Feet firmly on Aussie Soil – Emigrating with my family

So here I am, my baby boy is 10 months old (how the hell did that happen?!). I’m now on Australian soil and have an apartment in Waterloo, Sydney with Stephen and Albie. I’ve found myself at the receiving end of many questions asking about my move to the UK 12 months ago and then back down under again 2 months ago. It has been a massive roller coaster 18 months since I found out I was pregnant and to be honest, my feet have never really touched the ground.

swing

I’ve been mulling over where to begin after such a hiatus, so I figured (after many a deliberation) that the best place to start was at the beginning. So much has happened in such a short space of time, the only way I can break this down is into manageable (hopefully enjoyable, and sometimes informative chunks!).

Let’s rewind to November last year, we’d decided that Feb was going to be the ‘deadline’ month that we would leave our life in England, our home, our family and Stephen’s work. We felt that we wanted to have Albie’s first Christmas at home, and ideally we wanted our first (and last Xmas) at our first family home. It didn’t quite work out as we wanted it, but we’re still so glad that we stayed in the UK none the less. We ended up driving round the NW of England to see everyone and covered 75 KM on Christmas day in the car, which was less than ideal with a five month old. At least everyone got to see Albie on the day (thanks to Stephen for driving), and we had our own little Xmas dinner for just us, that I prepared for our lovely new dining room (which we got to use about 10 times, ha!).

alnie xmas

I’d surprised Stephen with a trip to London for his first birthday as a dad, partly because I wanted to see as much of England as we could before we made the ‘big move’. We went for the weekend of the 12th November and stayed in Shepherd’s Bush. We’d already had a few cross words about the trip as Stephen had said we couldn’t afford it, however I explained that we needed the quality time (especially as he had been working ridiculous hours, and that I was going stir crazy in the house all the time on my own.)

One of the things I struggled with in the UK was how little we saw of people, from going to Australia where you could do something every night and you friends become your family, to the UK and 25 miles up the road was that little step too far. I get it’s a culture thing absolutely and I was more isolated than most as my mum and grannie live in Spain and my dad works away in the middle east a lot. My friends also had their own lives (very busy ones) too with families, jobs and social lives of their own.

We arranged parties at our house so we could make the most of the large space that we had, and to show off our hard work. Knowing that we were leaving, we wanted to make as much effort as possible.

I also shot myself in the foot, as I knew I was moving back to Australia, I didn’t join any mum’s groups or reach out to other new mums in the area. I did take Albie to baby sensory and baby massage at the local Thornton Children’s Centre, which was amazing, but didn’t make lasting friendships with the mums as again, I knew I was leaving.

Another group we went to was ‘Water Babies’ in Wigan Total Fitness (my old stomping ground), which we did two courses of (Albie completed his Chapter 2) from the age of three months. I’ll chat more about this in another post but will say that it was absolutely amazing and now that we’re living in Australia, Albie’s confidence in the water really shines through.

Albie swim

Back to our London trip, it was s special to me that we were able to spend the time together as a family and that the cost was irrelevant to me for the quality time that came as a result. I don’t know about other mums, but I really struggled with having inconsistency when it came to post baby income. I didn’t claim maternity in the UK and my two businesses in Australia were either running themselves at breakeven whilst I took the time with my new family, or went on hiatus for the same reason.

The fact that Stephen supported us for a year whilst I was in the UK was an absolute godsend and I’ll be eternally grateful, luckily I was able to secure some freelance PR work throughout the year to stop me losing my marbles completely, I was working until the night before I had my C section and started work from a freelance capacity nine weeks after Albie was born on a casual basis. I also started this blog and kept Sydney Social 101 afloat financially throughout this time, which again, helped to keep me sane.

An argument that kept (and continues) to come up is about money, which is hard to take when you’re so used to being independent and not relying on anybody. It’s hard enough not working anymore and feeling like you’re ‘just a mum’, without being reminded that you also aren’t earning a regular wage. It’s interesting now as Stephen is now the one who is at home with Albie for three days whilst I go to work, and he also now can’t work until his tourist visa expires and his de-facto visa kicks in. (I’ll do another post about the visa situation and my tips to make it as easy as possible).

I guess I am I a kind of lucky position that my partner now has some understanding that, although having the time with Albie is amazing as you watch your little person develop their personality, make you smile and when he giggles it melts your heat, it can also leave you feeling lonely (he doesn’t talk back) and intellectually (and financially!) suppressed. I would imagine that this is x 100 when you’re also in a new country, with not many friends of your own, no job and having just given up a job that you did for 12 years and sold a house that you put your heart, soul and savings into.

We have both been through so much in the nearly two years we have been together (seriously where did that time go!), as a result Stephen is my rock, but we are both guilty of taking our frustrations out on each other and we’re learning every day how to best communicate with each other, without resulting in a complete breakdown.

I’ll do a separate post about the big move (and all that comes with it, financially emotionally and personally) on here very soon. I get asked a lot about what it involved and how the hell we managed the flight with an eight month old! (Surprisingly the latter was much easier than we anticipated). It’s the ‘starting again’ which is the hardest, when you’re literally back to the drawing board when it comes to belongings, furniture and your home.

So here I am, back online with a breadth of stories and features to share with you, from flying with a little one, emigrating, struggling with motherhood, going back to work and constant communication breakdowns with your partner. There’s also some massive positives I’d love to chat to you guys about – living in this amazing city, activities for parents and children and the odd review and feature along the way!

We’ve been in Sydney for six weeks now and we’re finally finding our feet. I’ve started to work for an amazing new company in a senior role, we have moved into our new place in Waterloo (which is stunning and has an outdoor pool – living the dream), I’ve introduced Stephen to my friends and he has made new friends and we have our first trip to Brisbane this weekend as a family. A side of that, we only have a sofa, a fridge a bed and a cot furniture wise and we have to do a visa run for Albie next week – but it’s all about baby steps and holding on tight right?!

Ste Lisa

Thought so! Next post to follow real soon.

 

Lisa x

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Heading on a plane to Spain for our ‘babymoon’

Sorry I’ve been awol, I have SO much to update you on. However in keeping with the time line of the blog and to get you up to speed, I’ll fill you in on the last two months of my pregnancy 🙂

It was great for Ste and I to head to Spain, the stresses of the house were getting to us and Stephen had of course been working since I’d arrived from Australia, so it was nice knowing that for the next week I’d be able to spend some quality time with him. Also, I was super excited to introduce Ste to my granny, and for him to get to know my mum a bit better.

mum

Due to the whirl wind nature of our romance, it added a lot of pressure onto us in terms of introducing each other to our families and friends – hell Stephen’s mum found out that he was having a baby with a women she’d never met, same for my granny with Ste. My granny is so important to me, she helped to raise me and I have so much respect for her. It meant the world to me that she’d like him, so I was pretty nervous.

I think many people that we know had there reservations (which I totally understand) about the speed at which Ste and I were going and had concerns that we were jumping in feet first (which we totally were of course). I knew though, that from my family and friend’s perspective that as soon as they met him they’d totally be put at ease and ‘get it’.

This was absolutely true of my granny, she was the person that was the most vocal about her concerns, however as soon as she met Ste when we got to my mum’s villa in Villa Martin, she was put at ease immediately.

grannie

Over he course of the week we chilled by the pool, went out for dinners, Ste had drinks with my step dad (I was soba of course due to little peanut), we went to Northern Soul nights where my mum was DJing and even went to a beach party.

me and ste

It was such a great trip and it was amazing for Ste and I to just relax and enjoy each other’s company again with no pressures. We didn’t stop laughing the whole time and in a way it brought us back to just me and him and why were keen to do this together as ultimately we are best friends who fancy the pants of each other 🙂

pregnant Lisa

I would recommend a ‘baby-moon’ to anyone who is about to have their first child, amongst all the trials and tribulations (read hormones, twinges, bloating and everything else) of pregnancy, it gives you and our partner the time to step back and enjoy each other again before your bundle of joy arrives and turns life s you know it on its head…

 

Reunited at Last -Big Decisions

So here I was back in the UK, a nice full tummy after a lovely curry lunch at my dad’s local pub. I’d been back to my grannie’s house for a shower, freshened up before heading to see Stephen. I am very fortunate that my mum had insured me on the family car so that I had a set of wheels for the six weeks I was back in the UK.

 

Driving to see Stephen was just so exciting! When I got to his house and he opened the door I literally threw myself around him, it was so nice to see him in the flesh and not on Facetime! Don’t get me wrong, Facetime has a time and a place, but after 10 weeks, sometimes you just want to be with them in person.

 

We had take away and put the world to right, it was like we’d never been apart. He couldn’t get over how much my belly had grown and was just in awe, which was so special. The thing I love so much about being with Ste is that I can be 100% myself and that we’re so comfortable with each other- whilst still having the spark of course. I’ve often been told that with relationships, when it’s right it’s easy – it just works and feels right. I can honestly say that is the case with Ste and I. Don’t get me wrong, this includes being 100% yourself when you’re frustrated as well as when you’re on you’re A-Game. You need to be able to say how you feel and voice what you’re thinking without fear that it’s going to be taken the wrong way.

me n ste

Ste was keen to show me all he’d done with the house. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before but one of the reasons I’d decided to come back to the UK was to help Stephen finish his house before the big move down under. Stephen had the house for three years, but had unfortunately been left to his own devices so hadn’t got very far with the renovations – best laid plans and all. His bathroom was absolutely outstanding. We’re talking freestanding bath, walk in shower and his and hers sinks… but this was as far as he had got before we met.

 

It’s amazing how much having a baby can put a rocket up your ass (pardon my tone), Ste had been in a haze of painting, renovations and brickwork prior to my arrival. It was clear to see how much he’d done to the house, but also clear to see how much still needed to be done, and that’s before we’d even thought about renting/ selling before the big move… Six weeks seemed massively unrealistic and I could tell that we were both apprehensive about the looming due date deadline and the fact that I couldn’t really fly long haul after 32 weeks. I didn’t want to begin our time together chatting about timings of renovations, house stuff and the other pressures we were facing, so I kind of put it to the back of my mind and jut focused on how happy I was to be back with him.

 

When I arrived back in the UK I had some sad news about my dad’s cousin, my uncle Michael. He’d sadly passed away following a short fight with cancer. It had come as a massive shock to our family and we all of course wanted to show our support and to pay our respects. The funeral had been planned for the following Wednesday (a week after my arrival) in London. I’d arranged to go with my dad and family to stay for two nights, that way we could pay our respects, attend the funeral and I’d also get to spend some time with my dad, step mum Helen and brother Jack.

 

Over my first week Stephen and I spent all our time together when he wasn’t working, I caught up with my family and of course his. I also got to meet his mum for the first time, which was just lovely. Luckily Stephen had taken me to meet her back in October, but she hasn’t been in, so I felt better in the knowledge that he has wanted to introduce me to his mum before we’d found out we were going to have a family! I think it probably meant a lot to his mum too.

 

It was an interesting time for me as I’d never lived with a boy before, EVER! So I’d found myself going from single, Sydney socialite living in a Bondi studio on my own to being in love, in the UK, 22 weeks pregnant and living with my partner. Some might say this was a huge change, and they’d be 100% right. Whilst a huge change, it was absolutely for the better and I’d never felt more like this was where I was meant to be.

 

Stephen took my to the station for the funeral on the Wednesday morning, which was lovely. I’d decided to take the train there and to come back on the train on Friday night so that I could come back to Liverpool for the weekend.

 

The funeral was a lovely service and the wake was just so touching, it was clear to see how loved Michael was and how much he meant to those that knew him.

 

The day after the funeral was St Patrick’s Day, so my Dad, Step Mum and brother all decided to take a tour of London and to hole up in an Irish pub for the afternoon – which ended up being one of the best decision – for me and my sanity – sound ominous…? Bear with me.

 

The morning was spent exploring Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus and the Houses or Parliament. We saw some great sights, the sun was shining and it was great to spend such quality time with my dad.

London

For lunch we went to the Irish Bar near Leicester Square and I got chatting to my dad and step mum and Stephen and my plans in terms of having the baby down under, Stephen sorting out his visa and the house and everything else. It all seemed to overwhelming and I was struggling to figure out what exactly I wanted to do for the best.

 

I knew that I didn’t want the six weeks I was back in the UK to be all about finishing the house and for Stephen and I to neglect our relationship as a result and to not enjoy the pregnancy. At the same time however I didn’t want to return to Australia without him and have to spend another number of weeks without him there. I’d already spent so much of my pregnancy without him and our relationship was so new, the thought of even another four without him there, especially for my third trimester seemed daunting and not something I wanted at all.

 

I’d been mulling things over in my head and I think my dad could pick up that I had quite a bit on my mind. I opened up to my dad and Helen (my step mum) and spoke about how I was feeling and my predicament. After hearing my concerns my dad totally understood where I was coming from and advised that I should write a list of pros and cons for both options. Option 1 being to return to Oz as planned and for Stephen to follow ASAP and to have the baby there. Option 2 involved staying in the UK to help Stephen with the house and to have the baby here, then to move back once the house has been sold/ rented and the baby is ¾ months old – massively taking the pressure off – but the baby wouldn’t be an Australian citizen…

 

I came up with the following:

 

OPTION 1

 

  • The baby would be a resident of Australia
  • We wouldn’t be moving with a newborn baby
  • We get to start our new life in Oz ASAP
  • No house in Australia – I’d have to move on my own
  • I’d have to spend at last six weeks away from Stephen
  • I got to go back to my job in Oz
  • My mum had flights booked to be I Sydney when the baby was due
  • Stephen can’t work for six weeks upon arrival in Australia
  • Stephen’s family wouldn’t get to meet the baby until we returned from Oz on a holiday

 

OPTION 2

 

  • We get to relax and enjoy the pregnancy
  • I wouldn’t be spending any more if the pregnancy on my own
  • Stephen can have more time to finish the house
  • We have support following my C-section from family
  • Stephen’s and my family get to bond with baby
  • We get to move to Oz anyway, just a few months later
  • Stephen can continue to work and save for the move
  • I can work remotely (run my business from UK and also contract for UK PR agencies)
  • Whilst my mum would miss the birth, she’d get to spend more time with the baby overall in the first ¾ months

 

Overwhelmingly I started to think that the best option for our family was to take the pressure off Stephen with the house, to relax and enjoy the pregnancy and of course our relationship. I felt like since the moment we met we were always on a count down, or working towards a deadline. I wanted our relationship to be normal and for Stephen to not feel like everything was changing and that time was against him.

 

I was in a position where I didn’t have a place to live in Australia, my job was contract based and not permanent and I’m a resident of Australia, so can return at any time.

 

Stephen has a job in the UK that he’d been doing for ten years, a house that is I a perfect location near to the beach that was very much a work in progress and his family and friends. I wanted to let Stephen know that there was no pressure either way, but that I thought that it might be better in the long run for us to take the time pressure off and to start 100% enjoying the pregnancy and our relationship.

 

When I first spoke to Stephen about my thoughts on the phone, he was quite resistant to staying in the UK, he was keen to get to Australia to start our lives there and was worried that if we didn’t go before the baby was born that we wouldn’t go. I had to stress to him that I had no grand designs on moving back to the UK, that I’d moved to Oz nearly seven years ago and it was where I considered home. I explained that I was trying to look at our situation objectively and not emotionally and to do what was best for our baby and us in the long run. Once I started to explain about the house, our time together (and the quality of it) and the support we’d probably need after the birth he started to agree and understand that it probably would be for the best to take our time, step back and have the baby in the UK.

 

I felt relieved that we were in agreement, but had a few things to consider about the impact of our decision and how it affected my family and friends in Australia….

Homeward Bound

It was March 7th and I was at the airport, only 25 hours away from seeing my love again after 10 weeks and rapidly expanding by the week. I managed to get a really good deal with Qatar Airlines, it was only $1,400 return (my return flight was booked for 20th April – six wonderful weeks ahead). Luckily I’d contacted the press office prior to my departure and explained that I’d be doing a write up on my Global Social 101 network about travelling whilst pregnant and had been cheeky and asked for an upgrade if at all possible. I seriously lucked out as I was upgraded to Business Class from Sydney to Doha – RESULT! They explained that I was on standby for the Doha to Manchester leg of the flight for business too – I had my fingers, toes, legs and eyes crossed for this too.

 

Travelling a long way whilst pregnant is no joy, no matter how far gone you are (I’d already experienced travelling to Vietnam of course, which was more uncomfortable due to the nausea). Well, let me tell you Business Class is like a whole new world! I seriously don’t even know how I’m going to even attempt to go back to economy after my experience here (of course I know I’ll be able to go back to economy, I like to be dramatic you see). I was not only upgraded for the flight, but was also granted access to the Qantas lounge at Sydney airport, which is absolutely palatial and the best way to prepare for a round the world flight.

 

I made sure I phoned Stephen before I boarded the flight of course to tell him (brag) about my upgrade – he couldn’t believe it, but was made up for me. He reminded me what the doctor had said about walking around the plane every hour and to wear flight socks and drink loads of water, god love him always looking out for me. A quick call to my mum followed (as is par the course when I’m flying) and before I knew it I was boarding the plane and I actually got to turn LEFT! I was beside myself.

 

The seats were exactly as I’d imagined – like a space age cocoon where sleep would not elude me and an endless supply of film and TV choices would be at my fingertips. We were offered a lovely beverage before take off (in a glass, posh!); I opted for a orange juice, as I was with child of course. I couldn’t help but think that if I hadn’t been pregnant I could seriously go crazy with the al la cart endless food options and amazing drinks service. The mocktails however were on point, and to be honest I took full advantage of the lie flat bed and quilt, and pjs, eye mask and slippers and pillow! I was I heaven.

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The whole first leg of the flight I struggled to contain my excitement as I knew each minute that passed I was a step closer to being with Stephen again. The flight went by in a haze of movies, food, water, walking, sleeping, more sleeping, more walking water. I left the first leg feeling refreshed and ready for the next leg which is something that I’ve never felt before when going to board another long haul flight within two hours).

 

I was also provided access to the lounge at Doha, which was a delight! I headed to the gate early this time as I was excited to get on the flight and get back to Ste. When I gave my ticket in for boarding I was surprised to see her tear it up and advise that another ticket had been provided… another business class ticket, only this time it was on a Dreamliner! I felt like I was floating on air – I was so excited to see Stephen that I completed forgot about the potential upgrade, I had a feeling that this was to be the beginning of another trip of a lifetime – it was certainly starting off that way!

giphy

The second flight was even more decedent than the first, with our own capsules with all the perks, food and entertainment, I was beside myself. I decided to sleep as much as I could this leg, so that I could be my sparkly best for the other end.

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Prior to me flying back to the UK, I’d said to Stephen that my brother would get me front the airport – It might sound silly, but I hadn’t seen him for 10 weeks and was decidedly rounder (and of course I didn’t know I was going to be flying the whole way in business!). I wanted to go and freshen up first and feel my sparkly best, plus Ste was working so I didn’t want to put him out.

As the plane touched down in Manchester, all I could feel was pure excitement! None of my family or friends in the UK had seen me pregnant yet, and I knew that I had my dad and brother waiting for me at arrivals.

 

I was straight through arrivals and customs and my bag was ne of the first off ( I could get used to this) so within 20 minutes of landing, I was going through nothing to declare to see my dad and brother.

 

When I saw them I was just so excited! My dad couldn’t get over my little pregnant belly and was very emotional. We didn’t come up for air on the way home, via the pub of course to see my nana, aunties and cousins. I was home! It felt amazing – made all the more special knowing that In just four hours I was going to be back with my beau.

I’ve got something to tell you…

I returned to Sydney and threw myself back into work on Sydney Social 101 and the first couple of weeks went by in a blur, I missed Stephen massively, but we of course spoke on the phone every day. We both spoke about the amazing time we’d had back in the UK and continued to book our plans for Vietnam and Stephen’s first trip to Sydney.

I had been back three weeks when I started to feel a little under the weather; I felt nauseous and tired all the time and wasn’t sure what was up.

I decided to book an appointment at the doctors to make sure everything was ok, I had been burning the candle at both ends, whilst also travelling all the way around the globe and then back again so didn’t honestly think too much of it. I managed to squeeze a last minute appointment with my GP before work the next day.

The first thing the doctor asked me was when my last period was… which threw me a little – I explained that I only had a dot of an ovary and had eight eggs frozen in the UK due to my uncertain fertility. My GP still stressed for the date, so I told her. To my complete shock she asked me to take a pregnancy test. Which I did. To utter amazement, it came up positive almost immediately and to say I was surprised was an understatement, after everything I’d been through I didn’t think I could get pregnant, let alone so quickly after meeting someone, no matter how special they seemed to be.

My head was a spin of emotions, excitement, fear, and happiness – so many things to process I couldn’t figure out what to think. All I knew was that I wanted to make sure everything was ok with the pregnancy before I told Stephen the impending news… My GP managed to get me in for a dating scan the following day. I didn’t sleep a wink that night as I couldn’t believe what was happening and I was worried how Stephen might take the news….

The scan was a 10am the next day, so I’d already told Stephen that I had a doctor’s appointment and that I’d call him straight after – so he was expecting my call. I told him I’d left my charger at work the night before as I knew I wouldn’t be able to speak to him and not tell him what was going on.  I went in for the scan and couldn’t help but feel a little bit excited as I sat in the chair. The sonographer was the nicest person and put me at east straight away. He picked up the embryo on the screen immediately and was even able to pick up a heartbeat. The date of the pregnancy was just over five weeks, I simply couldn’t’ believe it.

As soon as I left the clinic I phoned Stephen, who had been waiting up for my call. My heart was racing, but I still felt a sense of ease in knowing that I had to tell him I was pregnant with our baby. As soon as he answered, the words just fell out of my mouth and he was pretty stunned, to say the least. He just kept on saying “Oh my days” over and over again and then quickly realized that I was on the other side of the phone (after about a minute, ha!) and immediately asked how I was feeling.

We proceeded to have a really good chat about how we were feeling, I explained that I was excited that it was with him, but if I could’ve done it differently, I would’ve liked it to maybe be in a year’s time… However I was so happy that I was able to get pregnant and that I wouldn’t have wanted this to happen with anybody else.

After a lengthy, open chat we both felt a buzz of excitement as Stephen realized that at 41, he felt ready to have a baby and was happy that it was with me. I felt so lucky that I’d been able to get pregnant, as I know how much of a gift it is and how much my friends have struggled.

We knew that we had our five-week trip ahead of us in three weeks and literally couldn’t wait to be back with other and talk about the new future that had been set out in front of us.

On the 15th December, the day after my 31st birthday, I boarded my flight to Vietnam, knowing that he was doing the same from Manchester. I was beyond excited to see him again and couldn’t wait to just get a hug from him.

When I touched down in Hanoi, I was tired, the flight wasn’t easy with the lovely nausea that the first trimester brings and having to walk around the plane every 30 minutes. Despite the tiredness I was consumed with excitement and couldn’t wait to get to the hotel. Stephen has arrived two hours before me, so was sleeping in the room.

As I got to the hotel concierge took my bags and escorted me to the room, as the lift headed up to the 9th floor my stomach was doing somersaults. We knocked on the door and my heart was racing. Stephen took a while to come to the door, he opened it and was stood there v sleepy in his dressing gown, I just threw myself around him! I was beyond thrilled to be back in his arms and he felt the same.

Things didn’t feel any different, although we both kept saying that we couldn’t believe that I was actually pregnant! The first night we went out for dinner and then headed back to the room and just crashed out and watched a movie, it was absolute heaven!

The trip went by in a blur and was the absolute trip of a lifetime. The first trimester of my pregnancy didn’t bother me too much, apart from me having to be more careful with my food choices than I normally would be (food makes me happy and I usually love trying international cuisines).

In Vietnam we travelled to Halong Bay, Hoi An, Nah Trang and Saigon for Christmas day. The sights were incredible and we just didn’t stop laughing the whole time!

 

Upon our return to Sydney at the end of December, we spent New Year at Watson’s Bay Hotel in Sydney and toasted (mine was orange juice) to 2016 and all that we had in store.

The three weeks in Sydney were spent showing Stephen the sights and introducing him to what was to be his new home. I also had my best friend Sophie visiting Australia with her husband, who Stephen got along famously with, so it all worked out perfectly.

I couldn’t believe that in a matter of six months and a chance meeting with a handsome stranger on a plane had lead to this exciting new beginning and I couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

On the 13th January 2016 we had our 12-week scan and were able to see the heartbeat together this time and our little baby move on the screen. Such a special moment in time that I was so thrilled that we were able to spent it together.

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Back around the Globe again…

We were all geared up to meet up in Vietnam in only two 1/2 months, five months since we first met on the plane. We were busy finalising our itinerary when I received some devastating news from home. My family had found out that my lovely Grandpa, who had been suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s and terminal lung cancer, didn’t have much time left. I had no hesitation in booking a one-way flight to the UK to say goodbye to my Gramps and also be there for my dad and my family.

 

I flew back to the UK a day later and told Stephen about the situation, he couldn’t have been more supportive and from the moment I stepped off the plane,  he was an absolute rock, he hired a car for me so that I could get to the hospital and back and was constantly checking in to see how I was doing. I guess the silver lining during such a terrible time was the fact that I got to see and spend time with Stephen. We didn’t however want to jump straight into anything and arranged a proper first date (it was nearly three months since we’d last seen each other in the flesh/ met, ha!).

 

It was the Tuesday after I’d arrived on the Saturday and Stephen took me out to the village where he lives to a popular local restaurant to help take my mind of my poorly Grandpa. I was very nervous when I was driving to his place but the butterflies in my stomach, and my gut, told me I was doing the right thing. When I got to his and knocked on the door my heart was in my mouth, but when he opened the door I felt immediately at ease and we just threw our arms round each other and he kissed me on the cheek. The date was just perfect in the way that we didn’t stop laughing the whole time and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company. It was like being on the plane was only days (and not months) prior.

 

I ended up staying in the UK for three weeks due to my grandpa being a fighter and the funeral taking nearly two weeks to arrange. Stephen met all of my family, was a huge support throughout, took me to York to take my mind off things and showered me with love and attention. He even came to my grandpa’s wake to pay his respects, which went down really well with my family, and me of course.

 

We spoke about so much over the three weeks, it was almost as if our relationship was on fast forward as we’d got to know each other so well on an emotional level over the past three months, we were definitely friends before we became lovers, which I wouldn’t change for a second. I’d told Stephen all about my medical history and he’d been nothing but supportive. He’d even asked me about children and if I wanted them, I explained that I didn’t think I could have the naturally and that I had eight eggs frozen in the UK, but it was possible, if not very, very slim chances.

 

Stephen even asked me what I would do if I did find out I was pregnant at this age, which might sound like a very deep conversation only three weeks into physically being together. We had been chatting and opening up to each other pretty much since the moment we met on the plane back in July, so it certainly didn’t feel like it was moving too fast, or it was too much too soon.

 

I explained that it would be a hard decision as I didn’t think I could get pregnant naturally, however if it wasn’t with a person I could see myself being with, that it would be a lot to think about.

 

At the end of the three week whirlwind I truly felt like I’d experienced the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows, but left confident I the knowledge that I’d met someone that would be a huge part of my life and my feelings for him were in no doubt.

 

 

A Chance Meeting To Change My Life Forever

It was July 2015 and my mum and I were flying from Sydney to Manchester via Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airlines for my six week Europe trip for my 30th. We’d managed to get a relatively good deal as we had a four hour lay over in Abu Dhabi.

The first flight went by quite quickly, my mum and I watched a movie, had dinner and then I slept pretty much the whole way (sometimes my body shuts down when I eventually stop, which isn’t very often).

When we arrived in Abu Dhabi we decided to make our way to the Irish Bar, which we had both frequented previously (shock). I also had another friend who was coincidently on the flight, so he joined us also as he too was flying back to Manchester. The four hours went quickly enough (greatly helped by the number of drinks we had to help ‘pass the time’), before we knew it we were boarding the second leg of our flight and we were about to embark on the final part of our trip to Manchester.

Even though the flight was empty my mum was very frustrated that we hadn’t managed to get her a window seat, so imagine my surprise when she pointed to our two seats, one of which was a window seat, which were both next to a handsome stranger, result! I figured she must’ve got confused prior to boarding the flight as she seemed pretty confident that these were our seats.

We proceeded to pop our bags in the overhead compartments and take our seats. We had to ask the handsome stranger to let us in, to my delight I noticed a familiar accent, a Liverpool accent from down the road from where I’m from in Warrington in North West England. I asked where in Liverpool he was from and he explained that he was from Formby, near to a beach that I used to go to all the time when I was a child with my dad. From there we struck up a conversation and didn’t pause for breath, literally.

That was until we realized that my mum and I realised (or were alerted to the fact) that we were in fact sat in the wrong seat, when another passenger came along with his boarding pass and explained that we were sat in HIS window seat, bloody mother! Ha!

I explained that it was our honest mistake and that we would move. A quick scan of our tickets proved that we were actually supposed to be sat on the seats in the middle of the plane, the other side of the handsome stranger… Whose name is Stephen by the way.

Luckily I was still sat near to Stephen, with only my mum sat in the middle, however that didn’t stop us. We started to chat more about what brought us to Australia, what we did for work, what our plans were for the summer etc. When the drinks trolley came along, we were both very, thirsty shall we say, and ordered two gin and tonics, each, and knew then that we were going to get along just great. About 30 minutes into the flight, and as soon as the seatbelt sign was switched off, my mum proceeded to move to the row in front as we didn’t shut up, ha!

The ten-hour flight seemed to go by in a flash as we put the world to right and told each other our life stories and our hopes and dreams. We covered a lot of ground in the time we had. As the flight came close to landing and we were almost on home soil, we exchanged numbers (well I gave him my Sydney Social 101 business card, smooth I know, ha!). He also gave me his mobile number too.

Stephen was the ultimate gentleman when leaving the plane, offering to carry my bags, accompanying us to passport control and helping us with our cases off the carousel. I found out later that he’d said to my mum that I was a pretty special girl and that she should be really proud whilst I’d made a quick bathroom visit to freshen up.

I felt strangely sad when we said goodbye, but we’d said that we’d catch up up in Liverpool during the two weeks that I was back in the UK. However my first priority when I landed back in the UK was the trip to Amsterdam that weekend with my oldest friends to celebrate our 30th birthdays.

AMsterdam
Amsterdam with the girls – Cheers!

We did so much whilst we were there, so the fact that I didn’t hear from Stephen for a few days wasn’t a problem at all.

I had hoped that I’d hear from him the following week and can’t deny that I was disappointed when another five days had passed and I hadn’t heard. I was due to go out in Liverpool on the following Friday, but my friends had arranged a nice girly night in with pizza and wine instead as they’d just recently had babies. As I hadn’t heard from Stephen and wanted to spend quality time with my friends, I locked in the plans for pizza and wine instead.

Low and behold I heard from Stephen the day after we’d confirmed the plan, he messaged me on What’s App, emailed me and sent me a facebook message (Which I only got a few months later as we weren’t Facebook friends) – the fact that he seemed so eager made me feel a little better. He was asking if I wanted to go out on Friday in Liverpool for drinks, which I of course would’ve loved to, but had already made a commitment to my friends and wasn’t the type to bail for a boy, despite how much he’d turned my head!

Stephen totally understood and said that we’d catch up another time. However there were a number of other missed opportunities over the two weeks that meant that we weren’t able to go on that elusive first date. Despite this, I had a feeling that this wouldn’t be the last I’d hear, or see of Stephen.

I spent the two weeks spending quality time with family and friends in the UK and had the most amazing time! My friend Bev even asked me to be her bridesmaid at her wedding, which was taking place the following July 2016, I was thrilled beyond words and of course said yes!

UK

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Fun times at BBQs at Sophie’s
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Bev asked me to be her bridesmaid in July 2016 – I said yes! Of course!

When I boarded the flight to Spain for a month knowing that I wouldn’t be back in the UK again until the following Summer made me feel strangely sad. I was quickly put at ease however as I heard from Stephen every single day for the next two ½ months, which was absolutely the foundations of our lasting connection.

I spent three weeks in Spain at my mum’s place, then a week in Ibiza, which was just an amazing time. My time in Spain was spent with my mum and granny at mum’s villa, which was so relaxing and Ibiza was with my Uni friends to celebrate our 3oth, which was jut unreal (little did we know it was to be somewhat of a party swan-song for me)!

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Great times with Grannie
Ibiza
Ibiza 2015

I returned to Sydney at the beginning of September. Stephen and I spoke every day. I found myself looking forward to his texts and a big smile on my face when they arrived.

When something exciting happened to me in work, he was the first person I told, if I went to a fun event, I’d send him pictures, it was like we were getting to know each other the ‘old fashioned way’ despite the 18,000 miles between us. I felt like we were building a strong friendship on an emotional level and hoped that it might develop into something more. I guess it was inevitable over time that it would progress into a relationship of a romantic nature and was thrilled when it became apparent that Stephen felt the same way.

We chatted about how we felt on the phone and we decided that we should arrange to meet in the middle before the end of the year. Stephen was the first to make the suggestion, as he said that he was planning to go to Cambodia for Christmas and wondered what I felt about him coming to Sydney for New Year…

I couldn’t help but think that this sounded like a great idea and felt the butterflies in my stomach as I let myself think about our romantic catch up half way around the globe. After doing our research we decided that Vietnam would be more suitable for our travel needs, so decided on Vietnam for two weeks and for Stephen to come to Sydney for three weeks.

We arranged our travel plan from the UK and Sydney respectively and arranged to meet in Vietnam on December 15th – the day after my 31st birthday!