This year I’m forgoing the pleasures of a Swiss Christmas for the heat and humidity of Brisbane. For the first time in twelve years we’ll be in Australia and not in our several-hundreds-year old house by a lake in a small village near Zurich, wearing our winter woolies and drinking steaming mugs of Gluhwein. Instead it’s t-shirts and shorts all the way, sunscreen and sunglasses, something I just can’t get my head around after all this time. My daughter of course, is beyond excited. When you’re nine, Christmas is Christmas no matter where you are. A little hot sunshine isn’t going to put her off one bit.
And what does this mean for the Phd?
It means a couple of things. First of all, I’m away from all my usual distractions. There are the usual day-to-day responsibilities that come with running a household and being a parent to primary school-aged child in a local Swiss school (two hour lunch break at home? Check! Wednesday afternoons free from 11.45? Check! Stay at home if the teacher is sick? Check! Switzerland, I love you, but what’s the story with the school hours? You don’t make it easy for mothers, I can assure you). Other distractions include my music-teaching business. It takes up an awful lot of time in preparation, actual teaching and administration, but mostly it’s a deadline looming after lunch, one that’s particularly good at ruining the concentration required to write a novel. So even with the distractions of family and Christmas, I’m hoping for some good writing to come out of it all.
Secondly, I’ll be in the country about which I’m writing. While I like the fact that I’m writing about events that happened halfway around the world from where I currently live as I find the distance gives me a unique perspective, there’s also something to be said for being in the same place, even if those events took place more than a hundred years ago. I’m hoping to store up a bit of this magic to take back with me.
So while I’m there I’ll revel in the fake snow and songs about snowmen and periodically remind myself that soon enough I’ll be back at my desk and staring out my window at this…