This time last year ...

Old Jul 5th 2007, 1:55 pm
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Default This time last year ...

A year in … Australia

(Sorry it’s long – I’m a journalist)

Out with the old …
We used to live in England. We used to live in the bit just below the middle, sort of underneath Birmingham. The locals called it the Five Valleys, the posho retired civil servants that manicured their hedges with nail-clippers and opposed any form of wind-powered electricity generation called it the South Cotswolds, but we called it Gloucestershire … our home. It’s a highly affluent area with very little crime (beyond the usual walk-in robberies of old folk, pikies flogging tarmac’d drives 2mm thick, traffic offences by 17 year olds in 90% car audio Vauxhall Corsas and petty vandalism of flower displays and amateur-dramatics posters). Our house over -looked a valley with horses in paddocks and cows in pasture and a small industrial estate which we used to pretend wasn’t there.

Visa
My dad’s Australian. About 20 years ago, my mother (who planned to retire to Oz with the old man) acquired citizenship for me and my brothers (big sister having already moved here with aussie hubs). The citizenship certificate languished in the bottom of a chest of drawers for the next 12 years, next to my 25m swimming certificate and a much cherished but slightly dog-eared copy of Mayfair. I visited Oz several times prior to meeting my missus and we then went several times as a family. I got an Oz passport about four years ago and PR for my wife, son and dog.

On the 7th of July we loaded several unfeasibly large bags into the back of a hire car, said farewell to the missus parents, did a goodbye lap of the town (pausing only briefly to deface an am-dram poster) and then drove to Heathrow airport where we boarded a flight to Van Diemen’s Land.

In with the new …
We deliberately chose to emigrate in the middle of the Australian winter because we didn’t want to arrive feeling like we were in holiday mode. We arrived in Sydney to 16 degree temperatures and grey skies. We did not feel like we were on holiday. There again, after that much travelling we weren’t entirely sure which planet we were on, let alone which season it was. We moved in with my parents – the plan was to stay with them until we found somewhere we wanted to buy. That initial period was challenging to say the least (details in me blog – can’t be arsed to go over it again), but we managed to get into a routine okay after a few weeks.

After a couple of incidents with my parents and a ‘heated exchange of views’ or two – we redoubled our efforts to find a house. In fact we practically moved in with our friendly local real estate agent. Originally we’d planned to move to Gerringong and this was where our search was concentrated. However a couple of things made us change our mind. Firstly the wind blows bloody hard on most days. Secondly the properties were very over-priced – vendors were trading on the trendiness of the town. Thirdly we just didn’t see anything that grabbed us by the balls and yanked ‘em like a slinky. We moved our search further, but despite viewing about 120 properties, we didn’t see anything that matched expectations or budget. Finally we returned to a little town I’d previously dismissed out-of-hand – Shoalhaven Heads. We had a bloody good look around the town with ‘new’ eyes – little kids were riding their bikes in the streets, people were out walking dogs, families were kicking a ball about in the park, teenagers were riding to the beach with a surfboard under their arms. It had both a stunning bit of river (the Shoalhaven) and an amazing beach (Seven Mile). It was an unpretentious little town, vaguely down-at-heel, but with a very relaxed feel to it. We liked it.

Once we’d decided that ‘The Heads’ was where we wanted to be, we started searching in earnest. In all we viewed over 30 properties. In the end, it was a tie-up between two houses – one of which was stunning, but had **** all in the way of gardens and no view – and the other which was large, in perfect condition, with pool and large gardens front and back, cheaper, but a bit boring. We went with option B – a red brick two storey on the residential side of town. After a bit of haggling we had an offer accepted and moved in October. We had shipped a small amount of stuff out, but all the bedroom suites, the living room, dining room and sun room furniture was bought new. I had enormous fun blowing an unfeasibly large wad of cash (well, in my universe anyway) on all the electronic bits and pieces. Pretty much all our electrical stuff came from The Good Guys – I bought from them because they did me a very good deal and because their advert is considerably less annoying than the homicide-inducing Harvey Norman ones.

Life, but not as we know it …
Josh has settled in nicely. We had initially (again, see my blog for a longer explanation) got him into the kindy year at the local public school. However he was four years old in a strange class full of kids who were all either five or six years old. He became very withdrawn and sad and we pulled him out of school and placed him in a superb pre-school up the road. He made a load of friends there, many of whom went with him to big school when he started again in January this year.


How is he now? He is a very happy boy and gets to do a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened due to either cost or opportunity in the UK. He started going to nippers (junior surf life saving) in October last year and thrived so much that he came in second in both the points and the club championships for his age-group and was awarded two trophies which have pride of place on the sideboard. He has gone camping by the river with some good friends of ours and their kids (went fishing, had a go on the jet-ski, poo’d behind a bush). He’s becoming an accomplished boogie boarder. He plays with a local soccer team – practice on Thursdays, matches on Saturdays. He has swimming lessons. He rides his bike around the block. He has a wide range of friends and is regularly invited to play at their houses or he invites them here. He loves our pool and has perfected a very reasonable seat-drop ‘bomb’. On the school front, he is reading and writing with great confidence and brings home a small amount of homework (usually a home-reader) every night.

In terms of day-to-day living, we haven’t had any problems adjusting to life here. We haven’t found the supermarkets to be that different and certainly haven’t gone out of our way to source British products (though I do pick up a packet of Jaffa Cakes when I’m in Sydney). There is a transition period when you try and work out which washing machine powder you prefer, which bread you like, which butter is best, which condoms can survive an energetic pummelling of frenzied love-making etc (one of those may not be true) … but we’ve enjoyed trying all the different things out.

Work-wise, we brought our main web design business with us. We have over 70 clients and they have all stayed with us, despite the move. It has advantages and disadvantages. The principle advantage is that we’re still paid in sterling, so anything we earn goes about 2.3 times further. The downside is that we have to make sure we’re awake for at least part of the UK day, which means plenty of very late nights. There are also tax implications (due to the dual-tax agreement) which are a pain in the arse and mean we have to present accounts in both countries and pay the difference here if necessary. Ideally we’d like to eventually build up a client base in this country and cut all ties to the UK – but that is some years down the line. I’m also a writer and I have continued to work for the UK press – often on subjects related to emigration.

The other half of the day …
When we moved here we made an effort to get out and meet people. We didn’t turn down any invitations, no matter how dubious or naff they sounded (Berry Quilt Show anyone!). As a result we now have a good circle of friends, including several who are firm friends. Catherine has a best mate who’s a good ‘ear’ when she needs it. We regularly get together with friends for days at the river or evenings out at the kid-friendly pubs. We haven’t clicked with everyone we’ve met and we’ve encountered a few arseholes along the way, but as the saying goes – you need to kiss a lot of frogs.

The area we live in is a very attractive part of the world with masses of things to do. We have national parks all around us, stunning beaches, amazing rivers, plenty of tourist attractions and opportunities for outdoor pursuits. We have large shopping centres nearby (Nowra and Shellharbour), Wollongong 30 minutes up the road and the tiny fishing village of Sydney two hours away by car in peak traffic. We can get the train to Sydney for just $25 return, although at just under three hours, it’s a slow way of getting there. We’ve tried to get out and about as much as possible (aided by the invaluable TomTom satnav), but modern life and the need to work, has a habit of getting in the way. We’ve travelled right down the coast to the border of Victoria, north as far as Newcastle and in-land to the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains. We hope to visit the Gold Coast soon and do the theme-park thing and are planning a trip to see my younger brother who lives in Cairns.

In the UK I had planned to join my town’s volunteer fire brigade. Once we decided to emigrate, however, I knocked that idea on the head because training me up would be a waste of their time and mine. However, I moved here with the firm intention of getting involved in a volunteer organisation of some sort. Having seen how the surf club operated I mentioned to one of the committee members that I’d like to get involved and earlier this year, I was invited to do my bronze medallion with them. I got my bronze (which means I’m now an officially endorsed red & yellow-wearing volunteer Surf Lifesaving Australia lifeguard) and my senior first aid and am working on my IRB crew and drivers certificates, so I can use the inshore rescue boat. The people I’ve met at the surf club have all been extremely helpful and I’ve made good friends and learnt a hell of a lot. When the spring comes I’ll be rostered for a few patrols on the beach every month and can do water safety work on nippers (junior lifesavers) days. I absolutely love being a part of it.

Hassles …
Is there anything that bothers us? Not really – minor gripes, not seething resentment. Some Australian drivers aren’t the greatest – particularly their habit of sitting six inches from your rear bumper at high speed and the way nobody ever ‘lets you in’ from side roads. With regard the television - for the most part, it’s exactly the same as UK TV – CSI, Heroes, Smallville etc from the states and the better BBC stuff on the ABC. That said, we watched very little broadcast TV in the UK and that hasn’t changed here. We tend to download the shows we like.

I haven’t experienced any anti-English sentiment. The only person that called me pom was my sister. I haven’t seen any hoons doing doughnuts in their V8s and I haven’t seen any random violence or dog shit – not saying it doesn’t happen (the hoons that is, not dogs shitting) – just that it doesn’t happen here. I haven’t suffered from homesickness to any great extent – Josh and Catherine had a few days early on when they missed friends in the UK, but that’s about it. I don’t feel isolated or bored or trapped. The Internet, I feel, has made emigrating a much easier process for the modern migrant – super-cheap phone calls, webcams and easy access to newspapers, TV and radio from the UK mean you don’t have to completely sever the umbilical cord to old blighty.

Here to stay?
It was always our dream to leave on the coast – something that was never going to happen in the UK. We now have the Pacific ocean on our doorsteps – a stunning beach five minutes walk away. At night when I’m in bed, I can hear the surf pounding the beach. Sure beats listening to the drone of traffic on the A46.

Would we return to the UK? At the moment I certainly can’t picture that happening, but you never can tell what the future holds. As much as I love living here, if either my son or my wife was desperately unhappy, then I’d move back to the UK. What I do know is that when I’m driving back from Sydney, pull off the Princes Highway through Gerringong and drive over the top of the hill at Gerroa, to see Seven Mile Beach stretching off into the horizon with the azure blue ocean on one side and Mount Coolangatta on the other, I know I’m home.



Last edited by Hutch; Jul 5th 2007 at 2:48 pm.
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 2:27 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Here's to the next 40 odd years
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 2:32 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Happy Anniversary to the three of you Hutch.
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 2:55 pm
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Excellent thread and gorgeous photo Hutch.

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Old Jul 5th 2007, 3:00 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

what a great story... i wish you well...you sound like the sort of person who makes the most of life... thanks for that......nice pic...
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 3:08 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
A year in … Australia

(Sorry it’s long – I’m a journalist)

Out with the old …
We used to live in England. We used to live in the bit just below the middle, sort of underneath Birmingham. The locals called it the Five Valleys, the posho retired civil servants that manicured their hedges with nail-clippers and opposed any form of wind-powered electricity generation called it the South Cotswolds, but we called it Gloucestershire … our home. It’s a highly affluent area with very little crime (beyond the usual walk-in robberies of old folk, pikies flogging tarmac’d drives 2mm thick, traffic offences by 17 year olds in 90% car audio Vauxhall Corsas and petty vandalism of flower displays and amateur-dramatics posters). Our house over -looked a valley with horses in paddocks and cows in pasture and a small industrial estate which we used to pretend wasn’t there.

Visa
My dad’s Australian. About 20 years ago, my mother (who planned to retire to Oz with the old man) acquired citizenship for me and my brothers (big sister having already moved here with aussie hubs). The citizenship certificate languished in the bottom of a chest of drawers for the next 12 years, next to my 25m swimming certificate and a much cherished but slightly dog-eared copy of Mayfair. I visited Oz several times prior to meeting my missus and we then went several times as a family. I got an Oz passport about four years ago and PR for my wife, son and dog.

On the 7th of July we loaded several unfeasibly large bags into the back of a hire car, said farewell to the missus parents, did a goodbye lap of the town (pausing only briefly to deface an am-dram poster) and then drove to Heathrow airport where we boarded a flight to Van Diemen’s Land.

In with the new …
We deliberately chose to emigrate in the middle of the Australian winter because we didn’t want to arrive feeling like we were in holiday mode. We arrived in Sydney to 16 degree temperatures and grey skies. We did not feel like we were on holiday. There again, after that much travelling we weren’t entirely sure which planet we were on, let alone which season it was. We moved in with my parents – the plan was to stay with them until we found somewhere we wanted to buy. That initial period was challenging to say the least (details in me blog – can’t be arsed to go over it again), but we managed to get into a routine okay after a few weeks.

After a couple of incidents with my parents and a ‘heated exchange of views’ or two – we redoubled our efforts to find a house. In fact we practically moved in with our friendly local real estate agent. Originally we’d planned to move to Gerringong and this was where our search was concentrated. However a couple of things made us change our mind. Firstly the wind blows bloody hard on most days. Secondly the properties were very over-priced – vendors were trading on the trendiness of the town. Thirdly we just didn’t see anything that grabbed us by the balls and yanked ‘em like a slinky. We moved our search further, but despite viewing about 120 properties, we didn’t see anything that matched expectations or budget. Finally we returned to a little town I’d previously dismissed out-of-hand – Shoalhaven Heads. We had a bloody good look around the town with ‘new’ eyes – little kids were riding their bikes in the streets, people were out walking dogs, families were kicking a ball about in the park, teenagers were riding to the beach with a surfboard under their arms. It had both a stunning bit of river (the Shoalhaven) and an amazing beach (Seven Mile). It was an unpretentious little town, vaguely down-at-heel, but with a very relaxed feel to it. We liked it.

Once we’d decided that ‘The Heads’ was where we wanted to be, we started searching in earnest. In all we viewed over 30 properties. In the end, it was a tie-up between two houses – one of which was stunning, but had **** all in the way of gardens and no view – and the other which was large, in perfect condition, with pool and large gardens front and back, cheaper, but a bit boring. We went with option B – a red brick two storey on the residential side of town. After a bit of haggling we had an offer accepted and moved in October. We had shipped a small amount of stuff out, but all the bedroom suites, the living room, dining room and sun room furniture was bought new. I had enormous fun blowing an unfeasibly large wad of cash (well, in my universe anyway) on all the electronic bits and pieces. Pretty much all our electrical stuff came from The Good Guys – I bought from them because they did me a very good deal and because their advert is considerably less annoying than the homicide-inducing Harvey Norman ones.

Life, but not as we know it …
Josh has settled in nicely. We had initially (again, see my blog for a longer explanation) got him into the kindy year at the local public school. However he was four years old in a strange class full of kids who were all either five or six years old. He became very withdrawn and sad and we pulled him out of school and placed him in a superb pre-school up the road. He made a load of friends there, many of whom went with him to big school when he started again in January this year.


How is he now? He is a very happy boy and gets to do a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened due to either cost or opportunity in the UK. He started going to nippers (junior surf life saving) in October last year and thrived so much that he came in second in both the points and the club championships for his age-group and was awarded two trophies which have pride of place on the sideboard. He has gone camping by the river with some good friends of ours and their kids (went fishing, had a go on the jet-ski, poo’d behind a bush). He’s becoming an accomplished boogie boarder. He plays with a local soccer team – practice on Thursdays, matches on Saturdays. He has swimming lessons. He rides his bike around the block. He has a wide range of friends and is regularly invited to play at their houses or he invites them here. He loves our pool and has perfected a very reasonable seat-drop ‘bomb’. On the school front, he is reading and writing with great confidence and brings home a small amount of homework (usually a home-reader) every night.

In terms of day-to-day living, we haven’t had any problems adjusting to life here. We haven’t found the supermarkets to be that different and certainly haven’t gone out of our way to source British products (though I do pick up a packet of Jaffa Cakes when I’m in Sydney). There is a transition period when you try and work out which washing machine powder you prefer, which bread you like, which butter is best, which condoms can survive an energetic pummelling of frenzied love-making etc (one of those may not be true) … but we’ve enjoyed trying all the different things out.

Work-wise, we brought our main web design business with us. We have over 70 clients and they have all stayed with us, despite the move. It has advantages and disadvantages. The principle advantage is that we’re still paid in sterling, so anything we earn goes about 2.3 times further. The downside is that we have to make sure we’re awake for at least part of the UK day, which means plenty of very late nights. There are also tax implications (due to the dual-tax agreement) which are a pain in the arse and mean we have to present accounts in both countries and pay the difference here if necessary. Ideally we’d like to eventually build up a client base in this country and cut all ties to the UK – but that is some years down the line. I’m also a writer and I have continued to work for the UK press – often on subjects related to emigration.

The other half of the day …
When we moved here we made an effort to get out and meet people. We didn’t turn down any invitations, no matter how dubious or naff they sounded (Berry Quilt Show anyone!). As a result we now have a good circle of friends, including several who are firm friends. Catherine has a best mate who’s a good ‘ear’ when she needs it. We regularly get together with friends for days at the river or evenings out at the kid-friendly pubs. We haven’t clicked with everyone we’ve met and we’ve encountered a few arseholes along the way, but as the saying goes – you need to kiss a lot of frogs.

The area we live in is a very attractive part of the world with masses of things to do. We have national parks all around us, stunning beaches, amazing rivers, plenty of tourist attractions and opportunities for outdoor pursuits. We have large shopping centres nearby (Nowra and Shellharbour), Wollongong 30 minutes up the road and the tiny fishing village of Sydney two hours away by car in peak traffic. We can get the train to Sydney for just $25 return, although at just under three hours, it’s a slow way of getting there. We’ve tried to get out and about as much as possible (aided by the invaluable TomTom satnav), but modern life and the need to work, has a habit of getting in the way. We’ve travelled right down the coast to the border of Victoria, north as far as Newcastle and in-land to the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains. We hope to visit the Gold Coast soon and do the theme-park thing and are planning a trip to see my younger brother who lives in Cairns.

In the UK I had planned to join my town’s volunteer fire brigade. Once we decided to emigrate, however, I knocked that idea on the head because training me up would be a waste of their time and mine. However, I moved here with the firm intention of getting involved in a volunteer organisation of some sort. Having seen how the surf club operated I mentioned to one of the committee members that I’d like to get involved and earlier this year, I was invited to do my bronze medallion with them. I got my bronze (which means I’m now an officially endorsed red & yellow-wearing volunteer Surf Lifesaving Australia lifeguard) and my senior first aid and am working on my IRB crew and drivers certificates, so I can use the inshore rescue boat. The people I’ve met at the surf club have all been extremely helpful and I’ve made good friends and learnt a hell of a lot. When the spring comes I’ll be rostered for a few patrols on the beach every month and can do water safety work on nippers (junior lifesavers) days. I absolutely love being a part of it.

Hassles …
Is there anything that bothers us? Not really – minor gripes, not seething resentment. Some Australian drivers aren’t the greatest – particularly their habit of sitting six inches from your rear bumper at high speed and the way nobody ever ‘lets you in’ from side roads. With regard the television - for the most part, it’s exactly the same as UK TV – CSI, Heroes, Smallville etc from the states and the better BBC stuff on the ABC. That said, we watched very little broadcast TV in the UK and that hasn’t changed here. We tend to download the shows we like.

I haven’t experienced any anti-English sentiment. The only person that called me pom was my sister. I haven’t seen any hoons doing doughnuts in their V8s and I haven’t seen any random violence or dog shit – not saying it doesn’t happen (the hoons that is, not dogs shitting) – just that it doesn’t happen here. I haven’t suffered from homesickness to any great extent – Josh and Catherine had a few days early on when they missed friends in the UK, but that’s about it. I don’t feel isolated or bored or trapped. The Internet, I feel, has made emigrating a much easier process for the modern migrant – super-cheap phone calls, webcams and easy access to newspapers, TV and radio from the UK mean you don’t have to completely sever the umbilical cord to old blighty.

Here to stay?
It was always our dream to leave on the coast – something that was never going to happen in the UK. We now have the Pacific ocean on our doorsteps – a stunning beach five minutes walk away. At night when I’m in bed, I can hear the surf pounding the beach. Sure beats listening to the drone of traffic on the A46.

Would we return to the UK? At the moment I certainly can’t picture that happening, but you never can tell what the future holds. As much as I love living here, if either my son or my wife was desperately unhappy, then I’d move back to the UK. What I do know is that when I’m driving back from Sydney, pull off the Princes Highway through Gerringong and drive over the top of the hill at Gerroa, to see Seven Mile Beach stretching off into the horizon with the azure blue ocean on one side and Mount Coolangatta on the other, I know I’m home.


http://www.phucksake.co.uk/family_hutch.jpg
A fantastic post from a great guy.......well deserved happiness to the three of you
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 4:20 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

hi

what emigrating to oz SHOULD be like, congratulations, fab picture, you all sound very happy, as for your trip to the gold coast, get yourselves there its absolutely fantastic!!

good luck in the future
Beth
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 4:22 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Excellent post, I cannot believe it has been a year. OMG I remember reading your thread when you were doing the goodbye round in the UK.

Hope you continue to enjoy
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 4:33 pm
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Default Re: This time last year ...

love the post Hutch - I cannot believe its been a year ..... bloody hell time flies when you're enjoying yourself eh?
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 4:37 pm
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Talking Re: This time last year ...

Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
A year in … Australia

(Sorry it’s long – I’m a journalist)

Out with the old …
We used to live in England. We used to live in the bit just below the middle, sort of underneath Birmingham. The locals called it the Five Valleys, the posho retired civil servants that manicured their hedges with nail-clippers and opposed any form of wind-powered electricity generation called it the South Cotswolds, but we called it Gloucestershire … our home. It’s a highly affluent area with very little crime (beyond the usual walk-in robberies of old folk, pikies flogging tarmac’d drives 2mm thick, traffic offences by 17 year olds in 90% car audio Vauxhall Corsas and petty vandalism of flower displays and amateur-dramatics posters). Our house over -looked a valley with horses in paddocks and cows in pasture and a small industrial estate which we used to pretend wasn’t there.

Visa
My dad’s Australian. About 20 years ago, my mother (who planned to retire to Oz with the old man) acquired citizenship for me and my brothers (big sister having already moved here with aussie hubs). The citizenship certificate languished in the bottom of a chest of drawers for the next 12 years, next to my 25m swimming certificate and a much cherished but slightly dog-eared copy of Mayfair. I visited Oz several times prior to meeting my missus and we then went several times as a family. I got an Oz passport about four years ago and PR for my wife, son and dog.

On the 7th of July we loaded several unfeasibly large bags into the back of a hire car, said farewell to the missus parents, did a goodbye lap of the town (pausing only briefly to deface an am-dram poster) and then drove to Heathrow airport where we boarded a flight to Van Diemen’s Land.

In with the new …
We deliberately chose to emigrate in the middle of the Australian winter because we didn’t want to arrive feeling like we were in holiday mode. We arrived in Sydney to 16 degree temperatures and grey skies. We did not feel like we were on holiday. There again, after that much travelling we weren’t entirely sure which planet we were on, let alone which season it was. We moved in with my parents – the plan was to stay with them until we found somewhere we wanted to buy. That initial period was challenging to say the least (details in me blog – can’t be arsed to go over it again), but we managed to get into a routine okay after a few weeks.

After a couple of incidents with my parents and a ‘heated exchange of views’ or two – we redoubled our efforts to find a house. In fact we practically moved in with our friendly local real estate agent. Originally we’d planned to move to Gerringong and this was where our search was concentrated. However a couple of things made us change our mind. Firstly the wind blows bloody hard on most days. Secondly the properties were very over-priced – vendors were trading on the trendiness of the town. Thirdly we just didn’t see anything that grabbed us by the balls and yanked ‘em like a slinky. We moved our search further, but despite viewing about 120 properties, we didn’t see anything that matched expectations or budget. Finally we returned to a little town I’d previously dismissed out-of-hand – Shoalhaven Heads. We had a bloody good look around the town with ‘new’ eyes – little kids were riding their bikes in the streets, people were out walking dogs, families were kicking a ball about in the park, teenagers were riding to the beach with a surfboard under their arms. It had both a stunning bit of river (the Shoalhaven) and an amazing beach (Seven Mile). It was an unpretentious little town, vaguely down-at-heel, but with a very relaxed feel to it. We liked it.

Once we’d decided that ‘The Heads’ was where we wanted to be, we started searching in earnest. In all we viewed over 30 properties. In the end, it was a tie-up between two houses – one of which was stunning, but had **** all in the way of gardens and no view – and the other which was large, in perfect condition, with pool and large gardens front and back, cheaper, but a bit boring. We went with option B – a red brick two storey on the residential side of town. After a bit of haggling we had an offer accepted and moved in October. We had shipped a small amount of stuff out, but all the bedroom suites, the living room, dining room and sun room furniture was bought new. I had enormous fun blowing an unfeasibly large wad of cash (well, in my universe anyway) on all the electronic bits and pieces. Pretty much all our electrical stuff came from The Good Guys – I bought from them because they did me a very good deal and because their advert is considerably less annoying than the homicide-inducing Harvey Norman ones.

Life, but not as we know it …
Josh has settled in nicely. We had initially (again, see my blog for a longer explanation) got him into the kindy year at the local public school. However he was four years old in a strange class full of kids who were all either five or six years old. He became very withdrawn and sad and we pulled him out of school and placed him in a superb pre-school up the road. He made a load of friends there, many of whom went with him to big school when he started again in January this year.


How is he now? He is a very happy boy and gets to do a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened due to either cost or opportunity in the UK. He started going to nippers (junior surf life saving) in October last year and thrived so much that he came in second in both the points and the club championships for his age-group and was awarded two trophies which have pride of place on the sideboard. He has gone camping by the river with some good friends of ours and their kids (went fishing, had a go on the jet-ski, poo’d behind a bush). He’s becoming an accomplished boogie boarder. He plays with a local soccer team – practice on Thursdays, matches on Saturdays. He has swimming lessons. He rides his bike around the block. He has a wide range of friends and is regularly invited to play at their houses or he invites them here. He loves our pool and has perfected a very reasonable seat-drop ‘bomb’. On the school front, he is reading and writing with great confidence and brings home a small amount of homework (usually a home-reader) every night.

In terms of day-to-day living, we haven’t had any problems adjusting to life here. We haven’t found the supermarkets to be that different and certainly haven’t gone out of our way to source British products (though I do pick up a packet of Jaffa Cakes when I’m in Sydney). There is a transition period when you try and work out which washing machine powder you prefer, which bread you like, which butter is best, which condoms can survive an energetic pummelling of frenzied love-making etc (one of those may not be true) … but we’ve enjoyed trying all the different things out.

Work-wise, we brought our main web design business with us. We have over 70 clients and they have all stayed with us, despite the move. It has advantages and disadvantages. The principle advantage is that we’re still paid in sterling, so anything we earn goes about 2.3 times further. The downside is that we have to make sure we’re awake for at least part of the UK day, which means plenty of very late nights. There are also tax implications (due to the dual-tax agreement) which are a pain in the arse and mean we have to present accounts in both countries and pay the difference here if necessary. Ideally we’d like to eventually build up a client base in this country and cut all ties to the UK – but that is some years down the line. I’m also a writer and I have continued to work for the UK press – often on subjects related to emigration.

The other half of the day …
When we moved here we made an effort to get out and meet people. We didn’t turn down any invitations, no matter how dubious or naff they sounded (Berry Quilt Show anyone!). As a result we now have a good circle of friends, including several who are firm friends. Catherine has a best mate who’s a good ‘ear’ when she needs it. We regularly get together with friends for days at the river or evenings out at the kid-friendly pubs. We haven’t clicked with everyone we’ve met and we’ve encountered a few arseholes along the way, but as the saying goes – you need to kiss a lot of frogs.

The area we live in is a very attractive part of the world with masses of things to do. We have national parks all around us, stunning beaches, amazing rivers, plenty of tourist attractions and opportunities for outdoor pursuits. We have large shopping centres nearby (Nowra and Shellharbour), Wollongong 30 minutes up the road and the tiny fishing village of Sydney two hours away by car in peak traffic. We can get the train to Sydney for just $25 return, although at just under three hours, it’s a slow way of getting there. We’ve tried to get out and about as much as possible (aided by the invaluable TomTom satnav), but modern life and the need to work, has a habit of getting in the way. We’ve travelled right down the coast to the border of Victoria, north as far as Newcastle and in-land to the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains. We hope to visit the Gold Coast soon and do the theme-park thing and are planning a trip to see my younger brother who lives in Cairns.

In the UK I had planned to join my town’s volunteer fire brigade. Once we decided to emigrate, however, I knocked that idea on the head because training me up would be a waste of their time and mine. However, I moved here with the firm intention of getting involved in a volunteer organisation of some sort. Having seen how the surf club operated I mentioned to one of the committee members that I’d like to get involved and earlier this year, I was invited to do my bronze medallion with them. I got my bronze (which means I’m now an officially endorsed red & yellow-wearing volunteer Surf Lifesaving Australia lifeguard) and my senior first aid and am working on my IRB crew and drivers certificates, so I can use the inshore rescue boat. The people I’ve met at the surf club have all been extremely helpful and I’ve made good friends and learnt a hell of a lot. When the spring comes I’ll be rostered for a few patrols on the beach every month and can do water safety work on nippers (junior lifesavers) days. I absolutely love being a part of it.

Hassles …
Is there anything that bothers us? Not really – minor gripes, not seething resentment. Some Australian drivers aren’t the greatest – particularly their habit of sitting six inches from your rear bumper at high speed and the way nobody ever ‘lets you in’ from side roads. With regard the television - for the most part, it’s exactly the same as UK TV – CSI, Heroes, Smallville etc from the states and the better BBC stuff on the ABC. That said, we watched very little broadcast TV in the UK and that hasn’t changed here. We tend to download the shows we like.

I haven’t experienced any anti-English sentiment. The only person that called me pom was my sister. I haven’t seen any hoons doing doughnuts in their V8s and I haven’t seen any random violence or dog shit – not saying it doesn’t happen (the hoons that is, not dogs shitting) – just that it doesn’t happen here. I haven’t suffered from homesickness to any great extent – Josh and Catherine had a few days early on when they missed friends in the UK, but that’s about it. I don’t feel isolated or bored or trapped. The Internet, I feel, has made emigrating a much easier process for the modern migrant – super-cheap phone calls, webcams and easy access to newspapers, TV and radio from the UK mean you don’t have to completely sever the umbilical cord to old blighty.

Here to stay?
It was always our dream to leave on the coast – something that was never going to happen in the UK. We now have the Pacific ocean on our doorsteps – a stunning beach five minutes walk away. At night when I’m in bed, I can hear the surf pounding the beach. Sure beats listening to the drone of traffic on the A46.

Would we return to the UK? At the moment I certainly can’t picture that happening, but you never can tell what the future holds. As much as I love living here, if either my son or my wife was desperately unhappy, then I’d move back to the UK. What I do know is that when I’m driving back from Sydney, pull off the Princes Highway through Gerringong and drive over the top of the hill at Gerroa, to see Seven Mile Beach stretching off into the horizon with the azure blue ocean on one side and Mount Coolangatta on the other, I know I’m home.


http://www.phucksake.co.uk/family_hutch.jpg

Hi Hutch. What a great post & picture. Thanks for that

stela
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 5:54 pm
  #11  
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Default Re: This time last year ...

I enjoyed the read. Cheers for posting it

Christina
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 5:59 pm
  #12  
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Great read and lovely picture

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Old Jul 5th 2007, 6:06 pm
  #13  
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Wonderful post - thanks for sharing!!!!
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 6:27 pm
  #14  
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Default Re: This time last year ...

What a great post. You sound very much like the type of person who grabs life by the balls and just gets on with it.
I hope you will continue to be happy which im sure you will.

Cant belive its ben a year, where does time go to
Mandy
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Old Jul 5th 2007, 6:31 pm
  #15  
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Default Re: This time last year ...

Originally Posted by Hutch View Post
A year in … Australia

(Sorry it’s long – I’m a journalist)

Out with the old …
We used to live in England. We used to live in the bit just below the middle, sort of underneath Birmingham. The locals called it the Five Valleys, the posho retired civil servants that manicured their hedges with nail-clippers and opposed any form of wind-powered electricity generation called it the South Cotswolds, but we called it Gloucestershire … our home. It’s a highly affluent area with very little crime (beyond the usual walk-in robberies of old folk, pikies flogging tarmac’d drives 2mm thick, traffic offences by 17 year olds in 90% car audio Vauxhall Corsas and petty vandalism of flower displays and amateur-dramatics posters). Our house over -looked a valley with horses in paddocks and cows in pasture and a small industrial estate which we used to pretend wasn’t there.

Visa
My dad’s Australian. About 20 years ago, my mother (who planned to retire to Oz with the old man) acquired citizenship for me and my brothers (big sister having already moved here with aussie hubs). The citizenship certificate languished in the bottom of a chest of drawers for the next 12 years, next to my 25m swimming certificate and a much cherished but slightly dog-eared copy of Mayfair. I visited Oz several times prior to meeting my missus and we then went several times as a family. I got an Oz passport about four years ago and PR for my wife, son and dog.

On the 7th of July we loaded several unfeasibly large bags into the back of a hire car, said farewell to the missus parents, did a goodbye lap of the town (pausing only briefly to deface an am-dram poster) and then drove to Heathrow airport where we boarded a flight to Van Diemen’s Land.

In with the new …
We deliberately chose to emigrate in the middle of the Australian winter because we didn’t want to arrive feeling like we were in holiday mode. We arrived in Sydney to 16 degree temperatures and grey skies. We did not feel like we were on holiday. There again, after that much travelling we weren’t entirely sure which planet we were on, let alone which season it was. We moved in with my parents – the plan was to stay with them until we found somewhere we wanted to buy. That initial period was challenging to say the least (details in me blog – can’t be arsed to go over it again), but we managed to get into a routine okay after a few weeks.

After a couple of incidents with my parents and a ‘heated exchange of views’ or two – we redoubled our efforts to find a house. In fact we practically moved in with our friendly local real estate agent. Originally we’d planned to move to Gerringong and this was where our search was concentrated. However a couple of things made us change our mind. Firstly the wind blows bloody hard on most days. Secondly the properties were very over-priced – vendors were trading on the trendiness of the town. Thirdly we just didn’t see anything that grabbed us by the balls and yanked ‘em like a slinky. We moved our search further, but despite viewing about 120 properties, we didn’t see anything that matched expectations or budget. Finally we returned to a little town I’d previously dismissed out-of-hand – Shoalhaven Heads. We had a bloody good look around the town with ‘new’ eyes – little kids were riding their bikes in the streets, people were out walking dogs, families were kicking a ball about in the park, teenagers were riding to the beach with a surfboard under their arms. It had both a stunning bit of river (the Shoalhaven) and an amazing beach (Seven Mile). It was an unpretentious little town, vaguely down-at-heel, but with a very relaxed feel to it. We liked it.

Once we’d decided that ‘The Heads’ was where we wanted to be, we started searching in earnest. In all we viewed over 30 properties. In the end, it was a tie-up between two houses – one of which was stunning, but had **** all in the way of gardens and no view – and the other which was large, in perfect condition, with pool and large gardens front and back, cheaper, but a bit boring. We went with option B – a red brick two storey on the residential side of town. After a bit of haggling we had an offer accepted and moved in October. We had shipped a small amount of stuff out, but all the bedroom suites, the living room, dining room and sun room furniture was bought new. I had enormous fun blowing an unfeasibly large wad of cash (well, in my universe anyway) on all the electronic bits and pieces. Pretty much all our electrical stuff came from The Good Guys – I bought from them because they did me a very good deal and because their advert is considerably less annoying than the homicide-inducing Harvey Norman ones.

Life, but not as we know it …
Josh has settled in nicely. We had initially (again, see my blog for a longer explanation) got him into the kindy year at the local public school. However he was four years old in a strange class full of kids who were all either five or six years old. He became very withdrawn and sad and we pulled him out of school and placed him in a superb pre-school up the road. He made a load of friends there, many of whom went with him to big school when he started again in January this year.


How is he now? He is a very happy boy and gets to do a lot of stuff that wouldn’t have happened due to either cost or opportunity in the UK. He started going to nippers (junior surf life saving) in October last year and thrived so much that he came in second in both the points and the club championships for his age-group and was awarded two trophies which have pride of place on the sideboard. He has gone camping by the river with some good friends of ours and their kids (went fishing, had a go on the jet-ski, poo’d behind a bush). He’s becoming an accomplished boogie boarder. He plays with a local soccer team – practice on Thursdays, matches on Saturdays. He has swimming lessons. He rides his bike around the block. He has a wide range of friends and is regularly invited to play at their houses or he invites them here. He loves our pool and has perfected a very reasonable seat-drop ‘bomb’. On the school front, he is reading and writing with great confidence and brings home a small amount of homework (usually a home-reader) every night.

In terms of day-to-day living, we haven’t had any problems adjusting to life here. We haven’t found the supermarkets to be that different and certainly haven’t gone out of our way to source British products (though I do pick up a packet of Jaffa Cakes when I’m in Sydney). There is a transition period when you try and work out which washing machine powder you prefer, which bread you like, which butter is best, which condoms can survive an energetic pummelling of frenzied love-making etc (one of those may not be true) … but we’ve enjoyed trying all the different things out.

Work-wise, we brought our main web design business with us. We have over 70 clients and they have all stayed with us, despite the move. It has advantages and disadvantages. The principle advantage is that we’re still paid in sterling, so anything we earn goes about 2.3 times further. The downside is that we have to make sure we’re awake for at least part of the UK day, which means plenty of very late nights. There are also tax implications (due to the dual-tax agreement) which are a pain in the arse and mean we have to present accounts in both countries and pay the difference here if necessary. Ideally we’d like to eventually build up a client base in this country and cut all ties to the UK – but that is some years down the line. I’m also a writer and I have continued to work for the UK press – often on subjects related to emigration.

The other half of the day …
When we moved here we made an effort to get out and meet people. We didn’t turn down any invitations, no matter how dubious or naff they sounded (Berry Quilt Show anyone!). As a result we now have a good circle of friends, including several who are firm friends. Catherine has a best mate who’s a good ‘ear’ when she needs it. We regularly get together with friends for days at the river or evenings out at the kid-friendly pubs. We haven’t clicked with everyone we’ve met and we’ve encountered a few arseholes along the way, but as the saying goes – you need to kiss a lot of frogs.

The area we live in is a very attractive part of the world with masses of things to do. We have national parks all around us, stunning beaches, amazing rivers, plenty of tourist attractions and opportunities for outdoor pursuits. We have large shopping centres nearby (Nowra and Shellharbour), Wollongong 30 minutes up the road and the tiny fishing village of Sydney two hours away by car in peak traffic. We can get the train to Sydney for just $25 return, although at just under three hours, it’s a slow way of getting there. We’ve tried to get out and about as much as possible (aided by the invaluable TomTom satnav), but modern life and the need to work, has a habit of getting in the way. We’ve travelled right down the coast to the border of Victoria, north as far as Newcastle and in-land to the Southern Highlands and the Blue Mountains. We hope to visit the Gold Coast soon and do the theme-park thing and are planning a trip to see my younger brother who lives in Cairns.

In the UK I had planned to join my town’s volunteer fire brigade. Once we decided to emigrate, however, I knocked that idea on the head because training me up would be a waste of their time and mine. However, I moved here with the firm intention of getting involved in a volunteer organisation of some sort. Having seen how the surf club operated I mentioned to one of the committee members that I’d like to get involved and earlier this year, I was invited to do my bronze medallion with them. I got my bronze (which means I’m now an officially endorsed red & yellow-wearing volunteer Surf Lifesaving Australia lifeguard) and my senior first aid and am working on my IRB crew and drivers certificates, so I can use the inshore rescue boat. The people I’ve met at the surf club have all been extremely helpful and I’ve made good friends and learnt a hell of a lot. When the spring comes I’ll be rostered for a few patrols on the beach every month and can do water safety work on nippers (junior lifesavers) days. I absolutely love being a part of it.

Hassles …
Is there anything that bothers us? Not really – minor gripes, not seething resentment. Some Australian drivers aren’t the greatest – particularly their habit of sitting six inches from your rear bumper at high speed and the way nobody ever ‘lets you in’ from side roads. With regard the television - for the most part, it’s exactly the same as UK TV – CSI, Heroes, Smallville etc from the states and the better BBC stuff on the ABC. That said, we watched very little broadcast TV in the UK and that hasn’t changed here. We tend to download the shows we like.

I haven’t experienced any anti-English sentiment. The only person that called me pom was my sister. I haven’t seen any hoons doing doughnuts in their V8s and I haven’t seen any random violence or dog shit – not saying it doesn’t happen (the hoons that is, not dogs shitting) – just that it doesn’t happen here. I haven’t suffered from homesickness to any great extent – Josh and Catherine had a few days early on when they missed friends in the UK, but that’s about it. I don’t feel isolated or bored or trapped. The Internet, I feel, has made emigrating a much easier process for the modern migrant – super-cheap phone calls, webcams and easy access to newspapers, TV and radio from the UK mean you don’t have to completely sever the umbilical cord to old blighty.

Here to stay?
It was always our dream to leave on the coast – something that was never going to happen in the UK. We now have the Pacific ocean on our doorsteps – a stunning beach five minutes walk away. At night when I’m in bed, I can hear the surf pounding the beach. Sure beats listening to the drone of traffic on the A46.

Would we return to the UK? At the moment I certainly can’t picture that happening, but you never can tell what the future holds. As much as I love living here, if either my son or my wife was desperately unhappy, then I’d move back to the UK. What I do know is that when I’m driving back from Sydney, pull off the Princes Highway through Gerringong and drive over the top of the hill at Gerroa, to see Seven Mile Beach stretching off into the horizon with the azure blue ocean on one side and Mount Coolangatta on the other, I know I’m home.


http://www.phucksake.co.uk/family_hutch.jpg
what a relief to here that someone takes australia for what it is no whinging and just getting on with it
good on yeh

russ
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