What happened? I hear you say…
We are in Australia. That’s what happened.
And more precisely, we are living in Australia!
Yep, it came as a surprise to us as well.
So, it started like this, in November 2014 with a major change to our lives. One that you hope and pray never happens. One that challenges you and pushes friendships and relationships to the limit and you to breaking point. One that causes you to re-evaluate your lives, set new priorities and leaves you wondering how you are going to cope with the new challenges ahead of you. But you have no option except to cope and meet them.
By October 2015 we were looking at houses, looking with an intent to purchase for the first time in our lives. We have always rented until now. We had found a house we more or less liked. It would do. It fitted our current needs but I wasn’t convinced of it fitting our future needs. The garden was tiny, and I mean tiny. It was a mid-terrace: a lovely place which had been done up really well, but there was no room to expand, no chance of a larger garden, and certainly no chance of a veg plot which I wanted. But life hasn’t been that kind to me recently and tbh, I wasn’t really in any fit state to take on a veg plot what with the back issues and being on crutches now. But there was a chance of an allotment sooner or later in the local town. It was a row of canal workers cottages, just set back from the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, but Stuart hadn’t tested out the commute by car or by bike. We knew it was just within cycling distance, but only just. And not everyday of the week. It had a wood burning stove and an excellent kitchen, plus a pantry area. It was what we wanted, more or less. It was just the size of the garden and the fact I guess we were thinking of settling down, getting a dog, maybe adopting children. We were becoming ‘normal’. But that back injury was still an issue. I still needed time to recover; I still needed to get the pain under control; I still needed to learn to sit up again; I still needed to learn to walk properly again… I could just manage stairs, but we would need to put a second banister rail in. It had an upstairs toilet…
Anyhow, we needed a holiday and just before going on holiday, Stuart spotted a job advert at work. His grade was wanted for the Canberra office in Australia on a 3-4 year secondment. He asked for more details.
My first thoughts were along the lines of ‘where the heck is Canberra?’ I had to Google it. I had no idea it was the capital of Australia. We talked about it on the drive up to Loch Rannoch and decided to ask for more details. We looked into Canberra as an option to live in, looked at the city via Google satellite images, Wiki articles. I asked about it on the cycling forum I moderate on, and we had a good look at the climate. Comparable to mid-Cheshire where we currently lived. Anything from -5C to -10C in the winter, very occasional snow (every 10 years or so) and warmer than the UK in the summer. It’s known as the green city because of all the trees and parks in it, but also because of the rainfall. So much the same as the UK really…. We could cope with that she said, as we had one of the best holidays (a fantastic show of Autumn colours and mists in the Highlands of Scotland) we had had there for a while.
(One of our last rides around the Loch and the stillness and clarity was stunning.)
(Evening Autumn Light and reflections on Loch Rannoch.)
(Sunrise on the middle weekend of our holiday. Schiehallion just showing between the clouds.)
(An old friend: the frog rock and someone has touched up his eyes!)
Driving home again was hard because the Autumn show had been amazing, the holiday was just what we had needed and the weather had not broken yet (it did a few days later) but we had put Australia to the back of our minds and made an offer on the house and were thinking about settling down. On the drive home a counter offer was made, we made another and it was accepted. We had started to buy our very first home.