My early morning dip on Bondi was reasonably quick as I was trying to get to the Studio to shut up shop and pick up a few last things before I headed off for the South Coast.
I had decided that I would try my luck driving through Braidwood and onwards to Tilba via Batemans Bay rather than to attempt the coastal road.
The country was greener than I had expected. Often at this time of year the earth is already scorched but instead I found it lush from the inland to the coast. In fact, I don't think I saw a dry bit of land in my entire tour.
As is usual for me I was longing to be on my own with my music. I have recently been collecting new songs and some of them seemed ripe for a road trip. Amongst them was Steely Dan's "Rikki Don't Lose That Number" , The Little River Band's "Reminiscing" , Jay Ungar's "Ashokan Farewell" which forms the opening credits to Ken Burns' documentary on the American Civil War. Then there was Marianne Faithfull's cover of "As Tears Go By", The Pretenders "Hymn To Her" , Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice", Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man", Joe Jackson's "Steppin' Out" .
My first stop was to visit some friends that had renovated a house near Tilba. They were beneath a mountain that was part of lands that were on native title I was told. The mountain was sacred to the local indigenous tribes. It was a charming dramatic backdrop and as the sun faded into twilight it was backed by a beautiful violet light that saw a faint crescent moon rising.
At night we ate very well and sat up drinking scotch on the patio with a cool wind blowing and plenty of ice in the deep freeze but no air conditioning in the rooms. Thankfully the weather was hot only on the first evening with rain setting in the following day.
When I departed on Christmas morning I left at 4am - to ensure that I did not bump into too many police cars which seemed to be in droves on my way down to the South Coast. I arrived in Canberra, had Christmas lunch with my family, played soccer both physically and virtually on a Sony Playstation. After a lot of meat I fell into a food coma and woke again at 4am the following morning and went back to the coast to visit some other friends who had recently finished their new dwelling which was ultra modern with it's modernity offset by a very interesting garden that gave the architecture more humanity. The drive was extraordinary, cruising down the Monaro highway at great speed before winding down Brown Mountain and coming down into the valley until I reached Cobargo. Then on to Tilba, this time following the rolling green hills down to the sea.
In the morning I got up early and swam one of the those uninhabited South Coast beaches where you have to have a certain trepidation when treading between heath and beach for there are always black and brown snakes around, and then as you enter the water you have to assume that if you get caught by the rip there will be nobody for you to call out to. It can often take the edge off your enjoyment as the waves do not seem to be as rhythmic as those that you get on Bondi Beach.
I swam a little, rinsed my nostrils and went back to the house. I departed a little after ten and was glad to be on the road as my hosts were the clean living organic types and after a while if I hear too much of it my shadow starts to crave a double quarter pounder from McDonalds and in fact, since I was on a road trip, I sided with my shadow. I drove back to Cooma, pacing myself again up Brown Mountain and marvelling at just how beautiful the country was. It was some of the best country in New South Wales - clean- unspoilt, rolling and cascading and never short of drama as it moved from the sea to estuaries, lakes and then mountains and highlands.
At Cooma, satiated by a double quarter pounder and a chocolate thick shake I moved on towards Canberra, collected some cables I left behind and then headed off for Kangaloon where I intended to meet up with more friends. And when I arrived a garden party was in full swing - it was perfect timing.
The following day I made an error of judgement. One which I won't go into. Suffice to say it involved two coffees and a female friend. You don't sweep an older woman off her feet it seems, instead she sweeps you under the carpet.
But this was my 2017 - a pastiche of different experiences, exciting and rich but also painful and with continued suffering. First world suffering. A bad ankle, a bruised heart, a sore back - but mostly it was all pretty well sorted. Looking back I could not have imagined so many things to have occurred in one year and none of them would I take back. But with the good you must take the bad, the hard-nosed, the cruel and the unfair. The psychotherapist I see occasionally said to me two things of great import this year, one of which was a response to the question I posed to her:
"What the hell am I to make of all this ?"
To which she responded - "that life is beautiful, but painful".
I am inclined to agree.
And to the next great pearl of wisdom, which I intend to exercise in 2018 - "What I Practice I Become"
My road trip was a great way to cap off a year of extraordinary highs and lows, of change, of self-awareness and overcoming a whole bunch of mental obstacles along the way.
I am grateful that our customers have supported this business throughout the year and my hope is that all these experiences will somehow filter into making better products and having a better perspective on what makes for a bow tie or tie that you fall in love with, something which hits you on a personal level. That's my hope anyway. That in 2018 we create some great silks and that I go back to work with a relish and zest inspired by the year that just passed.
What a year. I hope yours was equally as interesting and I look forward to serving you in the new year. I depart for Como, Italy on the 7th January to source new fabrics, meet new contacts and it will be my first time seeing Como in winter.
Again, thank you, see you in 2018.