A New Adventure

Moonrise, Felixstowe, England

Sydney

In three weeks, Clive and I depart for another of our rather epic, multi-country trips, mostly to visit family in the U.S. and England but also to spend a few days in Paris.

This time, our journey will last about six weeks and is planned as follows: Sydney – Paris – New Jersey & Connecticut –Washington, D.C. – Paris – Suffolk — Paris – Sydney. When we travel, we usually try to include at least a few days of ‘just us’ time, to play tourist and explore a new destination, but we won’t be doing that on our upcoming trip. We will, however, be doing something completely different, though in a familiar location

A Future in Felixstowe?

We are embarking on a new adventure and thought it was time to ‘put it out in the Universe’ and share it on this blog.

On our upcoming trip, we are planning, and hoping, to proceed with steps to move to Felixstowe,  the place where Clive grew up and the place which cast its spell on me during repeated visits over the past few years. Barring any showstoppers we haven’t yet identified, we’ll return to Sydney, put our current home on the market, and begin planning for a move to England. This time, we’re heading to Felixstowe with plans to live there sooner rather than later, not just to visit.

That’s it in a nutshell. For anyone interested, I’d like to expand on our thinking and how we got to this point.

Post box, Hamilton Gardens, Felixstowe

What about Paris?

Je rêve de vivre à Paris un jour.’ Yes, I dream of living in Paris one day, and I’ve had this dream since I was nine years old. I want to go there often, for long periods of time – weeks or months, if not years at a time – instead of a few days sandwiched between exhausting family visits to other countries. I want to read an article about something in Paris and say, ‘We could go there today,’ because we’re already at the apartment, instead of adding another ‘someday/maybe in Paris’ destination to the file on my laptop.

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

And more broadly, I want the freedom to travel easily around Europe – to walk, take trains, and explore new places — the kind of travel Clive and I love to do most. When I bought my apartment in Paris, that was always part of the dream: to have a base in Europe.

Frustration always seems to rear its head in a particularly big way just before our long-haul journeys. When we travel to the northern hemisphere, it’s primarily to visit family in the U.S. and England. Recently, as we’ve begun to finalise all the details, appointments, meetings, and to-do’s that go into a trip like this, I’ve found myself cranky and upset as I always seem to be about never having enough time in Paris. I have written about this before and couldn’t bear the thought of yet another whining post about how my heart is hungry for Paris.

Luxembourg Palace and Model Boat Basin, Paris

Stop Whingeing and Do Something

More than anything, when I think about wanting to spend more time in Paris, I become angry with myself, tired of making excuses and always, always having a good reason why we’re not there. In virtually every case, it comes down to other family needs, whether in Australia, the U.S., or England.

Sometimes I just want to scream, ‘Enough, already! For God’s sake, you’ve been free of the corporate chains for more than two years now so either do something to change the situation or shut up about it!’

But it’s not that easy, and I’ve written about those feelings, too. The challenges associated with making a decision to spend extended time in Paris go to the heart of my feelings about family globalisation and the complexity of having loved ones all over the world.

What about Sydney and Australia?

I love Australia and am proud to be a citizen of this country. As evidenced by the name and content of this blog, I adore Sydney as I do Paris, and my situation is further complicated by the fact that Clive has immediate family here.

I think there are times in one’s life when it’s easier to do something radically different than at other times. Certainly for me, the years that included job, mortgage, and children growing up were years in which thoughts of ‘picking up and moving overseas to our dream location’ seemed wild and far-fetched. Yet my late husband, son, and I did eventually move to Sydney, fall in love with Australia and decide to stay – surely one of my life’s happiest and grandest adventures, in large part because we did it as a family.

Sydney Opera House

Enter Clive, who walked into my life and my heart a few years after my husband died. Clive didn’t have a choice about coming to Australia, though as a teenager he saw it as an adventure when he and his sisters were brought here by his mother and stepfather. In recent years, the more we’ve returned to England to visit his relatives and friends in the Felixstowe area, and also to travel locally and farther afield within the UK, the more he has recognised a deep-seated desire to live in Felixstowe as an adult.

Felixstowe Town Hall

Are We Crazy?

Maybe.

Simplistically, we envision the reverse of our current situation; i.e., we will live in the northern hemisphere and travel to Australia for extended periods to spend time with family here.

Both Clive and I like being settled. In the past few years, we’ve managed several major moves involving huge practical and emotional factors. In 2006, we each sold our homes and bought a place together. In 2008, we cleared and sold my mother’s home in New Jersey. Just the thought of another major move in the near term – including the physical stuff involved in moving overseas — is a bit overwhelming. On the other hand, we feel inspired and energised by our shared dream.

What about SNOW and ICE?

Clive’s Felixstowe friends, who are now my friends as well, having emerged from a long, cold winter, think we’re out of our minds (their words) to even consider a move to England.

Maybe we're barking (as in mad, crazy)

My absolute favourite phrase of recent months is from an e-mail Clive sent to his cousin, letting them know we want to find a place within walking distance of shops in the town ‘so we can trudge through the snow to get our milk and bread.’ As much as we love Sydney’s climate, we both have roots in the northern hemisphere. Maybe we will tire quickly of trudging through the snow (or worrying about heating bills) and find ourselves visiting Australia during those months. Part of our vision, as it has been all along, is to split our time between hemispheres based on the seasons.

Sunset from our balcony, Sydney Harbour

When It’s Meant to Be, Things Happen Fast

I believe I speak for many, including a number of my favourite bloggers, when I say I believe that when something is right, and meant to be, events progress with a speed and ease that is remarkable.

This is not to say a lot of physical and/or emotional work is not involved; sometimes the biggest changes require exactly that: taking a chance, dealing with our own and other people’s fears and reactions, initiating an enormous amount of activity, and stepping out in faith when the outcome isn’t guaranteed.

My options may have been wide-open on my first trip to Paris, but time, experience, and of course love and matters of the heart have made life since then a bit more complicated. We do our best and try to discern the right next step based on many challenging, often-competing factors.

I do know that when I think about some of the biggest decisions I’ve made, they’ve contained elements of the unknown, of risk, yet also a sense of inner knowing, of a Divine Hand guiding me and a faith that all would be well. Again, I don’t mean ‘well’ in terms of being easy in the ‘it won’t take any effort’ sense, but ‘well’ in terms of – practical and emotional hurdles notwithstanding – easy in the ‘this is right and meant to be’ sense.

I believe in serendipity, too, and to paraphrase one of my favourite quotations from Julia Cameron in ‘The Artist’s Way’: we need to take action ourselves to shake the apple tree, then be open to the fact that the Universe may deliver oranges.

 

A last-minute need to visit Clive’s father in England last December; a brainstorming discussion over a glass of wine in Paris the night before; a quick visit to Felixstowe on a cold Saturday evening (albeit one with Christmas lights twinkling on the high street and along the seafront); a ‘pros and cons checklist’ developed on the long flights home to Sydney; a few months letting the idea percolate to make sure we were indeed serious; sharing plans with our closest family members and friends; making initial contacts with estate agents in England; and here we are now, about to go ‘on location’ and search for our own place there.

City and Country

Our dream, or vision, if you will, is that Felixstowe will become our new home base, our seaside, ‘country’ place. Living there is something Clive feels drawn to do, and not only do I love it myself, it’s also closer to my family in the U.S.

We want to walk on the seafront Prom and breathe the North Sea air and, yes, trudge through the snow for milk and bread. We think the apartment in Paris is too small to be our permanent home, but want to take the train there for our city life, and everything Paris means to both of us.

April in Paris, Parc Monceau

Home Is Where You Make It but Place Is Powerful, too

Clive has a saying I love, ‘Home is where you make it.’ I also believe that control is an illusion but we still have choices. By choosing to call a new place home, we’re responding to the power of geography and place in our lives.

I’ve always felt the pull of Paris in my life, and when I first came to Sydney, it affected me the same way: this is it; I feel at home here. I think many bloggers have felt that too – that sense of not so much leaving one place as of going towards another, where we are also meant to be.

We know things change – we never thought we’d leave the apartment we love in Sydney, and we may decide to return to Australia for any number of reasons – but for now, we’re comfortable with the two intertwined ideas of ‘home is where you make it’ and ‘the power of place’ in our lives.

Sunset near Felixstowe Docks

My Sydney Paris Felixstowe Life?

If not now, when? It seems there will always be reasons, often compelling, not to change; this is, of course, what makes choice so hard. New factors emerge all the time that influence our thinking and add to the mix we need to consider in our decision process.

Both Clive and I have had experiences that remind us life is short, and to be lived. Maybe our latest idea is crazy, but as long as we’re together, we think it’s worth a try.

Cheers and I’ll write more about our thoughts and plans as they progress.

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16 Responses

  1. Wow!
    that came out of the blue to me, so much so that I feel I must have missed something. I wish you all the best and hope to hear more about everything at our next lunch date. I’m still stunned and speechless. Will talk soon hopefully.

  2. Hi Julie! No you didn’t miss anything — I wanted to tell you the last time we had lunch but we hadn’t told certain family members yet … and it was great to talk with you on the phone just now 🙂

    See you soon!

  3. Hi Carol,

    Wow–I’m surprised too. I noticed how much you liked Felixstowe as I read the postings that you wrote about the delightful sounding town, but I didn’t expect you to pack bag and baggage and land there. I also wish both you and Clive the best with the move, but I don’t envy the packing up part of it. So I guess all that cleaning out and traveling to the dump had a very useful purpose.

    I could never travel that much; I can’t even get on a flight to Atlanta without an atavan!

    –Eleanor

  4. Hi Carolyn…. just like the other friends that have posted .. WOW.. how out of the blue this has come! I have only briefly read this (will come back) , as it is so late here, but I am sure that you and Clive have thought this over a lot..!

    You will both be so much nearer to all of your loves.. Felixstowe and family, USA and family and PARIS..! which I am sure will make things a lot easier for you all.

    I do understand what your friend/family are saying you must be mad to move to England, but I also understand why you are doing it.

    We hopefully will meet up again soon and you can go down to Cornwall to meet Elizabeth.

    Take care love to you both Anne xx

  5. A quick shows there are no blogs called “Felixstowe Paris Life”. You’d better grab it fast, although it doesn’t have the same ring as Sydney Paris Life. 😦

    Bonne chance and au revoir.

    Phil

  6. Wow! I think it’s a WONDERFUL idea!!! (I’m being selfish here, because you’ll be so much closer to ME.) You’ll be so close to Clive’s father, and a mere trans-Atlantic flight to your mom and son, and, as you said, just right across from the continent.

    What a wonderful surprise. I know it is not easy to leave Australia, especially Clive’s family, but you’re not leaving it completely.

    Even from the outside looking in, this “feels” like the right decision. Congratulations!

  7. Oh my goodness! I’m like Kim and Anne in that I quite selfishly am thrilled to bits by how close you and Clive will soon be to us. Ironically, John and I will be in Sidney for about three days in November. I’ll say more about your post later as I’m in a mad rush now, but I did want to say hooray!

  8. Thanks, all – appreciate the good wishes!

    Eleanor, we haven’t packed up bag and baggage yet – upcoming trip is an important first step in looking at possible places to live. Anne, we’ll definitely meet again, I’m sure 🙂 and Phil, I’ll have to think about that new name. It’s not time for ‘au revoir’ yet but thanks for the good luck wish.

    Kim, you’re so sweet – we’re definitely not leaving Australia completely – would never do that – lots of important family activities here, too. And Elizabeth, November should be perfect – my favourite time of year here – Sydney spring – aaaaaahhhh. Fantastic you and John will be visiting!

    Again thanks for the good wishes – we hope our first step of the adventure is a positive one in the upcoming weeks.

    Cheers.

  9. This sounds like a great new adventure! I agree that being separated from your family can be difficult. I see now that I’m lucky that my family is only about 5 hours away from my husband’s rather than on totally different continents.

    I am definitely in the market to move further south rather than north. I. so. do. not. miss. winter. Yuck 🙂

  10. Alison, welcome and thanks for your comment! I’m sure having parents and in-laws 5 hours apart is quite a challenge in itself when you visit them 🙂

    Cheers and hope you’ll drop by again soon.

  11. I can quite understand your feelings about wanting to be nearer to Europe/North America. As Elizabeth has said, we will be travelling to Australia (briefly) and then New Zealand in November. I have more than once considered living in NZ, but the thought of being so far from Europe in general and Britain (and family) in particular has been the main barrier. Sadly, I think that has also been a big factor in the ‘whingeing poms’ phenomenon – so far from home- too proud to come back.
    With regard to ‘trudging through the snow’ it might surprise you and your readers to know that, although we, unusually, had snow in Cornwall this winter, I have personally never seen a white Christmas in Britain (in the sense of having snow where I was living on Christmas Day) Boxing Day -yes- and in 1995 there was thick snow around my house – but I was in – Australia !

  12. Thanks for your understanding, John! I can so totally picture you and Elizabeth living in NZ (maybe a short-term prospect!?) — we love it, too — the spectacular scenery, walking, and wine (those are my favourite things there, anyway) … not to mention photographer’s paradise for both of you … how great you’re headed there this year!

    I’ve never thought about whingeing Poms as you describe but it makes so much sense — excellent! It is indeed a conundrum, living far from ‘home’ and loving multiple places – complicated by an order of magnitude when you factor in PEOPLE in each place and the pull of family especially.

    Yes, can’t believe you’ve never had a white Christmas — this tragic deficiency in your experience must be remedied! I’m sure Elizabeth will assist with that. Glad you were in Australia, though, in 1995 🙂

    Cheers and happy travels to you and E.

  13. Hi Carolyn…

    Well, Barbara and I are finishing up our trip here to England and we’re at Anne and Arnie’s right now… Great time!
    Not sure how much time you and Clive will have to “visit” in Paris- but if possible, we’d love to see you two… maybe over coffee or lunch? Don’t feel bad if you can’t, though… if your time is short…
    Just let us know… and we’ll be there!
    Hugs from me, Barbara and Anne…

  14. Carolyn: I love reading about how you think about your life and your family, the careful way you approach everything, and the sense of peace and contentment that pervades. I find myself reading too many blogs about people who make bad decisions, get irritated and then wonder why I bother watching their train wrecks happen. Thanks for the sanity. And good luck with all the logistics!

  15. What amazing changes are in store for you! I am catching up a bit on folks’ past posts, and caught this one. Read it all. A couple of thoughts:

    1) Best as you make this big transition!!

    and

    2) I adore what you wrote here:
    “I do know that when I think about some of the biggest decisions I’ve made, they’ve contained elements of the unknown, of risk, yet also a sense of inner knowing, of a Divine Hand guiding me and a faith that all would be well. Again, I don’t mean ‘well’ in terms of being easy in the ‘it won’t take any effort’ sense, but ‘well’ in terms of – practical and emotional hurdles notwithstanding – easy in the ‘this is right and meant to be’ sense.”

    So so so true, and it really resonates with me. I am so glad to know I am not the only one who perceives things this way. This kind of thinking is exactly why I am in Paris.

    Again, best as your travel and then move. I hope our paths might cross face to face one of these days since you are going to be a lot closer to Paris! 🙂

  16. Leesa — and Anne (Oxfordshire) and Barbara — so great to picture all of you together in England! Thanks for your comment Leesa and I hope you’re having a fabulous visit — and that we’ll see you and the gang soon ‘up there’ somewhere 🙂

    Anne (Paris), thanks so much for your comment – it is lovely and meant a lot to me.

    Karin, same to you re many thanks for taking the time to comment and share your thoughts – much appreciated! I know you’ve also made a big change in going to Paris.

    Cheers all.

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