I've been composing this post for several weeks. It's all about us leaving Australia, and it feels like a 'biggie'.
I've written a few 'big ticket' blog posts in the last five years.. leaving the UK, our wedding, Sienna's arrival... I write mostly for myself, to capture my thoughts for future reflection. I find it therapeutic to write blog entries on the big events in life, but they have also generated a greater response than I ever anticipated.
So here goes...
Five years. It's a big chunk of my life, our lives. It's longer than I spent at junior school, at university.. one sixth of my lifetime.. We came to Melbourne for a two year 'fling' and ended up falling madly in love with this wonderful city. It's welcoming, live-able, vibrant, sporty, foodie... a place we will always feel at home.
We arrived in October 2009, uncommitted and free from responsibilities - me, an accountant, and Tom a management consultant, totally unaware of how our Australian adventure would change our lives forever. We leave as a happily married couple, with our beautiful Aussie girl Sienna, and me, a budding photographer, and Tom, a sports marketer. We didn't just find sun and travel in this land down under, we found things that we are both truly passionate about. Tom took the plunge with a total career change, and has found his happy place in the world of sports marketing. I discovered my overwhelming joy for portrait photography and set up my own business doing something that I truly love.
Moving to Melbourne was the scariest thing I had ever done, but has turned out to be one of the most rewarding life experiences. It taught me that being a little bit afraid can be a good thing... had we stayed in the UK, I bet we would not have discovered our new passions in life.
It's not just the place, but the people here that we have to thank for amazing memories that we are taking back to the UK... I want to mention a few people here who have played a huge role in my Australian life, and who I will miss dearly when we leave. I'm taking a risk by naming a few people that there will be others who I've left out.. so sorry if you're not mentioned in person, but I promise I do love you too :-)
In no particular order..
Christie... how bittersweet that my closest friend here still lives in a different city. I'm SO glad I found you at the Tamara Lackey workshop back in 2011. We bonded over a passion for photography, and sealed our friendship with a shared struggle over babies that won't sleep through the night (although we love them dearly of course). You are an inspirational photographer and a dear friend who has captured my family in photographs that I will treasure forever (including the image at the top of this post). I expect you will be able to get a bit more done in your days now that we are in opposite time zones and can no longer have a continual day-long conversation via text message. There's nothing quite like an hour of CreativeLive/ClickAway/AIPP viewing with live chat between the two of us! How you juggled two kids and that many messages I will never know. Lets keep the dream alive for another photography workshop before too long..
Shelley... my mummy-friend from parenting classes... we were destined to cross paths. We have known each other only a year but you have been not only a trusted friend but also an absolute hoot to hang out with! You are eloquent and expressive, passionate and ambitious... an amazing mother to Hugo and oh-so-sweet with Miss Sienna. They shall remain betrothed to one another despite the distance, and I expect many a Skype chat with you in the future to continue the laughter... This is only just the beginning of our friendship..
Claire... my goodness how I will miss you! Our Tuesday swims, late afternoon meet ups at the park, and chance meetings in the supermaket... you have made the first year of motherhood so much easier with your advice, sympathy and cheerleading. We share a mutual obsession with baby sleep, let's not get started on temperature... We will miss you and Matilda so much, and here's hoping our paths cross again soon and the 'swim twins' can be reunited :-)
Lou.. I first met you nearly five years ago, whilst you were in labour with Ben! I thought that was pretty random at the time, but as I've got to know you I've realised that going to a party whilst in the early stages of labour is just how you roll, and of course I love you for it! You and Sam have been a constant support to my family over the years... always able to provide child models, emergency baby advice, a good talking to, and a great laugh! I will miss seeing your little 'mates' grow up and your new house take shape.. Please keep in touch 'tidylou'... xx
(Kevin I know you will love that your are photobombing this image!)
Jac... without you we would not be here. We only found Melbourne because we found you! You hosted us on our 'reccie' back in 2008 and immediately I knew that Melbourne was the city for us. My early education at 80 Strand in the Australian delights of Tim-Tams and Fairy Bread stood me in good stead for what I was letting myself in for! Thank you for the connections and the welcome that have made this experience so fantastic. (Below photo is from 2007!)
Lisa and Ali.. I couldn't have asked for a better work 'family' than you two.. Supportive both professionally and personally, our experience here in Australia would not have been the same without you. You have guided me on my career and given me opportunities i will always be grateful for. Lisa you were the first person to meet baby Sienna, and you've both let me into your lives to photograph your nearest and dearest... If we make the move back Down Under, I will most definitely be in touch... (sorry no photo here!)
My mother's group.. it has been harder than I envisaged to wave you goodbye. Whilst Sienna will sadly not remember her little friends, but I will never forget the friendship, kindness and fun times that we've created as a group. Clea and Ella, Aneta and Lachie, Martina and Felix, Lucy and Claribel, Bree and Isla, Nikki and Makenna, Nicky and Jess, Carla and Harper, Liz and Tyler, Andy and Mason, Claudia and Clara, Tania and Perry, Viktoria and William, Antonio and Salome... we will keep in touch and hope for a reunion one day.
My fellow YLTers... what an experience. The year we all spent together was inspirational and thought provoking. You supported me through the tougher times of 2012 and inspired me to strive for the things that make me happy in life. In particular.. Lauren.. thanks for being my rock, Ben... your chaos inspires me (embrace it!), and Will, I hope our families paths will cross again because there are more good times to be had!
Tom.. I wonder if he will ever read this? He's not a big reader of this blog, so this message may remain unread for years to come. When you do read it, I want to record how grateful I am to you for this wonderful journey you've brought me on... we both know that I came here for you, and you are leaving here for me. I wouldn't have done this without you, and am so glad we did it!! You'll absolutely HATE this public display of emotion so I'll stop there, other than to say I hope the rest of our life can be as happy as the last five years have been :)
We leave as not just Brits but Australians too, making a return Down Under one day a realistic opportunity. For now, we bid you farewell. Thank you, Australia, for welcoming us with open arms and changing the course of our lives forever... x