Our Book Club has been evolving since its gestation. The book IS important. Oh yes. But it's not the centre of our universe.
Sometimes we manage an entire 10 minutes about the book ... maybe.
Sometimes we manage to READ the book.
Sometimes we don't.
Sometimes ... well, the food and wine and catching up take precedence.
As they should.
So, now that I've moved away from home on the Gold Coast, my Book Club comes to me. Once a year. All six members. Flying to wherever I am on this huge island for a serious weekend discussing THE book.
As if anyone is going to believe that last little bit.
Last year, it was Townsville, NQ. This year, western Sydney: the outer regions of the harbour city.
It takes logistical expertise to coordinate, but somehow the six make it happen.
Two arrive early, the Pineapple Lover and one French Canal Boater, and we have a few days exploring.
The Nepean Gorge.
With the spectacular Blue Mountains in the distance.
Surrounded by such majesty, we contemplate our place in this world.
And, for posterity, do the arty-farty thing with the camera.
Then, the next day, we venture into those mountains to Leura. Oh, Leura. A boutique shopper's heaven.
At the end of our day, we coffee amidst a retro paradise.
And, while we rest, the others - the Marathon Runner, the Cat Loving Cook, the other French Canal Boater and the Psychology Graduate - gather together, over a thousand kilometres north, to join our ranks.
Flights are booked. Chauffeurs are inveigled. Cars are hired. GPS is hooked up. And the adventure begins to the extreme west of the harbour city.
And then the fun begins.
The Cat Loving Cook has relatives who live in the area and know the history. We are offered a personally-guided local history tour followed by afternoon tea.
The Governor Macquarie Memorial commemorating his and his wife's impact on what was to become the market garden area to feed the burgeoning city to the east.
St Matthew's Anglican Church, Windsor: the oldest Anglican church in Australia; the second oldest Australian church of any denomination.
(Not to be confused with St Matthew's Catholic Church nearby. Confusing for many a wedding attender! Oh, oh! Wrong church, wrong bride, wrong wedding!)
Our personal guide was the Rector of St Matthew's for an extended period. Who better to lead our tour!?!
Renowned Francis Greenway was the architect. We are in awe of his vision.
The stained glass windows glow in the afternoon light. Edifying from the font forward.
Simplistic, yet equally beautiful towards the back.
We sit in quiet and ponder. Whether we be religious or not, the beauty, age and magnificence of this church is humbling.
The cemetery brings us to silence again.
Andrew Thompson, the first emancipist to be appointed a Magistrate.
Gravestones' stories tug our heart strings. First Fleeters and free settlers buried side by side.
As we wander back, the curve of the apse and the aged bricks call to be be admired and caressed.
The afternoon cricket match on the nearby ground harks back to our British colonial roots.
Out tour continues through the streets of one of Australia's earliest town, past original homes, both grand and modest, until we reach our afternoon tea destination with its view across the floodplains of the Hawkesbury River.
And, what an afternoon tea! Fairy cakes, lamingtons, chocolate coated strawberries, dainty sandwiches with smoked salmon and cream cheese, meringues with cream, and ... sparkling wine and, of course, tea in delicate cups and saucers. Mmmm.
Some people's hospitality knows no bounds. Thanks John and Dorothy.
But tonight is about the book, and the Book Club dinner, and the wine, and the catch ups, and the friendship.
And, so we head home to ponder
what time dinner should be served
and how we will fit it in.
And where we will go tomorrow
and the next day.
Next week's post will continue our adventures.
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