Ten totally fantastic things that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been an expat partner…

So I realise that sometimes what I write about trailing spouse life can sound a bit, well, negative. Recently I have posted about depression, relationship problems and the reality of expat life – all of which have their place (after all, the point of both the book and the blog is to prepare people for this reality). But this is, of course, only half the story.

I promised myself the last time I wrote one of these posts  I would follow it up with a positive one. So here it is. To prove to you that there is an up-side to being a trailing spouse, here are ten brilliant things that would never have happened had I not been an expat partner. (Note: these are all things that have happened because of or during my time as an accompanying partner; there were lots more fantastic things that happened to me as an expat but before I met my husband and officially became a “partner”. Perhaps I’ll include those in a future post).

1) I would never have learned how to make watermelon daquiris. Or mango, lime, banana (insert tropical fruit here) daiquiris. A stable of our time in St Lucia, this delicious drink was a particular favourite of ours because we had a lime tree in our garden and lime + rum + sugar + fruit = daquiri. The watermelon one was the prettiest; it’s actually a Nigella recipe: cut fruit into chunks; freeze; when ready to make drink, whiz with rum and lime sugar syrup. Drink. Repeat.

Actually strawberry daquiris...

Actually strawberry daiquiris.

2) My children would not be such good swimmers. (Almost) every day we swam, from the age they were one and three until they were three and five. We had pools in both gardens of our houses in St Lucia (we didn’t have two houses simultaneously, we moved from one to the other). There wasn’t a lot else to do. They were both little fish and still are. Let’s hope they get to continue with their swimming in South Africa.

emma in the pool

3) I wouldn’t know the recipe for Ansa’s curries. Ansa was our fantastic helper in Islamabad, who helped me with looking after the children, cleaned the house and taught us how to make her amazing curries. Telling her we had to leave (we had two week’s notice following the Marriott bombing in 2008) was one of the hardest things about the whole episode. She cried, I cried. She presented me with her recipes as a leaving gift. I still cook them to this day.

4) We wouldn’t have spent so much time here martha and minnie


dora girls

or indeed here

potter land

 Just a hop, skip and a jump away from St Lucia and we could use air miles to get there. How lucky were we? How lucky were the children! TWO visits to Disney in the space of a year…..

5) And the girls wouldn’t have had such a close relationship with their Uncle. My husband’s only living relative, my brother-in-law, lives in south Florida and rarely leaves it. By our regular visits, we were able to build up a good relationship between him and the girls, which carries on via Skype (and bi-annual visits to the Sunshine State) to this day.

6) I wouldn’t have written 9/10ths of an as yet unnamed novel, set on a fictious Caribbean island which isn’t anything like an amalgamation of St Lucia and Jamaica, starring a young female British diplomat who very definitely isn’t me, and who gets embroiled in the drugs trade…..one day I promise I will finish it. I haven’t really touched it since returning to the UK from St Lucia; although I did eventually get my main protagonist out of the boot of the car she had been stuck in for about 3 years….

7) We wouldn’t have been able to wake up to this view every morning

august 09 best view ever

Which could also look like this:

august 09 beutiful sunset

8) I wouldn’t have had the chance to understand Islam and the Muslim religion in the way I can thanks to having lived in Pakistan. I’m certainly no expert, we only lived there for a few months. But despite the fact that I have lived all over the world, I had never before lived in a predominantly Muslim country. We were there during Ramadan so I learnt what it meant for the locals to fast, and what iftar was, why Eid was so important. I was also able to introduce my oldest daughter to the concept of other religions at an early age (something I blogged about here). Learning about other cultures and religions is so important for all of us in this day and age.

9) I wouldn’t have met such a fantastic range of people of all nationalities – both in person while living in Pakistan and St Lucia and as online friends (some of whom are also real-life friends) I have met through our mutual expat-partner status….

10) And finally I wouldn’t have had the inspiration, and the opportunity, to write the Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, nor the blog that goes with it….which means, dear reader, that I would never have had the chance to get to know YOU!

So now I’ve shared mine, I’d love to hear yours. If you are an expat partner/trailing spouse, what’s been GREAT about it? What would you have never done? What fabulousness about your life would you like to share? And if you’re not one of “us” do you think I’ve managed to balance things out a bit?


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20 thoughts on “Ten totally fantastic things that wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been an expat partner…

    • I’ve been thinking of doing a post about Ansa at some point and will certainly then share her recipes! They are quite simple but delicious, I think the key is fresh spices! As for number 6….I have to get no 10 out of the way first! Soon come, as they used to say in Jamaica (although this one may never come, at least not out in public. Fiction writing doesn’t come as easily to me as non-fiction so there is a lot of work to do!) How’s your novel going? Are you finding being in Mayotte inspiring…or distracting?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Great – I look forward to the Ansa post. But as you say, the spices are what make it, so the thing is to find the right shop or market. Thanks for enquiring after the novel. On the whole Mayotte is inspiring, though I suspect that’s due to retirement rather more. Now starting to think about the marketing side – maybe we should pool ideas!

        Liked by 1 person

      • I went on a market your self published book course in London and it really helped. The best tips were to do with writing articles for others and understanding the way amazon works. The woman who took the workshop had been traditionally published but went self published because she wanted to have control. It was very interesting. She didn’t have a blog but for me it’s a good way to reach readers. I do belong to a good fb group for writers if you’re interested in joining. They’re good on things like bookbub promotion which I haven’t really spent much time thinking about due to my genre.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting – thanks for that. Yes, the FB group might be helpful, if you have the name. In many ways, fiction is harder to promote since there’s no niche audience, or rather there’s far more competition. You have a ready-made readership though – just a matter of persuading them!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. South Africa is absolutely for swimming. And braais. And good wine.

    As much as there is pain in the upheaval and the change, there is so much good, too. Absolutely agree on the cross-cultural aspects – my father insisted that we immerse ourselves in every culture, so we were more aware & more tolerant. And so often, far more grateful for what we had!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the nomination! I have decided that I will answer the questions and acknowledge the award as the least I can do when someone makes the effort to nominate me (I’m glad you are enjoying the blog!) but I am so stretched for time at the moment due to colliding priorities of book publishing, working and child-care that I will struggle to nominate others. I’ll let you know when I do the question-answering post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always love to read positive stories such as yours. And you didn’t mention the Harry Potter visit in Islands of Adventure (Universal)! You can’t fool a Florida girl like me. 😉 I love my Harry Potter.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness where do I start!? Its almost like a sliding doors question this one, I never intended to be a trailing spouse but now that I have been thrown in to it I couldn’t imagine life any other way – I think despite the ego blow of being called “housewife” or “trailing spouse” there have just been so many opportunities:
    * I have finally had the nerve to change career direction and start writing
    * I have learnt more about technology and social media than I ever imagined I would need
    * I have been the one to pick up and drop my children at school/nursery every day and be there for them when they need me every day
    * I have had a third child
    * I have been able to volunteer my time and expertise to (too) many committees!
    * I have met so many interesting people with diverse backgrounds and colourful stories to tell about life on the road – desperately trying to document them all to share!
    The list goes on… certainly the positives outweigh the negatives


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