Tag Archives: change

After months of preparation let the European adventure begin….

I started my European adventure in London after a brief visit to Singapore. It seemed logical to go to London first to catch up with family in law before heading to Europe. I have no concrete plans apart from ideas but they can change with whatever comes my way. Sounds like an adventure to me!

When you return from overseas after years it is easy to fall into the trap of doing the rounds to visit family and friends. Everybody likes to see you but before you know you are the one who is doing all the travelling.

Favourite destinations

We have nipped this in the butt years ago. I think it was 2009 when we introduced our family concept to give friends options where they could catch up with us. If they were not prepared to make the trip, why would we? The result is that the hard core comes to see us and the rest gives it a miss.

I do have some exceptions to the rule and this has to do with the geographical location of where some friends live. There are my long time friends in Wengen, a ski resort where I have worked a winter or two. Wengen is a favourite and I have no problem making the rather arduous trip of many hours to reach the village.

London is also on the list of places to visit. Respect to age is very likely the reason we usually make the trip to London town. We don’t really expect my husband’s mum to hop on the plane to meet us somewhere.

european adventure, casa bonita, outdoor living

Cooking up a feast in the outdoor kitchen in Casa Bonita, at Palau, Spain

Then there is my sister who has an abode called Casa Bonita, in sunny Spain. Also a favourite to visit but I tend to keep the visits to her other address in far North of the Netherlands to a minimum 😉 Although this time this destination is on my list. She lives in an authentic old farm house. I can’t wait to see the latest renovations and other creative things she usually does to houses.

After that, some time in August I will head to our own house Casa Rita in the South of France. That is as far as my plans go….

My time in London

I have been just over a week in London now and the weather was fabulous. Some call it hot but for a seasoned ex-Brisbanite this heat is not much of an issue. I was in London at the same time as Wimbledon, one of my favourite sporting tournaments. It also happened to be that my favourite tennis player played the men’s singles final and won!

european adventure, wimbledon, tennis match

Sitting on Murray Mound to watch a match on Centre court. The best way after the real thing!

Understandably I was in my element to be able to watch it in the UK time zone. Although the family had to throw in a BBQ at the same time. I still managed to sneak to the TV many times to watch what was happening. I got away with it because I was looking after new born Alfie while watching the match 😛

european adventure, wimbledon, tennis final

The latest addition to the family, Alfie at 3 weeks old watching the Wimbledon Men’s final

My jet lag was minimal as usual. I have a well travelled friend in Ghent who once told me that jet lags were overrated. He gave me some tips to deal with it and with the help of Melatonin it indeed is. Within a couple of days I was back into a routine although I still fall asleep around 9.30 pm. To be honest that was also part of my normal daily routine in Brisbane.

European adventure – a new routine

I may have to adjust some of my habits as life in Australia has an early start. Gyms are open early or 24 hours, cafes have a queue and dozens of early morning cyclist park their bikes for a caffeine shot. In London I have gone for a walk every morning and look wishfully at the many cafes I pass. Not one is open. The only signs of life in early London is the commuter traffic.

With that in mind, getting up at 6 seems silly over here. On the other hand I could also make a nice coffee at home. After all I am travelling with my own portable smallest version of a Nespresso coffee machine. Thanks to my oldest daughter who works part time in this coffee boutique in Melbourne and was for years their employee in Brisbane.

My routine in Brisbane to get up before 6 and either go the gym or for a walk seems a nightmare for many Europeans. In Australia however it is much part of the lifestyle due to hot weather and shorter days. I am sure it will adjust by itself.

European adventure – admin chores!

I have spent a fair part of the week in London sorting out all kid of admin palava. First of all I left Australia without a re-entry permit. Some may call it silly and it probably is but I just let it happen that way. Also I left without being sure about the status of my medical insurance abroad. I used to live in the UK and still have an insurance number but it may have expired. I am not automatically insured in The Netherlands either.

european adventure, bike, Amsterdam

Creative shopping in The Netherlands

So as a Dutch citizen I could be insured in my own country either through the NHS in UK or the Medicare system in Australia. Rather bizarre but so be it.

I have booked my next European adventure. Next week I am flying to Amsterdam for a family reunion near by on the 30th July. Many of my cousins will be there and so is my sister. Her farm house in far North Netherlands is my next destination on the list.

Keep healthy! And pop in your name and email in the boxes below to ensure you get the latest updates!

European adventure, Noosa, Australia



This is how how quickly plans can change!

Despite the many plans we have regarding our upcoming move abroad, the other morning I woke up slightly disturbed. I had a strong sense of feeling lonely, or maybe better feeling alone in doing something.

For quite some time now my husband and I have plans to spend some time in our house in Limoux. September and October 2017 were going to be a small sabbatical for us to sort out our future in Europe. Our new future.

plans, aperitif, rose wine, tapas, Limoux

Enjoying a plate of tapas and a cool glass of rose would be just perfect to contemplate our future actions…….

I even blanked out the two months in the calendar of our website. Somehow these two months have slipped away into non-existence. It started with imagining the possibility that we could get a rental enquiry for these months. What would we do then?

A niggle of doubt

This created a small sense of doubt in my mind.  I personally was determined to spend those months there and I tried to put this niggle of insecurity in the back of my mind.

Off course, we did get a rental enquiry! Not for the total two months but for October. It is a request for a year starting in October 2017.

French house, limoux, historical house,

Looking out from the top back window over the hills around Limoux, a real asset of the house!

An American lady likes to rent our house for a full year. She will bring an Old English Shepard dog, a cat and wants to learn French. The only thing from her perspective, that could stop these plans from happening is not getting a visa.

She comes from the land of Donald trump and plans to live in the land of potential Marine Le Penn. Naturally she fears that France may refuse to grant her a visa.

Visa granted or not…

The US seems have changed its visa policy rather quick as we were told by some friends only last weekend. This is what actually happened last week!

The son of our friends had a valid visa for the US. At the airport in LA officials denied him access and detained him for 24 hours in a prison cell before they sent him back to Australia.

Apparently he overstayed his visa 4-5 years ago for a couple of days as he confused a 90 day visa with a 3 months visa. He has entered the US several times since he made the ‘offence’ but last week they bluntly refused him entry. They even denied his request to fly to UK instead.

Unfortunately he is a successful professional poker player whose primary playground is….. Las Vegas. They told him that he can’t enter the US again!

So the actual happening of our rental enquiry is dependent on the French elections and its consequences. I am not entirely sure if our future tenant’s doubts are based on true facts or her own imaginations. However after exploring the web for more news on this topic and hearing this story, I realised that she may well have a valid point.

I left me with a real sense of unease because I am starting to get a tiny, tiny bit worried about our own status in France. It feels like Europe is being on the verge of potentially not being there for much longer. At this stage it is impossible to oversee the consequences, but it feels frightening.

Anyway, the bottom line us that I may have a rental for a year if the new French president allows it.

Plans and dates for Europe

The next thing that happened was deciding on our departure dates for Europe. As you see the word dates is in plural and that’s how it is. We are all leaving on different dates. I have booked my one-way ticket and leave Australia on July 12th 2017.

leaving, migrating, aeroplane, Australia, planning to leave

Distances seem shorter however it still takes almost 4 hours to fly from Brisbane to Darwin

Zoe, our youngest daughter is leaving the 3rd of September. She begged us to let her stay longer as she is turning 18, drinking age, and plans to celebrate it with her friends here in Australia. A valid point because she does not know anybody overseas apart from family. It is only natural that she wants to explore this new legal status with peers of her age.

My husband was unable to find work for a while during 2016 and now has a new contract since January 2017. He enjoys the work and hopes for an extension of his contract so he can hand over to the next person in a professional way.

On the one hand, this is good as he can keep an eye on Zoe who will stay longer with one of her best friends. However our Limoux sejour is in danger! He booked a ticket for Zoe on September 3rd but not for himself so that means…… Just calculate!

Fixed plans don’t exist

So to sum up our plans: the the tail end of our sabbatical in Limoux may be snapped up by an American lady, a dog and a cat. Now it seems that the month of September is up for grabs but I have decided I will still take it.

I have spent twice a period of 5 weeks or so in our house before and I enjoyed myself very much. There are without doubt many things to organise and I know a fair amount of people there.  Also I am not afraid to go to places by myself.

This time I hoped though for a relaxing time to enjoy the house and its surroundings with my husband. It seems that I have to do that again by myself.

limoux, grand cafe, terrace, square

Grand Cafe on La Place de la Republique – one of my regular hang outs.

I am pretty good at re-inventing situations and make something out of it. At the moment I am already visualising myself in Limoux for the month of September and maybe facilitating a bit of home improvements.

I am a bit disappointed in this change of plans but……..as it looks I am in the running to get a house-sit in a gorgeous village on the the Cote d’Azur.  It starts some time in October and I have to look after a beautiful large mediterranean garden. I am sure he will join me there……

Wanna find out more about our plans and follow our adventures, here is the link to do so!

See you next time!

plans to leave, change, emigration, France,


Planning to leave a country after 25 years

Planning to leave a country is very likely an un-imaginable concept for many people. Most people never had to deal with it – or may not have toyed with the idea at all.

I can remember a girl friend whose husband was offered a job in a different town in The Netherlands. The town was less than an hour away and it meant a big improvement career wise.

To cut a long story short,  she could not do it. She could not face the prospect of giving up everything that is familiar. Nor could she imagine having to make new friends and leaving her family behind.

Planning to leave a country – what does it mean?

All the above factors come into play when you move. Even when you move only an hour away. However if the distance from familiarity is merely a short drive away it is not too hard to step back into that ‘other old life’.

It is a different story when you move to a different country. Many more things will be unfamiliar and it takes considerable time to adapt to new systems and ways of doing things. Even nowadays when distances seem to have gone smaller, it still requires substantial effort and ability to adapt to make a living elsewhere.

It becomes a fair bit harder when your new home is on the other side of the world. Take for instance the distance to Australia or New Zealand from Europe.

When during the fifties people were immigrating to Australia it meant you would go forever. You bought a ticket for the boat trip over, took all your worldly belongings with you and set of to create a new life on the other side of the world. Usually you would never return to the home country.

Nowadays it is very different. You can fly in 24 hours to the other side of the world. It may shock the body a little bit but it is very do-able. I think I have done it 15 times forward and backwards. People who make the move to a country like Australia or New Zealand have plenty of opportunity to see family and friends again.

Our emigration to Australia

sydney, harbourview, harbour bridge,

New Years in Sydney 1993. View from Neutral bay

We, my English husband and I, as a couple, made this move 25 years ago. We actually met in Australia as back packers. The emigration was my third trip to Australia. We both applied for skill migration. Keith was an IT professional and I was an experienced restaurant manager and both these professions were ‘wanted’.

It only took 6 weeks for our application to process successfully.  I have to admit I submitted my application from London as I had my doubts about success through the Australian Embassy in The Hague. They had not been willing give me a work permit years before my application, so why would I have a chance to get permanent residence?

We arrived in Australia in 1991 and started building our new life in Sydney where we lived for 7 years. We had two daughters and moved to Queensland. Since 2000 we have lived in Brisbane and raised our girls there who are now 23 and 17.

Planning to leave Australia

leaving, migrating, aeroplane, Australia, planning to leave

Distances seem shorter however it still takes almost 4 hours to fly from Brisbane to Darwin

We toyed with the plan to leave Australia for the first time in 2011 before the oldest would go to University and the youngest start high school. Bad economical and financial situation in Europe held us back meaning we stayed in Australia. Only realising we were committing to a new stage in the life of our kids – uni and high school.

Now 5 years further, that stage is over. Yasmin, our oldest has just received two letters containing the certificates of the double degree she did over the last 5 years. And Zoe has finished the International Baccalaureate (IB) and is keen ,or not, to go online to see her results on January 5th. That is when the IB in Geneva releases the scores worldwide.

That means there is another window of opportunity to ‘call it a day’ in Australia……

Planning to leave a country?

I believe it is a matter of mindset and it may take a couple of personality traits that is not in every one’ genes . Is it a sense of adventure? A wish to start all over again? Exploring the unknown?

I don’t know the exact answer – all the above reasons have an appeal to me. In general I find predictable ‘hard to take’ and I love challenge. Actually I function the best when I am challenged.

When you live in a country like Australia it is not hard to find similar minded people because most people here are migrants or at least the descendants of migrants. Australian only tend to call third generation Australians ‘real Australians’. The rest is all new!

UK, London, view, planning to leave

A view from St Paul’s Cathedral over the city of London on a grey summer day

Every time when we visit Europe we realise that the ‘easy’ attitude we seem to have adopted is not accessible to all. People who have never moved are in awe of our plans – inspired and at the same time horrified. But I know that planning to leave is not something they would do that easily.

There is a first time for everything

They say, it is a first for everything and maybe you get desensitised when you have emigrated before. We went from England to Australia in 1991, back to England for 2 years in the late nineties and to Brisbane in 2000. Only to return to UK in 2001 because there were no jobs in Brisbane but that trend had caught up in the UK as well.

In the end we returned to Brisbane in the end of 2001. Before that I have the experience of moving to Switzerland for work and from Holland to London to live. I am kind off a seasoned migrant and take it all in my stride quite easily. I do realise it is not that easy for many people.

It is remarkable that Australia is the country where I have lived the longest. Time will tell how we will handle the next move……

If you are intrigued and would like to follow our progress, put your first name and email address in the form below and I will make sure you will get my next posts delivered to your mail box!

change, emigration, France, planning to leave








Massage – another string to my bow!

festive ribbon details with blurred background and selective focus

A mess or organised chaos??

This morning I re-read my last post and couldn’t help getting a little smirk on my face. Last week’s intention to tackle the chaos in my life was good but the question arises what step is next?  You have to know that since the time I wrote that post I have complicated certain things in my life – to say the least!

An opportunity not to be missed…

What happened you would ask…. Well I have added another ‘chunk’. It came into my life by coincidence and I could not help jumping on the opportunity. One of the things I have done in the past is massage. I gave it up because after doing it for 7 years, I was sorer than the client who walked in. I seemed to treat people who only wanted the deepest tissue massage and sometimes I did too many of them in one day.

Located right next, or to be precise, under my local gym is a small massage practice run by a male therapist who specialises primarily in remedial and sports massage. I got chatting to him and he told me that he was very busy and had to say no to several potential clients. Reason being they want a female therapist who does relaxation massage. Do I have to say more that an idea was being born…..?


And the consequences are…..

Since then I had my qualifications re-assessed and have made the necessary steps to be back in the massage business. So far so good as I have had my first client already!

With that off course belongs the list of things that need to be done to get this little enterprise of the ground.

So far I have designed a post card to put in cafes, schools etc. Quite a struggle on my Mac as I am not yet very familiar with its features. Will I ever be….?? But I got it somehow done and now it is off to the printer. Next thing is a flip board for on the street. Another design that very likely will cause me some stress but again I will get it done for sure.

Then I hope there is indeed demand………!

thumb_Health tip of the day_1024I am looking forward to it. I always liked massage but as it is hard work I got a bit burnt out, I suppose. Relaxation massage is different – almost a therapy for the executor.

So there it is, ‘multi tasking me’ with yet another string to my bow. One great thing about living in Australia is that it is all possible and relatively easy. I have been told that having more than one business in France is quite a different scenario. The French just like you to be one thing and stay that way.

But that’s a subject for another story!

blog signature



How do we prepare for change?

ChangeThat is something that has always intrigued me. Some people make changes effortlessly while others can’t let go of old traditions and familiar patterns.

An old friend from Holland – and this is going back to my high school years – mentioned a couple of times that I seem to make changes and adapt to new situations seemingly without effort. I wonder how true this is.

Challenge or threat?

First of all I feel that I see change as a positive challenge. I almost think that I thrive on change and could get easily bored if things drift along in the same manner for too long. The previous does not explain though that I adapt to change in a comfortable way.

One thing that springs to mind is that I usually express my intention to changes when I have already been pondering them for a while. I may have considered all pros and cons and made up my mind which way to go.
ArrowsBy the time someone else sees me making those changes, it is kind off already done and dusted. I have the feeling that that is what my friend was referring to.

Impressions are not always what they seem and I know that my subconscious mind is very busy with upcoming changes. I have the most vivid dreams about situations that combine different countries, eras and groups of people. I am sure this feeling is familiar to many people.

Last year during a spell of interacting a lot with spiritual people I have learned that you can focus on difficult situations that come as a result of change and ask for clarity. Whether I actually believed it or not is beyond the point but the fact is that I did it. Quite often I woke up with some clarity on how to deal with unfamiliar situations.

I now do this on a regular base and force myself to concentrate on problems and choices I have to make. Quite often I wake up with a clear idea of what I feel I should or should not do. May sound weird but has been valuable.

Preparing for the unknown

At the moment I am middle of the situation of buying a house in France. I am learning about the related legal matters and am preparing to go back after the house exchanges. The intention is to kit it out as a holiday house that we can rent out and or use our self. When I write it down like that it seems like the stuff people appear do so effortlessly in books and films. It seems easy and straight forward.

Assessing my dreams, the amount of times I wake up and the things I seem to be busy with during my sleep it seems that my mind does not believe it is that easy. I am packing, decorating, choose colours and scour the surroundings of Limoux for second hand furniture. All in my dreams.

I am already thinking what kind of things I will do in the time I am there later this year and which people I need to connect with and so on. To me it seems that I am preparing my mind so well in advance that by the time I am actually going it appears to be easy and effortless. I seem to take it in my stride as if I am doing such things all the time.

I think that it what my friend was referring to all these years ago. However the way I see it that she just did not see all the hours of ‘mind’ preparation I did. I tend to tell people about changes once I have made up my mind and prepared accordingly.

Works well for me apart from a couple of restless and sleepless nights…

blog signature