What is your deepest desire? The one thing that you want more than anything in the entire world. More money, a bigger home, better career? Can you guess what mine is?
I grew up listening to tales of the world and other cultures, which led me to ask my parents if I could go to Europe. I was dying to see what all the fuss was about. When I turned 13 my wish was granted. My mom took me on a three week adventure galavanting through the castles of England, the wine fields of France, Germany to eat, eat, eat, Austria's beautiful villages, Italy's historic Roman structures...just to name a few. It was the trip of a life time!
Our first stop...London. It was gritty, dirty, punk rockers sitting on the streets with their foot tall purple hair, the food very bland, the accent so thick I realized I couldn't even understand English! I was out of my comfort zone and in that moment I knew that this part of the world was for me.
(Above: 13-year-old me in front of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.)
When my husband got the email in 2015 that his job needed him in England, we didn't hesitate. We jumped at it. (Read about it here.) We had the best 1 year, 2 months, and 15 days anyone could ask for. We truly LIVED in England. Our kids went to school, played rugby, enjoyed swim lessons, and went on playdates. I went to parent's meetings and volunteered, enjoyed breakfasts and teas with other moms, and most evenings you could catch me in the back garden with my wonderful neighbor Pat, drinking wine and talking about life. Gui went to after work drinks, biked, lunched, and traveled. We attended our local church, went to antique fairs, enjoyed Sunday roasts with friends, and you could find us at Tettenhall Green most afternoons.
(Above: Luc's first day of primary.)
(Above: An expat Thanksgiving.)
(Above: Swim lessons.)
(Above: Luc as the cutest camel you ever did see in the Christmas play at school.)
When Gui's company asked if we wanted to renew our visas for five more wonderful years, we emphatically said YES!, but a few months later his company was bought, and he along with many others were laid off. It was a nightmare!
We had one month before our current visas expired, and we needed to think fast. Talk about having the rug pulled out from underneath you.
Having to wrap my head around leaving my new life was (and still is) one of the hardest things I've ever had to endure. I felt so at home in England, the pace of life was just a little bit slower, every where I went I was learning something new, people would stop and take time to visit, I could walk just about everywhere, and history was on my front doorstep. I was in my element. I was FURIOUS that we had to leave.
Have you ever seen the face of a child when holding an ice cream and right in the middle of the most delicious lick, it falls to the floor? Well, England was my ice cream and I was the child. Believe me when I tell you, it wasn't pretty when we left. There were tears, anger, and so much back in forth on what to do now?!
(Above: Bristol's International Balloon Fiesta | Bristol, England)
(Above: Broadway Castle | Broadway, England--Cotswolds)
(Above: Seeing Big Ben | London, England)
(Above: Walking Hadrian's Wall | England)
Gui started occasionally throwing out the idea of traveling around Europe in a rented camper van to go out with one last hoorah, but I laughed it off. Who was he kidding??? Me and the kids in a sardine can? I don't think so...I always "knew" I was too prissy. Now if he had said the Ritz Carlton with spa package and champagne breakfast, on a beach...I would have jumped all over that! But in the back of my mind there were so many places I wanted to see and show the boys before we left, and God only knew when we'd have the opportunity to get our butts back to our happiest place on earth.
Y'all...I caved...and on March 15, 2017 we said our good-byes to our life in England and started our new journey as nomads in Europe for two months.
(Home for the next 2 months!)
That 1 year, 2 months, and 15 days in England was my ULTIMATE dream come true. Leaving was very upsetting, but traveling 10 countries in two months did help ease our frustrated minds.
"You're off to great places. Today is your day! You're mountain is waiting, so...get on your way! - Dr. Seuss
(The moment we pulled out of Tettenhall, England.)