All posts filed under: Life in General

When the dust settles

In a few days time, we will have been in the UK for five months.  That’s almost half a year!  It has gone by so quickly, but I also think I should get some kind of a badge for the 143 days of “settling in” graft I’ve put in. Repatriating has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. It sits somewhere above emigrating and mercifully quite a bit below IVF on my hard things to do chart. I think what I find hardest is the underlying sense of being just a little bit lost in my life. Which is even more unsettling when you are a 41 year old wife and mother, who should really have her shit together by now. In actual fact my level of “togetherness” is probably not bad, all things considered.  I feel like I grew up a lot in my thirties and it turned out to be quite a decade of achievements and milestones, personally and professionally. I have my faults and I still wonder at …

Not as easy as it looks

You know how there are things in life that look easier than they actually are?  Like handstands, setting up your iPhone and baking macaroons. Well I am here to tell you that emigrating is way harder than you might think, and I’m pretty sure most people think it’s really difficult. I don’t find the administration of it too hard.  There are a lot of forms to fill in, you have to plan ahead so you meet deadlines and as much as possible, you need to organise the various stages of moving from one country to another to happen in a coherent order. Instead, one of the many things I am really struggling with this week (it’s been a particularly tough one) is how drawn out it is.  We have been in the UK for 10 weeks now, but our belongings only arrived on Wednesday. In the last couple of months, Gareth has started a new job, we’ve found a place to live, the children have nearly done a half term of school and I have …

A Wise Woman Builds Her House

When you move from one country to another, you have to be flexible about your living arrangements.  Ultimately, you are going to be unsettled for a significant period of time, and you need to be OK with that.  I think there are ways of making it less stressful, but they require money being no object. It would be things like setting up a house in advance of you moving, or living in a furnished house for three months whilst you wait for your belongings to arrive on a ship, or owning properties in various parts of the world…that sort of thing. I have learnt a lot about myself in this area of emigration.  Main thing being, to have the ability to make the most of a situation when it’s not comfortable for me.  In our family, I am the home maker.  I don’t mean Gareth doesn’t have a part to play in building our home, his DIY skills are second to none and he puts up shelves like a champ, but as it’s me who …

Ten Things I Am Happy To Return To

A self-confessed lover of lists, I do like a good Top Ten of anything.  Whilst this is a challenging time in life at the moment, it’s not without some happy moments for our family.  So I thought it would be good for me to start this week with a list of things I really love about the UK. These are some things that I missed whilst I was away and other things that I didn’t miss but I’ve realised in the last few weeks of being back, they make the return that little bit better. Friends and family As my mum said today, when she dropped in on her way to take her aunt away for a weeks holiday, “It’s nice to see you without having to take a 30 hour journey.” Even though we have moved to an area of England that we don’t know, and don’t know anyone who lives here, we are a drive away from all our family and lifelong friends.  The ‘catch-up’ list is huge (and daunting), but it will be …

Goodbye Francis

Our house in New Zealand officially sold whilst we were sleeping last night. Out of the three houses we have owned so far, this was by far my favourite.  I always pinched myself that the house was ours when I drove up the road and turned into the drive.  It wasn’t perfect and we had to do a lot of work to get it how we wanted it but from the minute I first viewed it, I loved it. Our first home in New Zealand, it is full of memories and significance.  Our children grew from one/two up to six/seven in this house – that’s a lot of time with all the family in the home.  It was such a lovely home, with a great sized private garden in the back and lots of rooms to spread out in and manage the mess. We knocked a couple of walls down so I could have a dream kitchen with a big island in the middle, a butler’s pantry and huge amounts of shelves (I’m a little …

Children and Change

I believe that children grow well when they have routine. It gives them security, helps them to feel they are part of something, it teaches discipline and as they grow, they are empowered to play their part in a family’s routine. From the day our babies were born, Gareth and I committed to creating routines for them.  In the beginning it was essentially for sleeping, eating and playing. A family where both children are in school, both parents are working, you’re members of a church, you excercise, own a dog, shop online, have a garden, a routine is essential. As our children were trained from birth to embrace routine, they have generally been happy and secure in the rhythm and flow of Team Cowles. That is until February, when the routine began to be systematically disestablished. Gareth was offered a job in the UK, which coincided with family news that convinced us it was time to go back. Once the decision was made, operation ‘all-change’ began. We told the children we were moving back as …

Adventures in Emigrating

“What do you think?” Claire asks her children as they settle into the back seat of the car. They were halfway through their first week of house hunting since returning back to England.  They had two weeks in a holiday home in Bath.  Her poor, jetlagged husband was commuting to Reading everyday, getting up around 5am and returning by 8pm. They had hoped they would be able to live near his sister and her family but only a few days in and it was disappointingly obvious it wouldn’t be sustainable.  Plus Claire had already realised that UK city life wasn’t going to work for her. Back in New Zealand, they had lived in a house in Christchurch city, but it really wasn’t city living.  The house had a 200 metre square footprint and another 400 metres of garden.  It was detached, on a leafy avenue.  The beach was 10 mins away, as was a huge expanse of woodland.  Going back to terraced houses with concrete gardens and the 24/7 life of a city, even one …

There’s No Place Like Home

When you emigrate, it’s like an adventure.  At least it was for us.  It’s daunting for sure, but the excitement of living in a new country, discovering a whole other part of the world – that’s a special opportunity that we knew we were blessed to have.  Gareth had a great job offer and we were moving to New Zealand, where so many of our friends and family had visited, coming back with wonderful reviews of the scenery, the people, the food and way of life. We’d had a hard time bringing our two babies into the world, but they had arrived safely and we had our family.  I wanted to leave, because as a country girl at heart I felt claustrophic in a busy city and I wanted some space.  Ironically in the months leading up to our departure we had even less space.  Our house had sold quickly and so whilst we waited for the visas to go through we lodged with a family.  Their house was huge and they very generously gave us …

35 Days to Reflect

My family and I have just recently repatriated back to the UK.  We moved over to New Zealand in March 2012 when my husband got a job working on the infrastructure rebuild of Christchurch, after the major earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. When we left the UK, we had just lived through a really hard five years trying to get pregnant, doing IVF and then having two babies in quick succession.  Our babies were nearly one and just gone two when we began our long journey over to the other side of the world to begin a family adventure. We didn’t know how long we would stay in NZ for, as neither of us had ever stepped foot on the land of the long white cloud and we knew only a couple of people.  We committed to three years, but then within a couple of months I felt like we could stay there forever. We bought a house, joined a church, made friends, Gareth worked hard and loved every second of it and I picked …

This is you my friend.

A friend of mine is going through a REALLY tough time at the moment and she was telling me how someone had said to her that she had to see herself as her loved ones and friends see her. I’ve been thinking about that ever since, and it struck me that maybe she doesn’t know how her friends see her because we don’t always say what we think about our friends do we? I mean we might occasionally say something encouraging, empathise in a situation or pay a compliment but do we tell our friends all the reasons why we love them? So this is for you my friend, so you can see what I see. You light up the room when you are in it. You always look good in the outfits you wear, you put yourself together perfectly and you smell delicious. You obviously pay attention to the way that you look but it doesn’t consume you, you are natural, not vain or obsessed. You have lovely skin, pretty eyes and a dainty …