This time a year ago exactly, we were spending our last full day in Harpenden.
DorkySon had toddled off to his wonderful nursery for the last time, and he would come home a few hours later laden down with gifts and cards and photos of himself hugging the staff. I went for one last trawl of the local charity shops to see if I could find any bits and pieces for the flight – I got lucky, and picked up a collection of Shirley Hughes stories and a huge bag of toy cars for a couple of quid.
Our flat was a mess. The removal men had arrived that morning, and it was hard to move for all the sheets of packing paper, cardboard boxes, and enormous rolls of bubble wrap. That night, cupboards bare and crockery packed, we went for dinner at a local Italian restaurant. Somewhere between the tagliatelle and the tiramisu, immigration officers raided the place and started interrogating the kitchen staff. We headed home for an early night.
Next day, the removal men were back again for the last few pieces. A charity shop van came by to pick up DorkySon’s cot bed and numerous bags and boxes of assorted stuff. With the house empty apart from our suitcases, a friend came round for a final playdate picnic.
And then we were off. Kent for a night. Legoland. Heathrow. Hobart.
I can’t believe it is one full year since we moved. Amazing that we have already seen a full cycle of seasons. September 1st marks the first official day of Spring, but DorkySon declared winter over at the weekend, when he ventured into the river for a paddle, and stood there a good twenty minutes letting the waves wash over his feet.
There will be plenty time for reflection this week. DorkyDad is recovering from knee surgery, so we are both at home. He is being so much more patient than I had expected, letting me fluff his pillows and dispense generous bowls of strawberry ice cream. It was also his birthday last week. DorkySon and I weren’t very imaginative on the gift front – he got some soup spoons and a new book – but we did make it out to The Source at MONA for an incredible celebratory dinner. It was the best meal we’ve had out in the last year, which is really saying something because Hobart is full of great grub.
I realised that, although I shared some photos, I’ve still not written about our time in Scotland and I think it’s because it passed in such a blur. Travelling that far for just 10 days was, in retrospect, a bit daft. It was lovely to be back on Harris, to be a part of my friend’s beautiful wedding, and to catch up with family and close friends. But it was too much of a rush, and we’ve been paying the price since getting back. We’ve all been exhausted, and struggling to shake off the chest colds that we picked up on the plane.
While DorkyDad has been on and off Tassie several times already because of work, this trip was my first time and leaving and coming back to Hobart as ‘home’. It felt good to get back to our own house, and our familiar routines. I had wondered if my first visit back would make me feel homesick for my ‘homeland’ but if anything it did the opposite, and reinforced the feeling that we made the right decision in moving here.
I loved this recent post from Michelle at The American Resident about the in-between state of being an expat, and the challenges of transitioning between old home and new home – it resonated a lot. When we were in Scotland, it felt familiar again right away. It was very reassuring to be back somewhere where I could reach in my purse and automatically know which coins to pull out. But at the same time it was so hard to really give folk a sense of what our new life is like, and to explain why we love it so much here. I think I’m much better at it on the blog than in conversation!
Talking of which, I’m now writing regularly for a wonderful website called The Island Review. Every six weeks or so they’ll publish a piece of mine covering one aspect of life in Tasmania. My first post, about island communities, went up last month, so please pop over for a wee read if you haven’t already.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us over the last year – the old friends who have worked so hard at keeping in touch, and the new friends who have made us feel so welcome here. We could not have settled so happily and so quickly without you.
We can’t wait to see what Year 2 brings…