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Manly to Maury | Cultured Views Cultured Views


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Mar 03

Manly to Maury

Tag: Australia,Family Lifewendy @ 10:02 am

I wonder how many people truly appreciate the surroundings in which they live. As I said earlier I live in the south of France, very near to the Spanish border, and this region could not be more different to where I lived when I was growing up in Australia.

When I step outside my front door each morning I see miles of vineyards; lush and green from April to September, gold and orange from September to November and, finally, stark and grey during the cold winter months. Life here follows a set cycle and has done since, well, the beginning. It’s impossible to not to be a part of this constantly changing landscape as the seasons ultimately affect the people here, even their moods.Those who work in this wine growing area are as connected with the earth as the vines that they tend…it is a 365 day a year task, in all weather conditions; it is a way of life only for those who are truly dedicated, as these people are. After all, the majority have simply followed the path walked by generations of their families. They would think of no other life.

I grew up in North Manly on the north shore of Sydney and spent my childhood and teen years like most other kids there-at the beach. The beaches there are fantastic; North and South Steyne(pictured), Harbord (Freshwater), Curl Curl, Dee Why and so on. On Saturdays I swam for the Freshwater Swimming Club-I’d been swimming since I was 2 years old and until I was ten had lessons weekly at Pat Nichol’s swim school at Harbord. Like most other kids who frequented Freshie beach.

The home I grew up in is at the very centre of my childhood memories. Back in the 1967 Dad saw a picture of this house which was featured as ‘House of the Week’ in the Woman’s Weekly magazine – that was when it actually was a weekly magazine. It was tucked away at the top of a steep cul-de-sac in Nenagh Street North Manly. If you stood on the road at the top of the drive all you could see were trees, all around. On either side were gullies, creeks, lantana and even a waterfall!. All of this hidden little idyll was just off the busy Pittwater Road. Right at the front of the house, beside the long steps leading to the door, was a huge rock – I can only say it looked like a baby Uluru.

Dad noticed it was for sale and immediately we were all rushed off to see this house. Dad got out of the car, stood and stared and, with all the enthusiasm of the totally impulsive and impractical person he was, he said to Mum “I am buying it!”. Without even seeing the inside!. Minutes later he was shaking hands with the bemused owner and had sealed the deal.

That house became for me ,my sister and all our friends, our own little ‘Daintree Forest’. We had our own waterfall, our own ‘ayers rock’, creeks and secret hideaways that the average backyard just didn’t boast. We could see bandicoots, possums, parrots building their homes in the trees and hollows of our own playground. The odd owl paid a visit too.
And all of this just a few metres from the busy Pittwater Road. People who came to visit us just couldn’t believe that such a place existed within easy reach of a main road.

The house also was a blessed escape from the busy world of showbusiness for my Dad. Due to it’s hidden location it provided total privacy which he treasured. He adored gardening and this was how he unwound during the week. He spent years working on the gardens and grounds, built bridges over the little creeks (however rickety they were) and even opened the place as a plant nursery. In 1974 our place became the ‘Willow Glen Nursery’. Problem was that Dad would tend the plants so lovingly that, in the end, he couldn’t bear to sell most of them. The nursery business folded, but the Willow Glen sign stayed.

I always felt lucky as a child to have such a home, just as I do now, here in the vineyards of southern France, to have such a home.

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