I have always wanted to visit Australia. As a kid it was my friends who wanted to go and see American and all the Disney magic but I wanted to see nature at its extreme. Heat, red dust and beaches with an abundance of wild exotic animals and very few human inhabitants.
Fast forward 45 years, 3 kids and one divorce later and my dream came true! Not only have I visited Australia but I’m now one of its citizens! My citizen application, took 18 months to complete but also a whopping £6000 and a promise, that I have to spend more than 6 months in the country, per year for the next two years.
Tuesday, is the day I have to return to Australia to complete my citizenship, leaving the unfinished French renovation to the ravages of winter. It’s hard to pack up a house you won’t see for 6 months. It sounds so glamorous but the reality is, I have two of everything in two different continents. That’s a lot of stuff! Although it’s great to unleash my inner interior designer on our homes but they are both so extreme.
Palm cove is on a 2K stretch of beach that hugs the tropical lush vegitaton. It’s a thriving tropical oasis of restaurants and high end boutiques, coffee shops galour. All facing the beach and meandering prommanade through palm trees, where the beautiful and glamorous walk. The shops and restaurants are a mixture of modern purposes built boxes and the old plantation houses, as the local produce are mangos and sugar canes. Our resort unit is 50 meters from the beach, which I love.
In contrast our french home is in the country, surrounded by farmland and Aquitaine blond, white and cream cattle. The nearest large town is Eymet, in the Dordogne. Eymet is a Bastide town with only one original tower and partial wall left that used to surround the original village.
It’s taken me almost two long years to organise our possessions in two continents and it’s by living there that I’ve realised what does and doesn’t work. Palm cove is hot, 44 degrees and 80-90% humidity means you can’t wear nylon, just cotton or linen. Living in the tropics you soon realise that everywhere is airconditioned and you do get used to the hum, of the air con unit and the swishing of the electric ceiling fans.
We live in our swimwear during the day and at night it’s beautiful kaftans and floating linens.
Locals smirk when they recognise a Victorian (the ‘State’ of) who is dressed in clinging sweat drenching nylon. When the rains do come, it’s as though the ocean has risen up and dumps it’s contents on your head. It’s skin drenching, no need for wellingtons or raincoats, as it just soaks through. As it’s also warm rain it’s better to dry skin than clothes. The rain doesn’t last long, the sun reappears and drys up all the rain.
In contrast, my part of France is warm and dry. Little rain but when it does rain, it’s mud and lots of it! Life is so different in France. We have an acre of land and my husband loves his ride on mower, cuts the grass and our neighbours too!
Packing the french house is not easy. Fridges and freezers to be emptied. Store cupboards to be mouse and vermin proofed. I normally make sure all products are in sell by date and sealed in plastic boxes. All fresh produce is consumed before we go or given away to neighbours .
I pack two small carry ons for our journey home to Australia. We all have our favourite pair of shoes and handbags. I have to be ruthless to what I take with us. My sometimes can’t do without has to stay as I have run out of space and the essentials need to come with us.
Paper work is a nightmare. Two homes, 3 cars equal a paper mountain of insurances and headaches. Bills for both houses have to be paid for. So, direct debits, making sure someone picks up your mail to photograph and send through to you, is essential.
The french house is eerily quiet and seems strange with sheets over our belongings. I never understood when watching programmes on the TV, the significance of dust sheets on furniture. I’m now in dust sheet heaven! Even the TV gets a dust sheet of its own. The beds are covered and the wardrobes are sealed with moth repellents inside and just like that we are ready to fly to the other side of the world.
She you on the other side!