|Chocolate and beer tasting session at BrewDay|
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.
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!)