Thursday, May 21, 2015

Still deciding where we'll live

Now that we have decided on Australia, we have to decide where in Australia.

I am still thinking of the same three places I was considering over a year ago, Alice Springs, Albany or the Sunshine Coast. It has to be somewhere I have at least one great friend as I am just not into the idea of starting again completely. And it has to be somewhere that I really love, so that I wake up each day thinking I am in paradise and this was definitely worth it - even though I miss folks back home.

As I have been sorting though things ready to move, I have found a few old diaries and notes to myself which have been helpful. I think I have ruled out Alice based on these findings. Although I love it dearly, I was actually ready to leave when I did. I also returned in 2010 for a visit and felt that yes - my time there was done. I do have many fond memories of the place, lots of lovely friends that are still there, I love the Alice Springs Steiner School and would so happy for BB to school there. But it is isolated. I used to travel a lot with work so I was always getting out and about, to cities around Australia as well as to communities within the Territory. I think if I was just there, not travelling and not being able to afford to travel often with a family, I would feel a bit trapped. I also don't like the fact that in summer you are confined to the air condition, though an Alice winter is the most amazing weather one could ever ask for. I think it would be a great place to grow up as a kid, but not so great when you are a teenager, and as we do have a life in two countries I would really like to find a place within each that we can call home for the long haul. I have always dreamed of living by the sea, and clearly Alice is not the place for that. I also feel it would be like trying to step back into the past - but things have changed, people have moved on. And so have I.

So that leaves Albany or the Sunshine Coast and I am still very torn between these two places. Albany is in Western Australia - the Australia I fell in love with. I love it because it is so vast and beautiful, underpopulated and isolated. Albany is cool and wet in winter and has mild summers, so ideal in that you can be outdoors all year round. Some people think the cool winters and the wind are a disadvantage, but I don't actually mind a refreshing breezy walk on the beach at all. I have a great friend there and BB loves her daughter. I have a professional history there too, and teaching is incredibly well paid in WA. I have several friends around the state from the 5 years I lived in Perth and Kalgoorlie. Albany is a good sized town so it has all you need. It is also right by the beach. There is another little town, Denmark, about 50km along the coast which in many ways I like more - but then I think about all the time I would spend driving that 50km and it puts me right off.


Planning to drive to Albany was also part of my plan to remind myself just how big Australia is. WA as a whole is very isolated from the rest of the country. If we were to drive non stop from Albany to the place where BB's Aussie grandparents live in the next State, it would take longer than it would to fly to my parents in the UK. The thing I was trying to remind myself of is that if we lived there, we would be almost as isolated as in Alice (more so in some ways) and flying really would be our only option when we wanted to go somewhere. Again not something that I could really afford to do that often. In many ways the pros list and the cons list of Albany are the same. I love that its isolated and sparsely populated, but they are disadvantages too. The idea that I could earn a decent wage as a teacher is comforting, but then again I don't really think deep down that I actually want to teach again.

The Sunshine Coast (very north hinterland region) is a place I am less familiar with. I have visited the area three or 4 times, though every time I have been I have loved it and thought it would be an amazing place to live. I have a best friend there too, another person that it would be lovely to hang around with. It's subtropical, so fairly warm all year round, slightly cool for a very short winter, and humid in the summer. It's much more densely populated than WA and less isolated - there are lots of little places and you can go from place to place easily (one of the things I like about the UK). There is also public transport which would be great for BB when he gets older. There is a lot to do there too as it is a great holiday place. It's not so good for finding work though.


I also worry that the climate might make me a bit lazy and not want to do much, and I actually think I would miss winter. And the beaches are crowded. We would have to live inland as its A) too expensive and B) too busy on the coast, so I would have to give up on my dream of my daily walk on the beach - I guess you can't have it all. Pomona (about 25km inland) is the place I fell in love with over this way and my friend lives in the next town. Property is quite reasonably priced there too, and on the whole the houses are much nicer than in WA. It floods quite frequently though so you would need to be careful where you lived.  I do have a lot of friends on that side of the country too, maybe people would call in and see us on their way past which would be awesome.

I think on the whole I am leaning towards WA - but that does change quite frequently. I think perhaps after living in England where there is a LOT of places to visit and many organised events and much paid for entertainment, I have some notion that having more stuff around will be better for BB when he's older, so I am trying to convince myself to go East for that reason. But the lack of all commercialism that is another reason why I fell in love with Australia.  In WA, though there are things to do, he would have to learn to make his own fun more, which is not a bad thing, and my friend there is an excellent teacher when it comes to that! Also, BB just wants to live right next to his friend G, who is Albany...

Another advantage is that WA is only 7 hours ahead of the UK (8 in winter) - that makes it much easier to be able to talk to people back in the UK. Even in Alice, which is 8 1/2 (9 1/2) hours ahead I noticed that it wasn't so easy. Queensland is 10 or 11 hours ahead, depending on the time of year. Its hard to find a time to Skype - 6pm QLD time would be just 7am GMT, and if you have kids that need to sleep in Australia, and ageing parents that are no longer up at the crack of dawn in the UK, that doesn't really work for anyone. Maintaining that contact is really important to me - so WA is in the lead on that front too.

In a way, Western Australia feels like going back home, and Queensland feels like a new adventure - though I have never lived in Albany, so that would really be like a new adventure in my Australia home...

Mmm... this is making it sound like Albany is the winner isn't it!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I did it

I applied the blonde hair dye!

Not entirely sure I like it, but I don't dislike it any more than I did before. The white is a bit more yellow and the dark is a bit more brown. I think if it was a bit longer I could probably get to like it. A shame I just had it all cut really short again really. 

Here's the result as best as I could capture it. As BB says, "it's not really blonde, it's a bit blonde and a bit black and a bit white"  so slightly 80's bad streaks in other words!

Hmmm! Maybe I should have tried a slightly darker colour. Don't want to get back to the situation where my white roots are standing out though. 

Let's see how I get used to it! 

It looks OK with a sepia effect - so if you could all just walk around in sepia lenses that would be fab!


4 hours later I found my self in the store looking at dye - I went for a shade darker with a different brand and tried again. Are you supposed to dye your hair twice in one day? Probably not. I promise it lots of conditioner and coconut oil.

For the record this second one was Garnier Nutrisse 8.13. Much better coverage than the other one, not sure if that's down to the brand or the shade, but anyway.

Here it is.

I still find it strange - but then again I was still finding my natural grey strange after 42 years of dark brown.

I think I could get used to this more than I could the first attempt. Its quite similar to BB's after the sun has been on it which is a good thing too - he says he likes it - but he may just be saying the right thing.

Ah well - it's as good as black and white at least

Going blonde!

So having vowed never to dye my hair again and to proudly wear my true colours, I think I might go blonde!

When I was young, so young that 30 seemed ancient, I always said I was going peroxide blonde for my 30th birthday. It never happened. Instead I kept dying my hair back to its natural dark brown whilst my roots became whiter and whiter. Until October that is, when I shaved it off for charity and decided not to waste any more of my money or my life getting my hair dyed, and to proudly wear my true colours.

Funny how its turned out really. Now I am really loving the white part of my hair and curse the dark brown ones that intersperse it. Ironically, I now can't wait for it all to go white! But what to do in the interim? I have been thinking about going blonde for a a few months, but then I think why would I 'yellow' that lovely white hair.

BB is however a bit concerned about my grey hair. Having just witnessed the death of our nana, and then all the explanations about when and how people die, and often it is 'just because they are old', my white hair bothers him. He wants me to have black hair again so I wont die.

Then on Tuesday BB was involved in a little incident (he got his leg stuck behind a bar he was climbing on in a shopping centre and the bar actually had to be removed to free him!) and all the people that were attending to him kept referring to me as his granny... maybe I should just cave in to public expectations and hide my natural colours - after all only men are allowed to go grey.

Then there is the possibility that I might just manage to get pregnant again. Am I bold enough to walk the streets grey haired and pregnant? Maybe not.

I am definitely not dyeing it dark again, nor to I plan to spend the time or money in a salon. With hair as short as mine is now, dyeing at home is easy, and I can just do the whole lot each time instead of worrying about the roots and the condition of the ends,. And if it all goes hideously wrong it wont take too long to grow out, or I could shave it all off again...

So I bought this

Now I just have to pluck up the courage to do it!

Selling our house - again

Yes that's right - we're back on the market.

Having consulted a mortgage advisor prior to withdrawing from the sale, I had decided that I would get an investment mortgage on this property and then rent it out. On Wednesday last week I rang the advisor to start arranging that mortgage and was told that actually, seeing as I might take the equity overseas, and that I am self employed, and on a low income, even though the rent would more than cover the mortgage, there was no way any lender in the county would take that risk.

Hmm. At first I was annoyed. I pulled out of the sale based on the advice of that same guy! But do you know, actually, despite the annoyance I think it has all worked out for the best. When I sold before and then realised that I should be going to Australia not another property down the road, I wasn't fully ready to accept that we might go and not come back. Although that's what I really wanted to do, my family are here, half of BB's family are here, leaving would be hard. Both times when have moved across the world in the past, I have gone as a temporary measure, rented out my house and waited to see what happens. That's not quite so scary. Deliberately selling up and emigrating - that's full on!

But since we bought the tickets I feel great. I feel like it is the right move for us. Australia is the place for us to live and work and the UK is a great place to visit. With everything else I have been happily enjoying getting rid - I don't plan on storing anything in this country - if we don't need it enough to ship to Australia we don't need it at all. It's actually more hassle to rent the house and then to sell it with a tenant in place. Best just to get rid of that too before we go. So now I actually want to sell. So, thanks to the people we were buying from for not finding anywhere to go, and thanks to the mortgage advisor for giving me a false sense of security enough to take the plunge and book those tickets, and now thanks for the fact that I have no option but to sell so I don't have to spend ages deciding or feeling guilty. Its good. I also think it's better as it means that instead of being tied up in a house, our money will be available to us to ensure that we can afford to come back to the UK and visit people regularly, which I do really want to do.

So on Thursday morning I contacted the agent and got it back on the market. Then I had a crazy couple of days getting the house ready for viewing - we had got all our stuff out of the loft for sorting and there were piles everywhere. That was good too in a way though - instead of procrastinating over what to keep and what to get rid of I just had to do it - so we have taken several loads to the charity shop and are much closer to being ready to move.

Now we just need to sell. I think we will. There has been quite a lot of interest already.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

When the ball starts rolling...

Just over a month has passed since a depressed and nervous woman suddenly found the courage to hit the purchase button on some flight tickets. Today I find it hard to imagine that woman was me!

I think I have mentioned before that it wasn't bravery as such that made me do it. I have said all along that I was only visiting here, but I got trapped. Trapped by family ties, obligations, the wants of others. (I do love being closer to family, but they live in the wrong country!). Trapped by the thought that moving and starting again will be hard. By the knowledge that my son will miss people and things here. All of those things made it hard, but I am really not happy here. Finally the balance tipped, and the thought that I might end up staying here was actually far more scary than hitting that button to buy those tickets.

I told myself that we could just go for a visit, catch up with friends, settle the itch, but do you know I think I just did that to make it all less scary. Now that I have made the first big step all I can think about is buying a house and making it our home (though I still haven't fully decided where it will be!).

It is interesting to compare though. When I made the decision to come back to the UK for a while, the whole idea filled me with dread. I had this overriding feeling that I was making the hugest mistake. I wrote notes to myself (which I have recently found) warning myself not to get caught up here. Not to allow myself to stay here for too long and get so depressed that I became helpless and not able to get out of the big dark hole again. It was hard enough the first time I did it, mentally and financially. I had escaped once, it seemed completely crazy to be coming back.

Now that I have made the decision to go back to Australia I feel entirely different. Although it is a bit scary and I am sad to leave family and friends behind, on the whole I feel really excited and I can't wait to go. It's like I am back on track, that I am heading back to my life rather than living one that others want me to have. I almost feel like this person that has been living my life in the UK is not me at all. Now I feel liberated, in control of my own destiny, hopeful, optimistic, youthful, fitter, healthy, happy.

And that little tiny drop of of following my own dreams has been gathering momentum fast. Within days of booking the ticket I began to remember many things about the life I dreamed of.

And in that life I have another baby...

I think its safe to say that dream is just not going to go away.

At first I thought I would wait until we got to Australia and then going to clinic would be the first thing I did. No one else would be there to have an opinion, I could just do it. However, having contacted a few clinics over there it seems that the waiting list is long - I would be at least 46 before I became a mother again. I don't really want to wait that long.

So should I do it before I leave?

Moving countries when pregnant would be bonkers...

But not trying would be more bonkers!

So I have gone back to one of the clinics I was in touch with before. It is a clinic based in Spain, which has its pros and cons. The pros being that the waiting list for donor embryos is just two months, and for donor eggs and donor sperm there is no wait list at all. It's also cheaper than the UK or Australia. The cons are that the donors are fully anonymous so there would be no chance for a resulting child to trace their genetic roots when they reach 18 - something which I thought might be important when I researched it before. I have spent some time mulling that one over with  a few people and have decided again that I will regret it if I don't try. Although some people want to find out their genetic roots, not everyone does. And if I raise a healthy and happy child, dealing with that should be a hurdle we can navigate together.

The other thing I have worried about over the last 3 years is that having one child with a Dad and one without would be hard. DD is a good dad, and not wanting the second child to miss out on that was one reason that I clung on to the idea of having a second child with him instead of going it alone each time that issue came up. With us living in Australia though, that wont have such a big impact as if we stayed here.

So, I am currently having all the tests I need to get started with IVF in Spain. I have a couple more blood tests to get next week, then a Skype meeting to discus what needs to happen. Although the donor embryo option is available to me, I think I am going to go with fresh donor eggs and sperm. The latter is three times more expensive, but also three times more likely to be successful. I may as well give it my best shot. I'll keep you posted on the developments but I am hoping that my first attempt will be in June, giving me July and August to have further tries if necessary. Maybe if it doesn't work I will finally feel like I have done all that I can and be able to put this dream to rest.

But I really hope it works and that I do get to do the crazy thing of moving to the opposite side of the planet, as a single mum with a 4 year old and pregnant!

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