As my friend was leaving the cafe after we’d enjoyed coffee and cake, the waitress said: “I hope you don’t mind me saying this. I’ve been watching you and your friend and I couldn’t help noticing how much you were enjoying each other’s company. I hope my friend and I can be like that in many years time. You made my day.”
For a few days on my journey north I stayed with my friend Rosemary. Our friendship began in the early 1950s, and this comment by the waitress made our day too. Rosemary lives in a gracious terrace house in Newcastle, lovingly furnished in period. She shares it with a very beautiful cat called Nina.
We spent a pleasant afternoon wandering around the mall, me relishing the opportunity to buy fresh turmeric and tom yum spices; visit an exhibition of textiles by Judy Hooworth, and a textile shop attached to the Timeless Textiles gallery; admire old (by Australian standards) buildings; eat a rich-looking chocolate gelato; enjoy a few murals; and photograph the bark of street trees.
The next day we took a leisurely stroll along the waterfront path to the Bogey Hole, originally dug out of solid rock by convicts as a swimming pool for their brutal commandant, Captain Morisset. The cliff face above the path is cut away showing layers – soil, coal, slate, sandstone. Tiny lizards scurry into the foliage lining the steep path up to the surveillance fort and the view north opens out as we head back down for lunch.
Newcastle is definitely a place worth visiting – heritage, history, architecture, art and scenery – to say nothing of a wonderful friend.