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

IMG_6942

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 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