This time next month, we’ll be moving out of our house in Denmark for the last time. A few days later, we’ll head to Copenhagen airport and board our one-way flights to Canberra.
In planning all of this. It’s easy to become subsumed by the organisational grind of everything, so to provide some light relief, I asked each member of my family which aspect of Canberra life they were most looking forward to.
Son number one (aged 11)
My eldest is a bit nervous about the idea of playing rugby (too rough), Aussie rules football (too rough), cricket (the ball’s too hard) and even football (too rough). But he does love playing tennis. Playing team sports makes him nervous – he’s afraid of screwing up and getting blamed by his fellow team members – but with individual sports, it’s down to him and he much prefers to play and compete knowing that he won’t be letting anyone down if he slips or misses a shot or tries something that doesn’t quite come off. He’s been playing tennis in Denmark for a few years now, but the weather here means that the season is very short indeed (and often interrupted by lengthy spells of wet weather). He has his racquet, shorts and trainers ready to throw in a kit bag as soon as we arrive. Thankfully, there seem to be plenty of tennis clubs in Canberra for him to choose from.
Son number two (aged 8)
My youngest is a little more ‘rough and tumble’ than his elder brother. He’s always equated Australia with something of a frontier spirit. He loves looking at photos of bush country and rambling Australian farmsteads. For him, moving to Canberra has always been about getting one step closer to his dream of having a pony. Of course, he’ll need to learn to ride first. This is something that we sidestepped in Denmark, partly due to the language barrier, but also because the often brutal winters here make riding more of a battle with the elements than with spirited ponies. But in Canberra (and slightly beyond, in the NSW hinterland) the opportunities for riding look fantastic. He’s already bought his hat, jodhpurs and boots. All we have to do is sign him up, and some of these look great:
Gooromon Park, Forest Park, National Equestrian Centre and, of course, the local Pony Club.
Mrs CBRbound (age withheld after she gave me a frosty look)
All this talk of sporting activity has clearly had an effect on Mrs CBRbound, who says that she is most looking forward to cycling around Lake Burley Griffin – the man-made lake that divides Canberra into its northern and southern halves. Perhaps it’s our 10 years in Denmark that have influenced her, or perhaps she took note of the fact that Canberra has 2,400km of cycle paths – more per capita than anywhere else in Australia. Either way, as with the tennis, the better weather should mean that she has more opportunities to get out and about than she does today.
Mr CBRbound (aged and matured)
As a writer, I’ve often felt somewhat isolated by living in Denmark. True, Europe is small enough that I’ve been able to hop to other places to either teach, or be taught, as I work to improve my work or just seek to work. Being back in an English-speaking culture will mean that all sorts of avenues open up to me once more. There’s a Writer’s Centre
in Canberra that I can’t wait to join. And that’s to say nothing of all the other arts-related opportunities and things like writing competitions for ACT-based authors. I’m looking forward to going to the theatre, to the library, to perhaps doing some readings, and to having ready access to others who lead a similar life. And I can’t wait.
Mr Pup (aged 3)
It’s fair to say that, among all of us, Mr Pup has the most reservations about moving to Canberra. I’ve already told him that there are pretty strict rules about where he can go and when he can run without a lead. But I haven’t yet told him about quarantine, or snakes, or the spiders, or territorial roos, or the crocs (not in Canberra, but potentially elsewhere when we go on holiday). He’s not even sure he likes the sound of flying — although for the price we paid I have assured him that he will surely be travelling business class. If there’s anything he’s looking forward to, it’s be the family all being together again, and perhaps a run on the beach once in a while.
These only scratch the surface of things we’re looking forward to, but it’s already clear that, with so much on offer, unpacking may take a little longer than we first thought.