A German and Irish couple’s story

by SR, Germany and Irish husband
London has been amazing for us, my Irish husband and me, German. We have lived here for almost 20 years and we came with nothing. My husband got into Advertising after working in different restaurants for several years, because he was told that he was good with numbers.
I arrived with my degree in Paintings Conservation. He managed to set up 2 companies from scratch and after working for other restorers I set up my own studio just before we started having children. All 3 of them are English by heart with a German passport. They could have the Irish one, but my husband has not been that organised. I have always been conscious as a German working in English Art Collections as we were brought up feeling ashamed of our country’s history. But it did not hinder my career! I have had fabulous projects for the National Trust, the V&A and other wonderful organisations. My husband was lucky enough to sell both his agencies and leave immediately as he wanted to find a new path in life. Based on this new found freedom we took our 3 children out of school last summer on the basis of home schooling and went on a sabbatical trip around world. What timing! I will never forget the moment waking up at 5am and seeing the Brexit vote results! Both of us immediately did not feel welcome anymore, because we had lived away from our home countries for so long, we had started to identify ourselves as Europeans. But I know, we have been so lucky to set off and observe the developments from a distance and I have been a member of this group almost from the beginning and I have felt heartbroken so many times reading your stories. We just went away to teach our children about different cultures in the hope that this will create kindness and openness in their hearts for every human being. We volunteered in a school in India, we hiked in the Himalayas and we took Spanish classes in South America. Throughout our trip we were constantly debating – what next? And we often had sleepless nights. In early July we returned to London and we were welcomed so warmly by all our friends. There did not seem to be a change at all and Lambeth had the highest voters to remain anyway. But there is this anger inside me and it does not go away. We should all be working together as a united Europe as it was founded as a historical consequence. So many people have stated the facts here. So I am not going further into the long debate we all had numerous times. But it has led to our decision to leave London. We have found a flat in Berlin. It is all very rushed to get there on time before school starts at the end of the month. I am very grateful that we have the freedom to make this decision and I have spoken to many people who can’t. But in my heart I will continue to support each and everyone of you! And who knows? We might not like Berlin and we are very aware that this could be a big mistake. After all the UK has been our home for 20 years and we missed it very much during our world trip. I have only now started telling people and all my lovely colleagues I have worked with. It is daunting to start out again in Berlin with no contacts. But I also need to settle the kids first, who don’t want to go….

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