Tag Archives: wedding

… songlines – family – a wedding in Darwin …

Families are an enigma to me. I value solitude and, yes, company, inner space and, yes, gritty adventure, constancy and, yes, change. I must have been born on a wave of contradiction. With no siblings or surviving grandparents, and my mother gone since 27 years, I’m left with a hermit-like father who avoids communication and  lives at a distance. Well, bless him.

my mother with her grandson

my mother with her grandson

 

Opa and his grandson

my father and his grandson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not surprisingly, my sense of family has an abstract quality that benefits my fiction writing. That said, my family extends to weathered friends whose authenticity I respect, my ex-husband included. Last week, our son, Yeshen, and his partner, Natasha, who live and work in London, had their wedding in the tropical Northern Territory of Australia. Sensible, since most of Tasha’s relatives live around the great coastline of this continent, in Brisbane, Sidney, Melbourne, Perth and  Darwin – where we gathered. As a child, like the author Bruce Chatwin, I once asked, ‘why don’t the people from down under fall off the earth?’ Australian children may well think of Europeans as down-unders and similarly ask, ‘why don’t they fall off the earth and float into space?’

The first three decades of my life I moved from place to place, restlessly roaming my inner songlines, searching for footprints leading to a family of mind and spirit, much like Chatwin described in Songlines, the practices of the indigenous people of Australia, who used to traverse their vast territory following the dream tracks of their ancestors, singing the names of everything they encountered on their paths, as a way of bringing their world into being and endowing their lives with existence and meaning.

I travelled all over Europe, have been to Israel, Africa, America … the other side of the planet had never called me. The thought of clocking up over 20 flight-hours made me nervous. Hey, I told myself, this is an adventure. In the end, my passion for clouds outshone my anxiety. A window seat always helps. Without the view I’d feel boxed in.

As the plane cruised over the Bay of Bengal towards my stopover, Singapore, I stared 36 000 feet down and couldn’t help thinking of the plane that only a few months ago went missing without a trace. I diverted myself, as one does when overcome by the enormity of one’s human helplessness, with useless thoughts, like pondering the possible legal implications when bodies can’t be found. Two days after my flight, another plane went down, this time shot out of the sky above the Ukraine. As it emerged, my son’s father was meant to be on this flight from Amsterdam. Due to overbooking, the airline offered a later flight, via Paris, with complementary business class thrown in. He and we were lucky, others were not.

from my window seat

from my window seat

Life is a treasure, if unpredictable – at times beautiful and brimming with joy, at other times painful and cruel, and often exceedingly strange, without rhyme or reason. We like to think we have control, yet know little to nothing about what decides our fates.

It made the wedding ceremony, which took place on an old pearl fishing vessel, all the more precious. The event culminated with the setting sun painting the wisps of clouds salmon pink. It’s my favourite light.

 

approaching Darwin

approaching Darwin

father and son

father and son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the ring exchange

the ring exchange

the signing

the signing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the bride

the bride

the sun winks

the sun winks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Because the pearl-fishing boat could only accommodates a limited number of people, the ceremony was small and intimate. The images speak for themselves. Later on, a much larger party met for a fabulous reception at the estate of a relative.

There were songs, one specially prepared by the bride’s mother, accompanied by my son’s father on the guitar, there were humorous speeches, there was the glimmer of water from illuminated rock-like pools, festive lights overhead, candles, and the music and slideshow the couple had prepared. The latter I missed and must catch up on, having been too involved with meeting my son’s new family and getting drawn into stories over champagne, wine and delectable menus.

The pleasant tropical winter night, with tables arranged on English-style lawns, was equivalent to a rare, gloriously European summer night. And of course there were more songs, by Mr Palm of Palm Guitars …

Mindil Beach Market

Mindil Beach Market

P1060262lowerIn days that followed, we returned to favourite places.  Crowds gather, especially on Thursdays and Saturdays, at the iconic Mindil Beach with its backdrop of festivities and over 300 colourful market stalls. People come here to watch the sun grow in size as it nears the horizon, and everyone cheers and claps when the last sliver of red drops into the Arafura Sea.

 

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We travelled to Nature Parks, with abundant wildlife …

Palaces built by termites …

Springs, waterfalls and rock pools to swim in, with the thrill of possible crock sightings …

P1060382 - lowerWe enjoyed nights at the waterfront where they serve fresh seafood and Thai dishes, with Sharks and Moon fish beyond the harbour wall waiting for morsels.

Wangi Falls

Wangi Falls

termite palace

termite palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the garden pool

the garden pool

Russell

Russell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Banyon

Banyon

palm roof

palm roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On returning, I watched the lights shining from the islands in the Timor Sea. After 4 hours stopover in Singapore, to stretch my legs, and, delight, enjoy a few roll-ups, yes they have smoking areas at this airport, I settled into another window seat, overawed once more by how such super-heavy Airbuses can lift from the ground. My eyes switched between the book I was reading and the screen on my seat showing the flightpath, with the sun moving across to the Atlantic, while Australia’s night was encroaching on India. Endless hours later, England’s south seemed quaint from the air, with its patchwork of orderly fields framed by hedges and lanes. An American friend once called it Hobbit Land.

Home again. I feel like being gently rocked in a cradle. It will pass. I’ve yet to absorb the experiences of my Aussie adventure, still deliciously disorientated by upside down time and a different kind of dreaming. I got a taste of a new world, as good wine that lingers on, leaving a desire for more, like learning about the traditional owners of the territories, the Larika people. If I heard about Darwin’s man-made and natural disasters, it had not registered. The town was flattened twice, first in WWII – during Japanese air raids, and again in 1974 by Cyclon Tracy. Aussies are a resilient people.

Having enjoyed generous hospitality by the brides fathers, stepmother, mother, aunt and uncle, heart warming company by more uncles, aunts, siblings, their partners, cousins, nieces, and their partners, I miss the buzz of the large family, and not least the cute dogs, Russell and Rosie, whose exuberant joy in ballgames included jumping into the pool. I’ll hold the memory of the green shade under layers of palm leaves, the fresh fish served at the waterfront, the buzzing markets, the incredible architecture of old banyan trees, massive baobab and eucalyptus and the impressive series of sunsets. I’m looking forward to visitors, and maybe assist them in exploring places where their ancestors lived in Hobbit Land.

One image keeps playing tricks on my mind, some dark thing, stuff for a surreal crime novel – a giant toad in a freezer. But that’s a story for another occasion.

Technically challenged, I now hope the images on this page don’t jump all over the place once I press the ‘publish’ button 🙂

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… first photos from Darwin …

Our summers are Darwin’s winters with uninterrupted sunshine at over 30 degrees.  From October it becomes too hot and humid for the easy life.P1060366lower

I’m here to meet my son’s new family. In two days there’ll be a wedding on an old perl-fishing boat – an event which Natasha fictionalised in a delightful animation, where all guest are bush turkeys. They do walk in that peculiar way.

 

At waterfront locations are great markets, several times a week. The air is filled with culinary smells from food-stalls. Hundreds of merchants sell leather ware, clothing and indigenous crafts. There are fire-twirlers, puppet shows, picnics, and at sunsets the crowds gather.

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I’ve been swimming in safe places, and yesterday in  a fabulous spring pool, which, I was told later, has the very occasional crock sighting. The water is clear and soft and the falls offer a brilliant free massage. P1060443lower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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… weddings still happen …

Come July, my son, Yeshen, is joining creative forces with Natasha, who magicked this invite for the intimate part of their wedding celebration. I’m allowed to share her delightful animation.

The venue will be an old pearl-fishing boat in Darwin, where part of Natasha’s family live. I’ve never been to Australia, so I’m looking forward to the trip. Their UK friends, I understand, will be invited to a summer picnic in London.

I’m very happy for them. They’re a wonderful team.  http://www.yeshandtash.com/about/

Tash

Tash

Natasha working

 

Yesh & Tash

Yesh & Tash

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… apples, flu, altered states, wedding plans …

This autumn is drunk with colours and fruit. Red-blushed, in their own sweet time, apples have been falling with soft thuds onto the dewy lawn for weeks. Each morning they blink at me, and shout – help, pick me up, the slugs are coming. They’re good for something, but did you know that slugs and snails are hermaphrodite, and lay up to 500 eggs a season? Re: fruit, after last year’s poor crop, this year’s harvest is a tad overwhelming. The scale by which nature balances excesses evades rational comprehension.

autumn colours

autumn colours

Too much of a good thing brings obligations. Eaters taste best when fresh, so I’m urged to act fast. Slug-nibbled and bruised fruit lands on the compost heap. The bulk of apples, several kilos a day, I wash, dry, box and put out on the road for passers-by, mainly kids on their way home from school. This time-consuming and noble deed has left me exhausted, and with numerous bumps on my head. Here’s the apple saint, drop now. For lack of a resident family to boss into cider-making, I’m left with ‘waste not’ ringing in my ears. If you remember scarcity, you’ll co-suffer the enforced hypocrisy of a  twenty-first-century system that thrives on waste.

I could blame the nagging ‘waste-not‘ guilt for frustrating the flow of my writing. I could blame three early morning trips to London on crowded trains, or  alien dust settling on my skin … whatever …  my body succumbed to the annual purge of flu. So a week ago I sneezed and coughed through fever and chills. Sweaty nights occasioned surreal dreams and visions, and there were days when I lost faith in my invulnerability, reminded that I need to clarify some matters in my Will. I survived – with tons of lemons. You’ve guessed by now that I’m shy of conventional medics, a story I won’t regale you with. The last official need for a doctor’s visit to my home was benign, and over three decades ago,  after I’d given birth to a healthy baby in deepest rural Somerset.

So last Sunday, following a week of altered states, I ventured out to put petrol in my car. I support small enterprises for their human idiosyncrasies. The cashier gazed absent-mindedly over the forecourt and across the street towards a line of taxies, while automatically debiting my Visa and, at my want, pressing another button to produce a tax receipt. Sensing a process at work, I said, ‘You’re bored.’

His head moved independently from his neck. You may remember the craze of bubble-head mascots:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobblehead that’s exactly how his head moved while his eyes rolled in their sockets to take note of my witnessing. His mouth then rounded and huffed before emitting a speech he must have rehearsed all morning. Slow, precise thoughts poured out, including snippets of existential dialogues he had had with taxi drivers from across the road. Written down, it could have edged itself towards some literary prize. His exposition ended with : ‘Nothing to be done. I’m bored stiff.’ Reminiscent of Beckett. Promises, waiting … in tune with my dull-witted flu-states. Missing most words, I was captivated by the man’s brilliant and spooky slaying of meaning. Another customer entered the cubicle. On leaving, some wise-crack in me I’ve no control over, said, ‘You’re reading …’ thinking, you’re observing life  from a distance, co-creating  its absurdities and joys. It’s what writers do.

 ‘Boredom is the dream bird that hatches the egg of experience. A rustling in the leaves drives him away.’   –  Walter Benjamin. 

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This post was meant to be short and about my son and his partner, to brag a little.

Yeshen with baby croc, photo by Natasha, Aug. 2013

Yeshen with baby croc – there’s a story

Yeshen and Natasha

Yeshen and Natasha

They were engaged this year and their August journey to Australia had been a reconnaissance for their wedding plans next July, organised by Natasha’s family, who live in Darwin and Perth.

I asked if I could share a few images from their trip. Yesh and Tash have featured on my blog before, indirectly. You’ll find them, for example, under ‘Inspiration’ or ‘Story of an Animation.’ They’re self-employed and work extremely hard, like many young people in super-expensive London, to make a living. They’re lucky being able to do creative and fulfilling work.

 

I’ve not been to Australia, and am now looking forward to this journey – you can see why.  

Australia's west coast

Australia’s west coast

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