Surviving the long-haul

This week I feel like I’m facing my first big test of being away so far. Olly left yesterday on a work trip – a mammoth one, taking in four European capitals in a week and leaving me on my own long-haul  – 10 days as a lone parent, 11,000 miles from home and all my usual support networks. Help! However, am I going to cope?! Will my sanity survive?! Will the children survive?! Will our kiwi adventure survive?!

‘Course they will.

Two things are getting me through. First up, I actually do already know a few people here. And they’re really nice. Last week we bravely threw a little housewarming, inviting people over for drinks on Sunday afternoon. Obviously we were gripped with the usual oscillating panic. One minute – no-one’s going to come, we’ll just be handing round nibbles to a neighbour and the man from the corner-shop (a bit like Daisy’s housewarming in Spaced). The next,  imagining the whole Greenpeace office might descend demanding vats of homemade humous and feijoa wine. Of course the reality was somewhere in between and we had a great bunch of people here – a mix of friends of friends, colleagues old and new, neighbours and one or two mums I’ve picked up along the way. They’re quite a friendly bunch these Kiwis it turns out.

But having some people drink wine in your garden, nice as they are, doesn’t completely keep the home-sickness at bay. I have plenty of moments where I remember Elsie scooting around with her bessies, or think of a night out with my ladies and have a little cry. But that’s expected. We’re three months into this daft caper and it’s inevitable that once the novelty wore off and daily life set in that there’d be a few speed bumps to contend with.

My second strategy to keep me going in Olly’s absence, is to do nice things and have some treats – starting today. After a lot of shitty weather, the sun was shining, so I took the girls for an explore to Vineyard Quarter, a regenerated dockland area in the centre of the city. It’s like what Cardiff Bay would be if the sun shone and shitloads of millionaires turned up in yachts. It’s got a really cool playground nestled amongst old fuel silos, bars, cafes, street performers etc and a nice vibe. It feels less

Ice cream - it can only make things better.
Ice cream – it can only make things better.

corporate than similar redevelopments and has quirky installations and exhibits, like a reading room in a shipping container, which Elsie loved. The water is blue and sparkly. And did I mention the sun was shining? So we played… we mooched…we picnicked… Elsie had a look for seals…we ate posh ice cream. It was a really very pleasant day out – even with two small children.

And then when we got home, one of our ‘new friends’ popped round for a cuppa.

Well isn’t that a pip!