The many moods of the sky

By my desk I have a copy of the Bureau of Meterology’s Weather Calendar. The picture for March features “cloud streets”. I’ve never seen those long parallel lines, but did see one cloud highway from the balcony.

Cloud street over Coogee

What a lifetime of joy the sky provides. Sunsets, sunrises, the sun, the moon and the stars – and a zillion unanswered questions about the galaxies far out of sight.

At dusk the clouds can form a barrier on the horizon:

Jagged clouds on horizon

Sometimes there’s a balmy rainbow:

Rainbow over misty sea

Sunsets are so routinely beautiful that we risk taking them for granted:

Balcony plants with sunset

So let’s hear it for the sky – up there, ever changing, infinite in its variety, and always ready to offer a new look at existence.


March 2021


I watched a big truck reverse into the driveway with six inches to spare on each side. A hi-vis, gauntleted driver clambered down, connected chains from the crane and manoeuvred the heavy skip to the top of the load. In two minutes the crane was retracted. The driver climbed back up to the cab, half-turned, and waved to me with a smile and an unmistakable look of triumph. Then she closed the door and drove away.

William G. Allaway


A stunning autumn afternoon with deep blue above, uninterrupted by a speck of cloud. The balcony sits astride the garage from where I can watch the Harbour Bridge. Can’t see any climbers today – must be Covid-closed.

A Welsh accent from the labourer on the building next door. Hard-wired memory goes into overdrive. Cardiff Arms Park. Rugby. Men of Harlech! Land of my Fathers. Long place names beginning with Llan.

He comes from Newport, so not a real Welshman but a borderer.

Consciousness still streams away. How Green was my Valley. Sons of miners studying hard to escape the mine trap into which dad and forbears had fallen. End up like Taffy Jenkins teaching Latin to unresponsive cockney schoolboys. Taffy Jenkins who tried to break my nose teaching us rugby.

Under Milk Wood: “No good boyo gave me two pennies, mam, but I wouldn’t!” I like the sound of Polly Garter. Wonder what she looked like.

Singsong voices in the valleys. Ratna from Calcutta spent her first week in the Swansea in misery – thought everyone was parodying her accent.

Ancient enmity. Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house and stole a leg of beef. I went to Taffy’s house, Taffy wasn’t there…So I took him by the left leg and threw him down the stair. No, the last bit can’t be right. Faulty memory in my hard disk.

Called in for afternoon tea. Welsh Rarebit. Yum, yum.



Looking over the railing and other observations

Our apartment is on the top floor of a three storey building that doesn’t have a lift. Our enforced exercise regime includes (i.e. consists solely of) climbing down and up the stairs a couple of times, several times a day.

On the balcony, enforced internment has allowed us to dig over, fertilise and tidy up the plant pots. We don’t have much left to do in that department. So we’re spending more time in a time-hallowed pursuit – looking into the back gardens of the houses on the other side of our back lane. We hadn’t appreciated how interesting this could be. What adds spice to the pastime is the fact that most of the houses are rented so there is an irregular turnover of dramatis personae to keep up the interest level.

In the house on our extreme right is a young family. At least the children appear to be young. Can’t tell how old the parents are. P., who is given to communicating, called out to the mother the other day who responded warmly but then said she had to get back to her work-from-the-home. It seemed she was telling the truth and not just trying to shake off unwelcome overtures. After all, she wouldn’t know who we might have been.

Next to her seems to be rented out on short term leases. Oh the horror of Air BnB! For a time, it was occupied by two young women who wore short clothes (it was quite warm still at that stage) and lay out in the sun reading. Occasionally they’d roll out those thin foam mats and go into an exercise routine accompanied by loud music. And not the Waldstein either. Seeing that this was daylight hours, it was hard to object. In any case, after three weeks or so, they moved on. That was two weeks ago. We’re waiting with bated breath to see who moves in next.

The next two houses are definitely Air BnB. One hasn’t had tenants for a while but the next one staged a very loud dinner party the other night that went on until very late. There appeared to be at least 10 people crammed into the back garden. Too much for P. who, employing a different communication style, at about 11.00 p.m. leaned over our railing and threatened to call the police. – a hollow threat because we don’t know the houses’ street numbers since we only see the backs of them.

In response we were told to get lost and that everybody there lived in the house (very small) so a large gathering wasn’t against the isolation rules. I didn’t have the presence of mind to say “Yes. And I’m the pope’s grandmother.” Only three people have appeared in the house in the succeeding days. An inventive young man told P. to “Turn off your hearing aid.” But obviously, the threat of calling the police was effective since the assembly went inside and closed the back doors. Eminently satisfactory for us. The noise subsided and the partygoers increased their risk of a lethal infection several fold.

The last is a wicked thought, almost on a par with stripping supermarket shelves of toilet paper, pasta or face masks. Speaking of which, there are signs normality is returning. A couple of days ago, face masks and hand sanitiser were freely on sale at normal prices at our local hardware shop and P., cautiously shopping yesterday, bought a large pack of toilet rolls, enough, she calculates, to last us through to July, by which time things might have improved or, more likely, become a lot worse. We wait.