The Malta Independent 9 May 2021, Sunday

Marie Benoit's Diary: A move to the Cotswolds: top of the pops

Marie Benoît Tuesday, 4 May 2021, 13:08 Last update: about 5 days ago

AMBER KNIGHTS is a psychotherapist who recently moved from Malta to the Cotswolds with her family. She works as a trauma therapist at Khiron Clinics, both in their residential trauma clinic based in Oxfordshire and at Outpatients in Harley Street, London. She also works in private practice. Here she reflects upon her experience of moving from Malta to the Cotwolds and of the finding of a precious family heirloom… in a dahlia bed.

"I found it difficult to write this Covid Diary as I am seriously Covid tired. One year on, whilst there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, I now find myself in a place that is not familiar to me, where I, too, am struggling. I am constantly anxious and desperate for the freedom we once had. 

In March last year, in Malta, like with most, my husband and I were forced into remote working and our three children into home schooling. After a couple of months of us both working successfully online, we came to the realisation that we could both continue to work not just in Malta, but anywhere in the world. Change was always at the back of our minds so this seemed like the perfect opportunity to embark on a new adventure. Whilst our life goal is to eventually move somewhere more exotic, we chose the UK to provide our children with the educational opportunities that we were so lucky to have. Location wasn't hard to decide upon, we have family in the UK, however, having spent three nights in the Cotswolds the year before, we knew that it was where we wanted to set up basecamp, and so the journey began.

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Not ones to waste any time, and mostly driven by school starting dates, we packed up our life in a matter of seven weeks. This was by far one of the most stressful times as we were up against Covid which constantly had different plans for us. With airports closed and quarantine in place, it proved to be very challenging. Even getting onto our flight was at risk until the nth hour. Lock stock and barrel, and with some good luck, we made our leaving date and landed with a bang with three kids and two cats in tow into our new life in the Cotswolds last August. My husband and I have travelled extensively throughout our lives, so we adapted relatively quickly, but for the kids the upheaval did not bode well with them.

Two months in, and just as we were starting to settle in, we went into the second lockdown swiftly followed by the tier system. It limited contact with others, and made it impossible to meet anyone new, the postman became the only familiar face. One evening in desperation I joined a PTA meeting in the hope of meeting people. I did connect with one lovely woman, who as it turned out had a Maltese connection, her great grandmother was Maltese.

As time progressed towards the end of the year so did Covid, our Christmas plans to visit family in Malta had to be cancelled, and on the 30th of December we went into our third full lockdown. As I write this we are now fast approaching our fourth month. Outings to large supermarkets to 'hang out' have become a little repetitive and uninspiring. Whilst these last months have been difficult, good things have happened too. I managed to secure a dream job working as a trauma therapist. As a key worker this has meant I've been allowed to travel for work which has been a blessing and given me a change of scenery each week. This has also meant I could finally meet likeminded individuals, and believe it or not I found another strong Maltese connection with one of my colleagues, with whom I share common friends. 

We have been very thankful that during lockdown we have still been permitted to walk. The Cotswolds are one of the most beautiful, if not the most beautiful of locations in the UK. Rolling hills, woodland, wildlife, and greenery for miles and miles are the norm here. We have embraced the space, walking for hours, and enjoying the beauty of this historic location and we are excited to be able to reap the benefits of living in the country once lockdown is lifted. Farmers markets, pubs, and extensive outdoor activities, and more than anything having family and friends come and visit us in this special place are some of the benefits of living here.

Whilst in the UK I have been able to pursue my hobby and join the Cotswold Heritage and detecting society (CHADS). Aside from digging up history they also support people who have the misfortune of losing a valuable metal object. I got contacted to assist a gentleman who was devastated that he had lost his gold wedding ring, a family heirloom.  I'm happy to say that the ring was successfully found in the ashes of a fire pit in his dahlia bed. Whilst chatting and digging it came to light that I had made another connection to Malta. The elation at finding his ring was enough to give me back some excitement for the future.

Three of the handful of people whom I have met so far have ties to Malta and I believe that these chance encounters were more than just a coincidence. Frustrated that I can't come home to visit Malta yet it has reminded me that you can take the girl out of Malta but you can't take the Malta out of the girl. Whilst I may not be living the sea life at the moment, I am certainly living the green life with some incredible new connections by my side and for that I am grateful. With Spring in the air and the slow lifting of restrictions the rhetoric has shifted to being more positive, we are not looking at what we can't do anymore but what we can do, I feel hopeful."


Editorial Note: If you wish to contribute your own Covid diary please email [email protected]
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