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Friday, March 25, 2011

Sliding Doors

This was in a letter today from John, husband of my youngest sister Kay, who nursed Kay through her battle with breast cancer, a struggle which, in spite of his heroic efforts, was lost in 2008. The letter was so interesting I asked him if I could share it with you, and he agreed.  (Julia is John's and Kay's elder daughter. John lives in Melbourne, as does his younger daughter, Jessamy.) Here is his letter.

I don't know if you saw the movie Sliding Doors (it's just over a decade old). In it Gwyneth Paltrow's character's life can take one of two possible paths depending on whether she catches a train or not. Well yesterday Julia and I experienced one of those moments. Unlike the film, there was no real drama involved but I tell it to you as a small distraction for all of you from the ongoing worries of Japan and ongoing health issues.

   Julia was keen for me to visit (and very much vice versa) so yesterday I flew up for the day. I had heard about a pretty special cafe called Greenhouse by Joost, which was temporarily set up on Sydney Harbour for only 6 weeks and was closing this Sunday. We decided to make a beeline there.

   It is a self-sustaining cafĂ©/bar made from several shipping containers and re-cycled materials - packing crates, conveyor belts - all manner of things. It was set up as a demo of possibilities by a driven, talented young Victorian guy called Joost Bakker.  The temporary site he cleverly obtained has million-dollar views of Sydney Harbour.

   All waste is composted and used to grow veggies and herbs in their rooftop gardens and waste cooking oil is converted to diesel to power generators. Wheat is ground into flour as required on site and butter, yoghurt and mozzarella are all made on site.

   The concept has received such plaudits that he has been invited to do the same in prime positions in London, Milan and Berlin. He also has a really great young chef on board.

   They are so popular they do not take bookings or even have a phone number. We knew there were always queues to get in (even the illustrious Matt Preston from Masterchef queued to get in). The web site mentioned breakfast until 11 and lunch from midday. We figured we would try for breakfast after the work crowd and before "the ladies who lunch". I was on an early flight. Julia caught the ferry across from Manly. I met her at the wharf and a short walk had us arriving at the cafe at about 9.30 - perfect timing ... or so we thought. Our hearts sank when we saw that nothing was been served and there was some sort of informational tour taking place for a small group of well-dressed people who appeared to know each other.

   Now this is the Sliding Door moment - do we go away and come back and join a lunch queue OR boldly join the tour? Well we slid into the tour group. The tour concluded and I decided to admit to the guy taking the tour what we had done. The guy turned out to be the creator himself - Joost Bakker. He was so tickled with what we had done and the fact that I had flown from Melbourne that he asked us to join him for coffee and some beautiful macaroons. We chatted for at least half an hour - and his enthusiasm was marvellous. It was such a delightful, random thing to happen. Naturally we did have lunch there and some further dealings with our new friend.

   I remember a line from a poem we covered in school (Slessor's "Five Visions of Captain Cook") where Cook had a choice of sailing East (like others before him) or West (towards the unknown) - "so Cook made choice, so Cook sailed Westabout, so men write poems in Australia". Naturally our choice was insignificant in comparison but the same concept applies - take a chance and sometimes you are rewarded.

   I think Julia is my lucky charm - whenever I visit her we always stumble into something delightful. I think at those times we are both very open to having enjoyable moments.

 Thanks for sharing this with us, John and Julia!

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