Scottish immigrants #blogjune 3

Brain family with Nicola
Aussie immigrants – the Brain Family with Scotland’s First Minister & Kate Forbes, MSP

This is turning into serial rants about immigration, but speaking of expats and immigrants, the Brain Family case has once again come to the forefront in British (and world) media. Their case fills me with despair, and a teensy spark of hope. I could easily be in their shoes. I am in their shoes in some respects – in the same desperate, futile situation where my whole family life is in limbo because of ridiculous UK Immigration policy which fails to recognise central London and the back streets of Dingwall are two very, very different places.


If you haven’t heard of the Brains, it’s all over the web, but lazywebs This is an Australian family who followed the same path I planned to – move to Scotland to study and then gain a “Post Study Work” visa and repopulate an area in decline. They managed to get into Scotland a few months before I did (because I was giving birth). By the time I emerged from post-baby fog and started preparing my application, the rules had changed. I’ve spent every moment since 2005 trying to find another way back.

Laggan family deported
Zielsdorf family in the Laggan store they revitalised

It’s the Daily Mail (ugh), but they’ve found another family (Canadian this time) who are in a worse position than the Brains. This family sold everything in Canada to buy a flagging local store in the Highlands and revitalise it, and are now being deported on a small technicality (we’re talking £8000 a year) because they cannot afford to employ a 2nd UK person in their shop. Despite investing over £200 000 already.


I completely and utterly understand their frustration. I can feel their tears. I’ve travelled through and lived in the regional areas where they are. I’ve befriended the locals, employed some of them. These areas are desperate for new blood.

The only hope is that these high profile cases will lead the UK government to alter their immigration rules, introducing points for people who migrate to regional areas, or get immigration devolved to Scotland.


Barra Post Office

On the same old tune of moving to Scotland, I’m moving away from the idea of studying there after China – to buying a business. The trouble is, the two Business Visa options are ridiculously out of reach. So frustrating as they do not allow for small business operators, nor do they try to encourage enterprise in remote and regional areas.

I found the pub in one of my old Isle of Skye stomping grounds up for sale, but it is leasehold – not ideal. Then today, sitting in a random cafe in Hoi An, I stumbled upon the Barra Post Office for sale.

Now I am crying into my bành mì. Why does it have to be so bloody difficult?


The low road…

While I’m procrastinating…might as well continue.  So, the UK have altered their immigration rules YET AGAIN (not sure if I’ve already updated that…) primarily they have raised the level of earnings that you need to qualify for the visa so high I can’t imagine EVER earnings that much. 

Plan B was to use the funds from selling the house to go back as a student, but for whatever reason…maybe my impending 30th…I have started to rethink it all, and perhaps trying to get back to Scotland is not what I should be doing with my life.

It breaks my heart – honestly, my emotional reaction often surprises me…but I can’t go on living like a gypsy.  I want to have a home.  I want my daughter to have a home.  It’s not so much the stuff that I want, heaven knows it was so liberating to sell everything last year and I certainly don’t want to leap into that process of accumulating crap again, but a place and having a life certainly appeal.  All up it’s I’ve spent 10 years trying to make Scotland my home, and my efforts seems to be doing more damage than good.

We have been back in Australia 5 years, 2 months, 14 days and about 6 hours, and every day I have woken up thinking that this could be the day we go back to Scotland.  So I have not applied or accepted great jobs.  I have not bought a (proper) car.  I have held back from people who might have become good friends.  I have spent countless hours scrolling through immigration websites when I could have been spending time with my daughter.

I have put my real life on hold while waiting for my imaginary life to begin.  OMG I have become that cliche.  The frustrating part is, if someone had told me 5 years ago that it would take this long, then I could have taken a job back then and had 5 years experience by now, instead of the patchworked work history I have pieced together all the while keeping one eye on the door…

It can’t continue.  As frustrated as I am with it all, as gut wrenching as it is whenever there’s a reference to the UK in the paper, or something on the TV about Scottish islands or haggis, I feel surprisingly calm about it all.  Perhaps deep down I am so relieved to be able to hang up the pick I’ve been using to chip away at the mountain of UK immigration…

I haven’t given up.  Not by any means.  I am pressing a 5 year pause button though.  I hope it won’t take that long, but I want to prepare myself better this time.  With no hope of the Tier 1 visa, and being disinclined to throw all my savings at study (which seems a waste of time after my Masters and anyway offers no guarantee of work or PR), my best option is to find work and start gaining experience so in a couple of years I can start applying for jobs in the UK and get sponsored to go back.

Life is what happens to you / while you’re busy making other plans

Good evening Moscow, Australia calling…

Love it.  Vaguely remember being introduced to it by Be Samuel whilst at college.  Actually, I think we were directed to it via Santo on The Panel.  Sadly I think Simon Cowell and his stupid, stupid Pop Idol have dulled the excitement a little (contrary to popular belief there is a limit to the crap that one can watch on TV!) and somehow performances seem to be getting slicker, slightly more professional, so it doesn’t have the cringe factor of yesteryear.

Still, the presenters always offer up enough cheese for it to be worthwhile.  And this year we had Albania, complete with Nikki Webster, green man and MIDGET TWINS!!!

Looking for images of Albania but found this instead:

19 – Albania – Man in Green, two midgets and a young blonde singer, it can only be Eurovision, a break-dancing midget hmmm, OK but not a winner – Not top 10.

Interval entertainment – What? Why? Huge amounts of water in plastic and lights and “electrics” everywhere, Health and Safety? It’s grope a wet swimmer time! This is just weird. What is the material used for those “pools”? Bizarre…(from:


It is also worth waiting right til the end for the awarding of points…erk, plenty of cringing there!  The awful attempts at humour by the localised presenters , the awkward telly delay pauses…(Slovenia: “As Slovenia did not get through to the final, I’d like to observe a minute’s silence”!!!!)

The Australian SBS commentators take it too seriously and are nowhere near as entertaining as the UK presenters whose subtle piss taking adds a whole new layer of meaning.  V. sad that I didn’t get to hear Graham Norton’s first attempt… 😦

Such an interesting glimpse into the variety of cultures in Europe.  Lucky Ireland get to cast a vote.  If only Scotland would cast off the shackles, there could be a bagpiper entry in there!

What the hell is it with SBS and the Go Veg ads?

Some other Eurovision commentary (I have tears in my eyes!)

will add green man, midgets and nikki as soon as i find pic

Okay, here it is, with thanks to Ewan Spence of Flickrland:

Hmm, okay, Ewan does not want us to use his photo as I cannot save it (wasn’t that great a pic anyway).  Let’s try Natahen instead:

midget twins, nikki webster and a green man...Eurovision 2009
midget twins, nikki webster and a green man...Eurovision 2009