Blimey! It’s 2015 and I’ve clearly not been plugged in. Oops.

But here I am, trying to remedy that, though I’m not sure how I will go with being nice. Certainly I am saying Hi. “Hi”, and also thank you for patience and forbearance.


For this pilgrim, it began with movement. Planes and cars and trucks. Not very much walking, sadly – but that will change. The minute I have sent this note into the ether, I will head out into the afternoon to let my legs lead me. For now, though, the fingers are the only moving part. They must try to capture my wishes for you….

May you have days and days of benign uneventfulness under wide blue skies, broken only by delicious AHA! moments of realising that peace, in self and place, is the greatest gift.

A village full of healthy laughing friends and family to applaud you through your days, sharing the ups and buoying you in the downs.

Licorice allsorts. Plenty.

Possibilities swirling, all of them expansive.

A shady spot under a spreading tree. An umbrella when it pours. Or not, if you like to be drenched.

A mind and heart that say YES to all the right questions, and can say a loud NO when necessary.

The freedom to continue to breathe and walk and speak and live without fear, and the courage to keep on doing those things when fear intrudes. As it does. As it will. As it must, I suppose. That too is life. But I wish you oceans of courage and freedom, that you may wake each day and give thanks.


I give it to you and I wish it for you.

And love. With every step, every meeting, every parting and every keeping.

Most of all, I hope you can have what I am claiming for myself. While in Ubud recently, I wished a boy “happy new year”. He smiled back at me and said “And you – you have more happy.”

It’s my only resolution.

Have more happy.


May it be a bright bright bright new year, full to the brim with more happy.


And a postscript…

I have been remiss. Forgot to let you know about a couple of things during my unplugged days, but there is a show called The Truth About Us on the Foxtel Bio Channel. One episode was a great celebration of my friendship with the beautiful friend Kat Stewart – a remarkable human being for whom I have so much respect and gratitude. It was such a privilege to record it with Angela Pulvirenti.

15 thoughts on “Saying HI!

  1. Dear Ailsa:

    Looking at reviews/articles on Cheryl STRAYED – her Pacific Trail walk – yesterday in fact – bringing you and your walking immediately and powerfully to mind. The trails we are all walking – and beset by trials, too – that’s the way of life – is it not! The paths we take and the roads we stride. Last week Monday I attended the funeral in Wagga of one the most significant of my many significant students – Athol B. My student 40 years ago at Macintyre High in north-western NSW. A man of high degree – of passion, compassion, ability – the best of wives and three important sons. He grew up in a beautiful town with the dark under-belly of racist assumptions – and he went on to be the Director of the Charles Sturt (Wagga campus) Indigenous Studies Centre – and later the Director of the Wiradjuri Home Care Services for Indigenous elderly folk across a broad swathe of the Riverina. A man of high achievement. He coached sporting teams. Two sons went on to national rep. level in a number of sports. He dedicated himself to counselling men trying to overcome domestic violence attitudes/propensities. He loved the South Sydney Rabbitohs! He was the inspiration for me to follow a social justice pathway in my teaching of literature and history. We last met up in September last year. He looked good. Had plans. I contacted him in early November – things sounded even better – plans for Christmas in norther NSW and with his youngest (just completed his HSC) to travel to the Norther Territory. I sent a brief message two days before Christmas – two days after Christmas there was a message from his wife to say that he was with the angels. The funeral was in historic and beautiful St John’s Anglican church – filled to overflowing. Welcome to country and acknowledgement of elders past and present. The graveside lawn cemetery interment was equally moving – if not more so. His first namesake son performed a smoking ceremony, played the didjeridu with clap-sticks and then sang a farewell dirge in Gamilroi – to accompany his father’s spirit on its journey to the stars! And at the wake afterwards others of my students from 40 years ago. Athol’s cousins.

    Ailsa – your postscript brief appearance with Kat is what has prompted me to speak of Athol. I wanted to record my respect for his inspiring life and my sense of sorrow that he has left this world far too soon.

    And all your own wishes for us all – thank you, too! And “kochira kosou”! (Same to you!)

    1. Dear Jim,
      What a story.
      I am so sorry for your loss. For the loss of so many who loved this good man.
      I am glad you honour him here. It is so important for us to stop and pay respects.
      Thank you. A beautiful reflection.As always.
      Peace to you, Jim.

  2. Hi Ailsa,
    What a great post, it echoes all that I try to live by. I have been writing poems to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, promote discussion and make people laugh, because we need to tell the truth about cancer.
    I wanted to do this because my mother had a sarcoma when I was a child, since when both she and I have had breast cancer, meanwhile my brother is in remission from leukemia. My uncle and father-in-law died of prostate cancer and my aunt has lung cancer. Yet I feel blessed, I have met and been supported by such wonderful people, I have found a way to make others smile, I have faced the world pickled, burnt and bald, and I have discovered a cheerful dignity.
    You can see more of my work and can find my campaign at,
    I hope you don’t mind my dropping by!
    Any feed back would be welcome, thank you…

    1. Goodness! Another Ailsa.
      And what a story you tell.
      I am humbled. Of course I don’t mind you dropping by.
      I wish you so much luck and peace. And I hope that your campaign is a huge success. So important.
      Thank you for “cheerful dignity”. Beautiful.

  3. Dear Ailsa,
    I have just discovered your insights and thank you for your contribution through your work. I will keep reading. More Happy to you too!

    1. Thanks so much Therese. I always say I want to feel like I am being useful, so your choice of the word “contribution” is a gift. And much appreciated. x

  4. Ailsa,
    What really shines through your pages is love for my country and it’s people (I’m a mongrel – Valencian Dad, Wiradjuri Mum) that only the true Spaniard manages to interpret. Eres todo corazón, eso importa. You’ve drawn together beautifully so many of my own disparate threads of inspiration… poetry..especially Antonio Machado, long walks, vino tinto, notions of faith, sin, empathy, companionship, emotional honesty and, of course that strong and overarching love of Spain. Raramente pasa la ocasión cuando un libro me ha inspirado y cambiado tanto. At the same time my own heart goes out to you, no puedo creer que tanta tristeza te ha tocado. Te mandó todo el cariño que puedo y espero que la luz y el amor de buenos amigos te alegra la vida.
    Siempre al camino


    1. Ricardo!
      What a lineage – Valenciano and Wiradjuri! There can’t be too many of you. I’m fascinated and a tiny bit envious, actually. Que palabras de gracia. Gracia gracia… muchas gracias! Esta muy muy amable.
      El camino me día mucho. Fuerza, en particular. Estoy muy agradecido.
      Your words resonate very deeply, and I am so glad of them.
      Si…luz, luz, por favor.
      Para ti, también, amigo.
      Buen camino Ricardo.
      Ailsa xxx

      1. Al contrario querida,
        Tener un grano de tu fuerza y toque humano sería un sueño mío.
        Te puedo pedir un favorcito? I’m walking the Via de la plata from Sevilla to Astorga in a few months and I need to ask you a few questions. Puedes mandar los respuestas a mi propio email si quieras.
        Hago el camino a una manera mas vaga. Voy para gozar de paisajes, gente, comida y vino, no quiero sufrir tanto como tu dormiendo con unos roncadores. Aré there plenty of reasonable hotels/casa rurales on the camino where I can shower, dine and sleep como un señor después?
        Un abrazo fuerte


  5. I,like Jim in the second comment above,was wondering if you have seen the movie “Wild” or read Cheryl Strayed’s book about the walk she undertook,which did remind me of your walk through Spain Ailsa,except Cheryl was carrying her own sins with her on the trek and not others.
    I saw the film,but feel I need to read the book to get just what it was all about,and then see the film again.
    I was just wondering if you had seen the film ?

    1. Hi Darren,
      Yes I have read it and seen the film. In fact Cheryl and I were on a panel together at the 2013 Sydney Writers Festival. It was fun. Just the two of us and Caroline Baum, talking sins and walking. She is a very good sort!
      I enjoyed the book very much, but I absolutely LOVED the film. I can’t believe they could make such a terrific layered, pact film out of a lone journey. SO often they are worthy and dull. this was fab. Nick Hornby’s script is a gem, polishing all the best of the book to a sheen.
      Hope you agree….

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