Sunday, February 17, 2008


You’d like to know my favourite place – I can’t tell you one. For me, its places. And times. They are linked somehow, to make a place a favourite. Some of them are geographically impossible to locate. I could not take you to them and say ‘This is it’ – all I could do is say ‘Somewhere around here, on a special day, at a particular moment, when I was feeling this certain way, this was a favourite place of mine’. The ones I could take you too are fragile things too – who said they can’t be burned down or collapse? But all are very real, very precious to me. I’ll tell you about them.

Kings College Chapel, Cambridge, England. I stood in that soaring, beautiful, ethereal place, overcome by the history, by the light, by the fact that I was there. Pale stonework, impossibly light and floating.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France. I stood in front of the rose window, a page from my high school art book come to life. Stillness, hush, candles burning in a row. Tears running down my face. And I have not got one religious bone in my body.

Red Fox Inn, countryside, Ireland. Mist, light drizzling rain. Wet landscape, peat smoke, cocoa coloured whippets laying by a fireplace, a cup of rich coffee, well laced with whiskey in my cold hands, all of Ireland before me to explore.

The Globe Theatre, London, England. Standing for two and half hours, feet numb in the cold, the actors almost within hands reach, Shakespeare’s words, the sense of history overwhelming. The best, the most unforgettable, theatrical experience of my life.

Cable Beach Resort, Broome, West Australia. A real Kimberly moon reflected in to the black sea. Sitting on cushions on a wide expanse of lawn, a glass of red wine in my hand, the air warm and soft. The beautiful Latin music of Jane Rutter’s flute and Slava Giorgorian’s guitar enveloping me.

A hillside, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland. A freezing cold night, just having had a beautiful meal in a cosy restaurant, sharing a bottle of champagne whilst standing in the dark beside our friend’s luxurious Mercedes Benz, the car sound system playing an operatic tape. The whole of the Gold Coast stretched out before us, golden twinkling lights weaving a glorious lacy tracery, and the moon, full and pale, making the true postcard perfect path across the sea. Good, good friends to share this with.

French ‘palace’, hillside, Chau Doc, Vietnam. Late afternoon, standing with my son, who I had not seen for a year before this trip, and our lovely young Vietnamese guide, on the terrace of a ‘palace’, on a hillside outside the Mekong Delta township of Chau Doc. A red disk of sun, vivid wild red, through the grey clouds, and haze from the burning rice fields. As the sun fell like a stone to the horizon the sky was infused with a mystical golden light, turning to a luminous pink, which reflected onto the canals crisscrossing the lush green landscape. There are tigers in the hills here.

Outside Boulia, Queensland. Late afternoon, rushing to make Boulia which is almost on the Northern Territory border, before dark. Stopping at the top of a hill, standing in the soft gold light, the sun sending its last rays horizontally across the miles of miles of red and gold landscape stretched in front of us. Silvery grey low vegetation, absolute quietness, grey-mauve dry fluffy wildflowers at our feet. Unlimitless space.

The sky, Massey, Darling Downs, Queensland. Gliding in a thermal, round and round in the blue intoxicating air, surrounded by circling ibises – flying with the birds.

A certain spot on the road between Greenmount and Nobby, Darling Downs, Queensland. Every different time of the day, every different season, the colours of this magnificent valley are transformed. Every time it takes my breath away.

I could go on and on. I won’t. These are just a few of the places that I hold in my heart.

© Nelma Ward


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