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Hey, I am an Aussie girl, recently returned to Perth, Western Australia after spending 10 years (on and off) living in the UK. I had a wonderful job teaching English in a French Primary School in London, which allowed me to brush up on my French and make use of the school holidays to do masses of travelling. Now that I'm back home in "the most isolated capital city in the world" I'm wondering if I will be able to make it out here! I hope to be seeing some of the beautiful delights of Aus and South East Asia, once I can locate full time work and get that travel fund up and running again!!!
Well, I was making my way through the Greek Islands (as you do) when I made it to my dream destination of Santorini. I unloaded myself from the ferry and set up camp at the Youth Hostel with a motley crew of other weary travelers, including Aussies, New Zealanders, Irishmen and a flamboyant gay Englishman called Andy. As we were there off season, the weather wasn't all that spectacular and we often just hung around chatting and sun bathing rather than looking for beaches. Andy had had his wallet stolen and was waiting for a new card to be sent on from England and to pass the time, would sometimes take out a mysterious purple package and entertain the others. Eventually one windy cloudy day when all ferries had been cancelled and we'd all holed up inside, I asked what was in the purple satin package and he produced some tarot cards. I thought it might be fun to have mine read, so we settled down for a 7 card reading. He started out saying that I'd been through a lot of grief and confusion lately, but that I seemed to be making my way again, which was spot on, as I'd left Aus completely consumed by a broken heart that had had me on anti depressants for 6 months, but time away had made things easier and I was finally moving on. Then he told me about the love of my life, whom I would soon meet - tall, slim, blonde and blue eyed, he would be good with sales and good with people. I was dubious about this, as I had been drawn to darker boys all my life, including the heart breaker, who was a Singaporean Indian I met at university. Also, being a cuddly 5 foot nothing, I shied away from tall slim blokes as I felt like a midget beside them, but I smiled at Andy all the same and asked him to continue... He then told me that this gorgeous bloke and I would embark on some kind of business together, or that he would support me in some enterprise of my own, which sounded fine, then he finished with the 10 of cups - the "wishing card", which meant that all my dreams would come true... He was really pleased with the reading, saying it was one of the nicest he'd had, and I of course thought it was fab - regardless of if I thought he was way off with the blonde guy, I liked the idea of all my wishes in life coming true, and it's a little phrase I've hung on to ever since. A couple of days later the weather cleared and we all hopped back on ferries to different islands and I eventually ended up back in London where my friend Vanessa was working in a pub. I asked if I could stay with her for a few days while I tracked down another mate who had said she would travel through Egypt with me.
So that night I was hanging out at the bar waiting for Vanessa to finish her shift, when in swaggers this guy with a ready smile on his face, looking for a pint after work. He pulled up a stool next to mine and ordered a drink from Vanessa and she asked him if he would 'like any crisps with that?' to which I snickered into my lemonade (tea totaller that I am) and said "You've been in the uk too long! They're chips Vanessa!". This bloke decided to join in the debate over what they were really called, as he'd lived with a New Zealander who also insisted on calling them chips...and we got talking. I told him I was in town for a couple of days before heading to Egypt, and that I'd been traveling and had been collecting stones from various places. I pulled out some amethyst, some rose quartz, some moonstone and various others, all of which had been clunking around in my handbag for months. "This one's for love", I said, "this one's for wishes, and this is for sexual appetite" I said, licking my lips, as he coughed discreetly into his Stella. After that I told him about the tarot reading, to which he immediately replied "well that's me!" which made me smile, and I couldn't deny that he was tall, slim, blonde and blue eyed... We laughed a lot and then when Vanessa finished, I asked him his name, (Matt), said goodbye and we left him in the pub and went out for cake and coffee. For the rest of the week I lived in the pub with Vanessa I didn't see him once, and the girl that was meant to come to Egypt with me opted to take a job with Contiki instead of heading to Africa. I decided not to go alone and Vanessa convinced me to stay in London and look for a nannying job instead. I found something nearby in Richmond and settled into London life. 2 weeks later, Matt came into the pub again and asked Vanessa how that friend of hers was doing in Egypt. “Oh” she said, “She didn’t go, she’s living in Richmond working as a nanny!”, which certainly caught his interest, because he said to her “Hey, that’s cool, because I quite liked her. Can you get her number for me?” We ended up seeing each other and it was fun, he was very sensitive and sweet and had a great sense of humour, but every now and then he would say to me “This is a bad idea, there’ll be tears at the airport!” to which I would answer “Oh rubbish, I enjoy your company and you enjoy mine, I don’t fall that easily, so let’s just have fun!”. 3 months later it was time for me to head home on the end of my round the world ticket, and I felt like such a fool ‘fessing up to him, “I think I’ve fallen in love…”.
Although he wasn’t ready to say those big, scary words himself, he agreed that we had something pretty special and that we should try to keep it going even though I was heading home. So I flew back to Perth and moved into a share house, started a tourism course and survived on letters, emails and phone calls for 8 months. When he finally came over for a 2 week visit, I didn’t know how to respond to him – months of self-induced celibacy meant that I didn’t want to kiss him, and a desire to show him everything about my life meant that I wanted to kick him as he lay in bed with jet lag instead of getting up at the crack of dawn! It was a weird reunion! But then we headed out on the road to see WA and it was the best, I drove the poor boy 1500km in 3 days, and he took it so well! By the time he left, I knew I couldn’t bear being left behind for months on end again, so I booked my ticket back to London to join him as soon as my course was done.
We moved straight in together, which had me feeling a little panicky – after all, we’d only been a couple for 3 months, then had been apart for a year with a 2 week interlude, but it couldn’t have worked better, it was such a novelty to be together that I got excited about going food shopping with him! We could act like a real couple at last! We lasted 2 and ½ years in London before my desire to show him Aus kicked in and we headed over for a year. We lived in Perth in the cutest little flat by the sea and I went back to uni for the year. Matt was horribly stifled by the 3 month working restrictions, which had him taking up labouring jobs such as cutting steel, making showers and driving vans, but we still got to see lots of WA as well as trips to Darwin and Melbourne. The lifestyle was so lovely and everything seemed so affordable after life in London, that Matt was smitten and wanted to stay indefinitely. However, his visa was up and we knew it was not worth risking making immigration unhappy, so we jumped on the plane back to London. Being back this time was really really hard. We were very unhappy to leave our little life in Perth behind and had come back to a nice big bill from Matt’s dad for money he had borrowed when things got a bit tough financially in Aus. It felt like we were turning to each other daily and asking “What on earth are we doing here?”.
Just before our 5th anniversary in May 2005, Matt proposed. We’d both been very wary of the whole idea of marriage before and it was certainly not on our radar, but then after such a bonding year in Aus and toughing it out when we returned to London, something changed and we actually felt like we could do it! We couldn't face the concept of planning a wedding in either Aus or the UK, or to have 2, in order to cover everyone (eek!), as it would just involve too much money and too many people, so we decided to do something small, simple and beachside somewhere - that way we'd have our honeymoon included! So, it looks like Andy was onto something all those years ago in Santorini with that tall slim man in my cards….
OK, so we reached a decision at last, after looking at a thousand and one "destination wedding" hot spots, we settled on the only possible contender - Santorini Island! So on the 10th of July 2006, we were married in a very small ceremony on the cliff at sunset, what more could a girl ask for??? Heading back to where it all began...
Well, gone are the days when I began the year with my school calendar in front of me and planned out all the European spots I would visit in each of the school holidays or long weekend breaks! Western Australia is vast! Even just a small camping trip to a nice spot can require 5 hours of driving!
However, I do have some destinations on the wish list for next year, they are:
* 2 weeks in a camper van, driving through the rain forests and coastal towns of Queensland (with a boat trip out to the Great Barrier Reef very much part of the plan!)
* A road trip down south to the forests and granite shorelines of beautiful South West Western Australia.
* A week of sunning, sightseeing and eating in Penang, Malaysia.
* A road trip in the opposite direction, up to the Ningaloo Reef area, to snorkel, camp and laze in the sun!
* A trip back to London and Europe to see the in-laws in December.
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