Four homes in 30 Days

Tille and Ainslie


Name: Ainslie O’Connor

Occupation: Social Policy writer


How we met: Ainslie and I have known each other since I was about four. We grew up in a tiny dot of a town on the west coast of South Australia called Haslam. To give you an idea of just how small of a dot I’m talking, my brother made the population 52 when he was born!  I went back there last year for the first time in 23 years (which you can read about here) and it brought back so many wonderful memories. Ainslie was part of pretty much every one of them.

She is one of those friends that no matter how long it is between drinks we pick right back up where we left off. It makes me smile to think we are still swapping stories all these years on. (Hers are always much better than mine btw. ie She met her husband Tille at a camp ground in Egypt and after knowing him for only a few days, jumped on the back of his motorcycle and toured the Middle East with him!)

Meet Ainslie:

It was day 147 of our motorbike trip, we were at the southern tip of Africa, just near the Cape of Good Hope, and I was setting up the tent that had been our ‘home’ since leaving Heidelberg, Germany. Everything we owned on this journey could be packed into two pannier bags and one roll bag, weighing about 30kg altogether.

On this day, I knew it was the last time on this trip that we would sleep in a tent, the last time that I’d blow up our thermorests, the inflatable pillows and zip our sleeping bags together. And the last time that I would arrange the inside of a 2m x 1m tent to the highest standard of comfort possible. (Yes, everything had a place and yes, I am known to be an organisation freak.)

Just for context, my German husband and I (Australian) had been living in Germany and on a whim had decided to ride home to Australia (where we planned to live) through Africa. To reach Cape Town, we had ridden through Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. After about six months on the road, in spite of having an incredible adventure, I certainly dreamt of having more than one pair of trousers, two pairs of knickers, a couple of t-shirts and nothing but lip-gloss when I wanted to ‘glam-up’. But more so, I dreamt of setting up a home, a physical base.

On leaving Cape Town, we flew via Heidelberg to visit family before flying on to Adelaide. Home in Germany is something I associate with ‘Gemütlichkeit’, a feeling of warmth and comfort. The small apartment of my mother-in-law is not built for three adults, but nevertheless, ‘Gemütlichkeit’ was indeed on offer and welcomed after six months of travel. Three meals a day of traditional German food, with the essential ‘Kaffee und Kuchen’ in between. There is always space for cake!

Arriving in Adelaide we spent time in my parent’s home, which in line with the Australian ideal is a home large enough for everyone to have their own space and of course, a BBQ and garden.

But still I was itching to get our own place, to make sure that I had my ‘home’. We rented a lovely little house, walking distance from the beach, plenty of space, garage for our beloved motorbike and a garden of roses and citrus fruit.

My four homes in 30 days were a small tent, a Gemütlich German apartment, a good Aussie family home and then our own little house by the sea. On reaching home number four, I felt sure that I would finally feel at ‘home’.

What I found however was that as lovely as it was, it was just bricks and mortar.

Yes it was a space that we could fill with our possessions, entertain our family and friends and share life in, but I now see that a ‘home’ for me has nothing to do with a physical place and that my fantasy was a little misguided. As long as I have my husband by my side, I can create a home regardless of where I am.


Check out what others are saying about this post.