This year we will embark on what could be the biggest adventure of our lives: we are moving to New Zealand.
It is not an exact science, pinpointing precisely when this chapter of our lives started, because although I say 'about to embark', the move itself isn't really the beginning of the adventure. Even the very idea of upping sticks and going to the other side of the world is a step into something new. We feel British, our friends and family are here, and while we occasionally pine for sea and mountains, our feet are not terribly itchy. Mental preparation counts as part of the adventure too I would suggest.
The prospect of New Zealand first came up more than five years ago. Job opportunities for a specialist, analytical research scientist are extremely limited in the UK in Bruce's subject. When Victoria University in Wellington started developing plans for their research facility and a new post was under discussion it was certainly worth a second look. Then I had my cancer diagnosis and the whole notion was filed as an impossibility.
This time last year, it all became a very real option again. With only a year left on his contract at the OU, Bruce applied for the position that had eventually been created in the department at Vic - a role that is right up his street, a gem of a job. He went out to meet up with colleagues there, to have a good look, and although not interviewed at that time, he was left with a clear impression that should he be successful when the time came, Wellington would be a great place for us as a family, not just for him as a research scientist.
So, on the face of it, that it is it. He was offered the job. He accepted. Great opportunity - let's go!
Of course there has been rather more soul searching and discussion about it than that. And the not insignificant step of applying for visas.
I intend to blog again over the coming weeks with progress reports, so for now I think I will leave further background to events of last year for another time, and instead bring us up to date.
The visas arrived just before Christmas, a few days before Bruce's contract at the OU ended. This meant that at last we can be more confident about making plans.
However, we have not yet booked flights. It is summer holiday time in NZ so communication with members of the university has been limited since the visas came through. Bruce wants to start work as soon as possible, but we have so much to do here first getting the house ready to rent out. We are still discussing how it might work for Bruce to go out soon (to start work in Feb, and to find us somewhere to live there), while the girls and I continue here for a bit longer - P is in a performance towards the end of Feb, and we are hoping to have a bathroom refit in early March.
As you can tell, there we have loads to organise and achieve, but at least we are now able to get on with it. This weekend's tasks included Bruce advertising the dome from the observatory (the telescope goes with us, the dome does not), and me clearing a mountain of random paperwork that has been growing and gathering dust since the kitchen extension was built more than seven years ago!
The girls are very mixed up about it all - although excited about some aspects, they are very sad about leaving friends behind. More about that in a future post.
Thank you to everyone who has been putting me in touch with their contacts in NZ. It is great to know there is a network of friends, and friends of friends out there. We look forward to getting to know people better when we arrive. Also, we will welcome tips about all sorts of things from removal firms to schools to the best beaches!
I wish you well whatever adventures you encounter this year.
Happy New Year everyone!