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29 October 2014

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Glyn Walters

Langport's Glyn Walters in New Zealand

Somerset's expats

Are you originally from Somerset, but now live in a far-flung place? Have you swapped the cider- and carnival-action of our fair county in order to put another shrimp on the barbie, mate, whilst waiting to catch the next big wave, dude?

The reason we ask is that it's recently come to our attention that there are quite a few Somerset folk who have done just that!

Glyn Walters - originally from Langport, but now living in New Zealand - recently dropped us an e-mail to say g'day.

After we'd recovered from the depression of hearing about Glyn living in beach houses in sub-tropical climates (whilst picking lemons and mandarins from his trees), we got to thinking: how many more of you Somerset expats are there? And whereabouts are you exactly?

Sure enough, after a bit of research, we found some more of you - for example Will from Muchelney and Claire from Taunton are now living amongst the Kiwis as well!

You can find out more about Glyn, Will and Clare's lives by reading about them below.

If you're a Somerset expat and would like to share your experiences of living abroad (wherever that might be), just fill in the form at the bottom of this page and send us a photo.

Trevor Sworn (originally from Weston-super-Mare and now living in Cambodia) and Emmy Killick (originally from Wells and now living in Dubai) have been in touch with us, along with other expats - you can read their stories below.

Glyn Walters - New Zealand

I'm from lovely Langport originally, but moved to Grey Lynn in Auckland, New Zealand in 1995. I decided to make the move because I met a Kiwi woman who convinced me to come here 'for six months'.

Although I had visions of New Zealand being like Scotland - mountains, snow and weather-beaten sheep farmers - the top half of the North Island has a sub-tropical climate, and we can grow citrus and avocados in the back garden! There's no frost here, let alone snow or ice.

I have found that Brits are treated very well here, and have a bit of an advantage when it comes to getting jobs because of the colonial links and language. Kiwis are very similar to the Brits in character. Wages are lower than UK, but the 'quality of life' is at least three times as high, I would say.

Indigenous culture is also fascinating and the Maori are very hospitable and accommodating. Appreciation of wildlife and the environment is very high here...

I do miss Somerset - especially family, old friends, long summer evenings, pubs, Pilton festival, Burrow Hill cider for £3 a gallon, old character buildings and villages, and the quirky people of the West Country.

My typical weekend in New Zealand is spent going to the beach, swimming/boogie boarding, staying at friends' beach houses (called baches), picking lemons and mandarins off my trees, going for dinner or a barbeque at a friend's house, going on a wine tour to Waiheke Island (half an hour off Auckland's coast), going for a bush walk, and playing ultimate frisbee with my mates on the beach. In winter, we can go skiing down south, or go for a short trip to the islands - eg Fiji, Cook Islands, Vanuatu for a winter break. 

Will and Clare Thorne - New Zealand

Will: I'm originally from Muchelney, near Langport - I moved to Mt Albert, a suburb of Auckland in New Zealand, in December 2001. I moved here because I was working on a super yacht that came here for the Americas Cup.

Clare and Will Thorne

Clare and Will Thorne in New Zealand

It's pretty much what I expected. In general, New Zealand has got all the benefits of the UK without a lot of the drawbacks.

The weather is better and the taxes are less. Kids play in the street and walk to school, people have more time for each other, and there is less competitiveness and no snobbery. It's great if you don't like football, but love rugby. There are some problems with Maoris (justifiably) feeling discriminated against, and problems with drugs, the economy etc.

The things I miss most about Somerset are my friends, family and the pub.

Clare: I'm from Taunton (I used to be Clare Thornton), and I moved out here in April 2002. I took a year-long sabbatical from Somerset County Council to be with Will.

New Zealand is a very multi-cultural society - a mixture of pretty much every nationality you can think of, which is quite an experience after growing up in Somerset!

Although there are the same socio-economic problems that you get everywhere in the world, it's not on the same scale - mainly due to the lack of people (only just over four million, compared to 64 million in the UK). People also moan about the traffic here - nothing like it is in the UK though!

We are expecting our first child, and, to be honest, I can't think of a better place for them to grow up in. Though, I do miss walking on the Quantocks in the autumn - lovely!

Will and Clare: Our typical weekend out here is spent camping - somewhere by a nice beach, with good surf and some good biking. We have a BBQ, get talking with our camping neighbours, and have a few glasses of wine.

Or, we go round to friends for a BBQ and a few drinks, looking at the stars - some of which cannot be seen from the UK, and some which are upside down. The skies are generally really clear here, mainly due to the lack of pollution (another positive point!).

The Sworn family

Trevor and his daughter

Trevor Sworn - Cambodia

Trevor spoke to BBC Somerset Sound's Adam Thomas live from Cambodia about his life out there, on Saturday 18 February 2006.

You can listen to the interview by clicking on the audio link at the top of this page.

I'm originally from Weston-super-Mare.

I moved to Phnom Penh in Cambodia in 1997 in order to provide training and employment to underprivileged young people - check out the Yejj Info website at the top of this page for more info.

The Sworn family

Trevor's wife and son, Helen and Joel

My wife set up the Chab Dai Coalition which works against child trafficking and sexual exploitation - again, the link to the website's at the top of this page.

The chaos and traffic noise is a challenge over here. But we love the work - it's very fulfilling.

Our children are very happy here, and we have good friends.

Things I miss about Somerset include: the countryside, leisure, family and friends, the National Trust, and concerts etc.

Weekends here are spent having a leisurely breakfast together, doing normal household stuff, and going out with friends in the evening.

Sunday is a family day - church, lunch and swimming.

Emmy and Elliott

Emmy and Elliott

Emmy Killick - Dubai

I'm from Wells, but I moved to Dubai in February 2005. My boyfriend, Elliott, got a job working for a large graphic design agency in Dubai, and together we made the choice to pack up our belongings and start a new life over here in the desert!

Dubai is a wonderful Muslim country, and is incredibly welcoming and accommodating. It has fabulous weather for eight months of the year. The other four months (mid-May to mid-September) you don't even attempt to walk outside, as it's ridiculously hot - 45 degrees plus, with humidity around 80 to 90 per cent.

There is so much to do here, and in the cooler months events of all different kinds are held. It's very sociable, and going out to bars and restaurants is something that happens regularly, as it's cheap to eat out and drink.

You do have to go to the right bars, though, as prices are rising rapidly, due to Dubai's popularity as a tourist destination.

I came here not expecting to fall in love with it, but I have. Dubai gets under your skin and finds a way in to your heart without you even realising it - after all, who wouldn't want to live in a place, where every weekend is like a mini-holiday?

There are so many things I miss about Somerset - first and foremost, though, I miss my family who all still live in Wells.

As I live in the desert, one of the things I really miss are the beautiful rolling hills of the Mendips, the higgledy-piggledy fields and hedgerows, and the beautiful colours of the countryside. I sometimes even miss those delightful farming smells!

I especially miss Wells Carnival - for me, the carnival has always been about catching up with old friends and enjoying something that I feel is particularly unique to Somerset. There are so many things I miss, but if I continued to write them down it could go on for pages!

The weekend in Dubai runs from Friday to Saturday, so Thursday night is our big night out!

Recently, we've been heading up to the races on Thursday night - it's a great night out, although there's no gambling so it can be strange watching the horses race without placing a bet on them! The races are the lead-up to the Dubai World Cup (the richest horse race in the world!) which is held in March.

Fridays we usually end up in one of the many shopping malls, and then Friday night is generally a club night. Trilogy have a great night, with loads of big-name DJs coming over to play.

Neil and Rosie

Neil with his dog, Rosie

Saturday is our Sunday, so we tend to make a Sunday roast, chill on the sofa, or relax by the pool.

Next weekend is going to be quite different to normal, as it's the Dubai Desert Classic (part of the European PGA Tour). Tiger, Monty and Ernie should all be playing, so expect to find me wandering the greens at the Emirates Golf Club the whole weekend!

Neil Wiffill - USA

I'm originally from Moorlinch, near Bridgwater. I moved to Fort Wayne in Indiana, USA in 1998 to work on a restoration project. 

Indiana is somewhat like I thought it would be, but I miss family, tradition, pubs, and good beer!

My typical weekend over here involves walking the dogs, shovelling snow in the winter, and sweating in the summer!

Margaret Griffin - Canada

I'm from Weston-super-Mare and moved to in Canada in 1971, as there was a shortage of work out here at the time.

I have lived in Toronto, Edmonton, and now live in beautiful British Columbia. I live approximately 15 minutes from the beach and Stanley Park - we have ferries going to Vancouver Island and Victoria quite frequently. It takes one-and-a-half hours to get to Victoria, where the world-famous Empress Hotel is situated.

The climate is good, as we are west of all the other provinces. Plus, we are about 40 minutes from the USA border.

It all took a bit of getting used to at first, but I'm settled now. I do miss the pier, the dodgem cars, the arcade, and the Winter Gardens in Weston-super-Mare though.

Robin Wilkins and his wife

Robin Wilkins and his wife, sailing in Broome

My weekends are spent taking long walks by the beach, and heading to Stanley Park where the ducks are, plus wild animals too!

I then like heading back to the world-famous Robson Street, where you can bump into a celebrity now and again, and maybe eating sushi or having a Fat Burger.

Robin Wilkins - Australia

I moved to Adelaide from Bath in 1971. I always like a new challenge, and thought it would be a better lifestyle for us and the children.

When we arrived, we had heard all the tales about Aussies giving Poms a hard time. In my experience, this does not happen - they are a very open, friendly and accepting people, but do try to stir you to see if you can take it.

If you can, and give as good as you get, you will find them the greatest, friendliest people in the world, with a great deprecating sense of humour.

Since arriving and settling in Adelaide, I have worked in business mainly on the sales side. This has enabled me to travel all over Australia, and not just to the capital cities (which are very much like big cities throughout the world), but to the Australian country and its small towns.

When I started my own business, in 1981 as a distributor and manufacturers' agent, it enabled me to travel frequently all over Australia - from Darwin to North West Australia, and from Perth to Sydney.

I was able, from the mid 1980s, to be able to take my dear wife with me on all my travels, which she enjoyed as much as me.

Sunset in Broome

Sunset in Broome, off Cable Beach

It is difficult to express to somebody, who hasn't seen Australia, the vastness of the country, and the beauty and diversity - from the climate of the tropical north to the Mediterranean-style south.

There is also, of course, the vastness and loneliness of the interior of the country, where in the Northern Territory it will take you three days driving to get from Darwin to Alice Springs. There are only two small towns on the way - Katherine and Tennant Creek - which we generally used to stop overnight at.

We have visited Ayers Rock, which incidentally is about 400 kms from Alice Springs. This is where you appreciate the vastness of the desert areas, and the spiritual quality and affinity the Aborigines have for the land.

My daughter and her family live in the west - they started in Port Hedland, which is about a day's drive, or 600 kms, south of Broome.

It used to take us a day to fly there to visit them - a three-hour flight to Perth, and then a two-hour flight to Port Hedland. This gives some idea of the vastness of Australia.

I could probably continue indefinitely about what we have seen and done since living Down Under, but hopefully my story has given you some idea as to what makes Australians what they are.

Because of the size and isolation from the rest of the world, they have developed a very independent way of living, which is refreshingly different.

I am glad to say that the spirit of Aussie mate-ship, which gives everybody a fair go, still lives on and hopefully will continue, despite the pressures of modern life.

As you can see, my life has changed immensely from my early life in Britain. Although I really enjoyed my first 30 years of life in Bath immensely, I have never regretted moving to Australia.

Sarah Barker - New Zealand

I lived in Stoke-sub-Hamdon and Yeovil, and moved to Auckland in November 2002.

I am a fan of cities and the countryside, and Auckland offered sun, sea, beach, woodland, and forest - all within five to 30 minutes of each other. Plus, snow is only four hours away too!

It also has a good concentration of retail and manufacturing companies for work opportunities.

My typical answer as to why I moved, is that I wanted a change of scenery so I got on a plane!

I have always enjoyed living in new countries and was also looking for a little bit more. I felt my life was revolving around going to work and cleaning the house, and thought there is more to life than this.

New Zealand offered better weather, less people, and a way of life that involves the outdoors and a better work/life balance.

It's pretty much how I expected it to be - the people are fantastic. Ok, so it rains slightly more than I thought it would, but still less than in the UK.

It is so easy to get out and about - the outdoors lifestyle is handed to you on a plate. You seriously have to try quite hard not to do something. My current loves are mountain biking and kayaking.

I don't tend to miss much of Somerset, or the UK - if anything I get family/friends-sick, not homesick.

However, there are some things that do stand out - probably really quite strange things - like big oak trees, a decent Somerset pub, pick-your-own raspberries, a proper fireplace on a Sunday with a pint, English car number plates, foreign car number plates, Europe on your doorstep, and the English sense of humour!

In New Zealand, some things about my weekend are not so different. It doesn't matter which country you live in, the cleaning still needs to be done, and having a nice glass of Sauvignon Blanc on a Friday night is not much different to the pint.

Jonathan Helyar

Jonathan Helyar

But, I normally take part in lots of activities on my weekends now. In the summer, I could be tramping, going to the beach, camping, kayaking, mountain biking or visiting new places.

In the winter, much less happens, but last year I did try to go skiing every two or three weeks.

Jonathan Helyar - USA

I'm from Yeovil, and moved out here in 1984. I originally went to Ohio for work, and from there, came to New York.

I had no expectations of what it would be like out here, and certainly not of finding myself in NYC.

I miss my family and friends, though, as  well as the beautiful countryside, the villages, and the history.

I'm still relatively new to New York, so my weekends at the moment are spent acclimatising and exploring.

Michael West

Michael and his wife

Michael West - Turkey

I'm from Yeovil - I moved to Antalya in Southern Turkey in 2002, as my wife is Turkish.

Before this, I lived in the USA for two years, but I really could not get to grips with American culture - or lack of it.

After meeting my wife, I made the decision to give it one year here and see. Within one week, I knew it was where I wanted to spend my life.

It is far better than I expected it to be.

The general opinion of Turkey is rather negative - I think people have a general stereotype of a strong Islamic nation, which, of course, it is far from being.

The area I live in, Antalya, is spectacular, and the weather is amazing for 10 months of the year.

Turkish people are generally incredibly hospitable. We live two minutes from the beach, and can see the Med from our balcony which is great for warm summer nights.

Of course, as with all countries, there are negatives. For example, the electric has a habit of going at weird intervals - usually when I'm listening to live commentary of a Yeovil match on the internet!

I miss my family in Somerset though - that goes without saying. Having said that, Yeovil Town Football Club is the main thing I miss, although I do manage to get back for important games.

As I teach English privately on Saturdays, my weekends are quite busy visiting students. Although at 5pm (3pm GMT) everything stops, and I listen to the Yeovil matches.

Evenings are spent with friends for dinner, or going to the bar on the beach for a few beers and a chat. Sundays in summer are spent on the beach - without fail!

Dawn Piveral - USA

I'm from Martock originally, but I moved to Pensacola in Florida in 1985, as I married my husband Mark, who was in the US Navy.

In the beginning, it was very hard to adjust to life in the States, but now I really enjoy living over here. We have travelled around quite a lot, with Mark being in the navy, but when he retired we decided to settle in Pensacola as we love the area.

I would say that the one thing that I miss most about Somerset is my family. Sometimes it feels like they are a million miles away. I love the times I get to go home, and I am lucky that my parents love to travel and they come to visit.

A typical weeked for us really depends on what out teenage daughters are doing. They keep us very busy! We have two daughters - Laura, who is 18, and Asley, who is 16.

During the summer, we like to take trips to the beach or go sailing.

Brian Creamer - USA

I moved from Cleeve to Apache Junction in Arizona in March 1973 for a better standard of living.

It's more than I expected it to be - what I have accomplished here, I could not have done in the UK.

Plus, we get at least 340 days of sunshine over here, and no humidity or mosquitoes. Mind you, it does get hot in June, July and August but you get used to it.

I am retired now and own a 35-ft motor home, so my wife and I get to travel all over the USA, Canada and Mexico. I play golf twice a week, and I also play my pedal steel-guitar (country and gospel music).

We have travelled to 38 states including Alaska and Hawaii, and have just returned from three weeks on the island of Ohua, Hawaii.

There is so much to do here in Arizona - drag racing, Formula One, 300 golf courses, boating and fishing on some of the most beautiful lakes, water-skiing, three skiing resorts, nice restaraunts and shopping malls, and also off-road four-wheeling.

Lawrence Williams - Japan

I'm originally from Drayton near Langport. I moved to Kobe in Japan in 1998, as I was offered a job in Asia by my company. I had previously worked in Indonesia and Singapore before relocating.

Japan is a very exciting country - it has a fantastic mix of tradition and modern, fast-paced life.

There are huge national parks, with lakes and mountains - it is very crime-free. There are also great beaches, and great skiing!

The things I miss most about Somerset are my Mum, the beer at The Drayton Arms, the countryside, village life and BBC TV.

My weekends over here start with Friday night at the local Irish pub. On Saturdays, I go for a bike ride in the mountains, or visit a beach, or work on my model railway of Taunton station.

Glyn Badcock - New Zealand

I'm from Minehead. Although I was born in London and emigrated to New Zealand as a child, I returned to the UK for a holiday in 1990 and ended up staying for 13 years in Minehead.

I met and married my wife, Tracey, and had two boys - Minehead then became my home, and I didn't really think that I/we would go back to New Zealand.

We now live in Rotorua. After a lot of pushing from my wife, we came over in January 2001 for a holiday. She instantly fell in love with the place and we made the big move in August 2003.

We moved to find a better life, better schooling for the boys and for more opportunities to do things both individually and as a family - I won't say because of the weather as it can rain a lot here, but when the sun shines it's HOT!

New Zealand is pretty much what I thought it would be. In the 13 years I had been away, New Zealand had changed a lot - it seemed to be catching up with the rest of the world in how it did things and really came out of its shell, so to speak.

The things I miss about Somerset are the pubs, people, family and friends, and (dare I say it) my old job at Butlins. I also miss listening to the footy telly printer on a Saturday afternoon and all the hype that went with it, BBC drama programmes and Caffrey's ale.

In winter, my weekends are spent watching my kids play footy. In the summer, I'm out on the boat or doing the garden up - it's a big job going from a postage-stamp lawn to the big gardens they have here.

Vicky Garnett - Ireland

I'm originally from Puriton, just north of Bridgwater. I wanted to live somewhere different, so I moved to Dublin in September 2003 because I had a friend here.

Moving away does make me appreciate Bridgwater and Somerset so much more. It's great to be in a capital city, but Dublin is probably only about as big as Bristol, so it isn't that much of a culture shock! 

I had expected Dublin to be very laid-back and all about having a laugh, but sadly it has a very 'city' attitude about it. Thankfully, though, the countryside is not too far away, so I can get away from it if I need to! 

The thing I miss most about Somerset is the family dog - she can't really talk down the phone to me! But I also miss being able to just walk down the road and be in the silence of the countryside. I miss the Quantocks and the Mendips, and I don't get to see my school friends very much now, so I miss out on a lot of the gossip!

I miss the anticipation of carnival, although having said that I don't miss standing in the freezing cold waiting for the parade! Oh, and no one seems to have heard of skittles over here either!

On a weekend, I usually meet up with friends for a night out. The music scene in Dublin is huge, so nearly every week I am off watching the next up-and-coming band.

Whilst the cost of living is expensive, there are some very good and affordable restaurants around. There is also a shopping centre five minutes away from my house which has Ireland's first House of Fraser and Harvey Nichols, so I'm nearly always window shopping in there on a Sunday! Every once in a while I might take a trip out of Dublin to visit friends down the country.

Alan Sawyer - Italy

I was born in Wellington, but after three years in the US (and eight years in Heidelberg, Germany prior to that), I'm now living in Rome.

I've moved a lot as I've been following my career around. I moved from Southampton University where I was working in the anatomy department to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. Since then, I have been following the best career path. As a molecular biologist, I travel a lot.

Rome was great for about six months, but the disorganisation of the place gets you down - not to mention the appalling driving. The summer is way too hot, but the rest of the year the climate is fantastic - and the coffee and food are the best in the world.

Germany was an unexpected high point and I would live there again. America's conspicuous (and vacuous) consumption got to me after the first year.

I think Somerset has some of the most beautiful countryside to be found anywhere, and I really miss it. The thing I miss most is the 1½-mile walk down to the Rock Inn at Waterrow with my folks on an autumnal day, drinking a well-kept pint, eating some great pub food next to an open fire - fantastic!

On my weekends in Rome, I like to relax in my apartment just up from the Piazza del Popolo. I'll probably do some shopping at the Mercato Rionale, which has great fruit and veg and a really good little butchers. Everything is pretty much organic in Italy.

Sunday, I'll either cook lunch, or my wife and I will stroll down though old Rome to the Campo dei Fiori for lunch at Carbonara. It's great in late October and until the end of February, as all the tourists have gone home.

Patrick Webb

Patrick Webb

Patrick Webb - USA

I'm from Wells and went to primary school in Wookey Hole, and then to the Blue School.

I now live in Boston, Massachusetts but I've also lived in Rome (Italy), Stuttgart (Germany), Washington DC (USA), Rome (Italy - yes, I've lived there twice), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Niamey (Niger) and Georgetown (The Gambia).

I left England in 1985 and have not lived there since. I try to visit once a year, but...

I've moved around a lot because my career (and passion) relates to international development. My degrees are in economic geography, and I've ended up working in a variety of domains linked to food policy, agriculture and nutrition in developing countries.

Travelling and moving around has been everything I expected and much, much more. The world is big. I always loved and continue to love Somerset, but, to paraphrase Bacon: "What knows he of Somerset who only Somerset knows?"

I've got a lot out of each place we've lived over the years. I totally love Rome, I've found living in Africa to be rewarding and humbling beyond measure. Boston is pleasant, a liberal oasis in the US with high academic and cultural standards and wide open nature all around.

I miss the green rolling hills and moors of Somerset, and the ambiance of the small market towns. I also miss decent, farmhouse Cheddar, handbells at Christmas, the song of a thrush during an autumn evening and walking around the moat in Wells.

My weekends in Boston consist of rushing from one children's sporting event to another, working in the garden (raking up the never-ending supply of leaves), hiking in the perfectly conserved forests and sitting by the open fire dreaming of the next trip to India or Vietnam or perhaps Peru...

Mike Axford - Canada

I'm from Dunster but now live in Paisley in Ontario. I moved in 1981 to make a fresh start after getting married.

It's a lot colder than I expected it would be in the winters. I miss the atmosphere, the pubs and my friends in Somerset.

I spend a typical weekend watching English soccer and spending time with my family.

Sabine Webb - France

I'm from Wookey Hole and I went to primary school in Wells. My parents, my brother, my sister and I moved to Plomeur in France in 2003, because my mum wanted to be closer to her family.

I didn't want to go at first, but now it's OK I've got all my friends. I still get a little homesick sometimes. I still miss my friends, Wells and, of course, the shops - we can't buy the same stuff here.

Robert McMillan

Robert McMillan in Sandy McNab, near the Rockies

My mum and I often get the two little ones out of the way and go shopping on Saturdays and Sundays. Sometimes at the weekends, we stay at home or go for a walk. In the evenings, I watch some telly and then go and read a book, and I sometimes invite friends for sleepovers.

Robert McMillan - Canada

I was born in Yeovil (too many years ago) and spent my childhood living on Charles Road. I now live in a small town in Alberta called Okotoks (pronounced oak-o-toaks).

The Canadian Pacific Railway runs right through the middle of town. When we moved to Okotoks, some 15 years ago, from Calgary (35km north), the population was only 2,500 - it is now almost 13,000 (too many).

We left England in September of 1980 with four children and five suitcases. We moved because we saw little or no future for our children or ourselves. Inflation was crazy and unemployment high.

The move was everything we expected and more - the only regret I have is that I didn't move in 1970 when I got married.

I do miss Somerset though - I miss my old school friends, green grass and warm winters. It can get as low as -40°C here at times, and usually the grass is brown by the middle of August, burnt out by the hot summer sun.

Our weekends are varied, sometimes we will go out to the Rockies (about 45 minutes away) or we'll have the grandchildren over (five now, with another three arriving in the new year). Generally speaking, we'll be relaxing and putting work behind us.

Matthew Lawrence - USA

I'm originally from Minehead - I grew up in one of the big hotels (the one which used to be called Westholme) on the seafront.

I now live in Carrboro, North Carolina which is part of Chapel Hill - it's sort of like what Alcombe is to Minehead.

I came to the USA in 1988 as an exchange student, supposedly for one year. I wanted to have a big adventure and see the country, but I knew that a two-week holiday wouldn't do it.

I spent a year in Champaign, Illinois but fell in love with the weather and the friendly people within minutes of getting here. I came back to the UK to finish my BSc, but spent the whole time planning to return to the USA as a graduate student.

It is far more than I ever expected - the most amazing thing was discovering that Americans are just normal people!

What I miss about Somerset is the sound of waves crashing on the beach, stunning scenery, panoramic views and blustery winds.

My typical weekend here is spent resting. I work nights and look after my children during the day. I normally get by on four hours of sleep a day, so I don't plan much on the weekend - except going to church.

Siobhan Cooper - Luxembourg

I'm originally from Weston-super-Mare. I moved to Luxembourg in 1995 after being in Wrexham, just outside Chester, for a few years prior to that.

We first moved to Luxembourg due to my husband Stewart's job. Then we loved it so much we stayed and I got a job too.

It's better than I expected it to be - the quality of life is great, very family orientated. 

The countryside is lovely and the expat community and interaction with locals is great. We have also met a lot of other Christians here which has been really good fun.

Both our girls have been educated in a French-speaking school and we wanted them to continue with the baccalaureate programme.

It is a much stricter education but better than the UK and free - I would be called to the school immediately if one of my kids dared insult a teacher - which they wouldn't.

I miss the open and friendly attitude of folk in Somerset.

Here, people are friendly but you have to have a reason to start talking, unlike my memories of people just chatting to you straight away in a queue or pub.

I also miss the beach a lot, as we are landlocked here.

On a weekend, normally we have friends over to dinner, or go out ourselves - it's usually the whole family round the table, which we love.

Saturday is a mixture of shopping, but often we go for a long walk or sometimes we drive or take a train to Brussels, Paris etc.

Sunday we go to church, then we usually go out for lunch - eating out is a big thing here. Then we have a walk and then home to read the papers.

Apart from being open to buy some food and newspapers in the mornings, shops are usually closed on a Sunday unless it's Christmas or the middle of the sales.

You might think it inconvenient, but in fact it means you really chill out on a Sunday and tend to spend more time with friends.

Mark Drake - Australia

Originally, I am from a little place called Chewton Mendip, just outside Wells.

I am now living in a small farming community in Western Australia called Hyden. It has about 450 residents in an area the size of Somerset.

I moved out here in October 2004 because I needed a change of pace, and the weather helps.

It is a totally different way of life out here, as some of my friends have found out when visiting.

I didn't really know what to expect when I moved. I knew it was gonna be hot and quiet. I'm still getting used to it.

What I miss about Somerset is my friends mostly, and every now and again the nightlife. When you see the same 10 people in the one pub on the weekend, sometimes it gets a little repetitive.

My typical weekend here consists of getting very, very drunk on a Friday and recovering by Monday for work!

That is in the off season. When I am busy at work, I just sleep all weekend. During football season, Sunday is football (Aussie Rules) with a few frothies (cold beers) afterwards.

Deborah Debes

Deborah Debes - Hong Kong

I'm originally from Weston-Super-Mare and I moved here in 2001.  I had already left Weston long ago and after university went to London and started on a graduate programme for a retail bank.

Finally, the depressing commute, the long hours stuck in front of a computer and a desire to do something else made me seek a new direction.

I had a pray (I'm a Christian) and both Hong Kong and TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language course) came into my head so I resigned, took a TEFL course and moved to Hong Kong.

I loved it from day one, although I got laughed at quite a bit on my first night as I couldn't use chopsticks to pick up choi sam, which is a popular but chewy vegetable here.

The huge skyscrapers, the titchy tiny rooms, the packed streets and oh! the smells in the markets. It is a different world.

One of the surprising things is the excellent public transport system. My dad is a bus driver and when he visited was amazed at the efficiency and cheapness of the tube and buses here.

Like many ex-pats, I miss the pubs and the countryside. It's very polluted in Hong Kong and I feel sorry for the children as they don't get to run about on grass or climb trees and have conker fights. Hong Kong is not an ideal place to raise a family.

I have to work Saturdays as I am a private tutor (History and English). Sundays is teaching junior youth at St Andrews church, then lunch with mates and often in the afternoon I find myself in the pub playing scrabble.

The gwai los (Westerners - but it actually means white devils) have a reputation here for getting drunk and doing crazy things at weekends. I have walked around in a Braveheart costume but hopefully I haven't added to our bad reputation!

Nigel Gundry and his wife Christine

Nigel and Christine Gundry - Australia

My wife and I moved from Taunton, but I originate from South Petherton and my wife from Shaftsbury. We now live in Perth Western Australia and we arrived in Australia in February 2007.

We were looking for a complete new lifestyle and we certainly found it here in Western Australia. Thank you Australia.

Having never travelled to Australia we were not sure what to expect, but we are certainly not disappointed, the weather is excellent, plenty of living space and friendly people, although the cost of living is more than we envisaged, but it is still more economical to live in Australia than the UK.

We wanted the outdoor lifestyle and to enjoy a more relaxed way of living which we have certainly found.

At this point of time we do not really miss anything from Somerset.

A typical weekend includes making the most of the wonderful weather, and enjoying Sunday lunch whilst cruising on the Swan River, visiting the local wineries, visiting the local bush reserves, and relaxing on the many beautiful beaches. 

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last updated: 15/08/07

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