I can tell you the exact moment that I made my decision.
It was a beautiful sunny day. I was sitting on a bench in a playpark, the sun on my face, drinking a cup of tea and making easy conversation with another mum – someone I’d met all of forty minutes earlier. Her young son was gurgling contentedly on a picnic blanket at her feet, while mine had just jumped off the slide and was running up a small hill towards the swings, when suddenly he stopped and shouted.
‘Mummy! Mummy! Come and look at this! It’s a parrot! Lots of parrots!’
I walked towards him, and sure enough, there were five or six brightly coloured rosella walking around, squawking and pecking at the grass.
DorkySon was enthralled, and something flicked in my head at that moment.
Yes, I said to myself. Yes. We can do this. We can move to Tasmania.
And so we are.
Just over a month from now, we’ll be boarding the aeroplane that will fly us across the world for the start of our next adventure.
No one is more surprised by this news than us.
Until very recently, I had never been to Australia. DorkyDad had been a few times before for work, and had enjoyed the cities he’d seen, but we didn’t imagine for a minute that we would ever move there.
When DorkyDad told me that a wonderful job opportunity had come up in Tasmania, I had to go and haul DorkySon’s big atlas down from the shelves to see where it was. It was a very, very long way away.
So then I did a quick Google search, and was rewarded with several pages of results about bush fires that devastated parts of the island earlier this year.
‘What shall I tell them?’ he asked.
‘It’s too far away and it’s on fire,’ I said. ‘Tell them no way.’
He didn’t tell them that.
Instead, he persuaded me to give it a little more thought, to speak to some friends who know the land down under far better than we do, and to at least visit the place to see if it was somewhere we could make a happy life for our little family.
After hours and hours of talking, we came to agreement on just one thing before we left. It would have to be absolutely perfect for us to even consider it.
About four or five months ago, on a chilly, damp English morning when DorkySon was at nursery, I sat at my computer and wrote a list. It was called ‘What do I wish for’ and it set out the dozen or so things that I was longing for in that moment; the things that would make me feel happy and alive and inspired again. Being near the sea. Culture – music, theatre, poetry, museums and bookshops. Street art. Small schools within walking distance. Friendly people. Good food. A house big enough to fit our books, rugs and paintings. Sunshine.
Hobart, Tasmania put a giant tick beside every one of those items on my wish list. It felt comfortable right away. We were there for five days, and once we’d dealt with the jetlag it felt so possible to imagine that nice life there.
It was as close to perfect as it could have been.
We are not foolish. We know there will likely be some tough times ahead. The thing that scares me most is the same thing that scared me when we left Edinburgh for Hertfordshire – missing those support networks that we will leave behind.
I am so lucky that in my life so far I’ve had close friends and family living relatively nearby. DorkySon has been so lucky to have those same people around him for the last four years, making him feel secure and confident and loved. For us to move to a place where those people will be a full 24 hours away by plane, rather than just one or two hours, is no small thing.
But it’s a measure of our confidence in them that we believe our relationships will continue to flourish even with the added distance. It might take more effort, but we are determined to make that effort. I truly believe that we are adding to DorkySon’s life, not taking away from it, by making this move. For him to see his first parrots flying wild in a play park rather than in a Hertfordshire zoo is so exciting. For him to live somewhere where he can spend so much time outside, where people in the supermarket make time to stop and chat rather than running him over with their trolleys, where he gets another two years of part-time play based education rather than being shoved into school at the age of four… these are all good things.
We have just over five weeks before we go and a very long to-do list. This sofa that I’m sitting on – along with everything else in our house – needs to be wrapped and packed and bundled into a container to be shipped across the sea. We want to see as many of our friends as possible before we move, and they are widely scattered, so we are packing as much travel as we can into this summer.
Depending what day you catch us on, we are excited, or nervous, or happy or scared. The truth is that we don’t know what this new life will look like, but we can’t wait to find out. It hasn’t been an easy decision making process. Our age difference has not been an issue, but the gulf in our experience has been, a little bit. DorkyDad has already done this once. He has emigrated from the country he calls home, leaving all that is comfortable and familiar to him and setting up somewhere new. I have not. This feels like the biggest decision I’ve ever made – bigger even than marriage and a baby – because it is such a leap into the unknown.
I think we have handled it really well. We have been as thorough in our discussions as we possibly could have been. It has brought us closer together. DorkyDad’s adventurous, energetic side has spurred me on to try something I would never have done alone. And my cautious side has made him slow down and really consider the implications of such a big move. We have never stopped talking, and have been able to reach a three-way unanimous decision (DorkySon has full voting rights) with minimum drama.
We hope very much that you will stick with us, and share our adventure by following it here. And any recommendations you have – friends in Tasmania, must-see sights, tips on moving overseas, useful websites – would be so welcome.
It’s five weeks and counting… we need all the help we can get.