MY LEAP INTO THE UN­KNOWN

Lancashire Life - - WHAT'S ON -

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

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