All journeys start with goodbyes. And that’s what I’m dreading the most.
Russell and I moved to Cairns in 1991 and racked up 28 years of "laughter and the love of friends.” **
We’ll be back of course, but that doesn’t make the sadness of leaving any easier.
It’s the people we’ll miss the most. Mind you, they can travel and many have promised to come and visit us. We have become a great excuse for a trip to Europe (God help us - and England - if they all come at once.)
But some things will remain firmly rooted in Cairns. Like the weather.
It's magnificent for 330 days a year and a tad unbearable for 35, or thereabouts. And with the balmy, tropical weather - which I will miss so much on grisly, wet winter days in England - comes the instant mood lift.
There's nothing hard about getting out of bed on a Monday morning when it's warm. And the days always seem to go better when you start them with a barefoot walk on the beach.
Life's not always a bed of roses, and I can get as grumpy as the rest of them, but I always think dealing with shitty things in life is so much easier when it’s sunny.
Then, of course, there‘s the environment. Where else in the world can you live with the Great Barrier Reef and a World Heritage Rainforest on your doorstep? I still find the mountains, cane fields, forests and ocean around Cairns jaw-droppingly beautiful.
I will also miss the ease of living in a smallish regional city, where everything is within a 15 minute drive and you can generally park outside the door of wherever you‘re going. I will miss the traditional high-set Queenslander homes, and juicy, ripe mangoes. I will miss the colour and smell of my tropical garden, and being able to saunter down the lane to the local beach cafe on a Sunday afternoon for an icy cold beer and live music.
This morning, at 7.30, we walked the dogs along the meandering beachfront pathway at Holloways. "Morning," we sang out to another woman also walking her dog.
"Isn't it glorious weather," she said as we passed, "Aren't we lucky to live here."
Aren't we indeed.
Yes, there is a lot I will miss about Cairns.
** This wonderful phrase comes from a lo-o-o-ong poem by Hilaire Belloc called Dedicatory Ode, which I like to think of as a love letter to his three university friends. Its most famous verse is:
From quiet homes and first beginning,
Out to the undiscovered ends,
There's nothing worth the wear of winning,
But laughter and the love of friends.