The Grass Isn’t Always Greener.

This time 30 years ago, me, my ex husband and two kids (which included a 3 month old) sold everything and went to start a new life in Australia. It wasn’t ever a dream of ours, it was just that the opportunity came when my ex was offered a job in Melbourne so we decided to sell up with the intention of never coming back.

At the time the job was offered we had a two year old and I was expecting a second child, and where my husband’s new boss was sympathetic to a degree, he wasn’t prepared to wait for months for my husband to start his new position so I was left behind for a few weeks trying to sell a house and keep everything going until he came back just before our second child was born. Three months later we were on our way.

Luckily for us my husband’s firm put us up in a rented house for three months while we looked around for our own place to buy, (we called the police one night when we thought we had burglars but it was just a possum on the roof, yeah, that didn’t go down well) which eventually we found in a place called Sunbury, a small up and coming town which was a really nice place with most of the houses very similar to the ones seen in “Neighbours”, large bungalows with huge gardens ideal for families. So there we were, ready to start our new life. One of the first thing’s I did was to get my older child into a nursery just so he could make new friends and have some sort of routine after dragging him away from everyone he knew and of course he loved it, which left just me and my girl all day everyday, so in order to go anywhere I learnt to drive but never had the confidence to drive very far, in fact I’ve not driven for 25 years and never missed it.

What I hadn’t bargained for was the wildlife. If it walks, swims or flies in Australia then it bites, even if it’s not poisonous so the spiders became an issue. I did used to have a fear of spiders but living there cured me of that as we have absolutely nothing here compared to the so many different species that can harm you there. Unfortunately all the snakes in the area we lived were poisonous so there was no way I was prepared to let the kids play out in the garden, and there seemed to be plagues of things that only lasted a couple of weeks but you just felt like you were getting attacked from all angles.

Before we emigrated I had heard that Australia was a bit behind the times when it came to how they treat women but I wasn’t convinced of this until we decided to go out one Saturday night. Where we lived there were three pubs in the centre of town (c’mon how many do you need?) so we got a babysitter, got dressed up and decided to try them. Believe it or not I wasn’t allowed in two of the pubs because I was female so we tried the third. As we walked in it was obvious that the ladies didn’t really frequent the pubs where we lived, as it was full of men in vest tops, shorts and flip flops, to say that we stood out like a sore thumb was an understatement, we didn’t even finish our drinks before we decided to leave and that was the one and only time we ventured into the bright lights of our town centre for a night out.

I tried, I really did but I was becoming really homesick. I missed my friends, my social life, my job and as much as I’d made a few friends in Oz I was never going to adapt to going to the odd  tupperware party as the highlight of my social life, so although I understood why my ex didn’t want to come back (it is a man’s country) he could understand why I couldn’t stay. We came back after two years but there’s no regrets, I’m glad I went even if it wasn’t for me and I would say to anyone that if it’s what you want then go for it.

The grass isn’t always greener.

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Jungle Fever.

So here we are back in the jungle with a whole lot of new “celebs” trying to win a contract promoting Aunt Bessie’s yorkshire puds, but try as I might I can`t take this programme seriously, mainly because it`s in Australia. In the jungle.Where everything that walks, swims or flies bites you, even if it’s not poisonous.Trust me, I know.
Back in the day when I was married we had an opportunity to emigrate to Oz so we grabbed it with both hands and went. At the time I was expecting my second child so unfortunately my husband had to go and start his new job leaving me and a two year old behind for a few weeks.We sold our house and every stick of furniture we had because we weren`t coming back. Three months after the birth of  our daughter we arrived as a family down under and
after the initial couple of months renting we found and bought a house in a suburb in Melbourne which was gorgeous.The houses were all bungalows (just like Neighbours) with massive gardens which should have been ideal for a young family.Every couple of weeks brought a new challenge.One day I opened the front door and there was what looked like a puddle on the drive which was moving but on closer inspection it was a load of caterpillars which were called spitfires due to the fact that when disturbed, they would spit at you and the mucus or whatever it was would burn you.This plague probably lasted about 3 weeks then we’d have something else.
Ants bit you, flies bit you, and let me tell you I never went into the water when we were at the beach in all the time we lived there.Don’t even get me started on the spiders. But this was the problem.Where we lived every snake was poisonous so I couldn’t leave the kids unattended in the garden because if a snake or spider bit them they wouldn’t be able to tell me which species it was.
Moths the size of small birds, magpies that dive-bombed your head to peck it when it was nesting season, and of course the swarm of flies that buzzed around your face which meant you were constantly doing the “Australian salute” meant that you took your life in your hands every time you opened that door.Never mind a bikini, you needed a suit of armour.
But we did the British thing and had Christmas day on the beach.Twice.

One particular day I went to clean the kid’s bathroom when I noticed two extremely long spider legs on the side of the shower screen. Christ no. I kicked the screen and a huge huntsman spider dropped onto the floor,I don’t know who was more shocked, me or him. I pulled the door closed and phoned my husband at work.” There’s a massive spider in the bathroom, you need to come home NOW.” Not quite an emergency to him but then again he’d not seen the size of it.”Right. It will take me an hour to get home, what have you done with it? Oh yes, shutting the door will definitely stop it from going anywhere.You’re going to have to deal with this one.” And he was right. I had to deal with it as obviously a closed door wasn’t going to keep it contained. I had plenty of insect repellent as I used to spray it everywhere, so I went and armed myself with it before opening the bathroom door…

He was under the sink when I started spraying madly at him. I sprayed so much that he was a ball of mousse staggering from side to side like he’d had too many vodkas but I didn’t stop. In the end I had to leave the bathroom as I was starting to choke on the fumes myself but I left the door open so I could see that he wasn’t escaping. I felt really proud of myself and that was probably the definitive moment that cured my fear of spiders. I don’t like them no, and I could never touch one but like most people I used to be really scared of them, even tiny ones, not any more.
So when I’m watching “I’m a Celeb” I can’t help but wonder why, if everyone’s supposed to be living and sleeping outside, no-one in all this time has been bitten by anything. Hmm….

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