Thursday, 12 November 2015

Nature's hourglass, measuring out the final months of our expat life

The leaves in our forest are falling at an astonishing rate, 
it feels like they are timing out our last weeks in Germany. 
By the time the last leaf has blended in with the earth and Autumn has well and truly 
become Winter, we will be on our way home to an Australian Summer.
Mixed seasons, mixed emotions, the forest tells us that time is moving along. 
Excited to be moving home to Australia, yet sad to leave Germany and Europe on our doorstep. 
Every expat knows the tearing of the heartstrings when it is time to move on, 
"see ya later" parties, so many "last times" to come on our horizon.
I dread that last walk in our forest, last time we go on a local adventure, last day spent with friends.
We have had our last Spring, Summer and most of our last Autumn and 
we won't see the end of our last Winter.

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

The "To Do" list seems to get longer rather than shorter, the bureaucracy of two Government Departments on opposite sides of the planet ensure getting our dog home is not a 
"walk in the forest". Shipping contracts finally signed, school enrolments both ending and beginning.
Exactly two years ago we were in the process of finding schools and a home in Germany, 
working through visas and paperwork, now we find ourselves organising our departure. 
As the forest becomes bare, so does our home as furniture is sold off. 
Life is being pared back, ready for new beginnings.

Our girls were children when we left and now will return as young women. 
After living in China, England and Germany I think repatriation may be the most difficult of all. 
Along with all the arrangements involved with finishing up and moving on we will make the most of our time left. We have Christmas Markets to visit, friends to adventure with, places to discover.

By the time the last leaf in our forest has fallen, all of our arrangements should be in place. 
Eight weeks today we land "back home", Perth has changed, we have changed.
Will we fit in at home, or we feel out of place like the bright red leaf on the forest floor?
As the sun sets on our time as expats we will look forward with both excitement and trepidation.
One thing is for certain, the next few months will be one hell of a roller coaster ride, 
lets hope we all jump off smiling!

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Autumn in the forest, Frankfurt, Germany

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Photo a Day - The great disappearing act of October!

Wow, one minute October seemed to be ticking along nicely then suddenly...
we are a week into November. 
Granted we had a road trip in the middle, I was taking my photos for my Photo a Day
but time was tight and we were just too busy enjoying life to 
download on the road let alone post any photos.
We arrived home and got straight into 'moving home mode'!
Here is my dismal attempt at October!

As always the prompt of the day is in red, the photo and description is my take on the prompt!

Today is National China Day, the memorial Day for the founding of 
The People's Republic of China.
I just had to use a photo of my Shanghai for the prompt, 
I hung out of a hotel window for this one!

Basic Needs
Ralph's needs are basic - food, drink and to play in...and a ball...always a ball close by!

Many people will be crossing over the River Main in Frankfurt over the weekend.
Frankfurt is hosting the Celebrations for Germany Unity Day. 
Many events celebrating Germany's reunification, displays, concerts and exhibitions.
I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to live in wonderful Germany.

I have all my eggs in one basket..oops!

Needle in a haystack
I didn't find my "needle" in my "haystack".
I went into my forest to find a red and white mushroom to use...but this was as close as I could find.
It was quite the adventure, got stuck in mud and thought I would have to leave my shoes behind!

Plenty of scales here!

Things that pop
My village is popping with colour, this was the hedge in the car park today.
Crazy busy...haven't sat down...about to pop a cork for a well deserved wine!

Out of the box
My treasures came out of the box when we moved to Germany...
they go back in the box in January when we move home to Australia...
hope everything makes it in one piece.
Finally quotes sorted, shipper chosen, contract signed!

Mirror image
Canals in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

Just like me
I took a photo for this prompt on the day, but I found this and it is more like me...
a bit chubby, a bit cheeky, adventurous...and...just like me...Robin!

Taste of Life
I love to travel, it gives you a taste of life in another place.
This is the beach in Christchurch, Dorset, England.
We popped down for the day when we lived in England, 
an eight hour round trip...we wanted to see the sea.
We are off on another adventure ..our last European road trip 
before we head home to Australia. 
Ten days, four countries over 5 000 kilometres, at least 40 hours in the car!

Windmill and a bright blue sky...Sweden!

Under the Eiffel Tower in Paris on my birthday 15.10.15.
First stop on our European Road Trip

With me
Ralph is nearly always with me, my little shadow.
Working on getting him home to Australia is a full time job, 
working with two government departments on opposite sides of the planet.

Passage of Time
My forest is showing the passage of time.
First shot was taken 14 October, just before we left for our European adventure.
The second was taken just as we arrived home just ten days later.

Our passage of time in Germany is coming to an end.
The logistics of getting home are overwhelming at the moment and I 
need to dedicate my time to the big move...Photo a Day
has to take a back seat for now, but will return!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Favourite things about living smack bang in the middle of Europe

One of my favourite things about living smack bang in the middle of a family road trip! 
Pack the car, jump in and head off on an adventure. 
We have had weekends in Prague, been to Berlin for a concert, 
gone into France for Lunch and have just returned
 from a fabulous ten day, 5000 kilometre, four country holiday.
I come from the most isolated city in the world, Perth, Western Australia
where it is over 1500 kilometres just to drive out of our state. 
To discover other countries, cultures and food on the road is such a treat!

Aussies on a road trip

First stop was Paris, our eldest daughter had never been and we could not possibly move back to Australia without a family day in Paris.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

It was my birthday, and what better treat than Laduree Macarons under the Eiffel Tower!

Laduree Macarons, Eiffel Tower, Paris, France

Next stop was Bordeaux, what a fantastic city which we would have missed if we had just flown to our final destination...beautiful blue skies greeted us.
We walked the streets, had a Bordeaux...or Bordeaux.

When in France, eat macarons...the Creme Brulee macaron in Bordeaux was exceptional!

Creme Brulee Macaron, Bordeaux, France

We discovered the Best. Market. Ever! 
Marche de Quais, so much fresh, local produce, vibrant, alive.
Six freshly shucked oysters and a glass of white wine for €6...yes please.
Locals shopping for the freshest veggies, meat prepared to order, the most gorgeous seafood. 
Lots of tapas, crepes and local treats on offer!

Marche de Quais, Bordeaux, France

Next stop was San Sebastian, Spain!
None of us had ever been to Spain before so it was wonderful to discover a new culture together, 
so lovely wandering around the old town.

San Sebastian, Spain

Stopping off at tapas bars for some taste sensations, soaking up the atmosphere.

Tapas heaven, San Sebastian, Spain

Small morsels of Pintxos/tapas to delight the taste buds!

Tapas heaven, San Sebastian, Spain

A stunning place to reawaken the senses after a long drive, 
there is nothing like the smell of salt in the air to make you feel alive.
San Sebastian, you have made me want to return to Spain and explore... 
I will return for longer than a day next time!

San Sebastian, Spain

Our final destination...Lisbon, Portugal.
Our friends had just moved there and considering both families had previously met up in six other countries, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, England, China and Germany, 
we just had to add Portugal to the list.

We scored a second summer, warm days full of sunshine and blue skies.
So much rich history to discover, friendly locals.

Belem Tower, Lisbon, Portugal

Amazing fresh food, this still warm from the oven, Portuguese Custard Tart
was absolutely divine, I may have sampled a few of these in my time in Lisbon.
It would be rude not to!

Portuguese Custard Tart, Sintra, Portugal

I may have sampled a local wine, with a view!

Wine with a View, Belem, Portugal

Discovered graffiti in the coastal village of Cascais.

Graffiti Cascais, Portugal

A working fishing village, it reminded me of my home town of Fremantle 
but with way more history.

Boat, Cascais, Portugal

Harbour, Cascais, Portugal

We spent a wonderful day, discovering the city of Lisbon, wandering the back streets, 
soaking up the history, the monuments and architecture.

Lisbon Street, Portugal

We discovered another castle!

Saint George's Castle, Lisbon, Portugal

We enjoyed gazing over the beautiful city of Lisbon, vowed to return.

Lisbon, Portugal

Our long drive home was awash with spectacular colour.

Autumn Leaves, France

...and at the end of our drive, our favourite forest welcomed us
home with the wonderful foliage of Autumn!

Autumn Leaves, Frankfurt, Germany