Our Global Adventure began with just one destination in mind over two years ago, The United Kingdom. We knew that we wanted a change of lifestyle and a change of scenery, to be able to spend more time together as a family. After particularly bad days at work we’d come home and joke “Let’s just sell it all and move to Scotland”.
We joked about that for 12 years. But then one day it wasn’t a joke anymore. Having spent over three years living in London before the children were born we felt a natural affinity to The United Kingdom, for many years we missed England like it was our second home. We wanted to return there but it was important that we did not just end up swapping one suburban life in Australia for another on the other side of the world. As fate would have it, laws had changed in our 13 year absence, and this time around it wouldn’t be so easy to immigrate with a husband with an Australian Passport to the UK. Fate was forcing us to make an adventure out of this trip, to really consider how we wanted to redesign our family’s lifestyle, and to break out of our suburban mould – and by golly we have!
It took us 18 months after leaving our home in Adelaide Australia to finally set foot in England. 18 months of travel on the East Coast of Australia, in Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands and France. We arrived on New Year’s Eve to begin a new housesitting assignment in the Midlands at Stafford, and it was everything that we expected for this time of year; cold, wet and dark. But, our welcome could not have been warmer. Our new hosts gave us the most wonderful welcome, greeting us with a proper British roast dinner with all the trimmings and a Christmas pudding with custard for dessert. Of course we all agreed that the food in France was amazing, but our first dinner in The United Kingdom was very special in a way that comes with familiarity. I believe that we have the most amazing luck with our housesitting hosts, and once again we find ourselves in the home of the kindest most generous people God placed on the earth. It truly is a special breed that shares their home with strangers in an exchange of goodwill. We care for their pets and home, and they provide a roof over our heads for three months. It sounds simple, but the experience is so much more, we are leaving a trail of new friends and fury loved ones around the world.
Stafford is a wonderful place to begin our 12 months in The United Kingdom, it is the capital of Staffordshire in the Midlands and was once the capital of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. It’s a pretty town of nearly 70,000 with a buzzing retail centre on a fabulous old market square which is still home to some handsome Georgian and medieval buildings. There is an Ancient High House, (the largest timber framed house in the country) which dates back to 1595 and of course there are castle ruins just on the edge of town. Both are free to visit and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed doing so. Charles I visited Stafford and stayed at the Ancient High House on 17 and 18 September 1643. On the wall hangs a copy of the document later calling for his execution for treason. Our children were able to make historical links between this, and all of the places that they had seen destroyed by Cromwell in Ireland who ruled after Charles I.
Of course being in the Midlands it is impossible to ignore this areas role as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. There is so much industry that has its roots here so we’ve been ‘Worldschooling’ our way through museums to learn more. We’ve already visited the (free) Leather museum in Walsall and the (free) Potteries museum in Stoke on Trent, with plans to visit more before we relocate at the end of March.
Oscar particularly loved seeing the Spitfire plane on display in the Potteries museum and learning about its design and role in the battle of Britain. And, we’ve all loved seeing the artefacts recovered by archaeologists from right here in Staffordshire that tell the story of the Anglo-Saxons who arrived and made Stafford the capital of their kingdom.
But, it hasn’t been all museums and castles. We’ve also been lucky enough to see a sprinkling of snow for a couple of days. We headed up to higher ground, to The Peak District and the town of Buxton to really have some fun playing as snow fell heavily on us. We’ve also been sloshing about in muddy fields in our Wellies walking our two gorgeous little adopted dogs and enjoying walking (and even running!) again regularly.
I have even been doing a little bit of paid work, (supply teaching in local schools for a couple of days a week), which is a Godsend since the Aussie dollar doesn’t shape up too well next to the Pound Stirling. And of course in all of this there is still plenty of time for down days at home where we just watch the rain falling outside and keep warm catching up on some schooling. Lucy has taken an interest in learning about computer coding so she’s been busy with a new online program and Oscar makes leaps and bounds with his maths and reading, (we love the Stafford Library!) with some gentle prodding he’s even writing a little! We’ve been carrying around some Australian School books for a while now, and aim to finish them before we move on to lighten our luggage a little. Two years after beginning our home education journey we are utterly convinced that we have made the right decision for our children. It is incredibly rewarding as a parent and a teacher to see our children display a genuine love for learning.
We are so blessed to be currently based on the edge of pretty Stafford with views of green fields out the windows. Stafford is also only a short distance from the Cathedral City of Lichfield, as well as The Peak District, Birmingham and Stratford-upon-Avon… our only concern right now is, will 3 months here be enough?