southern stars

Oh, how busy we have been. Yesterday we dropped in to see my awesome Auntie Barb and Uncle Ron; they’ve renovated their house and it’s now beautiful and sleekly modern with hardwood louvres and a Balinese porch and automated sunshades and a garage door that slides sideways.

“This is an awesome lair for a supervillain,” I said to Uncle Ron.

“It all works beautifully, as long as my passenger pushes the garage door button at the right time,” he said.

“I’m the passenger!” said Auntie Barb.

“You’re the henchman,” I said.

As we were boarding the flight to Sydney, Mark D. popped up and gave me a kiss. See, this is the sort of thing that makes Americans think Australia has a population of sixteen. There are maybe three people I particularly wanted to bump into here, out of a population of twenty million, and Mark was one of them. (Psyke and Mel, mail me please!)

Monday night’s dinner was glorious – Auntie Jan came over, and Uncles Rob and Barnaby, and both girls fell asleep so I had a free hand for my wineglass and Richard served a white Peter Lehmann Stonewell wine, to bookend that amazing Shiraz of Max’s. Auntie Jan and I gossiped at length about horsepeople; it turns out that my wonderful jumping instructor Vivienne Lander is an old friend of hers. I think Auntie Jan met most of the important people in my life before I did.

Rob and Barnes told us how they met.

Rob: “I thought, what the hell, I’ll go to this ridiculous party, and he was the only person there I hadn’t already met.”

Barnes: “And there was chemistry, so we swapped phone numbers – but somehow we each managed to go home with our own phone number!”

Rob: “So we both called the friend who’d thrown the party, to ask for the other one’s number.”

Barnes: “At the same time.”

By noon on Tuesday we were packed and pulling out of Cooper Park Road; we reached Katoomba in a record two hours. The girls slept all the way, waking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on arrival. Claire bought some pretty flowers for her Gemma, and there was a great exchange of hugs and presents when my parents arrived. I’d been very worried that Mum wouldn’t approve of the hotel I’d booked, but it turns out she and her friend Joy had stayed here twenty years ago! Score.

Dinner at Chez Amis, a nice French place in a church across the road. Salome, forgive me, I had the pork and trotters, and it was amazingly good. Dad bought a couple of bottles of a French Syrah called Aimery, which was our third great wine in as many nights.

The girls slept through the night! And the hotel provided a hot breakfast! This is a recipe for great cheeriness on my part. The buffet is under a painted-on proscenium arch, which lent the meal a merrily theatrical air. The Goop server was down when I tried to get mail this morning, but as we were finishing our bacon and eggs Jeremy answered his phone and walked Salome through rebooting the server.

“Don’t you have a remote reboot?” asked Dad.

“Sure,” said Jeremy. “I get a friend to walk over and hit the button.”

“And you don’t even have to call them!” said Dad, impressed. “They call you!”

We drove down to Echo Point, and Jeremy and Claire walked down to the Three Sisters while Mum and Dad and I had coffee and chatted and admired the view. The grandparents bought the girls matching hoodies with kangaroo ears, in which they look mightily adorable.

It’s very windy, so we decided to visit the Toy and Train Museum. As we drove there, Mum told me about a house she and Joy had visited. It was the childhood home of Doc Evatt, and it had reminded her very much of her own childhood home, Victoria House in Warrington.

We pulled up at the Museum. It’s the same house.

Mum was a little disappointed that the toy museum made the house feel less like her own home, but you can press buttons to make the trains go, so Claire had no complaints whatsoever. And the gardens were just right for rambling around, all pines and lawns and fountains, like the gardens at Withycombe where Jeremy and I stayed on our honeymoon.

Have I mentioned how many happy memories I have of the Blue Mountains? Dad grew up in Hazelbrook, the next town over. Back when I was a sullen teen, Mum and I had a great weekend here. This is where Jeremy and I met, and where we came after the wedding. And now we’re sharing it with the girls.

Rachel Honnery couldn’t get us a table at Solitary for the big lunch on Sunday, so we went there today. It was so delicious we stayed past Claire’s nap time. There was a tremendous meltdown, but both girls are now asleep at opposite ends of the child’s bed, in their matching kangaroo hoodies. Jeremy took a picture.

Oh, and did I mention how beautiful the stars were as we staggered back to the hotel last night? The sparkling Southern Hemisphere constellations, brilliant against an inky sky.

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