The Pros and Cons of living abroad (in my opinion) 

Fun in Marbella


Pros

1. Weather– Unless you’ve moved somewhere where the climate isn’t so fortunate, everyone knows how a day of glorious sunshine can really lift your spirits. Though the weather here is very changeable at the moment we’ve had a few sunshiny afternoons recently. The second you step outside, no coat weighing you down, no extra layers needed for the kids, sunglasses on, you just feel lighter. The long, warm summers here mean we get to make good use of our pool (I know.. a pool!) as well as glorious beaches a short drive away and it guarantees that you can walk anywhere without getting wet. Saying that you might get a bit sweaty… 

I have to say I do miss the winter, like the proper winter where you get to wrap up warm in cosy knitwear and chunky scarves, but I can’t decide if that’s just because I get bored of my summer wardrobe!! 

2. Meeting new people and making new friendships– One of the things I really worried about, when I knew we were moving here, is feeling lonely. I’m a rubbish lonely person, I get lonely if I’m on my own for an afternoon, let alone starting afresh in a foreign country. Of course the beauty of moving to somewhere like Gib is that pretty much everyone speaks English! So the transition, for me, was fairly smooth. Once I knew we were definitely moving I did loads of research into toddler groups and things to do with kids. I only had Henry at the time and he was 18 months which really, looking back, was a perfect age for socialising. When we moved over my mum came for the first week and came with me to all the groups for moral support. Luckily I got in there before the summer holidays because it meant I met a few people before all the groups stopped. 

There’s a huge expat community here so loads of people in the same boat. I’ve made some truly lovely and lifelong (I hope, they may disagree!) friends. 

3.Life experience– Our move has had some massive ups and downs for me emotionally. They never seem to stop to be honest! I’m constantly torn by missing family and feeling at the end of my tether and relishing the opportunities we have here. One thing is for sure though, I do feel proud. Proud of myself and my little family for making a brave leap and trying something completely out of our comfort zone. I know that when we do eventually move back our time here will have had a fantastic impact on the way we look at things. It’s certainly made me braver, more outgoing and confident in my ability to cope on my own (when husband is at work of course!). I keep thinking how amazing it will be for the children to have had this experience under their belts before they’ve even really realised it. As well as that, what a great conversation starter, ‘I lived in a different country when I was younger.’ 

Cons

1. Missing family and friends- This is a big big con for me.. I do have a close relationship with my family, especially my sister who has children of a similar age. I so often feel really sad that our children aren’t ‘growing up together’ in a geographical sense though we talk and Skype all the time. The children also have 3 sets of brilliant grandparents that they truly miss, obviously Henry is more aware of this but I’m sure Flossie does too!

I also have some really close friends, god parents to my children, friends from school, friends from uni, people who truly know me and all my idiosyncrasies. I feel sad that they too, don’t get to spend time with the children, some of them never having met Flossie due to us being away 😦 

 I am lucky that I can go back when I want or need to and both children are *fairly* well behaved on a flight so I can do it by myself with both of them. But it’s more the times when you just want to ‘pop over’ or go for a day out together, that I really miss. I often find myself sat in our flat in the afternoon, because Flossie needs a nap and most things seem to happen in the morning here. It’s when I’m sat in the flat feeling, frankly quite bored and a bit lonely, I think if I was in the uk now I could just pop over to my mums or my sisters or take the kids to see Nana & Pops and I would have some adult company. 

Also I feel sad that the family is missing out on Flossie’s first year. They see all her ‘firsts’ on video or through photos and sometimes I wish I had the chance to show them off in the flesh. Having her here was much harder than I expected without my family around. It really hit me hard, but that’s another story..

 Thing is you know when you’ve had a horrendous night and you could do with someone to just take them off your hands so you can catch a little nap. The good thing about family is they actually really enjoy having them and you don’t feel as if you are imposing… sigh 

2. Feeling like you don’t really belong– It’s like when you start a new job. At first you feel really out of place there, you don’t know where anything is, you don’t know the ways, you don’t really know the people. Eventually, however, you learn all those things and you feel as though you have as much a right to be there as anyone else. Well, for me, I have learnt where things are, I know lots of lovely people, and in most I’ve learnt how the place functions, but that doesn’t completely take away that feeling that, really it’s not your country. You can make it your home, but you’ll never 100% belong there because you were born somewhere else. If that makes sense? That’s not to say people don’t make you feel welcome and it’s not a reflection of their opinions.. (though sometimes it’s pretty obvious that the feeling is mutual) It’s just a little niggle that stops me from really settling. 

3. (Unique to gibraltar) I miss the shops, internet shopping and good things to do with the kids– Ok I’m going to admit it, I really miss primark! We do have a primark in nearby Spain but it’s not the same… it doesn’t have the good stuff that they show in the magazines. I also miss buying crafty things from eBay and it turning up 2 days later… our poor visitors always end up with suitcases of stuff that I’ve bought and sent to them to bring out! As well, one of the things I find most frustrating about being here, is the lack of activities for the children. I find it really hard to fill my days with something that isn’t the park and doesn’t involve buying food or drink. I would like to be able to (easily) go to a soft play or a petting zoo or farm. Even just to a country park for a walk or one of these trampoline places I see cropping up everywhere! We do have some really great groups that we go to on a weekly basis but I just find the lack of variety frustrating. Especially when I realise how much we had at our disposal in the uk! 

Obviously these are all just my opinions and I’m sure some people will totally identify with them and others may completely disagree! Everyone’s experience is bound to be different 🙂 xx

Time spent with family is time well spent

Waiting at the airport


So today we’ve literally just waved off a weekend of lovely visitors and family time, mostly spent eating, due to terrible weather! Inevitably we’ve got that rubbish sad feeling you get after anything you’ve been really looking forward to and with a plane journey standing in the way of it happening again soon, it’s not always easily resolved.

Henry & Flossie’s beloved ‘Nanapops’


When you live near your family it’s so easy to take for granted the time you spend with them. The ease of popping over to your parents on a weekend and catching up on the weeks events, is something you don’t even really think about when you have the option. Weekends with family bring familiar faces and happy listening ears as well as extra pairs of hands to help with the little ones 😉. 

Henry braving new heights!


This is one of the things I’ve really missed whilst living here, not only do you miss out on significant events, like nieces and nephews birthdays and family gatherings, you also miss out on the general catch ups like I mentioned above. You sort of have to make your own entertainment each weekend and sometimes that can be with just the same four people a few weekends in a row. Don’t get me wrong I love our dynamic as a foursome but it’s also really good to get out and socialise as a family. Luckily we have some great friends here that we do often see, that keep my husband and I from telling each other the same things over and over and talking about the kids all weekend!

Floss started waving this weekend


Living away from family you do sort of live on a continuous countdown to the next visit or trip home, they always seem so far away and then go in a flash. But looking on the bright side the time we do spend with our families is wonderful. The children love having people to stay, especially Henry who does love a good jump on a put you up mattress 😉 and they also love going back to England and staying with their grandparents. During these times we tend to make the most of activities in both Gibraltar/Spain and near home in the uk, that we wouldn’t normally do if our life was based solely in one place. Doing this we’ve made some amazing memories for us all to look back on.

Yummy lunch with Grandma

As I mentioned before the weather here has been horrendous this weekend. It’s been seriously windy and a bit wet but since we’ve been living here catching up with family has never been dictated by the weather. When you live apart, it’s nice to just spend time together no matter what you do.

Windswept is an understatement

We’ve basically frequented Gibraltar’s cafes and restaurants and I for one, have definitely eaten way too much but do I care.. no. Well maybe a little bit because I now feel like I have to reign it in and that’s frankly quite boring. 

Asides from eating tasty food we also took a trip to the park in a sunny moment and the children were spoilt with lots of new toys and treats! 

Often after visitors Henry takes it pretty hard. He has a weekend full of undivided attention and then he’s left with just…me. Which in turn makes my life a bit unbearable for a couple of days. However so far today we’re doing ok, though I am sat writing this whilst lying on the floor playing Thomas (basically I answer yes and no and repeat things he tells me to). Here’s hoping my company is enough to keep him happy!! 

Crochet is my therapy, what’s yours? 


 I’ve always loved being crafty for as long as I can remember. In the holidays we would go to hobby craft with my Nan and pick something to make and often my Auntie and cousins would get involved too! It wasn’t until after I had Henry that I discovered crochet thanks to one of my afore mentioned cousins 😉 so I’ve been doing it for roughly 3 years, a relative newby. 

In the lead up to having Floss I made loads of crocheted items for her, mainly because I could barely move from a ginomorous bump (im aware I’ve made that word up) and the ridiculous heat of a Gibraltar summer! 

Baby booties that she may have never worn… but they were worth making just to look at!

You’re probably thinking.. a cardi, in summer? But the midwives assured me that it would be cold in the hospital!

But it’s been since I’ve had Flossie that I’ve found real value in my love for crochet.

After feeling a bit low after the birth of Henry I anticipated the same this time, especially with being away from family and friends. What I didn’t expect was to feel the absolute lowest I’ve ever felt, to feel I’d lost myself and to feel in, what I can only describe as, despair. I don’t hesitate using these words because I was, in total honesty, completely floored by the way I felt. 

Anyway I don’t want to dwell on those feelings too much, only to explain the situation as such. 

After speaking to family members and a lovely lady from the mental health unit here, I realised that one way I could make myself feel myself again was to not stop doing the things that make me, me! 

My adaptation of an amigurumi doll with the addition of a flowery bonnet and a lacey collar.

Crochet isn’t the only thing I love doing, I also love a good book and a Netflix series or two 😉. But I made sure I made time for these things, in between the madness of looking after a newborn and a 2 year old of course! Now, if I don’t have a project or a good book on the go I do feel a real sense that something is missing, so I actively search for a book or have a peruse of Pinterest to get my creative juices flowing. 

Of course there’s that usual mummy guilt whenever you don’t dedicate every waking second to your gorgeous children but I’ve found quite a good balance now. 
When Flossie’s in bed in the afternoon and Henry’s playing with his toys or watching a film, I’ll sit on the floor with him and answer his 57 million questions and talk ‘Thomas’ at the same time as a bit of crochet! Obviously it’s not always a smooth session, we have many wee and snack breaks or a quick sprint to re-insert a lost dummy but hey, is mummy’s are good at multi-tasking right?? 

I’ve also begun meeting up with a group of like minded ladies in the week to crochet and discuss our ‘therapy’ together. 

Making time for crochet and the things I love, wasn’t the only key to my recovery, but it was definitely a big part of it! 

What’s your ‘Therapy’? What do you do that makes you, you? Sometimes life gets in the way of us dedicating much time to these things but I feel it’s so important, for our mental health and overall sanity, that we really try to fit them in where we can. 

If you fancy having a go at the amigurumi dolls I got the pattern from the very talented lalylala. You can buy the pattern here https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/lalylala 

Unfortunately I can’t remember where the pattern for the little shoes came from.. but the cardi was definitely from a ‘Love Crochet’ magazine 🙂