Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Days 1 and 2 in Sydney

Excuse the crumbs, I am eating a wagon wheel I picked up from the bakery down the road.  I have just returned from the Opening Address with Kate Tempest at the Sydney Writer's Festival. The Roslyn Packer theatre was sold out with people looking forward to this event.

The opening of the Sydney Writer's Festival, like most openings in Australia was started with acknowledgement of the true owners of the land. Then a young Aboriginal man played a new piece he composed for the didgeridoo. It was a sort of tribute to the cockatoos, the kookaburras and other fauna of this region of Australia.

Then of course a politician had to come on board. I thought it was quite entertaining. This theatre was packed with probably the most avid readers of the country and most would be into quality literature. The pollie talked of bibliotherapy which seems to be a catch phrase lately.  He mentioned the value of reading and the books that inspire him, those he enjoys. I heard the names Dan Brown and James Patterson. Don't get me wrong, I don't mind what people read but knowing this audience I am sure there were more than a few book snobs amongst it. Because once he left the stage and the facilitator came back on the stage she and the audience erupted into laughter. I think it had something to him naming airport reads and nothing of serious quality. Knowing some of the Australian readers I am sure the politician thinks we are just some little lady book worms who read gentle fiction. He obviously hasn't read A Little Life.  

Kate Tempest is a young, (30) British poet, playwright and performer who entertained us with her poetry. She believes in story telling and the importance of literature. Her poem encourages everyone to take care of others. Forego greed, busyness, selfies, craziness and see what the reality of life that is around us. She is deeper than deep, a serious story teller with great humour thrown in. I was not familiar with her and her latest book is now out. It is called The Bricks that Built the House. It is her first novel. I really enjoyed her presentation and she gave us all lots to think of.

I arrived in Sydney yesterday and the first thing I did was visit the large
Kinokuniya book store. I love the books and all of the Japanese stationery in this store.  I also visited a large camera shop to upgrade my camera. I am going to concentrate on writers, books and photography this week.

After that I treated myself to lunch in a lovely Japanese restaurant. I am still not certain what all of it was but I loved it. I love tasting new food. I will eat almost anything, especially when I am hungry.

Last night I saw the play produced by the Sydney Theatre Company of Hay Fever, written by Noel Coward. It was being held in the drama theatre of the Sydney Opera House. Any excuse to go into this exquisite building. I love this place. The play was hilariously funny. As I booked at the last moment I could only get a seat in the middle of the very front row. I felt as though I were on the stage as the play progressed. I could see crows feet around the actor's eyes as I was that close.

I had to laugh as in Hobart I often attend things on my own. I easily chat to people on either side of me and never feel lonely. Hobart audiences are always friendly. Last night I sat beside a Sydneysider of middle age.  I said Hello to her. She adjusted herself in her chair with her back to me. It was quite obvious. The woman on my other side was much friendlier. When the intermission came I wanted to ask this woman if she was enjoying herself. That is always a good way to start a conversation. I was alone so once again I tried to get contact but she never shifted. Her back was as far to me as she could possibly get it the entire time.

"What!"  "Are you too rich or something to speak to me." I thought. Then I suppressed a giggle as it could not have been that. After all we didn't have the best seats in the house. We had to look up, like a baby bird just to see the floor of the stage.  Maybe she was just shy.  Anyway I was completely entertained trying to get her eye.

Today was a hot day and I had planned to go to the zoo before the Writer's Festival opening this evening. It was too hot for the zoo so instead I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art at the wharf. I walked around the Rocks area, which is the oldest area of Sydney and has art galleries and expensive shops. I window shopped and shared my cinnamon toast and cappuccino with a one legged pigeon.

Then I spent quite a bit of time sitting in the grass down at the Harbour photographing people. I got some great shots.  There was one shot I must share with you when I download my film. It was a couple of middle aged people eating an ice cream cone. No big deal but beside them a busker was getting dressed for his performance as a stationary tree. He was putting on clothes covered in branches and leaves and it was a huge outfit. The couple beside him never once looked at him. They just sat licking their ice cream.  How could they miss him!? So comical.

Tomorrow evening I have another presentation to attend and then Wednesday, Thursday and Friday picks up a bit more. I signed up for 8 sessions. So as I have all day on my own tomorrow I have booked a tour that goes from 8 am to 6 pm to the Blue Mountains. I have not been to the Blue Mountains before so it might be fun. In any case as there are 50 other tourists on this bus I should get some good pictures of people doing things.

What a busy couple of days.  I'll add more tomorrow if I can find the energy.


  1. Ms. Tempest looks like a nice person, and i second her philosophical sentiments. and it appears as if a grand time was being had there, with possibly the exception of the person who was sitting next to you. i've noticed in the past, that large city denizens tend to be wary of strangers... the trip to the Blue Mountains should be fun - that's the locale of some of upfield's novels about napolean bonaparte... here's to a merry, worry free week!

    1. Thank you for your comment. I didn't know that about Upfield. Yes, the week was fun but it was good to get home.

  2. Hi Travellin' Penguin. We recently discovered your blog about your Penguin Book Collection. Truly amazing, congratulations!

    We recently received a new shipment of books, and discovered the most lovely Penguin Book Collection.

    Kindly let us know if you still have any books outstanding (referring to your list dated 2012/8.

    We would love to help you in making your collection complete, and currently working through your list to see what we can do for you.

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    Marlie du Plessis
    South Africa: +27 82 385 2659

    1. If you go to the top of this page you can see the collection of books I have listed. Open the link and a list of reddish coloured highlighted books will appear. Those are the ones I currently have. The plain titles of those books I need. First published only, no reprints. Thank you.


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