(Of a modest kind).
We set out to find the Swan River this afternoon, but were frustrated in this most modest of goals by tired children and heavy downpours. Perth is built on the Swan, which runs more-or-less south-west (give or take the twists and tuns) into the Indian Ocean. Like the Mersey, the river narrows again at its mouth, creating a series of 'pools' just inland; and this narrowing results in a north-south peninsula bound by the ocean to the west and the river to the east. The peninsula is divided by the railway, running north to Perth and south to Fremantle (Freo), with Cottesloe west of the track, and Peppermint Grove and Mosman Park on the east (Mosman Park is slightly more affordable, and probably has more young families as a result); and an adult can probably walk from ocean to river inside of half-an-hour at a leisurely pace. Right in the middle, just east of Cottesloe Station, is a village of specialist shops, and it was here that we found shelter from the downpour, having turned back towards home.
One of the most noticeable things here is how genuine and friendly staff are in shops. When we stepped out of the rain into the cafe, sorting the kids out at a table, the manager approached and said, just sit yourselves down; I'll bring you a menu over...when he brought me my latte and I thanked him he replied, it's a pleasure. It is a pleasure to serve you a coffee! And said in such a way that suggested that he actually found it a pleasure to serve a customer coffee, that he was getting real job-satisfaction in this. And, I thought, I want to bless this man; and I'll come back again. And at one level it is obvious that if customers get good service - especially in a competitive market (and there are a lot of coffee shops round here) - you'll get more trade and make more profit; but it seems to go beyond good service, and certainly beyond cliched phrases of customer recognition, in a lot of the shops around here. The guy in the bicycle shop the other day would be another example; or the guy in the surf shop the day before that. Anyway, it made me think about the satisfacion that can be had in serving someone else, even in small ways, if you choose to find satisfaction in it. (It also started me thinking about starting cafe church, but that's another story...)
In the morning, we had all gone along to the playgroup at St Philips. A different group come along on Tuesdays from Thursdays - though there is some overlap - including several Japanese mothers (a bit like home-from-home, given all the international student involvement we had over many years in Sheffield!), and some other new arrivals (though from eastern Australia, rather than as far afield as us). Susannah and Noah are settling in well - we've been here exactly a week, and Jo commented today that already a high proportion of Susie's sentences are rising at the end, in Australian inflection (back home sentences fall at the end - I honestly think that difference is, at least in part, to do with the very different weathers).