Beach No 51: Milk (Sunday 11 February 2018)

Since 2010 I’ve been visiting Sydney’s beaches in alphabetical order. I’ve reached number 51: Milk. As I hop on my bicycle to ride to Milk Beach at 9:30 am I’m thinking of a recent conversation with a friend about Being more and Doing less. The irony of spending my leisurely bicycle ride through Sydney on a beautiful Sunday morning thinking about how to Be rather than Do isn’t entirely lost on me. But, obviously, I am off in the shrubbery of my mind as I ride through Centennial Park. The road is one way and I ride right past my …

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BERLIN! And a flight to Ireland (30 September to 2 October 2015)

We rejoin our story on day 129 of my mid-life gap year. Wednesday 30 September 2015 I wake in Berlin to diffuse autumn sunshine and breakfast in the sparse kitchen before reorganising my gear in preparation for putting my bicycle in storage and slimming down to just a carry-on bag for the next leg of my journey. With those chores done I set out for lunch and bit of exploration. Hummus & Friends proves too inviting to pass by and, oh my God, it’s so good. The hummus is creamy with just the right amount of tang – I could …

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Riding in France: Days with Fallen Australian Soldiers

I am slowly transcribing the long-hand diary entries from my midlife gap-year and turning them into blog posts. I’ve reached the morning of the 108th day as I awake in Amiens, France. Wednesday 9 September 2015 I’ve received a lovely email from Robert Pinsky in response to my poem about reading his poems. That gets the day off to a good start – I’m feeling light-hearted as I leave Amiens in bright autumn sunlight which warms me in a way it hasn’t in quite a while. I follow the Somme. I have a cheap mp3 player which I refill with …

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Pedaling with Ghosts in the Normandy Rain: Isigny-sur-Mer to Bayeux

Thursday 27 August 2015 (Day 95 of my midlife gap-year) 9:15 am, Camping Le Fanal, Isigny-sur-Mer, France: Rain Rain Go Away I slept until 9 and it’s raining again. At 7 the church bells were pretty insistent on waking everyone. I’m surprised I fell back to sleep. If I’d gotten up at 7, I might have packed away a dry tent. Now, and since just as I woke, there is a steady pitter-patter. Riding in this sort of rain is not too terrible but I’m growing weary of it, as a constant companion. I’d like to get to Bayeux today – but …

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Heading North to Stroke City: Wednesday 12 August 2015 (Day 80)

3:50 pm – Train to Derry Jim asked about my quest – if I had one, which I mostly don’t. That is what leaves me often asking: “What am I doing here?” “Why am I doing this? Is is just the seeing? The doing? The meeting of people?” Maybe. Maybe that’s all there is to it – to all this endless movement. He spoke of his quest around trad music and Irish culture. I said that while, likewise, I have an interest in thinking more about the Jewish stuff that, by and large, there’s no where I can go and …

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Coffees and Jews in Dublin: Wednesday 5 August 2015 (Day 73)

11:50 am Wednesday 5 August – Kaph A lot – Dublin reminds me of Melbourne a lot. Maybe because they are both river cities with dubious weather. But they have Sydney’s pedestrian-crossing system, though, same buttons, same sound – which is strange. This is the café suggested by Baz – it is not like Melbourne. They call a macchiato and ‘noisette’ (I guess it’s the French name for the same thing) and it’s meh – a little thin and bitter. So, the bitter is like Melbourne but … you know, not so nice. (The music is good, though). Speaking of …

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Paris Kinda Smells of Piss: 4-7 July 2015, Dijon to Paris

Saturday 4 July – 10:20 pm, Paris – Carson’s Place It’s still light out and hot but a breeze has come on. I got up early to walk around Dijon before it became an oven. I wandered the quiet cobbled streets winding past shops and churches. I stumbled upon the markets – Les Halles – and bought cherries, a wee round of chevre, and some bread. Back at the hotel I worked on my schedule and plans for a while. I sent emails and messaged some possible Warm Showers hosts in Le Havre and Southampton. I haven’t received any replies yet, …

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Visiting the Missing – The Merano Jewish Museum & Synagogue (Day 25 – 18 June 2015)

Thursday 18 June My tourist map shows a Jewish Museum. One of my goals for this trip is to explore my Jewishness and look our European history more squarely in the eye than I have been previously keen to. I haven’t done anything about that yet – if there were museums or old synagogues in Milan, Genoa or Florence I missed them. This one I would not. Centrally located but tucked away on a residential side street it took a bit to find it. Just walking onto the grounds stung a little – even before getting inside. As I suspect all European …

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Finding Inspiration at the Art Gallery of NSW

I spent part of New Years Day at the Art Gallery of NSW having a wander through the exhibits. The text accompanying Tony Albert’s Hey Ya! (Shake it Like a Polaroid Picture) read, in part Ritsi (the young man in the photographs) and Albert share an experience of re-connection to country and community by following the movements of their ancestors.   Part of what I’ll be doing on my Big Ride is, in a way, just this: I’ll be re-connecting with the places my antecedents lived for thousands of years by following their movements across Europe. I will visit reminders and …

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“Who Do You Think You Are?” with Andrew Denton

Remember when I said I’d take a break from Holocaust stuff? I think you send a vibe of interest into the universe and queue stuff up to come to you – literally, though perhaps without intent. I just watched the Andrew Denton Who Do You Think You Are? in which he traces his family back to a town in Poland. There he met a man in his 90s who spelt out the whole thing  out to him – no, no one left, rounded up, forced to destroy their synagogue and holy books, forced into a ghetto, then transported to Treblinka. Andrew …

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