Home Truths

by Ant Stone on December 7, 2008

in Australia

He was stood still, caught under the orange spell of a local streetlamp; though it occurred to me that the bulge of his belly was disguising a bubbling vat of laughter. His rumpled face was youthful and whimsical, yet ploughed with age. It was his wings that stopped me in my midnight tracks – dull brown feathered arcs spraying out from his stooping stalk. His pale hands fell beneath check shirt cuffs, and his long root-like fingers were suspended in a frozen quiver. His silent legs were strung with suspense in those early moments of our meet. I want you. I thought. “I want him!” I splurted. “You’re the greatest thing I’ve ever seen! I love him Reb. Don’t I…” my voice began to fade until it was just a rustle on my crackling imagination, “I love him, Reb!” I’d cast myself at the mercy of unforgiving rapids of excitement, and she knew it. “Come on you idiot, what are you gonna do with a string bloody puppet!”

The marionette is called Fliegenpilzchen. I learned this from Shona (the owner of that toyshop) whom I emailed the following morning to extend my interest and enquire how much the winged-troll might be. “Dear Ant, He’s jetlagged and would cost $800… Regards, Shona”. I sighed. He was way out of my price range. “RRRREB! I know what I want for Christmas!” Silence. It wouldn’t wash. I had to see Fliegenwatzitzname again. His rarity for me was not in his creation, but in the oils of inspiration he secreted. My daydreams became filled with him kicking the sand of Blairgowrie’s shores as I chased him around the rock pools creating story after secret story (I decided I’d capture these in squid ink on a scroll of seaweed). He did turn out to be magic. A second reply from Shona was scented with praise for the writing of TrailofAnts.com. I returned to her toyshop window the following day and was greeted by a heart-warming holler, “Ant!” Half an hour later I was sat opposite Shona’s husband, Ky at their family house discussing the pros and cons of their impending overland trip to Europe. By van. With their two young girls. The afternoon turned to evening, while cheerful children flickered around the fires of conversation between myself, Shona and Ky and their affable Indian friends. It was a rare, and special moment that Fliegenpotzenpanz had gifted me. Shona and Ky represented so many unanswered questions about my future; including the major one – family versus freedom. They have that determined spirit of adventure that every traveller claims as their own, and they have it in abundance.

The trail of the marionette was the icing on the cake to a magnificent week. It had begun with a reunion with a friend. I met the fifty-something Bill and his dreadlocks on the shores of Lake Namtso in Tibet over a year ago, and finally grasped the chance of a reunion. Moments after knocking on his front door he admitted he’d forgotten to tell us it was his daughter Molly’s twenty-fourth birthday. Then he admitted he’d forgotten to tell her we were coming. Then a kid in a mask barged into my knees. Then I was handed a cold beer by his wife Leona. Then I was laughing with strangers. Then I took a step back, and tried to make sense of it all. The birthday table was laid for around fifteen people, and I swear I could of known them all my entire life. I was passing the bread to one new friend and receiving it from another. What can I say? It’s been over 500 days since I left my own ‘home’, so it’s moments like Bill and Leona, Shona and Ky and their respective families and friends produce that remind me what I sacrificed when I jetted away from Dear Ol’ England. My own family is strewn across the world (Mum and Dad soon to start a RTW trip in Phnom Penh, Big Bro lives in NYC, Little Sis holds the fort in England and Big Sis lives in Wellington, NZ), so to be drawn into these folds in such an effortless manner is a humbling experience – and somehow to happen in Australia (the Southern Land of the Western world) is more surprising than the countless times Asia opened up her home for chai and coconuts.

Site News: Finally, I acknowledge I’ve been somewhat elusive these last couple of weeks! It’s one part internet connection, two parts 55+ hour working weeks. I actually resigned from my job the day after meeting Shona and Ky, they reminded me so much of my passions and priorities. Unfortunately, by the end of the week I remembered Christmas was coming and I had next to no money (note to self; Melbourne is not the place to come to save money to travel!) so I sheepishly accepted a fair dinkum solution. It can be hard work to keep a travel blog ticking over regularly, with so few spellling misteaks and Grammtical-Errors. I’m proud to say TrailofAnts.com welcomes a modest, loyal readership from over a hundred countries. I’m also a fan of many a wordsmith out there – each with incredible stories – so if you ever find yourself in need of some travel jinks then look no further than my links page. I hasten to add; it’s still my intention to spread some travel goo on your lives once or twice a week so don’t worry too much, mum, cough cough, I mean readers.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

[F]oxymoron December 7, 2008 at 4:09 pm

You know what? The first time I saw a marionette in action I was transfixed by the crowd’s reactions – I have never seen so many kids (and adults) stuck. If the spontaneous gathering was not mesmerized, they were laughing. If they weren’t laughing, they were screaming and crying and running towards their parents.

… I had no idea they cost that much!


Nomadic Matt December 8, 2008 at 6:26 pm

You tell a good story. You should move into novels.


Matt Stone December 12, 2008 at 5:13 pm

What is it with you and dolls? First there was Action Man and Bionic Man, then ‘Chucky’ and now Marion, or is this something…..deeper 🙂 What are your plans like for visiting New York? As for a family reunion, you had better start saving now, as I think we are planning to meet somewhere on this planet, in June(ish) 2010.


Ant December 12, 2008 at 7:29 pm

@[F]ox – this one is almost definitely worth it! I don’t honestly think I’ve seen on in full swing (boom boom) but even stood still this one looked like it was mischief.

@NomadicMatt – watch this space.

@Matt – I heart dolls. It’s something I picked up from my big brother. NYC is on the cards. But first – Australasia and South America and all the nations that sail within them! I reckon NYC will be another Melbourne (i.e. bags down, feet up) so no worries. 2010? Says who?


instagram June 27, 2014 at 11:17 pm

Hello there! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you
if that would be okay. I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and
look forward to new updates.


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