Back from outer space

A week ago today, I arrived back in Auckland with Dark Princess and Miss Fliss, but as I drove along the waterfront into the city for an interview this afternoon, with the sun beating down on the achingly blue waters of the Waitemata harbour, I didn’t feel I’d arrived back from four years in England.


Taken on my first run. Beautiful calm waters, early morning at Bucklands Beach, Auckland. Rangitoto presiding over all in the background.

Oh no, I’m back. From outer space.

Everything has turned upside down.

It’s night here, it’s morning there. It’s -6 degrees C there, it’s 23 degrees C here, and we spent the afternoon in the pool.

It’s buttoned down, collar turned down, head down, wrapped up warm, close, personal, private…none-of-your-business there..

And every person we’ve spoken to here has asked about our journey these past four years. With a smile on their face, and banter laced with jokes. Everyone wants to know your business here.

Of course this is still the honeymoon. I’m not even over jet lag yet, I know we will see the negative stuff soon enough.

Hell, after an $18 parking fee for 1.5 hours parking in the city today, maybe I am already becoming realistic…

But it is still a huge change and does feel as if we have been on another planet.

I was thinking about this on board the first 13 hour flight from London to Singapore, which is pretty much half way between worlds – the old and the new. At least the flights Down Under are so long they actually feel like a journey. You can’t close your eyes until you magically arrive at your destination a few hours later. This isn’t an Easyjet flight to the sun.

This is an old fashioned journey, the likes of which my Mum used to tell me about, travelling by train (for days) down from North Queensland to Brisbane. It’s not quite the epic voyages with circling wagons and babies born en route, but it is a long enough journey to actually change.

To process. To sleep. To grow.

It’s as if you’re suspended from life for 24 hours in a self-contained bubble.  Somewhere high above Chittagong, Bangladesh (Is that pronounced with  a hard ‘ch’ or a soft one – ‘shittagong’?) I realised that for the first time in a very long time I was completely alone with my thoughts. No internet interruptions, no meals to cook, no washing to do, no tidying or driving people around. Nothing much to do but think, plan and process everything that’s happened.

Guiltily I realise that even if I have forgotten to do that thing, no one can bug me about it now, or even for another 15 hours or so.

But the other passengers populate our world and we become inexorably involved in each others’ lives. I overhear the young Kiwi Dad behind me telling off his young sons…

“Jack, you don’t gouge your brother. Ok? Seriously!”

Territory battles play out on the shared armrest between seats, as the girls moan at each other wearily..

“Stop it! You’re bumping me and I’m trying to sleep. Mum, make her stop!”

It’s all a slice of life… Vanity Fair…

Even going to the loo finds me offering medical attention to a hypoglycaemic passenger who urgently needs sugar! Not the first time I’ve saved a life with chocolate.

In my seat, I turn off the movies in favour of the Flight Path mode on the entertainment system. It somehow amuses me to know that we are moving at a ground speed of 957 kms per hour and that there’s only 4 hours 47 minutes to our destination – Singapore. For a moment I forget about the 8 hours we’ve already flown.

‘4 hours isn’t far. 4 hours is a trip from London to Cyprus, or a long flight from Brisbane to Auckland, battling a head wind. ‘

I study the Flight Path some more and notice a curved line between dark and light that sweeps around the edge of Australia and shrouds the European continent in dark shadows. Curiously the map of Australia only has two lights on – one in Sydney and one in Brisbane. New Zealand has none.

Obviously no one’s there!

‘It’s not far now’ I remember thinking.  ‘Only the equivalent of two flights from London to Cyprus (on top of the three flights we’ve already had). It isn’t far..’

But it is. Any journey that includes two breakfasts back to back because of the flight time constitutes a big trip.

It is a long, long way from England to New Zealand.

Not just in flight miles.

And when we finally pushed our bags through the doors into the foyer of Auckland International Airport, we feel every single mile.  We rub Heathrow from our eyes and Changi from our hair as we dry cough stale airplane air from our lungs, and take big, deep breaths in. Our first lung bursting fill of New Zealand.

We’ve travelled a very, very long way. And now we’re back.

From outer space.


'Back from outer space' has 17 comments

  1. December 13, 2012 @ 9:51 am Rachael

    Loved this. Brave and beautifully written. Much as I’m sad to lose you to your homeland, I know I’m going to love reading all about your new life over there. Much love to you all. xxx


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:10 pm Vegemitevix

      Thank you. I know there’s heaps of things I’m going to miss about England – friends being one of them – and I just wish it wasn’t so expensive travelling between the two worlds. I think we are going to have one foot on either side of the globe for evermore.


  2. December 13, 2012 @ 9:57 am Trish @ Mum's Gone to

    Beautifully written, Vix. Sitting here in the UK with freezing temperatures outside, am very envious of you. Hope you’re settling in well, enjoying the sunshine and looking forward to the next part of your life journey.


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:11 pm Vegemitevix

      Thanks Trish. Somehow the warmth just makes it easier to cope. As beautiful as England is in winter dusted with snow, I think I’m more of a warm weather person.


  3. December 13, 2012 @ 10:21 am Milly

    And it’s lovely to have you here! Thanks for all your help today 🙂


  4. December 13, 2012 @ 10:32 am bronnie marquardt

    Your post gave me goosebumps. Welcome back to this side of the world. xx


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:07 pm Vegemitevix

      Thanks bronnie. Mwah to you! Hey, I’m going to be catching up with you in the flesh next year. Woohoo.


  5. December 13, 2012 @ 11:31 am London City Mum

    Vix – honeymoon period notwithstanding, I can feel you being ‘reborn’ and am watching with tears of happiness (for you and yours) in my eyes.
    Miss you, love you.

    LCM xx


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:07 pm Vegemitevix

      Thank you. Miss you too and looking forward to seeing you Down Under next year.


  6. December 13, 2012 @ 12:20 pm Christine Agate-Amorim

    Lovely post x hope you are starting to settle in.


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:06 pm Vegemitevix

      Thank you! Still trying to get work and home organised and pretty busy with it, but it’s all good.


  7. December 13, 2012 @ 12:51 pm MidlifeSinglemum

    I’ve been waiting all week for this post. Welcome home! looking forward to reading all about it. xxx (Can you believe you actually did it?)


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:05 pm Vegemitevix

      Can’t really believe I did it. My Englishman is still at home trying to get everything sorted which is a huge job so I wonder if he’s got the worst part of the deal. Here it’s beautiful, sunny, and warm. Reminds me of Israel in September. 🙂 And bouganvillea everywhere.


  8. December 13, 2012 @ 4:30 pm Adventures

    You’ve truly captured that sense of a journey with this piece: a long, laborious, emotionally laden. life-altering journey. And the repatriation begins


    • December 13, 2012 @ 6:04 pm Vegemitevix

      Thank you so much! The funny thing is that I rather like the journey itself, not just getting to the destination. I love that elastic time to think.


  9. December 13, 2012 @ 9:42 pm Steve

    Welcome back – in every sense of the word. Hope the good times roll for you all!


  10. December 14, 2012 @ 2:04 pm Di

    Welcome home Vix. Very envious that you are there! Be happy x


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