Tag Archives: Berry

Small town vs Big city

Small towns are cute, quirky and green. They are safe, comforting and friendly.

Everyone seems to know of one another and celebrate the same things in the same environment.

But this means that small towns can also be gossipy, stifling and routine.

Big cities are different, fun and challenging. They are tall, concrete and filled with endless possibilities.

They take you out of your comfort zone into a sometimes overwhelming place where you can make new friends and have new experiences every day.

But this means that big cities can also be fickle, lonely and expensive.

I grew up in a small town, and whilst I appreciate it was a nice little place to grow up, I think I was always a big city girl at heart.

Being an avid traveller doesn’t always mean you are necessarily a big city person, although it probably helps. Sometimes it’s the small towns that really show you what a place is like and who the people really are.

But I am a big city person and just the thought of going to a global city like London or New York gets me excited. Big cities are also big enough that they contain many smaller places to explore.

Being in a big city that you are familiar with gives you a sense of achievement and conquest, especially when you can navigate to your favourite places without a map.

But big cities are so big, that even in my home city of Sydney I often need to whip out Google maps to find out where that new restaurant is.

Small towns have their place and perhaps I wouldn’t be who I am today, or get that big city buzz as much, if I hadn’t grown up in a small town.

I still enjoy visiting my hometown of Berry, all the memories I have there and I am looking forward to taking my daughter to my birth town of Weymouth hoping that she can see what I see.

But I also can’t wait to take her to Central Park or a show at the West End; to see what she makes of the big hills of San Francisco or the mountains of Vancouver.

I wonder if she will be a big city girl with small town values like me, or just be a sophisticated city chick with no time for small town matters. I guess only time will tell…

Related posts: Sydney vs Melbourne, It’s an English Thing, Cocktail hour in Sydneytown, Home is where you make it, Travel Rememberings

It’s an English Thing

Whenever somebody asks me where I am from, I always pause to answer.

I was born in Weymouth, England to an English father and a Sri Lankan mother. We lived in and out of England for the first few years of my life, I went to pre-school there, and then we moved to Australia where I grew up in Berry, NSW and was brought up as an Australian.

However, my father never really lost his accent (I still pronounce garage differently to everyone I know), I received a UK passport at birth and have spent a few trips, including a gap year, back in England.

My grandmother never left Weymouth and I always loved going back to visit her. The green rolling hillsides, the little wishing well behind her house and the thatched rooved cottages. The typical English seafront, the rocky beach and the harbour filled with fishing boats. The gorgeous Dorset countryside of quirky towns, white cliffs plunging into the blue Channel and walks through fields picking blackberries along the way.

I also love the city of London. Red telephone boxes, double decker buses, Big Ben, the tube and my favourite Tower of London. I love the parks, the palaces, the plays and the feeling of being at the centre of the world when you walk down Oxford St. I like mixing with the hip crowd at Covent Garden, standing on the edge of Greenwich Mean Time and imagining what it would be like to live inside the houses of Notting Hill. I enjoy seeing the gold encrusted Buckingham Palace gates, Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square and the bustling Piccadilly Circus. It’s also fun meeting all your Australian mates in a London pub as they are living there temporarily too.

So of course, I am Australia, but I also identify with all things English.

I was brought up on Sooty and Sweep, Noddy and Blue Peter on the TV, Punch and Judy shows at the sands and reading Beatrix Potter and Rupert at bedtime. I enjoyed eating treats from grandma like Hula Hoops, Hob Nobs and Quality Streets.

It’s always fun to go shopping at Boots, Marks and Spencers, H&M and window shopping at Harrods. I love drinking at one of the many great traditional English pubs with the same names in different places like The Golden Lion, The Red Lion, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms; and running to get into a nightclub before lock out. I have seen people being out on the pull for a snog, have worn a thong on my bottom instead of my feet and flitted off to Europe for a long weekend to escape the long dark winters.

The English culture is not so different to ours which makes it easy to relate to and it’s those little details that help strike up a conversation with a visiting Brit come to Australia to escape the bad weather for a time.

So, I guess I’m not English, as you are from where you grow up. But it is nice to know that I have the experience and knowledge to morph into an English person if needs be.

Related posts: It’s a Spanish Thing,  Toys, People vs Place, England, 2006England, 1997

Return to sender

Once when I caught the train from Sydney back to Berry, I left my wallet on the train. Distraught, I sought out the station master, who located my wallet and had it sent back on the next train.

Another time, distracted by disposing the rest of my lunch one day, I left my phone on a table in the middle of the food court and raced back to the office.

Fortunately, by the time I had reached my desk, a kind soul had already found my phone and called my dad who had left a message on my work landline. I headed back to retrieve my phone and thank them. They wanted nothing in return.

Finally, there was the time that I was so busy getting off a broken down bus to get on the next one that I left my new red leather wallet on the first bus.

The kindly bus driver gave me a free ride back to the bus depot to collect my wallet which had been returned with the money still intact.

And so it happens, that just when you think there were are no nice people left in Sydney, something like this happens.

A man will get up for a pregnant woman on a bus.

A lady will slip over in the middle of the street and more than one person will rush to her aid.

A tourist will look lost and a passer-by will offer directions.

At the end of the day, I think we are all human and most of us are good.

Sure, there are some selfish horrible serial killer types out there, but these are not the norm even in a big city.

Good karma to all the kind souls that have always returned money, wallets, phones, bags and children that have been lost.  You’re the best!

Related posts: Degustation Delights, Cocktail hour in Sydneytown, Get your groove on, What’s your handicap?, Home is where you make it

Get your groove on!

I always loved dancing and despite being uncoordinated, I have some natural rhythm. Or perhaps it’s a love of dancing coupled with a lack of self-consciousness.

My cousins and I used to put together dance routines to entertain the adults at family functions. One year we dressed up in crepe paper buttercups and sang and danced to the song from the Three Amigo’s movie.

When I was in high school I took part in the Rock Eisteddfod for three years. I was a piece of lava for the Pompeii themed year, a harem girl for the Arabian night’s themed year and a card- the queen of spades- for the casino themed year. The best thing about it was when we got into the finals, we got to perform at the Sydney Entertainment Centre and mix with all the Sydney schools. My mum still have videos of all the performances.

At the age of 18, it was off to the local ex-servos club in Nowra to hit the dance floor with friends and students from other local schools to hip new music by Salt- N- Pepa and such like. I also managed a few nights clubbing in Wollongong with my cousin who lived there.

And then I graduated to the big time- clubbing in Sydney. I became a regular at Home while it was still one of the most popular clubs in the city. Now I always feel a little old and out of place at nightclubs. I’m out of touch with the hip music and the cool places to go- which brings me to the subject of parties.

I used to go to lots of parties in my twenties when I had a lot of acquaintances- dress up parties, birthday parties, New Year’s parties, house warming parties, just because it’s the weekend parties- you never knew who you were going to meet!

Now that we are older and everyone owns property, it’s no longer fashionable to invite everyone you have ever met over to your place to turn up at 11pm and trash the floorboards. Parties involve small gatherings in the garden or picnics in the park at 11am. But you still can BYO alcohol.

I never liked to have parties for myself- I find it a bit strange having a celebration for something I haven’t achieved.

My first and only childhood birthday party was when I was five at my house in Berry. We had semi- legal fireworks from Canberra and played pin the tail on the donkey. My friends threw me a surprise 21st party at my flat in Sydney and I had a great 25th with 70 of my closest acquaintances at The Slipp Inn- where Mary met her prince of Denmark. I was not as lucky as her that night!

I had a surprise 29th courtesy of my boyfriend and organised my own 30th party in the backyard of my parents house in Berry. It was vampire themed and I was the only Buffy. Scary to say I already had the whole wardrobe, including the leather pants, and only had to buy a blonde wig.

Related posts: What’s your handicap?, The Seven Year Itch, By Special Request, TV Replays and Movie Marathons, Friendship: Great Expectations?, Home is where you make it, I first started writing

Home is where you make it

I grew up in a small town called Berry on the south east coast of NSW. It is not as small now, but at the time the population was 550. Berry, town of trees, two hours drive from Sydney, was so small that no one had ever heard of it. Two blocks, two pubs, a Chinese takeaway and the donut van. Now everyone knows where it is, it is full of coffee shops, gift shops and a couple of fancy restaurants. The Chinese takeaway disappeared with MSG.

It was mostly Anglo Australians, so being from a multicultural background was enough that I  never really fitted in at primary school and through most of high school.

I do appreciate that I did have the kind of childhood that you can only have in a small town- climbing trees, riding bikes, knocking around town by myself and later not having access to drugs, but having drunken bonfire parties instead. We travelled a lot to Sydney to visit relatives and friends of my parents whose kids were deep into the rave scene and sleeping around at the time.

By the time I was at the end of my high school years all I wanted to do was to get out. After my grand tour of Europe, I attempted to live at home in Berry for all of two months before I moved to Sydney to live with my cousins and I have never looked back.

I have lived in eight different suburbs with cousins, friends, boyfriends and my husband. I have been moved 12 times by cousins, my dad and moving companies. I have now been in this city for 16 years and still enjoy it. The harbour, ballet at the Opera House, the Botanical Gardens and fancy degustration menus. I love traveling to other cities, but there’s still nothing quite like flying over Sydney Harbour on the return flight and knowing that you are coming home to one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

I always find it hard to relate to those that have never moved away from a small town and ask me how I can live in such a big city. Big compared to what? London or New York? I don’t think so. In fact I would actually love to make another city my home for a time and having that handy European passport perhaps it will one day happen.

Related posts: I first started travelling