Tuesday, 22 December 2009

It's a nice day for a white wedding

The wedding was beautiful!!

Almost everything went off without a hitch - when you plan something that elaborate something is bound to go slightly off plan but as long as it's nothing major you count it as a victory. Especially if most of the small things, the bride wasn't even aware of.

She looked lovely of course and the ceremony was beautiful, I admit I wiped away a little tear or two. The weather was gorgeous, the hall looked fantastic, the food was scrumptious and the newlyweds looked nausiatingly cute and in love.

The next day all the family and a lot of friends all went for a picnic at Boschendal wine estate, which was also superb. After that, Liana and Louis went off for a little pre-honeymoon break. You see, so many friends and family have come from far away, they didn't want to jet off immediately so they took a few days for themselves and they'll be joining us at my parents' home in Velddrif tomorrow, together with the inlaws and some of my family and we'll all have Christmas together.

Steve and I fly back to Johannesburg on the 27th, then our first priority will be to find somewhere to live.

If I don't update before then, hope you have a lovely festive period spent with loved ones and good food.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Long time no see

Sorry I haven't updated in a while!! We've been very busy with wedding stuff and planning for all the family that are coming to visit and having a hen party. For example, my cousin who just asked me why I haven't updated my blog in so long! So this one's for you, Jasper!

The hen party was a lot of fun, although I felt quite... tired... the next day. I think my sister enjoyed it though.

Today is our 4th wedding anniversary so we escaped for the afternoon to our favourite restaurant in the area, Pearly's. We don't usually do presents but we walked past a bookstore that had beautiful collections of books, so we bought each other the complete Sherlock Holmes collection, a Dickens omnibus, the works of the Bronte sisters and the works of Jane Austen. Yay impulse purchases!

Everyone is of course very much looking forward to the wedding and I'm pleased to note my sister doesn't look too stressed out. Most of the arrangements are going smoothly too, a few hiccups but nothing of too much importance.

Well that's as much as I can think to tell at the moment; I'll start putting wedding favours in boxes in the garden now I think.

Monday, 7 December 2009

There's no place like home

It's great being here at my parents'. The only downside is that Steve is still in Jhb but I'll be seeing him this weekend so I'm looking forward to that.

There's a lot still to do for the wedding but stupidly I left all the bits I bought for it in England with the other bridesmaid Erika to bring in her car (my sister and I flew and our baggage allowance would never have accommodated it all). She's arriving this weekend too, it's just a pity she has all the things that still need to be worked on and now I'm sitting here on the other side of the country twiddling my thumbs! For example, there are 130 flat packed favour boxes and lids that need to be folded. Oh well, we'll find a way.

Otherwise it's just eating good food, drinking lots of wine and chilling in the sun by the pool with three of my favourite people in the world. It's such a blessing to be in the same country as them again, we're a close family and the distance has always been hard on all of us.

I got my first sunburn on Saturday; my mother and sister kept warning me about the sun but frankly, even though I am usually extremely careful about the sun, I was sick and tired of being ghostly pale. So now I'm slightly red but that should fade to a decent brown soon.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Home sweet home

I had been in Johannesburg for a week, which was nice. I saw Steve again, viewed a few houses (none that took), fitted my bridesmaids dress (looks beautiful!), and found some great bridesmaids shoes with my sister and the other bridesmaid, Erika.

Then my sister and I flew down to Cape Town and spent two days in the city meeting with wedding providers. It went really well and everything is going according to schedule and plan for the wedding.

Then we came to Velddrif where my parents live, about 150km north of Cape Town on the West Coast. It's LOVELY being home. Now we're just resting, doing wedding things over the internet, and doing fun little bits like putting ribbons around things.

There are still things that need doing before Steve and I are settled in, but that's a whole different post.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The final countdown

The last few days before leaving the UK were incredibly busy and stressful.


I hadn't finished sorting out what should be packed and what shouldn't when the packing guys arrived an hour and a half earlier than expected, so all of the Friday was a hysterical rush to try and stay one step ahead of them so they can pack up one room while I finalise what they should do in the next. They were far too good at their job for my stress levels! They had a bit of fun getting the bed apart and they started moaning about having to get going to do their next job, but at the end of the day everything that had to get shipped got in the van; and then some.

The real fun was when I phoned the offices of the shipping company (Simpsons) to finalise payment and found out they'd only sent half the documents I need to fill out and hadn't bothered checking whether everything was arranged before sending the packers. Spent the next hour phoning Steve (who was seriously busy with a crisis and work and severely stressed out), my mom and a Simpsons staff member who was growing less and less helpful with each call.

The final word on that is that they now have all the docs except the car's import permit so they'll keep everything in storage until they receive that, then ship it in the next available lot (3-5 weeks from the date they get the doc), another 3-6 weeks at sea. I'm going to be living out of a suitcase for another while yet.

The Passport

In my desperate rush to not hold up the packing guys too much I had them just pack the entire contents of the desk in the spare room. MISTAKE. Turns out my passport was in there. Now let me just say I KNOW that is just about the most stupid thing I could have done that day. I'll give you a minute to finish laughing.

OK, done? So at 6am on a Saturday morning I woke up with the realisation that I had just let someone put my passport somewhere in one of 40 boxes, at a depot ready to be shipped out to sea. Their office telephone numbers all went to a voicemail saying that they'll only be open again on Monday (the day AFTER my flight). Cue widespread panic and hysteria. After an early morning call to my poor long-suffering mother I felt a bit calmer (but no less stupid) - the worst case scenario was that I would have to postpone my flight.

Simpsons was supposed to collect the car for shipping on the Friday too, but they hadn't, so on Saturday a Simpsons van turns up. I had never been so glad to see a van. Told the guy the situation, he phoned the depot where the offices were closed but the very same packers I had were loading things into shipping cotainers. For a rather hefty fee they searched the boxes until they found the passport, and I drove down there after the guy in the van who was supposed to collect the car (the packers only worked until noon and it was faster than loading the car on the trailer and driving with him in the van). Got there, got my passport, and a dear friend drove all the way out to come and get me again. I give all thanks to God for making that day work out the way it did.

The skip

After how much I worried due to the skip not being allowed to be left on the road, this went surprisingly well. All due to having wonderful friends. They started showing up long before the skip arrived and started carrying the rubbish to the sidewalk. Now I'm talking slabs of concrete; this was no easy job. By the time the skip came almost all of the stuff was ready to be thrown in and we finished the job with 10 minutes of the allocated 30 to spare. Unfortunately this is when the van turned up to take the car and it became an urgent rush to get to Kent before the packers who had found my passport left, so I had to leave in a rush, I still feel bad that I couldn't thank everyone properly.

The house

After the shipping guys had gone the house looked like some footage on a natural disaster documentary. Then I had to pack for SA. After that it was even worse. Spending most of Saturday driving around after my passport and then feeling exhausted I didn't get nearly as much cleaning done as I'd wanted to and by the time André and Suné (friends and tennants) arrived to say goodbye on Sunday, it was clear that I could either give the house the thorough cleaning I had intended before they moved in or I could catch my flight; but not both. Thankfully they are very understanding people and forgave me. In fact they won't even head my pleas to get in a cleaner and subtract it from their rent, unless I can convince them otherwise over the phone they're going to make me feel awful by cleaning it all themselves. Once again, good friends save the day.

The flight

So it was clear I wasn't going to get the house CLEAN before having to leave for the airport, but at least I wanted to get it tidy, put all the things we were leaving behind in their place. After doing that and showering and getting my luggage ready, my dear father in law, Dave, and I left the house about an hour later than I knew was a good idea when travelling on the M25. And wouldn't you know it, just to top the sort of week I'd had the entry slip road was closed and the motorway at a standstill. We chose a different route, to find that so had everyone else, and crawled along at an elderly and injured snail's pace. With some quick wireless internet assistance (aka phoning Steve to check the internet) we determined we could join the motorway at the next junction, and after that it was smooth sailing. I arrived with plenty of time and my luggage even came in under the weight allowance (I'd payed for an extra bag).

Naturally, after boarding, the flight was delayed for two hours. Eventually though, I was finally in the air and on my way back home.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Listen, Murphy and you stupid law, I hate you.

The oven is proving to be a bit of an issue. Where the old oven was, isn't anywhere near the oven ring on the electric circuit, and after buying literally the only oven I could find that would fit in width ways, the depth seems to now be a problem too (I measured it but didn't take into account the gas pipe running along the back). So we'll have to see if my father in law can work any magic today.

The skip is proving to be a bit of an issue. The council won't allow the company to park it on our road, so they are only willing to bring it on the truck, wait half an hour and take it away again. So, now I have to beg all my friends to work their arses off for me in a very short period of time and hope for the best.

The dining room table I'm trying to sell on eBay is proving to be a bit of an issue. The listing saved with the wrong delivery details, I went to amend them, but it seems the update didn't register because I now have a bidder who initially wanted to come and fetch it but now wants it delivered for free (the courier costs on something that big is going to be much more expensive than what I'm selling it for). 100% negative feedback as an eBay seller, here I come!

The shipping company is coming tomorrow and I'm nowhere near finished packing sorting out what they should pack. All nighter, I guess - unless something goes wrong with that too.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Almost time

So, I'm flying out on Sunday night. EEEEEEEEP.

I have sorted out most admin things (including FINALLY confirming a shipping company), and am still trying to really get into sorting out the house. Turns out, the company pack for you - not that they tell you that unless you understand the jargon in their Terms and Conditions - but I still have to sort out what's going and what isn't, which is the bigger job. Getting it in boxes after that is the easy part.

The carpet is being fitted today, the oven comes tomorrow, the shipping company and a skip come on Friday, friends to help me put rubbish in the skip on Saturday, and I fly on Sunday! Monday morning first thing is a fitting for my bridesmaids dress (hope I don't retain too much water on the flight).

Have I mentioned EEEEEEEEP!!!!

Friday, 13 November 2009

So much to stress out over, so little time.

Did I say "the last FEW things" in my previous entry? Ha. Ha! HA!

For the next week and a half:
  • I've ordered a skip to put the rubbish in the back garden in.
  • I've arranged with some friends to help put the rubbish in the skip.
  • I've booked my flight.
  • I've arranged shipping for our household contents.
  • I've got the forms we need to ship the car.
  • I've arranged for new carpet to be layed on the stairs.
  • I've bought a new oven.
  • My brilliant father in law is coming over to finish the new kitchen floor he layed, install the oven, fix the heating, fix the leaking bath and whatever else needs doing.
  • I need to pack my luggage for going to SA, including all the things I've bought for my sister's wedding
  • I need to pack the house (yes, I still haven't really packed anything)
I am sort of freaking out. My stomach, which has a habit of trying to digest itself when I stress, is being mean to me and I feel constantly slightly nauseous. I didn't even eat dinner last night - when I skip a meal you KNOW I'm not ok!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

It's my party, I'll say goodbye if I want to.

So we had a leaving party at the weekend. I really overextended myself and made far too much food, and was busy most of the week leading up. On Saturday my minions* were still helping me prepare food and as we got to the pub where I hired a function room, guests were arriving as we were setting up - thanks a bunch to everyone who pitched in!!

I was stressed out for a while and not a very good host initially but as I relaxed in the presence of good friends and some delicious spit roast lamb, I did enjoy myself.

Poor Steve had one hell of a time getting music playing after he had severe electronic gremlin issues. I think he did enjoy it for the most part but I think the party was the point where it dawned on him that he's moving permanently and it had a very real effect on him. He had some anxiety issues and got really emotional. He will miss his friends very very much. I will, too, but I've been mentally preparing myself where he had been largely in denial. This is also the reason there is much he didn't sort out before he went.

He's safe in SA now, and settling into the apartment we're renting until the end of November (because we'll be spending most of December in Velddrif with my parents and then renting a house).

This is hard bloody work, I'll tell you. More on packing and arranging the last few things later.

* Many, many thanks to the friends that helped out, you know who you are, but especially to Matt and Toby who helped in the kitchen. Matt especially was subjected to my frantic running around as soon as he woke up and did a great job helping out and making me slightly calmer. Slightly.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Bye bye love

Steve flew to SA last night. He arrived safely but we're both quite emotional. For him it's the realisation that this isn't just another business trip but that he's left the UK. For me, it's missing him, worrying about him and thinking about the metric FUCKTON of things I need to do in the next three weeks or so.

More later about the leaving party but right now I'm just feeling sorry for myself.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

You make me feel like a natural woman!

Previously I had just been informed that my British citizenship application was successful, but that didn't make me a citizen yet. I had to attend a ceremony to swear allegiance to Queen and country and receive the naturalisation certificate.

Initially the invitation from Essex County Council was to attend a ceremony on 2 December, but that would have been well after I'd hoped to be in South Africa; luckily they were very helpful and let me attend the next available one, namely yesterday (Wednesday 4 November). Thank God it has all worked out so well.

So after setting off horribly late (as is my habit), and getting stuck behind miles of cars and trucks on a small country road through a small country village with one way traffic due to road works, I got there just as the ceremony was starting (and not 45 minutes early as instructed!). Luckily they quickly checked my paperwork and let me in, for which I was very grateful.

I am not sure what I was expecting, or whether I was expecting much at all. I definitely thought it was just a formality I'll be glad to be over. However now I feel that if more people had to attend ceremonies to affirm their citizenship, they'd have a much better sense of community, pride and patriotism. I can't quite tell why but I left feeling quite sentimental and both proud to be an official citizen of this country, and aware of my responsibilities to it.

I suppose it's because we live fairly isolated, self-centric lives these days with little sense of community and the only pictures we get about both our government and our society is from tabloid newspapers, angry bloggers and columnists and from expose type programs. However the Lord Lieutenant of Essex, the Queen's representative at the ceremony, spoke so passionately about the country, it's rich and proud history, and the county of Essex that you couldn't help but feel the presence of all of that history, pride, and regal power present. It painted a picture of a Britain I am proud to be a citizen of (although no more so than to be a South African citizen), rather than the doom, gloom and social decay presented everyday from other outlets.

It was also a privilege to sit in the Essex County Council chambers, what a fantastically beautiful room. A few pictures from the ceremony should arrive soon in the post, I'll add a few when they do.

Now I can apply for a passport but I'm not sure when I'll be able to do that, as it takes six weeks and I'm going to need my passport well before that to travel to SA. Luckily I'm not reliant on it for anything except easier European travel at this point.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Gone fishing

So, today's my last day at the office!

I have got some documents to wrap up detailing the projects I've been working on so I can hand them over, and then I just need to get all my crap off the hard drive and tidy my desk.

This is my first goodbye and the first time it really feels like the move is real. It's not nice to leave colleagues behind and a bit scary to make so big a change but I'm starting to get excited.

Not too excited yet, though, as not working next week means I have to pack in ALL seriousness!

Looking forward to lunch at the pub with colleagues and some drinks there after work. I just wish I wasn't so tired from my very painful shoulder muscles keeping me awake, but Tesco had these horribly tacky looking giant cans of "Relentless" energy drinks on special. The MD's already thought it was a can of beer - a bit early for that, even on your last day at work! :D

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Citizen Moo

I have been granted British citizenship!!

After marrying a British citizen, we had to fly to Pretoria for an interview two days after our wedding for me to get a two year long settlement visa before I could come live and work in the UK with my husband, for which I had to present passports, marriage certificate, details of his employment and home and of my education and letters we've exchanged and heavens know what else.

Then after those two years I had to apply for Indefinite Leave To Remain, for which I had to submit passports, marriage certificate, bank statements, payslips, council tax documents, mortgage statements, medical correspondence, and another two folders full of miscelanious docs showing how we've been living together as a normal couple. I also had to write the Life in The UK test which makes you learn a book full of facts hardly anyone in this country knows.

Then after two years I could apply for naturalization, for which once again I had to submit payslips, bank statements and all the usual crap.

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY BANK STATEMENTS I'VE SAVED OVER THE YEARS, or how full my filing cabinet is, or how paranoidly I hang on to any document from a remotely official source that has both our names and address on?

HOWEVER I'm not complaining. I am very, very happy as I thought the application might come through so late I'd have to come back to the UK on holiday to attend my naturalisation ceremony! You see, I am not a citizen yet, I am waiting for an invitation from Home Office to attend a ceremony where I'll be presented with a citizenship certificate. I can then use that to apply for a passport, after attending an interview.

I had to apply for citizenship if we ever wanted to move back to the UK as you lose Indefinite Leave to Remain after being out of the country for two years or more.

I will of course be retaining my South African citizenship too so from here on out the world is my oyster.

So yes, Moo is happy and thankful today.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I have a cold

Colds are odd. They're the least likely illness to garner you much sympathy, and yet there's no cure (which you should read in a really dramatic voice). It affects your sinuses, which leaves your eyes and nose feeling clogged and swollen and since this is the place where we do most of our observing of the world, and breathing, it really makes all the rest of you feel odd, out of touch and miserable. It affects your brain and muscles and makes you feel lethargic and like you never want to leave your sofa again. You long for some quenching fluids and nourishing food but you can't be arsed to get up and go into the kitchen. You use up a small deciduous forest in tissues. You sound like Daffy Duck when you try to talk. And if you're me you keep falling asleep with a throat lozenge in your mouth, no matter how often you tell yourself it's a really unsafe idea.

And yet I couldn't justify staying home for a second day in a row for AN INCURABLE DISEASE (see, it's fun being melodramatic).

I wish I had because not only do I feel worse now I'm at work than when I got up this morning and decided to go to work, but I am also clearly in a slightly delirious, odd, philosophical state which is bad for myself and anyone around me (which includes you since you were silly enough to read this far).

So, yeah: what's up with the common cold?

More news on moving when there is any, promise.

Friday, 16 October 2009

We're moving. Probably...

Steve (husband) has had a really crappy time at work lately (think working till 2am) and hasn't really sorted out anything regarding the shipping, my ticket or his leave in December. It's a bit frustrating.

I think I'll go buy some boxes this weekend (rather than wait for the free ones from the shipping company I've been bargaining on) and try to start packing.

There's so much to do, I'm not sure where to start.

Hopefully the next time I write about the move I'll know when my flight is at least. Then I'll just have to worry about how I'm going to fly everything I want to take with me, home!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Moo & Keo's first convention

Woohoo, my friend Matt booked a table today for his and my little webcomic, Moo & Keo, at the 2010 UK Web & Mini Comix Thing! I am so sad that I may not be here. I hope to, though, depending on what things look like in March.

We're really excited about the exposure but mostly just about the fun. If I go I fully intend to bake lots of cupcakes for handing out. If I don't, I fully intend to be there via webcam on Matt's laptop. We're starting to plan the merchandise and freebies we'd like to get sorted such as badges, t-shirts and other (preferably totally quirky) things.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

GIR (aka, the car)

Yes, our Ford Focus is named after GIR.

GIR's been for two services so far and we still can't find the original service history booklet (we are kind of like that). Luckily, the last time I was at the dealership the woman on reception told me I can order a new book and they'll fill it in for me - and also to order it online as it is more expensive than it needs to be from Ford itself. I found one on eBay for £5 plus free shipping - and at £5 I don't mind giving it a shot and seeing if it turns out ok.

I'm glad to say it did! Yay eBay. GIR is now all caught up on his service history which is nice as we're shipping him to SA. It would have cost a fortune in import duty and VAT for me to take a car back as a returning citizen; but luckily hes in Steve's name and it's duty-free for new immigrants. So yay, GIR is coming to South Africa. We still need to read through all the paperwork though and actually arrange the shipping. Eeep.

Speaking of GIR, he really needs a wash. Oh, no no no, I don't wash him. Don't be silly. I take him to the dodgy looking carwash down the road on the site of the abandoned petrol station where they clean outside and in for £10.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Cylon Pumpkin Lantern. WANT.


Second entry pressure!

So, I guess I should think of something to write again.

Not much has happened with regards to the move; except that Steve has booked his ticket. I am not sure when exactly I'm flying yet, as Steve's work is organizing all of that.

We won't be selling our house in the UK. We're lucky enough that we can afford to make the mortgage payments from the average rent for the area. So we'll be renting it out. We were very glad to hear friends of mine from church are thinking about renting the house but after a great discussion they haven't gotten back to us in over a week, I don't think it's a good sign.

At least I may have found a home for our dining room table. I'm trying to get rid of stuff because we're only taking our very favourite pieces of furniture (the massage chair and the solid oak sleigh bed with separate massaging and adjustable mattresses are a must!). The rest will either have to stay for the tenants (assuming we can get some!) or be put on eBay or something. I'm not sure I fancy that headache though, how do I ship it? I think I may just take it all to a boot sale.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Welcome and thanks

Firstly, thanks to everyone at my spiritual home on the internet, the xkcd fora, for their input and for the interest in the blog.

So, hi, I'm Moo. Or Moonica. Or in extreme cases, Moohanica: Last of the Moohanicans.

I'm a white, Afrikaans, Christian, late 20s, geek girl South African living with my British husband Steve (aka Stefaans aka Shandy) in England. He's been offered a great job in the Johannesburg headoffice so soon we'll be moving (happy and sad at the same time). I have two weeks of work left and a LOT of packing. He's leaving in a month exactly from today, I'll join him a few weeks after.

This blog is really somewhere to document the move and dump some of the randomness that pops into my curly head sometimes.