The night that Rocked!

Well known to friends of Lady Moss is the year Mossy and I lived in a terrace built in 1820, smack bang in the middle of The Rocks. We both look fondly behind us to what will  always be remembered as one of the best years of our lives. From our wrought iron balcony we could look out onto the bustling life below in the same way that generations upon generations did before us. We happily shared our home with a child-ghost who kept me company during 2am journeys to la toilette, noiselessly floating along the 200 year old floor rug, slightly threadbare at the edges, not that we would change it for all the wool sizel in the world. Mossy dug out the underground servant’s quarters, accessible only through a tiny trap door in the outside laundry. His curiosity revealed a stove, ringed with stones and chimneyed by hand quarried bricks. Buried beneath the floor, a box of rotting bullets and bones. Yes bones. We called in the officials on that one.

As with anywhere we live, we sucked the marrow out of each day we were lucky enough to spend there. We only moved because of building works nearby, otherwise we may be there still. Perhaps one day, perhaps as ghosts?

We spent our evenings wandering aimlessly between the narrow cobbled back-streets barely changed by the efforts of time. Still the old tabby cats stalking mice, the crowded lines of washing hung to dry, forgotten til the morning, the newspapers faded and damp lying by the sandstone stoop. The romanticism of dwelling in such a vivid, breathing part of history was not lost on me. Every opportunity to seek out a hidden corner, rarely visited by tourist groups was much explored. I still run my hands along the convict bricks, the sandstone while I close my eyes and breathe in the memories that belong there. The memories that I will forever be a part of.

We lived for a year beside the pubs carved out into the harbourscape, a hidden labyrinth of cellars leading straight to the docks where many a drunken customer might wake up to find themselves at sea, a fresh member of her majesty’s army. The same could easily have happened to Mossy and I more than once… Even now, given the choice, I would never choose to stay at an upmarket Sydney hotel but in one of the tiny rooms at The Australian where $100 gets you an antique room, a washbasin, access to their rooftop lounge and a chance ghostly meeting that you won’t find anywhere along George Street. Along with the good fortune to stumble upstairs once the drinking is done. Priceless that.

For the final night of my birthday week it was Lady’s choice and after much brain strain I eschewed the new and fabulous for the old and faithful. We trod the same beloved footsteps, past our little terrace gate, pausing as always to stroke the abandoned door, peer through the dusty windows to our lonely fire grate and promise that we would be back someday, dead or alive. Once you live in The Rocks a part of you stays there even when you leave, kicking and screaming. I always feel special coming back, like I have a stamp on my aura that says I am here. I belong.

I spent my birthday surrounded by the hearty jostling of the Pommy backpacker brigade at The Glenmore Hotel, up on the rooftop joined by Lady and Lord Hunt. In order of necessity I had requested an outdoor view of the city lights that I live by, Pimms and food. In turn The Glenmore delivered. The view, spectacular, the Pimms, not available in jugs until Sunday, when it is served ice cold with fruit and lemonade for $17. Still the wine list is small but with fine choice, no real worries there. The fare is carb laden at best, with no option other than wedges or salt and pepper squid for nibbles. This fazed me little as I was determined to begin and finish my night in the same place otherwise I would’ve popped into Pony on Argyle street for their almonds to die for.

Poor Mossy had to abstain from drinking for a half hour while awaiting the arrival of our guests, a major flaw in his eyes. What choice did we have when sitting in the best seats in the house with many a punter eagerly watching our drink levels to see when we would need another so they could steal the spot. No plank minding allowed here, its as cutthroat as the old days.

The Glenmore is closing in February for renovations and I hope they make small, well considered changes to their menu, pour Pimms  daily in summer rather than reserving for Sundays. They would also do well to add a modern and fresh bar snacking menu . The rickety stairway to the rooftop bar needs no adjustment, if I could negotiate it with a jug of cider and handmade G&L heels anyone can. And the bar itself is perfect in its current adornment of ivy leaves strung along the iron fence to soften the cityscape and the fairy lights which hasten the romance of the night.

I awoke the next morning foggy as to where I was, craving the old Sundays when we would inhale sweet delights from The Pancake Parlour before a stroll around the market, much improved on the nineties when it was a trap for Japanese tourists, buying Australiana with a made in China pricetag. It now merits a jumble of stalls selling small, local designers, wooden toys and puppetry as well what could possibly be the world’s most delectable meatballs encased within a gigantic loaf of bread. Lucky for me, my little olde worlde home is just a short trip across the water, a mere trifle on a warm sunny day when in the pursuit of Pimms and Pancakes.

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