Leather and Lace*

You don’t always get to choose where you live. It might be where you were born, or where you move for study or work, for love or convenience. Sometimes it is a deliberate choice, based on a series of decisions around the kind of lifestyle you want; at other times it is where your family happens to be. Some people live in the same area all their lives, others shift about at regular intervals, a restlessness permeating their life or perhaps just questing after new horizons.

For me, living in the mountains was a deliberate choice. I knew that I wanted to be nearer to Sydney but after a decade away from the big smoke, it was overwhelming just to visit and I didn’t seriously contemplate moving back there. But I needed to be closer. A rough idea of living within 100 kilometres came to mind and I began to think of the areas that would fit into my wishlist of affordability, creativity and lifestyle.

In hindsight the mountains were an obvious choice, and I didn’t seriously consider anywhere else. They were familiar, and depending on where I chose to live, commuting for work would be an option if I couldn’t snag something locally. The mix of villages, some so small they were blurs on the highway, others distinctive and offering their own style of life, was a big appeal.

When you come across new residents, they frequently comment on the slower pace of life, the casual and relaxed attitude of people, the great cafes and the creative buzz. And, of course, there is the staggering natural beauty available wherever you turn.

Where would you live if you could?

*Taken from the title of the song by Stevie Nicks & Don Henley, comparing city and mountain life and love

[Photo taken from the Hartley Valley Road]

 

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Who listens to the radio?*

I stumbled across the local Blue Mountains radio station by chance when I first started to visit the area with a view to relocating here. My visits were usually on the weekend and I was taken in by the wide range of presenters, local news and musical selection.

One of my fondest memories of the transitional time was when I was moving my bits and pieces down, usually on a late Friday afternoon. There is a bend in the road just past Lithgow when Hassans Walls come into view, a stunning sight with the afternoon sun catching the golden tints in the sandstone. Wind your way down past Hartley, then make the giddy ascent through to Mt Victoria, fiddle with your radio and there it is, Radio Blue Mountains.

These Friday night trips often coincided with an evening show featuring two local identities riffing off each other verbally on a really wide range of topics, interspersed with music that ranged from contemporary to obscure artists and the occasional operatic aria. I was taken in and it made me feel connected on some level with this place that I was in the process of making my home.

There are some programs that I catch when I can – internet radio is a blessing if I’m out of range but need some of the familiar comfort of home – and I have been reminded of lots of music that I’ve loved but forgotten, as well as being introduced to many new artists and songs that have resonated with me.

The frequent community noticeboard messages and the traffic, train and weather reports keep me in the loop and informed during weather events, such as bushfires and snow. It is a great way of getting to know what’s happening and to feel part of mountain life.

How do you keep connected?

*Taken from the title of a song by The Sports.

I’m on a foggy highway*

There are many things to love about living in the Blue Mountains. The air, for starters. It is usually crisp, often scented with eucalyptus along with whatever is currently in bloom. The blue skies too, although to be fair there are often dramatic cloud formations. One of my favourite things is the mist which seems to appear out of nowhere, cloaking the landscape by stealth at any time of the year. It can be disorientating at times, but there is a moment of clarity when the fog clears.

People from all walks of life are drawn to live here. It is known as a popular place for creative souls, with a wide collection of artists, musicians, writers and innovators. Someone said to me recently that you can be who you want to be here, and that in itself makes it a special place to live.

For me, it was the creative community that appealed, along with the chance to have more time to contemplate what really matters.

It can be like travelling along a foggy highway, tricky and confusing at times, but if you persevere you arrive at your destination.

*The topic line is taken from ‘Foggy Highway’ by Paul Kelly. The use of a line from a song as a topic line is borrowed from Margot Kinberg’s truly excellent crime fiction blog, which you can find here.