Can I do it all over again, please?

I’m pretty sure I am officially the most spoilt person to turn 40 last Thursday.  It’s almost certain.  And whilst I am usually quite good at keeping on topic with my gardening blog, perhaps you will let me re-live a very special 72 hours and indulge me just this once.

Cessna 208 Caravan Seaplane at Rosebay, Sydney. Janna Schreier

Cessna 208 Caravan seaplane at Rosebay, Sydney

My birthday started, after numerous delightful phone calls, messages and a flower delivery, with a trip of a lifetime in a seaplane.

Sydney Seaplane Pilot. Janna Schreier

Should I be worried that the pilot is wearing shorts and a baseball cap? Na, probably not, this is Stra-ya, after all

I’m not a great ‘flyer’ but ever since we moved to Sydney I have gazed with longing at the seaplanes over the harbour.  Today was the big day I got to go up in one.

Co-pilot Janna Schreier

Co-pilot Janna

And not just go up in one, but co-pilot one.

Co-piloting was quite a responsible job.  I had to sit up at the front with the pilot, take hundreds of photos out of the window and avoid leaning on the controls too often.  But I was up for the challenge!

Sydney Harbour Bridge from the air. Janna Schreier

Just cruising past the Harbour Bridge, as you do

It was quite a cloudy day, but visibility was still good and as we took off I was on a huge high.  I don’t know why, but somehow it wasn’t in the slightest bit scary.  It was just the biggest thrill in the world.

Sydney boats and beaches. Janna Schreier

Boats at Newport; beaches on the ocean side of the peninsula

Sydney on a cloudy day is not the same as Sydney on a sunny day.  It didn’t detract from my trip but it’s hard to show the true beauty of the city in photos.  However, this shot above, of boats and beaches, harbour and ocean, filled in between with Eucalyptus and Ficus trees is just so Sydney.  So stunning.

Palm Beach from the air. Janna Schreier

Palm Beach surf (and a bit of propeller). The land of Home and Away!

We landed at Palm beach to drop off two other couples, and then pilot, co-pilot and husband carried on their way to the Central Coast.

Bag carrying husband at Hardy's Bay. Janna Schreier

Good looking, bag carrying husband at Hardys Bay

It was the most decadent experience I have ever had.  By now in our personal aircraft, we came in to land in the waters of Hardys Bay, where upon a bright blue water taxi pulled up alongside the seaplane.  Our bags were transferred over and on we stepped, for the two minute ride to the wharf.

Entrance to our room at Bells of Killcare. Janna Schreier

The entrance to our room at Bells

Here, a man from our hotel picked us up and drove us to the door of the room where we would stay that night.

Bells of Killcare. Janna Schreier

Stunning gardens at Bells of Killcare

The gardens at Bells took my breath away.  They were quite unusual in many ways, and I had an ah-ha moment working out why they worked so well.  A whole blog post is in progress on the gardens.

Maitland Beach, Central Coast. Janna Schreier

Rustic, beautiful Maitland Beach

We had a delicious meal that evening and the following morning went down for a walk through the bush to Maitland Beach.  Oh, so many photos to show you of this walk……another blog post coming up soon!

It was my birthday again that day.  Paul had foolishly pointed out that due to the 11 hour time difference with the UK, in fact I wasn’t 40 until 6 February here, so I could claim birthday privileges all over again.

The simple life at Hardy's Bay. Janna Schreier

The simple life at Hardys Bay

Our journey back was the same in reverse.  As we approached the wharf a man rowed past in a beautiful, simple, wooden rowing boat. A father was fishing with his young son nearby.  I had this moment of longing for a simple, rural life.  But then I realised that it was hard to travel by seaplane too often, living the simple life.  Oh, the conflict.

Paul checking his emails at the airport. Janna Schreier

Paul checking his emails at the airport

As we watched our seaplane come in over the hills, I really felt this was the only way to travel (if only!).  It certainly beat fighting my way through Heathrow two hours before the plane was due to depart.

De Havilland Beaver seaplane. Janna Schreier

De Havilland Beaver seaplane arriving to take us home

On the way back a 1961 De Havilland Beaver came to pick us up. None of this $2m Cessna luxury this time.  I was really wishing he hadn’t told me the plane was older than I was (which by now, was pretty old; I had ticked over the 40 mark by every definition) before we left, but actually I felt entirely safe.  I was co-piloting again, after all!

Throttle back. Janna Schreier

Throttle forward and off we go…

It was wonderful that the sun was out today and the water looked bluer than ever.

Saying goodbye to the peaceful Central Coast. Janna Schreier

Saying goodbye to the untouched Central Coast

We waved goodbye to the peaceful Central Coast and started another exciting journey back to the city.  We were very lucky that by chance, we were the only ones on the plane again.

Palm Beach by air. Janna Schreier

Palm Beach by air

Palm Beach looked stunning with the surf and sand and green, green hinterland.

View from the top of the Northern Beaches to the City. Janna Schreier

View from the top of the Northern Beaches to the city

We got an amazing view right the way down the northern beaches; pockets of sand in every bay, with the city skyline on the horizon.

Looking out to the ocean on our left. Janna Schreier

Looking out to the ocean on our left

And to our left, just the blue, blue ocean stretching out to, well, next stop Hawaii.

Manly and the CBD. Janna Schreier

Manly and the CBD

If you have been to Sydney, you will almost certainly have visited Manly.  Here it is from a slightly different angle.  The beach on one side, the harbour on the other and beyond it, you can see the city, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, if you look closely on the left.

North Head, Sydney. Janna Schreier

North Head, the entrance to Sydney harbour

As we approached North Head, at the entrance to Sydney Harbour, I was sad that I knew we were nearly home. But a bit of sweet talking and No.1 pilot said that we could do another loop of the Opera House and bridge.

Oh look, the Sydney Opera House. Janna Schreier

Oh look, the Sydney Opera House

It was another of those pinch-myself Sydney moments as we looked out over the city in our little private plane.

Sydney Harbour by air. Janna Schreier

The beautiful Sydney Botanic Gardens laid out in front of the city

I was so sad that it was over, but my darling husband had also planned a party for me the following day, so there was still much to look forward to.

Friends in our garden. Janna Schreier

Friends in our garden for my birthday party.  Some that I have known since I was 12, some that welcomed me to Sydney with open arms as brand new friends just 18 months ago

We had about 50 friends to our house.  The sun shone and it was such a lovely feeling to be surrounding by my very favourite people, milling around in our garden. I can also thoroughly recommend to anyone born in the Northern Hemisphere in February, that they look to move south, quick smart.  Birthdays dramatically improve on the other side of the world.

April Maze. In our kitchen! Janna Schreier

April Maze. I always want to call them ‘Amazing something-or-other’ as they just are. Also amazing that they are standing in our kitchen

April Maze, an outstanding, Top 100 Spotify band came to play a concert, in our kitchen.  Truly surreal.  They are the most lovely couple and everyone adored them.  In fact some of my friends liked them so much they have since bought tickets to see them again tomorrow evening in Canberra on the first night of their new tour.  An incredibly talented couple, who fortunately love to do house concerts.

April Maze concert at our house! Janna Schreier

April Maze concert at our house, spilling out through the bifold doors into the garden!

I really did feel like the luckiest person in the world.  Wonderful friends who have welcomed me to this wonderful country, which I have entirely fallen in love with.  I live in (arguably) the most stunning city in the world and life is very different to when I turned 30, with my single, corporate (although at the time, exciting) life.

I’d like to turn 40 every day please.  But if that’s not possible, frankly, everyday life as a garden designer in Sydney is pretty amazingly special.  Happy, lucky, lucky me.

Do you think I like gardening? Janna Schreier

My friends seem to think I like gardening and plants. I received some gorgeous and very generous gifts

11 thoughts on “Can I do it all over again, please?

    • jannaschreier says:

      At least I realise how spoilt I was! Not usual birthday activities for me – this was a very big milestone. Hope you enjoyed the photos though (I am on a campaign for non-Sydneysiders to come visit!) and I think you will enjoy the Bells gardens.

  1. Suzanne says:

    Many happy returns of your birthday Janna. Yes you are spoilt (but hey, why not?) and yes stra-ya is a pretty amazing place. And congratulations on your morphing into a full-blown, patriotic Aussie!

  2. Louise Dutton says:

    Welcome to the 40’s! Happy birthday! Fancy that Bells……I just visited Bells for an anniversary dinner in January! I wished I could have looked around the garden. Look forward to the photos and blog soon.

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thanks so much, Louise! What a coincidence that you have just been there too. For me, it was the best birthday gift imaginable. I’m not one for shoes and handbags, but memorable experiences are just wonderful!

  3. Becca says:

    Great photos Janna – you were obviously an excellent co-pilot! I’m intrigued too by having your own concert in your house – fantastic!

    • jannaschreier says:

      Thanks, Becca. It was a bit unusual, although this duo do it all the time. We saw them at a small tennis club concert and loved them. As we had a good excuse to celebrate, we have a good layout at our house to make it work and it wasn’t prohibitively expensive, we thought, why not do something outrageous!

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