About us

We are a family of four. Sarah, Andy, Finn & Isla and we are on the emigration path to Sydney, Australia from Somerset, England. We arrived on Tuesday 24th August 2010 and this is our story.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Easter weekend

A 4 day weekend is waiting to welcome the family Stewart in this Easter and we have started to plan what we are going to get up to.

There was an incident between Andy and I before we had Finn & Isla which involved a previous Easter weekend.  Andy dutifully reminds me each year of the horror we experienced visiting Cheddar probably during the Easter of 2002/3.  I can't be quite sure of the year as I believe the trauma of the experience has caused me to blank from my memory the details.  We awoke on the Easter Monday and I suggested on a whim that we visit Cheddar for a mooch around, coffee and lunch maybe, Andy was not keen from the start!  That was my first mistake.  This small Somerset village, the origin of Cheddar cheese, was besieged by every man and his dog who had also decided what a splendid idea this would be.  It took around 45 minutes to drive to Cheddar from home so I was reluctant to admit defeat and turn around and go home when we couldn't find a parking space.  So we pushed on and did a full journey up and down the steep gorge trying to find a space to shoe horn our large Freelander into.  We ended up plumping for a car park and stalking the next pedestrian unfortunate enough to look like a car owner.  This did work and in the end we found a space.  Surprisingly for an English Bank Holiday it was quite a nice warm sunny day so we took to the pavements and ambled into the village.  Along with around 1500 other people.  Cheddar is quite a sleepy, quaint little village and there were so many people there that we ended up walking on the road and taking our chances with the cars.  We gave it about an hour before we admitted defeat and headed home swearing to never to anything so stupid ever again.  So this Easter Saturday we have decided to go to Wells, another quaint Somerset spot.  We will see how that works out!

We are going out on Thursday night so I imagine that Friday will be a bit of a lounge around with the children and play around on the farm kind of day.  We have invited my Mum, step Dad and Grandfather out for Sunday lunch so that's 3 days taken care of which leaves Monday.  We will do a couple of easter egg hunts.  Hidden chocolate is sure to motivate Finn!  Maybe Andy & I will go out one night as Mum will be here to babysit for us.  The perks of living en famille for a bit!

I have started to create our own family Stewart traditions for Finn & Isla.  Ones that I hope will stay with our family as they grow older and ones which will provoke fond memories of a magical childhood.  With this in mind I wanted to buy some hollow card eggs to fill with brightly wrapped foil chocolate eggs.  I have found two that are perfect and I remember having something similar when I was a child.  See:

How cute.

I am really looking forward to the weekend and maybe next year we can give the Royal Easter Show a go!

Here are a few piccies of us during February and March.

Finn & Isla in their "racing car", proving a cardboard box can provide hours of fun!

Us in happy times on the London Eye just before 'that poo incident'!
Finn & Isla on the London Eye also in happy times!

Finn & Andy on the Lions in Trafalgar Square - I wanted this picture as there is one of me at a similar age doing the same thing!

My stylish gorgeous girl is growing up.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Studious husband and other things

I sit here at the kitchen table in admiration of Andy who is trudging through another stack of paper copy study manuals for his next Microsoft Exam.  The current folder of joy is around 5 inches thick with duplexed technical geekery.  Around every other night for the last 7 weeks he has flexed his muscles and raised the A4 lever arch of joy onto his lap and waded through the next chapter.  Its a good job we don't have a buzzing social life (we have children and are living with my Mum!) as many nights Andy continues on his certification path.  What a trooper.  Andy, I salute you.  I just hope all this bloody hard work pays off when he is looking for an employer on the other side of the globe and he can earn the big $$$$.  After all, I have ladies to meet and there is lunch to be had.

Holiday cramming continues before we depart these shores and we now have 4 nights in Devon with one of the best girls, her beau and Tom, her son.  We are also going to go away with my Mum to Centre Parcs in June, 2 days after we return from the week in Cornwall.  Holiday me right up!  I reflect once again that before our emigration plan really kicked in we didn't do this sort of thing very much and now I am having trouble identifying weeks to cram little jaunts away in!  Ironic.
I have started to look for temporary accommodation in Sydney for our first 3 weeks over the last few days.  I have e-mailed one company about some 2 bed apartments in Manly today which look fab but there are no prices.  Alarm bells should probably be ringing but I figure it's worth a punt.  They are just back from the beach and not far from the cafes and eateries which would be handy.  I also think it would be a good idea to trial somewhere in the thick of it so we can really see what the commuter traffic is like.  I have heard it is pretty bad so I'm quite keen for us to deal with it from the get go so that we can decide if it would be worth it for the location.

I continue to debate the size of property over location topic.  Option 1:  Do we live 45 minutes from the beach and city but have a good size house and maybe a pool?  Option 2: Or do we go for a bijou townhouse or even a spacious apartment that we can walk to the beach and be in the hub of Sydney life?  I really don't know and I swing from one option to the other. 
Option 1

Option 2

Maybe I will only know when we get there and I can see the options rather than internet property searches.  Whatever we choose it's going to be pretty different to our life at the moment.  Which I figure is a good thing.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

A country girl, but is it in my heart?

The best girls came over for dinner last night and we invaded Mum's kitchen and conservatory as we ate numerous lovely things like jacket potatoes, cheeses, cold cuts, bread, chutneys, salads....the list goes on.  We always have great chats over good food and wine!

I recalled when I went on a German exchange program when I was at school at the tender age of 15.  I was a little unsure about going as I wasn't even doing German so had only a small grasp of the language and I voiced this to tutor organising the trip who cajoled me into it anyway.  So, I find out to my horror that they have paired me with someone of a very similar background.   Therefore a farmer's girl.  Joy.  I traded a country farm in the middle of nowhere for something similar in the land of Helga with a family who didn't speak the language where I was just as isolated as I was at home!  This family had a hide of a Friesian cow on the landing floor which I found completely repulsive and felt the need to side step around it pressing my body against the wall as I went!

I did love living and growing up in the countryside but it does have its restrictions.  You have to drive everywhere and therefore until I could drive at 17 I had to be ferried around which limited my getting out ability and in fact socialising in general.  So when I was in Germany I had the same problems and was forced to stay around the farm while the rest of the exchange party were living it up in the local parks sampling the local schnapps. 

This is the latest Google street view of the farm I grew up in:

It really is a beautiful home and it has been in my family for 3 generations being farmed for milk, beef and arable.

When we started considering moving and in fact emigrating we started to talk about what we wanted for Finn and Isla for their childhood.  I think it would be nice to live somewhere that they can visit friends and the local park without having to get in the car.  I have visions of children being able to knock on our door and ask if they can come out to play after school.  Being able to walk to the park and use the swings and take some snags to chuck on the free, clean barbies for lunch.

There are my ideas, however I have never lived in a city, town or even a suburb as I have always lived in the country.  Therefore my ideals may change over the next few years but I am ready to give it a go.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

A mixed bag...

...of emotions.

I spent the weekend in Cheltenham with my best girls Bronnie & Charms.  Not just 1 night away but 2!  That is the first time in 3 years since having Finn and Isla that I have been away from them.  I missed them.  A lot.

However it was was lovely to spend a frivolous, drunken, happy weekend with the girls as the opportunities to do this are reducing as our emigration date nears.

Previously I have felt huge buckets of guilt along with excitement, trepidation, hope and many more but until this weekend I hadn't really felt sad.  We talked a lot over the weekend about my move away and I started to feel quite sad that I'm not going to see them very often from August.  Of course, they reassured me that there is Skype, e-mail, Facebook etc which is true but it won't be the same.  These are the consequences of emigrating.  I already knew this and have accepted it but all the same it drove it home.

We had such fun and I got the chance to shop during the day, uninterrupted and with no requirement to be home at a specific time.  Bliss.

Andy was at home holding the fort dealing with Finn who had caught the tummy bug that Isla had the previous weekend.  All 3 survived the experience but I'm sure they were just as relieved to see me as I was to see them!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

If it could go wrong it did!

We went to London over the weekend as planned and the following events occurred which kind of sums up the whole experience:

  • Isla was ill with a sickness bug on the Thursday which made me wonder if we would actually even go.
  • On the Friday morning the sickness had gone but she was really tetchy and had an upset tummy.  We decided to go for it as these things are normally only 24 hours....
  • We had a lovely time in the Rainforest Cafe although we parked in Soho and the walk back to the car was interesting.  Finn was a bit scared of the gorillas as they were pretty lifelike but all good.
  • Hotel OK - air con not walking so stuffy bedroom, Finn had lots of dreams and woke up and talked in his sleep.  A lot.
  • Isla did a thunderous upset tummy poo while 5 minutes into the 30 minute London Eye "flight".  Escaped out of the nappy and onto the floor (OMG!!) which resulted in an announcement to our other lucky inhabitants of the pod that a nappy change and in fact whole outfit change would be required.  This news resulted in us having at least 1/2 of the pod to ourselves.  Laugh....I almost cried.
  • In fact there were in total 9 upset tummy incidents in 48 hours several resulting in an outfit changed.  Trauma is not the word.  Me not Isla!
  •  Trafalgar Square, the National Gallery and Covent Garden were really lovely.
  • We had some Chinese food in China town and I broke a tooth while in there which really capped the day off!
  •  Sunday morning and we were up with the larks (as you are with children) and in Oxford Street at 09:30 for a little retail therapy and found the sodding shops don't open until 12!  12, I ask you, for the Love of God!
  • Second taxi of the day and we arrive at Harrods to find that also doesn't open until 12.  Arrrrgggghhhh.
  • So we walked to the Science Museum which was good fun.
  • Andy goes to collect the car and manages to navigate to the wrong place to pick the children and I up.  1 hour of waiting in the cold and he screams up full of apologies and "he thought that the postcode being 1 letter out wouldn't matter".  I ask you - he works in IT he should know that wouldn't work.
Not what I imagined!

Thursday, 4 March 2010


When I drive into work on a Tuesday and Wednesday morning I listen to Radio 1.  I used to dislike Chris Moyles intensely as I found him an offensive repugnant man of little worth.  However, now I find him and his breakfast team quite amusing. I digress.

This morning I caught the news at 06:30 before Chris started and they were covering the story of the killers of Jamie Bulger, one of which has just been sent back to prison on license infringements.   I remember being shocked at the time of the turn of events in 1993.  I was in secondary education at the time and I remember doing some sort of course work the following year on what had happened and I remember being interested and appalled and what had lead two 10 year olds to such drastic action and acts of violence.

Fifteen years on and I am now a mother with a son of 2 years old.  The same age that Jamie was abducted and murdered.

I listened to the news coverage of the story this morning for the 1st time since the story broke and I felt a swell of rage, fury and protectiveness unfurl in the pit of my tummy and make it's way through my chest up to my throat.  I cannot even begin to imagine what Jamie's poor mother must of felt at the time and now, but I can honestly say that if faced with those terrible horrendous circumstances I don't think I could be responsible for my actions.  The feeling this morning I can only liken to a tigress and her cubs and I found the emotion so strong that it caught me by surprise a little.  

Becoming a mother has completely changed me as a person and I have such a maternal urge when it comes to Finn & Isla that when I am reminded of it like today I am momentarily floored.

I knew already that I had this in me as whenever I have reflected on the disappearance of Madeline Mccann I have felt the same surge of feelings and choking in the throat.

However, today I was once again reminded of the power of being a mother.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

What should the exit be like?

I imagine we will have the following when we depart the UK on Wednesday 18th August:
  • Me
  • Andy
  • Finn
  • Isla
  • 1 collapsible buggy
  • 1 ladybird trunkie (Isla)
  • 1 Thomas the tank engine suitcase (Finn)
  • 2 pieces grown up hand luggage
  • 1 handbag
  • 1 laptop
  • 4 suitecases
  • 2 large bags
Now, the question is - how are we going to get all that to the airport?  Of course we will also need 2 car seats for Finn & Isla to travel to the airport in as well.
We initially talked about splitting the family up and going up in 2 cars with our respective families but I'm not sure this is a good idea.  I can imagine a tearful departure at the airport while all and sundry watch our blubbering (or so I imagine!) au revoirs.  I think it is far better so say our goodbyes at home as I'm sure it will be more dignified for all involved.  Just writing this is making me choke up a bit.

The next option is hiring a huge car with car seats from Enterprise or some such that we can drop off at Heathrow when we arrive.  The amount of luggage I anticipate having with us makes our car requirements quite substansive.

Train - completely out of the question.

Bus - even more so than the train!

Some sort of airport shuttle?  This is definitely an option and one I feel I should research. 

This is our luggage for 2 weeks in America in October!


We don't travel light.

I was thinking today that it is still 6 months until we go - it feels like ages at the moment and I want it to be here sooner.  I'm sure that as it gets closer I will be trying to slow down time!

I have been e-mailing my second cousin in Sydney over the last few days.  Caroline has lived in Sydney for many years now and has married an Aussie and they have 2 young children now.  I last saw Caroline in September 2001 when I visited her in Sydney.  Andy and I were hoping to catch up with her on our honeymoon in 2004 but she was back in the UK visiting family then. 

Caroline has provided some useful information about the area we are looking at and has really provided a very warm virtual welcome.  I'm sure we will see quite a bit of them when we get there and although her children are a few years older than Finn & Isla it will be good for them to meet some Aussie rellies!

Caroline is my Grandads, brothers, grandaughter and also grew up on a farm about 20 miles from us now.  Farming has been in the Adams family blood for a while.

My Mum and her brother, Steve, live next door to each other.  Steve in the farmhouse and Mum in a barn conversion and my grandad in another barn conversion on the farm.  We are all quite close together especially now the Stewart Clan are also residing.  It was Steve's son Georges birthday at the weekend and we all met up in the farm kitchen for coffee, cake and present opening on Saturday morning.  It was really really lovely and I will miss doing this sort of thing spontaneously.  I have to remind myself that it is all so easy at the moment as we are almost in a large commune and that if we weren't actually on the doorstep it wouldn't be quite like this.  Still very nice though.