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We had a sociable week getting together with friends and family in Sydney, a week in which we met up with new friends from birdwatching, visitors from home, and finished up with the arrival of our daughter, Lyra. For us this was more festivities than normal and we had an unusually good time.

We met Barbara and Tony during a walk with a group from Birding NSW, starting at Deep Creek Reserve and going on to Long Reef Point. As we walked and looked at the birds around us we chatted with members of the group, about Chicago, Australia, birds, children, travel. It was an excellent day. Barbara invited us to come for Sunday lunch with them in Roseville, and at their home we met Donna and Neville, another couple with wide experience of Australia and beyond. Barbara’s garden is really lovely and the sun was shining on a some purple-leaved plants in a way that produced a bright spot of magenta beneath a tall spreading tree. The glass walls between living room and the outdoors were opened up so that we were at the dining table but felt like we were in the garden. We spent the relaxing afternoon appreciating the indoor/outdoor nature of Australian homes.

The same week, our good friends and colleagues Sue and Bob stopped in on their way to Brisbane. With them we went to stroll around the Opera House and Botanical Gardens. The next day we walked a section of the Bronte to Bondi Beach trail. We caught up on news from home and chatted about where we might cross paths next year over a few good meals. Greece, next time?

Finishing out the week, we made one last trip to the airport to collect Lyra, who will be with us for two weeks. It is a special pleasure to have one of our children visit, and we are savoring every minute. We decided to go to the opera while Lyra was with us, so after a very good dinner at The Bridge Room, we saw Salome in the Joan Sutherland Theater at the Sydney Opera House. The backdrop was black with what looked like skeletal rib cages in red. The voices were excellent.

The Opera House is as interesting on the inside as the outside, as its unusual shape requires the interior facilities to adapt to the spaces created during construction. The theater is enormous with plenty of space under the highest of the “sails” that make up the roof.

After that it was time to pack up and get ready for our next adventure.