From the Hall of Fame at the North Sydney Pool:

"The North Sydney Pool was, in its heyday, one of the most advanced olympic facilities in the world".

"It was designed by the architectural firm Rudder and Grout in a style of art deco that has been termed "stripped classical". A great deal of attention was paid to detailing: the choice of tiles, the polychromatic brick work, and the plaster decorations. The most obvious references to classical form were in the stylised column capitals and the original pool tiles, which evoked the Roman bath house."

[caption id="attachment_13539" align="aligncenter" width="1024"]the-pool-and-the-bridge The Bridge Towers Above[/caption]


Vacy is in the Dungog Shire, not far from Paterson in the Lower Hunter Valley. It's a 197 km drive north and then north-west from Sydney. Or you can catch the train to Maitland and be picked up by a family member from there. Country living is much cheaper than renting or buying in the city. This young family spent their first few years renting in picturesque Paterson. Then they decided to build a house in nearby Vacy. How to do it? All you need is a two-acre block of land in the bush. And a kit home ready to install. In this case, one with many bedrooms. Five children and a dog came along as well. Help from a live-in granny was essential, also. She has her own unit at one end of the building.

Italy: Fast Cars

Driving on the autostrada is a relief after Rome. Watch on the right, my partner says repeatedly, having been traumatised when the mirror on our rented manual Fiat Punta was flattened against a truck in Rome’s crowded streets. I'm the driver, having learnt to conduire à la droite in France, as a student there. Mark will prepare lots of fresh dishes, based on heavenly tomatoes, plucked straight from the fields. When we get to the outskirts of Siena, we ask for directions to our destination.

Tonni: an Etruscan Village

A rusty sign on a hedge, after winding roads and an unsealed gravelly stretch, marks the hamlet. First settled during the Etruscan era. Dogs, cats, a few children and a smiling woman with false teeth greet us. Several small cars are parked on the narrow gravel street, mediaeval buildings, the lot set in field and forest—oak, laurel, elms, conifers, and the ever-present cypress pines.