Last Friday we left The Shire to head over to the Sunny Coast hinterland foothills, to the cute little town of Palmwoods.
I haven’t been to Palmwoods since Hayls passed away last year, and quite frankly, I thought I might live the rest of my days without ever facing up to the ‘woods. Palmwoods IS Hayley, as far as I am concerned. I had never been there prior to Hayls opening her first cafe, Sister, there and everything in the street just smacks of her.
In the early days of the cafe I used to spend a fair bit of time there, first in offering moral support (sitting on my arse) whilst Ricki did pretty much everything in the fit out, from painting the front counter, to sourcing furniture and doing the artwork for the walls, and then later, as a ‘bum on a seat’ to make the place look busy (so, still sitting on my arse).
Then Ricki died, and my guts went inside-out for a while. Eventually I went back, and Sister was a marker for lots of things in our lives. We went there for work dinners, christmas celebrations, lunches with visitors, bonfire parties in the garden next door (which is now a beer garden), and cuppas at the place Jo and John and Hayls shared above the garage. The night Coco was diagnosed with her PKD we spent the time waiting for blood results at the cafe. Palmwoods has seen me laugh and cry more than any place I know.
As we took the turn off I wished with all my bits to keep on driving, and instead to spend some quality time with the tragedy that is the Big Pineapple. We didn’t. My throat got all hot and sore at the back, like it does when I’m not letting the cries out.
Nath parked MissXtrailia2013 right out the front of The Lane, so there was no more avoiding it. We were in Palmy. And Hayls was everywhere and all around me like I knew she would be. Except she wasn’t. And my throat went hot again.
We were meeting John and Olive so I guess if they could be here, if they could immerse themselves in a project that has Hayley written all over it, then I guessed I shouldcouldwould too.
Renae’s Pantry and The Lane are amazing. In a revelation that will shock, I have to tell you, I don’t have the words to describe what an amazing job the Sirl family have done. In a tiny space and a disused area they have created a bubbling, bumping place to overflow your stomach and your soul with nourishment. You can do your food shop with Renae, who probably has gorgeous baby Frankie on her chest, you can chat with Benno about the workings of the world, you can get your delish mexican-inspired dinner from Carolyn and the ever smiling Louisa or you can just sit back with your buddies with a beer and listen to some tunes.
I didn’t want to go there, but pretty soon I didn’t want to leave. Renae said to me that Hayley pushed her to do something like this, and that she is all around. I don’t know about that, but I do know that she would have loved everything about The Lane and the Pantry. The integrity, the quality of the produce, the creation of such a vibrant, lively, happy place. All a bit like her really.
Gotta go. My throat is hurting again.
Love your work guys.
All the rest of you: go there, I don’t know what’s better: the food, the company, the shopping or the wonderful sense of being part of an idea who’s time has come.
….From The Ashers xx