Tag Archives: Europe

Settling is sometimes not as straightforward as you like!

After a lovely 2 months of settling in our house Casa Rita in Limoux and in French life generally, we left France and headed abroad. Not so much because we have the urge to travel but because we have things to do and functions to attend elsewhere.

There is a wedding and this is exciting as it is the first family wedding that we are able to go to after 25 years in Australia. Coming to Europe for a party or a wedding is rather far when you live Down Under.

Then there is a 40th birthday party. While living in Brisbane a family from Belgium moved in next door and we became good friends. Some years ago they returned to Belgium but we stayed in touch hence the invite for the party. As we are living in Europe now we can actually go and party with them!

Last, but certainly not least, we need to organise our youngest who has set her mind on student life in the Netherlands. As she occasionally did got ‘lost’ in Brisbane we feel we need to give her a bit of Dutch guidance to start off with. I am aware she reads my blog on occasions and surely I will get told off for what I just said!!

Not settling as yet!

To be honest I do feel a bit displaced. I would have preferred to continue settling in Limoux, find some work, make friends and create a home. So what is going to happen in the immediate future? I recently listed our plans in an email to some Aussie girl friends and it seems like a ‘Japanese’ style tour of Europe.

The plans are as follows:

  • After leaving Limoux by plane to go to London, we could immediate welcome our youngest daughter, Zoe. A couple of days later our oldest daughter, Yasmin arrived from Melbourne. She came on the same day that Zoe and I left for Amsterdam to visit an Open Day at one of the universities.
settling, Amsterdam, grachten, canals

Canals or ‘grachten’ of Amsterdam. Before being tourist attractions they were used for transport and sewage!

  • We spent 4 days in The Netherlands and had the opportunity to see a bit of Amsterdam, Haarlem and Rotterdam. We took the bus from London to Rotterdam, something I won’t recommend to anyone 😯 . Not so much because of the bus but because of the delays caused by the Channel train. It turned out to be a tedious trip both ways!

Amsterdam, pigeons

  • Amsterdam is a great city and Haarlem is a bit like ‘little Amsterdam’. We only had about 6 hours in Rotterdam but I was overwhelmed by the presence of this city. Bombed flat in WW2 there is little history left but how the Dutch have rebuild this city and created the biggest harbour in the world is quite amazing. I know for sure I want to return to spend more time to see it all.
Rotterdam, architecture

Kruisplein in Rotterdam. A city full with amazing architecture

  • Back in London we are preparing for the wedding. You probably get the gist, a new outfit, hair, make up and more. Coincidentally a while ago I have set myself the challenge not to buy anything new for a whole year. This started in August 2017.
  • I found a nice outfit months ago in a charity shop in London and planned to wear shoes that I had sent via our removal company. Unfortunately our shipment is late and my shoes are still floating somewhere on a container. I searched everywhere for a pair of shoes in a charity shop. After weeks of missing out by size I found a suitable pair in ‘almost’ my size for 4 pounds. It will do for one day and I did not have to break my challenge 😀

Back home to France

  • A couple of days after the wedding we are heading back to France. We know some people who live temporarily in Bordeaux. They have kindly invited us to stay in their apartment when they are on holiday. We will be there for 4 days and take the train from Bordeaux to our house in Limoux. To be able to do this with the four of us is special because it may be a long time before we will spend time in our house with all of us. Yasmin, our oldest will be settling in Melbourne and start a graduate position with a consultancy firm next year in February.
Canals, Ghent

Along the canals of Ghent.

  • From Limoux we are heading to the party in Belgium. We are staying two days in Ghent and two days in Deinze, a small village near where our friends live. After that Yasmin will leave us to do ‘her own thing’ in East Europe. While we are returning to Amsterdam to meet my sister who is off to sunnier horizons for a while.
settling, Bunne, Groningen, walking, sunrise

The country side around Groningen is flat but absolutely stunning.

Temporarily settling in Groningen

  • We can stay in her house while settling Zoe into the city of Groningen. I have already discovered that also in the Netherlands bureaucracy is a ‘necessary evil’.  Consequently it will be document shuffling, making copies, getting them certified and waiting in queues. All to make her officially a Dutch citizen………..
  • From Groningen the journey continues via Bremen, Germany back to London for a family Christmas. From there it still seems a bit vague, but I am sure more concrete things will evolve.
settling, home, France, Limoux, buying a house

Studying the map and deciding where to go next

A long list and it may seem a bit crazy or too much for some.  Sometimes it just is what it is – one of my favourite mottos in life. And for that reason I will end with saying:

‘to be continued….

Love from anywhere in Europe 😀

Reflections on my emigration to Europe so far…..

I am sure that most people would find an emigration stressful. Off course there are different types of emigration and it makes a huge difference if your move is a consequence of free choice or to escape danger. Our move back to Europe is a result of our own decision based on assessing Australian versus European living standards.

emigration, Stradbroke Island

One of the beautiful Australian beaches. I will miss them but their memory is chiseled in my mind.

To be honest there is not much wrong with Australia. Although a couple of nasties are sticking up their head! All over it is a very pleasant country with a stunning scenery. We just have decided that we like a different scene for the near future.

We have had our fair share of Down Under, more than 25 years to be specific. It also helps that both our kids also like the idea of moving to Europe. The youngest is planning to study in The Netherlands and our plan is to attend a couple of open days in November at some Dutch universities.

Funnily as we made the plan to migrate together, so far it has been only me who has made the move. I booked my ticket to leave immediately after we would leave our house as it seemed a logical consequence?? For my husband and youngest offspring there seemed to be some reasons to hang on to Oz a bit longer. As a result they both leave on different dates after they have finished their ‘things’ 😉

Emigration and stress

I just read an article written by a psychologist about moving stress and it seems I am doing naturally what she recommends. As I have some hidden psychology knowledge in me dating from a long time ago some common sense may be guiding me here and there.

It was weird yet good for me to arrive by myself. This way I have only my own feelings to deal with and I can ease into a strange but also vaguely familiar territory. I arrived in London where I lived for 5 years and where my husband is from. There is family there and I had a place to stay. The same goes for The Netherlands where I do the round of friends and family.

emigration, Bunne, Dutch country side

Bunne. Flat as a pancake but oozing with charm. Very pretty surroundings for walking and cycling.

I suppose from that point of view it is very different from other migrants. So far there has been no stress to find a place to live and fortunately I have people to talk to. Furthermore I speak all the languages of the countries I visited so far and they are familiar to me.

Despite this both England and The Netherlands do not feel as my home. I am not a citizen in either country although I am Dutch, I am married to a Brit or own a house in France. I have no immediate rights in these countries and really at this stage I am just a tourist.

Resident status

Officially though I am still a resident of Australia. From their point of view I have just left for a holiday. There could be an issue to get back into the country as I left without having a re-entry permit. I tried to apply online before I left but the immigration website was being a pain so I gave up. The girl at the border mentioned it but we both knew I am able to apply for an Aussie visa when I am abroad.

emigration, moving, stress

Limoux – view of the bridge and the church tower in the centre of town

France is the place where I intend to become a resident but so far I have not really an idea how to go about that. This is also important for my husband because Brexit will throw a spanner in the works for him. However as my husband he has European access and we only have to make it official. This again is strange territory but I am sure there is an answer.

The joy of emigration

It all is exciting and to be honest slightly daunting but that makes it also a challenge. I love challenges…! Every official thing I manage to accomplish feels like a small victory and gives me confidence. I am not a novice at migrating either. Australia was the 4th country I lived in for longer stints and there were several more where I spent shorter periods. Norway and Greece are amongst those.

There is a difference off course to live a short period somewhere and to remain a citizen of your home country. It is not the same as leaving officially and to become a citizen elsewhere. I suppose we fall into the last category with this emigration.

While I am writing all these things and am busy contemplating the above issues, I realise it helps writing about it. Everything becomes quite clear and easier to oversee. I suppose writing is about delving into your inner feelings and thoughts and expressing them somehow in words. It makes you step back and assess not only the situation but also your way of thinking. It definitely helps me putting things in perspective.

My emigration rules

Therefore my rule at the moment is to have no expectations, to live every day as it comes and enjoy consequently the proces! I have just spent a lovely week with my sister and I am in the middle of catching up with three long time friends. I am enjoying these moments and will make the most of it 😀

emigration, Groningen, outdoors, coffee and cake

Enjoying the summer and outdoor living in Groningen.

Most of all I like to thank the people who have opened up their houses for me and made me feel comfortable. I hope I can return the favour in our house in Limoux, France

Feel free to comment, express opinions and share experiences about emigration. I am sure those considering a move may benefit from it.

See you next time!

emigration, happy, at ease



As a parent when are you ever ready to let your child go?

Our oldest child Yasmin announced yesterday that she has bought a ticket to Melbourne. Not for a trip but a one-way ticket to go and live there. Yasmin has been talking about it for a while but her buying this ticket seems so much more definite.

Melbourne, centre

A nice day in Melbourne. The city famous for having 4 seasons on one day.

She has been sorting her belongings for weeks now. She is browsing through our house to see what she can take to her new abode. Her age is right for moving out, she has the maturity and she needs to start her own life.

Yet, I feel as if someone has cut my arm off. If it would be the right arm, the one with the bursitis and the tendonitis, it could be a god sent. However I will miss her heaps.

Her plan is to live a couple of years in Melbourne either working as a graduate in some firm or if things do not work out that way, she may opt for a Masters degree. Either way will give her 2-3 years in Melbourne.


Melbourne has lots little lanes that are worth exploring for cool cafes, bars and shops

It means that we will leave behind one of our kids on the other side of the world. Our plan is to move to Europe in a couple of months. Familiar feelings come to mind as we did the same to our families when we moved to Australia some 25 years ago.

I believe when you have emigrated once or twice, have travelled the distance back to the home country for visits, it becomes less of a BIG thing. Some of my friends would find it hard to move 100 km away while I take an overseas move in my stride as if it is only 100 km away.

Leaving a child behind…

I am a bit more aware of it at the moment. To leave a child behind or have a child moving to the other side of the world is different. In my immediate Australian environment I have a client whose daughter lives in London. A friend whose daughter studies for a Masters in York, England and another who has a son in the USA and a daughter in England.

It seems common enough and it all causes us mums and dads to have extra worries and fears about what could go wrong. It think that is where the problem lies. What could go wrong and our inability to pop over to check it out. It requires at least a 24 hours flight and a couple of thousand dollars. Not so straight forward!

Child, China, hangzhou, international student, learning Chinese

Yasmin enjoying the beauty and serenity of Westlake in Hangzhou

It is not Yasmin’s first move. She has studied at a university in Hangzhou, China for 6 months. She went by herself and sorted it all out independently. We visited her and were for a week or so witness of her independent life over there. I fell in love with China, against expectations by the way.

A little secret is that in the same city where she studied, we have a friend. Our first homestay student ever was from the exact town where Yasmin ended studying in. That was a tremendous peace of mind because she could be there for emergencies and support when Yasmin arrived.

Letting a child go….

Groningen, shopping street, child

Folkingestraat, Groningen, in 2015 awarded as the most fun shopping street in the city

Our youngest daughter, Zoe wants to study in Groningen, the Netherlands. As she has the Dutch nationality, she can go to university there as a Dutch citizen. No international University fees for us!

We are going in the same direction but I have to admit that I would not be able to let her go by herself to Europe at the age of 18. I would really draw the line there. First of all she does not speak any Dutch and secondly she is inexperienced when it comes to settling in a different environment. Point blank!

stroop wafels, child, Groningen, Dutch speciality

Who does not know stroopwafels? You have to be Dutch though to get them freshly made…

We are actually not going to live in the Netherlands so eventually she will be by herself. The fact is that I can fly less than an hour and I will be where she is. Also there is family nearby and other connections.

Something to think about….

You could ask if I would leave her in Brisbane by herself? What if she would decide to study at UQ and live in a share house? Would we still be able to leave to go to Europe. Between you an me I am glad I don’t have to answer that question….

limoux, grand cafe, terrace, square

Grand Cafe on La Place de la Republique – one of my regular hang outs in Limoux where we have a house.

Just imagine though. Would you sacrifice your dreams and stay in a country for your child? We have been living with the plan to move back to Europe for 5 years now. We even bought a house in the South of France. Would we forsake on that plan if the Zoe wanted to stay in Australia?

She is only 17 at the moment. How much is age a determination? When is someone mature enough to be independent? My sister was 18 when she became an orphan, I was 20. Maybe it is because of that that I would have my doubts.

We were so young, I would have loved to have some advice from an older person at the time. I am sure we made some crazy choices. We may have thought at the time it was totally cool but in the end it was very likely not so sensible at all.

So in a couple of months our little family unit will have fallen apart. Yasmin is moving to Melbourne in May and our homestay student needs to find another Brisbane host before we move out in July. I will fly to London in July and my husband and youngest daughter will follow in the beginning of September.


Around Shoreditch, East London. Grunchy and full of surprises

The beginning of another era…

Please feel free to write about your experiences or to comment on mine. I was told that commenting on my blog was a pain however after a thorough search I found a box to un-tick. It seems easier now. Let me know as I only will know if you tell me.

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easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling

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……

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change, emigration, France, planning to leave








Europe in a flash! Part 1

Time is a weird thing. On the one hand it seems to last forever while on the other, it is past, ‘just like that’….!

Only a couple of weeks or so ago I published an article about my month in Limoux that is still so fresh in my mind. In the meantime I have said goodbye to my husband who arrived after I left Limoux and has been here just under 4 weeks – indeed a case of ‘time has flown past’!


River Aude, Limoux

City hopping through Northern Europe

But what a four weeks it has been! We met in Ghent, Belgium, went from there by train to Maastricht and Groningen in Holland, popped over to Hamburg to meet up with one of our homestay students and flew from there to London where we managed to throw in a tour of Oxford, Stonehenge and Dorchester as well. Followed by another 4 days in Limoux and a few last days in London before heading back to sunny ‘Down Under’.



The whole trip has been rather peculiar as all four of us arrived at different dates. I arrived the beginning of November, Zoe, our youngest arrived in London at the beginning of December, Keith a week later while Yasmin, our oldest had to work the Christmas period in her Australian casual job and only managed to get away a couple of days before Christmas.

Keith, Zoe and I met in Ghent. At Ghent University restaurant ‘Het Pand’ as guests from our Belgium host who is a professor at the University. Zoe’s eyes were opened wide when she found out that the legal drinking age in Belgium is 12. It meant that she ‘legally’ could have a glass of wine with lunch. She was stunned!


Historical Brugge

We explored Ghent, Brugge and the area where we were staying and concluded that the Belgians know how to enjoy the nice things in life!


A trip with a purpose…

Our trip had a theme as we were on a mission to explore universities where Zoe could study a medical undergraduate degree in English. The Netherlands offers a number of options and two of them we took in our stride.

Inner city Maastricht

Inner city Maastricht

Number one, ‘Maastricht’, a medieval town in the most southern corner of the country that ‘officially should be abroad’ as it has everything that the rest of Holland does not have. One of my favourites cities in Holland and I would love Zoe to study there.


Shopping street Groningen

The other option is Groningen, hometown of my sister, famous for its student life and totally in the Northern end of Holland. Another great option. If Zoe achieves the necessary grades she can choose! What a task…..

We stayed with my sister who recently bought an old farm near Groningen and is in the process of renovating it. We also spontaneously organised and hosted a family reunion of cousins and cousines! A great success and worth repeating in the future.

Farm in Peize, near Groningen

Farm in Peize, near Groningen

Despite the winter which was actually very mild, the short days and thanks to the Christmas decorations everywhere it was a delight to travel around and I was looking forward to the ‘Gluhwein’ and Christmas markets in Hamburg.

Until then…!

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