I’ve loved our flat in Sydney. It was a great holiday home with comfort and style. Essential for settling us to this new way of life. But I am aware that we treated it a little as we would a weekend away in Barcelona: cram in as much as you can.
I’m cross that they gathered up my White Company cotton nightdress with their linen change and whooshed it down the laundry chute but maybe they’ll find it one day.
A train journey is a brilliant way to get to know a country. Leaving Sydney Central Station for Katoomba, the dense housing piles together, flats, malls, tower blocks all slowly melt into bungalows and two story houses. It takes nearly an hour for these to metamorphose into a more relaxed use of space.
Australian domestic architecture is very fond of balconies and verandas. They squeeze trampolines and some plunge pools into available space. The houses are a mix of wooden slats, prefab or, rather charming, throw backs to ‘Little House on the Prairie’.
After an hour and half, housing ceases to bind the countryside and eucalyptus trees take over from the plane trees. Deep ravines, massive rock faces give a hint of the roughness that governs Australia.
The truth is, when we arrive at our little room and see our iron beds, painted pale blue, with the 1980s duvet covers and tiny desk (so we can write home, I guess!), we hug each other with glee, smiling as it provokes memories of West Hill College, where we met in the early 70s, and my many trips to the Isle of Wight with the school children. At first the radiator is off and the draft from the window is intense. They left the window open and a bird (a large one, I would say) had found the bathroom window a convenient lookout. The inner cill is covered in guano!
But by the time the radiators blasting, we are more than happy to lie on our beds reading Kindles. Only food motivates us to venture out. Steak, salad and rich yoghurt is soon cooked in the huge shared kitchen, an experience I find both strange and slightly difficult on this first evening.
You can't see further than 200 yards outside but it's snug in here!