Changing Times

Yesterday I threw a ‘welcome back’ bbq for myself and Luke. A chance to catch up with people we hadn’t seen yet and hear what everyone has been up to while we’ve been away.

The answer was fairly plain – breeding.

I’m used to kids age 5 and up, I find small children both hilarious and confusing. After I put my dog in the bedroom for a nap, telling the boys (who had been throwing the ball and chasing her for ages) that she needed a rest, I found them climbing on the stairs calling out ‘Doggy! Doggy!’  and looking for her between boxes nowhere near the bedroom. Then later the boys were digging through the esky like little hobos searching for food in a dumpster, stuffing ice cubes into their mouths like it was chocolate.

People ask ‘how was your trip?’ and we say ‘good’. How do you describe nine months of experience in a passing conversation? Really, I just want to catch up on what’s been happening since left and now it’s *almost* getting back to feeling like we’ve barely been gone. It’s funny how some people say ‘you’re back already!’ and others feel like we’ve been gone an age. Somehow it manages to feel like both. Despite social currents altering somewhat since we left I feel just as close to all my beloved friends. It’s like relaxing back into a giant beanbag, being home. Secure and comfortable and warm. Lovely!

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Packages!

My dog loves tennis balls, so sometimes instead of throwing one for her we throw 20 and see her go crazy. That was a bit like me when I got home to all my packages.

Well, I say all… I’m still missing at least two – and two of the most exciting ones! Still, it was a most enjoyable hour or so, slashing tape, ripping cardboard and remembering what I’d bought. Half the packages are just bits of paper-  tickets, programs, maps – that will remind me of things we saw and did. I also bought an unholy number of teatowels. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before – they make the best souvenirs. Useful, pretty and cheap!

I did mess up the loungeroom something shocking, but I tidied most of it away almost immediately, proving that an addiction to tea is not the only thing to have changed since I left home.

Mess! And, since I’m sure you’re going to ask, Raptormas appears to have been celebrated rather than Christmas while I was gone. Apparently this is going to be our new thing and a new board will be painted every year until we have enough to decorate the front fence and confuse the neighbours. Lighting and sound effects may be involved.

So there you go, my packages! Quite possibly my best Christmas ever.

Apparently This Is A Thing.

I had no idea until recently that something many people do when travelling for long periods is make ‘when I get home’ resolutions. I started making notes on my phone about half-way through our trip. If Past Me could see Present Me she’d be super impressed (and quite surprised) to see that I’ve already started on my long and somewhat daunting list. Of course Past Me would be completely unsurprised that I’ve ticked off a few of the easiest things first.

I spent a day planting some lettuce seeds, strawberries and other things I found in my seed box in the laundry. Sure, some of the seed packets went out of date several years ago, but you never know! I was inspired, while in Italy, to plan my garden so that fresh, sweet lettuce leaves could be harvested weekly. My friend Julian even put in some seeds before I got back that are already sprouting. What a champion!

I’ve also hung up most of my clothes and even put them in colour order… because I could. Hopefully this will last for at least a few weeks back into the work term.

It’s a pretty crappy photo but having all my clothes brightening up my room (they’re hanging under shelves, not in a wardrobe) makes me happy.

I’ve blocked in dance classes every Monday and I’m investigating either pilates or yoga for Wednesdays. Needless to say some of my plans involved becoming fit like some kind of 37 year old superhero. A superhero whose superpower is losing important things until 5 minutes before they’re needed. Oh, and ambidextrous golfing. Obviously I’ll be in high demand.

I’ve also learned how to make pulled pork and it turned out exactly as I wanted. Next: corn chowder! Cooking goals are so easy to achieve when they involve putting things in pots and leaving them to boil for hours.

I’ve continue to teach myself crochet skills and have made some flowers. One of my enormous and probably unachievable goals is to rope my friends (and anyone reading this! *looks at you all expectantly*) into creating a yarn bombing project. For the uninitiated, this is a public craft project where you knit/crochet/sewing things and then attach them to railings, light posts, bike racks etc and pray they don’t get destroyed by vandals. Why do this? No reason, really, except it’s a fun way to put something creative into the community, work with like minded people and create moments of ‘wow’ for complete strangers. We saw some astonishingly good stuff on our trip and I’d like to recreate that but in a different theme for my area. So if you’re reading this and you’re interested in participating let me know! I’m thinking a garden/nature theme to be put out in public in spring, which gives us a good 7 months to get sorted. Hopefully I can get perhaps 5 or 6 people to create a 30cm stretch each.

I have a bunch of work related goals. I’m ridiculously excited about going back… to the point where I probably won’t sleep the night before which will completely ruin my first day. Stupid brain. I want to stop using facebook during the week, go to lots of professional development and schedule in at least two afternoons a week to stay back late. Oh and spend more time in the staffroom – I miss my lovely colleagues.

Then there’s getting the garden to a decently productive level – I have three big raised beds out the back and Anth is only using one. I think perhaps it’s not too late for tomatoes or beans before the first frost. I have a circle of paving in my backyard that has a ridiculously large and pointless weeping cherry in the middle. I need to work out how to trick someone into coming and taking it away for free (ideas?). It’s probably worth hundreds… I just need to find someone who’d want it.

Cherry tree in the middle… you want one?

So basically I lie in bed every night turning over my various schemes and ploys and plots and hijinks and I’m *so happy* to be home. If it were possible I’d give my house a cuddle and whisper in it’s ear ‘I love you.’

The front of my house – fabulously private and green, it’s a nice, shady spot to sit.

Home! But Not The End!

So we’re back in sunny Melbourne and I have many, many thoughts to write on the joys of being home, and a half written post about New Zealand – and everything in between. The blog is certainly not done and dusted, although goodness knows how many people will keep reading now our journey is officially done. Although we’ve not spent much time on it over the last 3 weeks or so, what with all the moving from place to place, we’re both feeling quite motivated to keep going. Think of Christmas to New Year’s as a small hiatus for us but we’ll definitely be back, I’m hoping at least once or twice a week. I’d like to record my thoughts about Melbourne and all the things we do here (for the sake of our new and old foreign friends who might be interested), and, for the sake of dispelling rumours, how very infrequently we even see spiders, snakes and sharks, let alone are consumed by them*. There’s also documenting the process of going back to work after a year off and then we’re hoping to do a bit of travelling around Victoria. Not to mention the fact that Luke still has many months of video to edit. Africa is up next!

So don’t abandon us just yet – there’s plenty of people to meet, places to go, and life-sized cardboard cut- outs to admire. You’ll see!

*My friend Sarah went to the beach with her mother the other day and, she tells me, they were both pursued vigorously by a pinchy  crab but it was less than hand sized so it really doesn’t count. I’ve barely seen any spiders at all in the week I’ve been back. Barely any!

Barcelona: Musings On Travel.

We’re pretty much at the two-thirds point in our trip now. Six months down, three to go. We’ve got a couple of weeks to go in Spain/Portugal before heading back to the UK for a bit, then the US, New Zealand briefly and then home. My thoughts keep turning, more and more often, to how much I’m going to enjoy getting home and doing all the things that I normally take completely for granted, such as being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet (thanks for reminding me of that one, Toni!), not to mention not having to carry a pocketful of toilet paper everywhere. Heck, I’m going to enjoy just knowing where toilets are. I’m not even one of those people who needs to go to the toilet every five minutes either – it just continues to irk me on a very minor level that the second I start needing to go is probably when I should start trying to find one, just in case.

Of course traveling is still proving extremely enjoyable and has far more ups than downs, it’s just that I tend to always post about the ups and, I’ll be honest and probably reveal something less than admirable about myself when I admit that I like reading travel posts by other people that are about the down sides of travel too. I think that’s why I fell totally, head-over-heels for the Ricky Gervais series ‘An Idiot Abroad’. If you haven’t seen it, do.

So yeah, there’s definitely a part of me looking forward to home – and I like being able to travel for long enough to miss home. That way when I get back it’s almost another adventure in itself, a rediscovery of life’s other pleasures. Like cooking and knowing you have all the things you need right there. Like being able to wear clean socks every day. Knowing exactly which aisle of the supermarket to head for. Being able to spend a whole day on autopilot, not having to make basic decisions about where to go, what to eat, how to get anywhere. Being able to see all the friends who I’ve barely communicated with this year because our lives don’t seem to intersect online and, even more importantly, seeing those people who’ve made a real effort to keep in contact, fill me in on gossip or just say ‘hi’ occasionally. Those people will be getting huge hugs from me.

I also hope I get to meet some of the people who’ve been reading this blog and who I know of via friends (like Deb!), or see people who I feel I barely knew before but have so much to say to now (Leanne!). Connecting with people via the blog has been a strange and wonderful thing and not something I’d expected at the outset. It all makes me want to find some way to keep it going when we get back.

What else do I miss about home? My dog – currently being spoiled to death by my housemates. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here but Penny now has her own facebook page and I spent far too long yesterday on facebook talking to her (Luke an I might have accidentally spent most of the day in the hostel bar drinking sangria) – well, talking to her via Jess, my friend,  housemate, secretary, responsible adult, and all-round-life-saver. This trip may well not have been possible (or at least certainly not as easy) without her on the home end, sorting my mail, receiving my packages and sending me photos of my garden to reassure me that everything is ok without me. Which of course isn’t true – everything is *much better* at home without me because I am a messy pig and the house is far better off without my piles of fabric, clothing and junk everywhere.

So while we’re having a great time I don’t want anyone at home to think that I won’t be full of smiles and happiness the day we land in Sydney and I’m already looking forward to Christmas at my brother’s house (they’ve just finished building it) with his beautiful family and my mum and dad, seeing Luke’s family again and then getting back to my house, my garden and my friends. Luke and I both miss you all.