In the relative blink of an omnipotent eye my tiny world turned upside down. Having moved hemispheres in fairly recent times it doesn’t take much to unsettle me. I’m like a plant whose roots are loosely tethered in soil and could be blown away by a hint of a breeze, I’m such a dandelion-hearted simpleton. When we lived in Bronte, NSW, we had a frangipani tree. All six feet of it listed sideways, gnarled branches outstretched towards the Pacific Ocean. The tree had been transported from Gosford and spent its years with us pining for the Central Coast, but despite this, it managed to generate a few patchy blossoms to mark the summers.  They emerged with great effort and then seemed to exist in a state of trepidation.  Theses few flowers trembled in the ocean breezes while the bark took on a mottled patina of protest and I was in a constant fret that the frangipani would give up the ghost altogether. As we all know the ghost of a mournful tree haunts its human forever. But the tree survived and occasionally appeared almost settled in its new coastal home, clinging on for dear life when it encountered the enormous gusts that frequently charged up the cliffs, tossing outdoor furniture about in their wake.

I waved farewell to that frangipani in 2016.  Armed with 17 suitcases, we boarded the BA flight from Sydney to London, leaving behind that swirling, gutsy beauty of Bronte Beach; its scudding clouds, sudden storms and the ceaseless repercussion of the sea (er, that was a blatant attempt to add to the drama with a spot onomatopoeia). Our next port of call, a basement apartment in North London in bleakest February.  I was not prepared for the all-encompassing darkness of the tail end of a London winter, but was struck by the beauty of the plum tree in full bloom outside the Freud Museum. The tree seemed to emit light into the darkness of the afternoons with what seemed a divine spirit from another dimension. Perhaps Freud’s soul is in that tree.   Three consecutive Februarys later and it was time to move once again. All fifty metres, a short hop across the road, with 17 suitcases in tow and cardboard boxes on our heads. Turns out now we are living here in London I don’t like to be far from the Freud Museum or its impressive garden at any given time. It provides an anchor.

I have a dim recollection of those early days in London where everything was powerfully strange and new, terrifying and exciting. My mind and personality blew apart as I tried to process the magnitude of living in a new environment with its alien customs and formal communication systems. I developed a tic. And strangely, at this time, I didn’t exercise. Aside from, well, walking everywhere to get from A to B, but not, I hasten to add, in stretchy lycra tights while holding a couple of light weights with music blasting in the headphones. I walked because I was too paralysed by fear to drive anywhere. If the choice presented to me was either a 10-minute drive in a dry interior or a 50-minute walk in sideways sleet through unfamiliar streets I would invariably choose the latter. I’d walk and walk, pondering why a truck the size of a behemoth was permitted to thunder down such ancient narrow roads. I was agog at the sheer nerve of a London mother’s stop and drop on a double yellow, engine idling, whilst simulatanously chatting handsfree and waving their daughters off to school. I’d shake my head in sheer relief that I was not in their number, that I was a pedestrian who merely had to sidestep scooters, prams, construction workers, scaffolding and to skirt parents engaged in animated discussions about the periodic table with their tiny offspring.  Now, three years on, when I do drive (rarely and in a very small vehicle) I’m comforted by the feeling that the majority of my fellow motorists haven’t a clue what they are doing either. So, I drive with impunity and with a sense of liberation I never feel in NSW with its constant RBTs, speed traps, laser beams and towering billboard advertising warning of double, triple, quadruple demerit points coming-at-ya this long weekend.

So, I never joined that gym for my first eight months living in this great city. Eight months at my age is just enough to allow the bones start to crumble like feta and the flesh to wobble like Aeroplane Jelly. Then one day, in a fit of pique, I entered a Feminist Anti-Trump Spin Class and began the slow climb back to something resembling fitness. That’s when I kicked myself with my new strong legs. Why in those torturous early days of the move when I resembled the upside-down face emoji, when a proper workout would have done me good, did I choose instead to malinger in the crowded Tesco bakery aisle and indulge in cinnamon buns and packets of Revels?

So, where was I? Yes, moving house! As a consequence of the upheaval  I’ve spent the past months as inert and inactive as an axolotl, partly due living in an unfinished house, also due to the arrival of a new puppy who is excellent in every way from his impressive ability to hold his bladder to his high tolerance of children poking his  jowls and holding him aloft while bellowing ‘oh Zabenya”. His one failing, if you can call it that, is that he is fantastically attached to me and won’t leave my side, whether it’s on the train or the Tube, the laundry or the loo. He somehow also stubbornly refuses to walk on a lead. Walking long distances out. Cue the cinnamon buns.


But enough is enough. A recent x-ray has revealed these bones need exercise so in the last few days I have kickstarted a new habit.  I tuck the dog under my arm and take him to the gym. When I do push-ups, he squeezes under me with blatant disregard for my huffing and puffing. He watches me in confusion while I struggle on the treadmill, slowly, slowly building up my tolerance for pain. I read Murakami’s ‘What I Talk About When I Talk About Running’ to further cement my commitment to improving my health and state of mind. I’m also hoping my newfound health regime reduces my Brexit Paranoia and Climate Change Angst, another reason why I choose to live close by the Museum of the Father of Psychoanalysis and to have a puppy named ‘Freud’ for accompany me on my journey into better health.