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 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

Travels Part 1: Hobart to Harris

View from Tarbert Isle of Harris

No matter how many times you’ve done it, there’s still something miraculous and disconcerting about strapping yourself into a metal tube and flying across the world.

Airlines go to great lengths to persuade you that it’s a normal and comfortable thing to do. They try their best to make that tube feel like home. Qantas welcome you with a hearty ‘G’day mate!’ and hand out complementary socks with cartoon kangaroos on them. Finnair design their cabin lighting to resemble the aurora borealis, and Loganair provide Harris Tweed headrests and Tunnocks caramel wafers. But when you undertake ten flights in three weeks, from Tasmania to the Outer Hebrides and back again, the resulting sensory overload means there’s no escaping the strangeness of air travel. Continue reading

November in Tasmania: Spring Turns into Summer

Spring in Hobart Tasmania: ladybird on a finger and young boy in water

It was a teasing start to spring in Tasmania, with several weeks that lurched between glorious sunshine one day and snow the next. I got a little over-excited when we finally had a few warm days in a row, and put all our winter clothes away in the cupboard. Goodbye to those puff jackets and Ugg boots for another year, I thought to myself with glee. The next week I was hauling them right back out again.

Now the warm weather has arrived for good though (crosses fingers tightly) we’re taking full advantage of it. Despite applying copious amounts of Factor 50 every time we leave the house, I’ve already had my first sunburn, and DorkySon is taking every opportunity to swim in the river. First time in, he was fully clothed. Second time round he was better prepared, with beach clothes and a bodyboard, but a rogue wave washed a pebble into his ear and the resulting pain cut his adventure short.

No worries: with the official start of summer this Friday, I’m confident there will be more swimming days ahead. Continue reading