When I was living in Ol’ Blighty I had the glorious pleasure of spending time regularly with a friend Tim. Together with other mates we’d go sailing on Tim’s yacht, Moody Blue, around the Solent; we did the Palace to Palace bike ride, drank beers, laughed at the sometime silliness of office life, watched each other’s kids grow up and generally shared many good times together. I miss Tim (amongst other good people too).
A little while back Tim emailed to say that he was in the midst of a career change, and that during the gap-month he had the opportunity to sail from Fiji to Auckland on his friend’s 58 footer. An opportunity not to be missed, clearly. Which just left the question; “So Tim, are you flying back to England directly from Auckland, or are you coming via Sydney?”
Well, faster than you can sunburn an Englishman at midday it was all arranged and soon enough the day came around when Tim would here for dinner. It was surreal to say the least to speak to the man at 7:00am on the phone and to utter the words “See you this afternoon”, after not having seen each other for three years, and on the other side of the planet. On the train down to Central to meet Tim it was interesting to have a holidaying English couple sit immediately behind me, and hear their various exclamations as the train journeyed through the suburbs; a timely and very relevant insight into what an English visitor would find notable.
“Oh, look a those blue trees, they really stand out don’t they” – hhmmm, yes they do but Jacarandas are generally recognised as being of purple bloom.
“Look, an Olympic sized outdoor swimming pool” – yes, and it doesn’t freeze over during Winter like it would in England.
“Did you see that kangaroo hopping down the middle of the road?” – OK…I made this one up.
After winding our way back North again Tim soon had a Resch’s in his hand watching the lorikeets flit through the trees in Rumbalara. Entree (spicy grated eggplant on a bed of lettuce, along with hommous and flatbread), Shiraz, Butter bean tagine with cous-cous, Shiraz and no room for dessert soon followed (and to honest, I never offered one). Just to make sure that we properly solved the problems of the world, we lubricated our minds with a cheeky glass of VET Antivirus commemorative port which has been lying in the bottle rack for at least ten years. It had more sediment floating in it than the dam at ridgesong, but we checked for tadpoles first and sucked it through clenched teeth so all was good. It was this latter technique I think that rendered our conversation difficult to follow and so SheWhoMustBeFed took herself off to bed to leave us fools to stay up until Stupid O’Clock talking bollocks and nodding wisely. For the benefit of all I must say here that VET put their name to better software than to port.
As Tim could stay only overnight before heading back to England again, the next day brought the challenge of what to include on a lightening tour of the Central Coast, a problem solved by a tour through Woy Woy, Ettalong, a visit to the rock platform in Boudhi National Park overlooking Maitland Bay, then through Terrigal for a coffee, a postcard, and a marvel at the concept of beach volleyball being played for afternoon school sport. Oh…and the sight of lots of those pretty, blue Jacarandas.
The train took Tim away far too soon as he headed off to the airport, but we remember him still – not least because we can still get a whiff of his aftershave every time we use the bathroom. They say that the olfactory sense is the one most closely associated with the recollection of the memories, and so he lingers still in our thoughts and our nostrils. And long may he remain there.