Back in my old stomping ground, my Sydney book club friend, Natalie suggested a walk with her Cook River walking friends.  Wanting to take any walking opportunity possible, I said yes.  Bird spotting the local wildlife, smelling the fresh winter smells of the mangroves and subtle shaggy-petalled magnolia was a delightful way to start the day.  It threatened to rain, but held off to let us pass. At the end of the stroll I felt more tired than I’d like to be for a person about to embark on a pilgrimage of 800 kilometres, but maybe I can be still with the uncertainty of my physical preparedness.

After completing the walk, we ran for the bus (Natalie well surpasses my own jay-walking skills) and we ended up back at Addison Road at Coffee Alchemy for a nourishing couple of shots just as the heavens opened. This is no ordinary cafe. Many customers are regulars drawn from many walks of life (composers, writers, editors, gardeners, financial advisers and retirees). They bring their dogs and shoot the breeze (quite a frigid one this morning) like long lost pals around the edge of the space, paying due homage to the coffee machine that runs hot.

It is a brave proprietor who rests solely on the sale of one commodity, but when there is quality, there is no anxiety about satisfied customers.  There is not a croissant or Portuguese tart in sight, which sets this little Addison Rd institution apart from many of its Inner West rivals.  The place buzzed for the whole time we sat waiting for the rain to stop.  The name suggests a whole lot of profound yet subtle transmutations going on, and I got the impression that this refers not just to the coffee.


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