About 19 years ago, I spent two months working in Vancouver during the Summer but never got to Vancouver Island. However, in mid-November, I was fortunate enough to return to Vancouver  for work, and my brother said I absolutely must try and get to Vancouver Island and see the Butchart Gardens and Victoria. So on a gloomy, grey Fall day absolutely deluged with rain, I made the 90-minute ferry trip to the island, and, although I ran out of time to see Victoria, I managed to spend a wonderful few hours in the Butchart Gardens, an extraordinary place of beauty.


Butchart Gardens



The Reproach of Matilda

She’s there every morning, glaring down at me, when I open my eyes.

“If you’re going nowhere, neither is that extra chin”, she seems to say. “I have limits, you know. If we’re to ever get any closer, you should be out there, not hitting the snooze button repeatedly!”

She’s right, of course, my ideal dress size. I breached her boundaries a long time ago and won’t be fitting back in any time soon, unless I get out there and move. Every single day.

“And cut out the champagne while you’re at it, lardarse.”

By my calculations, transforming Matilda’s reproach into rapprochement is about 720 km away.

Ho hum.

The Matilda Dress

The Matilda Dress




Change (sometimes welcome, sometimes not) is an inevitable part of life and is etched in our histories.

I live in Australia and have extended family on four continents. We were all born and raised in Africa and in our lives there, as well as in our migrant lives, have experienced our fair share of change.

My husband and his siblings grew up in Africa, too, but his maternal grandparents, mother, and uncle were migrants from Sweden, where they had previously landed as refugees after fleeing from their homeland of Estonia (Australia would refer to them as boat people), when the Russians invaded Estonia in the 1940s. In their family, migration and change is epigenetic: my husband now lives in Australia, his middle sister in Sweden.

We have long wanted to visit the birthplace of their mother and maternal grandfather—the island of Hiiumaa off the coast of Estonia—and finally got to do so recently. Change is not always as good as a holiday, but a holiday often brings a welcome change of focus and pace, and we had wonderful trip.

Our journey first took us to Copenhagen, where we spent a convivial weekend catching up with dear cousins of mine over delicious home-cooked meals and copious amounts of wine.  bb-ch01

And then we had a wonderful two weeks with my husband’s sister and her husband (a Swede, who she met when he lived and worked for a time in Africa) in their beautiful home in semi-rural Sweden, an idyllic place.

Viking Rune Stones

Viking Rune Stones

Stockholm was next for a few days, where we experienced the charm of the cobbled streets of Gamla stan, the marvel that is the Vasa Museum, and the strange art in the Stockholm subways.

Ship Detail - Vasa Museum

Ship Detail – Vasa Museum

We caught the overnight ferry from Stockholm to Tallinn, worth it alone to experience the beauty and vastness of the Stockholm archipelago. bb-ch03

Our few days in Tallinn left an impression of an aesthetic mix of the medieval, the modern, and the Soviet Brutalist. And the memory of the best coffee we had on our entire trip.

Old Town Tallinn

Old Town Tallinn

And, finally, we reached Hiiumaa – a place of wild beauty, ancient history, and, currently, peace.

Orjaku Harbour - Hiiumaa

Orjaku Harbour – Hiiumaa

Long may it remain unchanged.



When the sun turns
away to southern lands
we find ourselves awake
on a strange, familiar shore
where t
hose who’ve gone
before sleep beneath moss
in forest
graves, and wild apples
jump the fences

Across the Baltic Sea
history comes full circle.









An Umbrella on the Wind

Originally posted on Ordinary Lives, Extraordinary People:

I was in primary school when I heard that crazy laugh for the first time. Other girls in the class tittered and giggled in typical 8-year-old manner: Janine Scott’s laugh was anarchic, dangerous and often inappropriate. I loved it. Sharing an absurdist sense of humour and a love of dancing, we became firm friends.

Frequent sleepovers at each other’s homes were spent choreographing our latest dream dance production and laughing for hours at nothing in particular, amusements in an era devoid of personal computers, internet and smartphones.

But one Friday night, as we lay about her bedroom, chatting, she became increasingly agitated as I mindlessly threw her small brown Teddy bear into the air.

Stop that!


Stop throwing the Teddy around.

       Me, laughing and dangling the bear upside-down by one leg: What’s wrong?

       Janine, almost crying now: It belonged to Morgan.

Who’s Morgan?

Morgan was…

View original 1,164 more words