Monday, 22 September 2014

Haere ra Ingarangi, ka hoki tatou

Farewell England, we will be back

It all got too much for me, the money, the waiting, the uncertainty - even the wretched decision making. But the decision has been made and with a real heavy heart we're sticking with the choice we made.

We left Suffolk yesterday after having been to Ipswich the day before to send some boxes of extra bits and pieces home ahead of us (hopefully). It was a long sad drive full of regret and indecision. We paid one last visit to Framlingham to donate some more clothes and books to the East Anglia Children's Hospice shop and get something to eat from the market. Then off to Shipston we went (the looong way).

We stopped on the motorway to take some photos of the glorious colours that the leaves are turning, and then headed first for Leamington to have afternoon tea with some cousins we just kept missing other times we had stayed there. it was great to meet them and share some of our experiences, tinged with sadness that it had happened so close to the end. Then out for dinner and back to Shipston for the night.

Today, we left our hosts to head south to Heathrow. It has been fun unravelling some family tree mysteries and identifying faces from old photos together. It had been suggested that we go to Harry Potter World on our way, but we decided against it since the tickets had to be bought in advance and were for timed entry...what if we got lost and didn't get there in time ?

So instead, after a quick trip back to Leamington for some shopping (only lip balm it turned out) we headed south through the Cotswolds....and made a detour to Chedworth to see the Roman Villa. That National Trust membership we bought at our visit to Montacute House back in July has been well worth it. Parking is pretty minimal at Chedworth, and a lot of what you see is just remaining walls. But the heritage centre is truly amazing. Walking on metal and wooden platforms suspended above the most amazing mosaic floors. There are a few glimpses of mosaic floors as well in the bath house, but most exciting is the area - now re-hidden under the grass where an incredible find of intact mosaic floor was just discovered in August 2014 - last month.

Then before we turned east to come back to London we went to hunt down a spot that was on our bucket list.

Who knew we were this close to home !

But soon we'll be closer. We're leaving tomorrow, it's time to rebuild...and I am already planning how and when I am going to get back here. We've done so much, but there is still so much left to do and explore, it can't truly actually be the end.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Sadness and maddening indecision

Well people, it seems that the dream is about to end. We have had a couple of weeks of real ups and downs, of not knowing if we are doing the right thing or the wrong thing, wanting SO much to stay but being so tense about dwindling finances and apprehensions.

Lauren was offered a role in a lovely wee town which we both loved, but the job description highlighted a few uncertainties since the scope of the role was vastly different to the role we know at home. Also they were really pressurising about having to have an address by the end of the week so that they could run a DBS check on her, and employment for the past five years and as well as work referees they wanted to have referees from her places of study. All this with no actual start date confirmed, and for a care assistant - not even a nursing role.

Then, we found a great flat - but the letting agent wasn't the most communicative and left us unsure whether we would be able to get the tenancy because we weren't able to complete the reference check form entirely. We said we could pay in advance to secure it and even then he wasn't very forthcoming. we spent a very stressful, tense weekend waiting to hear from him - which we didn't. When I phoned on Monday it seemed it was all ok - but he still didn't really say that without some investigative questions. 

The flat was unfurnished so all the"extra" money involved to just get mattresses and bits and pieces started mounting up in my mind. Lauren was still unsure about the job and then I got an interview for a role in then we'd need a car as well since the buses aren't great from Framlingham. As it happens I missed out on the job - didn't get to interview #3. But by then all the uncertainties had really started mounting up. what if neither of us got roles, or we needed to buy a car, or we ran out of money and were unable to pay the next lump sum of rent...

I haven't been the easiest person to live with this last week and I'm surprised Lauren has hung around without completely losing her cool with me. I've been moody and teary, and changed my mind over and over again.

We stopped this morning on the way to Ipswich with some boxes which are heading home with excess kilos to take photos of this sunflower farm - near where we almost lived as we've meant to stop every time we drove past.

Maybe they will cheer me up a bit - and make the post seem not quite so depressing as it feels.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Suffolk scenes and an Abbey

We went to Anglesey Abbey on Sunday for a wander through the house and gardens. The highlight apparently was the dahlia display. I didnt think it was as good as some we have seen though.

We came home with bags full of conkers to see if they really do kill spiders...not so far we have seen and dealt with two brazen ones who were not affected by the power of the conker at all.

We did spot this cute wee kitten in the secret garden though, no sign of his mother or any siblings though.

We didnt go and explore the mill at the other end of the water.

One day we went for a drive to get some photos of Suffolk. We really like it here, but I'm not sure it is going to work out.

Autumn is coming....

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Julius, Julius, wherefore art thou Julius ?

Last Monday I took a trip to Essex. Mostly I was going so that I could meet Lauren off the train on her way back from Belgium. But also because I thought it was an opportunity to do some family tree research without having a reluctant companion.

So off I went in search of the elusive great great grandfather who hasn’t left much of a paper trail for us at all. I drove around in circles a little in the area I “think” he was from, and spent some time at the Essex Record Office reading parish records. Very helpful people there, with all sorts of advice. But still, he is hiding. Grrr. 

Nana always said that "in England Timms' were ten a penny, but you never heard of much of Fuller's, although in New Zealand it was the other way around". She was right again I think.

So anyway, these are my photos from my day in “Julius country” 

they have these here too it seems...

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Flowers are everywhere

One thing we have noticed is the pride each hamlet, village, town and city takes in it's appearance. There have been beautiful flower baskets and tubs adorning buildings and lining streets everywhere we have been.

The other thing we've noticed is the community and life even in the smallest village. They mostly all have a pub and a church. Some have a Post Office and a Store, others only one or the other. There are other services too, doctors, small hospitals, banks. And everywhere village war memorials, cleaned and adorned with poppy wreaths. There are a few lessons here for NZ I think. 

Don't suck the life out of small towns, if you maintain services people will stay, housing will be affordable and with better commuter links unemployment wont be such an issue. Also, villages, towns etc here have to provide for social housing too - so they aren't elitist and all from one socio-economic band. Then you don't have deadbeat soul-less little towns with no employment, services or future for the inhabitants, and they wont be condemned to live on benefits with no hope.

Anyway that's my idea - feel free to pass it on to someone in politics with the sense to see the benefits.

Some of these are from streets and villages, others from parks and gardens we've visited, or just the roadside.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Sunrise Coast - the Gisborne of England

We’re in that bit of England that sticks out on the east like a rounded ball shape. It is pretty flat, and sparsely populated. There are a few notable cities; Norwich, Ipswich, Bury St Edmonds and a greater number of holiday resort towns.

We’re staying in one such place. The beach where we are is more like a cliff, but there are actual beaches close by. The area is great for bird watching, although I think bird watchers are immensely more patient than we are. Plus, they know what they are looking for, and we haven’t a clue really.

We went to Minsmere near Dunwich Heath and although we walked about 4kms around various trails we didn’t actually spot anything remarkable. The list from the visitor centre said we might see woodpeckers, avocet, sandpipers, otter, deer, godwits, herons, geese, harriers, warblers, coots, tits, swans, ducks, wagtails, squirrels, foxes to name a few. We will need to study our photos to determine what we actually did see later.

We did see a fox as we drove in, but weren’t quick enough to be able to get a photo of it before it disappeared into the undergrowth off the road. On the way back to the car we saw a squirrel, but it was camera shy too. Apart from them, we mostly saw swans, a heron, some wading birds – possibly little ringed plovers, geese, moor hens, a marsh harrier, ducks, and an abundance of dragonflies and damselflies (very tricky to photograph).

They were all a wee bit further away than we expected

It was a nice afternoon out, the only thing missing was food for us - again. Then to top off the day our planned excursion to the supermarket to stock up on ingredients for our stay was foiled. The giant signs reading “24 hours” at both Tesco and ASDA lie. When you get close the small print actually says they close at 4pm on Sundays. What’s with that ? We get caught every time, you’d think we would remember by now. We did find an alternative which was open, but no salads, no meat free options, and not much else either. So, another night of poor takeaways.

Just as an aside, I can’t understand why there is apparently an obesity problem here. I wouldn’t choose to have takeaways ever, if I could avoid it. The only ones we have tried and been impressed with are Domino’s – much better than at home, and the Chinese at Shipston-on-Stour. Even McDonalds, that great US Embassy found all over the world has been a disappointment. Vegetarian options all have quorn patties, getting a plain salad burger isn’t possible, and some stores don’t even sell vegetarian “sandwiches” or wraps. Breakfast was also not what we expected either. No BLT bagel, and hotcakes are pancakes with golden syrup and no butter. Blerk.

Anyway, enough of the moaning. 

Suffolk on the whole seems quite nice, we took a trip to Ipswich yesterday just to see. Lowestoft near we are staying is the most easterly point in England. Just like Gisborne at home, the sun's rays reach here first every morning. Maybe, hopefully we might have found where we want to stop for a bit. The job hunt is about to go into overdrive.