (sigh). Such a treat to see them abundant and healthy now in a place where there is lots for them to eat.
enjoying gentle vertical rain in Canberra from time to time
Way back in May this year I did a post on the black and white cat of the McElhone stairs, who had been a much beloved local institution. She was a well looked after street cat and spent most of her days sunning herself on the sandstone outcrop next to the historic Potts Point stairs. Always up for friendly interactions with passersby over the years, many people became very fond of her. In May I came to know that she had died, after 17 years living on the McElhone stairs.
There was a subscription held for a memorial and this update is to record the little plaque that was created and put on the sandstone ledge she frequented. It’s a modest little thing. Here it is:
Opposite the official memorial, beyond the railing to the stairs, an unofficial sketch of the black and white cat has been painted by who knows whom, and it has a charm all of its own. It is painted onto the base of the very large ventilation pipe next to the stairs. Here is a photo through the railing I took at night, so there are a few shadows in the picture which are cast by the support structure around the ventilation pipe:
With fondest memories of spirit animals in the urban world,
Even my first post was about a part of the coast on the south side of the harbour bridge. So here is another post in that same tradition, this time about a favourite surf beach at Maroubra, South Maroubra in particular.
Earlier in the year, about August, I visited this favourite beach and took some snaps of the surf and sky after a spectacular storm and swell. Here are some of the photos, the first looking to North Maroubra showing the crashing surf on the cliffs there:
This second one is also looking to North Maroubra, but it includes a surfer for scale:
I am also including a photo of the well known rifle range on the headland at the South Maroubra, you can see the series of targets set up in the distance here:
In the scrub on the headland round the rifle range there used to be a tradition of abandoned dogs inhabiting the rough terrain. They came to be known as the rifle range dogs and were a distinctive type of dog, long legged, low haunches, solid colours, howling as often as barking and making excellent guard dogs. There was a time apparently when they were relatively common pets in the eastern suburbs. I only ever got to know one of these rifle range dogs, and it was quite a while ago. His was a large hound called Bernie and he belonged to a notary public who lived near Bondi Junction. He had a very distinctive musical yowl which he used more than he did bark. Once he had determined you were friendly and here to do business he just flung his enormous frame into his bed and relaxed. So here is an article from the Sydney Morning Herald 1957 addressing the phenomenon of the rifle range dogs, here called the wild dogs of Malabar (as Malabar meets the south headland of Maroubra).
And here are two final gratuitous images of the surf with surfers and the lovely sunset sky at South Maroubra in August.
In praise of all the great things on the local coastline,