05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Halfway around the world

Ten thousand miles.

That's how far I am from home. It's 10,426 miles, in fact, from my erstwhile home city, Newcastle in Australia, to where I live now, in Alnwick, UK. A flight time of just under 24 hours.

Moving halfway around the world is a bonanza for story ideas. Even apart from warm beer, vinegar on the chips and an abject misunderstanding of the word 'summer', there's so much stuff in the UK that we just don't have at home.

History, for one. Sure, people have lived in Australia for thousands of years. But European settlement only happened in 1788, and unlike Europeans, indigenous Australians didn't tend to alter the landscape to suit themselves. So a lot of their history is invisible, at least to white folk like me.

Standing stones on the Isle of Arran
In the UK, au contraire, you can't turn around without falling over a ruin. As civilisations rose and fell, as kings and queens came and went with their entourages and armies, they built stuff. Standing stones, dolmens, Stone Age huts, Roman forts, ditches, canals, bridges, castles and manor houses.

And along with them, we find a rich history of fabulous tales, mostly involving corruption, crime and slaughter, with the odd ghost story and whodunit thrown in.

Part of Warkworth Castle
Fine fodder for a story-teller. Especially a fantasy writer, like me, who sees fairies and vampires under every rock. But it gets me thinking: when I get back to Australia -- and I am going back -- I wonder if I'll see home the same way? Because Australia has a delicious history of hauntings, crooks and derring-do, too.

Only, familiarity breeds contempt. You don't appreciate what you see every day. Cool things go unnoticed in the rush of everyday life. The locals in the UK probably think a ruined Roman fortress or a 13th century castle haunted by the ghosts of dead soldiers is boring as hell.

So, yeah. When I get home, I hope I'll pay more attention. There may not be castles and kings and 2,000-year-old Roman relics where I come from. But that doesn't mean we don't have stories worth hearing.

History, in that sense, is a bit like the paranormal. You only see it if you look... Except, of course, in the UK, where you can't miss history, because it's everywhere.

Unlike summer. They don't have summer here. After a few alleged 'summers' like this? Free transportation to Australia for convicts was a pretty good deal. Go ahead, you British folk, beat us in the Olympics and thrash us in the cricket all you want. Our weather is still better. We put tomato sauce, not vinegar, on the chips. And the beer's cold :)


Sarah Raplee said...

Hi Erica,

Great post! I laughed aloud at "an abject misunderstanding of the word 'summer'". You Aussies know what a true summer is!

I'm sure you will have a new perspective when you return home. I spent five adolescent years on a tropical island and then returned to California. I definitely saw everything with fresh eyes.

Thank you for participating in Romance Around the World.

Judith Ashley said...

A couple of years ago when I was visiting England to see all the history, I did miss the ice. Can't imagine drinking warm beer or room temperature water! lol

What I remember most about my short time in Eastern Australia? The Sidney Opera House and the butterfly gardens in the tropical forest outside of Cannes (did I spell that right). I still smile when I see pictures of blue butterflies and of me with the Opera House in the background.

In Australia's winter, I wore my USA Pacific Northwest summer clothes...but then I wore the same clothes in England in June!

Thanks for including pictures!!!

Naomi Baltuck said...

A very fun post!