Moving = Stress

lifting manIt seems obvious, doesn’t it? A move to a new country will bring along a whole new world of stress. Which it does, but how we each deal with the stress of change, unfamiliarity, fitting in, new schools, jobs, and communities is as individual as we are each individuals. Hmmm, a bit wordy, but you understand, yes?

It has been some time since my last post as this settling in process got a wee bit bumpy as adjusting to new schools and friends was a long and winding road, for the kids. (Yes, I sung that out loud as I typed. Thank you Beatles.)

Kids and Stress

Our largest concern was for our daughters.

old school building

They actually don’t go to school in a castle. But they could. This is England, after all.

How did we help them prepare for school?

  • Brought them with us on the initial house and school hunting trip. This helped them feel part of the process, which was important as the decision to move was largely done without their input. Of course we considered their feelings, however the opportunity this move provided for all of us was the deciding factor.
  • Scheduled a one-on-one school meeting once we returned to England. This allowed them another view of the school and to get all their questions answered; when was lunch, how will they find their way around school, and what courses should they select?
  • Validated their fears and talked them through them. They were scared. This was normal and letting kids feel those feelings, but not wallow in them is important. Together we helped them imagine the first day and how it would unfold. We did some light role-playing, to get them thinking about how to start conversations with other students. We told them to smile and be themselves.
  • We knew that one of their greatest fears was to have the “wrong” bag or socks or pencil-case. We made right anything we got wrong the first time through.
  • We scheduled appointments with teachers to understand how the English school system worked in terms of grading, “sets”, and the all-encompassing GCSE exams. I will deal with the confusing U.K. school system, as far as I understand it, in a later post. I may need to create visuals.

sad emoticonHow did we help them to settle in and deal with homesickness?

  • Exploration. Whether on foot, cab, bus, or train, we set out each day to explore our neighbourhood, when we first moved to Hertford. We now continue to journey further and further across England and of course we take many, many trips to London.
  • Skype sessions with family and friends. Keeping in contact with grandparents and friends has been crucial for the girls. With the internet there is no reason we can’t keep in close contact all our loved ones in Canada. This is helping ground them and not feel so alone.
  • Cooking and baking comfort foods. There is nothing like coming home from school to a steaming bowl of “Gramma soup” and a plate of Granny’s freshly baked chocolate chip cookies to make a kid feel at home.
  • Validating their feelings. This continues to be a bumpy transition and we need to be ready with lots of hugs, back rubs, and chocolate chip banana bread.
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Sort of digging this dress

We, The Parents

On the most part we have adjusted fairly well, however, we too have had our share of homesickness.

What we did to prepare

  • Engaged a relocation company. This was crucial. I am not sure how we would’ve moved as seamlessly as we did without them. They helped us find a house, school, grocery store, furniture, a doctor’s office, and even assisted with understanding train schedules.
  • Wine.
  • We researched online and asked a lot of questions of friends who also had made transatlantic moves. Thanks to a Canadian friend in Australia, we had insights into what should be included in an expat package, what mementos to bring, and what to expect upon arrival.
  • More Wine.
  • The Drew came over a few weeks before the kids and I to purchase some basic furniture, food, and everyday supplies so when we arrived we weren’t met with a cold and empty home. Finding things like pictures, clothes, bedding, and even towels from home waiting for us was comforting and made our house feel more homey.
  • Finished off by Wine.
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hiccup

We are now slowly making friends ourselves. I am part of my street’s book club, we joined a local gym, and Drew has done the pub crawl with some dads from the girls’ football teams. And just like the kids we are learning that making friends takes time and effort.

It took a good 3 months for the extreme homesickness to slip away and the kids still have roller coaster moody moments, but life is full of kids’ moody moments.

Would we do it all again? You betcha. It was the wildest, bravest, craziest, and smartest decision we have ever made.

Happy travels, my friends.

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The world is there to discover.

 

 

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Cambridge with Kids

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Moody nightfall – King’s College.

Our kids are constantly surprising us. They keep rising to the occasion that is “explore every inch of our new homeland” with enthusiasm.

Most of the time.

They were excited about the Eiffel Tower, the nuclear bomb shelter in Essex, and the London Science Museum. However, we have been holding off on medieval churches, garden tours, and old estate grounds, sensing these are places not typically filled with secondary school students. At least not when not on a school led outing.

cambridge-449209_1920When I suggested we visit Cambridge last weekend, I steeled myself for rolling of the eyes and the long sighs of “Mo-o-o-o-ther!” followed by “so boring” and “why can’t we ever do something we want to do!”

This. Did. Not. Happen.

Instead they nodded and said, “You are the best parents ever. Thank you for bringing us on a wonderful family adventure. We don’t mind leaving our best friends, beloved grandparents, and schools where we are comfortable, causing us minimal anxiety.”

Or maybe it was just, “Okay. Cool.” Details schmetails.

What matters is they were on board, which as every parent knows, is the key to a successful family road trip.

Cambridge streets

Getting lost has never been such fun.

Drew and I had on our agenda a tour of King’s College, St. Mary’s Cathedral, and a stroll along the streets, taking in the vibe of this university town that dates back to 1209. We are history buffs, so walking the same streets of Lord Byron, Charles Darwin, and Stephen Hawking was thrilling.  Even more thrilling was that the girls’ were almost as excited as us.

But first, the mall.

Cambridge cupcakes

Decadent and delicious.

Yes, that is correct. Somehow we stumbled across a mall, hidden in the heart of Cambridge. Emma was in awe. Starbucks, New Look, and John Lewis greeted us as we followed Em’s beeline to The Little Cupcake stall.

Filled with mocha frappuccinos, lattes, and decadent treats we made our way to St. Mary’s Catherderal. We trekked up the bell tower – all 123 winding stairs – and were rewarded with breathtaking views of Cambridge. Sarah took those narrow stairs two at a time on the way down, which was only just this side of heart stopping. I followed much slower, my aging knees groaning as I gripped the hand rail to steady my decent.

Carmbridge Sarah drums

King’s College or drum store? Choices, choices.

Next up was King’s College, where we were eager to see where some of the best minds in science, maths, and literature had gone to school. Sadly, the college was closed to the public that day, however our disappointment quickly faded as we turned the corner to find…a music store… a music store filled with drum kits.

 

Sarah was in Nirvana. Literally.

Cambridge girls photo

Our budding photographer a.k.a. a miraculous moment of sibling civility.

Although our kids are catching our history bug, they are still kids, and weaving kid friendly attractions into our adventures keeps their interest. What we have quickly learned is to balance our adventures between adult and child friendly events. This keeps the peace and nourishes family harmony.

Our next stop: Birling Gap &  Brighton to see the sea.

*Cambridge Tip: Do NOT drive into the town. It is a congested one way street nightmare. Make use of the Park and Ride bus service for easy and stress free access.

Sarah drumming

Yup, the drums found a new home. That’s right, she is drumming in her Halloween costume as all famous drummers are prone to do. Just ask Phil Collins.

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Thanksgiving Hertford Style

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Thanksgiving at Ponemah

For close to a decade we have spent Thanksgiving at our cottage on Lake Winnipeg with our family crowded around tables, elbows knocking, as we gave our thanks.

This year we had to tweak our old traditions. We ate chicken rather than turkey, chocolate cake in place of Gramma’s pumpkin pie, and the rolling hills of Hertford replaced the sandy shores of Ponemah.

secret bunker

The ill-named bunker near Chipping Ongar.

Rather than spending the day raking leaves at the lake and preparing a 15 pound turkey with all the trimmings, we spent a better part of Sunday exploring a decommissioned nuclear bunker.

It was strangely cool, yet it contributed to our family’s “out of sorts” kind of day. It was similar to that feeling when you wear an ill-fitting pair of pants trousers, that cover your rumpus, but when you sit down the button flies off.  Or like when you are truly jonesing for a McDonald’s Big Mac and have to settle for a Hardee’s cheese burger, except neither roasted chicken or turkey will give you severe indigestion and chronic heart disease. Things are familiar, but not quite right.

change book

There is a book for everything.

The first year after any life changing event is supposed to be difficult. Everyone says so. There are even books that help you transition from the old and familiar to the new and unknown.

The newness of our first holiday celebration away from Canada, hit hardest when skyping with our family. Earlier in the evening we chatted with my parents, catching up and giving virtual hugs and discussing future travel plans. It was sad, but we muddled through.

Things went pear-shaped as we huddled on the sofa after dinner to skype with Clan Carmichael. It was great to see the Aunties, Uncles, Cousins, Gramma, and of course our beloved and sorely missed Zoe-Zoe Dog.  However, it was also heart wrenching not being able to hug them, or taste a bite of my sister-in-law’s famous sweet potato pie, or to sip mulled wine around our cottage campfire, between games of bacci ball and roof ball. Sarah crumpled first, followed by me, then Emma, and finally Drew.

scary room

Possibly an over dramatization…

Thanksgiving left us all in a funk, allowing homesickness to slip in and set up camp in our front living room. However, it is time for a fall clean, and that room is next on my list.

We shall push those sad feelings out the front door, down the hill, and focus on our next European trip. Surely discussions of where to spend New Years will be spirit lifting for each one of us.

And who could remain glum when Zurich, Salzburg, and Barcelona are less than 3 hours away?

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Europe at our back door.

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Graveyard Stroll

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This ancient cedar canopies the graves around its roots.

Graveyards.

In the past, I’ve always found them extremely spooky. Until recently. I’m not sure what changed. Maybe my curiosity with who has come before has been dialed up the older I get. Or perhaps the older I get, the closer I am to becoming a permanent cemetary resident. Most likely much has to do with moving to England, a country full of old, creepy, and beautiful graveyards.

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St. Andrews Cemetery, Hertford.

As I wandered through the St. Andrew’s cemetery, my mind was full of questions. Who lived here before? What were their lives like? How did they die? Many of the tombstones are worn away, the writing erased from our sight, but still remains the marker of a person who once walked through the same streets I do. A person who loved and was loved, with dreams and aspirations. Likely they lived a harder life. One full of challenges and disappointments, limits placed on them due to status and privilege.

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St. Andrews Church yard in Hertford.

Writing historical fiction has always intrigued me, and as I craft the story behind my middle grade novel set in 1944, I am left to dream of other tales that can be found hiding in the past.

So where will I roam next?

Shall I visit Bunhill Fields in the London Borough of Islington, where John Bunyan, author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe, and the poet and artist William Blake rest in peace.

Perhaps I will meander through the Royal Burial Ground, Frogmore, Berkshire where Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are buried.

Or what about visiting the tomb of Karl Marx in The Highgate Cemetery in London? This is also where painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife Elizabeth Siddal (d. 1862) is buried. Apparently he had her grave opened in 1869 to retrieve a book of poems he had placed in her coffin. Morbidly cool fact.

We are planning a trip to Scotland so we should probably include the Iona Abbey on the list. Duncan, the Scottish king murdered by Macbeth in 1140, is reputed to be buried here, along with 47 other Scottish kings and a number of Scottish saints.

I leave you with this link to Dark Destiny a site with beautiful photos and historical facts that may inspire you to plan your own Graveyard Tour. Dark Destiny Cemetery Photography

Hope to see you soon, lurking behind a crumbling mausoleum.

spooky graveyard

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Hertford Café Exploration – Bebo Café

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The perfect latte swirl at The Bebo Cafe.

After my shameful admission of passing over fine local cafes for the super chain coffee-house, Starbucks, I decided I can and must do better.

Me, my coffee addiction appreciation, and my future Hertford happiness is dependent upon it. A ginormous exaggeration, but still.

Bebo cafe 2

Fountain in Salisbury Square celebrating the four rivers in Hertford; The Lee, Mimram, Beane, and Rib.

Yesterday my café research took me to The Bebo Café which is right in the heart of Hertford. Their front doors open onto Salisbury Square where the sounds and smells of The Hertford Farmers’ Market overtake your senses each weekend. Here you will hear the call of “Three quid for two pounds of fresh strawberries” while smells of seafood and fresh pastries fight for your attention and the fishmonger and baker vie to make a sale. All while you stroll along the cobblestone pedestrian-only paths.

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The Bebo Cafe.

In the style of Paris Cafés, small tables and chairs sit outside Bebo’s doors along the pavement (sidewalk) facing the courtyard so patrons can “see and be seen.”

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A quiet writing and people watching nook.

Autumn is in the air in Hertford, so I sat inside, down a few steps still facing the front door which was a perfect place to write and when words alluded me; people watch.  The coffee shop was full of moms with young kids, their conversation revolved largely around their children. I didn’t intend to eavesdrop, but the rhythm and cadence of English accents still catches me up, interrupting my thoughts. It seemed much of their concern was centered on their children’s happiness; are they making friends, are they adjusting to new schools and teachers, and will they cope well with more demanding homework expectations.

I found this extremely comforting. Not that the mothers were worried about their children, as that would be somewhat sadistic, but that their concerns are nearly identical to my own worries for my children.

mothers world

World Wide Community of Mums.

It seems wherever you go, the world over, concerns of mothers are nearly identical. Are our children happy? And wherever you go, you always remain a member of the Mother Community – in a very broad sense.

There is more to a town than its shops, restaurants, and schools. Those are important and make a place interesting and unique, but it is the people who fill the cafes, markets, and houses that make a town feel like home.

Sitting in that cafe, feeling part of that Mother Community, made me feel connected to my new neighbours, even if they didn’t know that I have moved into a house on the tippy-top of a hill, that has a most spectacular view.

It also let me feel more at ease than I have in quite some time, allowing my mind to drift back to story building and creative thoughts, and to that exquisite latte, with the swirl of foam and that perfectly flaky cinnamon brioche.

I will be back.

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Sitting just at street level, providing a unique view of the town.

Bebo Café rating – 5 out of 5 lattes

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A Stranger in a Strange Land

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Familiarity.

The search for the familiar grounds us, make us feel connected to our environment. Some people crave it like a chocolate addict craves a life-sized Coffee Crisp. Others are only slightly affected by the unknown and unfamiliar. Perhaps they crave all things new to the same extent that same chocolate lover wants his Oh Henry bar. I have no scientific proof to back me up, only hunches, intuition, and personal experience.

I land somewhere in between those extremes. Which seems a bit of a flip-flop in my quick adoption of English life when I consider my last post of feeling at home only last week. Then, all seemed grand, easy, and vaguely familiar.

As my time in a foreign land lengthens and the reality that we are not on some great family holiday sinks in, I am hit face first with all that is different. And I am feeling ungrounded. And overwhelmed. And lonely.

My daughters are now back to school, both with hearts sick for home, friends, and family. Since I need to be their solid rock of confidence I have worn a brave mom face. To borrow from an English friend, I am practicing my stiff upper lip. My lip may be quivering like an autumn leaf on a tree, but stiff my lips (both upper and lower for safe measure) have become.

Now that I am alone and taken to wandering Hertford Town streets, I find myself searching for the familiar, looking to get grounded.

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This is just like my walk through Hertford. Except it was a bright sun-shining day, and that’s a dude in a hoody, and my stroll was far less scary and way more cobble-stone quaint. Besides that, could be my doppelgänger.

And where did my feet take me today?

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Hertford Starbucks, where every latte tastes the same.

Past Costa’s Coffee and Nero’s Café and well past the Turkish coffee shop and wound their way along cobblestone avenues to Starbucks. Yes, Starbucks. Almost embarrassingly typical for a North American.

But here’s the deal.

When every store around you is unfamiliar and it is hard to find chocolate chips, pot barley, wheat thins, cream cheese, golden mushroom soup, and so many more foods your family is demanding asking for so sweetly, you get a bit overwhelmed. If you then top that off with the realization that you can’t buy Melatonin in the UK and you’ve had your last blessed pill the night before, you might panic a tiny bit thinking you will be awake for the next two years straight.

So can a person fault themselves for aching for the familiarity of a Starbucks?

“No!” I say with conviction (fueled by caffeine).

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Love, love, love writing in coffee shops with pen and paper and NO SHINY and DISTRACTING INTERNET! (Yes, I had a lot of coffee.)

So I sit here, surrounded by coffee lovers; couples, moms with tots, and the solo acts who sit at their laptops furiously tapping.

The writer in me is curious to know if they too are writers. The Canadian in me is too polite to ask. The foreigner in me is delighted to just sit back in the deep-seated faux leather sofa and people watch while drinking in an hour of familiarity, sipping on her wet latte, and write.

Oh right. Not everything is the same in the Starbucks UK.

A wet latte = a latte, no foam.

(I think.)

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In. Love. With. England.

heart-510100_1280I know it has only been a little over one week, but I have fallen head over heels for this country.

It is familiar, yet different.

Is this feeling of familiarity a result of us moving to an English-speaking country? Is it because the UK system of government, health care, and views on socialism are similar to my Canadian experience? Or could this familiarity be at a more cellular level?

Cellular level…what?!

Bear with me while I explore this thought.

On both sides of my family my ancestors immigrated to Canada from the British Isles; Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. My granddad was born in London in 1904 while his Welsh family was in the process of immigrating to Canada.

Winnipeg to Hertford

Back to the Mother Country

Perhaps moving to England is more like coming home for me. It feels right in my bones. Or is that the humidity?* 

I have never lived anywhere but Winnipeg, and our Winnipeg house is only a mile from my childhood home. Being in a familiar environment has always been comforting and the thought of moving anywhere far from family and friends brought me mild to extreme waves of anxiety, yet now that I am 3,900 miles from my Winnipeg front door I feel at home.

Hertford Castle

Hertford Castle

A few days ago I ventured out to explore Hertford with my youngest. I let my 11-year-old dictate our destinations as I want the kids to become as comfortable with their new town as I am. We got lost, found our way back home, and in the process discovered two more candy stores (we are now up to four and the girls are in sweets heaven), the pet store, a WH Smith bookstore, a fish monger, and of course a castle.

We are in England after all.

On Saturday we went to the town centre farmer’s market, registered with a surgery to get a National Health Services number, searched out a clothes dryer (as stiff undies, t-shirts, and jeans are not as cozy as they sound), and ventured to the metropolis of Welwyn Garden City to get shirts, skirts, shoes, and trousers to complete the girls’ school uniforms.

Oh, and did I mention I DROVE for my first time?

Maybe we should get that NHS number, before I take to the roads again…

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The mini. My dream car. Helmet on. Ready to ride!

*Humidity, damp, rain, and more rain to be explored in a later post, because…England. And rain is a thing here. Just like how Canadians do snow and cold, the English do rain and cool.

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5 English Lessons Learned – You Don’t Have to be Royal to be Treated Like Royalty

road-humps-ahead-246__180They say with every big move there will be some bumps. Small hurdles. Hiccups that interrupt your acclimation to your new environment.

Today The Carmichaels made the bumpiest of roads look like a newly paved freeway. Yes, indeedy. We are the poster family for, “If it had to happen to someone, of course it would happen to you.” Some people call it Murphy’s Law. We just know it comes with being a Carmichael, whose family motto is “Toujour Prest” or “Always Prepared.”

carmichael family crestHow does this correlate to Murphy’s Law? It doesn’t until you consider the Carmichael Family Crest is a hand holding a broken spear. In other words, we’re ready for a fight yet we come to the battlefield with a broken weapon. My day was sort of like that. I had great intentions of accomplishing everything on my to-do list, and ended up tearing it up into teensy, tiny microscopic pieces by half past noon.

At least I learned the following lessons about England:

Lesson #1

People are very helpful when you show up announced at a ritzy golf club seeking a landlady named Jo.

Lesson #2

Neighbours have an understanding smile, directions (albeit without street names), and a cup of tea at the ready.

Lesson #3

English front house doors automatically lock when closed. Without fail.

Let me explain.

After a very sudden and intense wave of 7am home-sickness, I pulled myself together, wiped my tears, and stiffed my upper lip to hit the moving boxes with a renewed determination. I was also buoyed by the news that my step-mom was coming for a visit at 12:00.  Our plan was to get the girls’ school uniforms, have lunch, and leisurely stroll along the canal that runs through Hertford. Deeeelightful. When Judith’s rappa-tap-tap sounded at the door, we raced outside to greet her. Me in my sturdy fashionista runners, Sarah in her socks, and finally Emma in her bare feet.

3 seconds into our Nanny Happy Dance, Sarah announced, “The door! We’re locked out.”

No phone. No money. No shoes. Fantastic.

Thankfully a neighbor a few doors down recalled that our landlady, Jo (last name at this point unknown) also managed a golf course and quickly gave us directions. Unfortunately we didn’t have the exact name of the course, however, we weren’t concerned. How hard could this be, we reasoned. England is a small country after all.

Lesson #4

England has a lot of golf courses. In close proximity to each other.

We sped like foreign devils across the countryside, following our GPS to the Brickendon Grange Golf Club where we entered the lobby looking for “Jo the Landlady.” After speaking to several incredibly helpful and kind staff, we soon realized we were indeed at the wrong golf course. Even so, Dave at the club Googled Drew’s office, let us use his personal cell phone, called in a favour at Lock Stock and Barrell Locksmith, and even offered us a cup of tea. Which leads to my final lesson of the day:

Lesson #5

You don’t need to be royal to be treated like royalty

crownWhat a way to treat newcomers to a country. I highly recommend Brickendon Golf Club if you are ever in Hertfordshire.

And a  huge thanks to Dave, who treated us like royalty, proving that settling in Hertford was the right decision for us.

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The Final Countdown

Only 5 more sleeps until our transatlantic move.

Overseas. Living in Europe. Neighbors with the Queen. Okay the last is a stretch, but it still counts. If Elizabeth the Second was in a pinch and needed a place for a quiet cup of tea, at least my reception room is on the same continent, not 3 time zones away smack dab in the middle of Canada.

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Top 10 English Adaption List: Mastering the School Tie

And yes, that’s right I said reception room, not living room. I am practicing my “British” as the kids call it. I believe the actual British call it “proper English.” However you phrase it, we have a lot to learn about our new country, beyond driving on the other side of the road, becoming tea aficionados, and mastering school tie-tying so 10 stripes show.  Drew will be working in Dublin every second week and since he is currently our sole tie wearer and tie-tyer, we’ll be on our own for much of the time. I predict this skill to shoot to first place on our Top 10 England Adaption list, pronto.

This final week is full of final moments.

Today we say farewell to our beloved cottage, Stone’s Throw for the final time before we move. For the past 13 years, we have spent every summer here; skipping over sandbars, toasting burning marshmallows in our fire pit, and watching our “Hartmichael”* girls make up dances, gymnastics routines, and film movies with seemingly endless energy. Every moment creating another cherished summer memory. Leaving with another summer full of fresh fun is likely the best way our family can leave Canada. We will reminisce about days of sand, swimming, and s’mores with friends at the cottage while we fly over the Atlantic.

This week we jam and cram as much time in with friends and family. How easy it is to take those dearest to you for granted, until you have a dwindling number of days, hours, and finally minutes with them. We are so fortunate to have caring grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins that will be greatly missed.

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Favourite lake side writing spot.

But right now, I am typing this curled up in my favorite wicker chair in my front porch, looking out on sparkling Lake Winnipeg. Puffy white clouds drift across the pale blue prairie sky, the pier at Nelson’s beach inviting me for one last swim. And why not? Can anyone have too many beach days?

Tomorrow or the next, I’ll write about farewell parties, final packing, and furry creatures. Yup. Alliteration at its finest.

But now, I’m off to the beach, to make one last perfect lake memory…

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Farewell Dear Stone’s Throw Cottage

*Hartmichaels is our blended last name of Hartley and Carmichael; together we become…The Hartmichaels! We have gone on numerous adventures together and the girls are like cousins. Together they will conquer the world. 

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First Time Landlords

landlord picThere have been so many firsts for The Carmichael Clan over the past 6 months.

First time we’ve taken the girls overseas. The first time the girls have seen Big Ben, Piccadilly Circus, and The Harry Potter Studios. And the first time we’ve both rented a house and became landlords; almost at the exact same moment.

It was actually easier to find a house in Hertford than it was to choose a tenant for our own Wildwood Park home. Maybe because there were only 13 houses available to rent in the entire Hertford town proper (and we viewed each one), or perhaps because we fell in love with the first Hertford home we saw. More likely it was because we were throwing caution to the wind and embracing that adventurous spirit that drove us to make such a big move to the U.K.

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Our home in “The Park.”

What I am certain of, is renting our own home in Wildwood Park was extremely difficult. Partly because “The Park” is the most special place we have ever lived. Living here is not just about the house itself, but the community into which you become enveloped. The selection process for a tenant was made more difficult because we had four renters who each would have been a wonderful fit for us and the neighbourhood. This really surprised me.

Ultimately, we came down to being fair and chose the renter who had given us all the background information we requested quickest. Much like Michael Phelps and all his Olympic Golds, we held a timed race to see who the “winner” would be.

Now the hard part. Telling the other three families they will have to continue their search for their Winnipeg home. With one potential tenant in particular this will be extra hard to do, as we bonded through her delightful friends who viewed our house on her behalf and through email; she in Wales and me in Winnipeg – both of us with ties to Cardiff. It is a small world after all. I imagine it feels a bit like an editor must when sending out a rejection letter to a writer…not a great feeling.

Wish me luck as I break the news.

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