We’ve made it home, safe and sound after our time away. Our freshly painted house looks great, but I’ve not managed to take any photos yet. We’re too busy trying to unpack everything and get rid of all the dust and grime which comes with having tradespeople in your house. And sew and hang curtains…agh. A total nightmare. I promise I’ll share some photos – just as soon as it no longer looks like someone’s squatting in our living room!
I didn’t write about it much while we were away, but we spent the last fortnight with my parents at their house on Norfolk Island. My father and his family moved to the island when he was a teenager, and my grandmother still lives there permanently. My mother and father spend a good part of their year on Norfolk, spending time with my grandmother and enjoying the beach and the other things the island has to offer.
Norfolk Island is a tiny island off the east coast of Australia, in the Pacific Ocean. It’s kind of between Australia, New Caledonia and the most northern tip of New Zealand, on a similar latitude to Brisbane. Norfolk has an area of 34.6 square kilometers (13.4 square miles) and the climate is subtropical. That said, we had hot weather while we were there this year and no rain – which is quite atypical of our usual trips.
Norfolk has a fascinating history – variously home to an early Polynesian settlement, two separate convict settlements, and finally the descendents of the mutiny on the Bounty who had outgrown their home on Pitcairn Island. You can read more about Norfolk’s history here – it’s worth checking out. Lots of buildings and ruins from the later settlements remain – some have been turned into museums. We didn’t poke around the ruins on this visit. Elena and Hugo aren’t really up to it yet.
These days, Norfolk Island is a self-governing external territory of Australia. It has it’s own immigration and quarantine regulations and a speed limit of 50 kilometers (31 miles) per hour (40km/hr in town and 30km/hr in the school zone). The cows (who roam the island relatively freely) have right of way on the roads.
We visited Emily Bay (the most popular swimming spot) almost every day – sometimes twice a day – this visit. To our utter surprise, Elena and Hugo were massive fans of the beach and swimming. Hugo took a liking to eating sand and crawling headlong into the water. Elena was a little more wary but still very happy to swim with Alex or me.
My father has a love for all things mechanical and has a few old vehicles on the island – a 1928 Austin Seven Chummy (Alice) and a WWII-era Harley Davidson (civilianised 1942 WLA), as well as a not-so-old Citroën 2CV Dolly (Chloe). Elena was completely enamored of Alice and Chloe and very much enjoyed rides in both. She also loved the bike. I think our daughter might be a rev-head in the making! Hugo was a huge fan of Dad’s tractor.
I even caught a semi-decent photo of Elena in her Christmas dress.
Our garden survived our absence very well. Our tomato plants are full of fruit. I don’t know how many we’re going to get, however – I went out to pick our first ripe tomato this morning to find it had been half eaten by some type of animal/bird. I’ll have to work out how to thwart my competitor!
Unfortunately, while we were away, I received the sad news from our chosen chicken-breeder that one of the lovely chickens we had arranged to buy had died. Because the pullet died from a (bird-to-bird) transmissible disease, the breeder is now unwilling to sell us any chickens. So now we’re back to square one on the chicken front. Given the extreme temperatures we’re having at the moment, I think we’ll wait a few weeks before trying to source some more girls for our (yet to be constructed) coop. It’s a pity, but I guess it comes with the territory (and I’m glad not to have bought an infected flock).
Southern hemisphere friends – I hope you’re keeping cool in this crazy weather. And to those up north…well, I hope you’re keeping dry and warm!