Last week my cousin and her partner from the UK stayed with us for a couple of nights, on their way between Torquay and Cairns. Phoebe is taking her surfboard around the world; she lives in Cornwall for the surf. They've done Bali and New Zealand, and the next stop is South America.

I wish they could have stayed with us longer. Partly because the girls adored them, partly because we did too, and it seemed that just when we'd reached the point of being totally comfortable with each other, it was time for them to leave. But also because I have a huge debt to repay.

When I did my Big Trips to Europe and the UK, I shamelessly abused family hospitality. I stayed with my aunt and her family not once but lots of times. I practically moved in with them. I gatecrashed the family caravan holiday to Wales (and went brown for the only time in my life, under the gentle British sun). It was gorgeous. My cousins had a donkey and a pony and guinea pigs, they played piano, they painted their own Christmas cards. They squabbled and made up. They lived in The Old Cottages. I felt as if I'd stepped into a Noel Streatfeild story.

Three of those cousins have now made it to Australia - Amelia is the only one who hasn't got this far yet (we think she's in Turkey). When I made my first trip to England, Amelia was 7. Now I have a daughter that age. And the more family members she gets to meet, the happier I'll be.

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