Raw dreaming – the story of Sarah Lea’s migration of faith to Golden Bay
By Charlotte Squire
Meet Sarah Lea – mother of three, she also happens to be the Happyzine raw food writer. Sarah recently underwent a significant lifestyle change. She moved to Golden Bay with her three young children and husband Jonathan, from the UK. They’d fallen in love with Golden Bay nearly a decade ago during six month holiday after spending some time in New Zealand. They returned to the UK and held onto their dream of eventually setting up home in this pristine, laid back region.
I asked Sarah how she finally made the move, and how the whole ‘living the dream’ thing was working out for her in Golden Bay.
“We came from the Shropshire Hills, West Midlands, in the UK. Back there I was home schooling my children and writing, while my husband Jonathan was a full-time Care Worker.”
“I lived on a nature reserve, and lived a very simple life in the country side, in the hills, with my mother grandfather and sister living in the village. We grew most of our own produce, and collected our own wood. I sang, I did yoga, I was part of cultural events over there and I coached raw foods.”
Just to be absolutely sure they wanted to totally shift their lives to New Zealand, Sarah and her brood gave themselves four years back in the UK with their extended family to think it through and work out a plan.
“We needed to know that for sure this was the place. We went back to the UK to be with our family and decided to see if we could possibly make it work in England. We wanted Areya [their eldest child] to meet her Grandparents and the other way round.”
Sarah and Jonathan ‘picked up’ a few more children during their final three years in England. And they just couldn’t shake the feeling that they belonged in back New Zealand. It’s was during her third pregnancy that they finally made the decision to live in Aotearoa.
“We decided to make the leap. We waited until Casey was three months old before we left. We came here with very little money, no job, no house, with nothing to support us. We just decided we’d come back to the Bay with nothing in place. And we knew it would work.”
And, miraculously, it did. Sarah, Jonathan and the kids landed in Golden Bay during the floods of 2011. Very quickly they found accommodation, closely followed by the job.
“We got here at eight o-clock at night, at the beginning of the floods and the next day we secured our house for a year. Soon after Jonathon found work as a bar manager at the Brigand.”
“Lots of people want to live here but don’t think they can because of the work situation. Within two weeks of living here Jonathan saw an advert in the supermarket. He applied for the job and he got it. If you’re willing to do anything and apply yourself you can find work.”
Next stop: the HANDS market. It was here that Sarah met enough people to run her first raw chocolate workshop. From that point her business began to grow.
“From that first raw chocolate workshop I got three people that wanted coaching in raw foods. Then there was more demand for another workshop. Then I started writing for Happyzine, and then I realised I had to set up a business in raw foods. We’re currently awaiting my recipe book!”
One of the important aspects of relocating a family is finding and setting up the homestead. I asked Sarah how they found their huge A Frame rental. It’s impressive. We’re talking: mountain and sea views, acres of bush and forest walks, and friendly farm animals.
“The first time I visited Golden Bay I’d signed up for a community email list, so I was keeping my dream alive from the UK with regular emails from New Zealand. As soon as I found out they were possibly going to rent this place out, I emailed them and said ‘I hear you might be thinking of renting out your house, don’t bother advertising it. We’re perfect for you. We’ll take it.’”
Ok, so Sarah and her tribe scored the perfect house, before they even secured an income, which inevitably came soon after. It can’t have been all easy … surely? I asked her about the challenges she faced as she landed in Golden Bay, and how she dealt with them.
“One challenge has been that the children get home sick, so we’ve had to create family here. We’ve created grandparent figures for the children.
“Another thing has been feeding a family of five on raw food without a veggie garden, we’ve had to be quite brassy in just finding out who’s got the produce and saying ‘can we weed your garden?’ ‘Can I make you raw chocolate in return for your feijoas?’”
Sarah also said they’ve also had the one car challenge – meaning Jonathan has to cycle one hour to work and one hour back, whether it’s pouring with rain, icy, or pitch black (which he sees as “getting fit for free”). Then there’s the ‘homeschooling on a very limited budget challenge’, and the ‘setting up an online business without out broadband’ challenge.
“And with all this, it’s about realising that we did the hard work in getting here and now we’re here and everything else is relatively easy. If you keep your sense of humour and a positive train of thought everything will be fine.”
Above all for this raw foodie, the top three most awesome aspects of Golden Bay living have been the community, the environment, the life
style. Sarah said it’s been very easy to make friends in Golden Bay.
“A long as you’ve got a smile on your face you make a friend, huh? Being a mum with three delicious children you always have friends, children find your friends for you.”
The one thing Sarah wishes she’d known before she moved here?
“Actually if I’d known how amazing it was to live here I’d have moved here faster.”
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