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.
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.
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.
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.
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.