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Westie puppies rule the world

Westie puppies rule the world

Ten months ago, my Mum, Cooper and I found ourselves in a sleepy suburb outside of Brisbane, surrounded by a squeaking pack of tiny Westie puppies. It was a far cry from where we expected to be in December 2020. I for one fully intended to be at a nice crisp German Christmas market, sipping on mulled wine and impulse buying sparkly decorations that I had nowhere to display.

But, surrounded by these white creatures that more so resembled tiny polar bears than Westie puppies with their eyes barely open wasn’t entirely bad either.

 

For the love of dog

One look at all of our past content here and on YouTube, and you’ll spot a mile off that Cooper and I are “dog people”. Not part time or casual dog people. Oh no. We are those all-in-totally-obsessed-heart-eyed weirdos who quite literally would follow a wagging tail along the road, through a shopping mall, down a commuter platform and onto a train if it meant we could have just one pat.

If that sounds insane to you, maybe you better go find another post to read 😛

As long as Cooper and I have known each other, we have loved dogs. In fact, I recall the first time I thought Cooper (my co-worker at the time) was “sweet” was when he stooped down to kiss one of our mutual friends’ dogs on the head when he met it.

“That’s so sweet,” I thought…and looked at him kinda differently after that.

Jumping forward a few years, we had two blue cattle dogs in our lives. One, Stephanie, my beloved childhood pet who moved with me to a small rural town in NSW where Cooper ended up befriending her and giving her a roaring good time in her twilight years.

 

 

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And the second, Harry (pictured above), another bluey who was quite simply the best dog you could ever, ever know. He loved us and we loved him with all of our hearts. Everyone loved Harry – he was a popular family member with all relations and friends. He had his own identity and personality. When you imagine the “man’s (or woman) best friend” analogy of a dog and their human living their best life, together, Harry is the dog in that picture.

That rainbow bridge, I tell you, it’s a wonderful place with all our four-legged mates chasing their tails and their tennis balls, just waiting for us on the other side.

But of course, there’s that time in between. And ours was spent living abroad and travelling. We were always dog spotting and stalking puppies in the park – well, everywhere really (pubs, trains, cafes, courtyards, the workplace…). The time was never right for us to get a dog when we lived in London. We did however, sign up to be Trusted Housesitters specifically to get our dog fix and give love to fur babies in the absence of their own humans who wanted to get away on a holiday somewhere.

 

Which brings me back to being surrounded by Westie puppies…

Since we had to leave London for now, and with so much loss experienced over the past year, we decided that it was time to bring in new puppy joy. (Well, when I say ‘we’, I mean I kept shoving the newborn picture of our future Westie pup in Cooper’s face until he said ‘yes’ :).

We couldn’t get a bluey again based on our apartment living requirements, so we set about searching for a breed that we feel is quite similar in personality: the West Highland Terrier. Maybe it was sentimental – Westies had been the first breed we pet sat for in London; or maybe it was always meant to be, but we decided to give raising a Westie a go.

That day surrounded by Westie puppies, we made our choice: not the loudest pup, and not the quietest – the one in the middle who did seem content enough with us gently picking him up and having a chat with him about his future.

 

What did we learn about Westie puppies?

Well let me tell you, Westies, they’re not the same as cattle dogs 😂 In fact, we’d clocked early on – at about 9 weeks old – that our little Westie puppy, London (named after our beloved adopted home in England) had no intention of listening to anything other than what pleased him. Our vet even said to us, “yeah, he’ll never be obedient like the cattle dog”.

‘Westitude’, we later discovered on a Facebook Group full of Westie owners – is an actual thing. Defiant, belligerent, obstinate.

But oh my God, he’s just the cutest little defiant, belligerent, obstinate thing we could ever know!

Also, we are kind of in love with him, which is evident by the fact he has nine places comfortably laid out to sleep at home (in a one bedroom flat!). We also bought a doggie cam so we could check on him and make sure he was ok and not fretting when he was a little pup. Additionally, London  has the luxury of attending doggy daycare during the week to keep him happy and social.

 

Best things we did to help our West Highland Terrier puppy as he grew up

If you’re considering the journey, go for it. These are the funniest little dogs you’ll ever meet! Actually hilarious! But here are my top tips based on our own experience:

    • Crate training was a new concept for us, but it’s the BEST thing we did. Even though London isn’t bound to his crate anymore, he still makes his way inside for his own peace, solace, warmth and rest.

 

    • The first eight weeks might be tough: they’re babies and need the same care human babies do. They also wake VERY early and need to know you’re there to help them with potty or nurturing.

 

    • Give your puppy the time he/she deserves. I think it’s easy to forget they’re still so young and really do need proper care. They love interaction and play, so spend time with them.

 

    • Ensure plenty of toys and stimulation are available for your puppy, especially if you’re going to be out.

 

    • But with that said, please please do not get a puppy (of any breed) without thinking through how he/she will spend their days. If you’re going to be out a lot in the future, will you provide daycare or walkers – what’s the plan?

 

    • Best treats we discovered are chilled carrots (he LOVES these) which are especially great when your puppy is teething; and peanut butter on a Lickimat (available on Amazon and at pet stores).

 

    • Our doggie webcam was so inexpensive on Amazon and well worth it so we could monitor in his early days how he was coping when we were at work.I spotted there was a two hour window in the afternoon when he started to panic and suffer from separation anxiety, so arranged for friends to drop in and play with him during that time while he was very young.

 

    • Get proper breed-related advice on how to feed and care for your pup: Westies tend towards sensitive stomachs and allergies, so do your research to ensure you are prepared and can prevent these things if possible.

 

    • Educate yourself: there’s a WEALTH of wonderful training information on YouTube. If you’re getting a puppy, spend time teaching yourself how to care for him or her. They deserve it, and your future self will thank you! Two of our fave trainers’ channels for this are Zak George and Michele Lennon.

 

    • Learn to go with your intuition. If a cry is more than a cry or you sense there’s a difference between anxiety and tantrum (and there is), take action on it accordingly.

 

    • Westie puppies are very social, so after vaccinations, ensure you’re getting your pup out and about to play with other dogs. Puppy preschool is a good option, as is doggie daycare in the long run. Dog parks are in every city, and you can find breed-specific or location-specific pooch meet-up groups on Facebook.

 

  • The world will revolve around your Westie puppy, because he/she demands it to be so 🙂

 

 

A future world with our Westie

As London grows, he is gradually shedding some of the puppy Westitude. He wants to hang out with us more and do dog things … like we remember dogs do. He’s brought so much fun and laughter though, and reminds us yet again of the value of dogs: they are pure joy.

He is certainly part of our pack now. Or perhaps, it’s us who are in his.

We can’t wait to see what the future holds: adventures with London in London, perhaps?

👉🏻 Read our popular post about pet care while you’re away, and house sitting as a way of travel or to take care of your own fur baby.

Do you have a question about raising a Westie puppy, or have a story to share? We’d love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below. 

Saying goodbye to a loved one

Saying goodbye to a loved one

Saying goodbye to a loved one takes many forms when you’re an expat and traveller. But should we take a chance for ‘goodbye’ lightly? There’s a song I’ve been listening to on repeat recently by a great group out of Glasgow, Chvrches. The track is called Asking For a Friend and is the lead song from their 2021 album release Screen Violence. A lyric near the beginning strikes me every time: “I’m no good at goodbyes”. Those few words resonate strongly and have reminded me lately about the value of “‘goodbye”.

As I write this and reflect, I realise I should add context before continuing with my story. This is the first post on our site in well over a year. While the world stood still this past year thanks to a nasty virus that’s taken over our lives and plans, it seems our website also got the memo to pause on proceedings. We have been plagued by errors and technical issues that rendered much of the back-end useless. But without the motivation to create, it didn’t matter anyway.

Say goodbye, without saying goodbye

This leads me back to my “goodbyes”, or lack thereof. I’ve said a lot of “see you laters” in my life. Perpetually chasing the next travel plan and living as an expat necessitates this strategy. Plus, “goodbye” has always felt so final. I’ve never been one for dramatic departures. I’d rather make it swift, rip it off like a band-aid, so to speak (then have a good cry in the airplane toilets and not to make a scene). I never wanted a fuss made, especially if I was on my way to where I needed to be. It’s just part of life’s rich tapestry, as my Dad would say.

2020 gave me more perspective on all of this though, and has made me wonder, is there more value in a proper “goodbye” than I’d previously given credence to?

Ignoring an opportunity for a heartfelt goodbye is perhaps underplaying how important it might have been for the person on the receiving end of my goodbye. And, perhaps it was sticking my nose up at a privilege that I should have been grateful for. After all, we hear stories each day of heartbreak where we can safely assume that the loved-ones involved had no chance for “goodbyes”. That, my friends, is ever so sad.

No chance to say goodbye to people or place

Last year… oh wait, I lose track of time… Going on nearly two years ago, we sat at an apocalyptically empty Heathrow Airport. We were forced, for a number of reasons, to leave somewhere that was without a shadow of a doubt, home. We had to pick up in Australia and start everything all over again. When we left England, there was no opportunity for goodbye. COVID was in full flight, the entire world was shut down.

We could not say goodbye to our loved ones there, nor our life. As dejected as I was sitting at that deserted airport late in March 2020 (eerie given Heathrow is usually heaving with commuters and people hurriedly shopping up a storm in Harrods or if you’re me, Accessorize), I never imagined in my wildest dreams that we’d still not be allowed to go back even now. I’m in Queensland, Australia, and still now we have no clear roadmap on how to travel freely around Australia, let alone internationally.

It all makes the fact we could not say goodbye even more difficult to take. It does not get easier. People have explained to us that we still mourn our life in London because we did not get to say goodbye. There was never an end. No closure that we can acknowledge.

Power of goodbye

Saying goodbye to a loved one, for good

There was a poignant goodbye in 2020. An actual moment saying goodbye to a loved one, forever. One painful moment, but one that was better to have happened than not.

It was Wednesday 6 May when my Dad said he wanted to tell my brother, Josh, and I, that it was “time for him to say goodbye”. He’d been lying in a bed for weeks. His body slowly, painfully and cruelly deteriorated. A once active and proud father, business owner and globe-trotter himself, now rotting away from cancer – unable to move, eat, drink, live. Stubborn to the end, his body held on – too long.

On that day, Josh and I sat with him on his bed. In a very odd twist, we both smelled death in that room that day. We both described it like that to each other later on. I can’t tell you how we knew, but we did. It was a telling and foreboding sense – very hard to process and accept as ‘true’, but it was clear to us.

By this point, our Dad had real trouble talking. He’d all but lost his voice and had zero energy. But he told us that he now needed to go, and that he wanted to say goodbye that day. In floods of tears filled with love, gratitude, regrets and fear about pretty much everything coming from that point on, we did just that. We said goodbye to our ultimate loved one, and for me, I faced my first permanent, real, and excruciatingly raw goodbye.

It’s October 2021 and I can only just bring myself to think about this moment. It was the last time I saw my Dad in this realm. I know he’s still around, but that’s a story for another time.

Hello, what’s next? 🙂

I stand by my original sentiment on “goodbyes” – they suck. Especially when they’re directed at people, places or experiences that mean the world to you. There is something to be said about having them though.

Since researching this topic and becoming aware of times when I’ve avoided goodbyes in the past, I have discovered some helpful resources and discussions. One is here, on The Five Reasons to Say Goodbye, and another from The American Psychological Association on why goodbyes are so important, whether it be to a person or a stage in your life. I now know I’m not alone: it’s difficult subject matter to talk about sometimes, and even harder to act on. But the awareness that we should go deeper, is really important.

We’re currently still stuck in an unrealistic and unreasonable travel ban throughout Queensland and Australia. I do hope we’re all rid of it soon (I’ll be very happy to say goodbye to many COVID rules, if I’m honest – get vaccinated, people – seriously). I’m hopeful we’ve got many “hellos” in our near future, and while they may be brimming with tears, they’ll be happy ones, as we are reunited with the people and places we never got to say “goodbye” to all those months (years) ago.

If you come across this post, drop me a line in the comments. How do you see it? I’m, you know, asking for a friend

Finding hope in uncertain times

Finding hope in uncertain times

I’ve been living in fear and anger lately, without much hope in uncertain times. We’ve had to leave our home in the UK, only to be treated like we don’t belong ‘back home’ in Australia. We couldn’t say goodbye to any of our friends or even to our life of the past six years – just had to jump on a plane and hope for the best. It’s been very sh!t.

COVID-19 has impacted a lot of people in many terrible ways. Some people don’t understand, they remain lucky and unscathed; the most they have to complain about is that the gym is closed. Others find themselves in situations where they can’t see sick or dying family in hospital or at home. Cooper and I had our lives torn away from us, and I haven’t seen light or hope, if I’m honest. Grief.

Finding hope in uncertain times

I know I don’t want to live like this. So, as we sit in mandatory 14 day isolation in a hotel in Australia, I’m finally getting to a point where I feel like I want to make the best of it. Acceptance.

This has been many weeks coming though. If you’ve followed the stories on this blog, you’ll know we’re now in our fifth week of isolation.

We got caught in Italy when lock-down was announced on 10 March.

Then we witnessed the health crisis unfold in the UK, although we were watching from a distance in our beautiful little corner of Bedfordshire with our friends Andy and Helen who we met through house sitting adventures.

 

Hope and acceptance amidst impossible decisions

We found ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. If we stayed in the UK, we did have accommodation and I had employment. But, Australia is harder and harder to access now (closed borders, very few international flights in), family is here and we seem less affected by Coronavirus (so far). Is it a better bet? After what we’ve witnessed, we worry that many here are too complacent – that Coronavirus will explode after Easter. I hope that prediction is wrong.

A friend recently gave me some advice about dealing with impossible decisions. She said, “sometimes you just have to make the choice, commit to it and make it work“.

Now that we’re here, we’ll make the best of it, even if ‘it’ means taking things month at a time.

There’s also a school of thought that my friend Leanne (publisher of Get it Magazine) and I have been focusing on. Time is something we have gained through Coronavirus isolation. Read our April Get it e-news for our tips on the ways you can use your time to improve your business and your life 😄

We have to hold onto this 👇

“Now more than ever, hope can actually become our power source.” -Deepak Chopra

 

Finding hope in uncertain (and isolated) times: our fave tools

No matter what’s going on in your life, in the end, hope comes from within. And it’s something we have to practice accessing – we can’t take it for granted. (just like you shouldn’t take your time, fresh air, fresh food, nice bed, and HEALTH for granted – think about that today 🙏).

So, from within the confines of our forced lock-down in Australia, here’s what we’re leaning on:

Hope in Uncertain Times, 21 day meditation experience (FREE on the app at time of publishing)

Gratitude practices

– Yoga – we love Adriene and Benji on YouTube

Home fitness classes including Barre, Pilates and Boxing on Popsugar Fitness TV

– Positive social media, like content coming from pages like this one from our friend Madonna Williams of Zen Soul Life

– Gabby Bernstein’s ‘Miracles Now’ card deck

Finding hope in uncertain times - Gabby Bernstein Miracles Now cards are helping our sanity

Find out more about what we are and importantly, are NOT doing, in this post about managing Coronavirus anxiety.

 

Helpful advice

Throughout this disaster that we know will end, although no end is in sight, I know more than just Cooper and I have retreated ‘home’. A wise friend and lifestyle coach Linda Stewart-Brown, reminded me that going back to your roots isn’t a bad thing, and to not feel like I’m peddling backwards. She says:

There are some things that need clearing up and finalising, in one way or another. Doing this, one step back, as you might see it, also means the next step is definitely forward! A strategic retreat and then transformation and clarification to be able to move ahead more quickly and with greater success. It is difficult to see right now, however, in 18 months, or less, this will all be 20/20 hindsight for which you will be very grateful.

 

I learnt a little something in this mental health and life coaching training too, that talks about a nice evening ritual. The course mentors encourage us to visualise our future at night. If you’ve got a partner, talk about it before bed. No worries if you’re on your own – pull out your journal and write as if you’re in that future moment.

Feel the health, travel, fun, freedom and abundance that’s on the way.

 

We hope you’re doing ok in these uncertain times. Let us know in the comments about your experiences, or find us on social media to say hi. We’re in isolation, after all – happy for your company 😉

And if you have any helpful ideas or resources to share, do feel free to link them below.

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

So now we’re caught inside the Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine. Just brilliant 🤨

We were told we’d be better off coming ‘back home’, away from the UK where we’ve been residents for the past six years. They say the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not yet reached its peak there. So of course we’re better off in Australia, right?

Australia, ‘the land of the free’.

We aren’t so sure.

Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

A few days before we were set to fly, the Australian government announced what they claim is ‘necessary’ to stop the spread of Coronavirus here. Every international arrival is sent into forced quarantine – somewhere, like maybe a hotel, motel, student accommodation or caravan.

We’ve found it interesting that family and friends think this is fine. No questions asked.

“It’ll probably be a hotel”.

“You’ll be right – it’s meant to be 5-star.”

“I assume you’ll have internet.” [for not just fun, but we work for ourselves!]

Interesting, that so many have an attitude about it being ‘fine’ – as long as we’re back on ‘Aussie soil’.

If only we could touch that soil. If only we could get some fresh air during this Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine. And what is in the food that I’m eating, since I do have allergies?

 

Inside our Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine - is Australia violating human rights by treating recent arrivals worse than prisoners? Our story...

An unacceptable lack of information

This policy rolled-out all too quickly, allegedly because “80% of the Coronavirus cases in Australia have come from abroad”.

Funny, we now know six people in Brisbane who believe they have had Coronavirus (experiencing everything from very mild to very bad symptoms). None of them were tested. One of them had been overseas. Some went to work and grocery shopping across the space of a couple of weeks.

Many countries have already enforced strict ‘stay at home’ policies. That’s absolutely not the case yet in Australia. The response to target incoming travellers would be reasonable, if everyone was treated the same here. It’s not happening – and we know how this works. It’s our third Coronavirus quarantine in five weeks. Aussies have no idea what lock down really means, and consistently disregard the rules.

The government’s response here, typically, is to target anyone stepping off a boat or a plane. Keeping in mind these are all residents – with ‘rights’ – because no one else has been able to enter the country for weeks.

The policy announcements came with zero information on what incoming travellers should expect. On the plane there was no information on what to expect. Brisbane airport was FULL of federal police and the army, to ‘welcome’ a flight of just a few hundred who had boarded internationally. Everyone was silent. We filled in several forms and finally Cooper and I had confirmation that we wouldn’t be separated.

Then we were told to wait:

“…the police will pick you up soon”.

It was about two hours after all passengers had cleared immigration that we were all herded onto a bus. Still no confirmation on what was going on. Everyone diligently packed their suitcases under the bus, boarded, and finally our coach full of masked avengers left… to go somewhere.

Guessing games

After a 25 hour commute of two flights, and a three hour wait at the airport for everyone to be processed, Cooper and I were on the road again. We spotted the exit signs and figured we were headed to the Gold Coast, just over an hour from Brisbane.

Half way down the highway, one poor young woman begged the bus driver to pull over – she was desperate for the loo.

“We weren’t told anything at the airport, I assumed we were staying in Brisbane. I wouldn’t be asking if I wasn’t desperate – I can’t wait another half hour,” she pleaded.

So, our coach driver flashed his lights in the dark at our police escort in front (I know, really?!), and we were all happy to see that this poor chick wasn’t going to pee herself in the bus!

But that’s how little information we’ve been given. We’ve not even officially been told when check-out is.

Yet, most people we know think this is fine.

If it was your partner or your child in this situation, wouldn’t you want to know what the plan was for them?

Forgive me for being anxious and really pissed off about the whole thing.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of traffic on the road between the Gold Coast and Brisbane on this random Wednesday evening. Who exactly is prioritising staying at home then?

Basic human rights and the Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

We ended up at the Voco Hotel on the Gold Coast. It’s nice enough and staff are doing their best. The windows don’t open though. And we’re confined in one room for the next 14 days. A legion of police and army were here to escort us to our rooms and ensure we didn’t run. For God’s sake – I would understand why someone would want to. And, we’ve heard reports of solo travellers threatening to self harm because of this isolation experiment.

Plenty of people still out and about in the street though, from what we can see out of our window.

Smokers here in quarantine are allowed to go out on an escorted break for ‘fresh air’. How ironic.

Good time to take up smoking, I’d say.

We’ve read this evening that some people in Sydney even had their room keys taken away from them. What the actual f!ck?

For those of you who say or Tweet, ‘”Oh wow, quit moaning, you get a free two week holiday”, find some empathy. And quit ignorant trolling!

Even if you’re self isolating – as we have been in England following getting caught in Italy’s lock down – we bet you’re in a place with more than one room. You’ve probably got a garden you can go out to, yes? Or a door or window to open for fresh air, right? You can go for a walk and choose the food you want – or need – for your own wellbeing.

Do you suffer asthma from air-conditioning like I do? We’ll be requesting time outside. Let’s see what they say.

Go shut yourself in your bedroom for 14 days, lock the windows and then tell me how reasonable this is. Tell me that’s good for your mental health and physical wellbeing, or that of your kids?

Since when did we become prisoners?

We’re not the only ones picking up on the problem with this rushed-through government policy.

People in forced quarantine around Australia have made the same comments as us: prisoners are allowed exercise and fresh air, why aren’t we?

Most of us aren’t even sick, and don’t have Coronavirus, let alone have criminal convictions.

This BBC video shows another recent arrival to Australia – she highlights really well that a ‘five star’ room isn’t any bigger than your bedroom, and since when should we have our basic rights like moving around (responsibly), fresh air and fresh food taken away in 2020?

What we’d say from this experience is please be careful what you’re consuming from the television and governments. 

THINK about how others are impacted before saying, “you’ll be right”, or posting how great you think a free holiday would be, or how much you love working from home (when you’re not really working from home). Someone you know is having a tough time because of this world crises.

Live from Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine

We’ll do our best, and we’re refocusing every day, using tools like yoga, gratitude and keeping in touch with family and friends. We know this is far from the worst situation anyone could find themselves in, but at this difficult time, we expected more consideration from those in charge.

If you’re struggling with Coronavirus anxiety, especially if you’re travelling or a digital nomad, our key tips on dealing with all of it are here.

We genuinely hope Australia – and the world – can get on top of this quickly, so we can all get on with our lives. But this Coronavirus Australia mandatory quarantine policy for residents entering the country feels very narrow minded, and like something that serves as more of a ‘popular vote’ for the prime minister, than anything that takes proper care of Australian citizens. All of them. Would it not have been cheaper simply to test us for the disease?

 

Latest update

The Australian Red Cross is now involved in liaising with state health bodies, like Queensland Health, to lobby for better conditions for thousands of returning travellers like us. A representative made contact with us yesterday (8 April) on rounds calling all people in hotels on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. They confirmed that there is a serious issue with people not being allowed fresh air, exercise and fresh food. In some cases, the government has been required to make changes at hotels because the food being provided was of ‘unacceptable quality’. Maybe people coming ‘home’ from now on will be housed in accommodation where windows at least open – that would be a good start, and it’s reasonable to expect in Australia.

 

Always happy to hear your stories or perspective though – drop us a line in the comments. And please – wherever you are – stay inside and stop the spread!

 

👉Subscribe on Youtube and Facebook … you don’t want to miss us going live from our ‘free holiday’ 😆

Expat blogger changing tack

Expat blogger changing tack

It’s with a heavy heart that this proud expat blogger writes one of her last posts from our adopted home of England. London has been such a wonderful adventure. It’s not been without ups and downs, laughter, tears and lessons.

But, we’ve lived our motto here: life is about experiences.

Expat blogger – future uncertainty

I had wanted so very much to settle in England. We’ve produced plenty of blogs for expats and travellers here on Travel Live Learn. And as a reader on this site – to you I say thank you 🙏 I am grateful.

As an ‘expert’ expat blogger, I started out getting together guides on living and working in London. Cooper developed our videos too, that showcase fun, travel and tips. We’ve been lucky to be recognised for content on this site with a couple of awards, and have covered wonderful destinations while living over here.

As I look over it all now, I have to admit to fighting back tears. It’s hard to let go of one life and go back to another – or start yet again. That’s risk we take though, forging a space for ourselves in a new country. You either get to stay or one day must leave. But we must not forget: life is about experiences.

Difficult decisions for expats all over the world

We’re at the end of March 2020 and as I type, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is changing the face of the planet. It was completely unexpected, and it certainly is not discriminating in who is impacted. The world has been dealing with this public health crisis since January, although then most people outside of China where the disease originated, never predicted the impact that’s unfolding.

I type this while on ‘self-isolation’ in the English countryside. We were lucky to get out of Italy when things shifted from ‘manageable’ to ‘catastrophic’ overnight on 10 March. Cooper and I found it very difficult to get a flight out to leave.

Just as we made it back to England though, lock-downs and strict measures were imposed. With the threat of airline closures and restricted international flights, it feels like we’re heading back to the days where travel was far less accessible and much more expensive. The UK has already seen one major airline go into receivership over the past week. Which other airlines will follow?

As we come to the end of our work sabbatical which was covered in major media, I fear our story about inspired action is turning into one of retreat, back to ‘our’ official corner of the world. We are set to renew visas for the UK in July, but with so much uncertainty around the future, I am sad to say it seems like that that dream will no longer become a reality. As these shocking events continue to sweep the globe, I doubt very much we are the only travellers, digital nomads and expats forced to reconsider our paths. Borders are closing. People are worried. The tourism industry and way we travel will look different on the other side.

Expat blogger changing tack - leaving England our home - how does it feel to leave somewhere you love behind

How it feels to leave ‘home’

As I type this I remember the little things about life in the UK. Old church bells chiming. Work bus commutes when I’d to listen to new music that would become the soundtrack to special moments. My favourite walk around London Fields where I’d feel so happy sometimes I’d almost burst. Dog spotting on the tube; identifying wonderful old buildings amongst innovative new ones. Swifty at Wembley! Swifty at BST Hyde Park, for that matter 💕

I remember ‘stairwell lunches’ with my friends when we’d laugh so much and be told off for being too jovial; and impromptu after-work pub runs that would last ’til 11:30pm mid-week, with the sun just down not long before that. Just ‘popping over’ to France, or Spain, or Italy on the train or plane. Pride, festivals, fairy lights and Christmas markets, dining in igloos by the Thames, fireworks night, bank holidays spent in the park and at the loveliest markets in the world.

Only in London.

There were moments I helped people get through tough times. They became my good friends. And other times when people here would show up for me, just as I needed them. I call them too, my best friends. Sunny park days in summer – oh the joy of sunshine 😀! And snow days of course – always gleeful for an Aussie in London. We made a mark, got a special invite to Buckingham Palace, covered royal weddings, and mostly just enjoyed life in the big, mad, historical, beautiful, wonderful city that London is. I’m sad [understatement] to leave. This has been our home. It is a home of ours.

But after six years, and because of this pandemic and situation, the best version of a ‘goodbye’ we could do with all our friends – our UK family – was on WhatsApp.

What to do when the world is ending

Maybe a bit dramatic, but you’d agree if you saw Heathrow as we did today – like an eerie mall, all closed down, lifeless – another planet. As an expat blogger who now needs to find a new niche and start another life, you get where I’m coming from, I hope. Everyone has been impacted by this, and will be for months, if not years to come.

But we’ve been hit hard.

Our life as we embraced it was ripped away today.

We’re working on new projects already though, like this venture into wellness travel (podcast launching soon); but when can those who value travel, safely and freely travel again?

We left here once before and I consoled myself with the idea of bringing adventure back home. I’d spoken to another expat friend too and discovered there is a mourning process around leaving somewhere you love, somewhere you’ve invested heart and soul into. Having two homes – I’ve always maintained – is a blessing and a curse.

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Coming to terms with change

This time when we leave the UK, I don’t know, maybe it’s for good? That’s not how we feel right now though. This is a ‘trial’ separation 😉

Are we really better off ‘at home’ in Australia? The government certainly isn’t treating us as equals.

We know we’re lucky to have options, and family and friends who are happy to see us (and we to see them). But, I’m only at a ‘2’ on the change curve, which you can probably guess from the tone of this post – in a state of disruption I’m feeling anger and fear.

We’ve had a hell of a ride the past few weeks, and use every moment as an opportunity to try and choose our thoughts again.

👉We’ll continue to seek hope in uncertain times 💕

 

It all goes too quickly, is the old lesson. Wasn’t it just yesterday we arrived back mid-2014, to pick up where we left off in 2011? Isn’t it all so delicate, just hanging by a thin thread that can break at any time. Like now.

If you’re impacted by the fallout of borders closing or difficult circumstances brought about by being based in another country, being a digital nomad, or the change that’s been thrust upon you now, let us know about your experience in the comments. We’d also love for you to join us in our Facebook group – come say hi today!