Sep 9, 2012


We’re four weeks into our three month trip to Greece and Cyprus and it’s as incredible as I imagined. One of the main reasons we decided to do such an extended trip with the kids was to forge links to one part of their heritage. 
The ancestral home in Agios Isidoros, Plomari, Lesvos
I remember the first time I went to Ireland where my own grandfather was from. All those little mannerisms and sayings that I'd thought were my family's (often embarrassing) quirks, were owned by a whole town! After that visit I felt suddenly more "connected", and more proud than embarrassed.

My husband's parents are travelling with us this time and we’re visiting the places where they're from.
Last week we were in the village of Plomari  on the island of Lesvos. My husband’s grandfather  left the village in his twenties to seek a better life in New Zealand. A wife from the same village was sent over for him a few years later!

They came back to the village for a time when my father-in-law was young and to be here now with my father-in-law and my children is very special. We’ve had afternoon tea in the garden my  children’s great-grandmother tended, swum in the beach where their grandfather learned to swim, and walked the cobbled streets of their ancestors.
Me in the garden of the old house.
Greek sweets for afternoon tea!
A village stroll after "another" long lunch

The girls (me, my twin daughters and their Yiayia)
take a walk to get the bread
In two weeks time we’ll be visiting the village in Cyprus my mother-in-law left when she was seven. She’s very excited about showing my kids where she helped tend the almond trees and to introduce them to village life. Her memories are still so vivid of that time that it makes me realize the deep seated connection to a place we can have.

More pictures of me in Greece here!

In my first book Contract for Marriage, released next week, (squeals a little bit, next week!!) Ruby, who is pregnant and alone, suddenly realizes she needs to be back where she belongs. Only problem is, it’s the same place the man who broke her heart ten years ago wants for himself.

I'd love to know where you feel you belong. Is it a place, is it with certain people, or is it somewhere you’re still searching for?


  1. Barb, looks like you're all having a fabulous time, with plenty more to come.
    For your family it seems like they're stepping into places that haven't changed a lot over the years.
    For me belonging is with people as the land I grew up on and have vivid happy memories from is now chopped up and covered in houses so I've lost that connection.

  2. Barb,
    I just read this awesome book for Book Club and your post is so like it, it's freaky. The book is The Fig Tree by Arnold Zable, if you're interested.

    I think it's brilliant to go back and see family history - and to go with the people who grew up there must be incredible. Keep enjoying it :)

    Cath xo

  3. I love your photos, Barb, and it sounds as if you are all having the most amazing time!

    Home and belonging, for me, is with people rather than a place, but I love hearing stories about how much a place or the land can resonate with others.

    Looking forward to your future updates. :-)

  4. Barb, I can't even imagine how wonderful your adventures must be for you and your family! What an amazing time for you all. Thanks for sharing.
    Some of my ancestors are from Ireland too. ( you already guessed lol) I would love to go and see if I feel some of the connections you've felt. Wonder if I have a Greek relative in my past so I could use that as an excuse to visit Plomari!
    Have fun!
    PS So looking forward to your first release!!

  5. Hi Sue,
    Things certainly don't seem to have changed a lot and we're having a fantastic time.

    I hear you on the "belonging" to where your people are. Sad that your home has been chopped up, though

  6. Thanks so much for the tip about The Fig Tree, Cath! I've googled it and it looks lovely. Love reading other people's stories like that.

    As an aside, we've been eating oodles of figs since we've been here. Even the kids have learned to like them!

  7. Hi Michelle,

    I had a hard time picking photos as nearly all of them involve me sitting at a table shovelling food in and it was getting a bit boring!

    Belonging to a group of people is, of course, wonderful. We've created quite a little tribe, the eight of us, with our own little rhythms and rituals.

    I'll keep the updates coming!

  8. Hi Robbie,

    I'd highly recommend a trip to Ireland! I know people always talk about Greek heroes but there are some pretty lovely ones in Ireland too!

    Thanks so much for your wishes on my release {:o)

  9. You're giving your family and yourself a great gift, Barb. Can also imagine the book ideas you're soaking up. Can't wait for your first to come out. Is it out yet? How about now? Now?

  10. Ha, ha, Valerie! It's almost out. One week to go! And yes, there has been some compulsory Greek hero watching {:o)

    It does feel like a gift being here. The fact that we're still talking to each other a month in is the bow on top!

  11. So you already know I'm jealous, right? LOL! Looks like you're having a fabulous time.

    Where is home? A great question. I left my childhood home at the age of 18, a year later my Mum sold up and moved- I have no connection with that town now- which feels kind of sad. I have lived in quite a few different places, and now I'm at the other side of the world. I have English, Irish and Italian ancestry - and love everything about each of those places and feel a connection with them all.

    I don't know where 'home' is- but I do know where I feel loved- and that's with my family. Anytime. Any place!

    So looking forward to reading your book- squeee!

  12. Your trip just sounds so amazing Barb!! My ancestry is obviously English (something to do with St George and dragons!?!). However, when I was in France, I came across a St George vineyard and the owners believed I must have been related in some way. I have to say I felt very at home in in England and France.

  13. I'm starting to get the feeling, Louisa {;o)

    What an amazing number of places you have connections with. So lovely that you've been able to see so many of them and how lucky we are that you've chosen to live in New Zealand!

  14. Thanks so much for dropping in Jen.

    Guess what? St George is EVERYWHERE here. We've been to so many churches since we've been here and in each one there are dozens of icons. Each has a saint represented. My kids look for the saint with the same name as them. My husband's name is George so we're always looking for St George too. He's always on a horse and always slaying a dragon.

    So, you might find a connection here too!

  15. Barbara, what a lovely trip you're having. It's terrific you're all there together - an experience you'll all remember.

    For me home and belonging is about both place and people. There are a number of places I feel at home, and not all in Australia, but mainly because of memories of special times spend with loved ones.

  16. Memories! They're the thing, aren't they Annie? We're going to take oodles away with us.

    I'm hoping that my boys, who are only eight, will still be able to remember a lot of what we've done when they're older. We're taking loads of photos to keep those memories alive as well.

  17. Barb, I love all those photos! I'm super jealous of your trip. :)

    To me, home is a mixture of place, people and belonging.

  18. Barb, you're on such a fabulous trip and I love your pics! It's such a powerful thing to go and stand in the places that your ancestors came from. We went to Scotland and England many years ago and visited places that we'd researched while doing the family tree. It was an amazing experience. I'd love to go to Ireland and to Sweden and Norway to see places associated with those branches of my family.

    I'll look forward to seeing more of your travel pics!