We had a really interesting moment earlier today as a group of us ate lunch at Ventuno, a funky little restaurant at Dawes Point, near the Sydney Theatre Company. Sitting outside enjoying the great outdoors, our waiter, a large Italian bloke became quite insistent that we moved inside IMMEDIATELY. At the time a few of us thought he was over-reacting a little to the grey clouds which had appeared in the sky. Within a couple of minutes he was shown to be correct, as a fairly heavy rain storm hit Sydney, turning the area into something resembling one of those great black and white photographs taken by David Moore. Later, relaxing outside on their extremely comfortable couches we barely blinked when the rain came down again, as we were protected by a fairly sturdy umbrella.

By this time we had been at the restaurant for two or three hours, had consumed a great antipasto plate, had eaten some delicious pizza and had enjoyed a few bottles of wine (though not too many, actually). It was then I was reminded and told everyone else the story of an occasion several years of another long lunch at a restaurant in Double Bay. Sitting at a nearby table was the wife of a former Australian Prime Minister (you can guess which one I’m sure), along with her entourage, a group of obviously wealthy women and men in their 60s, or thereabouts. After a few hours of watching them consume SEVERAL bottles of wine, a waiter walked over and said, smilingly, to one of them who had a couple of shopping bags with her, “Would you like me to put your milk in the fridge? It looks like you might be here for quite some time…”

Dawes Point

It wasn’t quite like that with us this afternoon, but we were there for quite some time. Along with the food, the wine, and thegreat company, we were kept entertained with the large number of nearby wedding parties. We had discovered, we soon realised, the spot where many people go to have their wedding photographs taken in Sydney these days. I think we counted in all about half a dozen weddings. Some of the brides were dressed beautifully, others needed some work. We were impressed, in particular, with the bright yellow Flamenco-inspired bridesmaids dresses from one wedding, and the beautiful Middle-Eastern style outfits of another. At point point, however, we noticed one of the grooms uncomfortably playing with his wedding ring. A little too early in the marriage to be doing that we all agreed. “Come and bring us the bill, before we become too cynical”, said one of my friends to the waiter when it was clear we had spent too much time watching watching the activities.

Actually it’s been a pretty enjoyable, sociable 48-hours. There were Christmas drinks at a friend’s place on Thursday night, involving some lovely French champagne, some nice sandwiches, and a couple of hours of great conversation. And then there was a couple of beers after work on Friday at a groovy little cafe/bar in Darlinghurst called The Lounge. Although it’s been around for years, I was unaware of its existence, and even had trouble finding it. But yes, it was a great little space, attracting a very exotic crowd, indeed. It was “very Melbourne”, if you know what I mean.

Having now seen that bar, and having walked past Firefly Tapas & Wine Bar today I don’t know what Clover Moore is on about with this “small bar stuff”. Actually I do, I’m just being obtuse, but it just goes to show you can find some great small bars in Sydney, that’s it’s not just RSL-scale pubs and pokies, as has often been portrayed over the last few months.

Tomorrow also promises to be sociable, making a brief trip to the airport to see a friend who has a 2-hour stop-over between Melbourne and Ballina, and then catching up with another mate for Christmas. It’s a great time of the year, isn’t it, just to catch up with people? One of my friends today commented, “Isn’t this great on the weekend before Christmas just to sit around and relax. Buggar going to Westfield, we’ll do that tomorrow”. As I walked through the city today, observing the Christmas shopping, watching blokes carrying coffee machines, juice extractors, and assorted white goods, I wondered if they really needed all that stuff. Couldn’t they buy it at some other time of the year, using the money instead to spend time with friends and family? I think the best gift of all at this time of the year is the gift of time…

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