Dreaming of Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup

Sat 5th, May, 2012

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(all pics are iphone hence quality)

G’day Beach Cottage ladies, how the devil are you?  I have some iphoneography for us all this lovely morning !

So I am sitting on the ferry the other day on the way into the city…the sun was shining it was about 24C (that means it’s cooler for us), the sky was that lovely shade of blue blue Aussie Autumn that you can’t quite explain and the sea air was in my hair.  I went to my normal spot at the front on the top deck with the tourists, because I still very much consider myself to be a guest in this country they call the Lucky Country and still have to pinch myself, that yes indeedy, I do have the papers to claim myself as an Australian and that yes indeedy this lifestyle is now all mine.

Rides on the fronts of ferries, under the sun, over the sea to the city is exactly when I realise we made it here, we are living our dream.

Anyway, so, I am sitting there in the corner, out of the wind and rather than get out a notebook, check my emails or Instagram the heck out of the ferry, I decided I would just sit and ponder…I watched as we passed the seafront properties and smiled at the tourists jumping up, down, up down, smiling, laughing and taking photos.

And alongside me came an old lady, she carefully sat down on the seat opposite me…I smiled and said G’day.  I liked her hair.  It was foofed to within an inch of its life. She had bright red lips.

She said hello back and that was that.

And we both sat there, looking and observing on this perfect Sydney day with a sea breeze.

About halfway through the journey her newspaper dropped off of the seat onto the floor and as the ferry tipped it flew down under my seat, I leant down, picked it up, handed it back and smiled and asked her

“Off anywhere nice today?” assuming that she was from my side of Sydney and like me off into the city, meeting someone for lunch, doing a spot of shopping or just having a ride on the ferry for fun.

She looked at me without answering, and rummaged in her bag for a bit – a lovely old lady’s handbag, with a handle, you know the one’s I mean?

And pulled out a can of soup.

“Oh no, I am on my home” she said “I have been to sit on the beach and buy this soup this morning”

“Oh right” said I, noticing that it was a can of Heinz soup, that you can buy just about anywhere, I am wondering at this point the significance of the soup.  I was about to find out.

We got chatting.

And it turns out this old lady, who I am guessing by her make-up, the style of her hair and her story was about 80.  A sprightly 80 though I tell you.

So this lady started to tell me all about her life in Sydney, how she had lived in the city suburbs of Sydney all her life, her parents were dirt poor and lived in a tiny cottage in one of the suburbs that has now been oh-so-gentrified by the up and coming well-healed middle class…her father worked any job he could, but mostly on the water and her mother scrubbed floors.

When she got married as a very young girl to the ‘best looking guy in the street’ she didn’t move out of that home to a place of their own, no money…she had not long left school and went to work in a biscuit factory…all day long she packed biscuits.  She told me about the smell, how she travelled to work everyday by foot and by bus, a long journey and she always knew when she was getting there because the awful smell of the factory would hit her nostrils and she would grimace at another day to be shut inside in that air.

She knew a whole lot about biscuits and packing them.  She worked there for most of her life.

I was still waiting and wondering about the can of soup.



Well she said, looking out to sea, my old dad would take us over to the beaches sometimes, when we had enough money for the ferry and my mum would pack up a whole day’s worth of food and broken biscuits and we would set off for the beach as if it was another world.

“I loved those visits to the beach” she said.

She told me how when she was packing biscuits all day long, tired and weary, she would think of other things to make her happy, she would dream of the beach, over the other side of Sydney, the ferry that got her there and how one day she would be able to go to the beach whenever she wanted.  When she didn’t have to pack biscuits anymore.

She dreamt of living near the beach, in a house where the windows opened and the fresh air came in, where the factory was a long distant memory.

….her voice trailed off and she looked away…

‘I never did get to live over here and my life just seemed to just go in different ways…and so when my husband died I decided I would get my dream….I would ride the ferry a couple of times a week, I would smell the sea air, listen to the ferry horn, watch the people, sit down by the sea for a few hours, and on the way home I would buy soup’

“Chicken and sweetcorn soup, because now I have enough money to buy chicken and sweetcorn soup…in a can…with a label”

She smiled and by then we had pulled into Circular Quay…we had reached our destination, the tourists were clambering to get off, she popped her soup back in her bag, picked up her newspaper, and got up…as she walked by she tapped me on the knee and said

“Never forget your dreams”

And off she went with her lipstick , the hair and the chicken and sweetcorn soup.

On the way home on the ferry, in the same spot, only this time going backwards….I love sitting there, as the ferry pulls away, the tourists gasp, the Harbour Bridge is huge, the Opera House blinks in the sun and as you pull away it all starts to fade…

And I sat there, thinking about life and stuff and that actually pulling away from the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, well it wasn’t chicken and sweetcorn soup but this was pretty good.

See you next time, meal plan tomorrow…and we have a birthday in Beach Cottage Land.

Tell me, what are your dreams, do they involve Chicken & Sweetcorn soup?




more daily pics from the beaches here 

want to see what Barley’s up to?  go here for Barley’s puppy fanpage!  Barley Fan Page





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27 Responses to “Dreaming of Chicken & Sweetcorn Soup”

  1. Sarah says:

    What a beautiful story. I expect that dear lady’s day was brightened up by having you listen to her story. It just goes to show that the simple things in life are often the best.
    I’m afraid my dreams do not involve chicken and corn soup. My biggest dream would be have a small plot of land with my hubbie in an idyllic location where I can have a proper veggie garden and chickens. Just a humble, but quaint abode and plenty of sunshine.

  2. Nicole W says:

    That story brought a tear to my eye.. Bless that woman’s heart, thanks for posting Sarah x

  3. Sarah-Jane says:

    Finding joy in the simple things makes life a whole lot easier to enjoy!!

  4. neen says:

    Life is about people isn’t it. I was reminded of “people” at a friends’ dads’ funeral yesterday. That one smile or kind word goes a long,long way in someones day. What a lovely dream to have….the sea and a can with a label. My dream was to see my house finished, until this moment now when the tears spill down my cheeks and I think ……actually, my dream is to have family around at each and every moment.

  5. Susan says:

    Oh, life… it means something different to everybody doesn’t it Sarah? What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. When we think we have it tough, or something seems so difficult, we are reminded of just how difficult others have it and how simple life is and how we can easily complicate it. Bless that sweet, red lipstick wearing lady’s heart.
    Love the new decor to your blog…and of course that cute Barley!
    Have a great weekend!

  6. Deanne says:

    Lovely story, it’s the simple things in life that make it worthwhile!

  7. Oh, the photos are lovely (crazy that you got them with your phone) but that story just did me in. Why do we all spend our time running, running, running and then wait finally to ride the ferry and have our favourite soup?:

  8. krissie says:

    I adored those ferries when I was in syd in feb this yr… they were something v special and circular quay is magnificent. I am one of those that gasped when I saw the bridge and the opera house… doesnt get better than that! ( well home here in perth is pretty nice too!)
    btw have you been to Nutcoate yet? the home of May gibbs – one ferry ride away from you! its a lovely place so peaceful and gorgeous by the water there and you can see the bridge form her house too. She was the author of the gumnut babies.

  9. she would have loved having you listen to her. I saw a great quote today “don’t let your dreams be dreams”….
    have a lovely weekend. hope you had a good walk this afternoon (re instagram). I’m just back from a 5km run.
    cheers Fiona

  10. Selby says:

    Feeling a bit homesick today. Dreaming of the sea n sunshine up at home.

    Had pumpkin soup today, from a tin, with a label & now it seems more special after your story:)

  11. Kim says:

    Wow, that brought a tear to my eye. What an inspiring lady! My 87 yr old nan lives with me, and loves getting to the beach too. Fortunately for us it’s only a 10 min drive away from Manly :)

  12. Lis says:

    What a beautiful story! I’m following my dreams although things aren’t going exactly as I planned I will get there in the end. My menu plan for this week funnily enough involves chicken and sweet corn soup,

  13. Sarah says:

    That’s such a wonderful story Sarah. I had a tear in my eye at the end of it! She followed her dream as you have. I find with having my blog my camera is a constant companion, which is great because I notice more things around me, but as your story illustrates you can also miss out on things by just looking around. We recently got up to watch the sun rise over the sea and I forgot the camera! but I was able to watch the whole impact of the sunrise by just sitting there and watching it without any distractions.
    Sarah x

  14. Kris says:

    Beautiful Sarah …. “DREAM – BELIEVE – CREATE”…… Thank you for sharing this truly inspirational story xx

  15. Colleen says:

    Such an inspiring, beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. Dorothy says:

    Hello Sarah, lovely story.
    Your new life in Australia sounds like a dream and change is always good! I’m going home today (I’ve been house-sitting for my daughter) and I’ve enjoyed the change of scenery. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog (especially about your little dog – I have a miniature Yorkie) … I don’t have internet at home, but I’ll be back in the summer!

  17. Sarah Caron says:

    What a beautiful story and how wonderful that you heard it. One of my biggest life dreams is to life by the beach all year round. We’ll get there … hopefully sooner than later.

  18. Erin says:

    When I had the pleasure of visiting Sydney about 9 years ago, my friends and I caught the Manly ferry on a beautiful sunny June day. I was one of those tourist with her mouth gaping just soaking it all up. Back then a return ticket was less that $10 and I swear it was one of the most memorable trips I have ever taken. I love that you struck up a conversation with that dear lady and I am so happy that you shared it with all of us.

  19. Candice says:

    Crying a river here .This dear lady’s story wow . “Never forget your dreams” … Made a promise to myself right then as I read her story . Thank You .
    This lady has made me feel so lucky , I was forget how damm lucky I am as when I lay my head on my pillow I can smell the sea and hear the waves crashing on the beach every night . I walk less than 900mtrs and I am walking on the beach .It roars some nights , tonight is a huge high tide with the super moon , tide in right to the sand dunes cold air but no winds and you could see the sea mist waiting to move in to land . Waves are just barrels and silver topped just magic . Thank You Sarah . I need a tissue …bye

  20. Christy says:

    Well now I”m all teary and need a tissue! What a precious story you got to hear simply by taking the time to listen. :) Such a good reminder to me to stop and take a look around me once in a while. You never know what you might be missing!

  21. A good reminder to be still sometimes and leave the gadgets in the bag and just BE for a bit. You never know what wisdom is waiting for you to still your heart and mind so it can charm you.

    My dream is to live a life that makes a difference in the lives of others. To leave a legacy of love and joy. My dream is that when people remember me, or reflect on my life, they feel that their life was better because they knew me. Lofty, vague, and self important, huh? Yeah, probably all of those things. I have a lot of work to do! Better get crackin’.

    Thanks for letting me share that, Sarah. Feels good to get it off my chest.

    Also, that last photo looks like heaven to me.
    xo, Jen

  22. What a beautiful story, Sarah. You told it so very well. Just the fact that that sweet old woman took the time to explain her life, her loves, and her wants to you – should remind all of us to follow our dreams. To be willing to open up to others and share our life with them…because you never know what kind of influence it may have. Kind of like blogging is all about, wouldn’t you say? :) What a special day…for both of you. ♥

    xoxo laurie

  23. Julz says:

    Thank you for reminding us all that no matter what our age we can stil live our dreams! Like Laurie it is important to share our dreams with others to inspire!

  24. Liz says:

    Oh, Sarah, good for you. Just think if you hadn’t bothered to ask her if she was “off to anywhere nice today” you would have never gotten such a moment and such a wonderful story. It’s good to put down the phone and pay attention to why we are actually here, isn’t it? I’m sure you made her day allowing her the opportunity to share something important about herself.

    I missed your post yesterday because I was busy making a video for my blog so now I need to go back and read all about Barley. One again your images just capture something wonderful. Keep at your dreams!

  25. Sarah-
    I’m sitting in my kitchen on the beaches, glass of wine in hand after a birthday in our place here today, and the tears are rolling down my face…
    The wisdom of an old woman- who followed through- who rides the ferry and has made as much of that dream of hers her life as possible…
    You were blessed with her wisdom…

    Melissa x

  26. alison says:

    Great tear jerker story. Thanks Sarah.

    I’m in the middle of working out my dreams as I have made some dramatic life changes in the last year. (Keeping people amused at the same time I suppose!) I am no less happy spending and living on a lot less money. I’ve just started reading an Australian novel by June Loves called “The Shelly Beach Writers’ Club” which is about a 50 year old woman getting her life back on track. So far it’s an easy entertaining read.

    Today Mr alison and I had lunch at a slightly pricey restaurant to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The type of restaurant where they put the linen napkins on your lap and keep checking that everything is ok. The meals look like dots on the plate…but…the quality and taste is superb along with the side dishes. What a sheer joy to feel satiated on beautiful food. Total bliss. I thanked our waiter Al personally but I’m going to send him a follow-up thank you note. He made my day along with the food.


  27. levitra says:

    the pictures are beautiful) so blue… I wish we could have this kind of blue here… it hardly resembles even )