I was 18 and perusing the careers library at my school (Pates) for some gap year adventures with my heart set on America, preferably California. I’d never been there but pretty much my whole being longed and pined for a high school experience like ‘Saved by the Bell’ or 90210 (I also blame my mum for letting me watch Dallas and Dynasty as a late night treat! Gosh I’m showing my age here!). I didn’t get to the west coast that year, having to settle for au pairing in Maryland and a wonderful time spent exploring the east coast from Boston to Miami. I’m still in touch with the three kids (that were under 6 at the time) I cared for. In fact I was just invited to the bridal shower of the (not so) little girl.
Returning briefly to Cheltenham I was then off to Newcastle for university – pretty much the furthest you could go! But returning to Cheltenham every holiday to work at Peppers, GAP or The Slug and catching up with all my school pals. I met my northern boy just as I’d left Newcastle to go to the London College of Printing to study journalism and those couple of years of long distance romance were loads of fun.
Steve and I then bought our first home in Harrogate (I love my spa towns) and quite honestly that would have been a lovely happily ever after option. But four years later and we both had itchy feet. We rented out our house and plotted a year traveling taking in south east Asia, Australia, New Zealand, South America and a ski season in Canada.
Cutting a long story short ten years later there we were, still in Australia with two Australian sons and dual citizenship. We’d come home to Cheltenham nine times in those 10 years. We missed countless weddings and special occasions but we did our best to get to what we could. People often remarked that they could never live that far away from their family or network and I’d reply that it was entirely because of the love and support of our family that we could. My parents and my in-laws (I have the best mother in law #goals) have championed our every decision and traveled to see us countless times. I know my dad adored escaping the English winters #southernhemisphere.
But Australia, despite its beauty and the incredible network of friends we built up over those years, always felt too far and too hard to maintain the relationships with family and friends in England that we valued so much. We weren’t sure we could move back to England but we knew we couldn’t stay in Australia long term. My dad had also been diagnosed with cancer and this meant he could no longer travel such long distances.
Steve had started working for Apple in Sydney and shortly afterwards a global role in Silicon Valley was on the table. We’d moved rental houses 9 times already with Miles born in Sydney and Joseph born in Adelaide. I wasn’t sure I could do another huge move. I’d also developed instant and deep friendships with awesome women through the mind blowing event that is birthing humans! But again these friends supported, loved and encouraged us to do what was right for us and we signed the contract and moved to northern California in the fall (or Autumn to you lot) of 2016.
It was during that late summer time that I had my first miscarriage. We were on our recce in San Jose, California, checking out houses, schools etc and all of a sudden I’m in the local hospital being told there’s no heart beat. There’s so much to say on this (my website is ready and waiting) but despite experiencing such deep loss and sadness I also gained so much in terms of gratitude, appreciation and a strengthening of faith.
I went on to miscarry again the following year and came to the conclusion that another baby might not be in the plan for us. We started to explore fostering as we were eager to share our privilege and hearts with the many children who could benefit from it. And what do you know, I fell pregnant at the end of that year! A healthy heartbeat and two very excited big brothers. It was around this time that we knew my dad’s cancer was terminal and my goodness, I prayed so hard that he would still be here to meet his newest grand baby.
During Christmas of 2016 Brian Thomas Potter held Edward Francis George Hobson in his arms and it was both the most heartwarming and heartbreaking of times. My dad passed away on April 8th of this year and his memorial service at Holy Apostles was standing room only in a fitting testimony to a genuinely great bloke. He used to love his uncles little saying of ‘enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.’
I’ve always felt life is too short to have dreams unrealized or things unsaid and I remind myself daily that we are not promised tomorrow. Fostering is still firmly in our hearts and I advocate for Foster the Bay, a coalition of churches that aims to raise up foster families and support teams to care for the many vulnerable children in the Silicon Valley area.
My mum has been out with us here in California for the last month and it’s been hard and joyful and everything in between. Grief is a complex and mighty beast. We are bringing the boys back to Cheltenham next week on our annual summer pilgrimage (one 10 hour flight now feels like a doddle after the 24 hours flying time from Sydney to London! #itsallrelative ) and it will fill my heart to see them play with their cousins and recreate their mums (for the most part) idyllic childhood in Charlton Kings. Hope to see some of you at the Push It walks!
We’ve also just booked flights for our Christmas trip to Australia in a few months. It will be over 3 years since we left and I cannot wait to be reunited with our ‘framily’ (friends who become like family) and reacquaint our Aussie boys with their homeland. We are kind of in the middle now between London and Sydney and this Californian lifestyle suits us pretty nicely. We are just about to get our green cards and hope to buy our forever home next year. My 14 year old self would be high fiving me on finally living out my Californian dream.
With love Calimaman xxx
A Guest Blog from Anna Hobson
Born, bred and married in Cheltenham it has come as quite a surprise to Anna that she is the mum to two Australian boys and one American. Especially as she married a chap from Yorkshire. Living in Australia for 10 years and now in California for three it has been a whirlwind of a lifestyle that has centered on returning to Cheltenham regularly to be with family and friends. Anna has high hopes of finally getting her blog up and running after the last few years of managing miscarriage, moving between continents, a newborn and then this year the loss of her dad; it seems like the perfect time for some ‘cathartic musings’ and other ‘mum wisdoms’ she has gathered from around the globe. For now catch her on Instagram.