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It was difficult to tear ourselves away from Grand Pre, Nova Scotia just as summer seemed to be on the verge of fulfilling its annual promise of sunshine and strawberries, but my wife does have an academic appointment in Australia. Despite a sabbatical and the opportunity to teach a semester in London on behalf of the University of Melbourne, it was time to return to Oz. When I was young, a trip to the antipodes would have taken several days.

Now, in enormous jets traveling at over 800 kms an hour it takes, well, days. It could have taken fewer of them if we hadn’t made a detour through Portland, Oregon to visit our son and his family, but the jet lag would have been worse. Instead of two legs, our itinerary morphed into four– Halifax to Calgary, Calgary to Portland, Portland to L.A., and Los Angeles to Melbourne. It is that last jaunt, the one that Australians laughingly call the hop over the “pond,” that is tantamount to torture. I used to refer to being at the economy end of the stick as traveling “cattle class.” I don’t anymore.

A shocking investigation into the treatment of cattle transported to Indonesian abattoirs cured me of using that term forever. The video was so appalling I simply couldn’t watch more than a minute. Australian viewers were apparently of the same mind, so the traffic of live animals to other countries for slaughter was halted, temporarily. It is set to begin again, under a lot more scrutiny. “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer and that video confirmed my inclination to go green in body as well as mind.  It is certainly not easy, despite the advent of so-called veggie options in restaurants.  And it does require a major shift in thinking about meals.

Mind you, I drive too much and spend far too many hours burning up the skies. On a long haul flight, you are basically immobilized for sixteen hours as the giant metal tube creeps across that vast expanse of ocean far below.

If you are assigned to a seat in the very last row, as I was, you wish they would just shoot you and get it over with. But we are highly adaptable creatures, and 21st century commercial airlines prove it. One gets used to the stultifying boredom, the noise, the dehydrated air, the toilets and the airborne equivalent of “food.” It is a luxury most of the people on this planet cannot afford, so how can one complain? I am always amazed that those lumbering machines can actually get airborne despite all that luggage.

On the tiny screen three inches from your face, you can unreel a fair selection of Hollywooden flics, Australian films, TV shows and Other. One movie I had been wanting to see was on the menu, “Oranges and Sunshine.” It tells the tale of 130,000 children who were deported from England and sent off to various countries, including Australia, under a scheme to rid the motherland of children from orphanages as well as others the authorities felt might become wards of the State. It was entirely illegal, but that never stops governments.

The heart breaking story is revealed through the eyes of the British social worker, Margaret Humphreys, who found out about it when one of the “Australian” children sought information from her about her birth parents. This happened in 1986. It is a very moving film directed by Jim Loach, with a great performance by Emily Watson and a fine cast.

We arrived home to an eviction notice. Apparently our landlord wants to sell and wishes to do some renovations to the house before it is put on the market. So, yours truly had to scramble to find a new place to park ourselves and all our stuff. That has now been accomplished, and the rest is simply packing and moving. As my sister noted, wryly, we should be getting frequent mover miles. We are not going very far, but moving is moving. Everything still has to be boxed.

For my next posts, I will be reporting from Maribyrnong. I have written about the River in a couple of posts– The Walk We Drive To, and one about the Henly regatta, if memory serves. The new place has lots of windows, so it will be a bit like moving from a cave to a treehouse. I’m looking forward to that. And we’ll be able to walk to the river.

All new pics and posts have taken a back seat to all this travel and disruption. If you are waiting for photos from our adventure on the Bay of Fundy, please be patient. I’ll get to it. In the meantime, cheers from the country and continent Down Under.

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