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08/11/2011 / melgardener

Personal Story – I went overseas to avoid Australian men, not meet my future husband

When Anthea was 21, her parents gave her a choice – either an all-expenses-paid 21st Birthday Party or a return ticket to the UK to visit her brother James who was teaching at a very posh school in Bath.

“I can just imagine my parents now,” Anthea laughs. “I’m sure they were silently pleading for me to take the ticket – an alcohol-fueled night with my friends would be far more torturous for them than having the house to themselves for the next couple of months”.

In the end, it wasn’t a hard decision for Anthea to make. Armed with her suitcase, 13 pairs of shoes, her best friend Flea, and visions of meeting exotic European gentlemen, she set off ten days after her 21st birthday.

Anthea and Flea had a solid plan in place, as she explains: “The idea was to spend a month or so travelling around England, Scotland and Wales and then come home, get proper jobs and start to act like grownups.

“And we vowed to avoid Australians (particularly men) at all costs!”

The girls met up with Anthea’s brother and had a wonderful time in Bath, then made their way up towards northern England and on to Scotland. Along the way, they partied as only 21 year old girls (with no parental supervision) can.

Eventually, the girls arrived in Edinburgh (after nearly missing their train) and discovered that most of the youth hostels were booked out. As Anthea jokes, “Booking ahead of time would have been far too organised and responsible!”

They were eventually able to secure a room at a hostel Anthea describes as “one step up from the local bus shelter” and the lovely young Scottish lads who worked there offered to take the girls on a pub crawl. The situation was definitely improving and the girls were looking forward to an evening out until they were informed that there were plenty of Australian men attending as well.

This caused some consternation as it contravened the main goal of the trip, but the lure of a fun night out traversing the many local Scottish pubs was too good to turn down so off they went. At the very first pub, Anthea immediately locked eyes with a very attractive specimen who was standing by the bar. A few stolen glances later, he worked up the courage to approach her. “He was very friendly, had the most gorgeous blue eyes and, best of all, had an accent which I thought might have been German,” explains Anthea. “I was so excited that he wasn’t Australian”.

Drinks were bought and consumed, and laughter and conversation filled the pub as the two became more acquainted. The pub crawl made its way through numerous venues as the evening progressed but Anthea and her German beau did not leave each other’s side.

After a long, but fantastic night filled with far too many pints of beer, Anthea and the German shared their first kiss on the stairs of the hostel, then said a polite, yet slurred, goodnight. Anthea was thrilled with her catch and describes her excited stories about her fabulous German as “boring Flea to snores”.

The rest of Anthea’s night was filled with visions of a romantic, exciting future – maybe meeting the German was destiny? Maybe he was her soul mate and, after a short but passionate romance, they would settle down in a beautiful, ancient village in the German Black Forest, own a truffle pig called Otto, and feed their children bratwurst and sauerkraut for breakfast?

The next morning at breakfast, Anthea spotted her German soul mate half asleep under the breakfast table with a jar of Vegemite by his side. “Hmm, that’s strange,” she thought. “A non-Australian with a taste for Vegemite?” But she gave it no further thought as arrangements were made to meet up for another round of pub crawling that evening.

The second evening was just as good, if not better, than the previous night. The two were inseparable as they laughed and talked. Anthea was amazed at how well they understood each other, given the language barrier.

Anthea describes what happened next: “It was the next day and, let’s be honest, I was feeling slightly seedy and had sworn off alcohol for at least the next 24 hours. A nagging feeling came over me – I had noticed that my German soul mate had a strangely Australian tone to his accent. Alarm bells began to ring when I remembered, with a clear head, about the Vegemite. I decided further investigation was required”.

Anthea and Ross on their wedding day

Anthea and Ross on their wedding day

The ‘German’ was finally convinced to ‘fess up: “The guys told me on the first night that there were two cute Australian girls joining the crawl but the last thing they wanted was to meet Australian men. So, I had to be something else. The only accent I could do was a kind of Aussie/German one, which I thought was atrocious, but amazingly it worked!”

Anthea decided to forgive his dishonesty and see it as an example of his determination. It was further discovered that ‘German’ Ross came from the same region of Sydney as Anthea’s family and they uncovered common friends back in Australia.

“So, I waved goodbye to my romantic visions of a life in the Black Forest and my truffle pig, Otto,” sighs Anthea. “I rang my parents and told them I had met a man, and I wasn’t coming home! We spent the next four months living and working in Edinburgh before embarking on a three month backpacking adventure in across Europe”.

Anthea and Ross came back to Sydney after eight months travelling, and then three years later were married at a beautiful restaurant overlooking Sydney’s Pittwater.

“20 years and three children later, we are still together, living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney. We still laugh about the way we met, the fantastic lifelong friends we made, the adventures we had, and the consequences of drinking too much Scottish beer!” Anthea says.

How did you meet your partner? Was it love at first sight or did you take a while to warm up to eachother?


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