It’s hard to believe that its been almost two years since I made a trip back home to Australia, although last time I was with Zach and Sami and we were going for their March Break school holidays.  We had such a fun time – them meeting their extended family, including uncles, aunts, cousins and second cousins plus getting to know a little about where I grew up.

With my contract ending I found myself with ten days with nothing specifically planned, so deciding on the spur of the moment found a flight, booked a rental car and then let my family know that i was coming to visit. Yes, I’m always one for surprises…sort of makes the world go round if you ask me!  Surprises that is.  🙂

When I told Sam the first words out of her mouth were “can I come too?”  Given that she is studying for exams this isn’t the most opportune time to join me on my whirlwind trip of Australia, and it was quite hard to say no just because I know how much she really loves Australia and her family there.

Zach was excited for me but he has so much already going on with his courses this semester that it really didn’t register more than saying “awesome – have fun!”

Now as it turns out I’ll be staying with my best mate Craig and his wife Audrey, and surprisingly my timing is impeccable in some respects as he’s going in for a double hernia operation on the Tuesday after I arrive, so I’ll be able to spend time with him while he recuperates.  I offered to hire him a pretty nurse to sponge bath him, but Audrey was adamant that if I was staying with them then I’d have to do it!   Bugger!

So what are my plans given that I’m actually home for only a week if you take out the two days that it takes to get to Australia (yes, you lose a day when you cross the international date line) so this year there will be no Thursday February 1st for me.

Isn’t that a strange concept?  With all my travels over the years goodness knows how many actual dates are missing from my life because of the myriad of trips I’ve take back and forth across the Pacific either to Australia or Asia.  Too many to count, but each one “lost” from my life as if they didn’t happen.

When I was backpacking around the world in the mid 1980’s I met an elderly gentleman from Brussels on a train from Stockholm to Oslo.  We were cooped up together in an old fashioned train compartment and so go talking, as you do.  He had been a diamond seller his entire life and now well into his 80’s he was retired and shuttled back and forth between his children and family members who were primarily spread out across Scandinavia.

One of the first questions he asked me was “where was I from?”  Of course I told him proudly about being Australian and that this was my first trip to Europe.  He then asked me with a rye smile which way I had come to Europe – what an odd question i thought?

He then proceeded to tell me about his theory of crossing the international dateline from east to west, and what that meant.  To be honest I’d never really considered it nor the losing of the day from my life…as he said “as if it never existed in time”.

His point of view was that he always strove to add days in his life so whenever he had the opportunity to travel during his life he always flew around the world west to east so that he would have extra time added to his life.

For example, if I leave Australia at 10:00 am in the morning and fly across the Pacific to LA or Vancouver and arrive the same day at 6:30 am I have in fact flown 15 hours, but have arrived 3.5 hours before you took off which equates to approximately 18 hours added to your life.

I’d never really thought about it until the conversation on the train, now I always think about it…isn’t it odd how such a random bit of information can get logged in your psyche and keep popping up even after all these years.

it’s an interesting theory – the loss of a day from your life, but it’s really only allocating time differently.  True I won’t have a February 1st this year, but I’ll have a double February 10th when I return to Toronto.

So what are my plans you ask???

Well I’m going to play it by ear, but definitely spend time with my sister and hopefully other family members over the course of the week, it would be great to catch up with some of my other friends as well, but to be honest I’m not banking on it given the short amount of time that I’ll be home this visit.

I’ll be staying in Ballarat which is about an hours drive NW of Melbourne depending on the traffic.  Its a relatively large regional center of just over 100,000 people and where I attended University back in the olden days.  Lol!

The other fantastic thing is that it’s still summer In Australia so I’m expecting that many of the days will be in the mid to high 30’s, and so nice to wear shorts again and not have to be bundled up in multiple layers, a coat, hat, gloves and boots to survive the extreme cold of a northern winter…even for only a week it will be a fantastic respite from the long grey winter.

It would be amazing to spend more time and explore, but I have too much going on with preparing for my book launch in April and an upcoming speaking engagement in Toronto.

It’ll be the second of many trips this coming year!  Remember I still have Morocco and Japan firmly on my list, along with a handful of other places on my list if I get the chance…  It’s already been a terrific start to the year and I’ve only just begun!

p.s.  I’m sorry I missed you Thursday February 1st…I’m sure you were fun!  😉