Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Expat Curse: Saying goodbye

There are a couple of curses in the expat experience.  From browsing expat blogs this weekend, I’ve seen mention of never fitting in to one’s adopted homeland; finally settling into a new life just to have to move again and not being able to gain employment at the level previously achieved.

This weekend I’ve experienced personal heartbreak and the worst expat curse of all: having one’s loved ones move back home.  People often emigrate to new shores in groups and it’s never going to work out for everyone.  There will always come a time when some of the group go back.

So for their last weekend in England, Sara, Donovan and Keira spent the weekend at my house and I followed them around as they wrapped things up.

Guildford Cathedral [taken on my Nokia N70]

We went through to Guildford Cathedral yesterday.  Guildford Cathedral reminded us of The Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, South Africa.  They both have the same really ugly architecture on the outside but at least the cathedral is reasonably pretty on the inside.  We went there because Donovan was performing with the joint Guildford Choral Society and Guildford Philharmonic Orchestra’s production of Verdi’s  Requiem.  They had a four-hour practice yesterday afternoon and I was fortunate enough to sit through an hour of rehearsal.  It was majestic!

Inside Guildford Cathedral [taken on my Nokia N70]


Keira enjoyed watching her daddy perform but she didn’t like the loud drums!  Her daddy has always been a good singer and attended the Drakensberg Boys Choir.  I uploaded a short video of the practice to YouTube.

We decided to save Keira’s nerves and ears and we went through to Guildford Town Centre so that Sara could go to the bank.

Abbot's Hospital [taken on my Nokia N70]

It really is a picturesque little town and I enjoyed taking some photos from the roof top of a parking garage while Sara and Keira went to the bank.  I definitely think we’ll go back there one morning and hopefully visit Godalming too.

A view up Guildford High Street (showing Guild Hall ) and Guildford Castle [taken on my Nokia N70]

We then went and finished packing up the house and handed the keys to the estate agent.

Today was a little more serious.  I woke up and immediately wished I hadn’t.  It took me a while before I felt like facing everyone and then I had to rush back upstairs as I started crying.


It wasn’t properly explained to Keira what was going on but she picked up on all the tension and she looked as sad as I felt.

Stephen took this photo of me watching Keira and I was pretty miserable!  Actually, all I could think was “do NOT cry in front of the three-year-old”.  Anyway, as they were taking three massive suitcases, there was no room for me in the car.  They left around 1pm and by now they will be in the air.  I’m very sad.



  1. I also just went through having good friends move on. Very sad for me, but I'm very happy for them.

  2. I'm sorry, Emm. I'm sending you lots of hugs.

  3. @ sixmats: :) Right now I'm a little concerned about them as it has been a long, hard journey but in the end, I am glad they are going home as I think it will be better for them.

    @ Ivanhoe: Thank you! I need them right now!

  4. Oh, I was on the other end of that where I had to be the one leaving. My heart broke as I watched the city disappear below me as I flew off. Great pictures and a beautiful post!

  5. This IS such a sad thing. I've experienced it many times. (But years ago, I had a group of friends in Trinidad . . . and I mourned as each friend left . . . but now we are all living in England and still friends!)

    Funnily enough, I was feeling sad about Yaz leaving today and wondering how she was getting on in Den Haag.

  6. Oh Emma this sucks big time. I am also aching at the moment as I am married in Canada but my family are back home in the U.K It's lovely here but I miss my family man heaps. Huggles.

  7. I don't believe anything I'll say on a post will actually help you. This is just something you have to go through, but it will get better.

    I don't think any number of miles between you can put a downer on any true friendship.

  8. I must admit that my first glance at that photo of Guildford Cathedral reminded me of Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria.

  9. @ Julie: Yeah, it is usually is me saying goodbye as I have moved several times between UK and South Africa! Get well soon!

    @ Bee: Hiya! Yes, I have been quite sad about Yaz leaving too but excited as it gives me a good excuse to visit Netherlands!

    @ yanjiaren: Yes, you are so far away from home - it must be hard for you!

    @ Phoenix: Heh. I've found after years of blogging (I've had a Livejournal for 8 years) that once I have expressed it in words, I feel mostly better afterwards. It is cathartic for me, to put stuff into words.

    @ Pule: Doesn't it just look like the Voortrekker! Oh well, I am sure there are people that find both buildings attractive!



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