Nestled in the ultra suburban hills of Orange County, where going to work, school and the play park, and wondering what to cook for dinner have become our new every day norm, it seems hard to believe that it was only a year ago that our travel adventure was drawing to a close.
We've been in Southern California for eight months now; we've rented a house, which has slowly become a home, Mr T heads off to work in an office (or just as often jumps on a plane to one far more distant office or another), the littlest Hobo spends her mornings at pre-school, and her afternoons running through sprinklers and riding bikes with the little group of friends that she has made, and I am slowly, but surely, turning that dream of a photography business into a reality. We have a garden with orange, lemon, grapefruit, apple, fig and guava trees and plenty of space for little legs to run around. All in all, it's pretty good in this palm tree framed, hummingbird filled life.
We spend almost every day under the sun in what feels like a perpetual summer; the climate here is better than I have experienced anywhere else, we've become regulars at Disneyland, and we have a plethora of beautiful beaches to explore, right on our doorstep. California offers an interesting and diverse landscape - the stunning coastline, the sandy canyons and a constant backdrop of mountains holding it aside from the rest of the country beyond. It's much more than I had ever imagined it to be, breathtakingly picturesque.
I experienced my first earthquake a couple of months ago - sitting in my office working away when suddenly the house started shaking and I felt like I was riding a wave - the other one and a half travellers didn't feel it - just a few miles away, each respectively in their office and pre-school, better built to handle these local natural phenomena than our house clearly is. It was scary and exciting at the same time, and I find myself wanting to feel another so that I can spend less time wondering what is going on and more time committing the experience to memory, while at the same time I fear that if another comes it could be much worse than the little 5.8 Richter, 60 miles away shimmy shake.
For a long time, we were wearied by travel, and apart from the necessary (work, and back to the UK for Christmas and a certain big birthday celebration) we didn't go anywhere much. I haven't been on a plane since early January, and that feels like forever! But recently the itchy feet have reappeared, and over the last month or so we've ventured up and down the coast to explore our new surroundings slightly further afield. We're enjoying a day or two here and there, but are also loving the feeling of having a base to return to - especially the littlest Hobo, who loves her bedroom, her 'stuff' and her routine.
Hotel chez twonahalf is back up and running, with our first friend having visited a couple of months back, our niece just left after a month here and we have a steady stream of friends and family booked in for the rest of the year - I love these opportunities to spend far more 'real' time with these people than we ever get when we dash around from one social engagement to another on a visit home.
We're as settled as you can expect to be after eight months - years of re-locating has taught me that. I'm experiencing a horrible wave of homesickness at the moment - but I know that it's normal at this stage, and besides I can't tell you where I'm homesick for anymore - South East England, Sydney, Washington DC, or our wandering existence of 2011/2012. Some places have much more visual (and meteorological) appeal than others, but ultimately it's the people, and if I could collect up all my favourites from around the world and pull them close, wherever that may be, life could be somewhere near perfect. In the meantime, I'm just keeping up the chant of 'this too shall pass' and making the most of my surroundings.
There's a good chance that some of the tears that are falling so freely over distant friends and family at the moment might be at least partly hormone driven too - we are excited to be expecting a baby boy in November. Who knows how that would work word-wise; two and two halves doesn't really roll off the tongue, and the littlest Hobo will no longer be the littlest, so I guess it's just as well that our current life is too boring to warrant many regular updates!