Tag Archives: leaving Australia

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.

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European adventure, Noosa, Australia

 

 

“Am I leaving Australia for good”, I get asked daily!

Am I leaving Australia for good……? To be honest ‘how  do  I  know?

Almost on a daily base I get not only to hear that question but also that I am silly to leave Australia. When people ask me ‘if it is for good’ they tend to get this facial expression of disbelief and pity. It is bizarre as on the one hand people enjoy telling others that I am planning to move to Europe. And on the other hand the reactions are of utter disbelief.

leaving Australia, moving abroad, for good

Permanent? For good? Why would you want you do that? Really?

Australians really believe that they live in the best country in the world. They like to travel and visit other countries but in general would not want to stay overseas. Off course there are some that moved abroad and are happy to be there. I even know some who have left and wish never to return to the land Down Under.

Having lived in London we have come across many Aussies who lived and worked for a couple of years in London. It seems to be just temporarily as most of them tend to go back to Australia when they are ready to settle and have kids.

Why leaving Australia seems to make no sense

Australia is indeed a great country to raise kids. Not only that but also to have a pleasant life. People are friendly, the weather is good in most places and the quality of the essentials in life is relatively high.

The water is clean, the streets and parks are well kept and there are many outdoor facilities for sport and recreation. It is easy to find a free public toilets and drink water fountains are abundant in contrary to many other countries we have visited. However bottled water is in those countries very affordable while in Australia they cost a premium!

Leaving Australia, Stradbroke Island

Good quality and well maintained picnic tables on Stradbroke Island

The standard of the health care system is high. It is easy to get to see a doctor, get a test or see an alternative practitioner. It is overall not an extremely expensive system but in general you have to pay something for every service. The reason you can get an MRI or some other test within a couple of days is because you pay.

I know that in London, UK you have to wait weeks to get a doctor’s appointment, let alone an X-ray. One of the reasons Brexit came along….

One thing springs to mind though…. What about paying a small sum for the privilege of an appointment. Might speed up things a bit…….

Anyway put all these wonderful Aussie services aside and assess what other things could make me stay. The fact is that I have been here over 25 years and have indeed enjoyed fantastic weather, breathtaking nature, empty sandy beaches and good quality food.  It has been wonderful and satisfying.

Byron Bay, leaving Australia

One of the beaches in Byron Bay, one of our favourite spots to visit.

However if I stay another 20 years, granted that life gives me that amount of years to live, I will enjoy exactly that some more. The point is that I want to experience different things. I am saturated with Australian life and made the most out of it, but I am done!

Why leaving Australia makes sense

Staying in Australia feels a bit like stalling the rest of my life. I want a different experience. For instance I want to speak my languages, five of them to be precise. To keep my brain active I have added a sixth – I am learning Spanish.

Australians don’t get this wish or urge to want more. Many of them like going abroad but some of them have not even been out of their state. Our babysitter, age 18 when the kids were young, had not been over the Queensland border. Most Australians have not seen Tasmania or West Australia. It takes 5 hours to fly to Perth and it takes 5 hours to fly to Bali. So you get the gist.

Australians are rather insular. They think their country is the one and only one. In general they can not see why you could want to live somewhere else.

One of my clients, a 94 year old local with a brain that still works like a train, had a bit of a whinge recently. She said that Australia had been the lucky country for a long time. But she reckoned that it ain’t gonna be that lucky for much longer.

She would like to see Australians travel more so they would expand their horizons. She likes them to realise there is more to life than pool, sun and BBQ’s. Refreshing words……?

A friend of a friend went to live in Portugal to retire. He finds it hard and is occasionally lonely. One of his Aussie mates hoped their would be a Coles or Woolies around the corner – that would soften the pain. Another friend hoped I would be able to find a Bunnings in my French neighbourhood if I wanted to get back into gardening.

People, people, every country has their own Coles and Bunnings, but do Australians who rarely travel, really believe they could be the same shops??? Get real.

For non-Australians, Coles, Woolworths and Bunnings are giant monopolies in Australia dictating what Aussies eat, drink and pay for it and how they renovate their houses and maintain their gardens.

A bit of a comparison

Life in Australia is attractive, but it is also superficial. There is a lack of complexity and culture. Not so hard to understand as it is a young country. Also bizarre as we have a population that is made up of dozens of different cultures. Somehow these cultures do not really make an impact in the Australian experience.

The country remains very much a part of the Commonwealth with the remnants of its laws, rules and systems. Apart from the food culture.

During the eighties you could barely find a good coffee, now we have a coffee culture that is world class. ‘Australian Master Chef’ attracts guest chefs with international fame and is watched far beyond our borders.

Coffee culture, good coffees, leaving Australia

Australia – the land of the great coffees and brownies as well, it seems!

You can find ingredients for every type of food in Australia and in the bigger cities many restaurants selling a huge variety of ethnic dishes. That is one thing I definitely will miss. I will be much harder to enjoy the melting pot of different foods that is available here.

The food on offer is diverse but it comes with a price. It ain’t cheap. That is something I won’t miss. Our markets are nothing more than huge outdoor deli’s where organic strawberries are not sold because it is the season. They are on offer because they are organically grown and because of that they must cost a fortune.

Markets in European markets seem to sell their wares in season and for an affordable market price. You buy stone fruit in late summer and cherries in May. Not like in Oz where most people do not even know what fruit is in season at what time of the year. It seems to be available all year round, but there is hardly ever a cheap time for any fruit.

This may be to protect the local market or due to the monopoly of our supermarkets but I am fed up with paying 4-5 dollars for an avocado. We grow them ourselves, they are an Aussie ‘icon’, so why on earth 4-5 dollars?

Leaving Australia is a ‘sure’ thing

Anyway, enough on the subject. There are many reasons for me to stay in Australia but the pull to explore other things that Australia does not offer has become so much bigger.

So yes, I am going to be leaving Australia for real. I am not sure if I am leaving for good nor am I sure that I will remain in Europe forever. Who know these things? Life throws many things at us and sometimes it forces us to make changes for the worse or the better.

Nobody knows in advance and also nothing is set in stone. In contrary to many Australians we have the option to leave and live in other countries.

We have the passports. Lucky us……..!

easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creativity is what I need most the coming year!

Creativity has always been a part of my life. I think it started with making my own clothes when I was a teenager. I had to find a way to prevent my mum making waist high trousers for me when hipsters were the go!

Maybe even photography was the first attempt. I have memories of hanging out in the dark room with my father dipping pictures into various chemical baths.

There are definitely some creative genes in my family and I like to credit my father for some of them.

Creativity is in the genes?

My father was a keen amateur photographer. I am sure he would have been a professional if he would have been living in a different time. He was born in 1920, almost 100 years ago.

If you are good at maths you know now that I am not a spring chicken anymore either! I have to tell you though that he was an older father….

dark room, photography, black and white pictures

Busy in the ‘dark room’. many people may not even know what this is.

He had his own dark room and I was in there from a very young age. He used to print tiny pictures in black and white for my sister and I. We would stick them in little notebooks. I wish I still had one of those…..

He also created garden designs. We had many rolls of paper with drawings of gardens in the most beautiful rendered colours. Somehow gone lost. What planet was I on when these things were for grabs??

Some of his skills and passions were passed on to me. I love photography and have a good eye for a well balanced composition in a photo. I found out that I have a couple of cousins who have the same talent!

Lover of DYO, creativity and handmade

There was a ‘creativity‘ stint in interior design some 10 years ago. I even had my own business called ‘Homeworks Design’. It went quite well until some worldwide economic down-turn happened and people stopped wanting to pay for services like that.

I may have done some different things since then but somehow I am always dabbling at some form of DYO, craft or art. I can recall painting houses, creating gardens, mosaics, a revival of working with fabrics and a growing interest in upgrading furniture and making treasures out of pieces of old and recycled wood.

housepainting, scaffolding, creativity in painting

Painting our house.  A big job but also a huge saving. I was told I saved 25k by doing inside and outside myself.

The attraction to composition and the draw to creativity got me into professional gardening. Gardening is probably so far my most successful little enterprise. It started off with a total overhaul of our own garden when we owned a house in Brisbane.

After selling the house I was contracted to maintain the garden for a fee during two years. Somehow news spread around and I got some more clients.

This happened in 2011 and now 5 years later I have a ‘great hobby turned business’ happening. I have a growing pool of clients where I go monthly, fortnightly or weekly. If I would stay in Australia I would be at the point where you start thinking about hiring staff. To be honest, it sounds like a nightmare!

gardening, hobby turned business, creative gardening, creativity

In action in one of my gardens. This crow bar is my most used tool and can compete with arm exercises in the gym

Planning to leave Australia

It is quite ironic that my garden business is currently in a bit of a booming stage considering our intention to leave Australia in 2017. I do feel I have ‘discovered’ my gardening niche and think that I can replicate building a similar business anywhere. One of my goals before we leave is to publish an e-book about ‘creative and common sense gardening’.

We have been in Australia since 1991 but feel that we have some more of  ‘Europe’ in us. On top of that our youngest daughter wants to leave with us and study in the Netherlands.

beach, Australia, nature,

One of the many gorgeous deserted beaches in Australia. This is ‘Point Lookout’ on Stradbroke Island

kangaroo, wallabee, Australian National Park

Such a typical Australian sight! Wallabies, a type of small Kangaroos roaming around

I know that many people would consider us idiots as they would love to be able to come and live in Australia. It has always been a popular country for immigration. Especially now with the ‘unstable’ situation of Europe during the last year or so.

They say that ‘home is where the heart is’ and to be honest, my heart is not in Australia anymore. It is a very beautiful country – my ‘humble’ reasons to emigrate 25 years ago were climate and nature.

I do think Australia can compete with many countries when it comes to natural beauty. It is still possible to have a whole beach to yourself or camp in a National Park without seeing another soul.

In the meantime we have bought a house in the South of France with the possible intention to live there. Is that where the heart is? Well, I can only say, time will tell…..

 

easydone, blog, limoux, happy upcycling