Skip to content

Guest blogger: Helene Young

7 December 2014

Helene YoungChristmas is just around the corner!

I’m in the Clare Valley in South Australia as I type this. The temperature’s hovering just shy of 40 degrees Celsius and the wind’s gusting in from the north. It’s a little different to the lazy sea breeze that would be ruffling the water and cooling Roobinesque in the Manly Harbour right now. It also means Christmas must be lurking around the corner!

As a Queenslander I’m used to Christmas wearing a sultry Santa suit and it always makes me think of our family home. At this time of year Mum’s backyard is full of the sharp tang of mangoes and the antiseptic smell of the Poinciana tree. The grass is crunchy underfoot, waiting with a silent stoicism for the rain to come.

The iron roof of the little Queenslander where Dad was born one hundred and two years ago protests against the fierce burn of the sun, creaking and cracking randomly. Even with insulation in the ceiling and the casement windows pinned wide open the air lies thick on our skin. As kids, if we were trapped in Brisbane rather than down at Currumbin Beach during the summer holidays, the garden hose would be out and the tables would be set under the spreading branches of the old mango trees. Sadly there’s only one of those trees still remaining and I don’t think Mum’s going to hitch up her skirts and chase us around the sprinkler this year!

Man-made Christmas tree

Man-made Christmas tree

Christmas is always about family and this year my family is more widely spread than usual. Capt G will be in the northern hemisphere and I’ll be in the south. He’ll be in Manchester, wearing multiple layers of clothes, eating hearty roasts and drinking mulled wine. I’ll be in Brisbane, cranking up the giant aircon in Mum’s house, eating salads and drinking long cold drinks.

My sister and her family will be in Swindon celebrating with a traditional lunch and I don’t doubt the heating will be gurgling. My brother and his children will hopefully be in Brisbane with Mum, Zeus and me.

I’ll miss everyone who’s overseas, but since technology keeps leaping ahead we’ll be hooked up to Face Time or Skype, being part of each other’s Christmas in a way we couldn’t ten years ago. I don’t doubt that we’ll all be in the same state by the end of the day too—stuffed full of good food, all talked out and drowsy!

Nature's own Christmas tree

Nature’s own Christmas tree

For me Christmas is also a time to dream about the year ahead. Capt G and I have big plans for 2015—and we going to kick it off with ARRC2015 in Canberra on 6–8 March! Next will be the launch for Northern Heat in June, and  from July onwards we’ll be looking for adventures. I’ll cherish Christmas more than usual this year as Mum heads towards her ninety-third birthday. And I’ll be grateful for the year that’s been, with all its challenges and opportunities to learn …

I hope that wherever you plan to spend Christmas it will be full of family, of love and laughter, and good friends. Are you hosting an orphan’s Christmas as we did many times in Cairns? Are you travelling a long way to return home to your family? Is everyone piling into your house to wallow in your pool? Or heading for the hills where the temperature will be more moderate?

To say thank you to all the ARRA readers for making 2014 my most successful year yet as a writer I’m giving away a Christmas pack, including Safe Harbour and Half Moon Bay, plus some other goodies. To go into the running all you need to do is be a member of ARRA, leave a comment on this blog and tell us how you plan on spending Christmas. The winner will be announced Sunday 14 December. If you’re not a resident of Australia then the prize will be ebooks on your chosen device. (Updated: the giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Deb D.)

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and may 2015 deliver on its promise! See you all in Canberra on Friday 6 March for ARRC 2015 🙂



You can find Helene here: website | Facebook

Safe HarbourSafe Harbour

When Darcy Fletcher drags a handsome sailor from a stricken yacht, she finds herself drawn into his mysterious world. Having saved his life can she now rescue him from his dark past? Or will that endanger all she holds most dear?

Noah, keeper of the peace and guardian of the Banskia Cove secrets, knows he can’t he tell Darcy the real reason this man has washed up on their shores. If she knew the links between the stranger and her own dysfunctional family, she’d flee the Cove and he’d lose her love forever.

As they take refuge in an old whaling station, only one thing is certain – by morning, no one will be the same again. Lies will surface. Hearts will break, and not all will find safe harbour.

A heart-stopping novel of high drama and desire by Australia’s award-winning master of romantic suspense.

  1. 8 December 2014 6:28 am

    Laura, I’m sorry to hear your husband’s unwell but a romantic Christmas sounds like the perfect way to have some together time this year. I hope he’s on the mend soon.

    I was chatting to me niece on Face Time this morning as she’s heading off to Cambridge for an interview tomorrow morning. Technology makes staying in touch so much easier.

    Wishing you a wonderful year ahead.

  2. 7 December 2014 6:22 pm

    Hi Helene, thanks for sharing your family Christmas stories. I found them cheering because my family is also spread around the world: one sister is in England, the one will be in France and my parents are in South Africa. My hubbie’s family is also in South Africa. Hmm. Sometimes we find Christmas tough. As you said, thank goodness for Skype. Usually we are part of an Orphans Christmas lunch but my hubby has ben quite ill so we willl probably just have a quiet Christmas for two this year. That’s okay; it’s not often you get to have a ROMANTIC Christmas lunch 🙂

  3. helensibbritt permalink
    7 December 2014 4:18 pm

    Hi Helene

    I do love Christmas time especially since I have 7 grandkids between the age of 8 and 5 months it is going to be hectic and lots of fun everyone will be at my place and although we don’t have a pool the air con will be on and there will be lots of food and fun 🙂
    and thoughts about the family that cannot be with us.

    Thank you for the wonderful stories that you have given us and to you and your family Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    I really need to get organized though seeing as I have been away for 2 weeks I am way behind 🙂

    Have Fun

    • Anonymous permalink
      7 December 2014 11:41 pm

      Hi Deb, sounds like a fabulous family Christmas and New Year ahead of you – and the naughty and nice dogs will be the icing on the cake! Thanks for dropping by and sharing 😄 Wishing you and your far flung family a wonderful Christmas and an exciting new year ahead!

    • 8 December 2014 6:26 am

      Helen, it sounds like a house for of laughter for you this Christmas. How wonderful to have the grandchildren close!! Enjoy every second of it.

      Thanks to you and all my wonderful readers for reading my books. It’s been a wonderful year (albeit a little busy…) and none of it would be possible without you all.

      Can’t wait to catch up in March at ARRC 2015!!

  4. Deb Daniel permalink
    7 December 2014 4:10 pm

    Helene, well Christmas here on the west coat of South Oz, will be me working for 3 hours then home and hopefully all will be done!!
    Right. 🙂
    Will have 4 of my children home, maybe 5. Another will be here by New Year and the other flying out for holidays two days after Christmas. Because of the distance from here to Adelaide she cant make it.
    But I will have her beautiful dog, and the naughty dog.
    Cheers to all

    • 8 December 2014 6:24 am

      Deb, apologies but I seem to have answered your comment on Helen’s post below! Oh the joys of using a mobile phone!!

      • Deb Daniel permalink
        8 December 2014 7:54 am

        LOL Helene, wondered what was going on then realized that something got in the wrong place. I am amazed that you keep 99% of the blogs and answers in the right order!!
        Getting close now and excitement bubbling.
        Cheers to all

  5. 7 December 2014 3:39 pm

    Kanlp, thanks for dropping by! I hadn’t heard of Kaniva before so I’ve done some research and you live in a beautiful area – and the post office must be part of the beating heart of the community – you deserve three days off over Christmas!

    So glad you’re enjoying Safe Harbour and look forward to meeting you in March in Canberra. ARRC is always a wonderful vibrant weekend.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and may 2015 be full of good things.

  6. kanlpo permalink
    7 December 2014 3:06 pm

    Hi Helene
    Lovely to read about your plans for Xmas & also for 2015. Xmas for us here in Kaniva is going to be very quiet,as it will be just my husband,Andrew & daughters,Victoria(17) & Brittany(15).We have 3 days off from Post Office being open:) I have just started reading Safe Harbour,really enjoying it:) I really hope to catch up with you at ARRA in Canberra,March 2015:) It will be my first time at conference

    Wishing you & your family a very Merry Xmas & a great New Year!!!:)

  7. 7 December 2014 2:39 pm


    I’m sorry to hear that your nanna passed away. It will make Christmas a little different for you this year, but you ‘youngster’ grandma sounds fascinating!

    The tree is actually a flame tree on a friend’s property, but I love poncianas as well. Mum’s tree didn’t flower as prolifically as usual this year and I hope it’s just the weather and not old age catching up with it!

    Enjoy Christmas with your family and may 2015 bring you love and laughter. (And thanks for dropping by the blosg!)

    • Jeanie M permalink
      14 December 2014 8:19 pm

      Thanks Helene 🙂 You can tell I’m not a gardener beyond roses and tomatoes! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too – looking forward to hearing you speak at ARRC next year!

  8. Jeanie M permalink
    7 December 2014 11:50 am

    Lovely post Helene! I really enjoy reading about how others spend Christmas.

    Christmas this year for my family will be different this year as my nanna died a few weeks ago (she was 92, but it feels strange and uncomfortable not to have her wisdom on tap any more). I’ll be spending it at my house with parents and grandma (a youngster at 86). Grandma has dementia, but she tells wonderful stories about her childhood in Europe and loves to watch You Tube videos. So I’m trying to be positive.

    I love your Poinciana tree pic. I’m enjoying looking at all the West Aussie Christmas trees driving to and from work at the moment. If only I could grow one!

    Merry Christmas and happy new year, Helene. It sounds like 2015 is going to be great for you, enjoy!

Comments are closed.