Home away from home = tit sweat

Having grown up by the sea, in the sea, of the sea, living in a landlocked city has been character-building. Even when I lived in central Australia, the vastness and unique beauty of the desert satiated my desire for the ocean.

For the last four days, the temperature in Manchester has reached 25+ Celsius and, to the good-humoured delight of our 2-1 Aussie-English household, cries of a ‘heatwave’ and ‘how to cope’ have rung out far and wide; Ma meanwhile texts from Queensland to share top temps of 25 in the middle of winter.

When faced with ‘the heatwave of 2017’ here, unable to easily flock to the sea, I did what I’ve learned any self-respecting local does in England: I went to a park, one I’d only visited once previously in autumn. To see it in summer bloom, I was in fits: lush greenery, fragrant roses the size of my head, and red squirrels! A monarch butterfly! Redwood cedar giants. Wildflower meadows, and gnarly, towering oaks. All such northern hemisphere treasures. But then, I discovered an unassuming little building, which I realised lead into rows of buildings, made of glass. A doorway. Into a glasshouse maze.

In I went.

The air inside was humid and stifling. It must have been close to 40 degrees, but I was covered in goosebumps. My body suddenly knew itself again! I was at home in Queensland by the sea and in the central desert of the Northern Territory all at once. Even my feet were hot, unheard of in England. Then, as the hysteria of my wonderment started to settle, I began to recognise flowers and plants. Australian natives that fill the pages of my novel, which I conjured from imagination and memory while I wrote the first draft here in England. Oh for the KAPOW delight of seeing the red curls of a grevillea flower and the regal crown of a staghorn!

I don’t know if I’ve ever been so happy to be so, SO sweaty. Summer in England lasts for only days at a time, but oh how I relish it.

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