Yesterday I had one of those 'Isn't Sydney beautiful?' days. We took the dotee to Manly via the train and ferry.
The return ferry trip to Manly has to be one of the best value tourist excursions in existence. On second thoughts, the Star Ferry in Hong Kong Harbour, and the Staten Island ferry in New York are equally wonderful. They're all trips where for the price of local transportation you have breath-taking views of tourist icons.
My son-in-law and I are wimps when it comes to cold(ish) water and cool breezes, so we didn't actually go swimming, but we did all the other things you do at Manly - walked along the beach-side promenade,
played in the sand and became horrified by how it sticks to everything (both the dotee and myself), chased seagulls (the dotee alone), and ate fish and chips followed by ice-creams.
For me, Manly has rich associations of my Auntie Mollie, who for more than 45 years spent two weeks each year in Manly for her summer holidays - many of them in the same guesthouse where she built up a repertoire of summer acquaintances. She lived in the country, and like many country people of her generation (she would be almost 100 if she were still alive) viewed Manly as the ideal place for a holiday. I can't imagine she ever swam, but she got 'dressed up' each day, ate her guesthouse meals, drank copious cups of tea, chatted to fellow residents and lingering strangers and took a promenade each afternoon. Manly also had the virtue of being close to the city, where she could 'do the shops' and 'go to the pictures'. I used to visit her during her stays, and even twenty-five years ago it seemed like a glimpse of a lost way of life.
There are some remnants of this era when Manly was known to be 'seven miles from Sydney and a thousand miles from care' in the architecture of the houses and older flats, and in the art deco lines of the ferry terminal.
My Auntie Mollie, by the way, is commemorated in my family for her recipes for pavlova and Christmas brandy sauce. I'm happy to pass these on if anyone is interested.