If you've missed earlier instalments of this story, you can find them here: how it all began, truly, madly, deeply and long distance love.
So now they are in the same country at least. And that's a good start. She enjoys a few 'adjustment' weeks living with him and his lovely family down in Somerset, a beautiful part of the country. But then reality sets in. Her paltry savings aren't going to last forever and she knows she needs to find herself a job. It appears that there may be a few more twists and turns ahead before they can truly be together.
Eventually she is successful getting a job working for Thistle Hotels, but there's a catch - it's based in London. And he still has one more year of university to complete down in Eastbourne - a 2-hour train journey away. They resign themselves to the fact that this is how it's going to have to be and that at least they can travel to see each other on the weekends. And so the year goes by - with her living in an Antipodean flat in the dodgy East End of London fearing for her safety most nights as she walks home from the train station, and him enjoying student life down on the South Coast in Eastbourne.
The year passes, he graduates and by now she has a different job, working as an Office Manager for a start-up recruitment company, an experience that will completely alter the future shape of her career. They find a flat together near Wimbledon, sharing with another couple - although their flatmates change multiple times in the not quite 2 years they live in the flat - with some great and just as memorable 'not so great' flatmates along the way.
They travel at every opportunity. Although he is fortunate enough to travel frequently through his role as a travel consultant, they also manage to visit the Greek Islands, Amsterdam, Paris, Switzerland, Sri Lanka and the Maldives together. But they are also well aware that her visa end date is approaching and despite managing to negotiate a slightly longer stay through her work, her time is running out. She's always known that she wants to return to NZ, she couldn't possibly imagine not coming back to the beautiful country she calls home.
A last hurrah is planned - a trip around Europe for a month before some time in South Africa on their way back to NZ. But as fate would have it, just as they are making their plans, a petty thief uses a crow bar to break into their car to steal their stereo speakers, worth all of $10. It's enough damage to nearly write the car off and they need to sell the car to raise some cash for their trip. It forces them to re-think and they decide instead they will settle for two weeks in Italy.
They depart for Italy and return two weeks later - engaged! He has secretly been carrying a ring around for half the trip - going out of his mind with worry at being robbed at any moment - and halfway through the trip he can hold on no longer, proposing to her in the famous town square in Siena on a Sunday night in April with a light rain beginning to fall. It's a moment they will never forget.
Celebrations abound amongst family and friends when they share their happy news, but just a few weeks later they have to muster up courage to say their tearful goodbyes, leaving behind row upon row of terraced houses, smoggy air and thousands of years of history - bound for a youthful land of mountains, rivers and native bush awaiting them in her homeland.
And will it work - this plan of theirs to forge a new life for themselves here? They have to believe it will.
to be continued.....
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