In one week, in the middle of August, we moved house, became Australian citizens and set off on our first long-haul trip as a family. Not one to do things by halves, it seemed completely reasonable (at the time) to tackle these three major life events in seven days and it's only now - having survived jetlagged babies, surrounded by boxes and with a mysterious craving for pavlova - that I see what a week that was.
Moving house was as stressful and unpleasant as you might imagine. I ferried the little ones from pillar to post trying to keep out of the way as Andy oversaw the removalists and lifted heavy boxes. It was possibly the longest day in the history of really long days.
The bonus is of course that we're now happily ensconced in a cottage by the sea complete with veggie patch and mango tree. It is a fantastic place to live and hopefully heralds a new start for us. I had a definite case of the stuckinaruts at the old place and here everything is more airy and spacious and conducive to thinking happy thoughts.
Becoming an Australian citizen at a ceremony at Brisbane’s newly refurbished (and fabulous) City Hall was a surprisingly touching moment. I say surprising because I’m not one for displays of nationalism and am always a bit wary of the notion of ‘pledging allegiance.’ But the ceremony was beautifully done with music from the Navy band, Indigenous dance and a lovely choir. I felt a stirring in my long forgotten nationality organ and even shed a tear or two - much to Andy’s amusement who rightly pointed out “it’s only just started!!”
Trembling bottom lips aside, it was a special night and when it came time to take the pledge there were two readings – those who were declaring “before God” and those who weren’t. The believers went first and made a lovely en masse declaration and then it was our turn, the “Pledge Number 2” brigade. Andy and I, together with around ten other heathens, stood up and declared:
“From this time forward,
I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people,
Whose democratic beliefs I share,
Whose rights and liberties I respect, and
Whose laws I will uphold and obey.”
Then we all sang the national anthem, waved our Aussie flags and were showered in green and gold ticker tape. I was, and remain, very proud of my Australian citizenship and while I will always consider myself British-Australian rather than a true-blue Aussie, I am so grateful to the people who have welcomed us, the friendships we have made here and the many amazing opportunities this lucky country has given us. Don’t tell Andy but I’m welling up again…
Our trip to the UK was similarly emotional with gorgeous get-togethers with friends and family and picnics aplenty in a splendid British summer. It was a time of mixed emotions (more on this in another post) but it was wonderful to see Agatha and Henry interacting with people who adore them and to see the joy the little ones delivered in return. I spent an awe-filled hour in Marks and Spencer food hall and ate two lunches just because I couldn’t decide between the incredible gastronomic options. Tesco was a revelation and Waitrose nearly sent me over the edge. Coles and Woolworths take note – you’re doing it wrong!
|Meeting the locals|
Other highlights of our trip include; Agatha bathing a pig, a sunny morning at the beach, a catch up in the park with old friends which ended up a full-blown afternoon in the pub, a day at the races and a shopping trip with Andy while my parents babysat the midgets. Oh the unfettered joy of shopping sans small children! The ability to try things on, the leisurely lunch, the bookshop browsing, and the conversations which didn’t start with “can you watch them while I…”
It was a wonderful holiday and we even managed to survive the incredibly long flight thanks to in-flight TV, great kids’ meals from Emirates and a stopover in Dubai where we caught up with a friend (who kindly showed us around that shiny metropolis) and actually got some sleep.
Now we’re back it is full steam ahead with some exciting news in the near future but that will have to wait for another post, I have small people to cuddle, sweet potato to mash and major life-changing decisions to overthink.