Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Farewell Melbourne Part 1

We're down to one week and 3 days.  As I sit to write this C2 is still in Perth, J is still in Canberra,  I've just finished a telephone call with my Insurance company to transfer our policy interstate after which I've poured a rather tall glass of Australian Shiraz.

There are many stages of moving: (1) Denial (2) Acceptance (3) Nostalgia (4) Ready-to-Go.  I am at stage #3.  Everything I look at or experience this week makes me weak at the knees, drenched with bittersweet longing and a need to etch a memory of it in my mind.

Perfect example today, my gorgeous friend Mel took me for lunch on Acland Street in St. Kilda; as we strolled along the street, I sighed at the iconic European cake shops which J and I have frequented at the end of every school term as a special treat.  After lunch  we went for coffee at the beach.  As we walked along the St. Kilda beach boardwalk to the Stokehouse, I sighed again, as St. Kilda beach was one of the first places we visited upon arrival in Melbourne 3 and a bit years ago, and it has always had a special place in my heart.  I even barracked for the St. Kilda footy team (don't tell them I am switching allegiances to the Fremantle Dockers).

During my workout in Central Park this morning, I etched every loved corner of the Park in my mind.  As I walked home along our high street, I sighed as I glanced in the window of the My Kitchen Table cafe where J and I have lunch after tennis during the school holidays, I sighed again as I passed the Soul Cafe where I pick up coffee on my way to the tram.  I even sighed at our Australia Post outlet...I know I know, I am deep into Stage #3.

I am going to highlight what about Melbourne I will miss most....there will likely be several more entries in coming days:

1.  My High Street with its' block of  cafes and dear little shops;
2.  Glenferrie Road, my other High street with its' three blocks of cafes and dear not-so-little shops;
3.  Melbourne's iconic trams;
4.  From the tram window spying original Victorian houses with names like 'Ye Olde Parsonage';
5.  Central Park and Hedgley Dean Gardens both adjacent to our house and loved by all of us (including Murphy);
6.  Stunning Albert Park and it's rows of Palm trees.  I drive on the Formula One track around the Park to work in South Melbourne and often have to stop to allow crossings of waddling Black Swans.

7.  My peoples.  We've been having serious quality time with our dearest friends over the last week or so to etch as many memories as possible.  They have been amazing.  Supportive, loving, funny.  Everything I needed my friends to be.

Marco and Marie-Pierre - our port in a storm from the very beginning  And makers of THE best pizza outside of Italy:

With their crazy cat Minou

My girls at Ficelle for dinner (thanks Majella and Thierry):







My gorgeous Kerry and her gorgeous family.  She is seriously the funniest person I have ever known:

In my usual position, guffawing at something Kerry has said

Only a family of six could have this many skateboards, and only this mother of four who works 60+ hour weeks would make this many home-made hotcross buns on a Saturday night.

Our backup family

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Two Weeks and Three Days

We're in the final stretch.  Moving is a different experience this time.  When we left Geneva, we had 4 months of planning and frankly, it was excruciating.  C2 and I ultimately dubbed it 'the Long Goodbye'.  When I look back at the pictures of us when we finally extracted ourselves back to Canada for the Christmas break before shifting to Australia, we are grey and skinny.  From prolonged farewells, from the lessors-from-hell, from being too long in the moment.

This time around, we have a spreadsheet, we are dividing and conquering, and we're jamming it and all of the farewells into a short 4 weeks.  Whilst it is exceedingly painful to say goodbye again, for our roots have run deep, the goodbyes are accompanied by "come and visit us" and friends actually can.  We are moving 3,000km away not 14,000km.  In Geneva,  J and I used to visit with Sheila and her kids in London every school holiday; we can actually do the same from Perth to Melbourne...well maybe every OTHER school holiday.  Point is, we're still moving within the same country, and we're taking a lot of comfort from that.

Murphy is enjoying her giant kennel in the middle of our living room so it's safe to say that she's used to it again; I am hoping that the flight will remind her that she's done it successfully and longer three times before.  Again watch this space.

We are moving into temporary accommodations in Melbourne next Monday, near Chapel St. - silver linings - as it is an awesome part of Melbourne - and one with which we are very familiar.  We will do our best to take advantage of the location, though dinners with friends are planned most nights.

J is officially withdrawn from his wonderful bilingual Melbourne school; I already miss it and our wonderful Franco-Australian community.  It felt like our transfer was  not real until I formally submitted his withdrawal, well I guess it's real now.

However, before this move is done and dusted, C2 heads to Perth for a week while at the same time J heads to Canberra with school for a week.  That A WEEK.  I don't think I've experienced that in almost 11 years!   I'll be working much of that time; as for the rest, well I guess I'll be counting my blessings for all that I have...with popcorn and Netflix.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

And the Answer is..........PERTH (Australia not Scotland)

Yes, the nomadic Canadian/Swiss/Australian Family Hendricks is on the move again.  After 3 joyful years in Melbourne, we are giving up our bi-coastal lifestyle and heading west to be reunited regularly as a family.

Perth?  You ask, where/what is Perth?  Well, here is my summary of Perth, the resource capital of the state of Western Australia in no particular order.

1.  It is THE most isolated capital city in the world. 3,438 km from Melbourne, slightly more to Sydney, 8,325 to Johannesburg, 14,466 to London, 14,831km to Vancouver,  18,770 to New York,  but only 6,478 to Antarctica!

2.  The nearest city of greater than 100,000 is Adelaide at 2,104 km to the south-east.

3.  Perth is the resource capital of Australia, and the fourth most populous city after Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide with a population of around 1.9 million.

4.  Perth is the capital of the state of Western Australia, commonly referred to down under as WA.

5.  Perth is blessed with a hot, dry Mediterranean climate with an average winter temperature around 18c and average summer temps of 31c.  Cactus, Palms, and tropical flora flourish.

6.  Perth is home to four public universities: the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, Murdoch University, and Edith Cowan University. There is also one private university, the University of Notre Dame.

7.  The WA coast is the playground of many whales and a large Great White shark population, while also being blessed with some of the most spectacular beaches in the world, including Perth's Cottlesloe, voted by Lonely Planet as the second best beach in the world for families.

That's a slice of Perth.  C2 has probably spent more time in Perth than in Melbourne in the three years that we have been in Australia, and the time has come to address that inbalance.  While I am utterly heartsick at leaving my beautiful Melbourne with the remarkable network of friends who have been like family,  and the unique Franco-Australian society we have forged, I recognise that we have to wrench ourselves away for the sake of our family.  Even J realises it.  To quote my man Bruce:

"...Well it comes with a hard hard price
you can't shut off the risk and pain
Without losin' the love that remains
We're all riders on this train..."  (Bruce Sprinsgteen "Human Touch")

Kinda describes this nomadic, expat life of ours.  At least to me.  I have been so blessed with wonderful friendships and connections in Geneva and Melbourne.  I hope I am as lucky this time around.  Resigning from a job that I love and where I felt valued has also been painful but there are NGOs in Perth too.

So on we go, we've settled on a house in a charming area of Perth between the giant Swan river, (the saltwater river that defines Perth) and the Indian Ocean.  An easy walk to the river, and a short way to the beaches of the Indian Ocean, 5 minutes to Cottlesloe.  Also a short drive is Perth's Alliance Fran├žaise, where I expect J and I will spend much time continuing the french education he began in Geneva and continued in Melbourne.

Guess who else is coming?  Yep, 15-1/2 year old Murphy.  Her Vet signed-off on one more airplane journey, scheduled for April 5 with C2.  J and I will travel the next day.  I cannot be there if anything happens to her en-route.  This much I do know.  Watch this space.

It's a fast departure this time, the next three weeks will be full of organising the move, temporary accommodations, painful good-byes but joyful see-you-soon's, and parties we are dubbing the "Who-wants-to-put-the-Hendricks-up-at-Christmas-enroute-to-Canada" parties.

To conclude, here are a few images of Perth taken on a trip a couple of years ago.  Not too bad eh?

Downtown Perth

Cottlesloe Beach, a heartbeat away

J and I walking along Cottlesloe Beach
J and C2 jumping into the surf at Cottlesloe

Rottnest Island, Perth's playground just off the coast of Fremantle

More Rotto (as the Aussies call it)

Of course, there are also lots of these guys....but we'll do our best to avoid them!