So yesterday I took the train to Sydney to have lunch with M in Surry Hills — and to ride the tram. I took with me for sentimental reasons this:
The last time I rode a tram through Surry Hills/Moore Park I may well have had that with me! Now, about the new tram — and here I am on board:
It is a tad slow, but that is probably better than running over people or crashing into cars. Indeed at one point yesterday a car came through an intersection as if the moving tram wasn’t there. The tram driver sounded his horn — not a bell, notice. However, while well aware of the costs that have been involved in the build, I give the tram the thumbs up! It isn’t the line to nowhere after all. Yesterday it delivered quite a few to the cricket — sorry about that, Kiwis! Then it has two well-placed stops for Randwick Race Course, ditto for the University of New South Wales, and the Randwick line ends right in the midst of the medical offices, cafes etc., that are part of the Prince of Wales Hospital precint. I can see a lot of use for the line as time goes on.
Mind you, it is true the bus is faster… But not as comfortable.
Then back to Surry Hills, and the glorious old Shakey — the Shakespeare Hotel of such happy memory. There I met M, who was in fine form. And the food was excellent — I had the Shakey Pie, a beef and vegetable job in a real home-made pie shell, not a lump of premade pastry on top of a ramekin. M had a steak; he said it was excellent. And price? Much the same as City Diggers in Wollongong — under $20 each dish. You could have had a chicken schnitzel special for $10! The drinks are on the dear side, but not outrageous.
And the Surry Hills tram stop is ideally placed for visiting the Shakey.
Travelling in cooler weather yesterday to and from Sydney I closely observed the bush as we passed through. Tell you what, toss a match in there and all hell would break loose. Wollongong and the Royal National Park have truly been lucky so far — but there is very possibly two months to go. The heat returns at the end of this week. And as soon as I write that I know some are going to mutter “hazard reduction” and others will start muttering “Greens!” Yes, there are arguments worth having around all that, but to quote one expert: “It’s simply conspiracy stuff. It’s an obvious attempt to deflect the conversation away from climate change.”
On Sunday night I phoned my last remaining aunt, in Sutherland — she’s 82 — knowing that my cousins from Bundanoon were sheltering there, having evacuated. I spoke to one of those cousins. It seems that their Bundanoon house is safe, though covered in ash. That at least was all she knew on Sunday. We talked for some time. We haven’t talked for a very long time, in fact, using Facebook to keep tabs instead. We found ourselves on exactly the same page about climate change being the deep cause behind all the proximate causes (such as fuel loads) of this present fire season.