Saturday, February 4, 2012

Farewell to our dear England... We will return one day.

During this period of time - 1968 to 1970,  we were very comfortable calling England our second home, our home away from home, it sure felt like our home.  As children growing up in Australia in the 40's, 50's and as teens in the early 60's almost everything we read, saw or heard about was British.  Our favourite books were written by British Authors they were set in Britain and about England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland, our favourite TV shows and Movies were British, our White History was British,  our Ancestors were English, even our food was of British origin... a hot Christmas Lunch on a hot Summers Day... that sort of thing.  So when we arrived in England we felt very comfortable and at home.   We knew a lot about Britain's history, we knew Australians who called England 'Home' when they'd been born and bred in Australia and never even been to the UK.

Living in England allowed my pride in being an Aussie to come forward, I'd never felt this pride with such intensity before so it was a new exciting experience.  It would be easy to dismiss that feeling as being 'homesickness' but it wasn't that it was a pride in our beautiful country that had only 180 years of white settlement but had a wonderful standard of living, a wonderful work ethic, a wonderful scientific and sporting history, the Aussie soldier stood shoulder to shoulder with the British soldier in both World Wars and of course our beaches, our weather and our abundance of fresh food were truly wonderful.

Several English would dismiss us as being 'Colonials' and couldn't understand that we were proud of that fact, they were surprised when I told them how proud I was that one of my ancestors, from London was a convict who arrived on the second fleet in 1790 and through his first son my family can claim First Fleet ancestry, some people thought I would hide this fact in shame, but I knew my ancestor and his free de-facto wife had done extremely well and became very successful after their arrival,  amassing large plots of land and a large successful family.   I was also able to tell them that my Dad's family arrived in Australia in 1820, as 'Landed Gentry',  Rodd Island in Sydney Harbour is named after them, the family can be traced back to 1066 and to the Battle of Hastings and we'd been meeting distant relatives while we were in England.  I told my Dad's family story after my Mum's, I so enjoyed the surprised looks when I told them my ancestor was a Convict.  I had those 'Colonial' callers totally puzzled which amused me enormously because most of them could not trace their families so far back.  I think this was an Australian thing till quite recently.

Aussies loved to travel, my Great Aunt traveled extensively during the 1950's sending myself and my siblings 100's of postcards from exotic places,  I have most of those postcards here at home (I think they might make another Blog one day) several of our Aussie friends were doing what we'd done so we were amazed to meet some British who had never left their Village I was surprised by one lad we knew quite well in Surrey, he was the same age as us  but he had never been as far away from his home town as London!   He married an Aussie girl and his first trip away was to Perth, Australia where he's lived for more than 40 years now with trips home almost every year.

It was only 7 years before we returned to live in England for the second time,  and that was for two years, 1977 to 1978, attitudes towards Aussies had changed we were rarely called 'Colonials', but we knew the English liked to place us and those who knew us as poor young travellers in the late 1960's could not work out how we'd come back with three little children aged 5, 3 and 6 months, bought a house and were doing it up while David started up a Washing Machine Repair business.  One old acquaintance was so puzzled she said to me at a dinner party, 'What does David actually DO?'  I was in top form that night and replied ...  'Nothing, he's an heir to an Australian Fortune.'  That wasn't true of course but in Australia you could start up a business, work darn hard, you could save enough to buy a home and buy a couple of investment homes with the rents paying the mortgages, raise a family and return to our second home for a while.   We returned with our three children with the intention of staying for about 6 months, renting a home and spending the time traveling to places we already knew or had missed the last time around, but as it turned out no one would rent us a home, the children were the problem apparently, the laws were such that if we didn't pay the rent the owner couldn't kick us out because we had three small children.  So we cashed in our return tickets, we borrowed a little from a Solicitor friend, a little from our friend Elsie Waugh and went to the bank.  The Bank Manager wasn't too sure about lending money to this Aussie family but five minutes after he rang our bank in Australia and found out about our home and investment homes he rang and said, 'How much do you want!'  Very funny but how lucky were we.  We bought a lovely home in Guildford Surrey, we did it up and lucky for us things were booming in the UK so by the time we were ready to sell and go home to Australia, we almost doubled our money, enough for us to return to Australia in comfort on the 'S.S. Oriana' as well as bring home a few brand new items such as a Lathe for David and a new Sewing Machine for me, we'd never felt so rich!

Bringing up and educating 4 children meant a 27 year gap before we returned to England for the third time, we stayed for 6 months in 2005/6, our oldest son had married a wonderful Yorkshire Lass and they were living in North London with their first child, we rented a home 5 minutes away and loved every minute of our time there.  We found the reverse from our first visit in the late 1960's, we were never called 'Colonials' in fact several people asked us why we were living in England when we were Aussies and could live at home :-)  The Post Mistress in Wood Green, North London and of Indian origin,  was very surprised that an Aussie would actually choose to live in North London and kept asking me 'Why!'  'Do you like it here?' 'Do you really LIKE it here?' and so on.  Britain was booming at the time but Sydney had held the Olympic Games just 5 years before and Australia seemed to be the place of fun, sunshine, bread and honey. 

We will return to live in England again one day, we'd ideally like it to be when our oldest daughter (who married a lovely lad from Winchester) and her family decide to go and live in England for a spell, hopefully at the same time our oldest son's family return from Macao to live in London.  That would be perfect, we may even persuade the other two children and their partners to join us for some of that time! 

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