So it's Haere Re, Aotearoa, and G'day Australia, as my brother trades me in for his girlfriend and I scoot off across the Tasman Sea, thankfully a few days before the Qantas staff decide they don't fancy working any more. From a country where the only harmful creatures are a pre-menstrual goat or an over-excited All Blacks fan, to a land where even the rain is venomous and has been known to kill a malnourished child.
It's a strange feeling landing in Sydney, where I lived for nearly 12 months about, ooh, 8 years back. Dragging my bags through Central Station is like alighting at Charing Cross - I know the procedure, know where to go, which exit to take, and soon I'm at my hostel, my pale skin and glistening brow the only signs that I'm a tourist.
That evening I go for a stroll (once it's cooled down a bit: my mind might have adjusted to Oz but my body's still accustomed to NZ), and it's like Dorothy going back to, er, Oz. I remember all the street names, where the shops are; I approach a corner and think 'Oh yeah there was a nice coffee shop just round there' and sure enough it's still there; I saunter through Hyde Park and memories, people, conversations come back to me in whispers that make me smile.
It feels like a second home. I suppose it should be a third home, since I spent my Uni years ('The Unfinished Years') in Nottingham, but whereas that city has changed greatly since I was there - trams, solar-powered parking meters and other new-fangled technology! - Sydney hasn't changed much, as far as I can tell.
There's something about this city. I'm a different person here. I'm not sure if it's the place itself, or that transformation people undergo when on holiday, where they lose their inhibitions. Chances are if I spent a few months in Vancouver or Salzburg it'd have the same liberating effect. It's definitely not the weather since it's chilly and drizzly at the moment - standard British fare which could make the staunchest of ex-pats homesick.
Nope. There's something about being away, about the mind being in another place, separated from the Norm, that changes its state. I find I do a lot of my writing, or at least come up with ideas and solutions, when i'm away. Even if it's on the train between cities, or at my Dad's staring out at the English Channel, my brain thinks 'You're not in Kansas any more' and flicks the inhibitor switch, releasing creativity and extroversion.
In the 2 weeks I've been in Sydney, I've been for 3 jogs, written 2 short films, and chatted up 1 woman in the supermarket. To put those into context, I've not been for a jog outside of a gym for at least 3 years, written less than that in as many months, and never done the latter!
Let's hope this behaviour continues as I cruise up the coast.
Reading in the Botanical Gardens