Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The Great Land of Oz

It only seems fair that my next post lists what I am looking forward to once I arrive in Australia. Lately I have been laying in bed at night thinking of things I will be able to do, see, places our family can visit, tastes I will be able to experience again. Over the years I have forced myself to put these pleasures out of my mind since they were always out of my reach - but soon I will be able to indulge in them once again.

Things I look forward to:

  • My family - being able to spend holidays and weekends surrounded by family and friends. Watching Oscar play with his little cousins and having a support network when we need it - this is our main reason for leaving Canada. 
  • Sydney Botanical Gardens - spending sunny days there with a Sydney Morning Herald and a picnic while staring at the glistening harbour, gawking at the 1000's of bats and admiring the hundreds of tropical, indigenous and introduced plant species in the most serene and beautifully orchestrated setting.
  • Passionfruit - a hard come by and expensive exotic fruit in Canada, often dry and bitter by the time it makes it's journey from (most likely) the Caribbean or Central America. I can't wait to drizzle it over my my fruit salads and flavour my frosting and desserts with it's sweet tang and trademark seeds.
  • (Of course) The beach. Nothing beats the South Coast's clear turquoise waters and white powdery sand. I can't wait to be able to actually swim comfortably at the beach and not be freezing even on the hottest day of summer (no offense Atlantic Ocean - but you are one chilly mother). Those free gas outdoors barbeques are a bonus too - take note Canada!
  • Australian meat - nothing like an Aussie Snag or a lamb roast. It will be so nice to go to an actual butcher again and not the supermarket for my meat. Hooray that chicken breast is so much cheaper in Australia too - a possible $5.00AUS a kilo instead of $20.00CAN.
  • Taronga Zoo - so excited to take my hubby and son there!
  • Road Trips - we are a family of roadies. Our favourite thing to do on weekends is to drive around with the wind in our face, coffee in hand, letting the road lead the way. We love the great conversations that evolve in the confines of the car and on many occasions we have found ourselves hours away from home when we only intended on getting a coffee down the street. We love exploring old and new places and Australia will bring us fresh road to travel on and new towns to discover in all directions.
  • Higher wages - enough said.
  • Not having to pay for oil and heating costs. It is very expensive to live in the northern hemisphere. Oil is not cheap and it costs $1000's per year to heat our furnace which supplies warm air and hot water year round. 
This list could go on and on, which is a good and comforting thing. I could include a whole grocery list of items I have missed like shapes, custard, devon and cherry ripes but these are just the cravings of an expat.

All in all there is much to look forward to, a smorgasbord of new activities and adventures lies ahead for us. For some moving or even visiting Australia is a dream come true, our family will be lucky enough to call both Canada and Australia home.

The Big Decision

So after 5 or 6 years of teeter-tottering about whether or not to leave our life in Halifax and start fresh in Australia, roughly 3 months ago we finally made the absolute decision that it was best for our family if we move. This is a huge and scarey thing to do, but it will be all for the best. Although there are so many things to look forward to down under, I will miss a lot about Canada, after all, I would have spent the majority of my adult life in this country.

Things I will miss:
  • Four distinct seasons- the circle of life.
    I actually think I will even miss real winter- nothing like a stroll through fresh powdery snow or watching it fall from my window, it brings such stillness and peace, and oh my the colours of fall!
  • Tim Hortons. I thank Timmy Ho's for my coffee addiction and love of bagels. It is not going to be the same starting my day without a medium double double with milk and an everything bagel toasted with herb and garlic cream cheese and tomato - but I'll survive!
  • Cheaper brand name items. Being close to the States has it's benefits - such as affordable cosmetics like Revlon (my foundation is $15.00CAD and $45.00AUS) and Maybelline (my mascara is $5.99CAD and $15.00AUS). Runners are also a lot less in North America, like NIKE and Reebok. Needless to say I will be stocking up before I leave on all my favourites!
  • The big beautiful houses. Halifax is full of gorgeous 18th and 19th century architecture - usually wooden brightly painted multilevel monstrosities, some with turrets, big bay windows and balconies. A 100 year old house in this city is considered common, however, many have been completely renovated inside. The possibility of my owning and living in one if these marvels is so much more in Canada than in Australia, where the cost of something even resembling their greatness would be astronomical compared to here. Square footage in North Americas is also more generous compared to Australia, I will miss the domestic space. The whole Maritimes is scattered with so much history of lives before ours, about how they lived and what their lives were like - I will also miss being connected with so much past.
  • My neighbourhood. I will miss my West End neighbourhood. Although I dislike my actual house, I have felt spoiled by my location and proximity to everything I need. In less than 5 minutes by foot I can be at a major supermarket, a liquor store, large mall, Walmart - pretty much every amenity I need. In the opposite direction in less than 5 minutes by foot I can be at 3 different parks with wonderful playgrounds, tennis courts, ocean views and walkways (which we frequent almost daily with our energetic toddler). It also boasts huge oak and maple lined streets, with lane-ways connecting the sub-divisions - which my family and I often find ourselves wandering through, all year around. My neighbourhood is very safe and convenient and we all will miss it.
  • The medical system. Here in Canada I have completely free medical coverage. Any time I go to the Doctor, a specialist, the hospital, I never leave with a bill. Ultrasounds and x-rays are covered too. My family has been lucky enough to land the best medical practice and Doctor ever. We never wait for an appointment, the receptionist know us all by name, we can see a Doctor the same day we need to - couldn't ask for better service. Our family's Doctor is fantastic. She is more like a family friend and we will miss seeing her and having her treat us. Not sure if this level of hospitality is available, but hopefully we can find a similar situation in Australia.    
  • The Dollarama - as silly as it sounds, you don't realize how much you save shopping here until you can't anymore. I rely on the dollar store for so many things from zip-lock baggies to oatmeal goats milk soap (best we have ever used) but there is no such thing as a true $1 store in Australia. There are discount stores, but you can't get much for $1. You would think being so close to Asia this wouldn't be the case. 
I am sure there will be more - after-all Halifax has become my first home. So many important things have happened to me here rather than my birth country.This is where I lived in my first house, bought my first car, got married and had my first child. We will be back but are excited to start the next chapter - somewhere with more opportunity, family and sunshine. 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

We love to meet our farmers out of jealousy!

Like Christmas and birthdays, I have come to equally look forward to this one day in late September where I get to pretend I too live on a farm.
Open Farm day in Nova Scotia for my family, is about escaping Mumford Road and the confines of our tiny house and envisioning ourselves living 'the good life'.
What is 'the good life' you may wonder? Well, for us it entails being surrounded by nature, roughly 3-20 acres of it, with no neighbours in sight - being able to breathe knowing that our days can be spent tending to your vegetable patch, fields and feeding our four footed friends, instead of dreading having to get up the next day to be a slave to the world.
'The good life' is rural self-sufficiency with all of the modern conveniences, cable, internet and Tim Hortons. It's a mixture of cultivation and wilderness, with half of your land working with you and the other an untamed place to explore. There will be chickens wandering freely, goats to milk and play with and pigs to just 'pork' up! Bees will roam the skies, pollinating the crops, and producing honey for us to extract and wax to light our nights. There should be river or lake or ocean access too to help power the property and provide a place to fish, sail and swim!
Another crucial focus for me is making. I want time to 'potter' away in my artist's studio, tucked into an overgrown corner somewhere, creating ceramics and soap and drying flowers. This space is messy and cluttered with beautiful things and all of the necessary implements.
Finally and probably most importantly, to live the 'good life' you must have the perfect home. For us this home is set far enough back that no road is visible, preferably down a leafy green tree lined gravel lane. The front yard is esthetically pleasing with flowing shrubs and billowing willow branches. Perhaps a rope and wooden swing hangs, evidence of a growing family. As you wonder up a cobblestone path from the drive you reach some steps that take you on a wide covered verandah, if you are curious you could follow this deck completely around the perimeter of the house, or if you fancy take a seat on one of the many plush rocking or swinging chairs scattered around.
Once you enter through a huge solid front door, the space is airy and spacious. The furniture is classic and bold - a pinstripe, pokadot and modern floral scattered here and there.
You find a generous kitchen complete with white wooden shaker style cabinetry, endless storage and counter space, an island for baking and a bench for prepping. To the side is a massive walk-in pantry for stocking up and storing. This is a very well used space, with seating for company and all of the required tools of the trade ready and waiting. It is here that I would spend so many hours baking my own bread and pies, turning goats milk into cheese, canning and preserving our harvest and feeding my human herd.
The home of our dreams has 4 bedrooms and a study, a master suite, a room for Oscar, for baby 2 and a guest/craft room for myself. When I am not busying myself in the studio or kitchen I will be sewing on my machine - maybe baby clothes or a quilt, crocheting blankets for long winter nights and designing my years worth of greeting cards.
'The good life' isn't necessarily a slow life, or a boring life, on the contrary it is quite busy. But nothing says more than living your best life like living each day as your own for your own.

Below are some pictures I took from the 2 farms we visited recently in Colchester and Cumberland Counties, Nova Scotia. These farms are both evidence that it is possible to live for yourself, spending your days fulfilled and purposefully. We learned a lot about what it takes to run a smallholding, the energy it demands and the passion is requires. We also got a glimpse into a world where you are your own boss, with your own hours and responsible for your own outcomes - challenging and motivating. I can't wait to be able to control my future so completely.

 On our tour at Green Dragon Organic Farm, we learned how the female goose relies on the male goose's aggressive nature to keep her on her eggs. If he fails to keep her nesting she may leave for too long and risk their fertilization and survival.

 Never too young to start farming!

 Green Dragon Organic Farm's delicious summer bounty - sweet vine ripened cherry tomatoes and garlic.

Learning about greenhouses, bio-dynamics and permaculture. 

 These bees are busy making Lavender honey!

Lavender fields.....where I purchased some culinary lavender buds to experiment with this fall.

Friday, 21 October 2011