Last year I returned back to the UK (along with Intrepid Papa, Intrepid Bebe, and our two dogs) after four an a half years in Australia. I didn’t leave the UK originally because I didn’t like where I was, I just went on a holiday (which stretched accidentally to over 1500 days) in search of sunshine and adventure. Likewise, I didn’t return with shattered illusions, and rose tinted glasses about “home”. Australia is as beautiful. If anything, I was the other way, remembering the crummy rainy summers, M25 traffic, worrying that people would seem pessimistic, and unfriendly compared to the upbeat Ozzies (to whom describing something as a bit ordinary is a major insult).
When I first arrived in Australia, I remember a born and bred Perth girl, saying that she loved hearing my take on her city, as I appreciated so many things she took for granted, or didn’t notice. The vast open skies, the smells, the attitude. So’I thought I’d write down a few observations as an ex-expat, in the hope of perhaps doing the same.
Everyone thinks you’re mad
Neighbours has done one hell of a PR job, or maybe it’s phil Spencer, but Australia is deemed by many as the promised land. The vast majority of strangers I encounter seem baffled why we would leave the the sunshine and kangaroos for drizzle and Brexit. Intrepid Papa often finds himself trying to persuade unconvinced Brits that he actually really likes it here, and that he isn’t cold most of the time.
Getting incredibly soppy about Nature
I found so much joy in seeing native animals, like Swans, Squirrels, and Hedgehogs. Listening to birdsong I never knew I missed. The taste of fresh Blackberries, or admiring flowers which despite my best attempts, never survived in the harsh Australian climate. The first concer I found almost brought a tear to my eye.
Technological advances amaze me, basically makes me sound like I’ve just arrived here in the Delorian
Some of it is probably to do with being in rural Australia, as opposed to a City, but as a rule, Oz gets the good weather, the good beaches, but all the cool tech stuff seems to take the sea freight route (eg. takes forever!). A few examples:
Uber-wow, it’s like the actual future. you know how to sound crazy? rave to an Uber driver, about how amazing the concept of Uber is, how you can ay on your phone, and even track their car on this little screen, when it’s been around for years. I have also freaked out in an Uber ride and frantically started googling how someone qualifies as a Uber driver after realising i’ve basically just got into a strangers car.
Amazon Prime-when you have spent time in a town where online shopping can potentially take weeks to arrive, the concept of ordering something and it arriving the next day?! BLEW OUR MINDS, Amazon Prime Now-I can’t even begin to process.
Online Food Shopping-we did have this before I left, but it was nowhere near as slick,the Ocado app is bloody genius, and those cool like food boxes from Able & Cole? The best. Life as a new mum would have been a hell of a lot simpler in the town with online supermarket access!
Deliveroo- as above. I feel like I’m living in Tomorrows World, bring on the Drones!
The scenery in Australia is jaw dropping, there’s no denying it. But I have found so much beauty in this Country since being back. From the Thames, to Architecture, National Trust, to the Coast line. Britain has a stunning and varied geography I know i took for granted in the past.
The Weather is actually pretty good
I’m as obsessed by the weather as any Brit, and really feel the cold. i used to live for my summer holidays. However after a few years of Australian summers which reach 45 degrees and they go for months, my attitude has changed somewhat. Work is work, and doing it in the heat has it’s draw backs. Similarly, babies don’t care too much if the sun is shining, if they aren’t happy they are.not.happy. I often send days with the binds drawn and air con running worrying about bebe over heating.
I have really loved returning to distinct seasons, the smell of Autumn, the crispness of Winter, and a Summer where, though you may well need a cardigan and an umbrella- you can be outside all day. And we were, enjoying exploring. It may be the novelty of being home, but PYO strawberries, and picnics in the park felt idyllic. I have also embraced the saying there is no such thing as bad weather only bad clothing. So come rain, hale or snow we head outdoors. It seems ironic that we almost spend more time in a year outdoors here than we did in Australia.
I missed the Brits
Whilst I loved how open, friendly and positive so many Australians are, I missed the dry, sarcastic Brits. And I have been really surprised that on the whole people have been really friendly, and not as quick based and antisocial as I remembered (*could be because I no longer live in central London). I also love how culturally diverse it is back home, that playgroups contain all sorts of accents, and origins, and both bebe and I benefit from the wealth of this.
A few challenges i didn’t really anticipate were the need to settle, and time it would take to adjust. I presumed that as I was returning ‘home’, it was my husband and daughter I needed to focus on and ensure they settled in. But I needed time too, I left this country in my twenties, young and free, and returned a married mother. Some old friendships just lift off where they left off, others turn out you’ve grown in different directions. I definitely underestimated the bedding in process, so if you find yourself in the same position, be kind to yourself and give it time.
At some point I will share some of my favourite things about Australia, and i would also like to do a piece about leaving your second home. I miss some of the people so much, its a bizarre torn feeling. I also really want to interview Intrepid Papa about all the things he finds quirky/bizarre here. Have you left home and then returned? I’d love to hear your experience!