How does one wrap up a life, built up over the course of fourteen years, and start again, with three children, a three legged cat, a one eyed dog, three chickens and another two cats? Answers on a post card please...
Well, the heartbreaking truth is that we are not starting again with all of the above. At this stage we are only planning to take two of the cats with us and leave the rest of the animals here.
Guinness, our 13 year old Labrador, who is stone deaf and agoraphobic, is going to one of my favourite people in the whole world, the legendary John Colwill, whom he loves and who will love him. How I will cope without my beautiful, farting companion, I don't know. Just trying very hard not to think about it.
Simba three-legs will go to my friend Julia, if I can't persuade Rupert to let us take him. Rupert is of the mind that it is not worth transporting a 17 year old cat with renal failure and depression across the world, but I'm not sure how he would go with the desertion. Rupert is hoping that I will finally be able to catch up on 16 years worth of no sleep, but I'm not sure that we could guarantee that the next cat/dog will be an awful lot better.
The chickens, Dopiaza and Gwendolen, will go to my cousin Meg. To be honest, I don't think they will care where they are, just as long as they have a decent supply of cat food to keep them going.
As for the kids, whether we take them or not will depend on whether they learn to keep their rooms clean between now and December....
And of course we have to leave all our friends here, my pupils and fellow musicians with whom I play.
So, these are our “plans.” We thought it would be good for the kids to see out the school year – Lydia finishes primary school this year and they will have all the end of term concerts, parties, dance shows etc. And then, depending on when we sell this house, whether we have another one in England to go to etc etc, we will hop on a plane and leave Brisbane. Neither of us will have jobs and heaven only knows how long it will take before we have an income coming in.
“Oh, but we did it before, when we came here,” Rupert says. Yes, we did. But we only had one child then and he didn't eat a whole Sainsbury's worth of food every day, as Sam does now. Exciting stuff.
In July I made a very flying trip to England to look around schools. Sam is in the middle of the IB here and we really wanted him to continue with it, but it turns out that very few state schools in England are able to offer the course. However, we found a school in Aylesbury which seemed very nice and they are only too happy to take him – which made at least part of our decision-making much easier. In that we now know that we need to settle in a house within striking distance of Aylesbury. As far as the girls are concerned, because they are younger, it seems that we need to wait until we are living in the UK before we can apply to schools for them.
Whilst in England, I also looked around a couple of houses. The funny thing is, that before we came to Australia, we preferred modern houses, but now, the older the better. Wonky staircases, thick walls, beamed roofs – the older the better, as far as we are concerned. After all, if we are giving up everything here for English history, then it might as well be worth it, mightn't it? The only trouble is that our wallet doesn't seem to agree. If anyone has an old castle for sale in Buckinghamshire – good working order, just let us know, eh?