We have a lot of stuff which needs a good (free) home. If you can come and get it, and shout first, it’s yours!

Check it out on the Free Stuff page.

Time for another emigrating update.

Last week I had a yucky cold and throat thing so had some fairly unproductive days off work in front the TV. This was quite frustrating when there is so much to be getting on with. Grr. Now progress is back on track though. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

Flights: Finally booked! We fly on 12th February, Pancake Day. Only two weeks and a day to go. Eeeek. 

Seat - still for sale

Seat – still for sale

Selling the car: About a week ago I made signs for the cars about selling them, called one company that buys second hand cars, and that’s about as far as I got. On Tuesday I had a call from a man stood next to it outside the house, who was interested in Matt’s Focus. Deal was done there and then, deposit paid, job done. Its been collected and gone now, so just one more car to go.

Tenants: We have some tenants lined up. They are going through referencing at the moment, so fingers crossed.

Accommodation: We’ve been given some options for temporary accommodation when we get to Oz, and are hoping to get some more tomorrow so we can make a final decision.

Charity Shop Hoard 2

Charity Shop Hoard 2

Packing / sorting: I have managed to start sorting things out and packing has commenced. Weirdly I seem to be trying to get rid of more things than Matt wants too. It feels good to be getting rid of unwanted things, although we still seem to have a lot to store here. Hoard 2 for the charity shop are pictured, hoard 1 was about the same size. Its like there are boxes everywhere around the house at the moment, and still loads to sort. The shipping appointment is booked in for Weds next week so we can get a quote after that. 

Re-Homing: We’ve managed to re-home some of the furniture which is good. I feel a bit like Del Boy on the phone to people all the time about stuff we can sell them! 

Being newsworthy: A Press Release is out about the new consortium I am going to work for, which makes me oddly excited. See here.

Me, Bruce the snow Kangeroo and Owen my brother (left to right!)

Me, Bruce the snow Kangeroo and Owen my brother (left to right!)

And…. Over the weekend my brother and I made a snow kangaroo (and joey)! It was going to be a koala but then we were hit with kangaroo inspiration. He lasted well overnight, by the end of the second day his eyes had all gone.  🙁 Now he has no head which makes me sad. Best go and find a real one soon!

As you might expect from someone with a PhD, I do a fair amount of thinking – not necessarily about anything particularly meaningful, insightful or earth shattering – just kicking ideas and questions (mainly questions) about in my brain. And there are normally more questions than answers!

As well as updates about our emigration and adventures in Australia, I thought we could use the blog to post a range of other things too, including bringing you some of the ideas rattling about in my brain.

This week I have been thinking about culture.

My brother has lived in Germany for a couple of years now, with his German girlfriend who he met when the both lived in the UK. We were discussing the differences between the UK and Germany recently and it got me wondering about culture. The identity kind, not the Tate Modern kind. We’ve also been watching some relevant programmes for research purposes, like Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2 and ‘Phil Down Under’.

What does it mean to be British / from Britain?

How British am I? (Have I got a load of cultural traits I don’t even realise which will mark me out?) 

What is Australian culture really like? (Am I going to have to start being interested in sport?)

Will they get our sense of humour and vice versa?

What’s the right balance between integrating into a new culture and maintaining your cultural heritage / ‘roots’?

What are the things we will end up really missing from home and wondering how we ever lived without?

Pasties - Pretty British I reckon. Yum.

Pasties – Pretty British I reckon. Yum.

I’d like to think I have my own identity and am not too much of a stereotype. But then again I like eating pies in country pubs, have a tendency for cynicism (negativity you may say), talk about the weather a fair amount and get irritated when people don’t observe the rules of orderly queuing.

We’ve heard various things about Australia and its culture, but I don’t think you can get a proper idea about it before living there. Although in a lot of ways the UK and Australia are not too culturally dissimilar (compared to say Thailand, Japan, Kenya or Brazil) I’m expecting there to be quite a few differences that we probably haven’t even realised about yet.

I’m looking forward to a more laid back attitude and better work life balance, although I’m not sure how this will work out with my role managing bids. The whole point of bids is to win, by putting together the best (and cheapest) proposal and beating all the competition. Sadly you don’t do that by going to the beach at 5pm every day unfortunately. Unless all the competition go at 4.30pm, that would be good!

I’ll do another post when we’ve been there a while and let you know how its going!

Any thoughts on culture?

I thought it was time for an emigrating update.

We are getting pretty close to the 50% done mark now. Currently we’re on 39 (point 6) out of 85 done = 46.6% and there are some things which should be sorted pretty soon. Here is what we have been up to recently:

Friday (11th Jan): We went for leaving drinks with some Horsham friends who are off to Perth. It was a good night, and bought home to me how much I’m going to miss our excellent UK friends. Be prepared for crying at our party.

Last weekend: We went for a fun night of bowling, Waggamammas and board Games with the Shorts. Matt will want me to mention he won the bowling. Needless to say we also did a lot of DIY to the hall in preparation for the new carpet. We applied for our Oz bank account with Westpac which was actually very easy and found out on Monday it was open.

My visa granted note (as I found out when Matt was on the phone)

My visa granted note
(as I found out when Matt was on the phone)

Monday: This Monday night we found out our visa has been approved, so we can go as legal immigrants! 😀 Its all getting a bit serious. I’m keen to get flights booked now but the company is being sloooooow so we still don’t have a confirmed move date. Its looking like around 12th February. I’m keen to get this done as then we can start properly cancelling things here and arranging new landlord insurance etc. I got some quotes for the cars too, but currently am not sure whether to go to the hassle of trying to sell them privately for more money.

Tuesday: The electricians came and did our new fuse board and some rewiring, so we’re all safe and certified. Matt had some good progress towards getting a transfer to Australia with his company too. We also had our first two viewings for tenants, and one of them is booking in a second viewing (which annoyingly got moved from Friday due to the snow).

New carpet in hall stairs and landing

New carpet in hall stairs and landing

Wednesday: We had the new carpet fitted, and it looks fab (the pictures don’t do it justice). I can’t find any pics of the old one, but it was green (so not great to start with) and abused from our two years of us doing DIY without looking after it properly! Crocodile Dundee 1 and 2 arrived on DVD, so we can do some important research! After failing to find any boxes on Tesco I went to Sainsburys to pick up some bits and bobs and go on another box hunt. They had none either.

Thursday: I booked in a lunch with some friends who I’ve not seen for ages and researched flights. I went on a failed box hunt to the Garden Centre too, but it shut an hour before I got there. In something totally unrelated to emigrating I also made some lemon curd shortbread – yummy!

Bookcase sorting

Bookcase sorting

Friday: I sorted out the bookcase and luckily the pile for recycling / charity shop / donation (at the back) is just as big as the storage pile). So far the shipping pile at the front is very small.

Weekend:  My brother is coming over from Germany for the weekend, so we’ll be catching up over the weekend which I’m looking forward to.Hopefully he wont be too delayed by the snow.

Next week: I have a couple of key jobs next week. One is to get flights sorted and get more information on shipping and the other is to start thinking about when we actually get to Oz. I need to start a list of things to do when we’re there, and importantly do a budget so we can work out how much extortionate rent we can afford.

I’ve got next Thursday off and am planning a shopping trip to stock up on things to take with me, mainly wardrobe related I suspect. Suggestions welcome!

We got married back in September 2011, and had a mini honeymoon down in Dartmoor where we got married. We knew immediately when we got engaged that we wanted to go to New Zealand for our honeymoon . We wanted to make sure we had enough money to do lots of amazing things, so we decided to save up for it and delay our honeymoon about a year after the wedding (which also helped make the most of the best weather).

We went to New Zealand (South Island) for 3.5 weeks from 5th to 30th December, with 2 days in Sydney first and an unexpected day in Dubai too.

We had a truly awesome time, it was both of our favorite holidays ever. We took 6,803 photos, a lot of video and drove 3,800km!

I’m going to write separate posts on the details of what we did as there is a lot of it. There will be photos and videos on the relevant tabs soon too. For now, here are the Top 10 highlights (in no particular order as its too hard).

Dolphin watching in Kaikoura: Lizzie Short got this for us as a wedding present and it was excellent. There were over 200 dolphins around our boat and they were really acrobatic, doing loads of jumps and somersaults. We saw albatrosses too.

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Somersaulting dolphin in Kaikoura

Sky diving Lake Wanaka: I’ve wanted to do a skydive for ages and where better than somewhere with excellent weather, fantastic views of lakes and mountains and bargainacious prices compared to the UK too. This was definitely my favorite adrenalin experience and i’d love to do it again.

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Skydiving at Lake Wanaka

Kayaking in the Abel Tasman National Park: Abel Tasman is a beautiful National Park where tree covered mountains roll down into the sea and lovely beaches. We kayaked from a place called Tata beach in a duo to a secluded beach and did a walk to Separation Point with excellent views of the park and saw a seal swimming in the sea. The weather was lovely, and best of all, we saw a penguin, in the wild! He popped up by our boat, looking all cute, floated about for a bit, dived off, then popped up somewhere else about 8-9 times. Sadly I didn’t catch him to take home.

Kayaking in Abel Tasman - Wharwharenghi beach

Kayaking in Abel Tasman – Wharwharenghi beach

Staying with the Millis family: We spend a week over Christmas in Wanaka with Paul, Jo, Kath, Sarah and Tom Millis (Paul and Jo are Matts uncle and aunt). We had good fun and a nice relaxing time too with warm hospitality. We got up to lots including Puzzling World, seeing the Hobbit, Christmas Games, lake picnics and archery in the garden.

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Leaning Tower of Wanaka at Puzzling World

Canyoning on the Niger River: Matt loved canyoning. It was very wet with lots of abseiling, slides, jumps and swinging.

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Canyoning on the Nigel River

Rock climbing: Up in Abel Tasman we went one night to camp at a climbers campsite. It turned out they hired out equipment so people could go and climb at the crag next door (Paynes Ford), which is apparently the best limestone climbing in New Zealand. It doesn’t take much to work out what happened next! We did three climbing sessions with Paul Millis down by Wanaka too in some very convenient and very scenic roadside crags.

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Matt at the top of the Tombstone near Wanaka

Caving in Clifden: Our guidebook mentioned a place you can go caving, by yourself. You go to a tourist info, pick up a standard size leaflet with a map and some safety advice, and off you go. I really enjoyed my first proper caving experience, partly because of the craziness of just going in with a leaflet, which is pretty unlikely to happen in the UK! The climax of the caving was “the swimming pool”, a spherical cave, about 5 meters across, half filled with water. On one side was a ledge, sloping in towards the deep dark water in the middle of the cave, with limited had holds. Oh, and did I mention the ledge was about a foot under water?! Matt went without his shoes, I soaked my boots and socks! We both got through without more getting wet than necessary – luckily the leaflet says you will probably get wet so we were prepared. Fun fun fun.

Matt in Clifden caves

Matt in Clifden caves

Christmas at 31 degrees: We had Christmas in Wanaka at 31 degrees. After coming to terms with the weirdness of it, the whole day was really good and Christmas in the warn definitely has its advantages. We had fresh hot croissants for breakfast in the sun in the garden, went for a picnic with kayaking and swimming in the lake over lunch, cycling back and played archery in the garden in the evening. Awesome.

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Kayaking on Lake Wanaka on Christmas day

Yummy foods: We ate lots of good things on holiday, including Fergburgers from Queenstown, a lot of excellent ice creams and my favorite  hot, freshly baked double chocolate cookies from the Paradiso cinema during the film interval.

Fergburger in Queenstown

Fergburger in Queenstown

Epic scenery: All around New Zealand was just amazing scenery. Mountains, rivers, bush, coast, plains, lakes, it was a stunning country just to be in and drive around.


View from Key Summit near Milford

View from Key Summit near Milford

Jet boating: I know this is now 11 things but I personally loved the speed, noise and general craziness of jet-boating down a gorge. 

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Jetboating on the Buller Gorge

Any comments or questions?

12. January 2013 · 4 comments · Categories: Pre-emigrating · Tags:

After the comments on the last post, I thought I could give you some more details on our To Do list. It is fairly epic, and I’m still sure there will be more things added to it!

I got the job offer in Sydney in late November, for a move in February, and we were away all of December on our honeymoon. I think sorting everything would have been a challenge in the time anyway, but the holiday didn’t help! (And also meant we will be flying 1.5 times around the world in the space of a few months).

Being an overly organised individual I knew an electronic to do list was required. I got it drafted up before we went away, so I didn’t keep thinking about it on holiday.

The To Do List

The To Do List

The list tracks the number of things done and percentage complete. For each job I can put what % complete that is too, so I dont need to wait until it is all done for it to be included in the overall % complete (nice). If I start it it gets atleast 5%! There are extra tabs for listing the stufff in the boxes we pack, some of which (e.g. camping equiptment) we will have to declare to customs.

Currently we have done 29.4 of 85, so 34.5% complete. Sadly things like change the doorbell ringtone have the same weights as pack all of our things for shipping, so we’ll be left with all the hard things at the end and on 85%ish forever!

Our list has 5 categories. These, and the things on them are:

Moving: Organise flights, pack things to ship, pack things to store, cancel direct debits, change addresses, redirect post, sell the cars, do tax forms, advise the NHS, get new glasses etc. This is by far the longest section with over 40 things on it, some of which are the real biggies. Its 30% done now.

Job: Sign contract, hand in notice and get Matt a job. A short but important section. 3 our of 4 jobs done!

House DIY: Although we seem to have been doing DIY on our house forever, there are a load of things to do to it before we get tenants in. We’re finishing the kitchen, repaiting some bits, sorting the hole in the bottom of the shed (oops), oiling the wooden floor, getting a new carpet and more.

House Letting: Paperwork for letting our house, and all the things that go alone with it like getting the landlords gas safety certificate and electircal inspection. This also includes registering as an overseas landlord for tax purposes and getting landlord insurance. Yawn.

Events: Clearly the best and most fun section. 🙂 This covers seeing all the people we want to see, a climbing trip and of course planning and having our leaving party on 9th February. Let me know if you need the details, its going to be good!

There is some stuff to do which didn’t make it on the list as it’ll happen anyway, like eating and drinking our chocolate and alcohol supply. Sometimes life is hard!

Nom nom nom

Nom nom nom

So now i’d best go get on with some more things…

09. January 2013 · 7 comments · Categories: Pre-emigrating · Tags: ,

Our to do list for emigrating is fairly epic.

One of the things on it is to find out what you actually have to do when you leave the UK for a long time. I figured there would be lots of paperwork, forms and official bits and bobs. One of my friends suggested writing a letter to the Queen which made me chuckle!

Other than the usual moving stuff about changing your address with the long list of important people and cancelling direct debits and things, it seems there isn’t actually too much to worry about. It’s a lot easier to leave the UK than to come in!

The things I’ve found out you need to do are:

  • Fill in an HMRC P85 tax form and
  • Advise the NHS as you are no longer eligible for free or reciprocal free health care

Yup, that’s it, just the two.

You need up to date tetanus and polio jabs, and there is probably some airport paperwork, but the list seems surprisingly short. You need a UK address on your driving license, so I might change that too.

Things to do for going into another country is a matter for another time.

If you know of any more important things for leaving please let me know!

Welcome to the first of the Top 5’s.

This one is the Top 5 things we are looking forward to about moving, and the Top 5 things we’re not. Here goes.

New places and things: One of the main reasons for going is to experience life abroad and all the new things associated with that – new places to visit, new climbs, new food and drink, new animals, new shops, a different culture, different weather, the whole lot. I’m looking forward to weekends filled with lots of adventures.

Sydney Opera House from the Harbour

Sydney Opera House from the Harbour

Adventuring into the unknown: As well as all the new things we know about, there are lots we don’t. Where will we live? What will our place be like? What will our new (additional, not replacement!) friends be like? What will we get up to most in our spare time? Discovering all these unknown things together will be pretty exciting.

Having visitors: We have at least one visitor arranged already (good work Lizzie Short) and are looking forward to hosting more – especially if they bring us things from the UK which we miss (see below)!

New job: Oddly I am actually looking forward to getting my teeth into an exciting new job. It’ll certainly be a big challenge but should be rewarding too.

Penguins: I love penguins! We saw some on New Zealand on holiday and they have some in Manly, Sydney too. You can become a volunteer penguin warden and help them toddle in to their little beach homes at dusk. Awww. I think the job is mainly protecting them from tourists trying to grab and harass them though, and given I will want to go and cuddle them I may not fit the bill.



Top 5 Bad things about moving

Missing friends and family: We are lucky to have a really good set of friends and family over here in the UK. Although we don’t see them all as often as we like, we will be sad to leave them all behind. So make sure you keep in touch – now we have a website too there is no excuse!

Spiders: I am petrified of them. Although they don’t actually kill many people because of all the anti-venom, I still hate them and may not ever get over it!

Dairy Milk, Marmite and other hard to get items: We did a taste test on holiday. My finely honed female chocolate taste buds are convinced Dairy Milk (my favourite chocolate bar) does not taste the same in Australia. It has a nasty aftertaste. We are planning on doing a blind taste test when we get there to confirm / deny this potentially awful fact and may well be asking for food parcels!

The heat: It should be lovely living somewhere where it is nice and sunny much more often, but my pasty white British skin will need some time to adapt. I got burnt in 20 mins on holiday so we’ll be stocking up on sun cream and making sure we get a house with air conditioning.

Having to work: It would be much better to be rich and not have to have to go to work when wanting to do lots of exciting and new things over in Sydney. At least there are evenings, weekends and holidays to make the most of.


Once we are in Sydney I’ll make a more specific list.

Any ideas of more good and bad things about living somewhere else?

So, it’s the 5th January, and Matt and I (Elly) have just got back from a month long honeymoon in New Zealand, with some time in Sydney and Dubai along the way. I’ll post all about how amazing that was another time – for now this first post is going to be an introduction all about our upcoming emigration!

In mid-February (date TBC) Matt and I are leaving Horsham, and heading off to live in Sydney Australia! The idea is this website will have a blog and information all about our adventures over there, to help keep in touch with our friends and family about what we’re up to, and hear about what’s going on back in the UK.  I’m hoping to update it at least every week (including before we go), so stay tuned.

We’ve been asked a lot of questions about our move, so here are the answers!

Why are you moving?

Well, where do I start? I’ve wanted to work overseas for ages and have long been jealous of other people doing it. Because my company is international I suppose I thought one day an opportunity would just magically come up, but the only ones that did were in the Middle East, which doesn’t really appeal.

Earlier in the year, a few things came together. I was fed up with work and fed up of our general work life balance (or lack thereof). Someone from our team got a transfer to Australia (which of course made me jealous again) and I knew someone I used to work with was looking at putting together a team in Australia. I want some kids, but am not ready for that right now and our families are generally in fairly good health. So, we had a chat and a think about it and decided to get on with trying to go and work overseas now before our personal circumstances make it harder in the future.

So, lots of emails, phone calls at silly time of the day and effort later I got an offer for the job I really wanted! 😀

When are you moving?

We don’t have the exact date yet, but it should be some time the week of 11th February (so not long!)

What are you going to do Elly?

I’m transferring within my current company to the Sydney office. I’m going to be working as a Bid Manger, bidding for Highway Maintenance contracts across Australia.

What’s Matt going to do?

Matt’s planning on transferring to Thales (his current company) in Sydney. Their offices are on Garden Island which is a cool place and you can go on New Year’s Eve and watch the fireworks from a prime location.

Where are you going to live?

We have some ideas and recommendations, but we’re not totally sure yet. We’ll get temporary accommodation through my work at the beginning and go house hunting from there.

When are you coming back?

We’re not sure at the moment and will see how it goes. We’re planning on staying at least 18 months to make the effort involved worth it and get a proper feel for the place. The visa is for 4 years.

What about your house and your stuff?

We’re renting our house out.

We are shipping some of our stuff that we’re really attached to or likely to need. Other things we are re-homing, donating to friends / charity or storing. That’s a mammoth sorting job right there.

I bet you’re really busy sorting everything out right?

Yes indeedy. We have a mega spreadsheet, currently with about 85 things to do on it, 10 of which are done. The problem is trying to tick them off quicker than thinking up extra things to do!

Aren’t you scared of spiders Elly?

Yup, petrified. I love penguins though, and am pretty excited about koalas and kangeroos. I’ll probably do another post about spiders later.

We should meet up before you go!

Definitely. We are planning a party on the 9th February in Guildford. If you haven’t heard about it through Facebook or email you will do in the next couple of days, or drop me an email. We’d like visitors while we are there too so do keep in touch!

That’s all for now. If you’ve got another question please post below. Stay tuned for more updates on preparing to leave.