Felixstowe, Suffolk, 2011
Felixstowe, Suffolk, England
Greetings once again. It’s been a near-two month break; I should have made it official but kept thinking I’d post very soon.
Suddenly we’re well into February. So before Spring arrives in England, or Autumn in Australia, it seems appropriate to return with a word that captures my goals, hopes, and intentions for a year that’s already well underway: Settle.
I’m writing this from Felixstowe, England, the seaside town where Clive grew up and which I fell in love with during repeated visits with him. Settling here, on the coast of the North Sea, eighty miles from London, is our immediate goal.
Without spending too much time looking into the rearview mirror, suffice it to say Clive’s and my life for the past few years has been a whirlwind of family-related travel (often unexpected), with occasional short ‘just us’ breaks thrown in. I’ve shared a great deal of our experiences here, in the Family Globalisation and Travel categories.
As much as we love to travel, and plan to do more of it, all our moving around has also taken its toll in myriad physical and emotional ways. We are challenged by having family on three continents; aging parents can no longer come to us, and young adult children with full-time jobs and/or families of their own have neither the time nor the money to easily do so. So we will in all likelihood continue to travel a great deal for family reasons, and when we’re in one place, will work hard to stay connected to loved ones in other places. In the next four months alone, we will spend seven weeks in Australia and one in the U.S. We’ll also focus on our new life here in England, and everything we need and want to do in order to become settled here.
What We’ve Done So Far
Since arriving in England in early January, we’ve accomplished a few things, the most important of which are 1) finding a place we want to buy, negotiating an agreed price, and starting down the road to settlement; and 2) finding the Rental Palace, my nickname for our tiny one-bedroom furnished apartment across from the sea. Thanks to Clive, we also have critical technology and communications up and running: a new Wifi device that handles up to five connections (no more sequential sharing – yay!), a printer/scanner, a shredder, a top-up UK cell phone, and an amazingly good-value Royal Post Office phone card. I’ve opened bank accounts and enrolled in an online writing course, which I’m enjoying very much.
As for our stuff, we’ve collected a few boxes we sent ahead to saintly family and friends who held them for us (thank you again, you wonderful people if you’re reading this), made places for special books (top of dressers), files (inexpensive cardboard boxes), and various in-transit possessions (dresser drawers). Clive has made a number of outstanding roast dinners and I have discovered (and become addicted to) roast parsnips; more about my new favourite vegetable in a future post. I also love the expression (learned from Clive’s cousin) ‘cheap and cheerful’ (e.g., the curtains we bought for the Rental Palace bedroom); it’s so much nicer than ‘cheap and nasty’ and the curtains are indeed bright and cheerful. We’re enjoying the discovery of new (to us) European wines; e.g., an inexpensive but good German pinot grigio, though we miss the variety and endless choice of Australian and New Zealand wines in Sydney.
I’m also rapt with mail delivered through the slot in the door (as it was in my mother’s home in New Jersey), especially book orders from amazon UK (where all shipping is free, not just above a certain amount). How wonderful is that, especially if you’re not quite dressed yet? I realise there’s another way to get books in your jammies, and am close to buying my first e-reader, in time for our upcoming return to Australia.
Our main shipment from Sydney has also arrived and awaits a call for it to be transported from its current storage facility in Surrey to our new home in Felixstowe. Fingers crossed this will happen before we depart for Australia in mid-March.
Most of all, and better than anything else listed above, we’ve reconnected with special people here in Felixstowe, whose warm welcome, practical assistance, invaluable advice, and continuing friendship are a treasured gift and one for which we are both deeply grateful.
What We Still Have To Do
Surviving the nail-biting waiting period until final settlement occurs is our main to-do. Beyond that, we’re busy making endless lists (or rather, Clive’s managing his usual well-organised spreadsheets) of all the projects and tasks we’ll need to begin once we take ownership of our new place.
I suppose someone could ask, ‘If being settled is so important, why did you cause yourselves so much change and disruption by leaving Sydney and moving to the other side of the world?’ The answer remains as I wrote in A New Adventure: we believe it’s never too late to follow your dreams, it’s important to do it when you can, and just because dreams aren’t ‘easy’ to accomplish doesn’t mean they’re not worth pursuing.
When my son was in Sydney for our wedding last November, he said one day, ‘So, eventually, when you’re in England, you want to write in the morning and walk in meadows in the afternoon. Is that right?’
I answered, ‘Basically, yes.’
One place I shall be trying to combine my aspiration to settle and write is here on this blog. And in the midst of all our settling activities, we also hope to travel more here in the UK and Europe, so I’ll share more about this part of the world, along with my other two great geographic loves, Sydney and Paris.
For the moment, we feel a bit like two college kids who have set up an apartment for the summer: upturned boxes for bedside tables, a hodge-podge of furniture in our tiny furnished rental – which Clive says is excellent practice for downsizing. And for this interim period of time, we are, in a way, settled. We’re so eager to finalise the purchase and start ‘doing’ again, but in the meantime we’re savouring our little interlude by the sea.
Felixstowe, Suffolk, 2011
Cheers for now and more soon.
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