One of my neighbours was swimming this morning, too. Many Australians ask me how I like living here. I tell them I love it, which is true. How could you not, I feel as if they want to add. In fact, sometimes I think they pity me as we relish the things they assume were missing from my former life – frequent hot sunshine, empty roads, wide open spaces, manageable cities, hundreds of the world's best, invariably deserted beaches, weird and wonderful landscapes with amazing or adorable creatures in them, and so on.
But, ye gods, I miss autumn leaves. I didn't realise quite how much until recently. I think it must be a good year for colour; perhaps something to do with the Indian summer the UK enjoyed a few weeks ago, so the leaves are turning later. They were magnificent. Luminous lime green and burnished gold and burnt orange and flame red and deep claret. I couldn't snap the best examples, alongside the M25, because I was driving.
Even more than these, I miss light nights. I've criticised daylight saving many a time in the UK in the past, but even without it we'd have light evenings and lingering twilights. Having a beer and a barbie just isn't the same in the dark.
The night after my return to Brisbane at the weekend, I was awakened at 04.05 by crows squabbling. There was little chance of me going back to sleep. I cursed the crazy Queenslanders, too, for their refusal to change their clocks; it was already coming light. A tad cranky, I grabbed my camera – as the sunrise provided another colour drama. It was wonderfully peaceful: there were no shouting rowers or cyclists; no dog- or power-walkers; not even purring CityCats at that hour. The birds and I.
It occurred to me that the grass is just as green on either side.