I make no secret of the fact that the place I am most happy, most at peace and my best self is not where I currently live. Whilst I work away in the freezing damp that is England, my heart is sunning itself on the shores of Sydney, Australia.
The reasons for this run deeper than just the weather, and one of the main reasons is that one of my big sisters lives there with her Aussie husband and two lovely children, plus her extended in laws. My niece is a delight and my nephew is as yet unknown to me – he is just 2 months old and I’ve never met him.
So having saved for a while, we just booked our flights to return back to the place I left a large part of me, a place I last visited almost 3 years ago. I haven’t seen that part of my family for nearly 3 years. Honestly, it hurts to even think about it.
Moving on to positive things – and I have quite a list of them! These are a few of the things I’m looking forward to doing when I return.
Dip my toes in the ocean at Palm Beach ¦¦ Palm Beach is one of those extra special places for me. I have pictures of me visiting with my family, as shy 10-year old wearing a t-shirt that was too big for me and my school shoes covered in sand. I have pictures of me as a student, when I loved the beach because it was the Home and Away beach and that was my favourite TV programme. Then I have pictures of me there from almost 3 years ago with my sister who I almost lost, my sister who dreamed of paddling in the cool blue water when she was immobile in her hospital bed, my sister now beaming ear to ear that she made it – we made it – and we are paddling fit to burst. This time, we may even make it all the way in to the water, if the weather’s good enough. And then once we’ve dried off we’ll go up to the Bible garden perched on the hills, drink in the view, and give thanks for another return trip.
Have a proper Aussie Christmas ¦¦ Honestly, I have no idea what will be in store here. We’ll be slotting in with the rest of the family, but I’m sure the core elements will all be there. Church, eating too much good food, watching the kids’ wide eyes and excited faces. Can’t wait.
Watch the NYE fireworks ¦¦ Another unknown for us – but we’ve been assured that we absolutely can’t miss it. Also, it will be our 8th anniversary so a special night all round. We’re planning to catch it from one of the parks on the south side of the harbour, Nielsen Park perhaps – any tips?
Take the train out West ¦¦ This time, we’ll get off at somewhere different – Leura, or Wentworth falls perhaps. It’s a part of the Blue Mountains I haven’t been to yet – we always go to the usual lookout at Katoomba. It is beautiful there, of course, but it’s time to investigate new pastures. If it’s anything like Katoomba, after admiring the scenery we’ll browse the art shops and maybe I’ll come away with a new floaty skirt.
Eat a gluten free burger in Avalon ¦¦ I adore Avalon. It’s near the beach, chilled out and has a slightly hippy-chic vibe about it. It’s got a great selection of shops, and most importantly a burger shop that sells amazing gluten free burgers. Once we’ve stuffed ourselves, we’ll mooch around the homeware shops and dream of owning a beach house.
Go to Waringah Mall ¦¦ Just so I can say Moringa Hall, and laugh.
Have a chocolate lick at Max Brenner ¦¦ I’m a seasoned chocaholic and I am powerless to resist the siren call of Max Brenner. Over my many (many) trips, I’ve refined the perfect order which is simply a chocolate lick. You get a seriously intense chocolate hit for fewer dollars and fewer calories.
Stock up on Aesop at Chatswood ¦¦ Look, this may seem like a strange one to you (particularly if you have ever shopped at Chatswood Chase), but I have oddly fond memories here. This is where I looked after my niece for a while to allow my sister some quality time with the shops. We zoomed around the emptier walkways together, we had an unfortunate leaflet situation, and she helped me splash the cash at Aesop. I’ve long since run out of this handwash, which is to die for, so I will stock up. I will also get myself the perfect phone case to see me through the next three years, then there’ll be just time for a Boost Juice and a chocolate covered strawberry or two and then time to do battle with the car park.
Visit the new Sephora ¦¦ It’s a little bit ridiculous to go so far to shop somewhere that’s just the other side of the English channel, but I’m curious as to how Sephora will translate to the Australian market. I want to know what brands will be there, what opening promos they will run, whether they’ll be packed to the rafters in the January sales…
Stroll around the Botanic gardens and revisit our engagement spot 5 years on ¦¦ The Botanic gardens are fighting it out with Palm Beach for favourite spot – I have so many memories here, too. The best by far being when Mr ANN proposed to me 5 years ago in a secluded spot. We will revisit the place, share some memories, and wonder at how our lives have unfolded since. Then we may wander over to the QVB and see if we can track down the shop where we bought my ring – and where Mr ANN bought me a beautiful opal necklace and earring set almost 3 years before that, when he came here without me. They were a promise, which he kept. He’s good like that.
I know we will fill our time with thousands of other little moments, too. But these are the ones that sit the deepest in my soul.
And that’s what I’ve been dreaming about this Sunday.