Is 8 am too early for blue cheese?
Well thanks to old mate jet-lag we didn’t manage to see in the new year! We have managed to see most of today, 1-1-2017. We’ve been up since 4am and by 8am I can no longer resist the waft of blue cheese every time the fridge door is opened. Dang it! I treat myself to some new year’s day decadence.
Creamy, pungent blue cheese on sourdough. This is the kind of morning where anything goes!
The boys are out playing football in t-shirts in the crisp 7 degree air. And who am I to argue with with my instagram family! They all agree. “It’s definitely too early for cheese – said no one ever!” My friend Karen, aka CoffeeTeaBooks, responds when I post a photo of my breakfast fare posing the question “ .. is it too early for cheese?”
It may be icy outside, but inside we are toasty. Houses seem so much more insulated and heated here. It’s such a cosy feeling. The Dutch have a name for this feeling, gezellig. Gezellig is more than cozy, more than the just the atmosphere. It’s also the people and the moment. Of course I also have my holiday love glasses on. You know the ones? They see everything as perfect.
So often Europeans are shocked we have a winter and that it gets cold in Australia. Although, we seem to be in some denial of it too. Most of the houses I’ve ever lived in were never efficient at either keeping the heat in during winter nor the heat out in summer. During the first winter we lived in Sydney the kids and I took to roaming the streets for firewood! It was so cold in the old terrace house we’d rented in Paddington.
Yes, to be able to afford a terrace in Sydney means we are absolutely privileged and that’s never lost on me. Our privilege didn’t however extend to renting a renovated, heated terrace. More the type of terrace a group of students may have shared. That is, back when students could afford to live in share houses in Australian cities.
After spending our 20s studying, traveling, living interstate and abroad, we spend our 30’s settled in Melbourne. When an employment offer came offering Greg a career move to Sydney we were up for it. Ready to leave our grassy backyard and white picket fence!
Once again, as seems to be the story of my life, I was ready to go in search of something. Perhaps, I wasn’t ready for my current life to be enough, or my gypsy soul was restless for an adventure. While Greg was wary of moving to Sydney, I could only see excitement. It is not change I fear, quite the opposite, it’s staying the same.
When we started looking for somewhere to live in Sydney it was my romantic notions that moved us into a terrace house. The terrace with its ornate features, high ceilings, old world charm and the vibey, cool suburb of Darlinghurst on the doorstep! Yes, surely this was going to be perfect.
Perfect – that lasted about a day!
The first night I was introduced to the resident rat, apparently rats and Paddington are a thing. I was horrified – vermin is not a ‘thing’ I can do. In the first weeks of moving a ridiculous amount of our stuff broke. Crazy winds that blew glass frames from the walls, a treasured sculpture we’d been gifted for our wedding was knocked over and smashed.
Oh dear! What had we done? The greener grass I was chasing in this move to Sydney .. it sure wasn’t growing in my tiny yard.
Lost – our obsession with time.
After a morning of cheese and football, once again we take the picturesque walk through the local village to the train station. The Christmas decorations still adorn the street lamps of the high street, and a canopy of fairy lights hang high above us.
For most of my life and the short lives of our children Christmas time has been synonymous with summer, family, friends, fresh brightly coloured fruit, camping and lazy beach days. When we decided to have this adventure, preparing is not only administrative and packing it also a process of letting go. Letting go of ideas about yourself, the life path you were heading on and of known comforts.
Giving up our permanent, yearly ocean campsite booking at Barwon Heads was one of the hardest things I had to let go of. Will we be able to create similar joyous kinds of traditions for our family? I ponder this while we sit at this small village train station where Christmas time now looks like puffer jackets, trivia cards and waiting for a train into London as we sit surrounded by paddocks filled with sheep and cows.
I suppose adventure is not only about letting go, it’s about giving in. Giving in to the unknown. Giving in to follow your heart even when sometimes it doesn’t all go to plan.
London and its public transport system is a dream. There is nowhere you can’t go. A network of trains, tubes, busses and boats that allow you to criss cross this multi-layered city founded by Romans over 2,000 years ago.
Today, we found our way to Greenwich by train and visited the Shepherd Gate clock, the famous clock that shows GMT at the Royal Observatory. We spent the day wandering the expansive parklands that surround it. It’s the perfect day of soaking in the winter sunlight, the spontaneity of playing with the soccer ball in our day-pack, of being in this time together, with just us and a free agenda.
Dinner was in a traditional English pub that waved the English red cross and Union Jack flags. The kind of place where every dish has a side of mashed peas and the beer is warm! While we ate we gave the trivia cards another workout before heading into the dock to take the ferry down the River Thames and into London.
From the water we reached iconic London as we pass by the Tower of London, and our eyes stuffed with the wonder of this historical city we glide under London Bridge. A little way further we disembark and make our way towards Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.
Before our day of adventuring is over, as we are wandering home under the fairy lights through the village, we stop to see Venus alongside the moon. I learn from Greg and Tommy, our eldest, that Venus is often on show in the night sky.
How did I get to 44 years of age and not know this? How have I not looked at the sky in awe like this with my children and marveled at the wonder of seeing another planet?
Ph-ew, obviously this is right where I needed to be.
The jet-lag is no longer ruling our nights and as I begin to drift off I’m awake enough to have sleepy thoughts.
Venus. Wow. I still can’t get over it.
What a gift time is. Tommy, 12 years old, often so quiet and secure in his own space with his fountain of thoughts and knowledge that he often keeps to himself. What else will I learn from him in this time we’ve carved out to have an epic adventure?
What would I learn from Zoë, from Lucas and Jimmy? What would I learn about life? Love? Family? One thing I learnt from our life in Sydney was to take it slow. To live this experience.
On this day where we sat at the centre of time. Where there was no hurry, no plan, no place to be, where we didn’t follow the top 10 must see guide to London and for the first time in my life I had seen Venus.
Our adventure had truly begun. For now we could let go of our obsession with time and where to be.
Next week …
A pledge before we leave.
Unexpected love at first sight. The Emerald Isle.
If you made it this far, thank you! 🌷 Perhaps you can help me. Are there mistakes, gaps? Do you need more description, depth or explanation in any of the paragraphs? Are some details not needed? Obviously it is the beginning so the bigger themes of minimising, travel and of course the trip will unfold but I’d like to be sure I keep the flow. And this is a beginning, a draft and I will grow with it, but my friends and editors, please feel free to offer your advice. You can do so in the comments or via my comment page.