Last year I experienced what felt like a real festive season: visiting markets in Belgium, drinking mulled wine and being cosy indoors. For Christmas itself we popped over to Ireland, which neither of us had ever been to before. During our week there we mostly poked about Dublin with friends and I instantly loved its low key charm, which reminded me of home because part of Australia’s cultural heritage is Irish. On the morning of Christmas Eve we took a day trip to Northern Ireland to visit the Giant’s Causeway, the fulfilment of a childhood dream, and arrived back to Dublin just in time to catch Glen Hansard at the end of his annual busking set.
After Ireland we caught a ship to the northern part of Wales, which was breathtaking, and passed through Chester on our way to Liverpool. So we spent the first few days of 2014 in Liverpool and London and it was a great way to start the new year, setting the tone for the year to come. But it was also our second Christmas away in a row; after we arrived back in Belgium I declared that we’d be home for Christmas 2014. And that’s exactly what’s happened. It was wonderful to be with family. I think this year was the most festive I’ve ever felt and I even went as far as putting up a little cardboard Christmas tree and decorations in our flat.
I don’t know if we really celebrate things properly in Australia because our laissez-faire attitude means that we have a hard time taking things seriously; but maybe it’s just that we have an easygoing way of celebrating things, and there’s something to be said for that. On the morning of Christmas, we went for a walk around one of the most beautiful parts of Sydney, a few minutes drive from home. I’m not sure it does gets much better than this.
I’m enjoying my current travel diet because it’s freed up a lot of mental space. The only trips I have planned in the next little while is a trip down the coast with friends, and to Adelaide in March to spend time with relatives. I’ll head to Vietnam for my fieldwork later next year but that’s far from my mind right now while I’m still trying to work out the scope of my research.
I had an epic year of slowing down, travelling and studying, and now it’s time to regroup. I know full well just how much work it takes to earn a year off like that, and that’s why I end up taking on multiple jobs and projects during most years. For the time being, it’s the best way I can stoke the fires of all my passions. And right now, I’m feeling like I’m finally on the right track and should continue to make good choices — reading Lean In, a ‘sort of feminist manifesto’, has inspired me. Sitting here in my living room writing this, I can guess what the tone of 2015 will be: a year of consolidating my career, getting stuck into study and research, and chipping away at some long-term projects, like promoting Vietnamese-Australian stories.
Happy New Year everyone, hope 2015 gets off to a good start. Come visit me in beautiful Sydney this year!