homecoming devonport ferry

A sight that always invokes a sense of home: the ferry docked at Devonport Wharf. Image: Su Leslie 2018

Home is a slippery concept for me. Born in Scotland, raised in New Zealand. Seven schools in 11 years; twenty houses in my first thirty years. A slightly nomadic decade in the UK, and now the longest period I’ve ever stayed put, in my current home.

But it doesn’t feel right anymore. An empty nest for sure, but also one in a neighbourhood that has lost it’s slightly grungy, semi-rural charm. A neighbourhood where the small, modest houses in which generations of Kiwi families raised their kids are being demolished and replaced with sprawling McMansions.

I don’t know where my next home will be, though I hope to figure it out fairly soon! I do know that there are some sights in the world that will always invoke home, and one is a ferry docked at Devonport Wharf.

Devonport was my family’s first home as new migrants to New Zealand, and going to “town” on the ferry was a huge adventure for us (especially as my mother is totally phobic about boats and water). The ferry these days is newer, faster and not steam-powered, but when T and I recreated the trip recently, I realised that the feeling remains the same.

Posted to the Ragtag Daily Prompt | homecoming


68 thoughts on “Homecoming

  1. I liked the photo, but I really enjoyed reading about your nomadic life. Although I like to travel, I prefer not to move a lot but have a home to which to return. After one year in a rental after we got married, we lived in one house for 27 years and now have been in our rental house about 5 years. We hope that our next house, wherever it may be, will be our last for our (hopefully) many years of retirement. From your description, I can see why you’re ready to move and pray that you find that right place very soon!


    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Janet. I feel the same way about moving. Since I’ve experienced living in the same place for a long time, part of me would like to just stay put. But here doesn’t work for us, and the prospect of a new start is exciting.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, as long as I could be (OK, I’m dreaming here but hope dies last, doesn’t it!) near water, a lake, the sea (fat hope, being Swiss), a river or even a pond, I’d be happy as can be. I have lived 15′ on foot from the sea in South Devon, UK, 2′ from the shores of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva) in Switzerland (but only 2 1/2 yrs sadly), and a doable tramway-trip from Lake Zurich for times of my life and these had me spoilt for the rest of my life. I’ve been moving some 13 times from the begin of my mariage (1st), lived on 2 continents and 4 countries, but I now long to return to Switzerland for good….
    That Devonport pic tears at my heartstrings! I would have gone ‘to town’ often, just because you can…. I’ve been known to take a lake cruise on Lake Zurich in all weather and all times, when I was sad, blue, happy, cheerful, in rain & shine – just because it gave me so much peace every single time.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve taken ferry rides for the same reasons 😀 I do love being near water, and have managed that for most of my life. Coastal properties here are understandably more expensive, but I guess within rising sea levels the existing ones won’t be worth much — and inland areas will become closer to the sea. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I think staying in NZ. Although there is a lot I don’t like about my country, I do feel we haven’t travelled quite as far along the hatred and intolerance path as other places. We used to think about living in Melbourne, but NZers get a special form of discrimination in Australia as regards healthcare and social security, and that makes it less appealing as we get older. If Scotland were to become independent I’d go back in a flash, but I would hate to live in the (dis)United Kingdom these days, and with Brexit my Euro passport is worthless. As for the US — I’m flattered by your comment, but not sure your country would have me. And I’m not sure I could live somewhere where guns are so often regarded as an answer to problems.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wow. To both the photograph and your story. Seven schools in 11 years?? Oh boy. While I lived in four places in my first four years (including a year in the USA), I spent the next 18 in the one home, attended one primary school and two high schools. I can’t even imagine moving around that much as a kid, especially as a shy one.
    Good luck with the new home search. Hope you find one that fills your soul. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was tough, and it got worse over time. So much so that on day two of the sixth form in a new (and massive) high school, I panicked and bailed. By the time I’d walked home (flippin miles), I had decided to leave school and get a job. Which I did. I sat University Entrance at night school and went to university a year later than my peers, at 19. My mum was surprisingly ok about it, but my dad went mental. I left home not long after getting the job 😂😂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have no idea how many houses I have lived in as a child. We as a family moved around a bit due to job positions for Dad. I left home at 17 and overseas within months and as they say the rest is history. We now have an apartment and love the downsize. Couldn’t imagine going back to a largish house now. A year ago we could have easily stayed in France or Spain 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have led a nomadic life too which is probably why the concept of a ‘forever home’ is rather alien. The longest I lived in any one house was 18 years and that was through necessity rather than love of the house or town. One downside is that I do not have any friends. When you move a lot you lose touch with people you have got to know and I am not one for returning to somewhere I have been before. It sounds like you might be considering doing that though. But then again I thought you were keen on the South Island?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean about losing touch!! I do quite like that I’ve been here so long I do have networks. Not just friends, but the looser connections too that are enabling — even just for things like getting a builder or dentist recommended. We are really keen on the South Island, but our son is in Auckland, and I still have a slight problem (irrational as it may be) about not being able to get in my car and driving to him. Basically, we are over Auckland and city living and are open to lots of new ideas. It’s about finding land and/or buildings that we feel have potential.


      • But your son might move to England or somewhere so best not to base where you next live on him. Kids always find their way home if they need to 🙂 But yes, I totally agree with the thing about builders and dentists – and hairdressers and car mechanics too!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Yikes, I thought my kids had it bad with our nomadic life but I am sure you outmoved them and us. Our house is already seeming too large for us but I don’t want to move yet. I wouldn’t even know where to move to. I think it is lovely you still have that homecoming feeling in connection with Devonport. I thought I would find it when I went back to Fiji for a visit. It didn’t happen. I was disappointed because I used to love that feeling of stepping off the plane or boat and knowing from top to bottom that I was home. On a couple of trips back from Australia recently I experienced a slight frisson of homecoming as we flew into Christchurch. .

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you, I’m ready for a new start in a new home. This home no longer serves my needs … well, I mean that emotionally rather than physically. I thought this would be the year but I had an epiphany over the holidays and I realized the timing was premature.
    I understand what you mean though about other factors providing a feeling of home – like the ferry for you. For me, it’s the sound of trains being shuttled around in a train yard.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So the McMansion thing is happening in Auckland too, so sad. I had a very nomadic life in NZ, starting as dairy farm workers meant moving regularly then being a solo mum for the next 12 years I lost count of the houses lived in. But now we have a base over here in Australia I’ve been in for 20 years, but of course, left it to travel regularly but always happy to come home, till now the age thing is slowing us down. Hope you find your dream place to put your roots down and like Jude said don’t count on your kids always being handy. Jack and I actually left all our kids in NZ, but Jack’s 3 followed us over, my 2 are still in NZ so a good reason to visit.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Beautiful shot, Su! You certainly moved a lot! 😄 In all my life I only used a ferry twice: one time from Belgium to England, the other time from Athens to Mykonos. The first was horrible as I got terribly seasick, during the second trip it was wonderful although I ended up getting sunburned. 😁

    Liked by 1 person

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