Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad

Right now I'm packing up my life to move halfway across the world to Sydney, Australia. No big deal, right?

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Expat update: ONE YEAR

Welcome to our one year expativersary celebration post! We made it a whole year in Australia! Now, this may not mean much to anyone else, but I believe life is all about celebrating the small wins as well as the big ones, and I am choosing to celebrate today. One year ago today, we stepped off a plane bleary eyed and full of excitement (and bad plane food, boiled fish for dayyys), ready to start our journey.

Instead of the usual monthly update, I thought I’d do something a bit different this time and share a bit more about why and how we moved to Australia in the first place. Normally, when people ask why I moved to Australia I just tell them it was because we wanted to. Whilst that is the truth, it’s also not the full truth. Actually, a lot of people don’t know the full truth – when things are important to me, I tend to go a bit sheepy about them. So I thought the occasion of our first expativersary would be a good one to use to share the Story of Australia.

So come back with me, to the time of butterfly hair clips, global hypercolour t-shirts and Sony Walkman cassette players….

1996

My uncle, aunt and two cousins move to Australia for two years. My parents decide to take us to visit them one summer holiday instead of our usual camping trip to France, and I go on my first plane flight at the age of 10. I spend it eating jelly babies and side eyeing the curry that Cathay Pacific serve (I was a fussy kid). We stop over in Hong Kong, and land at the old airport where the plane comes in to land between skyscrapers. It’s my first flight; I think this is normal and have been disappointed with pretty much every plane landing since.

I have a great time on the trip, in a childhood holiday sort of way. It passes in a blur and now I mostly remember the great ice creams I had, seeing the sharks in the aquarium, and the really steep hill you had to walk up to get to my uncle and aunt’s house. Apparently, at some point, I also awkwardly hold a koala although I now have no memory of this.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Baby Rachel! Taronga Zoo, Sydney

2006

Ten years later, I board a plane to Australia with my parents and third eldest sister again. It’s the summer holiday after my first year of university, and we’re going to visit my second eldest sister this time. She had such a good time in Australia in 1996 that she took a job out there after qualifying as a doctor. She’s been out there for a couple of years at this point, and we haven’t been to visit her yet. She lives in Manly, so we stay in serviced apartments right on the quay and have a great time doing All the Touristy Things. Notably, we take a minibus tour to the Hunter Valley where I decide I do quite like wine after all.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Yes, I am actually 20 in this photo. Hunter Valley Gardens, NSW.

2008

I’m heading back to Australia for my second eldest sister’s wedding. Yay! It’s the end of my third year of university so I maximise the use of my long holidays and go out early. I meet up with a future housemate and her friends who happen to be travelling round Australia, and piggyback on their plans. We go to Cairns, and I snorkel the Great Barrier Reef. I see my sister get married, which is amazing, but then get very sad that this means she will most likely be staying in Australia for a very long time (spoiler alert: she’s still here).

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Sisters <3 one of my favourite photos of 3/4 of us. Manly, Sydney.

2009

Due to an airline snafu on my trip in 2008, which is rectified thanks to stringent intervention by my sister’s in laws, I have some airline vouchers to use. S and I decide that we will use them to… go back to Australia. I’ve just graduated so it seems a bit extravagant, but the tickets cost us £150 each after the vouchers are applied and we stay with my sister and brother in law to save costs. We go for around 7 weeks in total(!) during which we do side trips to Perth, roadtrip up to Exmouth, and around Tasmania. I also find out I passed my degree with a first. Oh and S and I get engaged. And just like that, we have one more major life event tying us to the country.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Engagement day. Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, Sydney

2010-2011

S and I get married, and try to settle down to normal life in Birmingham, UK. However, we retain strange hangovers like a penchant for listening to Australian radio and eating carefully rationed supplies of Old Gold chocolate. We even go and see a lesser known Aussie band that we’re fans of, some dudes called Powderfinger. Their fan base in the UK is quite small so we are third row from the front in the ‘intimate’ venue. We sing along to their songs at the top of our voices, along with the rest of the Australian diaspora in Birmingham. We talk about Australia a lot. People politely pretend not to notice.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

(3rd to) front row with Powderfinger. Birmingham, UK.

2012

Suddenly, my second eldest sister gets taken severely ill. It’s touch and go for a few days and we’re all terrified. My eldest sister and I rush out to see her as soon as we can, and luckily by this point she is getting better. The primary objective of this trip is to spend time with my second eldest sister and make quite sure she really is on the mend. We also get to hang out with my niece, who is about to turn one. We do all sorts of gentle, getting back on your feet type activities including going for a delicious afternoon tea at Gunners Barracks as a sisterly trio. This is my first trip to Australia in the warm weather (technically it was autumn…) and you can definitely tell in this photo!

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Tea for three. Gunners Barracks, Sydney.

It’s an emotional trip as I’m sure you can appreciate, and I stay for almost a month. I really don’t want to go home (although I do miss my husband). During this trip, a number of people ask me why I don’t just move to Australia. Of course I can’t do that, I say.

And then a still small voice.

When I get back to the UK, I tell my husband I think we should move to Australia. He agrees.

2013

Everyone has an Annus Horribilis, don’t they? I think 2013 was mine. The gist of this year is trying to get myself in a professional position to be able to move to Australia with work – S and I quickly decide the working holiday option isn’t for us. The result of this is a lot of changes for S and I, most of them pretty tough ones. I start a blog in protest at my woeful life.

S gets a job with an Australian company based literally around the corner from where we just moved to in St Albans, and starts to really enjoy it. The timing of this doesn’t line up with ability to look for a job based in Australia, and we prioritise his career. I basically give up on the whole Australia thing for the most part, and end up accepting a job I think I’ll probably hate/be really bad at (spoiler alert: I still have it).

2014

It turns out I quite like this new job, so I decide to stay a bit longer. S and I move to Bedford and talk about buying a house there eventually. Rumours of a project at work in Australia come to nothing, and I’m disappointed. I keep my head down. The time limit I had mentally set myself for moving to Australia quietly passes.

We decide to spend Christmas and New Year in Sydney, because we missed our family and the moving thing wasn’t happening so we thought we might as well have a good knees up instead. For our Christmas present, my sister and brother in law got us afternoon tea at… Gunners Barracks.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Tea for two. Gunners Barracks, Sydney.

Over tea, we talk about how much we want to move here but how we can’t seem to make it happen. For now, we’re just happy to be here even just on a visit.

2015

My company acquires an Australian branch. I do not think this is a good thing – now I’ll never get to go there on a project because they’ll just use local staff instead. S and I get into the house buying process in Bedford, which stalls due to some interesting legal issues on the seller’s behalf. We are committed to settling down here and Getting Serious.

And then my Dad dies. Everything I thought I knew, or wanted, suddenly explodes in a cataclysm of grief.

We realise that the dream of moving to Australia will stay just that unless we do something about it. We pull out of the house buying process.

S’s job sends him to Australia for a company get-together, and I decide I won’t be left out so I book a ticket as well. Also I want to grieve with my sister. We do this in many ways, some involving extravagant paddling. Overall it’s a good trip, a healing trip. It gets S and my thinking back on track. Are we really going to do this?

My sister tries to ask a few times whether we might want to move here. S and I not-so-skilfully change the topic.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

1, 2, 3… Palm Beach, Sydney.

2016

Our minds made up, I trepidatiously enquire with my manager as to whether my company may wish to transfer me to the new Australian branch. He doesn’t see why not, and kicks off the necessary discussions (sidenote: total legend of a manager) and we decide to aim for a move in 2017. We have some things we want to do before we go: I make this the year of Why Not and tick off some things I’ve always wanted to do, like get braces to fix my teeth and travel to the USA.

Towards the end of the year I receive my formal offer, and I finally share the news with you all. I did drop some fairly unsubtle hints throughout the year, so I don’t think anyone was that surprised.

2017

I work out my last three months as a UK employee, we do a Grand Tour of Visitation around our friends and family, and I am sent on a surprise project to Australia a month before we move.

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

Landing in Sydney, 22nd April, 2017. Here we go!

My eighth trip to Australia is the one I’m still in; the one I didn’t think I’d manage. The semi permanent move! Who knows how long we’ll stay here – that’s sort of not the point. The point is, we made that dream come true, even though it took a really long time. And today we’ll be celebrating with tea at… Gunners Barracks.

If you want to celebrate with us, I’ll be taking tea over on Instastories. Cheers!

-Rachel

Linking up with Kristen for What’s New With You

Our first expativersary is here! But why did we come in the first place?! I'm telling the Story of Australia today on the blog. It gets pretty deep, I'll warn you now. Check it out on www.anestingnomad.com

The things I miss

I wrote this post just before we left to move to Australia, but it got buried in my drafts and it made me too sad to read back over it. So I’m publishing it now, on the eve of my first expativersary. It all still rings true.

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

Leaving has got me all nostalgic about this little house of ours and how much I’ve loved living here and getting to know the town of Bedford over the last 3 years. This is not a post about all the people I’ll miss when we move to Australia, because that makes my chest hurt a bit.

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

Us – on the day we moved in to our Bedford house. Look how long my hair is!

I’ll miss…

…our neighbour who likes to sing country, opera or Tom Jones at random times of day or night. He’s got quite the theatrical warble and it carries quite nicely through our shared wall; I do find listening to him genuinely amusing and when I was home alone for a period of time it was nice to know someone was around

…sitting on our bed reading while sunlight streams in through our big windows and falls across my feet

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

…sitting outside on the deck of our suntrap garden when it’s warm, and listening to the neighbourhood dogs barking

…walking to the Coopers house to get a lift to homegroup or church

…big nerdy board game gatherings

…having homegroup camped out on a random assortment of chairs in our sitting room, sharing our lives and our faiths each week

…our beautiful Victorian fireplace, and all the character that comes with an old house

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

Excuse the mess. We’re all friends here. And this was taken at peak moving/decluttering so… moving right along…

…hiding from the carol singers at Christmas (I just don’t know what you’re supposed to dooooo and I’ve never had a street facing front door before)

…our kitchen, which for all its faults is a great place to cook and bake and has plenty of space for me to spread out


And for balance, here are the things I won’t miss…

…the teenagers next door who thunder up and down the stairs in the middle of the night. I’m not sure when they go to sleep, or go to school for that matter, because I can hear them yelling at each other in the middle of the day sometimes too

…how cold it gets in the winter, and all the draughts from all corners of our charming Victorian house

…our slightly feeble shower (that never looks clean no matter how much you clean it)

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

…the uninsulated Pantry of Doom, which means subjecting yourself to a temperature change of a significant number of degrees whenever you want to go and fetch something (and the door that sticks)

…the curtain hooks that stick

…the Stairs of Death

…the street light that’s directly outside our bedroom window

…the single glazing in our bedroom that means it’s significantly colder in winter and hotter in summer than the rest of the house. The windows are pretty though, so there’s that

…fighting for a park on the street outside – oh and parallel parking. On the plus side I’m significantly better at it than when we moved here (although that could also be attributed to getting a car with parking beepers)

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

(Although I will miss the trees that line our street blossoming in the spring)


It’s quite strange to read this back now, and remember the things that I really loved about our old house (I hadn’t really forgotten them) and the things I was really fed up about (I’d forgotten most of these). There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

-Rachel

If you want to pin this, now’s your chance:

I wrote down all the things I'd miss about my home of Bedford just before I moved out to Sydney, Australia. Then I re-read it a year later - here's what I discovered. www.anestingnomad.com

What I packed when I moved to Australia (and what I didn’t)

When we moved to Australia from the UK a year ago, we had some decisions to make about what we would be taking, and what we would be leaving behind. Whilst we wanted to minimise potential shipping costs, we were also a bit beyond the phase of moving across the world with a couple of suitcases and an optimistic attitude.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

So after much deliberation and more than one list (who am I kidding, of course I made spreadsheets), here is what we settled on.

What I packed

Our wedding china

I love our wedding china, and we use it every day. It’s fancy, but I don’t believe in saving things for best so they came with us. If we could have left them behind in the UK we might have done, as they were heavy and obviously we were worried about them breaking, but there wasn’t anywhere we could have realistically left them. Then if we end up staying here we’d have wanted to send for it and who were we going to convinc to carefully package up all our wedding china and ship it to Australia for us?!

The good news is we only had one breakage on the way, and the plywood strengthening outers the movers used to protect our boxes full of china have now been repurposed into a set of shelves in our flat. Sorry, unit.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

We like them a lot.

Also, I totally haven’t got that #shelfie thing down. Mine are just stuffed full with as much stuff as I can manage, without them collapsing.

Sentimental trinkets

I am trying to be less sentimental about objects but as you can see from the paragraph above, it’s obviously not going that well. I have liberated a few things that I was keeping for absolute nonsense reasons, but some I will never ever part with not ever. Letters people have written to me, my granny spoons, the wardrobe scenter my aunt cross stitched for me with our initials on filled with some of the lavender we used as confetti at our wedding (you can see it hanging over Granny’s picture in the photo below), and the origami cranes that my friend made for our wedding present with peace, hope, love and joy written on them.

Photos and art

These probably all count as sentimental items too, but we did bring all our physical photos with us (most are digital anyway) especially those in frames, so we could make our new place feel like home. Ditto the art – most of it is nothing to write home about, just things collected on our travels that mean a lot to us. There’s also the beautiful painting that belongs to my granny, that we’re looking after for her. There’s a long story behind it but it’s one of my most treasured possessions.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

Most of our kitchenware

I like cooking, and as I’m gluten free I can’t really buy second hand kitchen stuff for cross contamination reasons. So we shipped most of ours out. There were a couple of things that didn’t make it as they’d gotten a little tired from overuse, but most stuff we boxed up and shipped out. Including but not limited to my beloved Magimix (thanks Grannie!), our saucepans with the strainers in the lid, our Joseph and Joseph nesting bowl set and utensils, and all our wedding cutlery. It was heavy to ship, we have to use adaptors on all our electricals, and I am probably overly attached to my kitchen implements but I don’t care. They’re here and I’m happy about it.

Most of our books

I’m very attached to my books, especially all my Gerald Durrell ones. I won’t let those go, not for anything or anyone. We did go through our books pretty ruthlessly and gave away those we knew we wouldn’t re-read, but we did keep a good number. As everyone keeps telling us, books are expensive in Australia so you don’t let go of them lightly.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

About half of my clothes

You might assume I just packed the summer half of my wardrobe and left the rest, but not quite! Moving was actually a great excuse to sort through my wardrobe and find new homes for at least half of it. I’m not going to think too deeply about exactly how much I chucked, donated, or passed on to my sisters because it’s a scary amount in value and suffice to say I’m a lot more picky about what comes into my wardrobe now.

I’m now facing a second round of wardrobe culling, after surviving my first full Australian summer and realising what I do and don’t wear on a realistic daily basis. Especially with going to work most of the time, my flowery summer dresses have barely seen the light of day and anything that doesn’t transition well between blazing heat and blasting air conditioning (eg layers well) just isn’t going to make the cut. Also I tried, but I’m really not a shorts person. I really don’t have the legs for them. So they’ll mostly end up in the Vinnies* down the road from us, too.

Far too many toiletries and makeup

I have a latent goo hoarding habit that I’m quite ashamed of. When it came time to move to Australia, I couldn’t face throwing away so many products lovingly collected so I just chucked them in a big box (or two) and turned a blind eye to the whole situation. A year on, and I have had to buy, like, one shampoo since moving here. The rest is allllll from my steadily dwindling stash.

Oh, sidenote. Remember that time when work sent me on a business trip to Australia about a month before I was due to move out (semi)permanently? Well, the luggage allowance for that trip was extreme (70kg total or something nuts, thank YOU business class) and I had very little notice before I left, so I basically filled one giant suitcase with all the clothes I could grab and the other with all the toiletries I could grab. That definitely helped cut our shipping requirements but I probably wasn’t as selective as I could have been…

Bananagrams

Because… bananagrams.

What I left behind

Our bed, mattress and bedding

Mattress sizes are different here than they are in the UK so there was no point bringing a bed that we’d never find bedding the right size for, or bedding that we’d never find a bed the right size for. Our bed got sold to the new tenant of our house, and the bedding got donated to our local charity shop in Bedford.

Actually, all of our furniture

We actually didn’t have that much furniture – we were lucky enough to have a partially furnished house in Bedford, and we only had a couple of nice pieces anyway. The rest was a rag tag bunch of stuff found on eBay and Preloved over the years. None of it would have fared well being shipped to Australia, and it would probably have cost more to ship it than it was worth by that point. The nicer stuff went to my best friend, and the rest was sold on the internet. I’m glad my friend has the good stuff, and the rest I don’t miss. It had had its day, anyway.

Our hoover

Sorry, vacuum cleaner. We had a fantastic hoover in the UK, but it wouldn’t fit in a shipping box and would have probably cost more than it was worth to ship by itself. So, it stayed behind. One of my family members is enjoying it on my behalf 🙂

Our car

Shipping cars is crazy business and one we were in no mood to take on. There are all kinds of hefty taxes and funny things with registration and all sorts, so even though we loved our car, we just couldn’t ship it over.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

I got strangely sad saying goodbye to Woody, our beloved Mazda 3. I think because the process of buying him had managed to become all tied up with the death of my Dad. Still, we took some commemorative photos of him in the social club car park down the road from our house, and waved a fond farewell. I hope his new owners love him as much as we did.

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

I think this face pretty much sums up our whole moving abroad process tbh.

Our musical instruments

Everything else we left behind I had a lot of peace about and was able to let go of easily. Our musical instruments, not so much. It was just too expensive and risky to ship my cello and S’s 3 guitars and a mandolin out to Australia, not to speak of the keyboard S liberated from his parents attic at their strenuous insistence. Especially if we were only coming here for a couple of years. We sold the keyboard, and the instruments are staying with our respective parents where they are safe.

All soft furnishings

I could have brought cushions but that would have been like paying to ship air. Also, they were definitely past their best. I could have brought blankets, but I was worried about them mildewing en route. I was probably correct in this, because a couple of things we shipped were oddly warped by the time they arrived so they likely did get damp at some point.

No animal products, untreated wood, food, or anything with soil on it

Australian customs are STRICT, yo. Have you ever seen Border Security? I didn’t want them border securitying and potentially destroying my sentimental trinkets so I made sure that absolutely nothing that could possibly be construed as offensive was in any of our boxes. I was careful with the wording of items on our manifest (apparently listing Christmas decorations is always a trigger for inspection, as a lot of people ship wreaths and things which are definitely not allowed. I labelled our baubles as ‘decorations’ instead, as I was quite sure our baubles weren’t carrying any invasive species) and we had no problems with anything being seized and destroyed or held for cleaning ransom. If you’re shipping things to Australia, be very clear on the restrictions because violations can be very expensive.

So there you have it. That’s pretty much what I shipped when we moved to Australia, and what I left behind. Have you ever moved overseas? What did you take with you? Did you give it much thought?!

-Rachel

*In typical Aussie fashion, this is what everyone calls the charity/thrift/op shops run by the St Vincent de Paul Society. There aren’t actually too many charity shops in Australia, but Vinnies are ubiquitous.

If you’ve got the time then I’ve got a pin for you:
I’m trying to really badly reference a song here and I can’t remember it. Or the lyrics, properly. Ehh. It’s late.

 

Deciding what to ship when you move abroad is no small decision. Find out what we decided to ship from the UK to Australia, and what didn't make the cut at www.anestingnomad.com

The things I love about living in Australia

This month marks a whole year since I moved to Australia, so I’m celebrating the milestone with some posts all about what it’s really like living here. I’m starting out strong with some of the reasons I love living in Australia. This is by no means an exhaustive summary of everything I love about this country, so if you don’t see your favourite thing on the list don’t be outraged – I probably love it too! Just leave me a comment telling me what it is and we can coo over it together.

So without further ado*, let me tell you some great things about my new home.

The weather

You all knew this was coming first, didn’t you? It’s no secret that a large reason I moved here was for the weather. That sounds really shallow, but the weather does have a really big impact on me – particularly the cold. I am miserable when I’m cold; grumpy and just unpleasant to be around. The metal in my back seizes up and gives me grief, and no number of thermal layers is enough to make me feel warm.

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Just a casual autumn day in Manly. I mean really.

Needless to say, I was cold for most of the year in the UK and it really took its toll. Unfortunately we arrived in Australia just in time for the start of winter, but even that wasn’t so bad – and spring and summer have been a joy. I’ve even forgotten where I put my umbrella! Now that’s freedom.

The birds

I love the birds here. They’re so fun! Of course you’ve got the cheeky kookaburras that everyone has heard of. And we definitely heard them when we moved here. But my personal favourite are the rainbow lorikeets, which I can’t believe just fly freely here. They’re so pretty, zipping around in a flash of colour and squawking loudly. My second favourite are the sulphur crested cockatoos, because they look so funny, and I also can’t believe they just hang out like you’d see a pigeon hanging out in London. Then there are the galahs of course, the magpies, mynah birds, and the infamous ibis aka bin chicken. The avian population here is so nuts and I love it.

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

A fine specimen of Australian King Parrot (Alisterus scapularis) as befriended in the Blue Mountains. These guys are just roamin’ free up there. Imagine!

It makes for an interesting morning chorus, too! Slightly more squawky than the one in the UK to say the least…

Actually, all the wildlife

Who am I kidding, I’m not stopping at just birds. I love ALL the weird and wonderful animals that live in Australia and it’s a trip to see them in person after reading so much about them. You may have seen that time I cuddled an echidna, the egg laying mammal. I’m keen to meet it’s cousin, the platypus, which also lays eggs, digs burrows, can sense insects with it’s hard bill, and has poisonous spurs on its rear legs. I also got to pat a wombat and a Tasmanian devil in Tasmania, and learned that they’re quite friendly until they turn into antisocial teenagers at about 18 months old. This has not helped my desire for a pet wombat in any way. Did you know their pouches face backwards, so they don’t fill with dirt when they dig their burrows? Or that they have square poo?

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Me and my new bff Yella

I’ve stroked a koala, which barely woke him from his snooze. I’ve seen fairy penguins toddling back to their giant chicks to give them some dinner. I also smelled the penguins, but that’s another story.

I’ve patted kangaroos and wallabies, and seen them roaming around in the wild. Watching them cover huge distances with a few effortless looking bounces is something I won’t forget in hurry. I discovered pademelons, an animal I’d never heard of before, and decided it’s probably cuter than kangaroos and wallabies combined. I’ve seen weird and wonderful insects, watched a possum tightrope the top of the fence at the back of our apartment block, listened to the nighttime squeals of our new fruit bat neighbour, and generally fallen in love with every animal I’ve met here. Apart from the cockroaches. Those I could happily do without.

With that said, I won’t leave the country until I get to cuddle one of all the following: a platypus (I understand they don’t like people so I’ll settle for seeing one in the wild), a goanna (ditto), a dingo, and maybe a few sea creatures. The list is ever growing.

The light

The light here is different. It’s clearer, brighter (and yes, more burny). Coming from the endless grey of a British winter (and spring, and autumn…) it lifts my spirits to have such wonderful light even on a winter’s day. Even when it does get a bit cold, if it’s clear and bright, I’m ok.

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Sydney CBD skyline + amazing light = still makes me speechless

The smell

Alright hear me out on this one. I’m talking about eucalyptus! All the trees here smell SO good, and when it rains I just love going outside and smelling the air. I also love driving through the National Parks (even those in the middle of Sydney!) with my windows down and smelling that amazing eucalyptus smell…

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Spot the deliberate mistake – these aren’t eucalyptus but they are still pretty

What’s also great is how readily available eucalyptus oil is, so you can also make your home smell like a forest for very little hassle! Basically always my goal.

The focus on food

Australians love their food, and they love it even more if it’s organic, local, artisan etc. For someone who likes their food, a nation that takes it seriously is a wonderful place to live. It’s not just found in fancy restaurants, either – your average home BBQ will be a cut above whatever you’ve experienced at home, guaranteed. Even if they feed you kangaroo steak.

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Seafood is also generally done exceptionally well in any coastal Australian city, town, village, hamlet…

This also applies to coffee, but I don’t care about that personally seeing as I (still) don’t like coffee. You won’t find a Starbucks on every corner here – in fact I can’t even think where my nearest is. Here, it’s all about individual coffee shops with proper barista coffee and people are very particular about the whole coffee scenario.

The scenery

You want rugged mountains and canyons, Australia has them. You want red desert, green forests, blue ocean, Australia has them. And most likely, when you get there, there won’t be anyone else there cluttering up your view. It seems like everywhere I go, I find some kind of landscape that’s far more impressive than anywhere else I’ve been, and yet is far less famous. My camera has certainly had a workout these past 12 months.

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

#ihavethisthingwithmountains

Have you moved to Australia recently? What do you love – or hate?! – about living in Australia? Or wherever you are right now?

-Rachel

*I have an irrationally strong pet peeve for people who mis-spell this as no further adieu. Who’s French, please tell me?! And ‘without further goodbye’ makes absolutely no sense. Arg. Is this just me??

Linking up with Lisa, Claire, Karen, and Sarah for Monday Escapes

Pin me if you like good grammarrrrr:

It's been a whole year since I moved to Australia, and I've learned a lot. Here are the things I love the most about my new home country. Read more about my expat shenanigans on www.anestingnomad.com

Expat update: Month 11

11 months a Sydneysider, and still surprised every day. Just yesterday I learned a completely new phrase to me – going doggo. It means to lie down and try and ride out something under the radar without being noticed – for example:

Me: Doesn’t Wakeen* know he’s supposed to be delivering xyz important piece of work today?
Client: Nah, he’s gorn doggo
Me: …???

Yes, I had to ask for that one to be explained and now I’m going to use it all the time. Expect it when you speak to me next.

So with that, here’s what’s been going on in month 11.

The Good

My niece’s birthday party ¦¦ My oldest niece just turned 7 and I was very glad to be able to pop round and see her on her actual birthday, as well as attend her birthday party. It was a super cool concept for a party – it was held in a Lego themed kids party venue, and they ran all sorts of Lego oriented games for the kids. My niece seemed to have a lot of fun, although was sweetly overwhelmed at 30+ kids singing happy birthday to her.

S and I made a Lego themed cake for the occasion – here I am trying to hold up its immense bulk. It really was huge.

But, it was also delicious and that’s all that counts. Special mention to the sugar paste Lego men that my sister bought!

Visitors again! ¦¦ The visitors portion of this post has returned triumphantly. My parents in law just arrived this week and it’s their first time in Australia, so the pressure is on to show off the place. To be fair, it does all the hard work for us (how could you not love it here?!) and it’s just great to see them.

You may catch some of our escapades on Instastories while we refine our Essential Sydney Hit List.

Getting to know my new home ¦¦ I loved exploring the Hunter Valley and Newcastle this month, and just to update you on an important point, I did get my hair cut after all. At the very last minute. Isn’t it always?

I Survived ¦¦ …my first Australian summer! I was really bracing myself for some totally unmanageable heat, but we’ve not needed our air conditioning that much at all. We only had to have it on for maybe 3 days during the day, and maybe 10 -15 nights total. Honestly, I think that’s not too bad! I just mostly enjoyed the novelty of leaving the house for an entire day and not even needing to bring a jumper. Imagine!

Planning our expativersary ¦¦ It will be our first expativersary in the blink of en eye, and I want to mark the occasion. I’m thinking we either do a big ticket activity that we’d normally baulk at splashing out on (Bridgeclimb?) or a something special but a bit more realistic, that we can do maybe every year (an afternoon tea somewhere meaningful?). Plans are in the works…

The Bad

House prices ¦¦ I’ve probably whinged a lot about house prices on here before so I’ll keep it to a minimum. House prices here are stupid. You will struggle to find anything within an hour’s journey of the city that’s less than $1m. We don’t know if we’re staying long term yet (still waiting on that visa decision), but if we do, we need to seriously think about what our approach will be. We might need to just forget about being able to buy in Sydney at all, and explore other places to invest our money.

Maybe I’ll spend all my money on sweets instead? It’s worryingly tempting.

Bridging visas ¦¦ We haven’t had some visa chat in a while so let’s restart it, shall we?! As I mentioned, we’re in the queue for a new visa (permanent residency). This queue is currently over a year long, so we’ve got a while to wait. My current visa expires in October, and then we’ll move on to a bridging visa until a decision is reached on my permanent residency visa. The trouble is, you can’t travel on a bridging visa and there are all sorts of other restrictive rules around it. So we may need to apply for a whole other type of visa, or try and extend my current one, so I never have to move onto the bridging visa. Yet more visa discussions with work in my future, which I am not looking forward to.

Sightseeing mishaps ¦¦ Ok so this one isn’t really bad, it’s mostly just funny now. We recently took a sightseeing excursion by boat around Sydney harbour – what a great way to see another side of our new home! Here’s me looking suitably nautical and ready for some genteel boating:

And here’s me 5 minutes later when it turns out our tiny speedboat has to go quite fast to keep up with the guide, and generates quite a wash, and the tiny windshield of the boat is utterly inadequate in protecting me from said wash.

I ended up with water going around (?!) my sunglasses and into my eyes, which my contact lenses did not enjoy. I was being smacked in the face with harbour water waves every other second, and holding on for dear life as we bounced around the waves. Luckily S was driving as I spent half of it with my eyes screwed shut.

Like I said, it’s mostly just funny now – and the good news is S had a great time. I had to go home and wash a thick layer of salt from my face. Niiiice.

The Ugly

In case you’re new around here, I’m sharing The Ugly side of things via email so I can be more honest on things that I’d rather not splash up here for all to see.

So if you want to know The Ugly, just put your email address in the box and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll get mail from me a few days after you see this post, just to give everyone a chance to sign up who wants to.

So what do you think we should do for our first expativersary?

Rachel

See previous months’ updates here

This is the monthly series where I chart the good, the bad and the ugly of life abroad. Find out what ups and downs the 11th month of living in Sydney held for meat www.anestingnomad.com

*www.askamanager.org, my new favourite website