More photos from Australia Day

On Australia Day we had a BBQ at my aunt’s house, which turned into an impromptu early birthday party for the babies. Here they are testing out each other’s presents.

I made some bug-cakes

Mala tried to steal Grandma’s lunch

Felix practiced his standing

and learnt how to wash the dishes.

Next time the little guys meet they will be taller, older, wiser. This next little sequence of events is too sweet not to record.

A most beautiful afternoon

We took Felix to Brighton beach again this afternoon, intending just to get a coffee and then have a stroll along the sand. Felix had other ideas. Mum held him while I kicked off my shoes, and she said she heard him gasp when he saw the ocean. He wriggled and wriggled, so we put him down to play on the sand. But he was off like a shot, crawling full-pelt towards the water. Mum caught up with him and stood him up in the shallows for a couple of minutes, then carried him back. He was away again immediately, ‘like one of those turtles’, as Michael put it. I ran after him, but there was no way he was standing up this time, he wanted to sit in the water!  We didn’t even have a towel with us, but we stripped of his clothes, slathered him in sunscreen, and let him go.

He had the most fabulous time. He crawled straight into the water, and even went quite deep at times, but not too deep. The little waves splashed him. He splashed them right back and clambered around and dug his hands into the sand. Then he spotted a two year old girl and crawled over to her, and they played and played, splashing and picking up shells. I chatted to her grandma. And I do not tell a lie when I say it was one of the loveliest hours of my life.

Port Elliot

I am trying to put up lots of beach photos, so I have something to remind me of all this sun when we are settling in to a currently unfathomable Norwegian winter in, gulp, a week’s time.

Last weekend we went down to Port Elliot with my parents on Sunday, and spent a lovely couple of hours splashing around, before devouring the best fish and chips I’ve ever tasted.


As we walk through the supermarket, you spot the fruit and vegetables. ‘Nom nom nom!’ You declare enthusiastically. When we walk past the dog food aisle you point and squeal in delight at the pictures of the dogs.


‘Shall I make you breakfast now?’ I ask one morning.

‘Nom nom nom!’ you agree.


Your slow tumble into language makes my belly flip over. Yesterday morning we played with a little trumpet your great grandma gave you for christmas. You made me blow into it, then you worked out how to blow into it yourself. Later that day, you spot it on your mat. ‘Brrrrrr!’ you say, and go to fetch it.


You are playing next to the safety gate on the stairs, sticking your fingers through the slats.

‘Where’s your ball?’ asks Aunty Anne.

‘Ba!’ you say, and turn around to find it, your face awash with pleasure. It’s hard to describe just how happy you look in these moments – it was the same when you had just learnt to clap, and clapped whenever we said the word. I understand you and you understand me, your eyes say, look! For a moment you are as amazed as I am.

I am so impressed with your new word for ball that I try to tell the story to Michael. ‘And then he turned around, and said b-‘ But I am stuck. ‘Ba’ is not a word I am used to saying, and it gets stuck in my stammer. There is a small pause. You sit at my feet, watching me not speaking. ‘Ba!’ you say, before I can get it out. ‘Oh no!’ I say, ‘it’s starting already!’

We laugh and laugh.

Eleven months

It’s been a big month. About three weeks ago, Michael said to me – you’d better start writing that post now, or you’ll forget things. I didn’t start writing it then. But I will try to remember. It’s hard to put my finger on it, but even four weeks ago you just seemed different. Older. More deliberate in your interactions. And then everything started coming together.

You have learnt to feed yourself with a spoon, with great concentration and determination, and hysterical tears if we interrupt you. You’ve got the basic motion sorted out and are very good at putting the spoon in your mouth, but you haven’t managed to get too much food onto it yet.

You’ve started waving and saying ‘bye bye’. You don’t do it very often, but it is just about the cutest thing in the whole world.You’ve started pointing at absolutely everything. You also point when you want something, like blueberries, or water, or my drink (after becoming bored with your own!). You had your first Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed it. My family showered you with presents.

‘Dardle ardle’ is still your favourite sound, and sometimes you use it as a greeting. You babble almost constantly and try pretty hard to imitate our words. Mum reckons you have at least five words already – ‘bye bye’, ‘door’, a garbled version of ‘hello’, ‘da’ for ‘there’, and ‘dadda’, which is morphing into ‘daddy’.

It’s been so much fun watching you work out how to crawl. You were on the brink of it for so long, and were getting pretty frustrated. But you just started leaning further and further out onto your hands (when you were sitting up), eventually tipping over onto your knees. After a few face-plants you got the hang of this. For a long time you’d be up on one knee with your other foot in front, so you couldn’t get anywhere. Then you got over properly, and spent about one day wobbling back and forth on your knees before you gathered the courage to take little crawling steps. Just amazing. It’s a pretty big shift to go from virtually stationary to being the master of your own movement throughout the world! It took you a while to work out that you can actually crawl to places. You started off by throwing a toy a couple of feet away and crawling off to get it – expanding your little realm through slowly increasing circles of movement. Now however you’ve realised you can go wherever you like which delights you.

To cap of your crawling skills you have mastered clapping, just out of the blue! You are so pleased with yourself. You clap when we say ‘clap’, you clap when we say ‘clever boy’, and you clap when you want to entertain us. Your eyes light up, you beam at us, and you clap clap clap!

A wedding in a garden, II

Last weekend my cousin Tom got married in my grandparents’ garden. It was an awesome party.

Apart from the bride and groom, of course, my grandparents were the stars of the show.

There was a brief thunderstorm, which everyone had been dreading all week,

but it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

It rained so hard that the creek (dry all summer) flooded, and they had to fish out the lighting cables.

But the skies cleared and all was well.

Here is a random selection of our family. It was so nice to see everyone together.

Grandma explained to all who would listen how her daughters and granddaughters used to find fairies in the garden

(and lions, I told her)

and in the sparkling evening light,

that was entirely plausible.



When I arrived, this time, the trees seemed strange, twisted, dry. The birdcalls wild and raucous. The light everywhere. It felt like the ends of the earth. But the accents of the locals startled me with familiarity – I kept turning, expecting to see long lost friends.


I look at family photos on my grandparents’ wall. A tiny me sits on a log in a rainforest with all 8 of my cousins. There are family shots of my family, and my Mum’s two sisters’ families. And above them, in sepia tones, another family. I ask who they are. They are my grandma’s father’s family. He wasn’t born when the photo was taken, so there is a separate photo of him as a little boy in an oval frame. The woman in the photo is his mother but she died when he was about five, so my grandma only ever met his stepmother. Grandma points out her aunts. Aunty Jean, Aunty Marg, Aunty Ruth. Little girls. Jean and Marg never married; Ruth had three children but died in her 30s from blood poisoning which she got when she was dying clothes black for a funeral. For the first time it feels strange to look at photos of children who have grown up, grown old (or not), died.


Felix dips his spoon with great concentration into his bowl and brings it to his mouth. Grandma tells me when my Aunty Anne was his age she was impossible to feed, and one day she gave up and left her with her bowl and her spoon. ‘Feed yourself then!’, she said. ‘And she jolly well did.’


I look at the family photos on my Nanna’s wall. There is a photo taken when my Dad was a child. He is skinny and alert, standing close to his mother. His twin sister Irene, who died two years ago, and his older sister Marjory stand close to their grandmothers.


My Dad can’t take his hands off Felix. He scoops him up at every opportunity, showing him tow-hooks, bolts, the contents of the pantry, his mobile of jangly beaten spoons, pointing out the train when it goes past. Tonight I say: ‘It’s pretty amazing watching Felix learn to crawl’. ‘He’s pretty amazing full stop’, he says.


It is hot. We fill up a tub with water and let Felix splash around in the living room. Nanna tells us of the year in England, more than fifty years ago, when her three small children had measles, and had to stay inside with the blinds drawn down because they thought the light would damage their eyes. She brought snow inside for them to play with, and they were so happy.