My Word for 2011: Settle

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.

16 Responses

  1. It’s about time someone else admitted they like parsnips! I have always loved them – especially the way Grammie prepared them, all buttery and good.

    Thanks for bringing the world up to date about your last couple of months. I have been thinking of you, and am glad January was so productive. Good luck with the rest of your settling in.

  2. Yaay … you proved me wrong – you blogged before heading back to Aus! Thank you … it’s a wonderful summary of all that has happened to you both in these past couple of months, the memories, the challenges and the enjoyments. We’re loving having you here and look forward to more of it as you settle in your new apartment in the coming weeks and months.

  3. Happy Valentine’s Day! So glad to have your news; you all are handling your transition so well, making things homey and finding things to love, even in your transit space. Hope the settlement goes through without any hiccups.

  4. Carolyn,

    So good to hear from you!! I honestly thought you and Clive had found some place on the planet from which you had fallen off! But it’s good to know you are still with us.

    I love roasted veggies – and especially parsnips done with carrotts and other winter root veggies like squashes, turnips etc. You can roast string beans and broccoli if they’ve “gone by” a bit and restore them to new life..delicious.

    Would love to see any photos of your temp place as well as your new one to be – once it is.

    I think you’ll like having an e-reader. Load it up with goodies before your long trips and it works very well.

    Take care and please say hello to your Mother from me next time you have a chance. I get to Ho-Ho-Kus about 4 times a year – maybe we’ll meet sometime around the block..

    My best to Clive


  5. Hi Carol and Clive,

    So glad to hear from you again. I was getting worried. We joined a CSA last summer and we all got used to liking the root veggies this fall including parsnips. I think I still have some stew in the freezer that I made at the end of the season with lamb and the root vegetables.

    Brian and Rebecca gave me a Kindle for my b-day, and I like it a lot. I didn’t think I would want to read without a real book in my hand, and while I still love a trip to the bookstore, having material download to the e-reader is so incredibly easy. I like being able to read everything in the type of font I like–I prefer the sans serif font rather than something like Times New Roman because I think it is more readable.

    The only thing I can say is that the screens on the e-readers are more fragile than you might think, so be careful where you put your reader. I know this because I had to buy a new one I’m embarrassed to admit. I was able to delist the first one, and download all the books I had bought previously. My choices on the Kindle include all kinds of things: everything from trash to quite good stuff and everything in between. It’s lots of fun.

    I think my mom had some cheap and cheerful curtains at the front window of our house on Warren Ave, although I believe they were up for about 10 years! I’ll be thinking of you and Clive, so good luck with your settling in.


  6. Your life sounds alot like ours. We just sold our Provence home and are busy packing and living like college students with most of our belongings in boxes. We aren’t sure yet where our next place will be. We also have renovation just about finishing in Paris. It will be nice to just be in one place with nothing to do.

  7. Hello Carolyn and Clive … I wondered what had happened to you two , and where you were .. You have moved to the UK .. how amazing .. and what a HUGE adventure .. well done to you and Clive for pursueing it … and making it HAPPEN. 🙂 and you will be soooooo much nearer for Paris. Intrigued by the Rental Palace.. you don’t rent it out! Maybe I am just miss reading it.

    Cheap and cheerful ..LOL makes me laugh.. and loving parsnips .. too. And for the postman to deliver post through your LETTER BOX.. ha ha ..

    Yes it is important to follow your dreams but what if the person you are married to , has different dreams or no dreams at all and is soooo focused on work (to pay for everything) and very stressed.

    Take care and safe trips …. Love to you and Clive xoxo

  8. Okay, I am so excited about this blog I just don’t know what to comment on first! SQUEE!! 😉

    One thing I want to say is that now I know what others were writing to me on my blog when they wrote about how they would be back even if I took a break from blogging. It get that because I am thrilled to be here now, reading, after your break, and so that stuff just all makes a lot more sense now, coming back to your blog after your hiatus. 🙂

    Roast Parsnips = YUM. I’m with you on that, too.

    I am thrilled that you made it to Felixstowe. So pleased that you are there, even if in temporary digs and having to improv with storage solutions. Like university students, indeed! Best to you as you accomplish those other things on the spreadsheet. I really hope for a good resolution to the settlement, and that things will be feeling even more settled very, very soon!

    And I am dead curious about the online writing course. Someone mentioned to me recently that I might try something like that, and I would like to know more about sites that offer such. I hope that you will be able to share a little about that in the future.

    So good to hear from you Carolyn! Be well & hello to Clive as well! Thank you for your feedback on my blog. I have answered you there, already, too, just so you know. 😉

  9. WOW ! Nice to read and ‘catch up.’ I knew that you guys were SOOO busy but after reading all that, I can imagine how much your minds were spinning around in all the planning and preparations to make the big move- I remember back to my own move overseas and it’s no simple task!!!
    So, now that you are ‘settled’ and all, or in the process of it all, I mean… I’ll wait ’til the next post to hear how things are going…
    I will be in London from 19-24 April so hopefully – if you are able- we can meet up- with Anne and others in London…. Not sure how far the trip is from S. to L. but hopefully, it’s a doable one!
    Take care and I’ll check back again…
    Hugs to you both,

  10. Wishing you luck and lots of excitment in your new country and new life.

  11. Hi Carolyn & Clive,
    Yay- you’re back!
    I have thought about you often, thinking that you “might” be busy, and I stifled the urge to email. I think that I did right because there was no time for anything much than organizing,moving,settling, etc.

    We are a step behind settling here- clearing. We are at the preparatory stage before eventually moving on to another life. But, I understand well. You have to get on for different reasons & esp for yoursleves.

    Yay for Clive’s practical organization,muscles and cooking skills! You are one mighty good chap 🙂

    I so hope to catch up to you both in Paris.
    Take care and take everything one step at a time.


  12. Thanks for the great comments!

    Mary, love that your Grammie did parsnips so yummy – they are the best!

    Ferd (LOVE that!), it’s so great to be here and you and yours are part of the reason why. Cheers to you and thanks for everything, including today 🙂

    KimB, thanks for the good wishes – hope to connect with you in person next time we’re in Paris.

    MarthaB, ooohhh yum all those lovely roast veggies – including parsnips! Another parsnip-lover – very good! I’m about to get that e-reader and will definitely load it up 🙂 It would be fun if our paths cross again in NJ.

    Eleanor, thanks for the interesting comments — I too like the ability to change font on the e-reader (recently received an amazon book whose text is a weird, small font — wish I could automatically enlarge it!).

    Linda, very exciting re your own big change! I won’t be surprised if you and your hubby find a little place on or near the beach in Southern California 🙂

    Anne, it’s good to be in the UK — hold on to those dreams of yours and keep that travel bug alive 🙂 as I know you do.

    ParisKarin, thanks for the support! The online course is with Gotham in NYC – it’s been a great experience and there are many from which you can choose. I think the format would suit you!

    Leesa, hi there! So sorry we’ll miss you in London — we are in Sydney all of April but I’m sure there will be another time (and if not London, then Paris). Cheers and enjoy the visit!

    Nadege, great to ‘see’ you again and I hope all is well in LA or wherever you may be. I appreciate your good wishes.

    Barbara, aahhh that preparatory stage — one of many we all go through on this life journey. Hope the process you and your hubby are going through is progressing okay and we’ll definitely have to connect in person in Paris. We’re hoping to be there sometime during the summer but not sure exactly when yet!

    Cheers all.

  13. Carolyn and Clive,
    It’s wonderful to hear of your new adventure, buying a home,in Felixstowe. We have friends that live in Harpenden, England it has been wonderful to visit them several time over the years. I’m sure Clive’s Dad is happy you will be living close to him!
    I love parsnips also. Dave and I just bought a Kindle and love it, do find I’m reading more. Take care, greeting from NJ! Our best your Mom, Carolyn!! Safe travels! Mary and Dave

  14. Mary (R) T, a belated but heartfelt THANK YOU for your kind wishes. I’m so interested that you and Dave love your Kindle — have now bought one and loaded it with a few things, and am about to start reading on it for real! Thanks for your thoughts re my mother, too. She always loved seeing you both. Cheers for now and take care.

  15. Hi Carolyn & Clive,

    I was just clicking on my friend’s links and I thought of you. You don’t have to answer here as a comment( you can even pm). Is life good and settled in?
    I pray that you are both well.

    xo from the sunny Paris burbs.

  16. G’day sweet Barbara in the sunny Paris burbs (sounds sooooo nice!) 🙂 Thanks for your comment — we’re just coming up for air after a manic month (or two) as per most recent post — looking forward to 1) checking your photos for updates and 2) planning our next trip to Paris so we can reconnect in person!

    Until then, we are well and hope you and your hubby are, too. Cheers and take care — waving to you from sunny Sydney.

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