Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A Kiwi Farmer's daughter raising her children in London

I always thought I would grow up to be a farmer's wife, making bacon and egg pie, scones and thermoses of tea for shearing gangs, surrounded by rolling green hills and tons of space for my children to run around and ride motorbikes with their cousins. It's quite amazing to think how different my life actually turned out to be!

Here I sit in a small 2 bedroom flat in a suburb of London with NO outdoor space of our own and the things that our children spend a lot of their time doing is riding on trains, buses and planes!...

I am in no way complaining of my current circumstances, it's just crazy to think about how different my life has turned out from what I thought it was going to be when I was in my younger years.

I have married the most amazing man (that was always part of the plan) and we have been happily living in London for all bar the first 10 months of our married life. Living here has been quite an experience and the opportunities that have come our way and the things we find ourselves doing with our children are pretty unbelievable. But I will never forget my 'Farm Girl' roots - if I still had my red band gumboots I would wear them around London with pride!

I'm not going to talk about what our children might be missing out on from not being raised in New Zealand with all it's beautiful outdoor space as I always thought they would be, but rather to share our experiences of living in London and how it has been to start raising a family over here.

Our first plan of attack once we had settled into good employment in London was to purchase a property in Italy... Hey, why not?! My husband and I have carried a love for Italy for many years and we hope to live there for a while before we head back to NZ. So with a rather unbelievable ease we purchased a property in Manoppello, Italy (Abruzzo Region) that has this view from the terrace

 Yep, it pretty much sucks having to holiday here.

Although we bought this as an investment property, we get to book out times when we can have family holidays together. The fact that you can jump on a plane and be at another European city within the hour is pretty crazy. Also crazy is how the Italians in our village LOVE us now that we have started having children! Luca is pretty much the hit of the town when we visit - saying "Ciao Ciao" to all the ladies.  He knows how to work them.

An absolute blessing of our London/busy lifestyle is that Luca has learnt to sleep anywhere. Just as long as muzzy and dummy are there this kid will sleep.

He also slept through a Jay-Z concert...

My husband is in Music Promotion so one of the perks of his job (for me) is free, often VIP, access to music gigs, including festivals in Hyde Park every year. And where I go Luca goes. I don't know how many other 2 year-olds have seen The Killers, Dave Matthews Band, Neil Young, Jay-Z, Bruce Springstein, Ben Harper, Metallica (he was actually 8 months in the womb but I'm sure he remembers the bass vibrations!), to name but a few.

When Luca was 6 months old I went back to work, not because I missed it (HELLO?!) but it was a financial decision. Hate those.
Luca went to a nursery which was about 10 minutes walk from my work so I had to do a bus-train-tube-bus commute with baby in buggy to and from work 5 days a week. My day would start at 5am and I would get home by 6pm. Loooooong days. My saving grace was Red Bulls.
I only lasted 6 months doing this and then I told my boss enough was enough and I went down to 3 days per week. A lot more manageable!

One thing I miss about working is doing my morning runs into the city whenever Austin was able to take Luca to nursery for me. I would run along the Thames path, timing it right so that I would be running past Westminster Abbey when Big Ben chimes 7am. Absolutely spectacular! Simply the BEST way to start any working day.

Taken on my mobile phone during an early morning run.

The history in London is incredible - so many amazing buildings steeped in history, full of stories if their walls could talk, right outside your door. I definitely do not take this for granted and count myself priveleged to be able to live here with my family.

Funnily enough our favourite cafe (owned by Kiwis) that we frequent on a Sunday before church is in the depths of Soho. It's always an interesting walk getting from the car to the cafe - especially when Luca wants to jump in puddles which aren't puddles made by rain water.............

And as for the great outdoors? Well we have Richmond Park 5 minutes walk from our house. Lots of big open spaces with grass and trees, the closest to New Zealand farmland in London that I can find. It's a bizarre experience when out running and some of the Queen's deer decide to wander across the path...

Isabella Plantation is an enclosed garden area within the park which is beautiful any time of the year. I took Luca and Beni there a couple of days ago because it's now become the halfway mark for my running  route.

The last time I visited Isabella Plantation was the same day I went into labour with Beni...

So all in all London (for now) is a great place to bring up children, although they look to be raised as City Kids rather than the Country Bumpkin I was, I still think they'll turn out just fine. 
Austin and I are doing our best as parents and even though we are away from our families and we miss them terribly, we have amazing friends over here and our church who have become our family. The love and support and time they give us and our children is invaluable and I don't think I could do life quite so well without them.
Our children are our blessings and we have a whole lot of love to give them and many many more exciting adventures and experiences to share with them.

1 comment:

  1. I know this was posted in May, but this was a great post to read! My husband was born and raised in Abu Dhabi and I was born and raised in Wisconsin (we currently live in a southern state) and we don't have any family here. We're expecting our little boy on October 18th (give or take a few days) and it's nice to see that you and your hubby are doing just fine! Your boys are so, so cute! I try to convince my husband to move to London, as we have family friends and family that live there. It's so much fun to visit and I can't wait to visit again.

    I love reading your blog! xx


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