Inner City Musings

Over the weekend I had the chance to have a wander around Leichhardt in inner Sydney. It is one of the many city suburbs that hums with life throughout the week and weekend with lots to see and do as well as outdoor cafes for simply enjoying the passing parade.

After an extensive and enjoyable trawl through a bookshop, we stopped at a cafe for lunch. I was struck by the sensory landscape: the traffic crawling past, low flying planes skimming the tops of the buildings, the hubbub of conversation. There was the clatter of crockery and clash of cutlery as the sun streamed in and around scudding clouds. The heady aroma of coffee – one my favourite smells. The chatter of children. The flash of a silver necklace adorned with fettered butterflies. People ambling past with the air of those with plenty of time on their hands, just a relaxing Saturday afternoon stretching out ahead of them.

The houses around the shopping area are a mix of old and new. The suburb’s origins as a working class area remain evident in the terraced houses and semi-detached dwellings. Space is at a premium, and there are several large parks which provide a green oasis of trees, grass and gardens around the streets and footpaths.

I have been lucky to live in a variety of places, from the suburbs of Sydney to miles outside of a small country town, to a large regional centre and now in the mountains. I’m yet to live in the inner suburbs and I can’t see that changing in the near future, but I can appreciate what it might be like to have the conveniences of frequent public transport along with a variety of shops and vibrant restaurant scene within an easy walking distance.

It was nice to visit and to imagine a different kind of life. It was nice, too, to come home to space and an abundance of greenery and views that still take my breath away.

Do you enjoy the metro lifestyle or do you prefer the quieter life?

[Photo: Sydney Harbour on Australia Day, 2014]



What feels like home to you?

What makes a place a home? This is a very personal question, as in unique to the individual.

Home isn’t important to everyone. It can be a transitory state for some, changeable on a regular basis with no anchorage required. For others it is essential, the ballast that keeps them steady despite the buffeting of the storms of life. For me it is the latter.

Life stage can also have an impact. Are you starting out, travelling in the pursuit of work, experiences or relationships? Do you prefer to have the support of family or friends nearby? Or is solo more your style? Would you consider moving to a location where you had no ties, a clean slate to start from? Or do you prefer the familiarity of friends, family, acquaintances?

What you might look for in a home also changes over time. Quite apart from the physical state of a home, be it a house, unit, bedsit or share house, there is the social space, the cultural environment and atmosphere around where you live to take into consideration. It might be sporting facilities or galleries or live music venues that you seek. Or it could be medical facilities, childcare and educational options.

I’ve been traveling in the past week, and it is enjoyable to head through different towns and to get a feel for a place. Of course this is only a passing experience. Staying in a place for a few days is completely different to relocating your life or spending a longer period of time in an area, but I do like to play a bit of ‘what if’. What if I did live here, or had the opportunity to move to a different place – what impact would that have on me and my life? There are some places where there is something that captures my interest and I can imagine spending more time there. Other places have no appeal whatsoever and I know that it wouldn’t be a good fit for me at this time.

Right now, I am very happy where I live. As I returned home today, seeing the familiar landmarks, feeling my heart lift as I looked out and glimpsed the valleys and rugged sandstone cliffs, getting out of the car and smelling the eucalyptus tang underfoot, I know I am in the right place for now. It was a beautiful winter afternoon with blue skies and sunshine and it just felt so good to be home.

What does home look like for you?

[Photo of an old home in the Hartley Valley]

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]