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

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

September

golden wattle Hobart Tasmania

Oh, September.

A month of warmth and light and soft, still evenings. I’ve had to recalibrate so much of what I know since moving from north to south – the stars and moon are not what they used to be – but dependable September is still my very fave.

It used to mark the turning point from summer to autumn, a spell when Scotland is often at its beautiful best. It was a time of new beginnings – school years and uni semesters – and it was, of course, the month I got married.

It was also September when we moved to Tasmania, so these days it feels like a month of anniversaries. A time to celebrate our bravery and love. Continue reading

Nutella and Pinot Noir

Dark MOFO bonfire Hobart Tasmania

I posted something daft on Twitter a few weeks ago that seemed to resonate with a lot of my fellow Taswegians.

“We’ve reached that bit of the Tasmanian winter where I’ve given up any pretence of healthy eating or exercise. Basically, I’m just standing by the fire mainlining Nutella and Pinot Noir.”

It was true, at the time. One of the things I like most about living here is how connected I feel to the seasons.

In summer, the availability of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables encourages me to eat well. The warm days mean that I drink a lot of water without making a conscious effort, and the lovely light evenings allow me to go out running.

In contrast, winter is the time for connecting with my inner bear – I want to load up with carbs, retreat to a warm cave, and sleep for several months. I don’t reckon there’s any point fighting that feeling – it makes sense to pay attention to the cycles of the year and adjust my behaviour accordingly.

But now it is August. We are more than halfway through the year and moving towards the end of winter. It is unseasonably mild – 17 degrees over the weekend – and there are buds and blossoms appearing everywhere we look. There have even been a few sleepy bees thudding around the garden, probably casting a judgmental eye on how little weeding we have done.

It’s almost time to come out of the cave. Continue reading

Nine

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And so, he is nine.

What a big year it has been. New teeth, new teacher, new school. New rules and expectations. Sad goodbyes, happy hellos, and a whole lot of laughter. If I had to choose a word to sum up eight-year-old DorkySon, I think it would be resilient.

The boy whose legs used to shake with nerves before assembly stood proudly on stage for the final concert at his small school by the sea: baseball cap on, shirt untucked, singing and dancing with his arms around his classmates.

The boy who used to be scared of water now loves it so much that if I forget to bring a towel and bathers to the beach he still insists on wading up to his shoulders fully clothed.

The boy who used to cross the street to avoid walking past a dog now follows me around the house, regaling me with ‘fascinating facts’ about Dalmatians.

This boy crashes his bike, brushes the dirt off his knees, and gets right back on again. Continue reading