For a while now Dad has been serving on a committee to restore a Melbourne landmark, the famous Skipping Girl. This week the sign was finally reinstalled and switched on, and Mum and Dad were there to witness it, so Dad was interviewed by The Age.
Lotte and I are finally back in Melbourne. In the end it felt as though a lifetime had passed since we first got the news that started off our 2 year adventure to England. And yet, inevitably, when we returned it felt a little like that was just a moment ago. It has predictably been a good time to reflect for both of us, and we’ve spent a lot of time just talking about what an amazing journey we’ve been on. We really have been so incredibly fortunate just to have the chance to do this. It’s difficult to describe how many ways we’ve been effected, but just by looking back over this blog it’s obvious that we’ve both been given all kinds of opportunities in terms of family, work, travel, dancing, teaching and (perhaps most significantly) life long friendships.
The last couple of weeks in Cambridge were pretty frenetic, and they just reinforced this last point for us. First of all we performed in Perspectives with the troupe, who have all become really close friends to us. Doing a show for 6 nights in a row is such a great way to have fun, and Perspectives was the most rewarding performance experience of my life so far. The sense of inspiration it gave all of us was palpable and lasting, and every time we danced in the last couple of weeks it showed.
And we did dance rather a lot. Somehow we ended up with a really intensive schedule, starting with our last night of teaching on Wednesday where again had something close to 60 students in the beginner class and 25 or so in intermediate. We held the AGM in between because there was no other time and we were really pleased when 6 new committee members put their nominations forward. Then on Friday night we taught a class at Wolfson, and partied until midnight and on Saturday it was the main event: the Lindyhopathon!
Lotte did a wonderful job in her interview with ITV for the hopathon (above). Unfortunately Ros, the main organiser, was too sick on the day to be there for the interview. But the good news is that we raised over £5,700, including more than £450 for the taxi dances alone! Actually the media campaign for the event was very successful, because we had 2 radio interviews and a front page in the local weekly as well as this. At the very least there should be a few more people who are aware of it next time around.
By Sunday night we had finished packing, and all that remained was to get rid of Lotte’s bike, and to party with everyone at The Snug in Lensfield Road. The send off turned out to be pretty emotional, particularly when Maria handed over a leather bound memory book with contributions from all of our friends. The book has all kinds of photos, stories, illustrations and in-jokes from the last two years. We’re going to add some of our own photos as well.
At 7.15am on Monday morning we took the bus to Heathrow and promptly fell asleep, blissfully unaware that the bus would run into traffic on the way, delaying our arrival by about half an hour. We were also told by the driver that Terminal 4 was a mess because of roadworks, so we would be better off getting the train from the central bus terminal. We struggled down to the underground with all our stuff, and found that the next train was not for another 9 minutes. That was when we started to panic. We had to check in at least 90 minutes before departure, and with nearly an hour of delays we were now cutting it very fine. We formulated a plan that Lotte would run ahead to the Qantas check in desk while I struggled along behind with most of the luggage. For whatever reason, they don’t actually have a Qantas sign up anywhere at departures, and with about 2 minutes to spare Lotte was not strangely not all that amused when a she asked a BA employee where to go and he just scratched his head, pretending he’d never heard of Qantas! Eventually he directed her to the BA counter where I met her, just as she was told (to our great relief) that we had made it in time.
There was just one problem. We had booked separately because I was claiming frequent flyer miles, and the plane was full, so there were no more seats together. We were still just thankful to be on the flight at all, but the lady at the desk started to see if she could work something out so we could sit together. It was at this point that Lotte let it slip that we were going home to get married. The lady was on the phone for about 5 minutes in total, and then just reached over with our boarding passes and said: “Sometimes it pays to be late. You’re going to be flying Business Class today”. Lotte literally jumped up and down on the spot and blew her kisses. I just stood in stunned silence, before giggling my head off. Needless to say the flight was absolutely amazing. The level of comfort is just unbelievable, and I remember thinking to myself “how could there be another class even higher than this?”. By chance we got seats right at the very front of the flight deck, directly behind the cockpit. It was like the flight was entirely for us, because we basically didn’t see anyone other than the pilots and the doting flight attendants. The seats recline to be as flat as beds, so we slept about 85% of the time, waking up only to eat the (really really good) meals. We figured out how much the bill for such extravagence would normally be: just under £9000: just under $A20,0000 AUD (you read that right). And yes, I got my flight on frequent flyer miles. Our saving? $A18,188.29.
It’s 25 days, 20 hours and 39 minutes until we leave. It really feels like it too. That is, I have a strong sensation of time counting down in small increments, as though in the back of my mind a tiny hourglass is close to being empty. At our weekly “bun club” meeting this afternoon I actually had a strong sense of time-shift, as though I was observing everything from a distant future and looking back on my time here in Cambridge. All the forward-planning topics reminded me of a parallel universe in which I would not exist, and my thoughts drifted to Melbourne, where presumably some other meeting was taking place to determine my actual future.
Well, we sold about 85% of the stuff in the Moving Sale almost immediately. Today we got around to cleaning out more cupboards, and there are some more new items, including Lotte’s bike and my M.A. Gown. I’m really serious when I say — get in quick if you want any of this stuff!! Moving Sale.
It’s time to start getting rid of our stuff because we just can’t take it all home to Melbourne. We decided to price everything so that it’d definitely go (many things are only 50p and some are actually free), so naturally this is first come, first served. A few items will be available in the week we move out (Jan 29) but most things are ready to go now. If you’re interested, here’s the page with photos and prices: Moving Sale.
It’s official now, so I guess I can announce it here. I’m really happy to have been awarded a small ascilite research grant for a proposed project on ‘ICTs in the daily lives of Australian university students’, which follows up on the work Mike Arnold and I started here at Cambridge. It’s a fun project, involving giving students cameras and diaries, and asking them to record their daily lives by answering a few questions 10 times in a day. Best of all it gives me something to plan for when I get back to Melbourne. It’s 9 weeks today until we leave…
Apologies for the slight break in transmission. We’ve been pretty busy moving out of our place in Melbourne and, then into our new place in Cambridge. We took just a couple of snaps before we left to remind us of the old place. This one was taken at our farewell party on the Monday night before we left. A word of warning: if you’re ever moving overseas and you have your farewell party 48 hours before departure you’re going to have a lot of cleaning up to do, and you might consider moving most of your furniture beforehand. We got out of it without too much trouble by giving away just about everything we possibly could to our friends as they left the party. People left with all sorts of items, including chocolates, kitchen utensils, cricket bats and ancient technological clutter.
What was I saying about life not going as planned? Last night my brother was rushed into surgery to have his gall bladder (along with a 1.5 cm stone) removed. Well, “rushed” is a strictly figurative term in this case because he was actually kept waiting in pre-op for about 4 hours because of an emergency case. But they had only diagnosed the gallstone the day before and had him into theatre last night at about 8pm. I was there when he was wheeled back up to his ward to see him give his victory point of the finger and smile as best he could through an oxygen mask. I know what it feels like when you’re waking up from being under — those drugs are actually pretty good and you feel very relieved that it’s all over. Despite being pretty groggy he was joking around so much we had to struggle not to wake up the other patients.
We’ve decided that with news of Oma’s stready progress we can stick to our initial plan of leaving on January 11. We’ll probably just change our side-trip plans to get to Amsterdam earlier and stay a little longer. This will mean we can proably just get everything organised before our departure, although I have to say it’s getting pretty tight.
Since getting over the initial shock of our impending trans-hemispheric move, we’ve started to notice our perspective shift. Before we were here in Melbourne and thinking about what it would be like to be overseas, and all the implications for family, friends, and work. Now, even though we’re here in Melbourne in a physical sense, our minds are already on the way to England.
Not only are we dealing with the issues of setting up bank accounts, arranging visas, accommodation, and travel — we’re also slowly beginning to consider all the human connections that are important, both with people in Europe and people here. We’re conscious of spending time with family and friends while we’re still here. And we’re in daily contact with friends and family in England and Holland respectively, talking about everything from airport pick-ups to who has some tea-towels and crockery we can “borrow”.
All of this gives us this strange sensation of seeing our lives here as though we’ve suddenly jumped outside the goldfish bowl. We keep noting how cheap groceries are here (like it didn’t occur to us before) and spending time in the sunshine like it’s our last chance. Stupid, really, but we just can’t escape the feeling that our cognitive epicentre has already started teleporting to the other side of the planet.
Well, we arrived home to a cold and rainy Melbourne yesterday evening and it’s been a lazy Sunday doing very little but recovering from the journey home. I’ll keep posting pictures from the rest of the trip in the next few days.
Unfortunately I have a lot to do. Last week the server hosting all my sites and my email was hacked badly. Slydog is moving everything over to a new host and hopefully we will have things back up and running soon, but in the meantime SwingTalk is down along with the MLX site and all the others. My email is only accessible through a web client right now and I’m not actually sure if all my mail will be there when it’s back up. Slightly scary.
Still, it’s good to be home. I didn’t actually miss much in Australia while I was away because I was having too much fun, but I did miss my cat, Mr Squiggle. He didn’t miss me at all, I’m sure. As long as he’s fed, he’s happy.