Today marks one year of living in Holiday Town.
I can happily report that we are now well settled and thoroughly enjoying our new lifestyle. Of course, for some of us (me!) the road to contentment has been a rocky one. The first few months were particularly difficult. I was lonely and I was bored, two emotions I hadn’t experienced for a very long time. Whilst the rest of the family quickly fitted into the new environment, I grieved for the life I’d left behind.
For months I felt like we’d made a big mistake, and that I would never grow to like it here. But little by little things began to change. It’s the little things that make a difference – the hairdresser knowing my name and remembering what we chatted about last time, being stopped in the supermarket by a mum from school for a chat, being recognised by a couple of the local shopkeepers and finding a doctor and a dentist that I like! When the kids started to join local sports teams and activities I started to feel like we could truly call ourselves locals. I volunteered to be the team manager of Middle Kid’s tennis team and that (despite being a steep learning curve) has really helped me to feel like I belong.
A couple of months ago a friend from Melbourne came to stay and while I was telling her about our life here it occurred to me that I wouldn’t go back to our old life, our old home, even if I could. This is my home now.
So it is a happy anniversary. I’m thankful for the wonderful opportunity we’ve been given: to raise our family in a beautiful, healthy environment and I promise to appreciate and make the most of our good fortune from now on!
Don’t die of shock, I’m actually here blogging! I know I have been extremely lax in keeping this blog up to date, but the good news is it’s because I’ve been too busy to write.
Things are finally starting to fall into place for me here in Holiday Town. I can confidently say that the worst of the homesickness is behind me and I am starting to feel at home here. A few things have changed since I last wrote. I’ve finally managed to find most of the professional services I was after. I now have a lovely dentist, a great doctor (she only works two days a week, but it’s better than nothing!) and I’m happy enough with the hairdresser I go to. (No-one will ever replace my previous hairdresser, but that’s something I just have to come to terms with!) Still searching for a great beautician. I’m trying out a new one tomorrow!
On the social front things are on the improve too. Middle Kid has joined a tennis team. The club is small and family friendly, so that has helped us all to feel a little more like we belong to the community here. I’ve even volunteered to be the team manager. (I know nothing about tennis AT ALL, so that could be interesting!!) Little Kid has started a martial arts class and whilst I haven’t really “met” any of the other parents in terms of having any sort of meaningful exchange, everyone seems very friendly and I guess as time goes on we might get to know some of the other families better. I think having the kids participate in these things is helping all of us to feel more tied to the community and more at home.
Little Kid has made some nice friends and I am slowly getting to know some of their parents. One mum is particularly friendly and nice. We’ve had coffee together once so I’m hoping there’s so potential for friendship there. At the very least it’s nice to have a friendly face at school when I’m there for assembly or other special events.
All three of the kids are now well and truly settled. They’ve all made good friends and are constantly being invited to parties and other events. Likewise our house is often filled with their friends and this fact makes me very happy. One of the reasons for our “sea change” was to provide the kids with more opportunities to feel part of a local community. When we lived in the suburbs they travelled a long distance to school each day and their friends were scattered all over the place, making impromptu gatherings almost impossible. Now they can see their friends easily and I love that Big Kid and Middle Kid can walk or ride their bikes to catch up with friends, which means they can be a lot more independent than before.
Good news on the shopping front too – a new fruit and veggie shop has opened up in town. It’s small but good and sells lots of local produce. Hooray!! I’ve also been heading into Big Regional Town more often. I’m getting to know the good shopping areas, the best places to park, some decent places to eat, where the best coffee can be found and so on.
Finally, I’ve joined a book club in BRT. So far we’ve only had one meeting, but that went well and I think the belonging to this group will be lots of fun!
So there’s my update. Thankfully it’s a lot more cheery than the last one.
Yesterday it was all about the good things. Today I’m tackling the not-so-good.
Shopping and other services:
Holiday Town is a fairly large centre. We do have access to quite a few shops and services. There are two supermarkets (Coles and Woolworths) and a number of smaller shops including a bakery, a shoe store, a bookshop, hairdressers (several!) and a few cafes and restaurants. I know as far as rural towns go we are lucky, but… (you knew there was going to be a “but” didn’t you?) There’s really not a lot of variety. Both supermarkets only carry a small range of most items. There are many things we simply can’t get. As for the smaller businesses, some of them are great. There’s a homeware store in town that I simply love. However, many of these businesses run very reduced hours during the winter and some close down altogether. There’s Big Regional Town (BRT) half an hour away, which has most things so I really shouldn’t complain, but on a day to day basis I miss not having the particular yoghurt I like and hate that when the kids put a hole in their school pants it’s a big trip to BRT to get new ones. I’m also a bit disappointed in the lack of non supermarket options to buy food. I was hoping to find a great green grocer to buy fresh fruit and vegies, but there isn’t one. There’s very small fruit/health food store but their stock is very limited.
As far as services go I’m yet to find a dentist/doctor/hairdresser/beautician that I’m satisfied with. The trouble is that there’s not much choice. I’ve stuck with the first doctor I went to see and she’s pleasant enough but I have no real confidence in her. The dentist turned out to be a complete dud! I had the most painful experience ever when he tried to crown a tooth (and failed!) Back to the drawing board there I’m afraid. The beautician was OK, just not professional, so I’m still looking. The hairdresser was good but I haven’t been able to get another appointment at a time that suits me.
I know these are trivial problems, but sometimes little things can make a big difference.
Square Peg Syndrome (Cultural and Political Differences)
I’ll start this section with a caveat: what I’m about to say reflects how I feel not necessarily how things actually are. I’m about to make some generalisations and I know that these generalisations are not true of this entire community.
I’ve talked before on this blog about the lack of diversity in Holiday Town. Everyone here seems* the same. Most people seem to be white, middle class and for most part politically conservative. Just so you know, I’m white and middle class and I look just like everyone else here (except that I’m not skinny – but that’s a whole other post!) People assume that because I look and sound a certain way (I’ve been told I speak like one of the stars of Kath and Kim, and no, it’s not on purpose!) that I will have certain views. Australian* views, views just like theirs. When I tell people where we’ve moved from they invariably comment on how relieved we must be to have “gotten out”. I’ve had people comment that it was a smart move to get my kids away from all those “darkies” that have “taken over” my former town. The words “illegals” and “scum of the earth” have also been used when discussing my former place of residence. I’m very ashamed to admit that I have not once taken anyone to task over these prejudiced comments. I’ve mumbled something about missing my friends there and then changed the subject or moved on.
And it’s not just racial prejudice that’s a problem. Last night BK was talking about IDAHO (International Day Against Homophobia) this Thursday. His school is planning to celebrate the day with several activities. BK says that the majority of the students he knows are anti the celebrations. He was saddened to discover even people in his friendship group are among the “haters”. Sigh…
I know that not every person in this community is like this. Possibly there are people who feel just like me but (like me) they are flying under-the-radar, not comfortable with making their dissenting views known. Eventually I will get up the courage to challenge people when these things are said in my presence. I can’t tell my kids that doing nothing is the same as participating if I’m not prepared to lead by example. It’s just hard when you feel like the only apple in a bowl full of oranges.
*See caveat at beginning of section.
I have no friends. (See Section on Square Pegs!)
This is partially my own fault. I have not put myself “out there” very much. I haven’t joined any groups or forced myself to talk to strangers at school functions. I could be a lot more pro-active. So far though I haven’t found anything that I want to join. I haven’t found a writer’s group or even a book club that’s open to new members. I know I need to make more effort in this department.
So there you have it – my honest assessment of how we’re doing here. Looks like I have some work to do in the second half of the year!
It’s been almost six months since we moved here so I thought over the next few days I would review how things are going. Today I’ll start with the positives:
Physical attractions: We already knew that this would be a beautiful place to live. Our house has spectacular views of the river and out to sea, and we are only a short walk away from the beach. There’s a lovely lake nearby that attracts an array of bird-life. The street we live in isn’t paved and is surrounded by bushland. It’s gorgeous. So much nicer than the boring suburban street we had previously called home.
I guess I underestimated how much I would enjoy the physical beauty of the area. I’m loving that my daily walk can take me to so many beautiful places. I often find myself spending an hour or so on the beach with Millie-the-Mad-Dog. D is enjoying running here so much more than when we were in the suburbs. Exercise seems less painful in these surroundings!
The schools: It was with much sadness and great trepidation that we pulled our kids out of their previous school. Old School was a P-12 private school, which all three boys loved and were thriving at. Here in Holiday Town, we decided that we wanted the kids to go to school locally. Not travelling too far for school is part of the whole ‘slower life’ philosophy we are trying to embrace.
The two older boys are at the local public high school (on two separate campuses) and LK is attending the local Catholic primary school. So far we couldn’t be happier with the way this has turned out. All the boys are enjoying their new schools and are doing well. They’ve all made lots of new friends and seem very settled. D and I are happy with the curriculum and the environment at each school. At the recent parent teacher interviews for the older boys I was very impressed with the teachers’ passion for their subjects and interest in their students. Changing schools was probably my biggest worry before we moved so it’s a relief that things have turned out so well.
It’s so much easier to be physically active here. We are close to great areas to swim, surf and paddle. D has finally donned the full wetsuit and booties and is still managing to get out for a surf despite the cold weather. I’m walking lots more. Being so close to town is a great advantage. It’s hardly worth getting the car out of the garage when you can walk to the shops in under ten minutes. The boys are more active here too. MK rides his bike to school and LK loves exploring the local area on his bike on the weekends. Even BK is out and about more.
We’ve been blessed with lovely neighbours on both sides, which makes for very pleasant living. LK has befriended the little girl next door and I love that the two of them bound between the two houses so freely. Reminds me of the relationship I had with the neighbourhood kids when I was growing up.
So there you have it – the positives aspects of living in Holiday Town. These are the things I need to think about when I’m having a woe-is-me day!
Please forgive my extended absence from this blog. I’ve been away being a tourist in New York City. D and I had the opportunity to take a couple of weeks holiday without the kids and we decided to revisit a city we both love.
My love affair with NYC began long before I went there, in fact it began when I was little girl. I don’t know why I was so determined to go there, perhaps it was the result of watching dozens of TV shows set in Manhattan! I first visited in 2009 with D and all the kids. We had a fantastic time but D and I longed to go back and do all the “grown up” things that we couldn’t with three kids in tow.
This time was even more amazing than the last. We stayed at the wonderful Hotel Giraffe on Park Ave. This is a boutique hotel in a quiet(ish) neighbourhood but still within walking distance of great shopping and fantastic bars and restaurants. We could easily walk to Union Square, Madison Square Park and Herald Square. The hotel is also close to a couple of subway stations so we could be anywhere in the city in no time.
We really had no agenda for this visit. We had a couple of things that we wanted to do but otherwise we thought we’d just go with the flow and see what happened. D wanted to run a lap of Central Park. He managed to do this three times during the course of our stay and each time said it was a fantastic experience. I wanted to visit Brooklyn and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan. I loved Brooklyn and should I be lucky enough to get to go back to NY I’ll spend more time there. The views walking back across the bridge were truly spectacular.
On our second day in the city we were lucky enough to have a wonderful guide provided (at no cost to us!) by Big Apple Greeters. Wendy, our guide for the day, introduced us to the wonders of Eataly and then took us for a stroll through Chelsea. We spent considerable time there “gallery hopping”, which was just amazing and a true highlight of our trip. After we’d had our fill of art for the day, we walked across town and wandered along High Line Park, a disused railway track that has been turned into a walking/running trail and park. The views from up there were fantastic. Wendy left us in the Rooftop Bar of the Hotel Gansevoort (seriously worth a look.) After that we were in need of sustenance so dropped by Pastis for a late lunch.
This trip we spent a lot of time just being in New York. We wandered around neighbourhoods, we shopped, we ate, we drank! So many great restaurants in NYC it’s hard to pick a favourite. I totally loved Red Rooster in Harlem (and no, it’s not any relation the Red Rooster we have here in Australia!) Cafe Habana in Soho was fun for lunch. Their corn cobs are out-of-this-world-delicious! We visited Pastis for dinner as well as lunch and loved every bite. Spice Market had a great bar. It’s a super cool location for a pre-dinner drink. Blue Smoke also has a nice bar area and the food’s not bad either. One of the best nights we had was at The Hurricane Club. The food is Polynesian, the decor is opulent and the vibe is very hip. Loved it!
Yes, in case you were wondering, I did gain a couple of kilos while we were away!
Shopping in New York is the best in the world without a doubt. You can get anything you want in this city. D and I spent many happy hours browsing in department stores like Macys, Bloomingdales and Lord and Taylor. We also spent a bit of time wandering around in neighbourhood shops in Soho and around Union Square. A great find was ABC Carpet and Home. This place has exquisite (and also quirky) homewares and gifts. Definitely worth a look if you are in the area. We also spent some time at Toys R Us in Times Square (amazing but crazy busy) FAO Schwartz (even busier) and Tiffany & Co. (a lovely warm haven on a bitterly cold day.) The Aussie dollar is going a long way in the States at the moment. Needless to say we needed an extra suitcase to bring home all our purchases!
We spent time at the Guggenheim, which is worth a look for the stunning architecture alone and we took a trip to The Cloisters, a museum filled with medieval artifacts. The Cloisters was amazing because of it’s location. It’s in Upper Manhattan (Fort Tryon Park) in a beautiful spot overlooking the Hudson River. When we got off the train here we felt like we’d left the city well behind us. I wished we’d had the foresight to bring a picnic basket. It ‘s a great place to take respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
I could go on and on, but this post is already waaay longer than I intended. We had the holiday of a lifetime, but I’m not satiated yet. Somehow I get the feeling that no matter how many times I visit New York it will never be enough.
Today I had my eyelashes and eyebrows tinted and my hair done. Big Deal, you’re probably thinking, but actually it is a big deal to me! It’s the first time I’ve gone local for such treatments.
I’m still a bit unsure about how I feel about it all. Trouble is I absolutely loved my previous beauty therapist and hairdresser (who I’m still getting to colour my hair – not ready to sever the cord just yet!) Today’s beauty therapist was friendly, and my lashes and brows look perfectly fine but I’m not sure that this salon is the “one.” I think I’ll keep shopping around.
I liked the hairdresser and I’m happy with my hair. It wasn’t quite as much fun as seeing my old hairdresser, but the overall experience was nice and I felt comfortable in the salon. I’ll be going back there and who knows, maybe one day I’ll love this hairdresser as much as my previous one.
I’ve also been to the dentist again this week. When I went last week I wasn’t too sure about him but after a second visit he’s grown on me so that’s one I can check off the list!
About this time last week I was having a bit of a sook.
It’s amazing the difference a week can make. Today I can’t wipe the smile off my face.
This week has included visits from acquaintances, close friends, old friends and (drumroll please) a potential NEW friend. So exciting!! This morning when I was cleaning the bathroom there was a knock at the front door. It was a member from the PFA at LK’s school. She was dropping off a gift and welcome card from the school. How nice is that???
I invited her in for a coffee. We discovered we had lots in common and the next two hours FLEW by while we chatted. When she was leaving we exchanged numbers and made vague plans to catch up again. It seems silly that I feel so excited by this visit, but it really has made me feel quite happy.
It’s a good reminder that sometimes small gestures can mean a lot to someone else. Hopefully I can “pay forward” the same kindness one day soon.