Monday, 4 February 2013

Break in transmission

However many times I do it, flying directly from one side of the world to the other numbs my brain. I'm not talking about the hours in the trip, or the jet lag it produces, though that too. It's that the very possibility of being able to transplant your body overnight from, say, Istanbul to Sydney and hit the ground running (to abuse a cliche) is kind of unbelievable, isn't it? A lot of us do it, often even. Big bird travel provides the quick turnaround time which life as we know it demands. But I find myself resisting the speed too. I need a longer period in which to make the mental shift between cultures. Plus I want the thrill of doing 100-miles between sunrise and sunset in fair winds to stay sharp, and for that it helps to be moving slowly across the planet as a matter of course.

Gardeners planting tulip bulbs at Topkapi palace in Istanbul

The skyline at Broadway in Sydney

But we're modern types, and we've flown home to see our nearest and dearest.






Freddy and Clem


The necessary business of letting go of our grown children hasn't been that straightforward for us, for all the words we've spilled on the subject. I think we needed to reassure ourselves that both they and we are in the right place.

Last week we were briefly in Sydney, but this week the right place is the beach house in New Zealand which, however long it is between visits, has outlasted every other home I've ever known. It's where my dad taught me how much fun it can be mucking about in small sailing boats, it's where my children have spent many many summers with their grandparents and cousins, it's where no matter how claustrophobic or wet your holiday - "soft rain"my sister Barb learned from the Irish this past British  summer to call the kind of dismal weather we're having now - you always make more good memories.


There are eight of us here - sons and daughters minus Sam who toils in Sydney and his girlfriend Madi who toils in Papua New Guinea.  Last night, on account of the persistent drizzle, we canned the barbecue and roasted a leg of lamb. Of course, you say. New Zealand lamb. It was good as you're imagining. And my mother called to say she'd bought a house. Never a dull moment with my mum. I am a little out of practice at reading and responding to the currents which swirl about and under the surface here, but give me a week and I'll have forgotten I'm on a remote island at the southern extremity of the globe. New Zealand and its norms will have reasserted their position at the centre of the universe. But isn't that why we've flown so far? To reset the compass? Find our true north? GPS tells you one story, but your heart tells you another.

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