To the islands


porcelain flower by ande astrid’s second grandma

A few people have asked me why we came here, as in back to London. A few reasons really. One of the main reasons, in fact the very most main reason that was the one that overrode all the doubts that arose in the weeks before we left was the reason that I needed to get my UK passport and be back here before my visa ran out to apply for it. Something I had qualified for in 2001 and never actually got around to filling in all the bits on the form and sending it off. I’d always said it was ‘my degree’. Something I also never got. Yes, so maybe I spoke too soon about it being like my degree after all. The last time we came back I’d been advised I just had to stay a year and I could get my passport. However. Rules change. And it would appear the rules have changed. According to the letter I received today.

So now I need to be back three years. Well five actually now. Because I’m no longer married to the person I originally came here with and I’ve been out of the country too long. So yes marrying him was my degree. You learn a lot living on the North Peckham estates for three years you do. But I still haven’t learnt to grab the bull by the horns. Get things while I can. No, I still sail along, thinking things will always be there. Like a friend who sold 20 acres of waterfront land on Waiheke for a pittance twenty years ago thinking they could easily buy more later. But it doesn’t really matter. Life goes on. We’ve had fun here. It would certainly have saved us a bit of aggro if we’d stayed in New Zealand, but there are many good things here. A nice working holiday. A lot of good yarn. We’ll stay here a few more months. We did need to come here. We really did. We’ve done a lot of shedding which needed doing. But now the life plan is saying to move back to New Zealand.

The life plan that is taking the shape of a wonderful adventure. It’s always been a wonderful adventure. The life plan that will see us move not back to our old house, but to the place that is really in our hearts, our spiritual home, my childhood home – a place we can stand and look out over the water, across clay cliffs to peninsulas, to the islands. A place to enjoy childhoods. Traditions and knowledge to be passed on to our children. Memories to be born. The special “New Zealandness” of growing up by the beach, of walking in the bush, of swimming in rivers, of barefoot adventures on hot asphalt, gingerly crossing prickle-filled summer lawns.

Cream horns in Opotiki. The jetty at Tolaga Bay. Windy sands at Ninety Mile Beach. Baches untouched since they were built in the 50s. Clambering around endless rocks along endless bays. Freshly dug pipis, but only one or two. A garden with fruit trees, hydrangeas and nerines. Fish and chips at Cheltenham looking out to Rangitoto at sunset, toes tucked into the cool sand. Poking little finger tips into anemones in rock pools. Gorse. Toi toi. Freezing cold swims on Christmas day. Jelly tips. Fru jus. Lemonade popsicles.


To the islands. To the islands it will be.



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27 responses to “To the islands”

  1. Lindy avatar

    Sounds like the time back in London has been good- it’s confirmed to you where you need to be! I too sometimes long for home…

  2. SmitoniusAndSonata avatar

    Reading this , while I try to thaw out in Holland , I can quite see why you’d go back ! Meanwhile , there’s Loop and Berwick Street and Borough Market and all the reasons I love visiting London ! Enjoy !!

  3. Jeska avatar

    I hope you are happy wherever you end up! At least you have seen what many places have to offer, Although I am happy, I have lived in the same town all my life. Leaving for only a few weeks at a time.

    I love those teeny wrist warmers that you are making to snuggle Astrid’s little hands. I bet she will look a real doll wearing those.

  4. Creature of Habit avatar

    Sometimes we need to leave in order to see what we’ve left behind…..

    The photos are wonderful!

  5. emily avatar

    charlotte……my most favorite quote in the world reads, “whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” i had goosebumps reading your post. xo.

  6. Clare avatar

    Charlotte, hon, I’m floored, by your words, by your photos. I wish you happiness always. The pictures of NZ are truly breathtaking. You’ll always have a piece of London in your heart. What an amazing 2009 you will have sweetie. Much love ClareXXX

  7. Martha avatar

    Yippee! Come before the end of summer, it is lovely at the moment.

  8. leslie avatar

    i totally agree. that the life plan is always an adventure. i am glad you are content with it. whoohoo!

  9. Heart Felt avatar

    New Zealand is a special place..I have done a lot of travelling to many beautiful places…but New Zealand has something spiritual about it and I love taking a little of that spirit in everyday. xx

  10. kimberlee avatar

    oh we will be so glad to have you back!

  11. Ann avatar

    You’ve just summed up home for me and I fully understand your pull to London!

  12. kirsten avatar

    wow! what an adventure you are on. 🙂
    good on you for braving the testing. that takes courage in itself. least you won’t die wondering!
    best wishes for the year ahead.xx

  13. Calypso avatar

    So, you’re coming home? Selfishly, I’m glad – reading about London on your blog makes me homesick. Even the reference to north Peckham estates makes me homesick (I used to live in Bermondsey…)

    Incidentally, I just bought some yarn online from Loop, and it was cheaper than buying it in NZ, even with the postage, and took less than a week to get here.

  14. erin avatar

    life is an adventure and it is so nice to see someone embrace it so willingly. xo.

  15. MIchelle avatar

    Amazing the twists life brings isn’t it.

    Gotta love the journey. Life is such an adventure. 🙂

  16. heleen avatar

    sounds like a great plan. love devonport, what a fantastic place to grow up in!

  17. Emily S. avatar

    Thanks for your explanation! Much as I’ve dreamed of visiting you in London, I now understand why you plan to return home to NZ. We (by which I mean, your blog audience) will support you wherever you go.

    Merry Christmas.

  18. hanna avatar

    oh wow. Back home again. There really is no place like home is there. There is something so special about our Aotearoa. I hope your home coming planning runs smoothly for you and you enjoy the rest of your time over there.

  19. lies avatar

    That passport stuff is so yuk, I know all about it… Every time we go to cheltenham we have ritual F&C and offer ‘one for charlotte and the gang’ to the gulls. We keep it warm and cosy for ya. And soon there’s 4 of you!!!
    We are having A FLOWER too!

  20. alice avatar

    Last time I came by here you were just moving to London. I am glad to have found you again and look forward to hearing about your adventures back in NZ.

  21. di avatar

    Ahhh… the mysteries of obtaining passports… A worthwhile adventure though, I am sure. At least your youngest will be entitled to a EU one!!

  22. t does wool avatar

    mmm.amazing adventure to a city girl like myself…like Eden,I say…lovely photos…and what’s that about rules? Meant to be changed…

  23. Kaylovesvintage avatar

    sound good, I have been away from London for 10 years and I guess is time for me to go again…
    love to hear about christmas in NZ
    enjoy your winter time

  24. caroline avatar

    I found after my second child was born that it was time to go “home” again. Although, my home wasn’t half a world away!

    How soon will you guys go? Stock up on yarn now!!!

  25. Megan avatar

    You’re making me feel homesick, and I live here…

    Turangawaewae. We all need it. God knows I do.

    And merry christmas.

  26. fliss avatar

    I did wonder why the move..but now totally understand.I also understand the love for NZ (i grew up there for a period). After reading these beautiful words from you it makes me want to move even more…we have been thinking about it for too long now.
    Enjoy your UK days and then the wonderful journey HOME 🙂

  27. eireann avatar

    Though I haven’t met you, I feel like I’ll miss knowing you’re relatively nearby. x

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