I thought you might like to hear about what life is like after the angst and stress of waiting for the visa (143) and the dreaded AOS!
We have now been here, in Oz for the best part of 10 weeks
I spent the first week in a slightly delirious jet-lagged fog. Daughters met us at the airport with big smiles, flowers and balloons. I had always thought that at this point I would burst into tears with relief and pent-up emotion. But I didn’t – far too embarrassing!
Once we got back to daughter’s apartment and had had some breakfast (we landed at 6 a.m) she whisked us off to Coogee Beach to paddle in the ocean. Apparently, it helps to ‘ground’ you and alleviate jet-lag. It was lovely, if freezing . . . but didn’t work!
Her apartment is minutes away and the views are stunning – but it takes a cool $1½ million to buy a two bedroom (fairly basic apartment here) and the rents reflect that. D2 had booked the day off, as it was a Friday, but D1 had to go in to work. We spent the rest of the day unpacking and trying to stay awake!
It is only just beginning to percolate through that we are here for good and not just a nice long holiday. In those first couple of weeks we did some touristy stuff: the cliff walk from Coogee to Bondi, the art galleries, the walk round the harbour and Circular Quays – always stunning and great for people watching. However, we did spend a good deal of time doing ‘paperwork’ – going into government offices to apply for driving licences, Medicare cards (health) and, for me, a Working with Children (Disclosure and Barring) certificate. Just in case I manage to get some work. I have applied for a Senior’s card which will enable me to apply for a Gold Opal Card - a pre-paid travel card This Gold Opal will allow me travel over most of NSW for only $2.50 a day! The perks of being old? Partner has spent ages looking for work and we have also spent a good deal of time on our laptops looking for a car. Daughters have been generous in offering us the use of theirs – but we needed one and managed eventually to get one just under budget.
We had no sooner arrived - it felt to me - than we were preparing to leave to move into our ‘borrowed’ accommodation (we are ‘house-sitting’ daughter’s manager’s house, which is going to be re-built) We have been here a week and our new ‘pad’ is rather nice and it will be a bit of a wrench to leave it after Christmas to look for something we can afford! It is an area of large detached architect-designed houses (there are a lot of them around in Sydney) I suppose our house is a bit old-fashioned, but it is roomy, has a large terrace, a tiered garden, a huge ‘rumpus’ area (whatever that is?) and a pool. So, I suppose can put up with the fact that there is only one socket per room . . . . . .. . .
The day after we moved into this house daughter 2 and I sat out on the terrace in the twilight when she got home from work, complete with gin and tonics. Paradise, we thought, until we realised it was also ‘complete’ with mosquitoes! This occasioned a trip to Bunnings (B&Q or ‘Bloke Heaven’) to arm ourselves with as many devices and repellents we could lay our hand on.
At the back of this house is a ‘reserve’ or park area which is a tiny bit of tropical forest. Every morning we awake to the sound of screeching lorikeets, cockatoos, ravens with calls like crying adenoidal children, and kookaburras that sound like fighting gibbons. Amazing – but bloody noisy! Not so much twitter, chirp, cheap, but SQUAWK! SCREAM! and ‘Kookaburra’ for “GET THE F**K OFF MY BRANCH!"
Sydney is huge! We had to drive to North Sydney last week to look at a car. It was amazing to think that this was all rain forest only 230 years ago. What have we done and continue to do to this world? And I am fully aware that we are just as culpable – just by being here. A sobering moment.
Of course, the whole point of this uprooting and expense has been to be with ‘ma girls’ and it has been fantastic. There have been some teething troubles, which I expected. It’s not easy for anyone to live with adult children, or them with us, and we have had to ‘get to know’ each other again. But so, so lovely to be close.
The car we have bought is an automatic and it has taken me longer than the average pensioner to get used to it! Keep wanting to change gear and don’t know what to do with my redundant left foot! To complicate things even further, the windscreen wipers and indicators are the reverse of what I was used to in my trusty old Yaris. I blame my mild dyslexia/dyspraxia! Although I have practised on the warren of streets that make up this estate – I have not yet ventured onto the main road. Primarily because the ‘main’ road is like a motorway with 3 lanes on each side. Lots of cars and gigantic lorries going very, very fast (or so it seems to me!).
It would appear that many bus drivers also want to become part of the race and fancy themselves as Formula One competitors. Got on a bus the other day and was greeted by a beaming – completely toothless – driver, who proceeded to hurtle down the road with South American Dance music throbbing from his cab. (Sydney is very multi-cultural.) Passengers NEVER get out of their seats before their stop. They just ring the bell and wait for the bus to come to a safe and complete standstill – especially if Billy Whizz is at the wheel!
My partner has now found a job (which was an essential element of our move – both financially and psychologically!) and the pay reflects the cost of living here.
People here and at home keep asking me how I feel about the move/transition, etc. Well, I miss my friends and family. I need to make some friends/contacts of my own age! I miss a decent Indian take-away – but the simple answer is – my kids are here and I don’t want to be anywhere else!
Hold on in there, everyone! It's worth it