Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas from Tasmania....

I am so pleased to be able to say that.....


Earlier this week I bought a second hand spinning wheel from an elderly lady who lives on the coastline. Before buying it, I went to take a look because it's a good 22 years since I spun any wool and I needed to make sure I'd be able to work it out. As I drove home from her place, I felt a wave of sadness washing over me. She'd told me she was selling off some stuff because she was moving to a unit, so I guessed she had probably been recently widowed, and I really sat with this on my journey home - how life ebbs and flows and changes constantly, and how the threads of others' lives continue through our own.

When I went to pick up the wheel a couple of days later, she told me that her husband had died several months ago and she could no longer manage the upkeep of her huge house on the hill or the 5 acres that unrolled around it. The sadness in her was tangible. She's a passionate gardener and clearly loved the laughter of the kookaburras in the trees that towered over her verandah, but she's off to a future that will fit her better now, and she is taking another smaller wheel with her, so she can teach her granddaughter to spin. And so the yarn continues to wind down through the generations of her family after all.

So now I have a spinning wheel. I always said I'd get one when we came to Tasmania. I need someone to show me how to use it, but I know I'm going to get right back into all that carding and dyeing and spinning and plying.... I loved it when I did it all those years ago in London. It was magical. I remember when I was about 18, during my last year in the Cotswolds, I met a guy whose mother dyed and spun the wool of her own sheep, and knitted it up into amazing jumpers, mainly for the Japanese market. She lived in this amazing old house called Postlip Hall, and she had a big studio full of wheels, yarns, colours, and textured garments spread out across the floor. They were mesmerising, real works of art. I spent a night there and for some reason I couldn't sleep, so at dawn I found an old wooden window seat and sat there, gazing out over the misty fields, at the sheep in the meadow. It was enchanting.

I may not have my own sheep (although we have friends with alpacas and Grandpa keeps sheep so I'll not be short of a fleece or two...) but now I do have my own meadow garden and the neighbouring farmer's paddock to gaze out at every day. With the mist rolling along the riverline, all the way down the valley, and the Hereford cows ambling in between the trees, it's a little bit like living in a Turner landscape. And I can't wait to get that wheel turning, that rhythm going and that yarn spinning through the new year.... I have a feeling it'll be a good one.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home At Last

We moved into our Tasmanian house a week and a half ago. We cannot believe how beautiful everything is around here..... the Huon valley is quite possibly the loveliest place I have ever been to, and I've travelled quite a bit. I guess I didn't take it all in when I came to view the property back in June or July or whenever it was, but driving down here from the ferry was simply breathtaking, especially once we reached the southern side of Hobart.

Our house is gorgeous too - so big and spacious, and full of character as old weatherboards are. We are so happy with it. The children love to just run around it when they're not busy exploring the fairytale wildflower garden outside.

We still have a few boxes to unpack, and lots of business to attend to now we've moved interstate. Without curtains in the house yet, the children are reluctant to go to bed much before 9pm which means our evenings have been cut very short... and I am busy trying to knit a Christmas monkey, dinosaur and mermaid.... but we'll get there. It takes time to settle in after a big move and we have plenty of that.

After 25 years of city life, I am feeling set quite free in so many ways, and of course missing a few things too. There's nowhere nearby to go for a swim, and my precious Bikram's yoga is a good drive away in Hobart. But the pros are going to far outweigh the cons, especially once we deepen and extend our connections here. And every drive I take is a stunning one! I have adapted surprisingly easily to country roads, although I did get caught out on a steep, windy dirt track while exploring the other day!

I know we will have such a good time here, and it's the best possible place to raise children. Watching them frolic on the beach last week, my heart skipped a beat. They were so happy, so full of the sheer joy of being alive and free to roam. So hello Tasmania, we are very very happy to finally be here. Our move to Australia finally makes sense.