Emigration necessitates living with the very bare essentials around you in the time it takes for your shipping container to arrive in your adopted country of choice.
Accordingly, for three long months we managed quite well with just four purchased camping chairs, one cutlery set, four glasses, four plates and four cereal bowls. A borrowed sofa, TV and washing machine, plus a tiny fridge with an ice compartment the size of a toddler’s shoebox completed this picture of domestic frugality.
We became adept at pretending to appreciate instant noodles, canned food and sandwiches. The arrival of visitors meant that chairs had to be used on a strictly rotational basis, and that tea had to be consumed quickly in order for the next person in line to be allowed a drink before the overall visit ended.
Living on such a scaled-down level means that you learn to appreciate what you actually have. You also begin to wonder what on earth you managed to pack into a whole shipping container that you clearly don’t really need in order to live from day to day.
Well, as it turned out for us, our chosen shipped paraphernalia consisted of the following eclectic items:
Our squashy leather sofa (the older it gets, the more comfortable it becomes)
Our fridge freezer (which, having survived the three-month journey across the world’s seas, suffered the indignity of being dropped and dented when the delivery man tripped over his own feet on the doorstep)
An enormous box of Lego, which no-one could remember the urgency of bringing
…and other than some sundry items of no note whatsoever, that’s basically it.
It seems, dear readers, that when we began the process of what to take with us and what to leave behind, our brains fell out and were unknowingly replaced by runny blancmange.
In essence, we gave away – yes, gave away – perfectly good bicycles, furniture, tools and the lawn mower. We asked our parents to store treasured framed photographs, my wedding dress, more tools, important furnishings and our brand new tent.
Two months before we left for Australia, my husband proudly presented me with a sat-nav device, which was loaded with UK maps and for which any Australian maps would cost more to buy than a new sat-nav. So he gave that to his dad, too. It now has the dubious honour of being “The Worst Birthday Present Ever Received”.
We look back now and wonder what on earth we were thinking of. We are reasonably intelligent people who are able to form words into sentences, and steps into walking – so what went so badly wrong?
We have come to conclude that we were suffering from some form of temporary condition affecting all reasonable judgment, along with a possible desire to keep something of ourselves in our home country.
Although most emigrants do not give away their essential items and retain Lego on an industrial scale, I think that most will agree that at some point along the way, their brains have also fallen out and been replaced with runny blancmange.
I am comforted by this knowledge and anyway… when all you have are camping chairs and instant noodles to keep you occupied, Lego comes in very handy indeed.