Diamond Bay, Sorrento - the island my brother and I stayed on is in the background
Sally and I spent a couple of days in Sorrento last week. Reading, walking, relaxing.
When I was a small boy my father inherited a few hundred pounds - enough to buy some land in Sorrento. He proceeded to design and build a holiday house there - getting expert advice along the way from the CSIRO's Department of Building Research, where he worked.
At home on weeknights Dad would be busy in the garage preparing the next stage of the house before taking it down for assembling at the weekend. We would go down with him to help on the project, at first camping in tents my father had sewn - one of them made out of an army surplus parachute. But eventually we could move into the house itself.
My brothers and I spent endless hours exploring the beaches, the rock pools, the bush tracks and the cliff tops. Mark and I camped one night on an offshore island - a great adventure. We revelled in the deep water off the rock shelves at the Bay of Islands, and dodged the waves crashing on the Dog's Head. We built cubbies and underground tunnels on the block, went skin diving, and built modest boats for use at the front beach. We sailed with our cousins, who also holidayed in Sorrento.
The block is on a ridge top, with fine views, and lovely old moonah trees.
In the long summer holidays my mother would walk with us to the Main Sorrento Back Beach - or whatever other beach we had chosen for the day - cheerfully chatting and laughing as she carried sandwiches and cordial for us in the beach bag.
I never tire of Sorrento's amazing variety of beaches - with the front beach and the back beach, surf beaches, sheltered bays, and rock pools.
Both my parents died a few years ago, and we scattered their ashes off one of our favourite spots at the back beach. We continue to share the house - now getting a bit ramshackle - between the families of my brothers. We've all introduced our own children to holidays down there. We've been going there so long that the place has seeped into our souls.
Rockpools at the back beach