Two years ago my little family was winding down our life in Shanghai. Our days were filled with 'last times'. Final visits to favourite restaurants, shops, street food stalls, parks and corners of the city that had entwined itself into our lives and hearts forever. We soaked up the culture, the crazy traffic, ridiculous loads, the bizarre that had become our normal. Then came the farewells, oh so many tears were shed, I totally gave up on wearing mascara. I had farewelled many friends in my four years in Shanghai but nothing prepared me for the pain of being the one that was leaving. I didn't want to go, I loved Shanghai life.
My friends were the icing on the cake, the family I had chosen for myself. A support network, wine drinking, mahjong playing buddies. Fellow adventurers who were happy to explore Shanghai and beyond with me. Our time to go had arrived, the packers came and boxed our belongings, many memories of our Shanghai life. On 16 June 2012, four years and one month after we arrived, we boarded our flight with no return ticket. It was time to begin our new adventure in England.
|Looking over Shanghai from 'The Bottle Opener'|
|Looking skywards, the Jin Mao tower was the tallest in Shanghai when we arrived,|
we watched the 'Bottle Opener rise and be completes,
the new Shanghai Tower was taking shape when we left.
|Some of the many 'last dumplings'|
|I walked the streets soaking up as much street life as possible.|
|No more purchases from the shops on wheels|
We arrived in our little village in Buckinghamshire in the midst of Olympic fever. The atmosphere
upbeat. Life in the quiet countryside after the hustle and bustle of Shanghai took a little getting used to, as did the culture. When we moved from Australia to China we knew the culture would be vastly different and we took it in our stride. We expected the British culture to be similar to our own, but were surprised how different it actually was. With no other expats around it was quite difficult to break into the social scene yet we did and really enjoyed our life in our English village.
I loved the history, the fact that friends in my village lived in cottages that were older than my colonised country. We loved exploring London, Oxford, National Trust properties and beyond. So many countryside walks, with pubs to relax at the end. We had much more to discover in the UK, trips to Scotland, Yorkshire and the Lake District when my husband's employer wanted his three month secondment to Germany to become more permanent. In a whirlwind of 'look see' trips, school and house searches, the contract was signed in early December. Packers booked, Christmas and New Year to fit in amongst more farewells. A short eighteen months after we arrived, the rug was pulled from under our feet, literally! Our UK adventure was over, we were moving to Germany!
|I never tire of seeing Big Ben.|
|How can you not love a bluebell?|
|We travelled the countryside, soaking up the history.|
|Traditional Fish and Chips...and fizz!|
|Oxford is such a beautiful city, I would visit often.|
We drove to our new home in Germany on a cold, clear winter's day. The truck with all our belongings and memories arrived not long after. So begun the now familiar process of unpacking, making this house our home. Another culture to unravel, community to integrate in. We have moved from two tea drinking cultures to a wine and beer drinking one! We have mostly worked out where to shop, pay bills and get around. We have watched the forest on our doorstep change from bare and sparse to vibrant green and full of life. We have grown as well, friendships have been formed, discoveries made, new places explored. So much more on our horizon in Germany and we have Europe on our doorstep!
Two years, three vastly different countries and cultures, oh what a ride! Lets see what the future has in store for us now.
|Our walk track in January|
|Our walk track in May|
|German strawberries are the best!!!|
|Local snacks in Frankfurt|
|Having fun exploring Frankfurt city|
|The flourishing Frankfurt Skyline|