Work hard, smile and join in - how my parents prepared me for life

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Sarah Long arrived in Australia from the UK in early 2010 and met her Mr Miner soon after. They're based in Sydney and he does drive-in, drive-out (DIDO) to Orange in country NSW. Sarah came out to Oz as part of a six-month backpacking trip around the world, and never went home!

I don’t come from an overly sentimental family. We’re not very "touchy-feely", as my Mum would say. We tend to opt for gentle teasing, full-on piss-taking and slightly offensive terms of endearment as ways to express our love.

Yet this month, as my parents are visiting me in Oz for the very first time (and as I haven’t seen them for nearly two years) I feel the need to write about how they have inspired me and how their example has helped me with this mining way of life. Yes, this is about to get soppy…

By the time we moved into my childhood home, Mum had lived at 13 different addresses all over the United Kingdom - mostly during her adult life. This final shift was from Leicester in the Midlands to Oxfordshire in the South East, because Dad had been offered a new job and (much like many mining jobs) it was a good opportunity for our family.

With four children under eight to look after, Mum wasn’t working. But as per usual she just got on with it, and after a few months she had met loads of people through school, playgroup and church and joined the newly-formed Women’s Institute group (the CWA equivalent). She likes to join in and keep busy and that is something that I have taken on board and learnt from throughout this journey.

Fast-forward 15 years and my parents decided to go on what we thought was a special wedding anniversary, long-weekend trip to France. In reality, they went to France for the weekend, bought a run-down barn and some newly-renovated holiday cottages, quit their jobs and left us behind. Within five months they had left the UK, with only a slight grasp of the French language and very little experience of the tourism/hospitality business.

Six years later, they’re still there. Business is going well and both are almost fluent in French – Mum would deny this and yet she manages to be part of a weekly aerobics class and walking group in which nobody else speaks a word of English!

When I decided to travel around the world, my parents encouraged it and (almost) managed not to worry. When I inevitably didn’t return home and decided to stay in Australia, there was no guilt-tripping or paternal pleas to come home (as I know some of my friends experienced) even when I decided to spend several months in the outback.

My parents blessed me with the confidence to do what I want. They taught me not to fear making big life changes in pursuit of better things; and that smiling and joining in is the best way to make friends. Finally, they showed me the importance of working hard for what you want. All of these attributes have prepared me so well for life on the other side of the world, with a wonderful man who travels away every week for work.

In short, it’s their own fault that they’ve had to travel almost 17,000km to see their eldest daughter. But what an excuse for a great holiday!

You can check out the Long family's French holiday cottages here: Sarah's mum Sue has her own blog too!

More from Sarah:

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