Thursday, 27 September 2012


The Lily is said to be the flower symbolizing motherhood, health and provision. I actually just love the look and smell of them, so was delighted in Shanghai that I could go to my little lady with the tricycle full of flowers on the street corner and grab a bunch for next to nothing and always have a beautiful and fragrant bunch of Lilies on the table.

How happy was I to find a flower vendor at the local farmers market selling bunches of Lilies just as cheap as in Shanghai! The tradition continues and our home is again filled with the perfume of the Lily.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The fair comes to town

We have had a busy few weeks with the girls starting school, my husband, The Kiwi being back in Shanghai on business and me getting into a routine. I'm still settling in, finding my way, trying to find a place for everything and spending as much time as possible soaking up the beautiful weather we have been having...while it lasts. The dog and I have spent many hours exploring the streets of our village and beyond.

A field the dog and I discovered

We had big plans for the past weekend, a family road trip in our new car, a fair in the neighboring town, country pubs to check out. Unfortunately the tweenager came down with a dreadful lurgy and we spent most of the weekend close to home. The girls kept telling us that our village was having it's own fair on Monday evening, though with no advertising we didn't really think so. Monday morning came and lo and behold the fair started moving in, the lurgy had moved on, the skies cleared so we headed down to check it out.

The crowds are gathering

A fair is not complete without fairy floss and happy kids on rides

The whole village seemed to turn out for the yearly fair. Children squealing with delight at the rides and enjoying sticks of fairy floss. Was fabulous to see our normally quiet village come alive with people and colour. The ducks from the pond were in hiding with plastic penguins and yellow ducks that you pluck from the water for a prize, taking their place. The bright lights looked remarkable with the old Norman Church in the background. A fun atmosphere for all. The Teen and the Tween were hinting that having us around was a more than a little embarrassing that they have friends in town. We made ourselves scarce for a while and enjoyed a rare bit of time to ourselves...and headed to the pub that just happened to be in the middle of the action for a quiet pint together. We then all headed home happy to have rounded off the weekend with some fun and a little family time.


A family heading home after a night of fun

I'm slowly getting a taste for an English pint!

The normally quiet streets filled with fun

Love the bright lights against the old church with the moon high in the sky.

The new day dawned and an early morning dog walk revealed the village back to it's quiet and peaceful self. No sign of the fair the evening before. Could have been a dream if not for the pail of leftover fairy floss in the kitchen this morning!

Morning dawns, peace has returned and the ducks are happy!

Saturday, 15 September 2012


When you move from a vibrant city of over 23 million people in China to a picturesque country village of just under 5000 people in England there is bound to be a bit of culture shock. Some things are vastly different, some surprisingly similar.

We had a large three level apartment on the 29th floor in Shanghai with incredible views over the city, albeit with a layer of smog. High rise buildings from horizon to horizon, construction was continuous, the skyline changed weekly. We overlooked a construction site when we left Shanghai, no need for an alarm clock as the workers started up at 6am, drilling, bashing, screeching.

The ground level view from our apartment in Shanghai just before we left.

We moved into a two level, much smaller home in the UK. I am still trying to find places for and squash in all our belongings. It is a losing battle. The environment has changed substantially. We are now woken by pigeons nesting near our bedroom window. We have a wonderful field behind us. The air is fresh, the skies are blue...well...when it isn't raining...but we are in the UK!

The field behind our new home in the UK

Shanghai is full of markets, there is a market for anything imaginable...antique market...yep sure...there are several. The authenticity of the goods are questionable, but great for a stroll and you never know when you will unearth something unique. You can sometimes see stallholders rubbing ash or dirt into the 'antiques' to make them look as old as they are meant to be.

Outdoor  Antique market Shanghai style

You can find a few treasures at the local car boot sale in the UK. Toby jugs, antique sewing machines and old prams. Vintage tennis racquets with wooden frames, the authenticity here possibly more genuine than those at the Shanghai 'antique' market.

Car boot sale in the UK

Children are the same worldwide. They have no idea of the politics of the world. They will just see another child, they don't see race, disability, status. At a market anywhere in the world, kids will be kids, playing with whatever they can get their hands on, eating whatever snacks come their way. Watching and learning from the life happening around them.

Kids watching the world go by in a street market Shanghai

Children are innocent, free to enjoy the moment without the worry of the future, whatever nationality, no discrimination or preconceived ideas.  So good to see kids being kids, in China, in the UK, wherever in the world, regardless of background just having fun!

Little girl with her prize purchases at a car boot sale UK
It's going to be fun to discover all the other differences between life in the UK, China and even Australia.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Back to School

After finishing school in Shanghai on June 15, spending a month in Australia while our UK visas were processed then six weeks settling into UK life...the long summer holiday is over and my girls returned to school today. I was worried, new school, new country. They drove me mad at times during the three months they had off, I was counting down the days until they started school....then spent the day missing them. The puppy missed them. The puppy and I waited anxiously at the school gate for them, ready to console and hug. Happy faces turned the corner. They both had a great day, such a relief, both chatting non stop all the way home. Made my heart sing and bought tears of joy to my eyes. The last piece of the relocation puzzle in place, my girls happy at school

Now that's my kind of back to school wine! I think I'm going to like living here :)

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Topsy Turvy

My little family has been through so many transitions in the last six months. In January we didn't know where we were going to be posted next. Japan, America and Germany were all on the table. We went to Shanghai for a year and ended up staying for four, so I didn't actually believe we would leave. Didn't want to believe we would leave.

Things change and do lives

In March it was decided that my husband would return to Head Office in the UK and so began the end of our expat life, except we are Aussies so still expats having to find our way, none of the perks to help us, no friends or family to lean on. We came to the UK for a visit at the end of March, found a lovely little house to rent, applied for visas and school places then returned to Shanghai for our last few months.

Bright new beginnings

Those last months deserve a post of their own, but in short it was so hard to leave behind such close friends, as an expat, friendships are forged faster and stronger than at home. You become each others support network and substitute family. We had a great lifestyle, fabulous adventures. Shanghai is an incredible and vibrant city that gave so much and China is an amazing country to explore. The goodbyes were emotional, many tears were shed. So hard to take my girls out of their familiar environment and away from friends but onward we must go.

Time to pack up and move on

Was great to be able to go home to Australia while our UK visas were processed. Catching up with friends and family. Enjoying the food and the fresh air. Everything so familiar, comfortable, like being wrapped in a snuggly blanket. Then our visas were done, quickly, we could move sooner rather than later and get settled into the UK before school started. Another round of goodbyes, people who knew us, our long term history, where we had come from and what we had been through to get where we are now. More emotions.

Great to relax in familiar surroundings

We are enjoying life in the UK, we are just not that settled yet. My husband is back in Shanghai on business for a few weeks. Miss him but am slightly jealous he is there and will see my friends and I won't. He's also gets to eat all the foods we miss and I would do anything for a Chinese foot massage with my friends. Hard for him too...He keeps expecting to head back to our apartment and his family after work and instead goes to his hotel.

The girls start school tomorrow, new school, new country. They are scared, I'm scared for them, it's a big change. Different system, meeting new school laptops! I'm trying to get out and meet people, make connections. We say, as expats how lucky we are to have friends all over the world and we are, we really are.  Three friends had a birthday today and I couldn't hug one of them. One is in Australia, one in Shanghai and one in Canada. I couldn't have a glass of champers to celebrate the engagement of one of my best friend's daughters with her. Sometimes skype and email and facebook don't cut it. You just want to physically just be with your friends.


I am not complaining, I have a great life and look forward to lots of happy times in the UK with my little family. This life is just not always as exotic or as exciting as it appears. Hard to be the new kid in town...even as an adult

Monday, 3 September 2012

Little discoveries

After six weeks in Buckinghamshire, settling in, finding my way around and unpacking I feel I haven’t had many adventures, but when I look at the things I’ve done in that time I’m now not so sure! Here is the abridged version of what I’ve been up to!

I have discovered the hard way and within hours of arrival that the emergency number is 999. I have been to Oxford and discovered the wonderful covered markets. I have soaked up the Olympic atmosphere and was in Henley on Thame with a British friend when Team GB won their first gold, it helped that Australia won Silver and NZ the Bronze. 

Lovely produce at the covered markets in Oxford

Oxford Olympic spirit in full force 

Was here for the first Team GB Gold!

I have driven to Poole on the coast, twice and discovered the fabulous New Forest to look at and then pick up a puppy. I have acquired a new puppy. The puppy has been socialised from Poole to Golders Hill Park in Hampstead, Thame to Chesham and beyond. 

Loved the friendly wild horses of New Forest

This horse popped over to say hello

This vehicle is 1 HP :)

The puppy loves bubbles

I have unpacked about 163 boxes of belongings from Shanghai. I have put away the contents of about 149!!!I have been to the recycling centre approx 78 times to discard all of the empty boxes. Have filled in numerous insurance forms for items that didn’t quite make it here intact. I have been to a car boot sale....and bought a concrete Koala that we have named Kevin...he sits next to our terracotta warriors, Fred and Barney in the garden!

I have driven into Central London and Heathrow... twice and we all survived. Apologies to British drivers for my roundabout shenanigans...we don’t have them in Australia, I will get used to them and they are wonderful. Roundabouts would be a disaster in Shanghai! I have caught up with wonderful friends and fellow adventurers from my Shanghai days and in the process discovered a few good pub lunches. I have also discovered 2 cafes, 3 pubs, 1 butcher/pie maker, a bakery and an Indian restaurant in my village...all walking distance from home. I have had a Pimms...or two...

Love the pub will see more on my blog!

Pimm's o'clock

I have stumbled upon a great Jazz session at Lowndes Park in Chesham one sunny Sunday afternoon and a music festival in Henley on Thame. I have found lots of beautiful green open spaces and walks and I have breathed in so much clean air I feel healthier already.

Music in the park, Chesham

The walk to the field where the puppy runs free

I have got my two beautiful girls ready for their new school adventure and kitted them out in “Harry Potterish” uniforms. We celebrated my older daughter's 14th birthday with lots of food, fun and laughs..and a new puppy.

I can now drive in a 30 mile radius without the help of James my trusty GPS and the new love of my life. James is an Aussie who says things like, take the's time to cruise and a Uey (U turn) when you can. Without James I may have discovered Scotland by now.

I now look forward to many more adventures with my little family, friends I hope to make along the way and of course trusty GPS. You are welcome to join me and my family as we discover all the UK and beyond has to offer

Saturday, 1 September 2012

New beginnings

Six weeks today we arrived in our new home town in Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom ready for new horizons. It has been a long road here, with many other options being opened and then closed to us over the last 8 months or so. In March it was finally decided that my husband was to return to his job at the head office in the UK so we began the process of moving country again. Visas, relocation agents, shipping, schools, housing became a priority. We began the process of leaving my beloved Shanghai and onto greener pastures....literally!

We began our lives together in Shanghai, China in May 2008 after a fairytale romance ...more on that later! It was scary and exciting to move with my beautiful girls from sunny Western Australia to such a huge and cosmopolitan city as Shanghai. A huge life change but I loved it and blossomed there. One year turned to two, then three, then four. Many happy times and adventures, as a family and with the wonderful friends we made there. It was so very hard to say our goodbyes to our life in China, fabulous   lifestyle, amazing country and friends who had become our family. Everyone’s time must end and our time had come. After many tearful goodbyes and “we’ll see you later’s”, we went home to Western Australia for our UK visas to be processed. Special times with friends and family, before we started our new life. Then more farewells before we finally started our new life journey.

We arrived in the UK a month earlier than expected. Well done UK Border Agency! In time for the 2012 Olympics, our new home in Buckinghamshire was ready and waiting for us. The last six weeks has been a whirlwind of finding our way around, settling in, our shipping from Shanghai finally arriving, new puppy, schools and a few adventures thrown in. We all look forward to many exciting times and welcome you along for the time of our lives.

The time has come to farewell Shanghai and all her adventures

and welcome new adventures and life in the United Kingdom!