Eight Days in Hawaii

Hawaii - The Aloha State - licence plate

Hawaii is one of those places that even as a child I harboured dreams of visiting one day. I didn’t know much more about it than I’d read in my school encyclopedia – I’m not even sure that I realised it’s a US state, or that it consists of many islands, not just one – but I imagined it as a place where the sun was always shining, the beaches were lined with palm trees, and every drink came with a cocktail umbrella.

When a wedding invite landed in our mailbox last year – destination Kaua’i – we could not have been more thrilled. Kaua’i is Hawaii’s fourth largest island. It’s also the oldest and the most northern, and is often called the Garden Island because it’s so green. The striking landscapes have led to dozens of movies being filmed on the island, including Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean, King Kong and South Pacific.

Because we spend so many of our holidays visiting family and friends, it’s rare for us to travel somewhere new. But even DorkyDad had never been to the Aloha State: it was one of just two US states (the other being Alaska) that he’d never had reason to visit. We’ve spent the last six months feeling very excited about this trip. Continue reading

2020: Beginnings and Endings

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It took its time coming this year, but summer is finally, officially here.

There have been beach walks and paddles in the river, there have been windows flung open to let in the breeze, and there have been gin and tonics in the garden. What a relief. When we reached mid-December and still had our cosy jackets hanging in the hallway we began to think it might never happen.

There was the usual rush to the end of the school term – excursions, teacher gifts, final assemblies and the like. But it only took a week or two of summer holidays before things started to feel like they were calming down: DorkySon’s voice has returned to a reasonable volume, rather than the shouty level he always comes home from school with; his backpack has been emptied of detritus, ready to be repurposed as a travel bag when we head to a family wedding later this month; and all the old uniforms have been swapped for new, pushed to the back of the wardrobe and replaced for now by board shorts and rashies. Continue reading

A day trip from Hobart onboard wooden ship SV Rhona H

The view from SV Rhona H, old wooden tall ship in Hobart Tasmania

One of the wonderful boat trips you can take from Hobart is onboard the SV Rhona H. Owned and operated by the not-for-profit organisation Heritage Sailing Tasmania, SV Rhona H is the oldest and smallest of the tall ships that call Hobart home.

Built in 1942 as a fishing boat, first for recreational fishing and then for commercial cray and abalone fishing, the beautiful Huon Pine and Celery Top vessel was converted for sail training and chartering in 1988.

Julie Porter and Charles Burns, the current owners, purchased SV Rhona H in 2014, and established the not-for-profit entity that focuses on using the ship for traditional sailing, ocean conservation, and mental health and wellbeing.

It is through ocean conservation that we first encountered Julie and Charles. Like DorkySon, they are big supporters of Sea Shepherd, and we have often noticed SV Rhona H sailing down the Derwent with the Sea Shepherd flag flying proudly from her mast.

Short cruises onboard the ship are a popular choice with visitors to Hobart. There are two- and three-hour trips available, as well as a 90 minute twilight cruise in summer.

However, when we boarded the ship last Sunday morning, it was for a spectacular full day cruise from Hobart all the way down to Bruny Island Quarantine Station. Continue reading

Late Spring in Tasmania

Spring blossom in Tasmania

Last weekend was Hobart Show Day, which as every Tasmanian will tell you means that it should now be safe to plant your tomatoes outside without fear of frost.

Should being the operative word. Spring weather is notoriously unpredictable and this year has been no exception. Last week there was snow falling at Cradle Mountain. Yesterday, a combination of high temperatures and strong winds led to several bush fires flaring up around the state. By mid-afternoon, Hobart was shrouded in a thick blanket of smoke.

It feels awfully early for that. Continue reading

How the girl who hated PE became the woman who loves to run

A woman running along a path by the sea

It’s finally spring on this side of the world, and one of the reasons why I feel like celebrating is that the warmer, lighter evenings will allow me to start running again. I’ve written on here before about how much I love to run the streets of Hobart – not in any attempt to set records, simply because it makes me happy.

This year I’m hoping that my running routine will be even easier to keep up, because as part of the redevelopment of the oval across the road the council has installed a new track around the perimeter. It’s a huge improvement on the bumpy, soggy ground that I had to contend with previously, and while running short laps isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, it’s a great way of getting started again.

Voluntarily choosing to go out for a run or a cycle still feels strange – it doesn’t sit very comfortably as part of my identity because it’s something I didn’t start doing until my mid-twenties.

As a kid living out in the country I stayed fit without really trying – walking the dogs, shooting hoops, and kicking a soccer ball against the side of the house for hours on end. And as a university student in Edinburgh I got good workouts walking all over the city each day and dancing until the wee small hours several nights a week. But I hated school PE lessons with a passion. So how did the girl who hated exercise become the woman who loved it? Continue reading