Home and away, staying connected

We’re flying home to Brisbane in less than 4 weeks. I know, I can’t believe it either!

There’s so much we’re looking forward to, most especially the opportunity to have proper human conversations, with hugs.

Staying connected with family and friends back home in Australia has been both a comfort and a challenge for us while we’ve traveled for so many months.  Matching up with time zones is often tricky and I’ll occasionally check the world clock app, just so I can imagine what might be going on back on the other side of the world.

Most mornings I’ll wake up and check Instagram, Facebook and email (yes to addiction) and then if I like something or leave a comment, my sister Robyn is straight on to me with a “good morning lovely sister” message and then we start on a messaging frenzy for a while to report on our respective activities and dramas. Or the reverse might happen when we’re here at night and one of our friends posts a comment and we’ll know they’re up early, then perhaps start up a messaging chat with them. Few secrets on social media.

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No private phone conversations here

I believe we’re so lucky now to have all the choices for communicating. It seems not so long ago in Australia, to call long distance was impossibly expensive and with limited call duration.

I remember as a teenager when my family moved to Queensland from Sydney and my Mum would anxiously wait for Sunday nights to call “home” after 7pm when it was cheapest. The egg timer would be set up so she’d be ahead of the 3 pips through the line and try to get all her words out really quickly before time was up. The calls usually lasted 9 minutes and she’d be depressed at the end of it because she ran out of affordable time. I can imagine now how she would feel with unlimited talking time and video calls, that we now take for granted.

Most places now have wifi, usually free, and we have many ways we can choose to connect. There is of course Facebook, with Dave & I each managing our individual accounts, plus we have a Facebook page set up as “whereverarewe” that we share publicly with random day-to-day stuff. We’re both running Instagram accounts, which we really enjoy. Instagram gives us the chance to learn a lot about improving our iPhone photo skills as we connect with a vastly different mix of people. We have fun with Instagram.

Dave plays Words with Friends and WordonHD with friends and randoms around the world, and he enjoys the chatter that goes on with that. He communicates with all sorts of people who way.

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Staying connected – with friends

We try our best to keep up to date on email with non-Facebook friends but we’re not as good with that as we could be.

Social media works well for us because we can share photos and stories about what we’re up to, to a broader bunch of family & friends.

A wonderful real-time communication medium is video, using Facetime or Skype. There’s nothing quite like talking and seeing at the same time. Really getting in touch with expressions and emotions makes a difference to how we understand what’s going on in each others’ lives. We try to know the best times of day to call, but it doesn’t always work with people heading off to their jobs, cooking family dinners, getting kids to bed and just living busy lives.

Dave calls his Dad, Sam, using Skype audio at least once a week and that style suits best as Sam no longer uses his computer for email. Sam is very supportive of our nomadic lifestyle and is always interested to hear about our current location and adventures.

For our grandkids’ birthdays we might record and send a video of us singing to them so that they can see us on their special day. I have to say we are pretty daggy and unpolished as far as video performers go, but we’re real and our hearts are true.

And then sometimes have email messages like this sent to us….

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Woke up to a lovely surprise from Maya and Samara, on my birthday.

We’ve always had silly songs for the grandkids and we’ll occasionally trot these out when we connect with them on Facetime. We like to think they enjoy the songs but we suspect that we misinterpret their expressions of wonder and joy for total dismay and disbelief.

Apologies to Conrad from Bye Bye Birdie for this treat:notes
We love you Poppy, oh yes we do,
We love you Poppy, and we’ll be true,
When you’re not near us, we’re blue,
Oh Poppy we love you.
Boop de boop.

My mother used to sing this one to me, my brother and my sister. Dave and I sing it now:
Once there was a little boy and his name was Jackson,
J-A-C-K-S-O-N,  J-A-C-K-S-O-N,  J-A-C-K-S-O-N,
And Jackson was his name – OH!

We’re not so good with sending things via the traditional postal method. When we were in London before Christmas I insisted that we buy Winter snowy style Christmas cards to send back to hot Summery Australia. It is really weird that in Australia, images sometimes depict a traditional northern hemisphere white Christmas, when in fact in Oz we spend Christmas holidays at the beach swimming and eating seafood and tropical fruits. So we bought cheesy cards from a Greenwich charity shop, took them over to Brussels with us, bought Belgian postage stamps ……… we still have those cards and the stamps with us now, in April. So often we fail on the follow-through though we always have the best of intentions.

Speaking of post, I want to share something we learned in Edinburgh back in December about postal communication, all those red Royal Mail boxes you see scattered around the UK have letters, called the “Royal Cypher”, signifying the sitting monarch of the time the post box was installed.

So for example, there are boxes with ERII for the current British queen, then there is VR for Victoria, ER VII for Edward 7th, GR for George and so on. The “R” stands for Rex, Latin for king; or Regina meaning queen in Latin. Who would’ve thought? Well you’d probably know it if you are British.

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4 Comments on Home and away, staying connected

  1. Susan Burton | April 7, 2016 at 7:33 am | Reply

    I so love reading your ramblings. I think your grandchildren are very lucky to have such wonderful, funny and entertaining grandparents. Please keep writing I have learnt a lot about customs in France from you

  2. neilstolmaker | April 10, 2016 at 4:28 am | Reply

    I enjoyed this post a lot. Like you two, we are almost constantly away from our families and friends and keeping in touch with them is important to us. We use all the methods you describe and find that Skype works the best for us. Most of the folks we know are Skype savvy and it works on our smartphones too. We also encourage visits and even pick lodgings that give us the flexibility to have visitors. Then we get to show them around the new place that we have discovered, which is really fun!

    • Hi Neil, thanks so much for taking the time to leave great comments, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It is lovely to have visitors when traveling away from home yet we’ve only managed that once so far. 🙂

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