Life in Tasmania – Week 4 & 5

Goodbye autumn, hello winter. The last week of Autumn 2018 also marked one-month anniversary of our life in Tasmania. Over the last two weeks the temperature dropped quite dramatically too; ranging between 10-15°C maximum and 3-5°C minimum. Most of the golden autumn leaves have been either blown away or flooded away. It really looks and feels like winter in Tasmania. The mountains (especially Mt. Wellington) surrounding the Hobart area get extra misty in the morning, not to mention the smokes from chimneys of the houses probably from the extra usage of fireplaces to keep the house warm. We also bought a big bulk of firewood for our fireplace too (enough to fill the boot of the car) with a strong desire to survive our first winter in Tasmania (i.e. the closest island to Antarctica).

I didn’t post an update on Week 4 earlier because we had two seperate family member visits over the last fortnight that kept us busier than usual, you know, showing them around now we are the Tassie locals. One thing we were a little concerned about leaving Sydney was being too far away thus not being able to spend as much time with our family. However we have noticed that the time we spend with them is becoming more about “quality” than quantity. Both family members came here from Sydney to stay with us for the weekend (which sounds too short) but they were extra engaged and “in the moment” (especially with our children), making each moment count. We also find ourselves making the most of their company while they are around and appreciate their presence in our life more than ever. So even though we are physically further away from them, we feel closer to them mentally and emotionally. (Regular FaceTime sessions also helps!)

Now that we have been here for one good month, a good sense of rhythm, routine and structure (both daily and weekly) has started developing, too. For example, when we wake up in the morning, my partner takes our baby daughter for a walk (just before or after the sunrise) while my 2-year-old son and I make breakfast for the family. And we all sit around the table and eat breakfast together, which is a really nice way to start the day.  We have recurring, weekly activities on specific days like going to the local library on Wednesday mornings (for a musical program for children as well as borrowing/returning books), having my ‘me time’ (i.e. my alone time which I usually spend on writing in cafes with good coffee) on Thursday mornings and attending the local playgroup on Friday mornings. On the weekends, we love going the local markets (including the Salamanca Market, Huon Farmer’s Market and Kingston Beach Handmade Market) to get fresh produce and connect with local businesses/communities. All of these regular activities together acts as a bone structure to our week which helps us stay grounded and create a balanced lifestyle in line with our values. Ironically, having a structure means we can let ourselves enjoy those spontaneous moments when they come in between these activities.

The love of live music (especially jazz) my partner and I share means we actively look for places (restaurants, bars, markets, you name it!) that offer live music everywhere we go. And we found this awesome weekly live music event in Hobart called Rektango that’s on every Friday night in the intimate courtyard space of Salamanca Arts Centre. Apparently it’s been going for 15 years! We arrived there about 5pm just as the band was setting up. By 5:30pm the band started playing very funky, soulful and jazzy tunes. The space started getting filled quickly with people of all age groups: small children (including ours), big children, teenagers, young and old adults as well as seniors… dancing, laughing or just enjoying the music. What a scene. Surrounded by old, heritage sandstone buildings, the space had such a unique and eclectic vibe. The little bar in the corner was serving mulled wine, perfect for the chilly evening. We absolutely loved everything about Rektango. It’s definitely something we’ll be going to regularly as a family. Salty Dog is another great venue/restaurant that offers live music every Sunday afternoon in Kingston Beach (near where we live). It has a courtyard that has a sandpit for children to play in and roaring outdoor fire with bean bags to sit/lie on… plus they have really good food!

A sense of community has begun to develop as well, which is very important to us when it comes to our emotional well-being (as all human beings need to have a sense of belonging in order to thrive!). We have recently met quite a few families with small children in the local library and playgroup. Despite the differences in our cultural and professional background, we all have one thing in common: having moved to Tasmania (all the way from Denmark, Chile as well as other states of Australia) with the intention to create a slower, more balanced life for ourselves as well as our children. Given the share intention, we naturally connected with each other and had a lot to talk about. Every family we have met so far seems very happy with the quality of life Tasmania has to offer. We are looking forward developing quality friendships with some of them over time – slowly and naturally.

So far so good 🙂

 

 

Life in Tasmania – Week 3

What an eventful week! We had one of the wildest, wettest weathers ever recorded in Tasmania since 1893 with over 100mm of rain within a day that flooded the city of Hobart as well as its surrounding suburbs including where we live. Thankfully our house didn’t get flooded but we were out of power for 24 hours. This has never happened to me or my partner so we weren’t so prepared for the situation (not that we could predict it to happen), however we learned a lot in the process of dealing with it.

In the first few hours of the power outage, we enjoyed the strange yet wonderful feelings of: waking up slowly to the dim light of dawn as the sun was yet to rise (instead of turning all the bright lights in the living room), making and having breakfast by the candlelight, starting the fire in the fireplace for warmth (instead of the heater) and having the extra reason to snuggle with each other instead of “getting on with our day” as per usual. It forced us to find and take pleasure in simple things with our children that do not rely on having the power (like reading picture books, drawing on the notepad, playing peekaboo, walking in the rain, etc.).

week3-blog - 1

We even heated up the left-over chicken soup and toasted our bread on the stove of the fireplace for lunch. When the sun started going down, it was a different story though. ‘Didn’t know being out of power can be so much fun!’ we said to each other until the sun started going down… it got dark very quickly. Because we didn’t have any torch handy in the house, we relied heavily on the one candle we had, a tiny clippable reading light and the flashlights on the back of our phones that were on the verge of running out of batteries (which is better than nothing!). Talking about being resourceful. At least the kids went to bed happily, and we went to bed nice and early thinking the power would be back on the next day.

Unfortunately it didn’t. So we spent another full day without the power and without knowing when we would have it back again. We started appreciating things we would usually take for granted like having a working fridge, dishwasher and microwave as well as being able to turn the kettle on for much needed cups of tea to cope with the extreme weather condition. And we also felt so grateful the little fireplace and logs that kept us warm and fed (as used for cooking and heating up food although it would take a lot longer than the normal stove). As “over it” as we were towards the end of the powerless hours (both literally and metaphorically), we felt lucky to be alive and living in the first-world country where we usually wouldn’t have to worry about not having electricity connected. When the power came back (finally!), the light turned on like magic and it never looked and felt so bright before…

As we got the power back on, the week got better too. Our 2-year-old started his first week at the local early learning centre (just about a 5-min walk from our house). Apart from a few teary moments here and there, he settled very well, making Mummy and Daddy proud. This meant we got to have two rather relaxing days just with our baby girl. In fact, I managed to have my “me time” for the first time since moving to Tasmania.

So I put my hiking gear on and went for a walk from Blackmans Bay to Kingston Beach. The chilly, overcast weather didn’t stop me from exploring, since it was much better than having torrential rain that only ended a few days before (it’s all relative, isn’t it?). With mountain and ocean views throughout, it was a very pleasant and picturesque walk. Kingston Beach not only offers nature beauty but also quite a few lovely beachfront cafes including FIKA which is my favourite so far (not only for its high-quality food & coffee but the modern, minimalist yet warm and intimate design/atmosphere). It’s one of those places that inspires one’s creative mind so I got a lot of writing done within an hour, too.  Here is a few snapshots of my walk:

 

Towards the end of the week, we stumbled upon the headquarter of The Art of Tea the Tasmanian tea brand which offers over 100 varieties of black, white, green, organic, chai and oolong tea blends. I bought the Tasmanian Lavender & Green Tea blend and the NUDI blend that was produced in partnership with MONA that contains dried pieces of dark chocolate, very unique and different. As it’s getting colder and colder in Tasmania, I am finding myself drinking more and more cups of tea to stay warm. So more options, the merrier! To celebrate this daily tea-making-and-drinking ritual, I also got myself a hand-knitted Tea Cosy from the Kingston Beach Handcraft Market. Super cozy indeed.

week3-blog - 10

Week 3 was also about finding opportunities to meet locals and start finding a sense of community here. As part of the community-building strategy, we went to the local library that holds weekly storytime sessions for children and met two other parents with small children who also recently moved to Tasmania from a different state/country. They were very keen to connect and create a new support network in Tasmania themselves, being away from family and friends like we are. I guess it’s human nature to long for a sense of belonging without which we cannot thrive, let alone survive. As I mentioned in last week’s post, It will takes time and effort to develop new friendships so we are willing to take it nice and slow though…

Looking forward to more beautiful surprises and special encounters in Week 4 – and the sunny days ahead of us here in Southern Tasmania 🙂

Life in Tasmania – Week 1

Despite the fact it has only been a week since we arrived in our new place where we will call “home” for the next 6 months in Tasmania, we feel settled already. Our base is located in the Kingston Beach area, about a 15-minute drive down south from Hobart CBD, yet it feels like miles away from it (even Hobart CBD seems like a “town center” rather than a city, having lived in big cities like Seoul and Sydney all my life, which I said goodbye to for now, if not forever). The neighbourhood is known for being very family-friendly. Our place just a quick stroll down to the beach and nearby bush walks being surrounded by mountains. It is an unbelievably beautiful (and under-rated) part of Australia.

The first 24 hours after my parents-in-law (who came with us from Sydney here to help us settle in the first few days) left were filled with a mixture of extreme feelings, ranging from sadness related to a sense of loss – that is – loss of our “old life” and of our support network (family and friends in Sydney) to excitement for the beginning of our “new life” in Tasmania as a family of four. One moment I would say to my partner “Sh*t, what the heck have we done to ourselves?” and “Wow – we have made it!” the next. Apparently he felt the same way. Our 2-year-old and 7-month-old seemed more or less unaffected by the whole change. Children can be so much more resilient than adults, more often than not.

Two things we have noticed in our first week in Tasmania so far are: slowness and spaciousness. To pursue a more peaceful and joyful lifestyle here, we decided not to fill days with plans in advance but take each day as it comes. This means waking up in the morning slowly and enjoying our breakfast slowly instead of rushing to go somewhere. It also means there is more space for being spontaneous and taking time to enjoy simple things like jumping on the trampoline, playing hide and seek, blowing bubbles in the sunshine or walking and making sandcastles on the beach. We find that slowness breeds spaciousness (and vice versa!).  Thanks to the “purest air on earth” Tasmania has to offer, we simply love being outside (despite the cold weather, compared to the mainland) and breathing in the fresh air deeply and slowly.

There were moments where I had the urge to participate in more “stimulating” activities like checking out tourist attractions, going to theatres and concerts, attending and organising social events, etc. but deep down I knew this urge came from the old part of me that was addicted to busy-ness and seeking external stimulus rather than inner peace. Living in a slow-paced place like Tasmania, I believe, offers a great opportunity to challenge myself to resist this urge (and the future-oriented mind that keeps asking “what’s next?”) but instead bring myself to the present moment (i.e. the here-and-now) and immerse fully in doing and enjoying simple things with my family. There is never a dull moment with small children who are full of wonder and joy in whatever they do and wherever they are. Even when we play hide-and-seek with our 2-year-old son over and over again, every single day, he manages to find new ways and places to hide and have fun no matter how many times we play it. When we allow ourselves to be playful and flexible instead of serious and rigid, we surprise ourselves with how creative and spontaneous we can be, just like children.

Here is a few snapshots of the simple yet beautiful moments from our first week:

2may-blogpost - 42may-blogpost - 52may-blogpost - 12may-blogpost - 62may-blogpost - 32may-blogpost - 72may-blogpost - 2

Next week, my partner will start working on a new project which means I will be spending more time with my children alone as the primary carer. So I am hoping to come up with fun and creative activities we can enjoy together day-to-day in the house, in the backyard and at the local beaches and parks that incorporate both play and learning, both nature and culture. Most importantly, I want us to make the most of this slow and spacious lifestyle we have started to live by bringing our full presence in each and every moment spent together – especially before I start working again in July (which may add a bit more complexity to the lifestyle), and of course before the Tasmanian weather gets too cold to call it crisp, we will see how things change then…

Overall, we’re loving it here.