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Introducing Jenny Aarts
I think I was born with a book already clutched tightly in my baby hands, as I can't remember a time without one around. I was born in the far north of New Zealand. My parents were born there too, but my grandparents all emigrated, my mother's parents from Yorkshire, Engand, and my father's parents came from the Dalmation coast of what is now Croatia. I came to Sydney with my husband, Cas, and our three young children in 1976. We came for two years, and we're all still here. Love it.
There must be some gypsy blood from way back in me, as I liked travel stories. Still do. My favourite was 'Richard Halliburton's Complete Book of Marvels.' Or something like that. I don't have it any more. It fell apart decades ago. I can't get hold of another - it's out of print. He was an American, born in 1900, and a real adventurer and globetrotter - called himself a seeker of horizons.
Whenever I had my nose in one of Richard's stories, I was transported from our big wooden verandah at the front of our farmhouse, where I read avidly, to far-off exotic lands. India, Tibet, Greece. And many more. This was in the 50s. I was entranced by the love story of Shah Jehan and Mumtaz Mahal, and memorised every detail of the black-and-white pictures of the Taj Mahal. I badly wanted to meet the Dalai Lama after reading about him and seeing pictures of his palace. Funny, I still haven't been to either of those places.
I've travelled in Europe, with Cas. It's time to go again. So many more places to see. I need another lifetime to fit it all in. We both love the anticipation of travelling. Will we go there? Or here? We take backpacks now so we're not restricted, can be spontaneous. Decisions made standing on a railway platform are often the best. Soon we're going to the Red Centre, to Ayers Rock, Alice, other desert places. Adelaide and the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne. Here in our own country are just as many marvels. And history.
My need to write. Where did that come from? My maternal grandmother loved the written word. She could write well herself. The writing urge comes from her, I think. I'm writing down some memories for my children and my little grandchildren, so that later in their lives they won't have to wonder who we were and what drove us, and won't have to plough through the genealogy records.
I've studied art, music, lots of other things. I love being a 'Nonna', cooking, travelling. Always learning. I'll never stop. Like Richard Halliburton - in a much tamer way, I want to be a seeker of horizons. But I have no desire to meet my end in a leaky junk, as he did, after sending a radio message to his parents - 'storms, boat leaking, wish you were here instead of me'.