Part of my passion for travelling came about at least in part through the fact that my mum’s sister, Cecilie, had moved to New Zealand soon after I was born. She and her husband Gregor made regular visits to Melbourne with my cousin Kristine and later with her younger sister Rachel. I was always incredibly excited that they were coming and immensely envious of their “jet-set” lifestyle, for we never flew anywhere. The free toys my cousins received in-flight were better than anything they might have brought us for presents, their stories of what happened during a flight more riveting than any others and airports were the most exotic of locations, even if you were not the one who got to go on a plane.
During one of their visits to Australia, when I was approaching the age of 15, I remember moaning on to my uncle about the fact we never went to visit them in Hamilton. He was totally unsympathetic. Why should I feel that I needed to wait until my parents had the money to bring the whole family along? He said I should come on my own. Initially I thought he was mad or joking, as I protested that my pocket-money, even if diligently saved wouldn’t be sufficient to get me there until the next century, which was then 23 years away. “Well get a job” he said,”You save up enough for the airfare and we will look after the rest”.
So I did. Three months before I turned 15 I got a weekend job at The Bake-Inn Hot Bread Kitchen in Bentleigh and just days after my 16th birthday, I took all the money I had saved, bought a ticket and flew to New Zealand. Mum and Dad gave me enough to top up my spending money to $100.00 for a one month tour of the North Island with the rellies. I still have my best souvenir, a stuffed toy kiwi made out of possum skin, that was named Rewi by Krissie.
I have lost count of how many times I have since visited Cecilie in New Zealand, my Uncle Gregor now, sadly, deceased. She always encourages me to return and is a very generous and inexhaustible host, always taking me on an adventure to places I’ve not visited previously. We once also met up in the UK to be tourists together and a very happy pair we made, too.
Like my mother and both my grandparents on her side, Cecilie has been a professional musician all her life, having trained as a pianist from her earliest years. She has a wonderfully optimistic outlook which is helped along by another very important passion in her life, which she shares with me and my mum. She is a madly dedicated, dog lover. Having recently bid farewell to one of her much-loved rescue-pooches, Mia, she last week welcomed Ellie the kelpie-cross into her life. It is my dedicated intention to get her and her new baby into a photobooth one day, my Snowy-Dawg having suffered the experience only recently. One has to admit it is not a dog’s favourite of pass-times.
This is an undated Polaroid booth pic taken several years ago, presumably in Hamilton, New Zealand.