I used to take a regular dip at Bondi, generally around dawn, which would consists of me entering the (freezing) water at the northern end, and then swimming down the beach until I hit the surfer zone. Large packs of surfers hang out at the southern end, just in front of the Icebergs swimming club, and it was never a good idea to attempt to swim through them. Because of the shape of the bay, and the way the surf swells roll in, the surf at that end is quite a bit bigger than the protected northern end, so on a big swell day, you could find yourself bobbing up and down 4 or 5 feet as you swam out the back of the surfers.
I was always content to turn around when I hit the surfers. That was enough of a swim for me - maybe 400 - 500 metres in open water, out beyond the breaking swells and in the prime time Jaws zone. Swimming in open water always makes me feel a bit like a seal. Not a good feeling to have, especially now that shark numbers are rapidly building.
After a good swim and a body surf (surf permitting), I'd retire to my favourite cafe at the northern end of the beach. The cafe is long gone, a victim of developers flattening the building that housed them. It was a pokey little place, unable to seat more than a dozen inside and perhaps the same outside. At that time of the morning (they opened at 7am), they catered almost solely to towel wrapped barefoot men, and the occasional woman, dripping salt water on the concrete floor, rubbing sand off their feet absent-mindedly as they read the morning paper and supped on coffee and eggs. Wearing a shirt was very optional. Most wore little more than speedos, and maybe a towel. But all wore a sheen of sun browned skin and the aura of fitness and alertness that comes from regularly swimming a kilometre or more at dawn in the open ocean.
I did most of my swimming alone, but from time to time, I'd be joined for a morning body surf by Damien, son of Satan. Damien also liked the cafe (he was particularly taken by Mary, the flirty waitress with fulsome boobs), and we had many a pleasant feed there.
After a while, Damien started asking Mary for boiled googie eggs with toast soldiers for breakfast. Mary would roll her eyes and heave her bosom and tell him to "choose something from the fucking menu" (it was that kind of cafe), and they'd never cook them as no one would eat them.
But Damien was nothing if not persistent. He kept asking for those toast soldiers. If I was there alone, I'd ask for them as well. "Unless you want to be eating your fucking breakfast through a straw, I'd stop asking for fucking googie eggs".
And one day, the owner relented and put them on the menu.
Damien was happy. Mary was grumpier than ever, in her own sweet way.
Six months later, with Damien freezing his nuts off after a job transfer to Canberra, I asked Mary how the eggs with toast soldiers were going.
"Best selling thing on the fucking menu".
Vindication was ours.