Sunday, April 5, 2015

A place in the World

I had an interesting conversation with my lovely wife Caroline today. She suggested that the best years of one's life are the 30's generally, when a person is young enough to enjoy life to the full while old enough to have experienced life and to have found their niche. Obviously, this is a huge generalisation, but in essence the idea is correct. Our best years are those times when we have vigour and energy to get on with doing things, but have enough life experiences to feel comfortable in what we do and the way we do it.

The thought of living in a different country to the one I was born in grew in me from my twenties, but the thought of moving to Australia didn't take hold to my late 30's. Even then, the circumstances were right with Caroline also wanting to try life away from England where we were born. Our combined strength made things happen and we emigrated to Melbourne which we'd never even visited before. We instantly fell in love with the place and haven't thought about living anywhere else in the 10 years we've spent here. I can't imagine living anywhere else for the rest of my life.

While I work hard, and fairly long hours, I do get time for other things. For instance, it is great to live so close to a bay, and the sea. In England I never lived near the sea, so it was always a big thing to go there. I guess I still get the same buzz going to the bay now, even though it is a 15 minute walk away and I often jog to the bay. A coffee and a walk by the bay is a regular part of my life with Caroline, whether near the city in Port Melbourne, near where I live in Elwood, or further down the peninsula, in Mornington, or any of the great bayside towns.

Spirit of Tasmania Dwarfed by Queen Mary II at Port Melbourne
Melbourne's (and Australia's) cultural diversity is something that I think is very desirable and it was amazing when we had the Twitter hashtag #Illridewithyou a few months back in the wake of anti Muslim hostility following the Sydney siege in December. So it was really sad to see that hostility rise again today with the Reclaim Australia rallies across the country being met with counter rallies, with violence and intolerance being part of the demonstrations. To some degree I'm glad I missed it and only caught up with events by news.

No, I was blissfully unaware of the stand off in Federation Square because I spent the day in the Macedon Ranges with Caroline. Victoria is an amazingly beautiful state with great coastline, mountains, some fantastic rivers, and a short but interesting history which finds many of its roots in the gold rush of the mid 1800's. The Macedon Ranges are to the North West of Melbourne, maybe an hour by car. This part of the Great Dividing Range is linked with the history of Australian gold but predating European colonisation it was a part of the Wurrundjeri territory, and sacred sites exist in places like Sunbury which is where the Dividing Range really starts. We didn't stop driving until we reached Macedon. We were lucky with both the weather (which can be atrocious with very limited visibility at times) and the autumn colours.

Deep reds in the Memorial Gardens

Bright and vibrant by the roadside in Mount Macedon

Avenue of Honour, Mount Macedon
From Macedon it is a short hop to Woodend, and another short hop to Kyneton, both beautiful little Victorian towns. Kyneton is historically important with many buildings built in the mid 1800's. It also has a chilled out buzz about it.

Historic Piper Street in Kyneton

'Duck Duck Goose & Larder', originally a Old Kyneton Market

Royal George Hotel, first licensed in 1852.
It was a beautiful day out with Caroline, where we both visited places we'd never been before. We learned things about the history and geography of Victoria which makes us feel even more as if we've found a place we belong while having the ability to enjoy it.

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