Ate too much at Fresh on Katoomba Street this afternoon. Excellent café, one that is frequented by most of the Varuna residents at one time or another. I had a huge breakfast (for lunch) with really delicious pesto mushrooms, great juice, coffee and chocolate crunch. The guy on the register said, “Did you enjoy your food? Well I guess you would have stopped if you didn’t like it!”
I wrote page after page just sitting there. There is something about the ebb and flow of a public place that inspires me, even if I’m not writing about my direct surrounds. Sometimes when I’m sitting in a quiet room, casting about for inspiration, the pressure is too great and my mind goes blank. But sitting at a table in a corner, scrawling thoughts and fragments and observations, the words just keep coming. Then, by the time I get back to my quiet room and start transcribing the notes into my computer, it can be hard to stop the flow, which is brilliant.
It used to be like that back in the old Glebe days when Heath ran the Blackwattle Canteen at the end of Glebe Point Road. It was at the end of a huge wool store that had been converted into little studios, which housed everything from writers and painters, to ceramicists, to time management consultants, to a woman who created these amazing heads for use in parades and theme parks. Heath would disappear off to work before 6am most days and I’d wander down the hill at a much more respectable time of around 10ish, take up a position somewhere in the café and just write, while Heath or Georgia regularly dropped fresh coffee at my table or sat down to chat. I probably wasn’t much favoured by the rest of the staff, but it was definitely one of my favourite places. What a shame it had to be demolished for someone’s financial gain. There are plenty of luxury apartments around, but there certainly aren’t enough pockets of creativity left in Sydney anymore.
That’s why somewhere like Varuna and, indeed, some parts of the Blue Mountains are so valuable. In amongst all the tourists and the buses disgorging more tourists, you can find peaceful spots, little nooks and crannies, friendly cafes where you can write for an afternoon undisturbed. I tell people I’m up here writing and they beam, and when I mention Varuna they nod in recognition and wish me luck.
I must say, though, I’m getting a little bit homesick. I love my little room, and seem to be able to catnap during the day, but have found it really hard to sleep here. When I drifted off last night I had this really bizarre, disjointed dream about leaving here and returning home and things being slightly different and unsettling, and then when I woke up I had no idea where I was. I’m missing having a decent shower – boy I hate the shower here. I’m also still feeling a little unwell, perhaps the lack of sleep and the residual yuck from the liver infection, and the weather is a little warm and muggy, even though it looks like it should be cold and rainy by the colour of the sky.
(I think I find February/March a hard time to cope with because I am well and truly sick of being hot, and it feels like it should be getting cooler but it doesn’t. You’re teased with one or two crisp days and then there will suddenly be a 29-degree humidity-fest. I want a really good thunderstorm. That’s not too much to ask for, is it?)
But I’m not complaining! Honest. I am grateful that I was chosen to come here. Every time I think about it I am amazed.