If change is good, then right now our cup is brimming over. Having moved halfway around the world three months ago – from London to Auckland – last week we upped sticks and moved again. Luckily our new house is in the same lush, green neighbourhood so we didn’t have far to go this time, and now our home is filled with all the things that we shipped from the UK – including, essentially, our trusty sofa. A well-travelled friend, who has moved her family around the world several times, said the most important thing to take on a long-stay elsewhere is the sofa and some familiar artwork. Her thought being that if the hub of the home, where the family gets together and feels relaxed, is intact and if the eyes rest on a few recognisable, loved objects, then your home-from-home is set.
Our goods arrived last week and, while we were unpacking, Teddy was at liberty to explore his new garden. He investigated the borders, barked at the neighbours, ate some unmentionables from underneath the decking and enjoyed lounging about in the long, tough grass. How different from his tiny patch of outdoor space back in London. Ted is now spending an awful lot of time outside, either snoozing (always with one eye open), or sniffing the air and getting a feel for his new domain.
I wonder what he’s taking in – aside from the tempting barbecue smells that this weekend emanated from the farmer’s market at the end of our street?
Three months in and I’m still sniffing the remarkably sweet-smelling air, noting the differences between Auckland and London. There’s the blazing sun that, even during this apparently unusually rainy spring, quickly turns a day from being cool and damp to steamy and tropical. You never know which you’re going to get. The ever-present threat of rain sheds some light on the practical Kiwi style habit: wearing flip-flops (or jandals) with everything.
I can’t stop ogling the super-sized plants. Huge palm trees, meaty flowers and exotic vegetation look triffid-style lush.
Then there’s the utter absence of litter, which seems all the more remarkable given that there are so few litter bins (something I might not have noticed if I wasn’t constantly in search of a place to deposit a poo bag – and no, they don’t tie used poo bags to trees over here).
And that’s just the dog walks… I’m intrigued that the same country which turns out the most incredibly polite children (who hold constant eye contact and converse easily with grown-ups), is super-relaxed when it comes to swearing. I was listening to an ad on national radio and up popped w****r, more than once. My teenage son explained that it just doesn’t have the same weight over here; “That’s just the way they roll.” Okay.
So, in amid all the newness, and while we are all still sniffing the air, there’s always the sofa to come back to in a place that, for the moment, does indeed feel like home. Ted for one, is thrilled.