All posts tagged: overseas

Ugh. Jetlag. Who needs it? #firstworldproblemsIknow

We’re back in Oz safely. ‘15’ was SO ready to leave Europe, and had become obsessed with Instagram surfing videos, dreaming of his first dive into our warm, welcoming ocean. I had to practice patient acceptance of his daily mantra ‘I just want to go home and be with my friends…’ So now we’re back. We landed early in Brisbane, and high-fived each other. I hadn’t seen such a big grin on his face for a while, and it was delightful to see him hugging his Dad (he and I broke up when ’15’ was about 3; I wouldn’t define us as ‘good friends’, but it’s been a long, rocky road, and this is probably the best it’s going to get, which is fine). They dropped me at my place on the way home (we live 20 mins apart), and ‘15’ ran in quickly to say hello to our beloved cat, plus comment that ‘the house smells different’, then got back into the car saying ‘I’ll probably see you in January some time Mum…’ I …

I seem to have packed my routines as well

Ah yes, the freedom of Travel with a capital T: being ready for anything, meeting anyone, changing plans in an instant. No work commitments, no diary appointments, no regular routines getting in the way of spontaneous adventure… When we first arrived in the Barn, I was finishing a 2-month ‘cleanse’ of no sugar, almost no wheat, minimal carbs, and various herb concoctions before and after eating (on the advice of both a doctor and naturopath, trying to deal with a water-borne parasite I’d picked up somewhere- Hello Blasto 😦 ). Within a week I was having fresh bread spread with unsalted butter and homemade jam for breakfast, or croissants and pain au chocolat; incredibly rich and varied omelets for lunch followed by more cheese and bread; chicken or fish with garlic potatoes for dinner, finished with more cheese of course. The other day I even drank a glass of champagne in the afternoon, which honestly for me is the equivalent of Keith Richards going on a three-week bender. So we can say I’m letting loose …

Our last swallow has flown South for summer

We arrived 2 weeks ago in the Dordogne (rural France at its best), down by train from Paris through late summer fields and villages. Old stone walls glowed gold at sunset. The air was warm, thick and welcoming, like a fresh baked cinnamon bun straight out of the oven. The ‘Barn’ has stood for more than 300 years, and been in the family since 1981, thanks to the pioneering and determined spirit of Aunt ‘M’ (she of the infamous parking fine in previous post HERE). The solid stone building was full of energy and chatter: twin girls here with their Dad, an Uncle from England, cousins, partners, ‘M’ the matriarch, a visiting octogenarian, old friends and locals alike popping in. Badminton games and barbeques. Loads of washing taken in and out, beds made up, beds stripped down. Wine bottles brought home, and emptied with loud laughter. Old stoneware bowls filled with baked potatoes, garlic, cheese and cream, matching the smoked salmon and rosemary baked chicken. Various neighbours invited for afternoon snacks, as we piled chips, …

Travelling with a teenager to Paris: Completely reassess your food budget

Oh Paris, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Son ‘15’ is a hoovering food machine at the best of times; set him loose in Paris, and watch him ramp up his gourmet habit. Before I committed to this 2-month trip overseas, I drafted a budget. I did some Internet research, talked to a few fellow travellers, and guesstimated how much I’d need to survive for 8 weeks in Europe (while not paying for much accommodation, thanks to my extended family). I panicked a bit over the numbers I admit, then woke up at 2am one restless morning and thought “F**k it, if I don’t go now, when will I? And more importantly, when else will ‘15’ want to actually come with me? It’s now or never, before he’s 16 and in love, or 17 and rebelling, or 18 and doing Europe by himself anyway!” So Hello two return tickets half cash half credit, and a firm but fair travel budget in place in my mind. Hello to sensible talks with ‘15’ …

My middle name is Lucky, and here’s why

“Flash fiction” short story from France: My 76 year-old Aunt ‘M’ and I took her little Golf car into nearby Riberac yesterday. We were going to send postcards back to Australia, wander the shops, and of course, find Wi-Fi to check emails. Where should we park? We drove around the ancient town, narrow lanes not designed for motor vehicles, and got caught in a one-way system round a free carpark; finally, we settled on a spot in the shade, neatly lined up with all the Peugeots and Renaults. We had 1.5 hours ‘Gratuite’ or free, according to the sign; perfect. Imagine how pissed off I was when I came back 1.45 hours later to find a big fat ticket under the windscreen wiper! I couldn’t believe it. I stood there next to the car, frowning and sighing. An old man walking past noticed me, so I went over and stumbled (in French) “What is this and why?”, waving the ticket at him, knowing that the French all love a good complaint about fines and rules. …

Is there a skeleton on your back?

Have you returned to where you grew up? Noticed how much smaller the streets are, and narrowed with more cars? Did you feel nostalgic, longing for good times past, or relieved to have gotten the hell outta there, no matter how picturesque it looks at sunset? My experience was definitely the latter. My son ‘15’ and I were just in Dawlish, a quaint seaside town, full of aged tourists and desperate English families trying to find shelter for their beach picnic. I lived there aged 10-20, and haven’t looked back since I fled to Australia. We’ve come to visit my Mum, who now lives 100 metres from the house I grew up in. The beach still smells of fish, piled with pebbles and seaweed. The amusement arcade still flashes distraction that sucks all coins. Ducks still waddle, but now outnumbered by monstrous seagulls, closely followed by multiple grey gangs of pigeons. The many gift shops still lack style; the strings of coloured light bulbs along the brook running through the town centre flicker like lost …

Travelling with a teenager: Then and Now

I last came overseas with my son when he was 12, three years ago. We went to the UK to reconnect with the cousins he hadn’t seen since he was 6, and his maternal grandmother, who used to live in France. We snuggled in the same guest beds, took tourist tours on open-top buses, and ate familiar foods from home, like fish and chips. We posed with wax loookalikes at Madame Tussaud’s, and got scared witless in the London Dungeon. We played cards, watched crap English TV, and bonded with relatives by telling silly Australian stories (I think they were just enjoying listening to our accents more than anything). Now he’s 15. Tall, growing his hair, hyper-aware of his daily outfits, and often attached to his smartphone (yup, just a regular teenager). Everything is different. He sets the agenda: I want to go to Chinatown. I want to go to Camden. I want to go second hand clothes shopping. I don’t want to go on a bus tour, I don’t want to do the wiping …