A year ago today, on our Wedding Anniversary, Lady Devotea and I were having a bit of an adventure.
We were in Las Vegas, having flown in the day before. It was the day before World Tea Expo and we had a dazzling array of stuff to look at, sights and sounds to absorb, book launches to be at and afternoon teas to attend.
It seems so much more than a year ago, but it isn’t. Today is once again our Wedding Anniversary. 28 fantastic years.
I’ve been quiet of late, hinting at stuff happening, but not blogging much.
The truth is, we’ve been working on a project that is huge for us. And whilst I would like to have announced it in March, and in my birthday post in April, and almost did in my last post for Lady D’s birthday: at no point have I been able to say for certain what the immediate future holds for us.
We are spending our anniversary in a hotel in Adelaide, and it is our last day in Adelaide. We have sold up. We are moving on.
I’ve lived here since 1983, Lady D since the early 70s. Two thirds of my life: my entire adult life, I’ve been a person residing in Adelaide, South Australia.
The seeds of change were sown by our trips to the UK/Europe two years ago and for me particularly, America. I loved the energy, the welcome and the optimism. I must say I returned feeling a bit dissatisfied with my life and work here.
Not so much the tea – our pop-up tea shops were a great source of delight in particular – but the HR consulting work we had been doing for years was starting to get really dull. And clients were nervous about the economy.
I couldn’t reconcile the staid conservatism and caution here with the extravagant energy and enthusiasm of everywhere* we’ve been in the last few years that was not here: Thailand. London. America.
And so, it happened. Lady D and I were mid-karaoke one day in January and we got a Facebook message from a cousin of my good Lady. A couple of “how are you?” type-messages were exchanged.
Then, as Tom Jones‘ “Sex Bomb” started, a two-sentence business proposal was put to us. And before the song was finished, we had accepted.
What followed was months of intense work, putting together a business plan to make our newly acquired dream a reality. Most if it throughout the night.
By early March, we’d put together the greatest plan ever. And we received a crushing blow when it seemed all for nothing.
A month later, we were working on Plan B, when we got the news that the people we had lost out to had pulled out. It was back on.
That was four months ago. In that time we have re-written the plan four times. We’ve had wins and we’ve had setbacks. Times when it was so close we could touch it. Times when it seemed impossible. We had marathon days of 24 to 30 hour of continuous work; other days where nothing happened at all.
And so here we are.
It’s not all gone to plan, but it’s happening. It’s happening now.
We are in a hotel room, as I said, surrounded by huge suitcases. Our furniture and household effects have been partly sold off, partly put into storage, and partly loaded onto a cargo ship. Our cats are residing in a four star kitty hotel in Melbourne, awaiting a tearful reunion in about 5 weeks.
Our beautiful house, where our children went from teenagers to fledglings and then flew the nest, became the place we ourselves flew from when it changed hands yesterday, gone to a lovely couple with three children of their own.
This is our last day in Adelaide. The Devotea Australia has been handed over to one of our sons to manage.
Tomorrow, we board the plane for England, and a new life.
Our business partners this week took over a traditional English Pub in a wonderful village 40 minutes from London.
We will be living and working there, after some remodelling (of the pub, not us!).
The most important part of that remodelling for all of our tea friends will be this: the fifty seat Devotea-branded tea rooms that will form part of the complex.
We will take the opportunity to relaunch our on-line business the UK, and we don’t believe this will be the only Devotea tea room in England. There will be more to come.
It’s not all plain sailing from here. I’ll have to spend some time back in Australia obtaining the right work visa which will mean a bit of frustration and twiddling my thumbs. The building needs a lot of work. There are renovations to both the pub and the living quarters.
The past six months or so of work may well pale into insignificance compared to the next six. We will need all of our boundless energy and enthusiasm. We’ll need all of Lady D’s skills in remodelling the space to transform it from “room in pub” to “tea room/cafe/bistro” (as well as the other spaces), and we plan to launch that side of the complex July-ish.
So, there you have it.
Its all happening.
And it’s happening now.
* Obviously not France