I have a Tropical Cyclone Hamish update for you later. But first……
We nearly didn’t come here to Australia, we were always going to go to France. That was our plan for 5 years. But that was before Elizabeth was born. She is such a lively outdoor little girl that in some ways, France seemed just a little too sleepy for her. (Sorry France.)
Elizabeth was just over 3 1/2 years old when we came here. The early few months weren’t that great for us. I think my wife missed her friends and her family, and Elizabeth did too. At the time we left the UK, Elizabeth was attending nursery school two days a week and spending at least one day a week with her granny. All that had come to an abrupt end.
The first week or so it was like being on holiday, and Elizabeth was just enjoying the new scenery, the heat and the swimming pool. But after a while she started to ask “can we go home now?” it wasn’t easy to tell her that this was home. She wanted to know where her granny was, she wanted to know where her friends were and she wanted to know where all her toys were. Of course, they were still in a great big tin floating on the high seas. (No, not granny!)
We had arrived on November 14, 2007 but we had actually packed all our belongings into a container and sent them on their journey on October 30th. We were told we had an outside chance of getting our stuff before Christmas. Well, the outside chance turned out to be no chance!
By the middle of January Elizabeth was feeling very sad, she was missing everything by now and asking to go back to our “England” home daily.
Realising the answer to that question was always no, she became more inventive. She would say things like “Daddy, I think I’ve left something behind in the old house. Can we go back and look for it?’
How about this? We had bought a sat nav, highly recommended when you don’t know your way around. We called ours Holly, after the computer in Red Dwarf. One day Elizabeth asked “Daddy, what would happen if you set the Holly to go back to our old home in England?” Hmm. Nice try.
My wife and I knew we just had to get through this period and it was all for the best in the long term. What didn’t help, as I said, was that my wife was feeling a little bit down too. At one stage she even suggested going back to England for a holiday. I was a little bit bewildered by all this. Mainly because I was loving every second of Australia, I felt I’d arrived in paradise and I wasn’t missing England a bit. But also, I couldn’t see how a holiday could help anyone at this stage. In fact I felt it could only confuse my little daughter.
I also realised that what didn’t help at all, was that we were living in a house that had a bed and a borrowed cot, a TV and a cardboard box as a coffee table. We needed our stuff! Elizabeth’s bedroom didn’t look like a three year olds bedroom and she needed her toys back. I didn’t need to be a psychologist to work that out, because every day Elizabeth would say “When can I have my toys back?”
What a Difference a Month Makes.
On about the 18th of January my wife bought Elizabeth a whistle and said to her she should blow it every time she wanted her toys and then shout out “where’s my toys!” it was an excellent idea because it helped Elizabeth release a bit of tension and it was also well timed, as we knew it would be soon. Then, on January 21st, it all arrived. At last!
We had a busy few days getting everything into its place. We made Elizabeth room look like a kiddies bedroom again and turned one of the spare bedrooms into a toy room. Immediately Elizabeth’s mood lifted. Then on the 27th of January, the summer holidays were over and kindie (nursery school, Ozlingo) started. Elizabeth was booked in for two days a week and she quickly made lots of new friends. Within a month she had stopped asking about England completely.
My wife, who had made some good friends much earlier had now started to grow to truly like those friends. They were becoming real friends. Genuine and caring friends. Apparently women like that. So, even she had cheered up.
From then on, it just got better and better. It’s amazing when I look back, but last year when Elizabeth had her fourth birthday party at the beginning of March, just six weeks after the events I have just described, we had an absolutely fantastic day. Maybe it was THE day.
The day we settled in Australia.
A few weeks ago we looked at the housing market, I told you about it in my house hunting post. We explained to Elizabeth what we were doing as we were pulling off of the drive and heading towards the first house. “I’ll look at any house” she said, “as long as it’s not in England”. You can imagine how great it was to hear that.
Tropical Cyclone Hamish Update.
Hamish has not got any closer to the mainland and has been reduced from a category 4 down to a category 3. Phew, panic over. Perhaps not!
I spoke to a local. Well, he’s been here for years but comes from Newmarket. That came out when he saw my “Abbot Ale” beer mat. Oh, how we reminisced. Anyway, he was here in 1974 when Brisbane flooded. He explained the category system to me. A category five is a very small Cyclone concentrated in a very small area and if one were to hit Brisbane, it would be likely to tear many buildings apart. A category one Cyclone covers a much bigger area and has much less force than a 5. But it has the ability to drop huge amounts of water over large areas for great lengths of time. Which is what happened in 1974.
Apparently, our local bottle-o (off license) was completely submerged. The water level was at the height of the roof gutters. Think I’ll go and stock up, just in case.