This is a blog about an ex-pat Brit with an Australian twang, rediscovering her homeland after 35 years abroad.
As you will know if you read Part 1 of this post, we were in Ireland enjoying the unseasonally sunny weather, instead of the forecast sleet and snow. But maybe we were heading straight for it. Maybe the second part of our Irish adventure was a disaster waiting to happen.
It was February 2023. Cold and miserable. Short English days of foggy, grey skies. So we decided to pack our bags and go to Ireland. . . .where it’s even colder, with a forecast of scattered showers of sleet and snow. No, I don’t know what we were thinking, either.
Blow me if it’s not 2023 already. Last time I looked, we were at the tail end of the most glorious summer on record in 2022. We’d enjoyed long hot days and warm sunlit evenings through July and August, and we were looking forward to jetting off to the South of France.
If you read the account of our Big Fat Greek Holiday Disaster, you’ll know things started to go wrong the morning of our departure. Disturbingly, this seems to be developing into a pattern.
Picture This: The warm blue waters of the Ionian Sea, a 5-star hotel on a private sandy beach in Corfu, perfect weather, great food, free drinks, and an upgraded room with sunset views over the ocean. What could possibly go wrong? Quite a lot, as it turns out.
By now, the news of the Queen’s death will have reached every last corner of the world. There may be a village of pygmies in the Congo Basin who don’t know – and there are likely to be many republicans who don’t care. But overall, it’s a moment in history we will all remember.
It all started with a message from my friend Dinah in Australia. “Can you join me in Italy at the end of September?” she wrote. “Sadly not”, I had to reply, “But where will you be at the beginning of the month?” In Provence, it turned out. So Provence it was.
It’s probably fair to say we’ve met a few interesting locals in Dennington, our Suffolk village. I don’t think there’s one that stands out, worthy of an entire blog post. But there’s certainly been a few that merit an honorable mention.
Our third official road trip took place at the beginning of June, which was weeks ago, I know. But I’ve had a good excuse – I’ve been in mourning. However, today I pulled on my big-girl pants, put the tissues away and I’m back. Onward ho!
As road trips go, this one came and went faster than a speeding train but, oh garçon, did we pack it in! For two straight days (et nuits) we ate, drank, walked, window shopped, walked, ate some more, drank and marché encore.
As you may recall, Russell and I made a New Year’s resolution to pack a bag and travel beyond the county borders of Suffolk at least once a month. We failed, spectacularly, straight out of the starting gates.
We have discovered the joys of ‘wintering’. It’s a no-brainer when you think about it. Winter is here. It’s real. There’s no avoiding it. So, we may as well enjoy it while it lasts.
Today is 2nd January 2022 and I have already blown my new year’s resolution. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with the leftover mince pie I had for dinner last night. It’s far worse. We haven’t done a road trip this month.
Vive La Difference! as they say in France. But we’re not in France, we’re in Blighty, the Old Dart. And for me, there shouldn’t be any differences. Coming home to England should be like shrugging on an old coat and knowing exactly where the pockets are. Except some of the pockets have moved.
“You’ll only do it once,” they said. Those wise sages who think they know everything about living in an English cottage built for our 16th-century ancestors who were, on average, 5’5″. They are of course referring to the inevitable – and painful – head meets beam scenario. They are wrong about only doing it once.
If I’d known last month what I know today, it wouldn’t have helped. Four weeks ago I thought we could get off a plane in London, buy a car, and drive to Suffolk to start our big adventure. But it didn’t all go according to plan.
I thought yesterday’s roller-coaster ride had run its course when we finally relaxed over a glass of wine and a middle eastern feast at Za Za Ta. Instead, it reached a crescendo of panic when I received a frantic call from the UK around 8pm.
Our life in Australia is now packed into four suitcases. We have no car, no house and no Plan B. There is only one way forward.
Go on. I defy you. Look this dog in the eye and say “So long, Molly. We’re off – without you.”
You couldn’t, could you. Neither could we.
Lesson #1: If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s just as likely to be a shark
I came straight home and told Russell not to go near the place. Don’t vote. Nor will we pay their hypocritical fine.
So, there we were at the beginning of 2020, house sold, money in the bank, starting to plan our ‘Big Adventure’ in the UK. And, boom!
Soon we’ll be packing our life into the last of our suitcases and moving to the other side of the world. This hellish decision making process will finally be over.
Occasionally, I pick up my laptop and amble down to the local beach side café at the end of my lane. Sometimes, I even work from my bed.
All journeys start with goodbyes. And that’s what I’m dreading the most. We’ll be back, of course. But that doesn’t make the sadness of leaving any easier.
Meet Moe and Molly. They’re both Australian Kelpie/Border Collie crosses. True Australian mongrels. And they’re coming with us to the UK.
Ways to Roam. It’s an odd name. You kinda get it. . .it has something to do with travel, doesn’t it? But why that particular wording?
“I have finally worked out the downside of marrying a younger woman,” he said to me one evening.