I awoke on Monday morning to find Sarah sleeping on the sofa. This is a trend that will go on for the rest of the week. It is partly to do with the fact she must sleep on her back and protect her leg, but also because we discover, later, that the Cortisol tablets are keeping her awake.
I call Optus to delay the disconnection of our mobile phones and question why they have not responded to my query over my plan. As the world spins my mouth is opening and I am saying things, but I sense that no-one is listening even if they do hear. Key words pop up, apologise, look into, get back to you, understand. Then I realise that they are only words and that the key ingredient is missing … action! I remain calm. For now.
I write to Martin, the car dealer in Javea with a copy of my NIE that I will require to purchase a car. I also need my driving licence and passport. Martin replies, but the NIE is not a residential copy with my address on it … bugger! The NIE is a tax identification number in Spain, known in Spanish as the NIE, or more formally the Número de Identidad de Extranjero. The Spanish government have linked the NIE number to residence, where the NIE appears on the tarjeta de residencia (residence card), and to social security in Spain. Initially they were only valid for 3 months, but recently Spanish law changed and they can be held indefinitely, the only problem, apparently, is that not all regions quite understand the full interpretation of the law.
For some time we have been meaning to buy a Didgeridoo as our ultimate Australian souvenir. I have left it too long as the packers are in tomorrow so I need to buy it today. I take the 301 bus from Zetland to Circular Quay as the best places to find one will be in The Rocks. I hunt high and low, popping into one of my favourite shops The Argyle Oracle, Sydneys oldest Psychic Centre. I haven’t been in for a long time, but not much has changed. Books, crystals and pendants plus lots of other bits and pieces. It is quiet. The same man who is always there, always friendly, sits behind the counter. The phone is busy and it seems a lot of people are having readings. I don’t stay long … back to the Didgeridoo search. A Didgeridoo is made from the Australian Eucalyptus tree that has been hollowed by termites. They have a haunting sound and can be beautifully painted with traditional aboriginal art. I scan all the shops and find a great specimen at Spirit Gallery. It is carefully covered in bubble wrap by two ladies who also manage to create a shoulder strap. I also buy a stand. I retrace my steps, passing the cruise ship “Ovation of the Seas” which is visiting today. The overseas passenger terminal is right in Circular Quay and so you can almost reach out and touch the largest Cruise ships in the world. With my Didgeridoo I sit down and take a selfie. I move on passing one of the many aboriginals who play the Didgeridoo in Circular Quay.
I meet a polish guy at the bus stop who asked where I purchased the Didgeridoo. He had heard that some of them are made in China and shipped over. I guess some of the cheap tourist versions are. He rambles on. I smile. Nod. Reply to the occasional conversation I understand and feel relief when his bus arrives.
On Tuesday the removalists arrive well over 2 hours early and catch us out as we had planned to do a few things before they arrive.. we are actually in Bondi when they call. We return home to Zetland. The van looks a bit small to me, but hey what do I know. The usual muttering ensues about what they thought was going and what looks too heavy. There is a slight irritation in the air, probably the first signs of steam coming from my head that Sarah picks up immediately. She applies soothing words, but I don’t think that had much effect. The guys are nice enough though and I maintain composure.
One of them spends most of the day in the basement wrapping everything. Every box is sealed with Chess bubble wrap, its amazing. We hire a car from Europcar and fill it with our suitcases plus, plus. Eeek … I think another box will need to be shipped to the UK. I drop Sarah at the Airbnb in Darlinghurst. Roam, the Laneway cat greets us from his throne. I return to the apartment in Zetland with advice from my beloved to be “nice”to the removalists. I get there and another small van has arrived. I knew it. More removalists. They are like a swarm of bees. I hear mutterings from the chief removalist Dave. I didn’t want to stare when I met him but I think he only has 1 tooth and is tanned like on old seadog. It seems that’s everything, so I do a cross check and find a whole cupboard not even opened, full of containers, the toaster ….! Why do I feel guilty. They look at me as though I planted them there when they weren’t looking.
In between times I have been taking items that we are not shipping and could not sell down to the loading dock where the bins are. This included a king size mattress and various heavy furniture such as a bookcase. The mattress behaved and was manageable from the bedroom to the lift , but seemed to want to escape once I got to the basement. The journey to the bin area was painful as I lay the mattress flat, stood in front of it, did a squat, threw my arms behind me and grabbed the edge of the mattress. I pulled with all my heart, stopped, released, got my breathe and repeated … too many times for comfort. I imagined some Egyptian overseer thrashing his whip and and shouting heave as I sweat blood. Miraculously we reached the Pyramid and I lay the floppy stone down. Looked for rats and went back for the next item.
I made a visit upstairs to check on progress. More removalists had arrived including another van. A fleet of Chess vans now trails along the building. It looks like Justin Bieber has turned up with all his concert crew for a Gig. And then everyone disappears as though they were called to evacuation. I perform another cross check and there are bits all over that were obvious blind spots. Everything in the laundry as an example, door stops, a picture in the bathroom. Its like, what part of everything goes don’t you f…cking understand! My friend who has been in the basement all day and looking a little paler, is left by himself to complete the mission. I point out these items and he sets to. I go downstairs and return later. Dave with 1 tooth is waiting patiently for me with the final forms to sign. You may think me a mean bastard, but I did not give them a tip. This was based on the $4000 worth of leather sofas that we let them take because we couldn’t sell them. I did once look at my wallet, but felt faint. Dave asked if I was alright, I didn’t look well! Once he and his crew had gone I felt much better. Mary the cleaner decided that she would clean the apartment that evening so I left the keys with her and went home to collapse.
We are staying in a lovely sandstone cottage in the city, but horror of horrors we have no microwave. Will we survive? In the end, after ferrying Sarah around I return to Bondi to retrieve the microwave that we donated to Lexi. No one is there so I have to use a secret method of entry and once again navigate Bolder. Who is Bolder? Bolder is a 10 foot tall Great Dane that reigns supreme in the household where Lexi lives. I turn the key and peer through the door. Nothing … great. It is a long narrow hallway and fortunately Lexi has a room at the front. As I enter the house a dark shadow forms over the sunlit floor at the end of the hallway. Bolder stands “bold” eyeing me. He wears a neckerchief and looks like the dog version of John Wayne. I get down on my knees and call his name. Bolder that is, not God, although I think Bolder is God of this house. He swaggers up the hallway like an old cowboy and looks at me eye to eye. Of course you should know he is a Great Dane and as soft as putty. He sniffs and I rub his ears. In his eyes I sense him saying do what you have to do then get out … this is my sleep time. He turns and wonders back to his room.
We have lunch at Kobe Jones in the Rocks, a Teppanyaki restaurant. Great food although I think we are the only people there! It is a beautiful sunny day.
In the afternoon I return the car and the apartment keys while the carpets are being steam cleaned. The agent tells me they also require the keys for the balcony sliding doors and windows … are they lost. NO, they are in the f**ckin door and window … I say to myself. I am told a photograph will do and return to the apartment, squelch over the freshly steamed carpet and photograph the evidence.
Can I please go home now?
My morning and evening walk takes on a new route due to the move. I now trek from Darlinghurst via The Domain, through the Botanical Gardens, around the Opera House and along the waterfront to Mrs Macquarie’s Chair. This is an exposed sandstone rock cut into he shape of a bench, on a peninsula in Sydney Harbour, hand carved by convicts (POM’s) from sandstone in 1810 for Governor Macquarie’s wife Elizabeth. I then continue south . The Port Jackson naval base is just across the water as I head along Woolloomooloo Bay towards home. In the evening I do the same in reverse. However, I have to take a slight diversion as the open air opera La Boheme is performed in the harbour at night and so the main path is closed off. The reason being that the stage is actually on the water! On Good Friday morning I cannot do a lap of the Opera House. Security guards line the front steps and walkways. There is security tape the length of the promenade stopping access. There is a warning sign about aerial activity. I look up and a Drone the size of a small car is hovering over the Opera House! There is no clue what it is doing. Perhaps a bomb scare … perhaps maintenance … perhaps??? All I think is why do this on one of the busiest tourist days of the year … Good Friday!
By Thursday Sarah is starting to become more sprightly. I haven’t spent much time on this as she is doing a daily update on her Activ8Energy website under the Hippy Times blog. I do have a perspective of course and it is that my main job is to try and slow her down. Its a bit like standing on a railway line and putting a hand up at a high speed train. But I will not give in. Anyone and everyone that knows Sarah will also know that she is like the Duracell Bunny. Now she is like the Duracell Bunny with a stick and she has mastered the art of using it to close doors, push buttons and accidentally on purpose stamp it down on the foot of anyone who gets in her way.
Her recovery has been remarkable and I’m doing my best to keep it that way. In fairness she is being very sensible about what she can and cannot do, but it is the energy and mental strength running through her veins that has contributed to the outcome. However, on Easter Sunday we decided to go down to the Sydney Fish Markets. Its a Sydney tradition, but for true Sydneyites you get down there when the boats come in to beat the crowds and select the best catch for the BBQ at lunch time.
We took the 389 from Stanley Street to Pyrmont at 11:48 am. Just a short walk to the Market on a beautiful sunny autumn day, 9 degrees above average. But I was concerned as by this time the crowds were heaving, cars were circling the car park, japanese toursists dropped off by the coachload and most of them not looking where they were going. I was very nervous about protecting Sarah’s left leg. We edged closer to the entrance and I was concsious of slippery floors and banana skins. People with backpacks, head down looking at iPhones, head turned over their shoulder as they converse with friends, people in a rush with trays of fish, taking orders from tables and charging to the kitchen and others that just don’t think. We are 5 feet into the market and nearly squeezed. I see a tall thin Chinese guy coming towards us. He is engrossed in conversation with a friend … but aiming straight for Sarah … ! Instinctively I just push out my arm. I fortunately apply an unagressive stretched out finger push into his chest and he immediately stops … looks at me and we carry on. I realise that it could have been worse, but spend the next 30 minutes like Kevin Costner in the BodyGuard. At this time of day the tourists are just looking and taking photos. The fish is absolutely fantastic, but the atmosphere is cramped, crowded and just unpleasnt to be honest. Eventually, we buy our fish, escape to the bus stop, and have a lovely lunch in the courtyard at home accompaniyed by a glass or 2 of a Shiraz Rose. Sarah then sings “I will always love you” from the Bodyguard movie … yes, I am fantasizing, whoops, too much sun and wine!
For a further incite on the week and and to catch up with Sarah’s progress go to Hippy Times.