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Ode to a Sydney Autumn...

Ode to a Sydney Autumn (But Not as Keats Knew It)

Coming from the northern hemisphere autumn in Sydney can be somewhat disconcerting, it seems positively bizarre to have darkened mornings and evenings and a nip in the air as you are heading towards June. July and August are inexorably associated in my mind with beaches, the giddy freedom of school holidays, and (being a Scot) midges and landscapes misty with gentle unrelenting drizzle, rather than bed socks, layering on clothing and the run-up to the ski season.

The Australian native gums lose their leaves all year round, which adds to my sense of disbelief. Before Sydney we lived in a town outside New York for four years and Fall there was an annual delight during which the sight of a row of trees in full multi coloured splendor would bring me to a halt, (to the fury and annoyance of following drivers).

Despite occurring at an odd time of year, autumn in Sydney is beautiful, with crisp clear starts to the day and a feeling of blessing as the sun breaks through to create wonderful sunny days with temperatures in the mid-twenties. The temperature drops overnight and I am currently staving off putting on the heating with the nightly issue of hot water bottles. The introduced trees and shrubs make an attempt to provide an autumnal, in the northern sense, contrast to the pale eucalyptuses and glossy green figs. Our road is lined by an immigrant species, the good old London plane tree, with the result the front garden is filled with leaves and I find myself longing for the teams of South American gardeners, armed with leaf blowers, who used to fight an endless battle against the whirling torrents of flame-colored leaves in Rye.

I am hoping the balmy sunny days keep up for the rest of the week as Drama Queen No. Two is off on a week’s school camp. For a girl whose basic philosophy is the nurture of body and soul, rather than nature in all its damp and uncomfortable manifestations, she amazed us by volunteering for the “extreme” group and as a result will return on Friday fresh, though that might be the wrong adjective to use, from a week’s hard core camping—no showers, and trowels provided.

I am currently trying to sort out car insurance and have had to get a copy of our past track record from our old insurer. I was aware there would be a number of entries over the last five years, the fact the chap at the Body Shop and I are on first name terms was a big giveaway, but I was somewhat taken aback by the entries relating to me. I take full responsibility for the “Hit stationary object,” a pole in the supermarket car park, my only defense on that one was that given the number of paint scrapes on it I was not the only person to misjudge the slalom turn and I was refereeing World War III in the back seat at the time. However, I am completely disconcerted by the entry that reads “Hit and Run” that I feel makes me sound like an ageing member of the Bonnie and Clyde duo. I assume it refers to the person who crashed into my parked car and exited stage right at speed having forgotten to leave any contact details. I think a more correct way of referring to it would be “Innocent victim” and I look forward to pleading my case with the new insurer.

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