An Expat Life- 'wait and see'

Over the years, people have asked me how our expat life came about. I have had mixed reactions to my answers. "For heaven sake, how could you take your family and do that?" is what one woman said to me as she exclaimed that she would never allow her husband to even suggest it.  I suddenly felt very sorry for her husband. Others would gladly pack their bags and be on the next plane out.

If presented the opportunity to move abroad, you have to think long and hard about what it means to you and your family. It is not a decision to make lightly and there is no right or wrong answer.   It is a personal choice and sometimes you just have to hope you made the right one.

As expat assignments go I have to say we have been very fortunate. We have had two assignments in Sydney, Australia, one in Auckland, New Zealand and one in Surrey, England. I often think we should use the expat term loosely as we have never truly experienced an 'expat community' where we have had to live in a foreign speaking country. It has been easy for us to assimilate and carry on. The differences are marked but there have been very few hardships. 

We are not done with this wanderlust lifestyle. Travelling is the easy part, raising children in the midst of it all is the more challenging aspect of an expat life. I say this with my #1 living in Australia, #2 living in New Zealand, #3 planning to go to college in America and #4 being the greatest challenge of all. He is 11 years old and we have to make plans. We will not be in England forever, in fact the winds of change, which I wrote about here, are blowing thru our life again. Timing is always the question, one year, 2-3 years..who knows. Life in the corporate world is like a game of Dominoes. Everything stands in perfect order until one falls over. You have to be ready to slide back in whenever and wherever is needed. There are three words that are spoken with regularity in our home 'wait and see'. As frustrating as that sounds, it's all you can do. 

I knew what I was in for from the get go.  When Mr. H. and I met, he was in graduate school studying International Affairs and I was putting a few notches on my belt whilst climbing the corporate ladder. We were both 27 years old. He had lived in various countries in Africa by then and I had managed a few short breaks overseas travelling the Club Med circuit. Our perspectives of the world were markedly different. He had recently returned from the Peace Corp in Africa having taught English and mastering the art of building chicken coops and I was strategising my next move within the arena of corporate politics. More on how we met here.

Love has it's way of working magic and within two years we married. On the day we married, we departed for a life in Sydney and so the story began. During the past 25 years we had a 10 year break back in America..the rest have been spent overseas. We have now spent more time overseas than in our home country which puts us in a very tricky situation. Where is home?

We have two homes, one in Sydney and one in Auckland...we wait. We obtained Australian citizenship along the way with intentions of retiring in Sydney. Funny thing about that word 'retire' seems to be elusive. I remember when it was 40, than 50, than 55 and now 60. We have regular conversations, Mr. H. and I, about the future, but they seem to end with those three little words 'wait and see'.

So hear I sit, that breeze is blowing thru our lives again and I have to wonder... when?....where? long? and then what?

It's an expat life...I just have to wait and see.

a few stamps in my passport
Thank you for reading along. Sometimes writing
helps to see what lays ahead more clearly. 
It is part of the journey:)

My Pashley and Joni Mitchell

Some of you may know that I fell in love last year...big time,
with my Pashley bike. The love affair is about to begin again
as she comes out for a little spring cleaning.

Pashley and I like to ride the back roads 
to get to town and pick up a few goodies for the basket.
We make a great team. 

I am thinking it is time to purchase a gift or two for
Pashley. She deserves it. I have had my eye on a pannier
for the back wheel in the past. This may be the time to go for it.

After viewing this video...I am thinking one of those capes
is just the ticket for me. My kids may disown me but
hey, you only live once!

In my mind there is only one place to shop. Bobbin Bicyles.
I regularly stop onto the website and drool over the selection.
This video has given me all the incentive I need to pop into the store!

Before I go....
did I ever tell you about Joni?

Mr. H and my son Connor got her 'looking fine' over the weekend.
Joni is named after Joni Mitchell.
The perfect music for a top down kind of day.

Best wishes for a fab day!!

Jeanne xx

Images~ me

An English Garden in Shropshire

Wednesday morning....Sunshine!

The kids are off to school, coffee is on the table and my bowl of porridge is at hand...sigh. 
One of the pleasures of a these few minutes of the day is the time to catch up with the 
weekend paper. I am always changing my mind on which is my favourite and in the end 
I buy them all, hence five days to read one days worth of papers. This morning I came 
across this book review in the 19 March edition of The Telegraph and wanted to share. 

Cressida Connolly, author and contributing writer for The Telegraph gave The Morville Years 
5/5 stars. This books seems to have it all. From the nuts and bolts of gardening to references 
to the the type of daffodil described in Wordsworth poem. You can read the review here.  
What made me get come along to the computer and write this post?  Cressida's parting words 
at the end of the review...

Swifts opinions are no less enjoyable than her learning. She observes back gardens 
from a speeding train, or swoons at the smell of the first mown grass of the year. 
Preserving fruit, she observes: "What is it about jam-making which seems to 
require that it be finished after midnight, however early I start?"- with which anyone 
who has made marmalade recently will agree. She makes black fruit salad and goes 
out in the dew in her dressing gown. Anyone who decrees that "there ought to be a 
law against August" is worth reading.

I thought of many readers when I came across this passage...Pamela and Itztru to start...
Off to the bookstore today, to add to this book to my morning reading :)

Best wishes for a glorious day from she who swoons at the smell of freshly 
mown grass anytime of the year.

Image and Review here

Strolling along East Molesey

Some days you just have to go with the flow. 
We did, yesterday afternoon, on Bridge Rd. in East Molesey
within walking distance of Hampton Court Palace
Mr. H and I were making our way to the River Thames for an afternoon stroll. 
The horses had the same idea and we were the lucky ones in the car behind them.
This is a great street, filled with wonderful cafe's, antique shops and galleries. 
Next time you stop into Hampton Court Palace to walk in Henry VIII footsteps, 
pop over to Bridge Road. Who knows, I may see you there:)

image via P. J. Dale

Bookshops Around London

London is filled with wonderful bookshops.
Do you have a favourite?
Here a few of my mine:

Books for Cooks, Notting Hill

The Travel Bookshop, Notting Hill

Hatchards, London 

Daunt Books, Marylebone

Foyles, Charring Cross

John Sandoe Books, Chelsea

Persephone Books, Holborn

Primrose Hill Books, Primrose Hill

Have I missed any?


Ladies of The Courtauld

Taking note earlier this week @ The Courtauld Gallery.

Two dancers on a stage c. 1874
By Edgar Germain Hillaire Degas

La Loge 1874
By Pierre Auguste Renoir

Venus, Known as the Medici Venus
Late 19th century

Painted image on ceiling of room in Courtauld Gallery.

The Parting of Ulysses c. 1862
By John Everett Millais

Looking up at The Courtald Gallery.

Images taken by me

Peeping @ The British Museum

I have been to the British Museum a few times and each time
I have taken in just a few rooms. The collection is so vast it seems impossible to
see it all in a day. I knew if I tried I would not have been able to do this.
Just focus..on the detail.

Today the focus was on sculpture...
just a few pieces.

Roman, 2nd century AD
On loan from her Majesty the Queen
Room 23, Sculpture

The following can be seen in Room 18, Greece: Parthenon

Room 21, Mausoleum of Halikarnassos

Bronze head of a goddess, probably Aphrodite
Room 22, Alexander the Great

Main Hall in the Museum.

If you have a chance to go to the British Museum, take your camera 
and look closely. You will discover the most amazing details. 
A museum to love :)


Mr. and Mrs. Firth

I am duly impressed. An Academy award and they both look great coming off
the flight from LA into London. Livia obviously has travel down to a science
because she not only looks great, she looks comfortable. My guess is that
Colin has everything in his roller bag, as men so easily do.
Such a clever man!

"A Lot of Good People"

New Zealand Women's Association
Comfort Funds 1937

I went along to a luncheon hosted by the New Zealand Women's Association
at New Zealand House in London yesterday. I attended as an member
of the Australian Women's Club. There I was, sitting in the middle of a table, a group
of New Zealander's to my left and a group of Australian's to my right and I thought life
could not get any better than this. The blend of accents and laughter was heartwarming. 

I was an unknown to the New Zealand group and I am sure they wondered 
who this woman was with the American accent and a smile that lasted the entire duration 
of the luncheon.  I felt if I had this name tag, perhaps it would have made it easier to understand:

American born, Australian
citizen, lived in New Zealand
and now living in England.
Future destination: Unknown

I started chatting to the woman seated next to me and she remarked how the world had changed since she was a young woman. I would say she was in her early 70's. She left New Zealand by boat in the 1960's to follow the man she loved. She said it was a difficult time in her life. I wish I had more time to learn more. She loves England and has made it her home. I gathered from our conversation that she was now on her own. She is an artist and her name is Lind Anso.  Before I left she passed me a card to an upcoming exhibition featuring her work. I was delighted.

 I asked about the painting and what inspired her to create it. Lind told me that she was visiting friends and watching on as they were preparing for a Halloween costume party. The man seated is having 'ghostly' makeup applied. She viewed the scene in a reflection from a mirror. If you happen to be in Lincoln from 21 March-3 April 2011 you can see Lind's work at Sam Scorer Gallery.

It was wonderful to meet Lind and other members of the group. We had spectacular views of the city in the Penthouse of New Zealand House and lunched on food prepared by each of the members.  A raffle was held to raise money for the the Earthquake Appeal in Christchurch. Something close to my heart.

It was a New Zealand home style affair in the heart of London with a few Australians and me. 
Just a lot of good people enjoying each other's company.

Best wishes for a wonderful weekend.
May you enjoy the company of a lot of good people :)

Jeanne xx

PS..apologies for quality of  art image.
It was a bit worse for wear by the time
I got home.

top image here

My One Weakness

I have a few weaknesses...actually a lot of them, but one of them is recycled books. I can be in a massive rush to get somewhere but when I see this stand, filled with used books, at exceptionally low prices, I just have to stop. I feel like the deer who looks absentmindedly into oncoming car headlights. My eyes glaze over, my feet slow down and my mind switches into book alert. 

Today I found two. I picked up The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery which I love. I am going to hold onto it for a friend and the other is Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I have never read it or seen the movie! I can feel looks of surprise already :) You may wonder what my book cases at home look like with all these whimsical purchases. You don't want to know!  I will say that I am very good at stacking.

But hey, it was the best £3.00 I spent all day :)

Do you have a weakness you would like to share?
I hope it is as crazy as mine :)

Have you read either of the books above?
What did you think?