As an Aussie – and member of the Commonwealth – you may be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. Cooper is, and he’s just received his UK Ancestry visa for a third time. This allows us to move back to the UK to pursue a work opportunity in 2023. As his partner, I can apply to go too.
In this post, we’ll share exactly how we applied and successfully secured working visas to return to the UK. We leave in Feb, and will take our dog with us!
About ten years ago, Cooper discovered that he was eligible for a UK Ancestry visa. This is because his Grand-ma was Scottish. She travelled to live in Australia during the period that now gives him the “birth right” to live and work in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The visa is flexible, allowing five years at a time with the option to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. There’s no age limit for applying, and no limit to how many times you can apply for it.
Unfortunately, the numbers of people in Commonwealth countries that this visa applies to will begin to dwindle now. This is more of a benefit for a generation of people whose grandparents travelled during the earlier part of the 1900s. British great-grandparents or parents do not allow access to this exact visa.
Background to our application: why we are applying for visas again
Travel Live Learn was born out of Cooper’s and my experience living and working in the UK.
We have actually lived in London twice before. The first time was between 2010-2012 when Cooper was first living and working there on an Ancestral Visa. I was under 30 then, and allowed to work under the Youth Mobility Visa scheme.
We returned in 2014, this time paying an immigration lawyer to help us secure Cooper’s second UK Ancestry visa and aligning me as his long-term (un-married) partner.
Cooper and I had completely settled in the UK by 2019. We fully intended to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in 2020, having almost completed the five years settled status requirement. We were preparing to study for the Life in the UK test when COVID struck.
With just three months to go before we would be granted the right to come and go more freely, a difficult change was forced upon us. Not only did COVID remove our option to live, work and travel as we had previously done, but at the same time, my Dad came to the end of a battle with Prostate Cancer. It was a dreadful period of my life, where “goodbye” took on many meanings. I’m glad to be moving past it.
Applying for UK work visas post-COVID restrictions
Now that restrictions have eased in most parts of the world, we can move about relatively freely again. An opportunity presented itself that’s meant we have decided to go back to England to live and work for a little while. We’re even taking our COVID puppy, London, with us! (if you’re looking for advice and experience around travelling internationally with a pet, we will share it all on YouTube.com/travellivelearn).
Taking London dog means a serious chunk of our moving budget is gone straight away. So, we decided to take the plunge and apply for the previous visa combination we had (Ancestral + partner visa) ourselves.
“Ourselves” = “me” when it comes to gathering all the admin and paperwork for this fairly stressful task!
Discover our full experience here:
Steps you’ll take
Apply for the Ancestry visa by following the links through the application forms on the UK Government website.
You will pay for the application and your NHS surcharge. Download and keep a copy of ALL of your answers, confirmation numbers and payment details.
Apply for the partner or dependent visa following the links on the website. Ensure your answers align with that of your partner’s Ancestry visa application. Pay for your visa and NHS surcharge.
Book in for your biometrics, where you’ll have your fingerprints and photograph recorded, as well as your supporting paperwork and application scanned through to UK Immigration. Your passport(s) will be taken from here and sent off to UK Immigration.
You will receive notification that your passports are available. Check inside for your temporary entry clearance (which means your visa was granted – yay!).
Upon entering the UK, you have ten days to collect your official biometric card – like a plastic ID card. You will have nominated a location for collection during your visa application. We chose a spot in London that we knew how to get to. It’s usually a post office.
Top tips and advice following our DIY visa application in 2023
For the Ancestry visa, you need to enter the UK within three months of being approved for your visa. If you do know when you need to be there, e.g. for work, give yourself plenty of time – apply at the beginning of the three months.
I received an email saying I had underpaid the NHS surcharge. This seriously freaked me out, because I had been undercharged during the application process. I will never know if this was my fault or a problem with the user journey on the application pages. There was no need to panic though. I paid and it all went through fine.
Stay calm. There’s no real way to track the progress of your visas so you just have to wait and expect the best. If you supply plenty of evidence to show who you are, that you intend to work and that you can support yourself, you will be fine.
For peace of mind, if you can get to a visa processing centre that offers an expediated service, we would take that option. In Australia, VFS Global – the company that processes your paperwork and biometrics (fingerprints and photograph) – offers a priority service at their Sydney, Melbourne and Perth centres.
Applying for UK work visas from Australia: resources and links
Partner visa – follow the links to apply. I selected:Join or accompany a family member, who either is already in or will be travelling to the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man (and you cannot apply on any other form);Followed by: Working in the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
This blog by Kat’s Gone Global is helpful too, talking about what you need to know when applying for a UK Ancestry visa.
Are you keen like us to get flying again? This info about the world’s safest airlines might either please you or frazzle you, depending on which one you’re booked with in 2023!
World’s Safest Airlines 2023
AirlineRatings.com, the world’s only safety, product and COVID-19 rating website, has just released its list of safest airlines for 2023, with Aussie airline Qantas taking out the top spot. It’s some good news for the airline that has suffered a number of PR blows in 2022. This was due to some very negative customer service experiences and ridiculous delays which we experienced first-hand a number of times last year.
As far as safety reputation goes though, Qantas just edged out last year’s winner Air New Zealand by the finest of margins.
According to AirlineRatings.com Editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Thomas:
“Our Top Twenty safest airlines are all standouts in the industry and are at the forefront of safety, innovation, and launching of new aircraft. In fact, the safety margins between these top twenty airlines are very small, they are all outstanding airlines.”
In making its evaluation, AirlineRatings.com takes into account a comprehensive range of factors that include serious incidents, recent fatal accidents, audits from aviation’s governing and industry bodies, profitability, industry-leading safety initiatives, expert pilot training assessment and fleet age.
In our post-COVID exploration, we had been searching for options in South East Queensland. But, it soon became obvious that dog friendly travel isn’t that easy to come by within driving distance of Brisbane. And, if it’s there, it can be expensive or quite restrictive.
Northern NSW became an option when I stumbled across info on Byron Bay Hotel and Apartments. Now, they’re not sponsoring this post, but deserve a shout out! For a low fuss flat fee of $80, we can take London with us on an adventure. And, this dog friendly accommodation is located right in the heart of Byron Bay.
Dog friendly Byron: best of
You’ll spot that London our Westie is wearing a jumper. That’s because our pet friendly excursion to Byron Bay (the first time!) came about as winter hit in Australia.
But the experience made up for the chilly weather. This was London’s first trip to the beach in his little life of 15 months. Take a look at the video of our dog friendly Byron Bay adventure and you’ll see how much he LOVED IT ❤️ This made us so happy too 🥰
Our top picks for dog friendly Byron Bay are as follows:
Byron Bay dog beaches
Belongil Beach dog friendly beach is literally right there in Byron Bay. As anyone for directions, just keep an eye out for high tide coming in.
Suffolk Park, about ten minutes’ drive from the heart of Byron Bay, boasts a beautiful beach too. This spot is also dog friendly and is brimming with cool locals to chat to (the two and four legged variety).
Pet friendly cafes and restaurants in Byron Bay
Outside of seeing the pure joy in London when he discovered ‘the beach’, we also had real fun at some of Byron’s best pet friendly hangouts.
Notably, Byron Bay does Mexican really well. We LOVE Miss Margarita in Byron – it’s right near the beach and boasts a happy hour between 5-6pm every day. Also, the food is excellent! This place gets busy so you should time your visit, especially if bringing your pooch.
At Miss Margarita they went out of their way to make sure London was happy and cared for with a bowl of water and spot to sit. But, you need to grab a table out the front, so don’t land right in the middle of happy hour or peak dinner time.
Don Pedros, just a street up from the beach, also served great food and London was welcome in the area out the front.
Both places served up an awesome margarita, by the way 👍
For brekky, we enjoyed Bayleaf. It’s lovely on a lazy sunny weekend morning, but gets very busy! London was more than welcome in the front section, but we were lucky to get a table, so be mindful after 8am.
Also we liked Byron Fresh, right in the heart of Byron. They let us take London inside on a cold day – you can see him below hanging out on his mat, in his jacket, with a rug. Spoilt, much? :)
Another lovely spot we discovered that has plenty of dog friendly places to perch in Byron Bay, is Treehouse on Belongil. If you are to enter Belongil dog friendly beach from the centre of Byron Bay side, Treehouse is situated about 10 to 15 minutes walk along the beach. Walk up off the beach and you’ll find it. The lovely venue serves up some nice food and coffees, and it’s a very chilled out vibe. We loved it.
Other dog friendly experiences in Byron Bay
There’s quite a bit of Northern New South Wales (NSW) that is well known for being dog friendly. Love that! You can search for options on Airbnb and Booking.com. Surrounding towns include Ballina and Lennox Head. There’s also the Tweed Coast nearer to the Queensland border.
As you enter Byron Bay, a worthwhile experience is to visit the Stone & Wood Brewery. We do enjoy a pint of this one, especially in summer, so it’s nice to visit its origin. The brewery has a huge outdoor area at its entryway. You can order tasting trays and snacks. And, your pooch is entirely welcome to hang out with you in the sun.
There’s a few places we didn’t make it to, including The Farm which is a popular spot for parents of human and fur babies! Our little mate, Schnitzel (who we met at TBEX Czech Republic, would you believe?!), shares more in this blog.
Additionally, we have a host of excellent info on house and pet sitting as an option, here on YouTube. If you’re interested in this, maybe you’d also like to join our Facebook Group that’s all about house and pet sitting + travel as a way of life ❤️
International Women’s Day (IWD) is on the horizon, so it seems timely to pay homage to the wonderful creative women in the world who continue to inspire through their work. Photographers, writers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, leaders and more: you absolutely inspire me.
To celebrate IWD, Tuesday 8 March, photos by female photographers have been released from the CEWE Photo Award, and some have been shared with us to showcase to you!
The CEWE Photo Award is one of the world’s largest photo competitions, and invites submissions in some of my favourite categories including travel, animals, architecture, landscapes and food.
Travel and culture category: three young children walk along a uniquely structured building in Myanmar, photographed by Laura Menesini
People category: A woman in traditional celebration festival attire admires her reflection in a mirror as the sun sets in Venice, by Mia Feres
The beautiful thing about this award is that an opportunity is open for all creatives at any level, from amateur to established professionals.
Entrants were asked to submit photos that celebrated the competition’s ‘Our World is Beautiful’ theme.
The images showcased here are some of the best from the wonderful creative women who submitted their work. It really makes me want to dust off my EOS and get back out there.
Animal category: a curious pup takes a closer look at a purple flower on its daily walk through the park in Austria, photographed by Corinna Kobliska
Food and cooking category: a selection of jam shortbread biscuits are ready to make the perfect afternoon snack, by Laura Amos in Heilbronn, Germany
Nature category: early morning dew graces a plant as the light of day shines through, by Viktoria Smid in Hungary
If you’re a creative woman like me, and an aspiring photographer, pop in your diary to keep an eye out for this year’s CEWE Photo Award opportunity. It will return for a fifth year in the UK’s springtime.
~~ Feature image at top- Hobby and leisure category: in Krakow, a young girl dances with a pony in this magical fairytale-esque shot by Laura Domagata
I recently picked up a copy of Daniel Pink’s excellent read, When, which explores the science of perfect timing. How do we get it perfect? Can we manifest a ‘right time right place’ scenario?
Among its numerous lessons, the book teaches how to get the most out of your morning coffee and breaks during the work day, and the importance of understanding your own chronotype (that is, when you are most energetic and lethargic each day).
Do we overemphasise endings?
One concept in particular made me think: his discussion about how as a society we tend to overemphasise the importance of endings.
Studies show that when we face an ending of some sort (including people falling into an age that has a 9 on the end of it, me when I wrote this, eek!), the tendency is to display extreme behaviour like choosing to take unnecessary risks or sabotaging our best relationships.
The psychology of it indicates we are innately grasping for a happy ending. And not just happy, but purposeful.
When references films like Pixar’s Up that perfectly capture the essence of this human condition, making us cry while feeling sentimental at the same time, because we’ve connected with something special.
Pink explains that in knowing this about ourselves, we can take steps to make our endings more gratifying.
Have a chat with your future self
A beautiful example on how to do this, is sending a message to your future self.
This might be a letter, vlog, blog or audio recording. Whatever format, put it away for five years.
The proposition made me a little teary.
What would I tell my future self?
I think I would start by saying I hope she lets loved ones know they are valued – always (and that she’s continued to do better on that front, as I intend to do from now on).
I want her to live without regret, anger and bitterness – good lives are wasted on such things.
I do hope she drinks less wine (possibly).
There should be dogs, everywhere.
And music, plus adventure.
I’d say that I hope she’s invested in creativity and travel; to remember that life has taught that things do get better; bring the light, be the light and look for it in others.
That’s all served me well so far. Finally, I would include a quote seen online from tinybuddha.com, because it’s perfect:
‘Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself’.
This is the abridged version, and I’m not sure what I’ll think of it in 2023, but hopefully I’ll be proud.
Perhaps I’ll be moved by the experience and progress made; or by naivety, disappointments not yet known, and challenges overcome or being faced.
Your time is now
When advocates that action like this serves to bridge the gap between past and present, and that is one of the best ways to find substance in our own lives.
However, Pink made me think about the feeling of satisfaction that’s possible when ‘me now’ feels close to ‘me’ past and future.
This exercise removes the detachment we feel from the future self (whether we are talking five years down the line, or just a couple of weeks), and enables us to make better choices that help her/him when that future arrives.
‘Time’ is complicated in terms of life, love and the dreams we envision, and many of us know a soul or two who have detrimentally gotten lost in it.
I hope I can impart to you some timeless insight which I took from Pink’s work; that is, by taking control of our time, and understanding how our past, present and future relate, we can vastly improve our experiences now.
Think I’ll include that wisdom in my note to future me too. But for now, over to you…
How do you see it? Share in the comments below.
First published in the March 2018 issue of Get it Magazine getit-magazine.com.au
We’re asked frequently who we love to watch/read online, so we had a think about our faves in 2021 and have compiled our top 8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle for you right here!
If you were following us back in 2020, you’ll know we had started to make positive strides on our video work. We documented the ins and outs of house and pet sitting around the world and showcased many beautiful destinations.
It was a pleasure and a privilege.
Sadly, it all came to an end. But we know that many of you reading this have also been impacted by all that the COVID pandemic has shut down. Not a great time to be a content creator in the travel business.
All of the time and learning we put into our content hasn’t gone astray though, and it’s for this reason we love to find vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us coming back for more. There’s been a few standouts for us in 2021.
Here are our favourites in case you’re in need of a little fresh inspiration too.
8 vlogs and blogs about lifestyle that keep us inspired in 2021 :)
We stumbled across this travel blogging couple by accident, but we just love their content. Sara and Luca are Italian, and they are so so cute. Their channel features an enviable line-up of destinations and experiences, and we have been making our way through their travel playlist.
Most recently, the pair were showcasing the delights on offer in their home country, Italy, where they ended up laying low during the worst of COVID.
Sara and Luca are authentic and likeable. Their video production is terrific too, and includes stunning drone shots, great editing, and soundtrack. The pair also publish a beautiful blog and are all over social media.
If you, like us, are wanderlusting like crazy to set foot back into a dazzling Italian landscape, take a ride with these two in their travel van, Luigi, and get inspired about where to go to next.
Dwayne is an English lad living the dream and actually residing and working in Ibiza full time. While the pandemic has hit his business hard – along with many in tourist destinations like Ibiza and its neighbouring Balearic Islands – Dwayne has taken the opportunity to give regular vlogging a go. And hey, are we grateful! If we can’t be there, we’ll wander around the bars and the beaches and boats here on YouTube, living vicariously through Dwayne.
Thanks to his time on the island living and working with the locals, he also gets some cool behind the scenes glimpses into venues and events that most of us wouldn’t.
A great channel if you’re a fan of Ibiza (or think you might be one day).
We first stumbled across Mike’s channel when he filmed his 2020 summer in Ibiza. Man, were we jealous. All the pretty shots and the pretty people and pretty places. Jealous.
But we moved past that to see that actually, we wanted in on more of this vicarious adventuring.
Mike has an enviable life brimming with travel, a successful business, a new fitness app, and plenty of time at the gym. To be fair, he does work hard (on his business and abs) but he seems like a nice guy with fun friends… who wouldn’t get motivated through watching?
He’s just spent another highly enviable summer in Ibiza and has returned to his adopted home of Dubai to get to work again. It’s glossy and fun – count us in.
I’ve got to say, I’m super behind the times following YouTubers for fashion and beauty content. I’m a ‘magazines’ girl of old. But, I somehow stumbled across Erin Busbee’s channel and have been hooked ever since.
A former TV news reporter turned stylist and fashion content creator, Erin’s approach is engaging and honest, not to mention really informative. I had to leave my entire wardrobe of clothes, accessories and shoes behind in England, and my enthusiasm to start again in a hot climate that I do not enjoy as much as I do one with four seasons was seriously lacking.
But, Erin’s helped make shopping fun again!
She’s got a great blog and Instagram you can follow too.
Yep, we decided that after years of being without a dog – stalking dogs in the street and on the Tube in London, saying hello to everyone else’s dog and generally wanting nothing more than a dog – this little man arrived 👇
Now, he had a lot to live up to. Our last dog, Harry, a blue cattle dog, was a prince among dogs. He was beloved by all – even non-dog people. The best dog ever.
London – named after our much-loved adopted home in England, is a West Highland Terrier. When he was a puppy, we’d frequently change the ‘terrier’ to terror. Wow. Puppies might be cute but there’s an evil streak in there 😉
Which brings us to Zak’s channel. We got obsessed with this personable dog trainer’s channel before the puppy ‘arrived’ and during his first few months. Everything on routine and crate training and all in between was spot on.
This channel is a great one if you’re looking for actionable advice on all sorts of dog behavioural challenges and training. It’s also great if you’re quite simply, a dog person. We do owe Zak a debt of gratitude for getting this far with the cheeky Westie though.
Travel and content creation
Two of our favourite channels for content creation and travel follow:
Welcome to Travel Live learn, where we are passionate about living a life full of great adventures. We are Sarah + Cooper: we know life's short, and we're here to encourage you to make the most of it! We have worked in media, communication and creative roles for many years, and have spent over 10 years living and working abroad. Our hottest content topics here are pet friendly travel, house + pet sitting, and designing a life as expats or digital nomads wherever in the world you want to be. Join our community of over 11,000 like-minded adventurers - find out more by signing up for the mailing list and our Facebook Group. Find us on YouTube too. NEW podcast now live: search 'Freedom and Four Paws' on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google podcasts or your fave podcast service provider.