Well, we made it. One year ago today the Monaghans stepped onto Adelaide soil for the first time. It's been quite a year, lots of ups and downs, a few tears and many, many laughs! It would be very long and boring if I wrote down everything that we've achieved so I'll try and do a pocket version!
We landed at 6.15am on Saturday 28th July 2007. After two hours going through immigration and baggage reclaim (just what you need after 28 hours flying with two toddlers) we picked up our hire car and drove to Woodcroft Park, our home for the next six weeks. We were exhausted and to be honest, not overly impressed with our first sight of Adelaide. The A15 isn't the prettiest road in the world! However, as we drove up Ocean Boulevard and got our first sight of the Southern Ocean our spirits lifted slightly! The first couple of weeks passed in a blur, we were exhausted and jetlagged and the children weren't letting us sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. One particular day stands out though. We were at the local shopping mall and were bickering about something and nothing (we don't bicker normally honest, we were just sooo tired and depressed...) I went into one shop and Richie went into another and neither of us realised that three year old daughter Hattie had wandered off by herself. Five minutes later we both heard a tannoy asking the parents of "Cassie" to come and collect her but of course we didn't know it was Hattie. Another five minutes later came another tannoy with the same request, this time giving a full description of "Cassie" and what she was wearing! Richie realised it was Hattie and raced to fetch our hysterical child. It felt like the final straw and we went into Flight Centre to enquire about flights both back to the UK and to Perth where we have family.
Well, that night we sat and had a loooong talk and decided that we hadn't come all this way to quit at the first hurdle. The following day, Richie went out, knocked on some doors and found a job. Two days after that we went to three opens and bought the second one! We moved in on September 14th 2007 and we haven't really looked back.
We got a couple of cars, changed our driving licences (sp?), signed up for Medicare and got our tax file numbers. Once we'd moved into the house everything started to fall properly into place. We got a routine going, it was normal life again. The children started day care two days a week and they started swimming lessons and playgroups. I can't stress enough how hard it all seemed at first, the disorientation, the jetlag and the heartache of leaving behind people that you love and who love you. Both our mums were distraught at having to say goodbye to their grandchildren, although both families have already been out for a visit! It's also been hard losing contact with people that we considered to be friends back in the UK, some have kept in touch but not all. Living such a long distance away puts a strain on friendships, but happily we are still in contact with our closer friends. Skype is great, we use it every week to contact the grandparents and other family members. When we need to phone the UK we either use Skype or a Snap card which costs $10 and gives you 500 minutes of cheap calls. I would definitely recommend that those of you getting ready to fly out buy a Snap card or something similar when you get here. It's invaluable.
As for the people here, well what can I say? We have met so many people through PIA and I'm so happy to say that most of them are lovely and helpful and kind. We must say a very special thank you though to Judi (Roo1). When we first arrived, Judi was running a playgroup in Hallett Cove. We went along in our first week to see if we could meet anyone and to give the children a bit of fun. Thanks to that playgroup we met many people, we started socialising and building up relationships. Our children were happy, they finally had friends to play with and we have made some wonderful friends ourselves. I suppose because we're all so far from the UK and the support network that we had there, we tend to form stronger friendships here. I know that if we had a problem here, I could pick up the phone and shout "Help" and at least three people would come running straight away. I won't embarrass them and name names, but you know who you are I hope. PIA has been a godsend for us in so many ways, we used it to research in the UK and to meet new friends in Australia. I think things would have been very different for us without it and I'm grateful to Tim for setting it up and to all the members who make it the forum that it is. I also think it's important to give back what you get and we're more than happy to meet new arrivals in Adelaide and offer whatever help and advice we can.
It hasn't all been good. There are negatives here and I think it's important to acknowledge them. The wages are low, the cost of living is getting higher and petrol is going up all the time. I've found it difficult to make Australian friends, I don't know if it's the area that we live in or South Australia in general but I find the people here quite reserved. I go to a playgroup every Friday with the children, we've been going for almost 9 months now and there is still only one mum there who will talk to me. It's very cliquey there and outsiders seem to get a bit of a hard time. Or maybe it's me! I think Adelaide is much safer than the UK, there is crime here of course, but it doesn't seem as bad here. Graffitti is everywhere and the hoons are a concern but I'd rather worry about that than drugs, guns and knives.
The beaches are wonderful and we can't wait for the summer again and the warm weather! I think we're really feeling the cold at the moment, we had to scrape the windscreens again this morning! I'm looking forward to bbq's again and sausage sizzles and long lazy days in the sun (fat chance with two kids!!!) I'm looking forward to spending more time with our friends, splashing around in the pool and moaning about the heat! Most of all, I'm looking forward to the second year of our new life in Australia. And then the third... and the fourth... and the fifth....
So much for a pocket version! Sorry to ramble on everyone and thanks for reading. Good luck to everyone still trying to get here, keep holding on - it will happen!:)