97. Straight to you




I travelled 16,618 km (103256 miles) to be with my wife. At least, that is the distance, as the crow flys, between Melbourne Australia and New Jersey. Of course, I made the trip five times before that final permanent one. Five times both ways; 166,180 km plus the final trip bringing the total to 182,798 km or 113,585.411 miles.

Any way you cut it, that’s a lot of travel hours; a lot of time spent jammed into undersized airplane seats listening to babies cry and people snore, a lot of time dashing through strange airports trying not to miss my connection, a lot of time being irradiated in body scanners and harangued by the TSA.

Add to that the heartbreaking farewells at the end of each of those five visits and the weeks of depression once I’d returned to Melbourne and the whole thing feels a little Homerespue; at the very least, it is an epic(ish) poem of devotion and unflagging determination.

Was it worth it? Was all the lost sleep, longing, anxiety, and sheer discomfort worth the final reward?


Jersey girl and I recently passed the one year mark in our real life together. One year living under the same roof. One year living as a family. It has been challenging, rewarding, vexing, and, at times, downright confusing but mostly it has felt like home. We live well together. Our chemistry has survived close and prolonged proximity. If there was a honeymoon period, it is still very much in effect.

I wake up every day and thank the universe for this woman with whom I now share my world. She has shown me what true love and devotion really are.

And my new adopted country?

America, much to my surprise has become a strange fascination to me. I have felt myself falling in love with her too. Her seasons, her moods, her people, and her beating heart (New York) have captured me in ways and with an intensity, I never would have guessed could happen to me.

There is a feeling that anything is possible here, that you might discover who you truly are as this vast melting pot of ideas and cultures reflects your persona, your mask, back at you. America will not let you hide from your true self. She demands that you simply be – you.

Challenge accepted.




96. White Winter Hymnal



So, I’ve been living with winter in Jersey for a good few weeks now. Not my first experience of winter here as longtime readers of this blog may remember but my first full winter, certainly.

And what are my impressions so far?  Winter in America is cold, baby. I know you folks in places like Michigan or Illinois are probably laughing up a storm at the suggestion that Jersey gets ‘cold’ but for this refugee from a sunburnt country, it’s plenty cold enough.




However, I haven’t only been hit by successive waves of frigid temperatures. The beauty, too, comes in waves here and it’s not just the snow. As magically transformative as a blanket of snow is in this landscape, there is plenty of beauty to be found after the melt.










I’ve been struck by the quiet poetry of the colour pallet. Russet dominates here and I love to see whole woods of skeletal trees all painted in those tones.








The other feature of winter here that I find endlessly fascinating is frozen waters. Whenever I come across a frozen creek or river I become a child lost to wonder. It’s a beauty that comes with its own ache.





It amazes me that, even on a warmish day, you can find frozen water with ice thick enough to stand on.

My favourite is the snow that looks like icing sugar, making everything, houses, trees, shrubs, look like confectioneries.








It’s worth suffering some chilled ears and fingers to see these sights that are so foreign to me. I don’t know how I’ll feel about it all after a few more winters. People who’ve experienced far more of them than I are pretty jaded about the beauty, in my experience. I’ll try to keep my sense of wonder intact and keep recording the beauty I see.







Words and images are my own.






95. I want a wonderful life




I didn’t put anything Christmas themed up this year because, well, frankly I’m really not all that in to Christmas.

Bah humbug.

We had a very nice family gathering (it was the first time I’d personally celebrated Christmas in about seven years) and don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it. That said, I don’t get into all the rigmarole that usually goes along with the consumer season.

I did, however, come across an interesting tidbit while perusing NJ.com.

Apparently, for many American’s, the movie It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart is a Christmas tradition not to be flouted. Now, I’ve not seen the movie myself but I get the gist of the message it conveys and I can see why people like to indulge in it around this time of year.

What I wasn’t aware of, was the story’s connection to New Jersey and Hunterdon County (where I now reside) in particular. The movie is set in the fictional upstate New York town of Bedford Falls but the story’s original creator, Philip Van Doren Stern, had a different town in mind when he was writing it; the town of Califon NJ.

We have spent some very happy times in Califon over the years. It’s only about seven miles from home and is a very pretty place to visit. I keep uncovering these odd little factoids since I found my way here to Jersey. I take them as little reminders that I’m where I’m meant to be and that all is on track.





Take it away Jersey boy…


94. Thank you




This week I experienced my first ever Thanksgiving as we got together with my wife’s family over a meal to truly feel thankful for. It reminded me of the Christmases of my childhood when my mother and grandparents were all still with us. And that got me ruminating on all I now have again in my life.

It’s been a strange year with a great many highs and lows. I finally made it to the US after an interminable process that, in turns, made me feel like a criminal one moment and a stateless pariah the next. I have tried and failed to express the deep joy I felt upon finally arriving at her door. I guess some things can only be experienced, not told.

I got to see two Springsteen shows before I left Melbourne and then had the amazing experience of seeing him on his home turf of Asbury Park, New Jersey in the tiny Paramount Theatre. And I got to do it with the love of my life as a very special treat on my first birthday in America.

I also got married this year… twice. The first, smaller, wedding was the legit one but the second with all our friends and my wonderful son in attendance was easily the best day of my life.

On the red side of the leger, we have been dragged through bitter emotional and legal battles by my wife’s ex-husband who has the clinical narcissist’s instinct for perceiving when things are going well in our lives and then casually throwing a huge wrench into the cogs. He seems supremely unconcerned that the chaos he unleashes each time affects his own children far worse than it does anyone else.

We also managed to have not one but two car accidents in the space of ten days just recently, which resulted in our beloved car being totalled. Another wrench to deal with but at least no one was hurt.

Flipping back to the black side, though, Jersey girl has at last found a job where she feels both appreciated and where her many talents are allowed to shine. This has been a wish I’ve had for her for so long now and to see her happy and (most days) eager to go to work is a deep joy to me.

I have also been experiencing a creative spurt over the past few months which has kept me away from this blog more than I’d like but which is also giving me a fresh vim that I hope will carry me towards something wonderful. Early days yet but the ride has been very enjoyable so far.

So, ultimately, it’s been a turbulent year but one mostly made up of things to be grateful for. I’m grateful for my new home, my new wife, my lovely new daughters and my incredible son, the beauty all around me, the wonderful people I’ve met and continue to meet, and the continued opportunity to stay in a creative space.

Oh yes, and Mary’s Thanksgiving dinner.

For all of these things, I give thanks.


93. Streets of your town


Time flies. I’ve been living here in New Jersey now for six full months. So much has happened in that time that I’ve barely had time to write about it. I’ve attended two weddings (both of them mine). I’ve had the opportunity to show my son around my new home before reluctantly waving him off at Newark Airport. I’ve seen the Boss play in a small theatre in his spiritual homeland of Asbury Park, and I’ve spent a lot of time in my favourite city, New York.

So, you may be wondering how it’s all going? Did the great romance stay strong after the yearnings of distance dissipated? Does domestic bliss live up to the dream? Are we still even talking after all those years of Skype conversations?

I’m happy to report that the answer to all those questions is a resounding YES. If I’m honest, there wasn’t even a breaking in period. I just slipped right into the chaos that is a house full of hormonal teens and over-excitable dogs as if this had always been my life.

Not that there haven’t been trials and tribulations along the way, it’s just that they have all been external. The relationship is our rock and is what gets us through said trials.

I love the tiny town we live in. It is the sort of place most people aspire to; quiet, friendly, and safe. I’ve never lived anywhere quite like it. The town mayor married us under the trees across the road from our kid’s school. I have daily conversations with the crossing guards (on the morning walk to said kid’s school) in which I’m kept all up to date with  the local happenings.

By chance, I met the town’s (amateur historian), Joe a few months back. Over several conversations, he’s filled me in on some of the more fascinating aspects of the town’s history. This town was incorporated in 1926 after a referendum which was conducted on my Birthday (a fact I consider a good augur). One of the two town churches dates back to the 1750’s and is among the oldest in the county.


I’m a huge history buff (as I’m sure you’ve already worked out if you’ve been reading this blog) and living among so much of it has been a thrill I haven’t experienced since my time in the UK.

And then there’s this one other thing.

I mentioned this is a tiny town – more a village really. The population is well below 2,000 and yet it now has two Australians among its inhabitants. I first met Michael at our elementary school on one of my earlier visits. I’ve always enjoyed walking the youngest to school and, when she was younger, I’d usually pick her up too.

One afternoon, as I was waiting for her to emerge, a chap approached me and said, in an unmistakeable Sydney accent, “you’re from Australia too, right?” His kids and our kids had been talking and I’d been pointed out.

You may not find this that unusual, after all, there are thousands of Australians living in the US. That at least was my take at first as we chatted about where we were from and what had brought us to this distant part of the world (in both cases the love of a Jersey girl).

Then he asked me exactly where I was born, I told him Darlinghurst in Sydney and he immediately said, “Me too! Which hospital?”

“It doesn’t even exist anymore,” I joked and he exclaimed, “Saint Margaret’s? Me too!”

What are the odds that two men of a similar age, born in exactly the same place, should both end up married to women from New Jersey and both wind up in the same tiny village?

I was reminded of all this as I was walking to the Post Office this morning and Michael came running by me in the blistering heat (mad dogs, Englishmen, and people from Sydney). We have not become friends (despite the obvious impetus we have towards it), contenting ourselves with mild pleasantries whenever our paths cross. I think the strangeness of the situation is something we both find a little too unsettling.

I’m aware I went a little off topic there but the anecdote was too strange for me not to include it and I’ve been mulling it over since I got back from the Post Office.




Words and image are my own.





92. Come what may


I’m writing these words whilst sitting at the dining room table in Jersey girl’s house. Yes, I have arrived in New Jersey. The long and often arduous process which got us both to this point is now largely – though, not yet completely – behind us.

I simply cannot express the emotions involved in typing the paragraph above. We have waited so long for those words to be true and not just some expression of hope. And now, at last, they are true – I am here.

I have left job, family, and home. I have travelled with all I have to my name contained in just four very heavy bags and landed safely – if somewhat dazed –  into my new country.

Over the last couple of weeks in Melbourne I found out exactly how loved I was by friends and family. This made my last days in Australia bittersweet as I realised just how much I would miss certain folk.

I also found out exactly who amongst my friends were actually mere acquaintances in disguise. That too was a valuable lesson.

So now I am home. I sit here in this pretty house surrounded by the last snows of the season a very large dog curled at my feet. The day is cold but bright and the house lays silent. I have walked the youngest to school and waved Jersey girl off to work. The place is mine for the next few hours. I’ll probably spend several of those hours sleeping, as jetlag is still weighing on my eyelids.

Yesterday we loaded the kids into the car and drove over to the lake. It’s one of our favourite spots and I wanted to see (and photograph) the valley under snow before it was all gone.













As expected, the place was magical and the perfect setting for this first day of our new life as a family.

It has been a long, insanity-inducing journey which has led up to this moment. There were times both of us thought it was never going to happen but our faith in each other kept the madness at bay – well, mostly.

Now, all our days together are stretched out before us. We have absolutely no idea what comes next. All we can say for certain is that, come what may, we will face it together.

Words and images are my own.


91. Who will I become in the USA?

Going home.jpg

What is this land of America, so many travel there
I’m going now while I’m still young, my darling meet me there
Wish me luck my lovely, I’ll send for you when I can
And we’ll make our home in the American land

Springsteen, American land

A day I had almost believed I would never see has finally arrived. My trip to the US Consulate in Sydney was the final flaming hoop (of many) in this bureaucratic circus act I’ve been performing in for nigh on a year now.

After an unpleasant interview (more about which I will be writing in the near future) I have received my visa to travel to America and marry my Jersey girl.

I have my arrival date and the tickets are paid for but I will not be sharing that here just yet. There is a spy in the house of love, a dirty POS who would love nothing more than to get a hold of that particular piece of information so as to find some way to ‘spannerize’ our special moment.

All that you, dear reader, need know for now is that we will soon be together under the same roof with no end date hanging over our heads like that thread-hung sword of old.

I’d like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt thanks to all of you who have taken an interest in our little star-crossed (until now) love story. You have given more solace in the darker times than you know.

The story will continue, if in a slightly different form. You will get to experience my new homeland through my newcomer’s eyes. I will continue to take copious photographs and wax lyrical about all things Bruceland. And there’s the wedding of course.

I hope you can stick around to share the love. It wouldn’t quite be the same without you.

Words and image are my own.