Facebook memories over winter revolve around moving. Either the chance of a move, visa applications or a physical house move, followed by trying to sort everything out on a tight timescale, budget and stress.
10 years ago this week we submitted our final visa application to move to South Africa. These things take months to do and every time you submit the application someone adds yet another piece of paperwork to the pile that needs to be filled in. The final piece of paperwork for our first move after numerous medical reports was a signed form from our GP stating we were of sound mind.
4 years later we had to return to the UK to submit papers for our move to Dubai
10 years on I question how sound our minds were at the time and over subsequent years as we've moved, home and country.
To be honest whilst our life style sounds complicated to some, it's just normal to me. I don't think I've ever had a normal life. Prior to leaving the UK I'd moved 17 times, with the longest stay in one house of 8 years where Peter and I raised a blended family for 8 years after getting married in 2002.
I crave being in one place, being in charge as much as the next person in regards to choosing when to move and where to move to. Of course we could've chosen not to have become expats, it wasn't a path we were searching for, just making the most of any opportunity that came our way.
The opportunities we've had as a family, especially for our children have been amazing. Although we only brought the 2 younger boys abroad with us, the eldest was already living in Germany with the army for 4 years, but the next child who left home at 18, just 3 months before we left the UK, packed his bags just over 3 years ago and announced his move to Australia as he wanted the same opportunities to live abroad also, like his siblings have had.
There have of course been numerous missed opportunities, difficulties with Education, lost work opportunities for me, missing family events and now not seeing our grandchild grow up. But we've tried to prioritise important events, we've been able to support our children, now all adults, in ways we couldn't have if we'd stayed in the UK.
We've lost family and friends along the way, these events would've happened regardless, we only know the life we have now, not the life we would've or could've had.
It's been difficult despite the sun shine continuously, it's also been a lot of fun, but regardless of location there is still work, washing, ironing, food shopping, cooking to be done.
I like to think we've kept our feet rooted firmly to the ground throughout this journey. We view our eventual move to the UK as another move, not as going back.
I saw the cross crossing woman near our old home in the UK on a visit. She said 'Oh you're back then?' as if we'd been been on some failed mission to Mars. It took a lot of control not to reply with 'You're still here then?'
Everything has to come to and end at some point, but it's not the end for us, it's yet another change, now with a grandchild to enjoy, a child living in Australia we can visit and whilst we've lost family members over the years, we've gained new ones in the form of in laws and it's an exciting chapter we look forward to being part of.