Tuesday, October 05, 2010

5 Years on...

5 years ago today our family of five stepped off an aeroplane onto Australian soil. Byron and myself looked at each other nervously as we tried to keep hold of our three kids aged 7, 5 and 2. We had Gareth strapped in a buggy and the two girls pulled along their mini suitcases on wheels with the books and pencils that had kept them entertained over the previous 24 hour flight. We stood next to the luggage carousel and piled our eight suitcases into a tall wobbly tower. At that moment we had everything and nothing. We had a head full of hopes and dreams of a better future for our kids. We had no house, no mobile phones, no Australian bank account or credit card, no car, no jobs. The rest of our worldly belongings were sitting in boxes on a container ship that was slowly making its way around the world and would take another 3 months to pass into Australian waters. We were starting the biggest adventure of our lives.

Each year on the 5th of October Byron and myself celebrate the anniversary of the beginning of our new lives. We talk through how we feel about the life we are living now. It is a chance to be open about whether we are happy. Whether the dream is still good. We think back to what we hoped for when we first arrived here. Some of those dreams turned into reality and some didn't. We wanted a better quality of life for ourselves and our kids. We wanted to spend more family time in the out doors. We wanted a better work/home balance. We wanted a good family home with a pool in the backyard and not to have a large mortgage hanging around our neck. We wanted to establish new friendships and hold tight to old ones.

Each October 5th is a chance to be grateful for what we have.

We believe that we have a better quality of life here in this small town in New South Wales. It feels like we have taken a step back in time from the social issues of the UK. There are still problems here as there are in any community but it seems like we are a bit protected in our quiet street.

We do spend more time out of doors. The weather helps with being able to plan social get-togethers down the local park. BBQ's don't get called off due to rain as often and even in winter it is generally drier so we can put our fleeces on and get the kids cycling or scooting as we walk along with them.

The work/home balance is the one thing that hasn't worked out. No-one could have known back in 2005 about the economic crisis that was brewing. We could never have foreseen that Byron would lose his good job in the US and that we would spend a number of months with no income before I got a job as a hospital wardsman pushing bins and trolleys around theatre. That Byron would eventually accept a job that paid about half of what we were used to. That I would eventually get my Nursing Registration from the UK transferred to here so I could work as an RN. We believe that this would have happened even if we lived in the UK so we look for the positives. We can pay our bills. We have food in the fridge. I've had to pawn my diamond tiara but hey, life goes on!

As for the home and the pool. We are so lucky to have such a great home for our kids and are eternally grateful that we had finished building it while our income was good.

There have been times it has been hard being away from our families in Ireland and Wales. When there is a birthday and we cant be there, graduations, Mothers day, Fathers day. Days when we would love to be able to pop around with some cakes the kids have made etc. We know that our choices were hard on those we left behind when we chose to follow our dream.

We have made some great new friends. People who we would never had met if we hadn't taken this leap of faith and emigrated. We miss our friends in the UK and Ireland. The really close friends have managed to visit us and although I hand out a blanket apology for being dreadful at regular emails or phonecalls I can honestly say that when we do pick up the phone we can talk for hours! Literally!!!

Would we change a thing?

No. We wake up every day in a beautiful home with our kids safe and happy. We look outside at the lake that never ceases to relax us. We breathe in the warm air and we smile. Stepping on that plane 5 years ago was the biggest risk we ever took. But it was worth it.

9 comments - click here to leave your comment:

  1. Well said Mrs B.

    Got me a lump in my throat just thinking about that day in the airport. What were we thinking?

    Apart from the kids having an Aussie accent, I think your Irish accent has got stronger and nobody can still understand a word I say...

    Here's to 5 more years of adventure.

  2. wow 5 years congrats! And moving where you have, what a lovely spot you picked out of this huge island we live on :)

  3. Hello Gina .. you have proved it can be done ... actually like my uncle and aunt who moved out there years ago.. with their 3 children.

    You managed to keep it altogether , when things looked like they were falling apart. Let me say it could of been worse here in the UK ..

    You took the leap of faith , unlike some of us, who just say it . Why I have stayed in the UK is beyond me maybe the fact that my hubby will not move and my boys and grandchildren ... not that I see them much.

    I often think about when my dad passed away and wonder why my mum did not move either to Canada where her sister lives, or Oz near to her brother .. it was because of her mum who lived in England.

  4. Hi Gina,

    Having done the reverse by moving from the southern hemisphere north, and having the same airport moment (minus the kids - who now number three! and have irish accents) I can say that I REALLY miss the outdoor living, the pool, the BBQ's in the sun and like you the extended family... But for us Ireland has offered such security for our family's future - something South Africa could not, that I don't regret our decision. We've been here 10 years now...

    Also, difficult times can happen anywhere - at any time really... But I think, as you prove to do, that focusing on what you do have as apposed to what you don't is the key, and with a wonderful family what more do you need... Love your posts!

  5. Hey girly,
    Oh, I was so excited to read the title of your post. I stopped and grabbed another cup of coffee, nestled into my chair and read with a big smile on my face. Wow, what an adventure! I would love to hear more. I am so glad that you found so much of what you were looking for in Australia and your small community. I love how you and Byron have pulled together during this economic crisis and have managed to make life work for you. I have always said that the more you have the more you spend. Sometimes being a bit more mindful of what you have causes you to be more grateful. I really do want to hear more about your journey. Seriously! Please!!! I find it so very interesting. Smooches girl!!!! xo,Gina

  6. I love that your husband commented Mrs. B!! You are so lucky to be living such an adventure together!! It's grand!

  7. Wow Gina thats amazing, you two were very brave, I really admire that.I am absolutley delighted for you that it all worked out so well. Gina, its a pleasure reading this blog, thanks.

  8. I really enjoyed reading this history account of how you got where you are. Thanks for sharing it!

  9. Moving here was a great move as you now Know me how lucky for you all. Ha Ha We are lucky to have you. but the kids i think still do not have Aussie accents. Karen