Saturday, January 1, 2011

A year passing

Time of course is an illusion, but one which is fairly good at fooling us. We've been in Australia for a year exactly now, and it's been a momentous year of ups and downs. It's been a good one, from the island point of view, settling in point of view, and a tough one from the writing and US$ point of view. Anyway, we persist.

Our friend Carol is planning to leave the island :-( . She had her grandchildren and younger daughter here, and son-in-law, and wanted to have a barbeque with them and her friends (who are mostly our friends too) and as she's in a unit - as they call a flat around here, 'volunteered' our place. As these things will it grew a life of its own, with James inviting Nik and B inviting a few people (for children to play, see :-)) anyway, here we have been for a year, and we didn't rush off and invite people from far off places like Lady Barron and Killiecrankie - and we still ended up with 24 people. I cooked fish and crays on the braai (real braai - not this gas thing) and people seemed to like it. I cooked muttonbird and they made me move around the corner. We soon had the traditional women sitting around drinking and talking sport (cricket? What cricket?) and men soothing* their smoke parched throats as they slaved over the hot fire.

Anyway, the highs and lows... well, lows: leaving SA was hard, Telstra was not much of introduction to anything (Dear Hobart East Telstra shop, I hope you had a very poor year, and the same for the new year!), the little misadventures with the Ute overheating were not fun, as was the tire saga, and blown away tent. Neither were our medical nasties (but we have help here) and B's and my nasty alarms proved false - scary as hell, but false. Having the boys back in South Africa was never easy, and of course we miss family and old friends. I'd love to be diving with my brother. The various issues posting of Author copy books to the wrong country and publisher's admin seeming have trouble with the idea of emigration, the usual slow payments while the exchange rate strips money away - I lost 20% of the turn-in money for the latest book that way, and of course the debacle with Dragon's Ring were some of the very lows. The costs of moving us, and the animals, and the exchange rate and publishing scene have put buying a home far back onto the backburner. That's hard after 15 years in your own home. But it will be beaten.

On the high side... well, there were the many acts of kindness - from Roger and his wife have us land on them in Hobart, to the nice guys from customs and emigration and our unaccompanied baggage (which was one of those mountains we expected, that turned into a molehill), Pat and Noel and their family in Orford - rescuing us when we had trouble with the Ute, giving us a place to sleep. The other campers who rescued our stuff and remaining tent at Beauty Point, and John coming to meet us off the ferry when we arrived tired and very unfamiliar... Inga who was our first ever visitor, who brought us cake.

Getting our Rock.

And then the many friends and kindly folk who helped us start to fit in. Rosemary and Anne especially, but everyone from Jamie to Jeremy to Greg taking us fishing and showing us the ropes... well, showing us how little we knew. The crays here need you to have the invisiblity disruptor fitted to your mask. The flounder too hide so well. And the joy of having the boys and Clare here in June, and having Clare stay a bit extra - that meant a lot to us. Having Biren drop in to check on me when I was sick... Meeting friends made through the blog - Bill and Maria and Peter and Helen. Getting the writers group going and fun that's been. Watching James blossom into a good hand-spearo.

The climbing,

the diving, the fishing, the perfect sunsets, and wonderful views. The long days of summer.

Having Paddy finish his B.Sc with double firsts, and J getting a first for maths this year.

Eating many new things, learning about Tassie pepper, and Lark single Malt.

Getting used to never locking things, and recognising and of course greeting every car.

Having our dogs and cats arrive, and their sheer joy is something I will always treasure. It was a hard expensive decision, but a good one, I hope.

Beginning to have the island move from beautiful but unknown -- it's always felt rather like coming home to place we'd never been to but knew we belonged in -- to place we feel more secure and familiar with.

Been there.
Done that.

On the whole -good outweighs the bad by several orders of magnitude.
So here is 2011! We'll keep swimming up the undertow, and with any luck, it'll be a better year.
And may 2011 be a wonderful year for all of you!

Happy New Year!

*beer is known to be good for beer-batter, and according to our new priest, shampoo (really. I believe many men find it very attractive. I believe there is a money scented one for men wishing to attract ladies of negotiable virtue) and of course as smoke-throat soother. Why do you think people so often drink beer when they smoke?


  1. It's been really delightful to follow your discovery of the island, so very far from here. Thanks for letting us into your lives. Happy Now Year!!

  2. So far away that I posted that comment at almost 9am on New Year's Day, and it shows as posted at 2am of the next morning! It's kind of hard to send timely greetings to you, when you always get there 17 hours earlier.

  3. I'm glad you and Barbs chose OZ.

    I was quite surprised when you chose such a tiny piece of it, but it obviously suited you both.

    Congrats on being here for a year, we hope there will be many more.

    Happy New Year to the Freers!!!!!


  4. Well, I'm very proud of ya'll. It's a hard thing to emigrate when you have a high paying job to go to, it's a whole nother thing when you're going to a new place to hard scrabble.

    Despite the hard knocks it looks like a future.

    Good luck and may you find happiness, health and fortune in your coming year!

  5. AbigailM - thank you all for following our blundering steps. Having friends out there has helped.

  6. Ian :-) Yes, it is a little island... but it has better share per person of cool and wet enough to live than just about anywhere else in Australia - Flinders has 1334 square Km officially split between 900 odd people - in practice though that's split between 350 - as many residents are too old or young to use much, and a fair number are not permanent residents. Or to put it another way - three times as big as the Seychelles with 1/100th of the population. Or a kilometer of coastline for every family.

    I love it!

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  8. Quilly I think you're on the money - as usual (last comment came out somehow as 'make'?!)- It makes me respect the emigrants of previous centuries even more. And may things go well 2011 for you and your family too.