I moved from Berlin to Paddington in January 2019. The plan was to live here for two years, but then COVID hit and turned the world upside down — so we’re still here! We are very grateful to have spent the pandemic years living in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. During lockdown, when we were unable to leave our 5km radius, I often thought we live in the best 5km radius in the world!
Three words that describe what it’s like to live in the eastern suburbs?
Community. Beautiful. Beach.
How many children?
We have one son, Nicolas, who’s 10 years old. Nic goes to Glenmore Road Public School here in Paddington. He loves the Australian outdoor lifestyle — going to the beach, Little Athletics at E.S. Marks, playing Oz Tag at Queens Park, soccer for Sydney Easts and tennis at Trumper Park.
There are lots of fabulous parks around the eastern suburbs and we are blessed to have Centennial Park on our doorstep, but it’s probably the small park opposite our house that we love the most: the Royal Hospital for Women Park. During lockdown it was a godsend — our son Nic could duck in and out of the house as he wanted and play with his best mates. The park also has a perfectly fine gravel surface where we can play boules just like in southern France — where my mother’s family comes from. We love catching up with friends at the end of the week for an apéro and a round of boules.
My favourite beach is Shark Beach at Nielsen Park. I love walking the Hermitage Trail and then jump into the water at Nielsen or spend the day there — in the shade of the rocks reading a good book while the Manly and Watsons Bay ferries pass by. It’s a perfect spot for sundowners too. Plus, it’s less hectic to find a park than North Bondi. But we always have big discussions in our family whether we’re going to Bondi or Nielsen. Do we want a surf or a harbour swim? What’s the wind direction? We usually let the weather decide for us, and that’s the best thing about beaches in the east, there’s always a good option.
Favourite kid friendly cafe:
In Berlin, where we used to live before Sydney, I definitely had my favourite kid friendly café. But here in Sydney, I don’t. Maybe because our son is older?!
Favourite Coffee Spot:
My favourite cafés here in Paddington are Kokett and Omeio. After picking up books at Paddington library I love popping by Kokett, a small cafe in a beautiful hidden backyard behind the Swedish shop Funkis. Their coffee is probably the best in Paddington — and paired with a Swedish Kanelbullar — bliss! My other favourite coffee place is Omeio. I love the simplicity of the milk crates in front of this Greek deli. Nico and his team are wonderful. Plus Omeio is right next to the St Cloche art gallery — so sitting on their porch is always fun, inspiring and uplifting!
Favourite date night place:
We haven’t had much date nights since COVID hit… but a wonderful place to go for early drinks or dinner is Tequila Mockingbird. They make the best cocktails in town and I love their starters, which are fabulous (especially the fish tacos!) — plus it’s great fun sitting on their small veranda people watching at Five Ways on a weekend night.
Where in the east have you yet to explore and would like to ?
My husband and my son built a beautiful wooden boat during isolation (https://medium.com/@fieldreports/what-i-learnt-from-building-a-wooden-boat-during-lockdown-12436db2b929). We have extensively explored Sydney Harbour with this boat and it’s great to get a whole new perspective from the water — but what I would love to do is take a picnic and explore Shark Island for a day trip and I would also love to go sailing on Sydney Harbour – maybe with a crew for a twilight regatta. My son learned to sail at Rose Bay with the Woollahra Sailing Club and I’ve always been a bit jealous.
What would you like to see improve in the eastern suburbs?
As we are coming from Berlin, we’re big bike fans and we would love to see more bikes and bike lanes around the Eastern suburbs. I don’t feel very comfortable (and safe!) cycling around my neighbourhood on a bike.
The other thing I would love to see is a skate park in Rushcutters Bay. My son Nic gave a speech in his class about the need for a skate park close by — it’s sad that there’s no skate park in Woollhara, and only one in Bondi Beach.
Favourite Local Shop:
I’ve made a conscious choice in the last couple of years to buy significantly less. So apart from groceries, I try not to buy much these days. But I do love the local flower shop Bess, I always marvel at their beautiful native flowers. And walking past Loveduck at Five Ways is always a visual colourful treat. And I recently discovered Tanora, a fabulous little store in Queens Street Woollahra selling beautiful raffia designed hats, bags and rugs from Madagascar. Manon and Guillaume who run the shop, are so friendly and welcoming — it makes you smile!
Favourite wet weather location:
The Hermitage Walk from Rose Bay to Nielsen Park is my absolute favourite walk in Sydney. During the first COVID lockdown it became an almost daily walk and our sanity lifeline! It’s also a perfect spot on a rainy day — as you basically get the trail to yourself. Off the rocks at Milk Beach I discovered lots of sea glass at low tide. Every time we go, I now harvest sea glass — at least 5kg each time — all shades of white, brown and green. I’ve created a beautiful fish sculpture out of wire and sea glass (https://www.instagram.com/p/CRdhWdtBZrd/) and it was selected for the Sawmillers Sculpture Award and exhibition which runs from February 18 – 27 at Sawmillers Reserve. https://www.sculptureatsawmillers.com/
Favourite Local family Weekend Activity?
Coming from landlocked Berlin, living in such close proximity of the sea is a tremendous gift. A good weekend has to include a swim — so even throughout winter we went swimming very regularly. I found Parsely Bay perfect during the winter as it’s netted and the afternoon sun gently warms the eastern side of the bay when the sun sets. I normally hate cold water, but maybe it was this strange COVID year that triggered new habits. I loved this tingling sensation of the cold water and jumping back into a hot shower back home. And a wet suit definitely helps, I’m thinking of buying a longer and thicker wetsuit for next season – it’ll also be a good investment for swimming in the Baltic Sea back in Germany 🙂
Work or SAHM?
I work remotely for DW Akademie – the journalism training and media division of Deutsche Welle – Germany’s International broadcaster where I am currently leading an exciting crisis podcast project. The aim of the project is to train and coach media houses in Africa to develop, produce and distribute crisis podcasts. I’m very lucky to work with a great team scattered all over the planet in Cologne & Berlin, London, southern France, Cape Town, Nairobi, Ouagadougou, Lilongwe, Sweden & Sydney. And I’ve also got a passion for the arts and community projects. During lockdown I launched #paddolockdownart (https://www.instagram.com/paddounlockedart/), a community art initiative encouraging local Paddo residents to be creative in lockdown. I started by asking the local pharmacy at Five Ways that had just relocated if we could use their empty shop windows to display local childrens’ art. Soon our local pizzeria, law firm, architecture office, café, sushi restaurant and pubs all enthusiastically joined in and generously shared their shop front windows. After only a few weeks, works of art by primary school students, art teachers and local artists were hanging in over 30 local businesses. Young and old were thrilled to see their works displayed around Paddington. And it was like a small miracle: every morning I found new messages in my mailbox from people wanting to join in. Who would have thought that I’d get to know more people from my neighbourhood in these lockdown winter weeks than in my entire time in Sydney?
I am personally not a big fan of giving others motherly advice 🙂 but if I have to I’d say: make time and space for creativity and art with your kids!