Saturday, 26 December 2015

Reflection on 2015

As I sit here thinking about what to write, the words "2015 is going to be our year!" play in my mind, over and over, and I am trying to work out how best to sum up our experience....

2015 probably wasn't 'our year' but it was defiantly a year that pushed us to our limits and tested our strength both mentally and physically. Its taught us to appreciate one another and 'not to sweat the small stuff' - something I probably needed reminding!

On Xmas Eve we went for dinner at one of the restaurants in the Crown Casino. Throughout the evening we discussed what our highlights of the year were, and what we are looking forward to going into 2016. It was nice to both reflect on he last 12 months and reminisce on the memories we have.

One of the biggest highlights for us was from January when Ally and Rob came to visit. It was amazing being able to show family and friends what our life looks like here and we had so much fun showing them around and introducing them to our aussie friends. We cannot wait until April/May 2016 when everyone is reunited again for our wedding.

They weren't the only house guests we had this year. One of my friends from uni, Dan, came to visit Perth and stayed with us for 2 weeks. It was brilliant to have another friendly, familiar face around and we were very much hoping he would stick around......only time will tell! (p.s Dan if you're reading this your room is still free for when you realise Oz is so much better than NZ!)

We obviously had our annual trip back to the UK back in July. It had been 14 months since we had been home, by far the longest both of us had been gone, and things had changed so much! Our town has undergone huge redevelopment with the CrossRail Project coming near to completion. Pretty much every 4 houses was having something done to it. We also met our friends baby daughter for the first time which was amazing. Finally Scott got to be a groomsman at his cousins wedding. This was such a wonderful day and the fact we were able to plan our trip around being back for this special day made it even better!

I joined the Womens Soccer Team this year and for the first time since school was able to feel like i was part of a team. We didn't finish at the top of the ladder but we had loads of fun and I learnt that my aggression on the pitch brings many people amusement! Scotts team won the league and received another promotion. He will now play in division 2 next year and I will play another season for the women's.

Those were just a few of the highlights from this year which we looked back on with glee. We had a few low points here and there, but who doesn't! The ones we remembered the most will probably stick with us for a while.....

After returning from the UK we had our usual 'holiday blues' the trouble is, mine didn't go away. I hit a pretty low point and I was struggling to find a way to get out of this. I decided to go and see a women's counsellor before heading to the doctors, to see if i was able to talk it all through and get some advice. The first session was fantastic and really helped me address my anxiety issues and how to overcome them. The main reason why I was so low was because I felt very lonely and that we were just going day-by-day without any real purpose. This all disappeared however when a friend of mine, Kim, introduced me to an amazing group of women and a new way of thinking. All problems seemed to disappear and things went back to normal.

Fast forward a month and we get to Scotts 'accident'. For those of you who don't know what happened, Scott got swept off a rock after travelling down to Margaret River and we very nearly lost him for good. I hate talking about it, because the memories it brings back sends shivers down my spine. Below is the words from the Facebook post I put up, letting everyone know he was ok.

"Yesterday was a day I will remember for the rest of my life because it was the day I nearly lost my entire world. 
The photo on the left was taken seconds before a wave hit the rock taking Scott with it. The mental image of him slipping away will haunt us both for a while but I am so glad I was able to take the photos on the right once he was picked up by jet ski and taken to hospital. He was in the water for 40 minutes and my harrowing screams managed to draw attention to others who all came to help. Thank you to Tony who threw Scott his wet suit which he managed to use to stay afloat and ultimately saved his life.
For 40 minutes I had to watch him, completely helpless, convinced that any minute he was going to be gone. I've never ever felt that emotion before and I will thank him everyday for not giving up and being such a strong and calm person. 
We were so remote it took 40mins for police, ambulance and sea rescue to arrive and once they picked him up out the sea I just collapsed.
Thankfully, physically, all he has is the scratches on his ass cheek. 
Life is so precious, never take anything or anyone for granted"

Out of the 30 years which one of the Sea Rescue guys has operated in that area, Scott is only 1 of 2 people who survived falling off that rock. 

Those stats just make me realise how lucky we were. I would like to say that this experience has completely changed us as people, but it hasn't. What is has done however is make our relationship stronger and the way we look at life. I literally thank Scott every single day for being the person he is and not leaving me. I have no idea what I would have done if he never came back, and thankfully i did not have to find out! 

That sums up our year of highs and lows. Next year might not be 'our year' again but it is defiantly a year FULL of excitement! We are getting married, we have our PR Visa currently processing and both of our careers are taking a slight turn for the better. My hopes for this time next year is that we will be close to reaching financial freedom, we would have heaps of memories to share, we are both happy and healthy and we will be Permanent Residents of Australia. 

So heres to 2015, thank you for your challenges and we look forward to seeing what 2016 has in store! 

Monday, 13 July 2015

1 week to go!

Just over one week until we fly back to the UK for some important wedding related business and I thought I would make a list about all the things we are looking forward to do! 

1. Meet my mums new puppy (although he is over 30kgs!) and spend hours cuddling and playing ball. 

2. Take our niece Mollie-Mai to the park and spend hours playing with her, making up for missing out on important stages in her life. 

3. Girls/Boys night out - goes without saying that one! 

4. Costa's with my mum. For anyone who doesn't know what Costas is, it's basically a Starbucks but 100x better and less American.

5. Shopping in Primark and other places that we can afford! 

6. Golf with the brother - this one is on top of Scott's list. Competitiveness runs in the family. 

7. Enjoying a traditional Sunday roast and a proper English Fry Up. 

8. Finalising all the wedding plans ready for May 1st. 

9. Sitting in our local pub, chatting utter bollocks to the other locals. 

10. Dinner at TGI Fridays - our favourite date night. 

11. Catching up with all the family, seeing nans, aunts, uncles and cousins. Sharing our last 12 months in oz and catching up on local gossip. 

12. Spending quality time together and enjoying time off from work/soccer. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

I'm Homesick....

Last week we booked our flights back to the UK. After month's of stressing about the change in air fares, and other financial issues, it was such a relief to get these seats booked. It has been 12 months since we have been home, the longest either of us have been away from our family and friends, and we are so ready to get back.

Once the flights were booked I was overwhelmed with homesickness . I know Scott is home-sick too but with all the work he has on at the moment I am not sure he has time to think about it. So much has happened since we left the UK last time. My dad and step mum have moved to Greece so I now won’t see them until the wedding which is still a year away. A number of our friends have had babies (including fur babies) and bought houses and our little niece has grown up so much in the last 12 months! One of the struggles of living away, and being so far, is that we miss out on the important stuff and with that comes a large amount of guilt.  

So the countdown is on (68 days!) and the diary is already booked up. I cannot wait to give my mum a big squeeze and catch up with all the girls! 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Where has the past few months gone?!

I can't believe it's been over three months since I blogged last! The time seems to be flying by since the new visa came in.

In January we had visitors from the UK come over for two weeks and, once again, we enjoyed being tourists in our own town. We did all the typical sight seeing activities and checked out some new restaurants. The weather wasn't typical weather for January, we had higher rainfall than usual plus some pretty intense thunderstorms, but our guests did get to experience what a 40 degree day was like!

We held a large Australia Day party at home with around 20 of our close friends. Everyone got rather drunk and poor Scott even has a little bit of sun stroke the next day. We continued our housemates tradition of the Australia Day Thong Toss which, ironically, Scott wins!

It was great having Ally and Rob over to visit as this has been the longest we have been away from home. It is now 3 months until we fly back to the UK (and enjoy some much needed time together!) so having them here made it much easier.

Soccer (Football for those European readers) also started in March and both myself and Scott have joined teams at Forrestfield United this year. Scott played for the same team last season, however has moved up to the first team, and this will be my first year playing. I was slightly worried about playing in a sport I have never really played, and also concerned for my fitness as I can get out of breath very quickly. So far I am really enjoying playing and the girls in the team are so supportive and friendly which makes fitting in much easier. Now all I need to do is score some goals and prove to the team that I'm worth having!

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year, New Start and All That Jazz

Yea, Yea I hear you say......everyone goes into the new year with the "New Year, New Me" Bullshit but for us it really is!

Over the past 4 months times have been pretty tough for both of us for a number of reasons and, until now, we haven't really explained why. We thought it might be time to spill the beans, so here it goes.....

In August I left working for my family at Dome. This was a big decision and one which I had spent months thinking about. Im not going to go into all of the nitty gritty because quite frankly I'm over it all. Lets just say working there, and with them, wasn't good for my mental well-being and I didn't spend £30,000 and 4 years at uni to serve coffee 5 days a week and be spoken to like a child. The job that was promised to me before we left England was defiantly not the one I was doing and I needed to get back out into the proper world, and back into Events and Marketing management....where my skills and passion lie. Obviously my decision to leave, after they spent a large amount of money sponsoring me etc, has ruined the relationship with us and them (which is a shame) and one I take part of the blame for. My constant battle with anxiety and the concern for my mental well-being far outweighed any relationship that we might have built with them and so that is the path we took.

So what does that mean for our visa.......

I wasn't stupid, I had been going to job interviews for months and talking to agencies about being sponsored by other companies on my 457 visa. I was finally offered 2 roles with sponsorship. One role was a 40min drive and the same pay as Dome (plus commission) and the other was a 30min drive, in the city centre, and about $20k more a year + commission. The decision was pretty obvious so I accepted the role.

I was over the moon, the role I had landed was very similar to the one I had in the UK working for IQPC so it was something I was going to thrive at. My boss and CEO were from the UK also so understood what it was like to move to Oz. I was told my visa had been transferred and I started a week after leaving Dome and began my career back in the city.

In September we received some shocking news. My visa application had a number of mistakes which needed to be corrected before I could carry on working. The agency said it should only take a couple of weeks so to take a 2 week holiday and all would be fine.

It didn't take two weeks

It took 3 months

3 months living off only Scotts wage was difficult. On one wage we don't even cover the cost of our rent, bills, health care and car expenses. We had to cut back massively!

I won't bore you all with the details but it was thanks to our family and friends that we managed to get through it all. My anxiety was at its worst and I was starting to border on being so stressed I couldn't even leave the house.

The visa finally came in on the 3rd December and I went back to work on the 4th. I needed to start earning some money for Xmas and catch up on 3 months of work I had missed.  It was full on mayhem once I was back to work and the weekends were spent celebrating with friends and thanking them for all their support. I am now on Xmas break until Monday so I have had plenty of time to finish the house off and get it ready for our visitors in Jan.

We moved into our first place the day after 'loosing' my job. We had no money for furniture so had to rely on donations from friends. My first pay cheque went on upgrading some items and also buying things such as a Hoover.

2014 has been a really tough year for us. Its tested our relationship, its tested our passion to stay in Australia and it's really tested my mental wellbeing. We passed all of these tests and are now stronger and more confident than ever. My anxiety has almost vanished (although will never go away) and our relationship is solid as a rock. We have a lot to look forward to in 2015, and obviously 2016 when we get married!

Come on 2015, show us what you got! We will knock anything you throw at us out of the ball park!

Monday, 1 December 2014

Online Supermarket Shopping - Coles

Ever since I can remember my mum has always done her food shopping online using Tesco or Sainsbury's. It's a common thing in the UK and must have been around for at least 10+ years (but don't quote me on that!).

Last week Woolworths started advertising their online food shopping for the first time and were claiming they would offer 10% off your first shop plus free delivery. We usually shop at Coles, mainly because we have a Flybys card and usually fill our cars up at Shell, so I went online to see if they were offering the same or a similar deal....and they were.

As some of you already know, we have adapted a bit of a Frugal lifestyle here in Oz in order to save up for our Wedding in 2016. I enjoy going to the supermarket, walking around the aisles and hunting down some good bargains but this one was too good to miss! Not only could I save on fuel, I also saved 10% if I spent over $100 AND I wasn't tempted by all the nice smelling bakery stuff. I was also able to stand in my kitchen and work out what we needed, not to mention being able to follow our meal plan without going off track.

We did a quick price comparison between the two major stores, Coles and Woolworths, and decided that Coles was cheaper this time and went with them. In 2 weeks we will try out Woolworths and compare the two.

As the service is fairly new (I think!) I was anticipating a few mistakes on our order. Back in the UK we barely went 2 weeks without the driver missing a bag or the pickers choosing and orange instead of a melon. I was, however, pleasantly surprised with the overall experience. I ordered on Sunday for delivery on Tuesday morning between 8am and 10am. On Monday afternoon I received an email to say that although my allocated time is 8-10 they anticipate by delivery will be between 8-8:40. They turned up bang on 8am and the delivery guy, who was a young aussie, was happy to have a bit of a chat while unpacking the boxes for me. In the same email I was also told which items would be unavailable, the substitutes they have chosen for me, and if I was happy with those. Again I was. This was something they never did in the UK, the substitutes were usually listed at the top of your delivery report and if they didn't have what you needed then you had to pop to the shop anyway.

Overall we saved $28 by shopping online instead of going in store. This was because we took advantage of their first shopper discounts and the money I saved on fuel. For regular shoppers Coles will offer free delivery if you get you're shopping delivered on a Wednesday so we will be taking that into consideration in the future.

We are looking forward to trying out Woolworths in a few weeks to see if they can match Coles standards.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Rock Climbing and Whale Watching

We had such a fantastic weekend that we didn't want it to end. On Friday evening we went with friends to The Hangout; an indoor Rock Climbing centre and had a blast. I was a little nervous at first as it was bigger and busier than I expected but we soon got stuck in and those nerves disappeared.

As usual the boys had to compete with each other and raced to the top. Proud to say Scott won that one (sorry Tom!) but I was not as good at racing and only managed to get half way up most of the time. The cost was $14 entry each and $5 to hire a harness. You could stay as long as you wanted and refreshments were available to purchase if you wanted. One thing we would recommend doing is hiring their climbing shoes, if you don't own your own, it makes climbing much easier compared to normal trainers.

Saturday we had our 4 hour whale watching cruise with Swan River Boat Charters. We purchased the tickets on for $50 each (instead of $99 each) back in August and had until the end of November to use them up. Food was included in the price and drinks were available to purchase if you wanted to.

The tour went from 8am-midday and apart from feeling rather sea sick it was ok. We did manage to see some whales playing around just off the coast of Rottnest Island which was good because it was the end of the migration season so we were told it wasn't guaranteed we would see anything. The voucher did promise a sausage sizzle on board however we were handed Subway platters instead. Being wheat intolerant that was slightly annoying as I hadn't brought any snacks with me and obviously couldn't eat the sandwiches. They did have other snack on board to purchase but we decided that a McDonalds on the way home would be better. The conditions were fairly calm however once we were out quite far it got a bit choppy. I wasn't the only one to feel sea sick, after 30mins into the trip we noticed a girl with her head over the side of the boat, and on the way back to shore there were a few pale faces around the boat. The staff were very friendly and did offer comfort to those who didn't feel well and the captain seemed to know what he was doing and where the best places to go were.

I don't think we would do it again but thats mainly because we don't do well on boats, nothing to do with the service we received.

"Western Australia has one of the longest whale watching seasons in the world, following the epic annual migration of humpback, southern right whales and the rare blue whale, from the food-rich Southern Ocean to warm breeding grounds on the north Kimberley coast." (