7 Days of Positive – Day 140: Keep it new

  I’m so happy to be back in Sydney. I feel like I’ve fallen in love with it all over again – despite the fact that it’s rained every day since I’ve been here. It doesn’t matter.

This is particularly precious as the last couple of times I was here – three and five years ago – I felt oddly displaced and weird.

It’s just really really peculiar going back somewhere you’ve lived and been very happy, when you don’t live there any more. You’re not a tourist and you’re not a local, it’s very disconcerting.

I feel like that in London sometimes, so to have the weirds in the two cities which have been my home and which I love the most is confusing and upsetting. Even though I always love seeing my adored friends here, being in Sydney, but not living here, makes me feel stateless.

I don’t feel like that this time though. I think it’s partly that it’s the longest break I’ve had from Australia since 1993, so it feels fresh again – but I think the bigger part of it is the new philosophy of travel I adopted a couple of years ago.

I have a rule: only go to new places.

This might mean an entirely new country – like Sweden, where I went for the first time last year (looooooved it) – or, more importantly, when visiting places you know well, don’t go to all your old haunts.

Going back to your favourite restaurant, where you used to have lunh practically every day, will only remind you that you don’t live there any more. And that will just remind you that you’re not that person any more. 

It’s a kind of death by nostalgia.

So on this trip so far I’ve had breakfast in two new places – John Montagu in Woolloomooloo and Gypsy in Potts Point, lunch at The Wine Library (with the world’s most handsome waiter) and dinner at Cho Cho Sam and Chiswick.

I’ve loved them all and rather than chasing the ghosts of my youthful days, I’ve added wonderful new experiences to the fabric of my memory – which I’m realising is even more important to keep doing as you get older.

As the years flash by, it’s all too easy to keep looking back and thinking things were better before. There’s nothing wrong with remembering happy times and feeling grateful you had them – and I’ve loved doing my favourite walk from Potts Point to the Opera House and strolling through my beloved Rushcutters Bay –  but it’s crucial to ration it a bit.

Don’t get all Proustian on yourself. Live now. Live new.

(Although I must confess there’s one old favourite I just couldn’t go past – I had to have a Tiger from Harry’s Cafe de Wheels…)


  • John
    May 3, 2015

    Welcome back to Sydney! Sorry the weather has been very un-Sydney, but hey what can you do.

    I agree with your philosophy of trying new things and experiences…death by nostalgia in travel is very real. I love going to the same places, but I always make sure to do new and different things each time. Keeps things fresh and makes me feel lucky to travel.

    Wish I could see you on the book tour, but alas work calls. I’m enjoying your new book though!

  • Wattleflatjane
    May 3, 2015

    It’s like listening to old music too much: drenching yourself in it can be beautiful but you need to temper it with good, healthy doses of Triple J or the like. Embracing the new helps to.maintain the raging against the dying light as we hurtle forth! Golly….

    But there’s NOTHING wrong with revisiting the perfection of a Harry’s Pie.

  • Sue
    May 3, 2015

    When is Secret Keeping going to be available in the UK? It’s not listed on major bookselling websites.

  • Lyn
    May 3, 2015

    I love those words Maggie – live now live new xx …… Hopefully you are in Sydney for a couple of more days as the weather is supposed to be on the turn – hope so xx

  • Mara Miller
    May 4, 2015

    Maggie, well put about that bittersweet reaction when returning to the settings of our previous lives. They’re never the same, I’ve found, and it’s us more than the place.
    Looking forward to going to your book launch on Thursday! (Melbs.)

  • Nat
    May 4, 2015

    I feel the same way about London and Sydney! living in Melbourne now – I know what you mean – always find new things to do! Looking forward to seeing you in Melbourne on Thursday night!

    May 4, 2015

    welcome back! We have FINALLY turned the rain machine off for you 😉 Isn;t the Wine Library ace? Maybe you’ll just have to move back 😉

  • Chrissie
    May 4, 2015

    Welcome back! I have a pic of myself wearing that exact same hat – but taken from the Kirribilli side. Enjoy the memory-making, the clouds must clear soon.

  • Zayin
    May 5, 2015

    This is so TRUE!

  • Bernadette
    May 5, 2015

    Dear Maggie, so happy u r discovering new Sydney delights. My heart gives a little start with each of your Sydney posts. Extra bonus, the big Scorpio full moon – were u lucky enough to see it rise over the water at Bondi? – always a magnificent sight. Sounds like the tour is going beautifully; congratulations. B

  • Julia Cahill
    May 10, 2015

    Dear Maggie

    I hope you had a wonderful time here in Australia. I loved this post, I feel the same when I go back to the UK now, definitely a different person three children later than I was when I left!

    I’m wondering if there is any chance of asking you for a brief comment on getting to know people through Twitter for an article I am planning to pitch to Sunday Life? I thought if I could kick it off with reference to you and Lauren Sams it would be a great introduction to something which seems to be becoming more and more common.

    Thanks, I look forward to hearing from you. And Happy Australian Mother’s Day!

    Very best wishes
    Julia Cahill

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