Pauline Conolly trying on hats in Sydney

Hat shopping is bearable….just


I detest buying clothes. It’s not that I don’t like to look nice, but it’s so time consuming and irritating. The older I get the more I dislike the whole business.

Anyway, I set off on a two day shopping trip to Sydney recently, staying the night on the North Shore  at Mosman.  The city is always always a shock after my quiet Blue Mountains nest, so first up I headed for the  sanctuary of the Mitchell Library.

There was a specific reason for my visit; controversy  over  ‘the powers that be’ removing all the books from the historic Reading Room. I hadn’t signed the protesters’ petition because it seemed too weird to be true.  But you know what? All the bottom level of books had gone!!  I felt it was a bad omen. How can you have a library without books? ( Thankfully this has since been sorted out to my satisfaction.)

As I walked down to the city centre  damn me if there wasn’t  a busker playing Silent Night…in mid March! And a few minutes later in busy George Street I passed a bride in traditional white dress accompanied by her groom. What an odd place for them to be. There were no wedding guests. I smiled at the bride and was about to say she looked radiant, but she didn’t smile back.

On I went, nearly colliding with a life size hippo in the Pitt St mall. Something to do with Taronga Zoo I think. I skirted around it, because sometimes the staff have live snakes they  encourage  people to pat.

I prefer department stores to boutiques, because I don’t like to be pounced upon and pressured. Cynicism comes with  age you know, and  when someone says, ‘You look fabulous in that Sweetheart.’  I don’t believe a bloody  word.

Mind you, the big stores  do have their own hazards. Even though Meyers  has multiple  exits on different levels I am sometimes completely unable to find my way out. I wonder if this is all a deliberate ploy by shopping psychologists? If so it doesn’t work; a panic stricken woman hardly has  more shopping on her mind.

I will gloss over the horror of finding the  fitting rooms and endlessly struggling in and of clothes.  Sizing is all up the creek these days. I know I’ve lost a bit of weight, but it’s crazy that I now fit into size 7 pants instead of 10.  I suspect the manufacturers just want to make us feel thinner  and more inclined to buy. At least I found  a few things eventually. Oh joy!

Clearly the  store staff had been instructed  to ‘engage and chat’ with their customers. As  I handed over my credit card the middle aged assistant said;

‘You are very energetic!’

What a peculiar thing to say, I hadn’t exactly been leaping about the store…or swinging from the racks. I was unable to respond, apart from a quizzical smile. Her English was not fluent, but  I took it as a compliment until she added;

 ‘Some people are  in a really bad way’.  It’s terrible…. they can hardly walk. Even people younger than you. So don’t be sad dear!’

Oh my hat!  And I’d been feeling relatively chirpy  after my ‘finds’. I thought the  sixties were  supposed to be the new forties.  Pity she couldn’t have seen me on a trampoline a while  back. Naturally I headed for the nearest mirror for reassurance. I didn’t think I looked too bad. Mind you, I do have the beginnings of cataracts; OMG, I probably can’t see myself as I really am.

On the trampoline..viewed through a flattering veil of bar-b-que smoke!

On the trampoline..viewed through a flattering veil of bar-b-que smoke!

It was  clearly time for a big hit of caffeine and carbohydrate. I sat down after selecting what I thought was a cream puff, but  which was described as custard filled  profiterole. Oh yes, give it a French name and charge me more.  And look how the bloomin’ thing was served. No wonder it cost so much…I was probably charged  another $5 for the giant plate and the cutlery. Hmm, slightly worrying shape too…..

SydneyVisitMarch2014 005

I caught the bus home after that, still in a state of confused deflation. As usual, it was very crowded so I had to stand up. A man smiled  kindly at me when I nearly fell over as the driver braked suddenly on the harbour bridge.  He didn’t offer me his seat, but I smiled back because he must have thought I looked young and energetic….relatively speaking!

As evening fell back home in Mosman a full moon rose over the heads. I like to think this explained a lot. Lunacy!


Full moon over Sydney Heads

Full moon over Sydney Heads. The answer to everything?

FOOOTNOTE – I did buy a hat that day. Well two…… should last me a while.

Pauline Conolly shopping for hata

This one will do.

Have you had a day similar to mine? Do leave a message in the comment box below. As always, scroll down and complete the simple anti-spam sum before pressing SUBMIT.


  1. The most wired shopping experience indeed, and what wonderful primary source material for this article. The Mitchell always a bit of heaven, but I seemed to remember every book I wanted had to ordered and would be brought to one from the stocks – or was it stacks!!!
    What a shame you couldn’t travel back by ferry.
    And I hope you were pleased with what you bought.

    • Pauline

      Yes, you still have to order books from the stacks or external storage Annabelle, but no different to any other major library. The wonderful thing these days is that you can do it all in advance on-line. The Mitchell is also battling funding cuts etc.

      I adore the ferry, but the bus drops me at the door of the apartment. Am happy with my purchases except for arguing with Rob about whether I need to take the new jeans up. Have washed them to see if they shrink!! xx

  2. I am laughing. It could only happen to you. It’s a conspiracy to keep you writing! May I just add that I didn’t see you actually BOUNCING on the trampoline; although the kneeling was very impressive, ‘cos you cannot do that after knee replacements 🙂

    • Pauline

      Well I did bounce on that trampoline Marcia….albeit very cautiously and holding the hand of a caring little friend. My knees are still fine but my balance isn’t the best. xx

      • Well next time Pauline, I’d like to SEE the action shot! xx

        • Pauline

          I think I have one somewhere….oh yes it’s on my story about Churg Strauss Syndrome!

  3. Love your story Pauline. Now I know why I clicked with you in the first place. We are like minded. It has been many years for me since I have written about my every day experiences. Though so wonderful to provoke smiles, giggles and laughter.
    I empathise with you about the clothes and the shopping. I am aghast with the idea of walking into any library and having to order the books to be brought to me. Having been brought up a book lover and doing regular jaunts in the city from one second hand bookshop to another with my father, grandfather and then partner, I cannot imagine going to any place that has books available and not being about to simply choose that one that looks so interesting and browsing through to see if that is the one that wants to be read.
    All in all, I love your blog posts. Keep writing, they are wonderful to read.

    • Pauline

      Thanks Sandy. Fortunately there was such an outcry at the Mitchell that they stopped removing the books. The Reading Room is much more accessible though, so I guess that’s an improvement.

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