Thursday, 19 June 2014

A Day of Simple Pleasures

The day of simple pleasures started at 6:55 AM when my smartphone activated an alarm clock. One might wonder what can be pleasant about being woken up at 6:55 AM. The answer is: not having to get up; it was my time in lieu day and I simply forgot to switch off the alarm clock the night before. So, instead of bracing myself to enter the cold world of weekday mornings, I just muted the screaming phone and immediately fell asleep.

Another pleasure, when I finally got out of bed, was to take as much time as I wanted to finish breakfast. Arguably, this kind of indulgence is available on most weekends. That day, however, was special: on a Monday morning I was sitting on a backyard terrace, watching frolicking lorikeets and enjoying my morning tea, while my colleagues were attending scheduled meetings, driving company profits, doing other very important tasks...

It's remarkable how TIL days feel different from an annual leave. They are supposed to compensate an employee for overtime, when he is tired after weekend work and feels like having a day off, but usually, by the time one gets his TIL, that feeling passes, and it's not perceived as a compensation - it's more like a bonus.

It was a rare sunny day, I had no plans and just on a whim decided to go to Manly beach. The morning peak hour was over and I got there exactly in GPS-predicted 38 minutes. A stroll along the promenade to Shelly Beach was a kind of pastime that evoked vacation memories and made me feel like I had all the time in the world.

On the promenade a few things attracted my attention. One was a sign which threatened me with 6 months' imprisonment if I manhandled a water dragon. I suspiciously looked around and, to my relief, didn't notice any dragons in my epsilon-vicinity. I don't know if I could restrain myself from grabbing that cute and cuddly creature if I saw it on a cliff face.

I had also noticed a shop sign which initially enraged my inner grammar Nazi.

However, a closer inspection of the premises revealed solid legal grounds for such outrage, namely, an assorted range of T-shirts.

My next simple pleasure was a lunch in a cafe on a sea shore, with a sea view. Well, slightly obscured by araucarias, but still a sea view. The place was called MOO Gourmet Burgers. We came there 10 minutes before the kitchen opening, but were allowed to spend that time on a balcony, enjoying the view: powerful thundering surf, a lonely sail and distant surfers at Winki break wiggling their way between waves and rocks.

The burger I chose from the menu was pretty tall. Actually, I was never quite sure about how to approach such burgers. Holding it in a hand and biting alternatively the top, the bottom and the middle seemed fiddly and tiresome. Trying to squash the burger so that it could fit in the mouth was a sure way of squeezing the patty out and sending it across the cafe into someone's face. Using knife and fork... hmm, that didn't sound like the right way to treat a burger. Finally, I settled on splitting it into two halves - a healthy half with salad and tomato, and a man's half with beef and cheese - and nibbling at them in turns. That worked quite well and my peace of mind was restored.

I liked the cafe's moo-themed decor: kids' drawings of cows on the walls, logos on serviettes and cow spotted drinking straws. Moo was everywhere - they even had Moo beer from Moorilla Brewery in Tasmania. When I visited Moorilla last December, I was too preoccupied with wine tasting and didn't pay much attention to beer. That was a mistake since I discovered that one of the beer varieties produced there was my favourite Hefeweizen. Now I know the place where to taste it in Sydney, and I am going to visit that place when the ambient temperature calls for beer, not for whiskey.

When I returned home I felt like having afternoon tea, an intention which was immediately carried out to my complete satisfaction. Again, I was sitting on the terrace, drinking T2 Blue Mountain tea, burning an incense stick, watching plumes of smoke snaking in the wind, and squinting at the setting Sun, which ineffectually tried to blind me, but only succeeded in bathing my backyard in warm golden glow.

My last simple pleasure that day was making fire in the open fireplace, basking in its radiant heat and watching the dancing flames.

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