Before Mr H even had his confirmed job offer, we were playing through lots of scenarios in our heads related to ‘if we moved’ and ‘if we didn’t move’. A lot of the ‘if we moved’ centred around being so far away from friends and family. When we lived in England, we were about 2.5 hours away from Mr H’s family and about 4 hours (if we flew) away from mine. It wasn’t as if we could just nip round for a cup of tea. But being on the other side of the world, 15 hours minimum flying time, is slightly different. You can’t just nip back for a weekend. We rationalised it based on 2 key factors: 1) we wouldn’t stay away forever and 2) technology is so good these days that it’s easy to see each other via e.g. Skype.
When we first arrived, we had a really shoddy internet connection. This made Skype calls, with video at least, nigh on impossible. A big priority for us, when we moved to a more permanent abode was to get a very decent internet connection. It was such a relief when we did – we managed to have decent conversations with our families for the first time in about 3 months.
My other big considerations in the ‘if we move’ category were the availability of food I liked to eat, or ingredients for baking. Would there be decent flour so that I could make bread? Would we be able to get cheese easily? When I lived in China back in 1999/2000 I would wake up dreaming of macaroni cheese or beans on toast. Both bread and cheese were very difficult to come by. Where you could get bread it was inevitably sweet. And where you could get cheese it was processed.
It turns out you can get flour here, but it tends to be very white all purpose flour. I have yet to find any wholegrain flour. Or self-raising flour. I have been able to find recipes where I can use all purpose flour e.g. to make pizza base or cinnamon buns, I guess because it’s a common flour in the USA. But it is just SO white. But you can buy bread here, which isn’t sweet. And I even found some decent-looking wholegrain bread the other day at The French Baker. I didn’t buy any (I had too much shopping as it was), but I will venture back out to try it at some point. You can also get cheese in many varieties.
But I hadn’t considered missing the British countryside. Or a good British pub (granted, Mr H had mentioned this a number of times before we left. I just didn’t ‘get it’, according to him because I had spent so much time outside of the UK already.) Or the big sporting events (Wimbledon and The Ashes). Or having a car and the freedom that brings with it. Or the convenient banking hours. Or the reliable postal system. Or the reliable public transport system in the bigger cities (and the amazingly awesome journey planner). Or the clean, fresh air of little Wokingham. Or being able to see independent cinema (I don’t know how many more action blockbusters I can stomach). Or being able to listen to decent chat and music on the radio (at least I’m getting to fulfill my guilty power-ballad pleasure during every taxi journey I take I suppose). Or being able to kick back and watch something decent on TV (which is not Asia Food Network). Or frozen peas.