After getting married in September 2010 we decided to do the opposite of settling down; so we packed up our life, stuffed it in our parent's attic and hit the road for what is essentially an extended honeymoon! We started our trip on 29th December 2010 spending 4 months travelling overland through Europe, Russia and Mongolia to China. After many a train and bus journey we caved-in and flew from Western China to Malaysia, and worked our way north to Thailand and Cambodia. The time came for us to replenish our bank accounts, so we headed to Western Australia for work in July 2011 and lived in Fremantle until February 2012. After a couple of months back home seeing our families and friends, we headed back down-under. This time we headed for New Zealand and we are currently living in Wellington. Our blog started as part of an elaborate wedding present from two of our very good friends. The idea was that on our trip we should blog from every country we visit, detailing the sights, sounds and smells and most importantly, the beer. We have certainly had fun writing it - but moreso, living it!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Wellington & Charlotte in the UK - April 2013

At the start of April we headed out to Martinborough with some friends to experience Martinborough inaugural BrewDay 2013, and we weren't disappointed. A great range of beers to be enjoyed with a dubious um-pah band conspired to create a true beer festival atmosphere. We attended a Beer and Chocolate matching session and were certainly won over, with a Tuatara Tripel matched with Wittakers White Chocolate being a revelation of newly discovered flavours.

Chocolate and beer tasting session at BrewDay
Our original plan for a trip to New Zealand was that I was going to apply for a Clinical Psychology course and that we would be back in the UK in time for any interviews I was offered. However, due to having a rather great time over here and the job prospects back home being decidedly iffy, we had a last minute change of plan and cancelled our flights. We decided that if I got an interview I would fly home for a short break to attend, and if I got offered a place, head back to the UK in time for the course to start in September. Low and behold, right up to the deadline and after three other rejections left me feeling pretty sure the last would also be a 'no', I was offered an interview from Sheffield University.

So mid April I bid a slightly melancholic (and bleary - it was 4am) farewell to Liam (this would be the longest we had ever spent apart in our 12 years - not to mention being at opposite ends of the earth!) and embarked on a marathon 36 hour journey via Brisbane, Singapore, Abu Dhabi before arriving at Manchester first thing on a Wednesday morning. It just so happened my Mum was flying off to Copenhagen that day, so we happily managed to squeeze in a quick coffee and a well-needed hug at the airport before she left.

That weekend I powered through the jet lag and interview anxiety to go camping in the Lake District with friends. It was fantastic fun, we went with the Private Camping Company who set us up in a farmer's field where we could make as much noise as we wanted. We had a huge military-style tent complete with log burner and sofas, a big barbecue, portaloo, fire pit and some giant games. We didn't leave the field for the whole weekend and the sun shone brightly for the most part (I won't mention the weather on the final morning!). It was wonderful as always to see everyone again, and an excellent distraction before the week ahead.

I then headed over my sister-in-law's in Sheffield, and stayed there for a few days. I had the interview, a slightly tedious all-day affair comprising of group task, literacy task, numeracy task, and panel interview. I was interviewed last, and had the joy of watching other people exit the interview crying which didn't exactly fill me with optimism. The interview itself was a very short and slightly baffling experience, and I came out feeling ready for a pint!

I enjoyed seeing our lovely city of Sheffield and our lovely friends as we did a mini pub crawl of Sheffield. When I say mini, I mean we spent most of the time in the Sheffield Tap.

The next day, suitably fuelled up on sausages and bacon, I got a lift home with the two Marks, and spent my last few days seeing more family and friends, and generally relaxing.

Deep down I had little hope of it being a positive response from Sheffield, so I boarded my flight not knowing when I would see people again. I had entrusted my Dad with the task of ringing the department the next day to find out the outcome, and was probably more shocked than anyone when I turned on my phone at Sydney airport to find a text saying I'd been offered a place. My immediate reaction was that my Dad or the department had somehow managed to screw this up and so bombarded him with doubt; 'Are you sure that's what they said?! Did you have to confirm my date of birth? Address? What name did you give? My married or maiden name?!' etc. As it sunk in I wandered round Sydney Airport in a haze feeling like I needed a stiff drink, but as it was only 6am a caramel slice had to suffice!

I swanned back into New Zealand without customs blinking an eye despite only have 3 days left on my visa (I couldn't apply for the extension before I left as they would have had to take my passport for a few weeks), and was met by the lovely Liam -YIPPEE! It was great to be back and we went out to celebrate at a Vietnamese restaurant that evening (and I rang the department again once it turned 9am in the UK, just to make sure there hadn't been some huge misunderstanding!).

Celebratory meal at a Vietnamese restaurant

So, with the news confirmed, the bitter-sweet realisation that our time in New Zealand was coming to end sank in. We extended our visas to allow us to spend a couple more months in New Zealand (even though we got an extension for another year, one of the restrictions of the 'working holiday visa' is that you can't work for more than a year in total, which takes us to the end of June). It's a bit sad and a bit scary that this 'wandering' lifestyle is coming to an end, but we are gearing up for the change of pace and are feeling positive about the next chapter. One thing we are looking forward to is feeling a bit more settled somewhere, and having somewhere to properly call home. :-)

(As you probably realise - I wrote this soon after arriving back in Wellington, but have only just got around to publishing it!)

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