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The boardwalk at Carolyn Bay in Timaru

My husband started putting his work-to-residence visa to good use this week which means I now have the house to myself. After spending the last two or so months in each other’s pockets, it’s strange to be home alone.

I feel a little deflated, like all the air has escaped me and I’m as useless as a corroded tyre on a rotted out old car. It’s a feeling with which I’m familiar. In my old life, I would spend weeks engrossed in high-pressure projects that, when each one ended, there was always an anti-climax. The best way to beat the comedown was to throw myself into a new project as quickly as possible. So, what am I waiting for?

I mean, we are here now. We have the house, the car, Husband is off bringing home the bacon (or in his case, the beef – don’t ask) and Boy Child has settled into school without skipping a beat.

An old friend

I’m on my own, which is dangerous territory. Especially for a serial procrastinator (I actually drafted this weeks ago). Of course, I’m not totally alone. I have Girl Child to wean. She is also missing the boys so does not wish to be out of arm’s reach. I’ve done the only thing an erstwhile Xennial (the generation that bridges analogue Gen Xers and digital Millenials; basically the loose change of generations) can do and that’s made sorting out the broadband and subscribing to the local on-demand streaming services priority number one, so I can binge watch some tv.

Oh tv, how I have missed you.

Feeling homesick

I’ve also rearranged the furniture several times, sorted out the wardrobes and cleaned. In the mornings, after dropping Boy Child off, I’ve walked to the shops to pick up essentials. The very first morning I even walked all the way into town, bumped the pram along the boardwalk and visited the parrots in Carolyn Bay. I’ve made endless lists of chores and things we need.

Ah, domestic bliss. But not really. It was really just busywork to take my mind off the fact that most of my friends and family are on the other side of the planet. And asleep. Not that I’m moaning. I knew homesickness was inevitable.

I gave myself a week to settle and establish a routine (with minimal moping), fully intent of making friends the following week. I booked Boy Child into a local martial arts class and Girl Child in at the local Plunket playgroup with the goal of getting out and socialising.

Neither went as planned.

Kung fu fright

To start with – and this really is my fault for assuming there were more budding junior kung fu students in Timaru than there actually are – Boy Child was the only kid. A couple of his friends had started taking martial arts lessons in England and he was desperate to go too. I promised him that he could join the local club as soon as we got to New Zealand. So imagine my surprise when we turn up at his school hall where it is meant to be and not a soul is about. Just us loitering in the dark. No lights on, nothing.

I had expected a throng of white-robed children practising karate kicks. Then a rather tall, silent fellow in a white robe appears out of the darkness jingling keys.

“Master D?” I enquire knowing that this guy looks nothing like the picture on the internet where I found the club.

He grunts.

I am very aware that no one would hear my screams as we follow him into the hall. I keep telling myself not to let my imagination run away with my common sense. People know we are here. And he has the keys. It has to be legit.

With the lights on he is not so scary. Soon the real Master D turns up and explains the lack of children is due to a focus on getting the adults trained up first (it made more sense when he said it). What can I do? Walk out and disappoint my son? No. So I let him stay and he loves it. He shows a degree of perseverance I’ve never seen him employ for the purposes of good before. Which leaves me with a quandary. Continue going twice a week and risk annoying the other adult students or breaking a promise to Boy Child who has already been forced to sacrifice so much in our search for greener grass. I guess he has every right to be there if the sensei doesn’t object.*

Fun and games

The next day I set off to take Girl Child to the playgroup. This is an invaluable service put on by the local Plunket service which supports young families (or rather, families with young children). Girl Child can barely sit up supported but it will be nice for her to meet other infants and hopefully, I can chat with the other parents to find out more about life in Timaru.

Again, I let my preconceptions get the better of me. Only two other adults turn up, in addition to the group leader. It’s a little awkward. I can barely understand Dad’s thick Eastern European accent nor Gran’s equally dense rural Kiwi accent. They struggle just as badly with my British accent which I swear gets posher the more I try to annunciate myself.

To break the tension, one of the toddlers goes and locks himself in the bathroom. We all try not to panic as the door refuses to budge. A metal chair has fallen over and wedged itself almost closed from behind. As the chair slips lower, the narrow gap that we can flail our arms through gets thinner and thinner. The toddler gets redder as our grins, which are intended to reassure him, stretch tight. It’s a desperate situation.

Thankfully, the group leader gets a grip, on the chair and the situation, and manages to open the door. One relieved Dad is reacquainted with the toddler who wanders off to play again. That’s more excitement than I can take and after some jilted small talk I make my excuses. I’ve not been back, yet.

I shall persevere with my efforts to avoid becoming a hermit. A job would probably help. Soon, I promise. I just need to move the couch again…

*As it goes, the next lesson was a bust and Boy Child rather sagely decided to “Wait until I am a bit older.” Fine by me.

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Kia ora!

In 2019, we sold our house, packed our bags and flew 18,782.17 km from the UK to New Zealand. This is our story of beginning again on the other side of the world, proving it’s never too late to chase your dreams!  Learn more here.