MY LEAP INTO THE UNKNOWN
From Lytham St Annes schoolgirl to a pig farming mum in Tasmania, FIONA STOCKER has turned her adventures into an amusing tale for armchair travellers
It was family holidays in the Lake District which persuaded me I wanted to live in the country. But when I made that decision, I wasn’t living in Lancashire any more. Unlikely though it sounds, I had moved and was with my husband in semi-tropical Brisbane, halfway up the east coast of Australia.
During my childhood, my father was an aerodynamicist at Warton and we lived in the British Aerospace houses in Ansdell. I was one of those Queen Mary’s schoolgirls in a brown bowler hat. When I was 13, we moved to St Annes and I could see the school hockey fields from my bedroom window – the stuff of nightmares.
At the weekends I worked at a riding school in the stables behind the Victoria pub in St Annes and every summer we holidayed in the Lakes, climbing Helvellyn and spreading Grasmere Gingerbread crumbs over the back seat of the car. So I was always outdoors, enjoying that breezy sea air that the
Fylde does so well. If you live on the prom and had a weekend newspaper delivered to you in the 1980s, that was me, in the dark and the howling wind.
But although I grew up in Lancashire, I wasn’t born there. After my parents married, my father got a job in Australia, launching test rockets into the skies above the desert in South Australia. I was born in Adelaide, and it gave me dual nationality. We came back to the UK when I was just two, but I always planned to return one day.
Years later, I did. I took an Englishman with me, Oliver, and he’s now my husband. I settled for a Suffolk man, although northern men are the best, I find.
After the obligatory road trip across the Blue Mountains and up the eastern seaboard, we ended up living in Brisbane for seven years – by mistake. After a couple of years of marital negotiation, we moved to Tasmania. In today’s hectic world, the slower pace the
‘I settled for a Suffolk man, although northern men are the best, I find’
island state is known for is highly appealing. Australia has spawned its own wave of those wanting to ‘escape to the country’. Many move to the coast, earning the moniker ‘seachangers’. Those who move to Tassie are called ‘tree-changers’, since one third of the island is carpeted in ancient rainforest, much of it with World Heritage status.
It’s a place of intense natural beauty and rich agricultural landscapes – much like the places I remembered from the north of England – and family homes of dubious built quality, as we were to find out. The climate is remarkably similar to Europe’s.
Gourmet products come from the farm’s Wessex saddlebacks