Just watched my first Australian election night coverage. Major differences from UK – including compulsory voting, elected upper house, a complicated form of proportional representation and no returning officers in town halls – but remarkably familiar array of vacuous clichés from highly groomed people who don’t seem to stand for anything. New lot offer to protect one of the wealthiest and least populated countries on the planet from the Terror of asylum seekers and plan to start mining the Barrier Reef asap. Sigh.

None of it my fault of course as I don’t have a vote. I do have Permanent Residency however, granted last month, which allows me to stay with the full range of civil rights, bar voting. This change of status fed into a range of conversations in London, Barcelona, Chicago and Point Reyes over recent months: I have been in Australia for nearly two years but my ‘real’ life has stayed in Leeds and London, where my friends, family and home are. The main focus has been on my job, understanding the organisation, my colleagues and the challenges faced by Australian higher education. But I’ve been wondering if its OK to have so much of my energy tied up in work – should I change something or accept this as an opportunity to write the papers and books that are bubbling up? I would think wistfully of my warm kitchen, friends sitting at the table, something made with lentils in the oven,  sigh and return to my companion iPad. Hmm. Then one conversation shifted everything and I realised I don’t have to be mildly miserable all the time and that I can have fun here without that constituting an act of betrayal against friends or family or even my Leeds home. Some part of me was behaving as if too bereaved by loss to engage in the present let alone the future. I wonder if this is common among people leaving the familiar for the unknown? Or just older single people doing likewise? This blog was always intended to explore such stuff so it seems right to record it.

Anyway, came back from conference travels to Europe and US with a willingness to embrace what Australia has to offer (this was before the election of course). And bugger me if the most beautiful house didn’t come on the rental market within a week of my return. Looking at these pictures (See link below), it was as if I already lived there. My books are on the shelves and – look – those are lentils simmering on the stove. Met the owner, a delightful woman who clearly loves the place, the following week and we could both see the match – same sort of age, same taste, both writers. She was as happy to find a tenant so clearly besotted with it as I was to realise I really can live there with the kangaroos and possums and parrots and gum trees. Just have to work out if I can finish the MS for Routledge before I move or if that’s impossible. Can’t wait to have friends round, planning a house-warming, hoping people will stay over on the way to or from Sydney and following the FB post, expecting many more visitors. A new start in my new home.

New home in the Blue Mountains