Winter comes to nipaluna

a forest path during autumn in Hobart Tasmania

We’ve just had the first weekend of winter here, and it was a lovely one. Lunch at Willie Smith’s Apple Shed on Saturday, followed by a few hours picking up leaves in the garden. It was still warm enough in the late afternoon that I sat outside with a book and a cuppa to watch as the sun went down.

Sunday was a bit less lovely – heavy rain and a chill in the air – so we didn’t venture very far. The fire was lit by lunchtime, and DorkySon snuggled down into his beanbag while DorkyDad pottered around the kitchen making a big pot of chilli.

Me and winter are not natural friends. Thirty years in Scotland provided enough cold days to last a lifetime, so it’s always very grudgingly that I pack away the sandals and summer dresses. But Tassie does know how to do a winter well. Puff jackets and Ugg boots are now in regular use, the woollen blankets are back on the bed, and even I can’t help but feel charmed by the sight of snow on kunanyi. Continue reading

Double Digits

10 Birthday Cake

We are at the airport on the way to Auckland. There were air miles that were about to expire, and that’s as far as they’d take us, so we are headed across the Tasman. After recent events in Christchurch we imagine that it might be a strange and subdued time in New Zealand, but perhaps that makes it all the more important to visit and share some love.

DorkySon turns 10 while we’re away. I’m a little worried that an international trip, flying business class, sets the bar too high for future birthdays. But I also know this boy has never asked for a party, and that you only enter double figures once.

He has his headphones on as we wait to board, and sucks a berry smoothie from a glass bottle. Nine-nearly-ten is a funny age. I can see traces of the baby he was, and traces of the man he will be. He is serious, and self-contained, but has a beautiful smile and loves to laugh. Continue reading

2019: A Year for Building Community

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If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll know that I always choose a word to guide me through the year. Previous picks include Learning, Courage, and Focus… but after a few weeks of reflection my choice for 2019 is Community.

In late January we lived that word to its absolute fullest by taking part in a citizenship ceremony and becoming official members of the Australian community.

Our ceremony took place at the Sandy Bay Regatta – in the very park where almost six years ago I decided to give this whole Tassie thing a go – and I think we were all surprised by how emotional the occasion was. It started with a beautiful Welcome to Country from Aunty Brenda Hodge (who I loved all the more when she asked for the support of new citizens in changing the date of Australia Day, leaving Senator Eric Abetz looking like he’d chewed on a fly…) We received warm hugs from a couple of Green pollies who had helped us with earlier visa applications; DorkySon’s best friend was in the audience, watching his Grandpa receive an award; and we sat in the same row as a man from Uganda who had been here ten years, and a man from Edinburgh who had been here 65. Rosellas, cockatoos and lorikeets made a joyous racket in the surrounding gum trees as 80 people, from 29 different countries, became citizens on that day.

It felt like a fitting way to end what has been a lovely summer. Continue reading

Travels Part 3: Helsinki and Home

Colourful benches in Helsinki FInland

On our penultimate day in Edinburgh, I was woken at 6am by a soft, rustling sound in the hallway. It wasn’t, as I first thought, a wee mouse. It was DorkySon tip-toeing around the flat, gathering his belongings, and starting to pack.

It seemed that he was ready to keep moving.

In the cab to our hotel in Helsinki, we realised that it was DorkySon’s first time in a country where English is not the first language. We were throwing him in at the deep end: Finnish is very pretty and melodic, but the linguistic rhythms are so different to the romance languages we’re familiar with that we found it a real challenge.

Judging by the cab driver’s bemused look, I completely mangled the name of our hotel and the neighbourhood in which it stood. Over the coming days our embarrassment grew further. Even a simple thank you – Kiitos – took many attempts before we mastered it.

We persevered though – all three of us – because there was a lot to say Kiitos for. Continue reading

Travels Part 2: Edinburgh

Sunset in Edinburgh Marchmont

It was time to leave Harris for the second part of our trip: a week in Edinburgh, followed by a few days in Helsinki, and then the long, long journey home.

We’d said our goodbyes, stuffed things back into our bags, and negotiated the notoriously tricky security line at Stornoway Airport. We were sitting on a tiny plane waiting to taxi to the runway.

Ten minutes later… we were still sitting there.

Twenty minutes later… we were still sitting there.

The pilot came on the radio and said he was going to turn the plane off and turn it back on again, in an attempt to fix whatever mechanical issue was causing the delay. Unfortunately, the old on-off-on again trick doesn’t work as well on Embraers as it does on iPhones, and a few minutes later we found ourselves traipsing down the aircraft steps and back into the airport. Continue reading