Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Renting a House . .. (or trying to)

I thought I would share with you our nightmare of trying to rent a house.

The process has been unbelievable.  I will try and explain simply how the process for us has worked (or not worked):

Firstly, we had to wait for Tim’s residence visa to come through as you are not allowed to rent a house without one.  Within the first 10 days or so, his visa came through and you will remember that we saw a house that we liked – the one with the big garden/sandpit!  Well, thought about it for a couple of days and by the time we decided we did want it, we had lost it.  We decided that these things happen but confirmed in our heads that it was a house that we wanted (as opposed to an apartment) and that the style (called Palmera) was the one we wanted.  We had to wait for one to become available on the rental market, which they apparently do quite regularly.

Sure enough, about a week later, I had a call at 2pm.  There was one house available on Palmera, it was opposite the community centre (swimming pool and playground) but I had to go and see it within about an hour or it would go to someone else.  I picked up Oliver from school and hoofed it on over there!  We got there and within about a half hour, had decided that we would go for this one, so set the wheels in motion.

Now, bear in mind that we’ve only been here 23 days and we saw the first house about 2 weeks ago, the rental price 14 days ago for a Palmera house was 195,000 Dirham (£26,645), by the time we found this next house (exactly the same), the rental price had increased to AED 200,000 (£27,330), although we were told by the agent that the landscaping of the garden would be included in that figure.  That is the market out here – the houses are exactly the same, brand new and never lived in – but that’s the way things are.  Housing markets are moving so fast and there is such demand for housing, that this is what happens. A 2.5% raise in 14 days . . .  bonkers and quite frankly, getting a bit unmanageable!

A bit of background for you - out here, your rent is calculated annually and you pay 6 or 12 months in advance (nice if you can get it eh?).  The landlord also doesn’t have a huge amount of power once you are in the house renting the property.  Once you are in, you are not allowed a rent increase until 2 years have passed.  And after this time, it was decreed recently that the rise could only be a maximum of 5%.  It’s very difficult for your landlord to get you out and the tenant is covered legally in case of a problem with the landlord.  In the case of our house, rent was to be paid in two cheques – 6 months apart.  The first problem – Tim’s cheque book hadn’t been delivered by the bank.  We got cash out from the bank with our cashpoint card and put down a cash deposit.  One good thing here is that you aren’t limited to withdrawing £250 a day!  Problem solved (we thought).  Contracts were to be raised and we assumed it would be a straight-forward process.   

Yesterday I went to measure the kitchen in order to buy appliances and met the dear landlord then.  He is an Indian guy, complete with turban and hairgrips in his beard to keep it neat.  Seemed quite gentle and polite.  About 2 hours later, I received a phone call from him, asking me how long we were going to stay in the house for – one year, two years or more.  I told him I didn’t know and when pressed for an answer, I decided to adopt the Middle Eastern approach of “I couldn’t possibly tell you without discussing it with my husband first – he is the boss after all”.  I also asked him why he wanted to know.  He clearly stated to me that he “wanted me to sign a separate contract with him” stating exactly how long we wanted to stay.  Alarm bells rang so I contacted our transition team (i.e. the people who help us get set up) and they told me not to talk to him again, he shouldn’t be doing that and that they would sort it out.  They duly did, but more problems were to pass our way . . . .

We found out that the agent had got it all wrong; it was in fact 200,000 Dirhams annually without dear landlord parting with any cash to turn the sandpit into a garden.  We also found out the rent was to be paid in one cheque and not two (I tell you, it’s a good job that we sold our house to move here – because it’s quite hard finding £30,000 up front for your house rent, especially as it takes about 5 working days for money from our UK account to reach our UAE account).  We negotiated (well, our transition team did) but to no avail.  A day passed and we still hadn’t got any further with the landlord and the process.  However, some good news – Tim’s cheque book arrived, so we could at least issue the rent cheques).  The next day, we heard that the landlord had sacked the agent . . . . strange.  More bad news – he decided to put the price up to 210,000 Dirhams.  Also, he wanted to put a separate clause into our contract (illegal, by the way) to increase our rent by 5% after 12 months.

Now, by this stage, Tim and I were getting really annoyed (well, much stronger than that actually, but there are all different kinds of people reading this e-mail so I can’t possibly write the words that I want to), so we said – stuff it, we’ll go for another house.  Bad news – there are no more Palmera’s on the rental market, oh, and the rent has risen to about 220,000 Dirhams.  If we moved to a different area, we would pay about the same money but lose about 1000 square feet off the house . . . no go then. 

Another day of negotiating – every time we think we are near getting the keys, another spanner comes our way.  Because we can only give him two cheques (rather than the one that he wanted), we had to get a letter from Tim’s work to state that he would pay the next cheque and they had to confirm his employment and that he got a housing allowance etc etc.  Our transition team have also been asked for a written guarantee that we will pay the money.  We got these letters without a hitch – apparently this is all too common.

Darling landlord (henceforth to be referred to as DL), this afternoon also requested a letter from us (Tim and me) stating that we will “move out peacefully” whenever we choose to move.  I have to admit that I completely lost the plot on being told that one.  I can (sort of) understand the greedy little bugger wanting more money in a rapidly rising market, but requesting such a letter is nothing short of insulting.  We have been told that we can send that letter once we are in the house, but I’m telling you now, I’m not writing it out of principle.

So, as things stand now:

1 – our container is due to arrive at the house tomorrow at 10am to unload

2 – it is now 7.45pm the night before and DL has still not given us the keys

3 – I am beginning to seriously panic

4 – the grass is most definitely not greener on the other side

I will keep you updated on progress – maybe tomorrow I will be unpacking a container stinking of fish, or maybe I will be sitting here on my bed fuming.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

I don't like it here . . .

"I-I-I don't li-li-like it here-here" sobbed my little girl tonight.  Her little arms were wrapped so tightly around my neck and her body shook with the ferocity of her tears.  Her words completely broke my heart and when I looked up over her sobbing head and saw Tim, I could feel his pain too. 

Are they the words of a little girl who got told off and sent to the naughty corner for being rude?  Is it her mastering the art of being manipulative to make me forget she has been naughty? or are they the words of a baby who truly is unhappy?  I really do not know.

It doesn't help that I told the international packers that it was OK to ship Pooh Bear - a soft toy that I honestly had no idea was so important to her.  Two more sleeps just doesn't seem to pacify her - "I just can't wait that long" she sobs even more.  Maybe it's now tiredness?  She did fall out of bed last night and then get up at 6am for school.

I feel like a bona-fide member of the bad mummies club.

It's strange really - when telling all my friends and family about moving here, they asked how I felt it may affect the children.  "Oh, they'll be fine" I answered.  "Ella at 3 is too young - I think she will be fine as long as the rest of us are here.  Oliver perhaps, the more sensitive one, may find it a little more traumatic as he's grown very attached to some people."  How wrong I have turned out to be.  Oliver is having a whale of a time.  He has a lovely friend, Nur Sofia, and seems to be making other friends by the day - his appetite is enormous, he loves school and his teacher is a wonderful lady - energetic, efficient and very caring.  He also seems to be growing up more each day and for the most part, really looks after his little sister who bosses him around without a second thought.  But Ella . . . .  who knows quite what is going on inside that little head of hers?

As I type, she has passed out in bed - asleep with, hopefully, not a care in the world.  Having said that, I still haven't had an apology for her being so rude before all of this started.  Maybe, just maybe, she diverted me enough to feel sorry for her, that I let her get away with her rotten behaviour.

Oh dear, looks like I need to pay for another year's membership to the afore-mentioned club . . . .

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Grocery Shopping Dubai Style

I've known it for most of my life, but now I have official confirmation - shopping is a pleasure!

I needed to go the supermarket today - the one nearest us on the marina - Spinneys, which I think caters mostly to expats rather than the locals.  It's full of Waitrose products and high end groceries.

Anyway, I pulled up right outside at 8.30am and got my cart and proceeded to the aisles.  Firstly, the meat counter where I learned they had no minced beef on the shelves.  I asked one of the assistants if they had any - he asked me what weight I was looking for.  I told him - he then proceeded to go out back to his mincer and prepared me some straight away.  I also rather excitedly found the "pork" area - it is set in a slightly separate area of the store (am sure there must be a good reason why) but I pounced on the cumberland sausages with a squeal of delight!  I found everything that I needed - Heinz beans are about 70% of the cost of those in the UK and for the most part, food is cheaper - even in this particular supermarket.  I bought two of the most amazing rump steaks for £2 - quite how they can be imported from Australia for that price, I have no idea.  The only thing I can't get is non-biological laundry detergent - it doesn't seem to exist, but whether Oliver's eczema  will flare up without it, we will soon find out!

Anyway, before I bore you senseless, this is the exciting bit - I got to the checkout and a checkout guy emptied my trolley for me - loaded it onto the conveyor belt, packed it and then put it back in my trolley.  Thank you, I said, thinking that was the end of the service . . . . . but no, there was more.  He proceeded to push the trolley out to the car, opened the boot and piled my shopping into the car for me, nodded his head and went off with my trolley, leaving me nothing else to do but adjust my sunglasses and get into the car.

Could this experience get any better?

I then drove another 500 yards back to our apartments, to pull up outside the door.  I got out and the bell-boy gave me a ticket, asked for my car key and said he would valet park the car.  Another chap meanwhile was emptying the contents of my boot onto a gold trolley in order to bring it to our rooms!  I walked up the steps, pressed the button for the lift and went upstairs to wait for the delivery.  Sure enough, 5 minutes later, there it all was.  It was carried into the kitchen, but not unpacked (gee, a girl has to do something!) and all for a small tip of about £1.

Beats Tesco hands down . . .  .

I fully appreciate the fact that my time here in the apartment is numbered - less than 2 weeks before we venture out into the wide world where bell-boys and valet parking do not exist at my front door, but hopefully they still will at the grocery store! 

PS - before you think that I'm just crowing about it over here and the grass is greener on the other side, it is NOT.  I will write another entry soon with a lot of the cons of living here.

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Let's Play Chicken

The main road in Dubai is the Sheikh Zayed Road, running north to south from Dubai to Abu Dhabi.  It runs the length of Dubai.  In some places it is 7 lanes on each side with an alleged speed limit of 100kph.  I was on this road yesterday and was astonished to see a taxi stopped by the side of the highway with about 5 Indians on the kerb - had they broken down?  No, the taxi had dropped them off and they were trying to CROSS THE ROAD!!

I honestly couldn't believe my eyes - the traffic was steady - there was no way on earth that these people could cross the road safely and realistically, there was no safe way for them to get to the other side, except for getting back in the cab, going to the next interchange and coming back the other way.  There are no foot-bridges here.

However, worse was to come.  I was told that if you hit a pedestrian who is trying to cross the road, you - the driver - is culpable.  The driver is expected to miss any pedestrians, regardless of whether that person is trying to cross the equivalent of a motorway . . . as well as concentrating on 7 lanes of highway where under-taking is the order of the day!  Now, in the UK, I think I am right in thinking that if you hit someone on a dual carriageway who frankly, shouldn't be stupid or deranged enough to be there in the first place, providing you're not drunk or speeding, you are not responsible.  Here, not only do you have to deal with the horror of ploughing someone down at a relatively high speed, but you are also flung in jail until you pay the deceased's family their blood money.  It really happens.

Bloody money is set at about AED200,000, which is about £28,000 to me and you.  I think that there are some car insurances that you buy which may include that as part of your premium, but certainly not all.  In addition to that, if you, the driver are at fault - perhaps going one kph over the speed limit or having had one drink - your insurance money wouldn't pay.  You are in jail until that money is found. 

I was trying to find the words to express my disbelief at this, but honestly, couldn't.  An eye for an eye - it could only happen here in the Middle East.

However, some reassuring news - Tim seems to think that he read somewhere in the paper last week that they were thinking of changing the law.    He thinks that drivers are now only responsible if they hit someone on a road which has a speed limit of less than 80kph.  Oh, that's all right then . . . . .

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

It rains here too

Well, today has apparently caused chaos on the roads - and to my boots might I add.  It is now raining heavily for the third day in a row and everyone is finding it "unbelievable" and saying things like "we never have rain like this in Dubai".

Well, perhaps we have brought the British weather with us - however, we have certainly not brought the British approach.  I was desperate to go out this afternoon - the kids needed walking so to speak, and we also needed milk!  Fortunately, we had all brought our coats with us.  When we were at Heathrow, I was cursing the coats - there were 4 more things to carry and I just wondered whether we should bin them as we weren't going to need them in "hot" Dubai, but for fear of causing a security alert and closing the whole of the airport down, we stumbled onto the plane with them.

rainydubaiBoy, am I glad we did - in my venture out to get milk, which is perhaps a 5 minute walk away, I was told by the staff here "don't go ma'am - it's too wet" - I even had a boy trying to follow me with a golfing umbrella.  But no, raincoat on and the kids with their hoods up, off we went.  The worst bit was getting onto the pavement - the buggy got stuck in the waterlogged sand and poor Oliver was up to his mid-calf in rainwater.  We kept on going.  Meanwhile the bell-boys from the hotel were standing there staring at us open-mouthed, thinking we were just bonkers.  Once we had got on the pavement, we were absolutely fine - yes, it was raining hard, but frankly I've done a worse school run . . . . .

I'm not knocking the locals - the roads really are dreadful - they just aren't equipped to deal with any water - they absorb no water and there is no camber, so the rain just sits on the road.  Schools are closed today and there are reports of roads being closed.  Frankly, I'm glad some of the roads are closed - the speed demons here in the cars can just about stop on the dry roads, but I'm not sure they have even heard of the word aquaplane . . . . !

View from the Top!

I’ve been asked loads of times what the view is like from our apartment – so here goes.

Firstly, I would like to point out what a big deal it is that you have these photos . . . . you will know that I hate edges.  Tim laughs at me about this, but I’m OK with heights unless I look right over the edge, which is what really sends me loopy.  In order to get these pictures, I had to kind of hang my arms and shoulders out of the window in the apartment.  I have been very brave . . . . . (for me)!

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Weather is really rubbish.  It wasn’t too bad for the first few days but since the weekend, it has turned really rainy and stormy.  Tim said that on his way to work this morning, some of the roundabouts were a foot high with water!  Because they don’t get rain very often (allegedly a few days a year) there is no drainage on the roads so the water just hangs about in massive pools until the sun or atmosphere soaks it all up again.  Apparently, some schools are shut because of the rain.  Funny isn’t it!  I have therefore triIMG_1042ed to take decent pictures out of our windows, but a) the windows are filthy because of all these storms and the building dirt; and b) it’s so dull outside, they’re a bit dark and grotty.

The first is facing left towards the mouth of the marina, the second is straight on (the Grosvenor House Hotel) and the  third is looking right to Jumeirah Beach (the Habtoor Grand hotel and the Royal Meridien you can just about see, which is where the beach club access is for here).  Tim no doubt would have stitched them up better, but you get the drift!  You can see that the marina is still under construction and what

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you see in the photos here of the waterways is about a quarter of it – it’s huge.  Some blocks are finished – some are clearly still being done.  Interestingly enough, the apartment we invested in last year, is partially built on the other side of this building – so it does exist after all!!

The marina itself has loads of housing and hotels – as you can see.  What you can’t see from these photo’s is a lovely walkway and restaurants which are near the boats (photo 1).  We were there the other day for dinner and it’s a very relaxed atmosphere with kids running about and people having coffee or dinner.  That’s where our local supermarket is too.

Will update you more as we do more . . . .

Dubya Day!

On Sunday, George W Bush was in Abu Dhabi for part of his Middle East tour.  His next day was to be spent in Dubai, which I thought was quite exciting - to my knowledge, I have not been in such close proximity (5 miles or so) to a US president.  Perhaps we would see him - or more likely his motorcade - from the dizzy heights of our skyscraper?

Anyway, we returned from our house-hunting mission to a telephone message to say that as George was in town, the following day had been announced as a Public Holiday (it was due to be Tim's first day at work too)!  A lot of the main roads were to be closed for the day, which would make it difficult for the city to get about, so the easiest option was to decree an extra day off! 

How fantastic! 

I am fascinated by the mere fact that word of mouth (plus of course the media) reached everyone in Dubai in the space of a short few hours.  I wonder how many people didn't actually find out in time and pitched up for work as normal . . . . judging by the roads, which were empty, I suspect the number was few.

It got me thinking though . . . . . would that ever happen in the UK?  I'm not expecting that the UK would come to a halt because a president was in town - our country is a lot bigger for a start and has many more hundreds of roads, but how long have campaigners been requesting an additional Bank Holiday in the UK?  Certainly, I can remember it being talked about for the last few years. 

There's no way it would ever happen overnight . . . . . even if Gordon Brown did make an announcement, how many of us would really think it were real and not some sort of April fool . . . . . . !

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Search for a house . . . .

Well, today we went looking at houses.  We looked at some yesterday, but discounted them as they were too small, but this one has piqued our interest and we thought we would share it with you.

In order to get the size house that we were looking for (a good sized 3 bedroom), we have had to go to Palmera in Arabian Ranches – about 20 minutes from the city centre by one of the highways.  The houses closer to the city were much smaller with small gardens - one of the reasons for moving here was that we would try and get the kids (and us) outside more and therefore we figured we would try to get as good value as we can with a good garden.  This particular house you can see below:

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This is the view from the back of the house – it’s linked on the other side.  In this house you get 3 good sized double bedrooms upstairs + 2 bathrooms.  Downstairs, there is a good sized kitchen, lounge dining room, playroom/other room, bathroom and maids room – a study for us probably.  But what makes this particular house special is the garden . . . . . . our expectations were low, but this completely blew us away.  In the first photo, I am standing just outside the middle of the house (by the sloping roof at the LHS of the above picture) looking right, and in the second photo, I am standing in the same place, looking left.  Tim reckons it must be about 80 feet from side to side and about 15 feet in depth.

You can see from the first picture, that this house backs on to the desert.  I have to say that it would be quite nicclip_image002e to see the horizon – on the other side, we are clearly surrounded by more houses with about a 5 foot wall going all of the way round.  You will also notice that the garden is made of SAND (all these houses are built on desert sand, which you see all around you at the city limits)!!!!!  Apparently because it is a brand new house, until they find tenants, they won’t consider putting a garden in as it will require maintaining and more importantly. . . . . water.  When we decide whether we would likclip_image003e the house, then we start to work out the garden with the landlord.  For the most part, it will probably be paved or block paving with a small amount of grass and shrubbery.  The kids are quite gutted about the fact that the sand will go – they quite fancy the idea of living in a giant sand-pit. 

Water is very expensive here, for obvious reasons – and sometimes, you can run out of water for a couple of days . . . . . it happens apparently!  You have your large tank of fresh-water, under the concrete of your garage which provides a bit of back up, but then you just have to wait for a tanker of fresh water to come and top up the tanks!!!  Quite something really.

The photo underneath is taken from me standing right at the end of the garden looking back . . . . unfortunately, I have no pictures of the inside – I completely forgot to take pictures, but will next time!!

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We haven’t yet decided whether this is the house for us or not, but we will tell you when we do decide!!!

Friday, 11 January 2008

Where are we?

Thought we would show you where we are living right now.  We are in serviced apartments, which will act as a base for one month until we are more settled.

Tim’s firm pay for one month’s accommodation in this place until a) our stuff arrives here on the ship and b) until our visa’s are all in place.  So, we have until 5th February to get everything sorted out.  We are in a 2-bedroom apartment, which has in total – a lounge, dining room, kitchen, laundry cupboard, maids room (no maid though), twin bedroom for the kids, master bedroom and 3 bathrooms.  It’s cleaned for us twice daily, but they won’t do our washing up or laundry!!!!  Fair enough really.

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1 - This is the lounge with Tim on the computer.  We have a pretty good view onto the other buildings on the marina, but right now, it looks like more of a building site as there are so many buildings being built.  We can vouch for the fact that they are workingclip_image004 24 hours a day – don’t think we’ve had a decent night’s sleep since we’ve been here, but I think that’s because of everything else going on in our world!

2 - Dining room – it never takes long for stuff to appear on the table does it!! 

3 - This is the kids room – already with soft toys in place.  A really good amount of space here, but right in the middle, you can see that window which opens . . . . . why, oh why, did they put that there????  And I can’t lock it . . . . .  but at least we don’t have a balcony like some of the apartments here. 

4 – Master bedroom – massive bed, which unfortunately the children regularly set up camp in (bit messy already but you get the drift)!

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5 - The kitchen has everything we need – massive oven and hob, dishwasher, toaster, microwave, coffee maker etc.  Well furnished, but we just need to find the supermarket!

Along with the pool and gym here, we also get unlimited access to a Beach Club, which is so lovely!  Loads of fun pools, grassy areas and the beach.  I took the kids down there the other day while Tim was trying to get parts of his visa sorted, and to their credit they got in the pool.  There was an evil wind blowing and it was freezing.  The pool was heated to a reasonable 30 degrees, but the moment you got out, the wind just got you.  We walked down to the beach and the children were so cold that they had to run about to get the blood pumping and then they flopped down onto a sun-lounger and buried themselves in towels as a makeshift bed.  Once that wind dies down (known as a shamal wind), things will feel warmer.  We have seen the odd sandstorm though – not that exciting, but remember to wear your sunglasses or goggles at worst as the sand in your eyes is rather brutal!

Until later . .  xx

Monday, 7 January 2008

Heathrow Airport

 Oliver and luggage

Yesterday, we travelled to Heathrow airport for our journey out to Dubai.  I have always hated Heathrow airport as I feel it sums up the UK completely: cramped and overcrowded, filled with miserable and stressed people, grubby and in need of a facelift!  I've always thought this - whether I've been arriving back in London or leaving it.  I just don't think it's a very good advert for visitors to this country as it's the first thing they see!

This time, we arrived, with what seemed like a million other people, in the drizzle and precariously balanced all of our stuff (4 suitcases, 4 wheelie cases, 1 buggy and 2 car seats) on the trolley (which incidentally only steered left) whilst trying to hold 2 sleepy children's hands!

However, on the flip side, the one thing which is absolutely cracking at LHR has to be the departure lounge.  It is a shoppers paradise - filled with so many shops (luxury and Ella and Mickeyregular) that if you are not careful, you can find yourself staggering to the plane laden with carrier bags full of loot.  Gone are the days when you pick up a bottle of whisky and then you are on your way!  Yesterday, I stocked up on books (books are pricey in the UAE), Oliver got a new game for his Nintendo and Ella bought . . .  oh yes . . . . another cuddly toy.  

Tim and I also stocked up on . . . . alcohol!  We don't really drink much I have to say, but it's nice to have the odd glass of Pimms in the sun.  Buying alcohol here in Dubai is apparently difficult - you need your residence visa (which we haven't got yet) and a place to live before you will be allowed to buy your "alcohol permit" (yes, welcome to the world of no tax where nothing is free).  No, don't gasp in horror!  You can buy alcohol quite freely in hotels and bars here in Dubai - but personal consumption in your own home appears to be something different . . . .

So, what will we miss from the UK . . . .
1 - family and friends;
2 - familiarity (with everything from how to buy a house, to how to drive on the left);
3 - British TV - especially the Sky+ box; and
4 - internet shopping (for Alice)!

What will we be glad to leave behind . . . . ?
1 - 40% tax;
2 - the weather; and
3 - internet shopping (Tim has to pay the bills)

Family and Friends

 Christmas lunch

I think one of the hardest things about moving overseas, has to be without a doubt, saying farewell to our friends and family.  Leaving just after Christmas has left us with memories of a wonderful time, but also a very difficult time in that we knew it would be the last time we would see them for a while.  I think nearly all of our family came to visit at some point in December and it was just wonderful.  It was, in fact, the first time that Tim and his sister Rachel have had Christmas together in the last 12 years - had we not been going overseas, I'm sure it wouldn't have happened!

 

Once the festivities were over, it was time to get down to the hard graft of saying goodbye - explaining to the children has been quite a challenge.  I think 5 year old Oliver kind of understands that he's not going to see people for a while.  Saying goodbye to his best friend Adam saw Clair (his mum) and me dissolve into floods of tears and then hearing Oliver sobbing the whole way home really made me question whether we were doing the right thing.  Ella, on the other hand at three, is far less aware of what is going on and with the exception of her best friend Tom, I think will adjust fairly quickly, as long as Mickey Mouse (her favourite toy) accompanies her!

New Years Eve

As to the parents - well, we have the added advantage of being able to write and will rely heavily on e-mail and the Internet.  I remember 20 years ago (gulp) when I went travelling around the world and my folks had to rely on a weekly postcard from wherever I was in the world.  Firstly, how dreadful for them if the post got delayed and secondly, quite why they let me do it, I'm still not sure!  In any case, the world has moved on and there is now no excuse.

 

We've had some great times recently with our friends and family and will keep the memories with us until we see you next (should be in August we think when it will be far too hot to venture too far in Dubai).   

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Hey - that's our stuff!

Boxes everywhere!

 

Well - it's started!  A whole day of boxing up our life, followed on the second day by picking up the last bits and pieces.  It's amazing how you can reduce everything in to a load of boxes!

Everything was packed meticulously, even a 10p frame bought from Oliver's school fete was wrapped, double wrapped and triple wrapped in paper.  They packed so fast that before their tea had got cold, they had already packed the broadband router!

The team of 4 (all members of the same family - father, two sons and a grandson) whirled around the house, telling us that the best thing we could do was "keep out of the way"...!  It's going to be like Securing it all in placeChristmas when it arrives at the other end as everything (and I mean everything) is wrapped rather than being just chucked in a box - even the hoover now resembles a mini-brown-paper-wigwam!

When the container arrived, a funny thing happened.  The whole family decided to get into the container and shut the doors . . . we thought it was only a problem with people trying to get into the UK rather than out!  It turns out that you have to get in to check that there are no holes in the container.  So, they went in, checked they could see no daylight, and then the container was certified fit for purpose!  Personally I'd have quite liked a container that was a bit Sea you at the other end!cleaner and one that didn't smell of the sea and a bit of old fish, but I guess that's why everything is wrapped!  Then the putting together of the jigsaw started.  All of the boxes were meticulously put together so that there was no space between them where it could all bang together and potentially break.  When everything was in, the container was locked and sealed and ready to balance precariously on the top of a ship, which hopefully won't get stuck on a sandbank in the middle of the Channel. 

Just one question...where did we put the passports?