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.