A Place to call Home

Trip Start May 19, 2009
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Australia  , Queensland,
Friday, August 13, 2010

And so, one Saturday night, a weary traveller pulled up at a house in the suburbs of Brisbane. 

After almost a year in Oz, I was finally getting round to visiting someone...and, proving that the World is indeed a small place, on the other side of the globe I had family, in the shape of Alex, my brother's wife's brother. 

No, I'm not really sure how we're related either...but I can tell you that he's the Uncle Al to my Auntie Chloe, and I was excited to finally have someone I could wax lyrical about my nephews to for a few hours without their eyes glazing over.

I had told Al that I'd arrive at around lunchtime.  Then by 3pm.  Then 5pm.  After dropping off Jess in town, though, and pulling in to the bottle shop to stock up on guest giftage, I finally pitched up at around 8.

Arriving at the door, I found myself simultaneously wrestled by Al and his German Shepherd, Gibson.  In between hugs (Alex) and licks (Gibson) we struggled through to the garden to find Jo, Al's wife, and a friend in fits of raucous laughter.  After checking myself nervously to ensure I didn't have a paw print brassiere, I caught sight of the empties and realised I'd arrived a little late for the party, and took it upon myself to down the wine I'd brought as a gift for Jo in an effort to catch up.

What a guest.  I wonder why people don't invite me round more often?

Over the next few hours we swapped tales of life in Australia and memories of our lives in the UK.  As is common with people who have too much to catch up on, the conversation meandered in circles, diverted in tangents and was so littered with interruption that we could have sat there for a good few days and found out nothing.  Still, sometimes the journey is more fun than the destination.

After feasting on gourmet barbeque food I couldn't decide what I was more impressed by...Alex's transformation from former hellraiser to domesticated culinary God or the fact I could sit outside in a T-shirt without feeling cold.

And so followed five days of gourmet barbeque food, beers, my rediscovery of the joys of television and over two hours of my life wasted on the film 'Inception'.**

Whilst I spent the days sorting out my ever expanding Worldly possessions (a hazard of owning a van) and in the process turned the place into a bomb site, Gibson whiled away the hours pursuing me with his favourite toys and showing little interest in guarding the place.  But then, Al wasn't wrong when he said he lived on Ramsay Street.  In a neighbourhood where no-one locks their doors, there was little need for a guard dog.  And Gibson was pulling off a pretty convincing impression of Bouncer.

I could understand why Al chose to leave Blighty behind.  Queensland lived up to its moniker of 'The Sunshine State', with the sun drenched days giving way to a starry blanket at night, and the warm evening air peppered with the chatter of crickets and tree frogs.  It sure makes a change from biting cold, the whirr of a police siren and shrieks of chavs. 

On my last night, we spent a good few hours looking through photos of our nephews.  As the tears inevitably welled, I realised that nothing in life comes without a trade off. 

In truth, being so far away can make you feel like you're missing out.  But then, sharing it with someone in the same boat is about as close as you'll ever feel to Home on the other side of the World.

** P.S. if anyone would like to explain the plot of the film Inception to me I will gladly shout you a pint.
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