Monday, 23 November 2009

a reflection on the Kirribilli Wharf Cafe

If I were there now, I would not be at  the KWC because it would be closed, but if it was as now here, there, I would be because it would be time for a bacon and egg roll and a Loughy strength cappuccino.

At the Kirribilli Warf Cafe, life goes by, there is laughter, debate and from time to time the hostess, the wonderful Margaret is given to the odd over the top remark. It is OK if she likes you but if you are a Pom, American or generally European you need to come equipped with a range of dynamic coping techniques to adapt to the prevailing mood of the day.

I love the regulars, always good discussion, information, and friendship. An amazing place, excellent food and coffee,  a challenge to the authorities, it is a true community cafe, an essential local resource. A recommendation to anyone, who is prepared for the unusual.

I can't understand why the Governor General and Prime MInister who are after all locals have not popped in. If they want to go somewhere where they will not be noticed it is certainly the KWC!

A Norwich Morning

Well it is not quite raining but it might do. I am after all an Englishman by my genes, thus to start a blog by talking about the weather, seems to be the correct thing to do.

Since returning to England a week ago, I have been struck by several self evident truths. The first is that Sydney is a hell of a long way away. It has taken me a whole week to shift time zones. Now I am going back again at the end of the week. A well it is all about choices I guess.

So much is going on here. We had what I thought was the best Crossroads Annual Conference yet. The speakers, including Angela Smith, the Minister for the The Third Sector all gave presentations that were to the point and moved the debate on. Why oh why however do they have to call it the Third Sector? Charitable Sector, Voluntary sector, are good names that people understand. What incidentally are the first, second and fourth sectors? This is seriously bad. It is a bit like the situation I found when I came to Norfolk, all the areas were known by numbers which ran from 1 to 14. How the hell any of the public was supposed to work out the code I have no idea. This was one of my limited range of real achievements to change the names to the place, so people would have a better chance of understanding what we were on about.

Any way Crossroads is going to be demanding next year as we are looking at how we can draw closer to the Princess Royal Trust for Carers including the possibility in the longer run of merging. This will enable us to keep the brand but share top level functions.

The network of Crossroads schemes too are under pressure but I am delighted with the fact that so many of the vulberable ones are now engaged in talks about merging. Anne Roberts and I are about in the new year to do a round of the schemes that we believe are worth trying to save. We will do that by visiiting the Boards and see what we can do to help them address the issues.

The Families House too is going from strength to strength but there is an immediate underlying financial problem so we need urgently to get in more income to bridge the emerging gap.

The other major issue is to get an appeal underway to try to reprovide the Priscilla Bacon Lodge. First meeting is tomorrow afternoon of the Appeal Committee.

This afternoon I have to Chair the Organ Donation Committee of the Hospital. This is hard work getting donation to be the norm rather than the exception. This is so sad as so many people are dying as a result of the lack of organs. It is simply a culture issue. The structure is there to deal. So big steps necessary to day to move the agenda forward. The whole matter will be presented to the Board of the Trust on Friday.

After that it will be quick trip home and then back to Sydney.

I am delighted that Hannah Nick Zoe and Esme seem to be really stuck into their new life in Sydney. They have been impressive in what they have achieved in the past couple of weeks. I will not now see them again till we meet up at the Surfers Paradise in a couple of weeks. In the meantime it seems as if there is a full programme of social and cultural activity starting with about three hours of me landing in Sydney.

So it is quite wonderful a life i have. Of course with the internet i can keep in touch with the vital issues here. So I am only a mouse click away.

Monday, 9 November 2009

A Sydney morning

On the balcony in Harriette Street, mid morning in November. The sun is shining it is warm, not hot. If I was not so deaf I would be hearing the birds, but I can just hear the roar of the traffic on the Freeway as they come from or go to the Harbour Bridge. The Jackaranda looks stunning all over Sydney at the moment. Hannah is trying to do school work with Zoe and Esme. Sue is in the shower. Nick is in the CBD for an interview with headhunters. Life goes on around us.

This afternoon we will go to see Hazel and David, then on to Lucy. Tom has demanded that Grandma picks him up from nursery. Lucas is well.

Eight grandchildren. Fantastic. Each intriguing, each amusing, each wonderful in their own unique way. Thinking of Anley in England, one yesterday. A charmer if ever there was one. It is great having seen all eight in the last three weeks. Hoepfully we will see them all together one way or another in the New Year.

Reflecting on yesterday afternoon at Joey's. Afternoon tea. With a table cloth. On the balcony. Rambling discussions about literature life, school. Rhiannon, Jess, Jessie, Mat, Ross all there coming and going. It is so good listening to the vibrancy of the young people. And of course talking to Jo about her passion for art and  writing. Most of all for Bob. What an essay she has just written on his work. Bob or borrowed, is its essence. Wonderful stuff. She writes better than most journos on the SMH in my view.

Also it is possible to see Rhiannon as a very successful writer.

NOw we go the the Kirribilli Warf Cafe for morning coffee. Life is OK here.

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Well, I don't mean those that are achieved by holding up a mirror, but more thoughts on the strange world we live in.

So much happens to us all. We have now had the celebration of Maybelle's life. It was a good send off I believe. It was candid and heartfelt. We will spread her ashes in the sea at Porto Pollensa, in the spring. This will be the ultimate send off for the organiser of the feeding fish group. The celebration was as the lawyers say proportionate. It was good having so many friends and family together again for this sad event, which was nevertheless timely.

It was lovely too that Hannah was able to be there, and speak so well of her wonderful grandmother. It was poignant in that of course Hannah, Nick, Zoe and Esme were about to depart for their great adventure on Sunday. Now as a write this, one week on they have had their own first week out of England in Thailand. By all that is good in the internet, on FB particularly we know that they are having a great time.

Of Hannah and Beth, I can only say how proud I am of them. They both have proved what wonderful people they have become, during this time. I am lucky indeed. Whilst Hannah had a future to organise, Beth managed to combine working, being a mum and wife, with fixing the details of Maybelle's death. She dealt with all the details of the administration. A huge task for anybody under any circumstances. She did it pretty much on her own.

Sometimes the other issues in the various organisations with which I am involved seem small compared with these personal challenges. However of course for the people involved they are vital and all absorbing. So in a future blog I will try to explore the tension between the personal and the professional and to decide what really matters.