Mornings were horrible, my husband would wake pale from lack of sleep, feeling sick, even crying. I felt powerless to help him; his work, which once had been a joy, had become a huge problem as he did not like his boss.
I watched my husband lose a stone in weight (6.35kg), and I tried to help. We saw a doctor and he was given anti-depressants. It was 1994, we had been in Australia about six years, had bought a house, and in every other way loved the life and our new home.
At the time Brian was working for the boss from hell, he was 63. His boss would change the rules hourly, shouted, bullied and blustered. Nine people had already left the company to get away from this awful man. Brian felt totally trapped as we had a mortgage, and this was in a time when the interest rate was sky high. He was trying to hang on until retirement, but I felt the cost to his sanity was too high.
It was such a contrast, as we had been in a good position with our own business in Bath, England. My husband ran a very successful studio and did advertising and print work for large companies. We had a comfortable lifestyle, a flat in a Georgian House built in 1700; the children had flown the nest.
However, we never regretted the big chance we took moving to Australia. We loved the country, the lifestyle, and were captivated by the beauty and wildness of the scenery. I worked in a nursing home locally and when I finished on Friday nights we made our escape to sanity. The van would already be packed with food and linen ready for a fast getaway. We had bought a caravan when we sold the boat. It was only a pop top, but it was cosy and we loved our ‘escape’ weekends. We travelled to Echucha and Phillip Island, loving the peace and the sea, and most of all, it provided respite from the ugly work problem.
We were trying to sell the house, but this was a hard time to be selling, the time dragged on. It was 1996 before it sold, and unfortunately for a very poor price. We had started exploring the Gold Fields then we went to Gippsland. It was on a sunny, crisp day in June while we were eating fish and chips at Port Albert, that we finally decided to ‘throw in the towel’.
This place seeped into our bones, the peace, the atmosphere of this small port; it seemed to be pulling us to stay. Not long after, having sold or thrown away great skips of things, we packed our old table and chairs into storage, kept some linen and China, and took off with just our cat Tess for company. We had a site chosen and concrete laid, it was to be our base for travelling, and then the people at Seabank offered us a cabin, which we were delighted to accept.
Brian and I had lost a lot of money, partly because of the poor price we received for the house and also because an investment went pear shaped. Such is life! We accepted it. We settled into the area very quickly. The change from a house in Patterson Lakes to a snug home close to the beach was a pleasant one (the little beach was more an estuary really, but I loved walking there), and lorikeets came to feed at the bird table, magpies knocked at my door.
As I walked along the beach in clear air that first summer, swans flew and floated on the tide and pelicans waddled after the fishermen. Tiny crabs scurried away as I walked. It began the healing process.
We soon had jobs, I worked for the health service, and Brian did some reporting work, and went on to become a shire councillor. We were soon involved in life in a small town; we were home at last. Twenty years later with many stories to tell, we are still here. We never regret our move to this place.