There are many places throughout the world that I would classify as 'favourites'.
Equally, there are many places that, given the right circumstances, I would like to live in; but I have to say that the place I want to live in most of all is Victoria, in Australia.
Victoria is my adopted mother country. My 'stepmother country'.
For a long, long time, after my family moved there from England, I disliked this Antipodean stepmother of mine.
I resented everything about her.
I averted my eyes.
I grew sullen when she was mentioned.
I longed to 'escape' her presence.
I ran away at least three times in our first few years there.
I constantly tempted my poor parents to return 'home'.
But as the years passed and I did indeed escape - on many occasions and for long periods of time - I found that in fact, I missed her. Was it a case of absence makes the heart grow fonder? Maybe. Maybe it was she had crept in to my heart.
These days I feel as much at home in Victoria as I do in England; in parts of France; here in Kaiserswerth, and other such places.
I was once told that people who moved countries in their childhood, become restless. They feel that they do not belong anywhere. There is no place that they could say is their 'home'.
I think that I am living proof of this.
When asked what my nationality is I can say that I am a U.K. citizen. Thanks to dual nationality I am also an Australian citizen. But when it comes down to it I do not feel as if I 'belong' to any nation. So I guess I should say that I am a world citizen.
Having said that though, I do like Victoria. A lot. Especially the countryside and the rural towns and villages. In my travels I see many places that remind me of the Victorian landscape: Provence in particular.
Maybe that is why I like Victoria so much: Because she reminds me of other places...
Of course, Victoria is no Saint. She has her 'moments': The extreme heat of February and early March. The periods of drought. The bushfires. Corrugated Iron. Those horrible poisonous snakes and spiders(!) The suburban sprawl...
But I am 'okay' with that. I don't mind. When you love someone you love them with their imperfections as well as with their beauty.
So I decided that I would post some photographs of Victoria for you to see for yourself. I hope you enjoy them!
This is Melbourne from the Railway Station at Camberwell. You can see the city skyline in the distance:
The city of Melbourne is like any other really: a mix of old and new. The new dwarfing the old:
Inner Melbourne is littered with remnants of her Victorian era splendour:
A recognised 'culinary capital', one can eat dishes from almost any part of the world, while in Melbourne. Here is a selection of Polish food from the restaurant 'Borscht, Vodka, and Tears':
But once you leave Melbourne and its suburbs behind you enter another realm:
Country Victoria is full of little towns and villages:
This is the town of Beechworth on a Winter's afternoon:
. . . and here is her Italianate Post Office:
Here is Clunes Town Hall:
The Public Library at Alexandra:
And the town hall at Heathcote:
This is the façade of the long gone old Beechworth Hospital:
There are old houses:
And then there is the country itself. The spaces in-between all the towns, villages and hamlets:
I have decided that I don't mind her coastal regions as much as I used to:
I don't find her native trees to be as 'boring' as I did in my teens:
... and I have grown to like the native flowers:
This is the Australian Sarsaparilla plant:
This is a form of Corea:
Here is a red-flowering gum:
. . . and the wildlife such as these Crimson Rosellas:
There are many more pleasures awaiting those who visit or live in this relatively small state. In future posts I will try to show some of them, but for the time being I hope you enjoyed this small plate of Victorian hors-d'oeuvres...