It’s almost 5 months since Lindsey and I made the move from Australia to the UK. Recently a few people have asked after us, so I thought I’d write a bit about what we’re up to and how we’re doing. I suspect this might be a bit longer than many of my posts.
(The TL;DR version will be in the last paragraph.)
Lindsey and I have settled in the old part of a village just a few miles out of Lincoln. Our cottage is around 230 years old, and is warm, cosy and feels welcoming. We’re friendly with our neighbours, and even socialise with them. The pub is 100 yards down the road, and although we only drop in every few weeks, the Landlord knows me by name and chats to me. A fantastic fish and chip shop is only a short walk away.
My commute to work is a comfortable 12 minutes. I have to drive through Lincoln itself and past the Cathedral, and on mornings when traffic is heavy I need to add an extra two minutes to my journey. On the way I listen to BBC Lincolnshire – Scott Dalton in the morning, who is friendly and personable. It’s a gentle rural station and mostly plays ‘safe’ music, as listeners tend to be older. But the morning show and its discussions is how I learn about local issues, politics and events.
I love the school at which I’m employed. Although the buildings are just over 100 years old, the school has a 900 year history. It’s said to be haunted, and on the internet there are first-hand reports of encounters going back decades. I have spoken to staff who have had experiences and even sightings. As for me, there is one incident which I find difficult to explain, although I’m sure many would simply scoff at it.
My colleagues are fantastic, and I enjoy being with them. The school demographic is quite similar to the school I left in Australia. The issues, the behaviours and discussions are strangely familiar. There are a lot of similarities in the curricula, however the focus has just been different enough to make me work at getting my head around it all.
Lincoln is a wonderful small city. Population is around 100,000, including outlying villages, and as such it’s small enough for me to easily find my way around. Dominated by the 1000 year old Cathedral and Castle, there’s more than enough history to keep any of my History teaching colleagues entertained for ages. Plenty of Roman ruins too. And the fossil of a plesiosaur that was found under a local primary school. Art galleries, museums and gardens. Lots to do here.
Plenty of entertainment venues too, with theatre, cinema, music venues and more. And all close and reasonably priced. Some fine restaurants as well. And I can buy Vegemite in the local supermarket.
I feel at home here. Always have. Lindsey’s family makes me very welcome, as do my neighbours, colleagues and students. As I was born in the UK, I actually feel a connection with the land. The weather doesn’t worry me (Remember, I lived in Japan for 6 years where winters snowed and could get very cold) and I prefer the cooler climes to those hot Australian summers. As my friend Peter would say, I get burnt if I walk past the toaster in the morning. I really do have a pale Scottish complexion.
We moved here with a two-year plan, for a number of reasons. Employment, pace of life, a sense of community, access to Europe, time with Lindsey’s family, some connection with my ancestral past, art, music, culture, history, and so on. On Facebook, you've possibly seen Lindsey and I taking every opportunity to attend events. Everything from rock music to classical, folk to swing. We’ve been to galleries, castles, manor homes, gardens, a 1940s weekend, and a steampunk festival. My employment seems to be working out, we spend time with Lindsey’s family, we’ve connected with our neighbours, started becoming involved in aspects of the village community, and visited Amsterdam during the summer. We have a trip to Venice planned after Christmas.
Many people have asked me which I prefer, Australia or the UK. The truth is neither. They're both wonderfully different. We never left Australia because we didn’t enjoy our lives there. Of course there were aspects that we felt disappointed with, but none were deal-breakers.
Is life perfect here?
No. No country is perfect. For a start they play this weird sport they call football where they only have 11 players on a team (not 18), the ball is round, and no one takes a speccy. And they all have funny accents.
Has it all been plain sailing?
Yes, for the most part. Any issues we’ve had have been rather minor. I guess the biggest were the self-doubts I experienced a month or so into my new job when I felt overwhelmed by everything new I was learning. But that passed with a week or so.
Of course I miss my family and my friends. So far I’ve yet to make friends here. There are plenty of people with whom I’m friendly, neighbours and colleagues, but there’s no-one yet who will ring me and ask me to come and hang while listening to music and sipping a beer, or shooting pool, or whatever. But I’ve only been here since July. And I’ve only been at my school since September. These things take time.
And remembering that I’ve only been here four months is important. It’s still, what many would call, the honeymoon period. Sure, I no longer hesitate while counting out change. I don’t think the electrical sockets look weird anymore. I automatically say ‘trainers’ instead of ‘runners’ and ‘crisps’ instead of ‘potato chips’. Heck, when I talk about soccer to the kids, I even say ‘football.’ But it’s still early days, no matter how well I’m fitting in and feeling at home. And things might change. I’m well aware of that.
(Here’s the TL;DR part)
But so far so good. Being here feels right. We've found pretty much everything we were looking for. And Lindsey and I are enjoying ourselves here. I feel less stressed.
Even the dogs are loving it here. They seem relaxed, and certainly enjoy all the walks this village has to offer.
Life is good.