Thursday, July 31, 2008

How much is that bubbly in the window?

So, I've done 3 supermarkets so far, well I think the only 3 big players as it were, probably equal to Lidl, Sainsburys and Waitrose, sort of. Well, Waitrose today (IGA) was really impressive as it was air conditioned too. I went round, put in my sausages, bacon and Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut. I then went round and replaced them all back on the shelves after a quick calculation (and Andy muttering in my ear 'wait until we're really desperate') but I still enjoyed the experience - maybe it'll be part of my ritual until I move on in my mental shopping lists, what a worry, they'll think I'm some compulsive shopper nutter - watch out, here comes the blonde - make sure she replaces everything in the same place. Anyway, they were swiftly replaced with local chicken, local eggs, and ok, not so impressive, Schweppes Tonic Water (to go with our Tanqueray Ten from St Lucia). Two bottles were $18EC so our G&T's might be limited. However, the other option is to buy something called Quenchi's which when opened could either be soda, lemonade OR tonic. There's no clue on the bottles which make the process a sort of Gin & Tonic lotto with both of us pretending it tastes just the same as neither of us want to be the first to crack. But, get this, in the booze aisle there was a bottle of Dom Perignon 1999. Guess how much. EC$238/US90. All I can think is they put it on the shelf in 1999 and haven't changed the price since. So, to sum up, when I do get really desperate I can get my Dairy Milk and my DP. Sorted.

Yes We Are!

Arrived 2 days ago. Saw the house for the first time on Tuesday afternoon - it's great! The Guest House is nearly completed too - in Estate Agent's terms I guess it would be called 'cosy' or 'bijou'. The rain has been full on but it's warm so who cares. Got our phone line installed at home (filled out the form, paid and got it done in less than 6 hours). Wonder if everything else will be so speedy. Looking for a car now. Been to the market, bought all my fruit & veg. Kids are happy. So far, so good.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Final night in Blighty

Well, tomorrow is our flight to St Lucia - all checked in online and we merely have the little baggage drop off to do tomorrow at 7am, should be easy. 23 kilos each from Brussels, can't have added that much in 3 days apart from the cricket set, 2 x Nintendo DS Lites (it isn't with all the accessories), Earl Grey teabags, hair conditioner (3 girls remember), Chloe's new black school shoes (which she is still in a rage about) and yes, OK & Hello. LGW to SLU should be ok, it's just SLU to DOM which may be a bit dodgey. Clearly the cricket set will have to be the first to go. It's the land of cricket for goodness sake - coconuts, palm tree branches and a beach and away you go, why we have to get the Asda sponsored (but no you can't buy them in Asda) official Kwik (stolen from the car tyre folks) Cricket set I don't know. Well, you'd think I really should know by now wouldn't you. However, when I mentioned I wanted an Estee Lauder specific lipstick, code 384 from the airport, I was met with a brusque, no time for shopping retort. Clearly my lipstick will tip us into the 100+ kilos mark.

I'm thinking I should be all philosophical tonight but to be honest It's so long since I've lived in the UK that I'm not. However, today was beautiful, the sun was shining, the local pub had perfect landscaped gardens and the Pimms was ice cold and sparking in the sunlight (briefly - the contents that is, not the sun) so I did have a wistful moment. I say moment as then Wayne & Stacey on the next table became rather vocal and for the 10th time at least I had to explain to Chloe that people bled a lot in England.

So, I'm nearly excited. I know, I should be really excited. Two days chilling in St Lucia with our friends will be great but there will still be a part of me itching to get on and arrive and be there and yes, to see our house.

Going to cheat a bit now and change my blog location to Dominica 3 days early. Well, I'm there in spirit already. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


We flew out of Belgium today, 5 suitcases and 3 'Trunki's' ( in tow. Ollie led the way on his, down the ramp, full speed ahead, bumping people's legs on the way and finally grinding to a reluctant halt at the top of an escalator, which was luckily out of service otherwise he would have ended up head to toe in plaster - what's new hey. The girls of course let me pull them along at a gentle pace, no stress. They got the 'aren't they lovely glances' - or maybe it was me.

Now in England until Sunday.

Now, unemployed.

Now, no salary until the end of September.

Now, what have we done?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

White with a green roof

We're nearly there.

Thanks a lot, as usual, Celia

Identity Parade

So, Andy has this great idea, fake security cameras from Argos (where else). The fencing is going to cost $15,000, I don't want a dog (because I still haven't recovered from dog walking duties from 30 years ago) and we need to secure the property and improve our insurance quote. Great idea I said, let's get the kids to make them - a few kitchen rolls, black paint, clingfilm, a red dot or two and sticky back plastic. And hey presto, here's one I made earlier. He didn't find that very funny. Sometimes I think we're clearly not on the same wave length. Years ago, when I was in student digs in Paddington, we had a break-in. To add insult to injury they must have worked their way from the bottom of the house to the top (I was in the attic, much cheaper and a nice view of the roof tops - always thought Dick Van Dyke might Chim Chim-eny through my window at any moment). Anyway, they left their spoils (cheap plastic Walkman) from the lower floors on my bed and completely cleared (trendy Silver Sony Walkman) me out. Anyway, the point of all this is that whilst I was in flood of tears my Dad told me that it was only possessions at the end of the day and I guess I've kept this thought with me. However, I am a tad nervous on the pool and would like to teach people to swim first (Bronze Medallion trained you know) before they embark on a midnight dip laden down with the flatscreen....anyway, what's mine's can't take it with you afterall.....

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Get out of jail free card

We had the report from the house inspection today. The 'Judge' deems we need to pay 2,600 Euros to our landlord in repairs. Yeah right. I won't bore you with the details suffice to say the first item was to pay 500 Euros for a missing (net) curtain - we actually paid our landlord for the curtains (which are straight off Coronation Street with flying ducks to match) when we moved in. Our appointed Relocation Agent (from Andy's work) has said he will try and get a sensible quote from him otherwise we should just leave and forget it. Fugitives on the run. He said there would be one major problem though with this plan, in that we may not be able to return to Belgium - gosh, that is a dilemma......

Monday, July 7, 2008

What came first - the chicken or the egg?

I am thinking about whether to continue this blog once we're in Dominica. So 'Are We There Yet' would change to 'Yes We Are' I guess. Several people have written asking me this and I really don't know. I would like to continue in the hope that others might find it helpful in the relocation process I guess and hopefully it would be entertaining reading. Also, it would probably be a good forum to put a few more family photos on easily which I've tried to avoid so far as we all think our own children are so delightfully entertaining but to others they are of course less so. Mind you Ollie could keep us all entertained pretty well. The day before we left our house and after my Mum had washed and carefully pressed all the sofa covers I found him sitting on a sofa with a rather serious albeit strained face on him. I asked if he was ok as I was passing through the room. 'Yes Mummy' he replied, 'I'm just hatching an egg'. By this time I was half way up the stairs before alarm bells rang. Hatching an egg? I returned fairly quickly but keen to continue his lifecycle education, I casually said, 'what do you mean exactly?' Thinking I clearly hadn't grasped it the first time round, he said in a very determined voice 'I'm making a chicken' (in the how stupid are you tone we all know so well from Ollie). I glanced down to the 'hatching area' in time to see a trail of liquid yellow descending into a pool on the floor.......cluck cluck.....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

In transit

Friday was bizarre. The container was all packed by 3pm - Andy came home at 2pm (oh, are we moving today darling?). The packers asked me to do a final check to see if they had left anything (as if anything else would actually fit in), I tipped them very generously and we all waved each other goodbye. They were superstars - they had had to pack the lorry with the help of the 3 angels carrying things from the house and laying them carefully all the way down the drive like a mini assault course for when the heavy stuff came out and the packers had to negotiate this whilst smiling through gritted teeth. Luckily my friend picked them up at lunchtime and another friend, Smithy (what a cleaning superstar) and I started on the major cleaning blitz. Mr Muscle's Oven cleaner is the best ever. I could be in their next advert and gush away with complete sincerity no problem. We then loaded our car and our friend's car with a mountain of bags and waited for the Judge to inspect alongside our Landlord. As expected, the Landlord babbled away to the Judge pointing excitedly to any potential fault he saw whilst jabbing his finger at anything and everything like a manic child in a toy shop. Of course we all completely disagreed at the end and now await the official report on Monday. I did make the Judge look at my oven twice mind.

Because we are breaking our contract early, we are liable for two month's rent. Whatever. I think we had the last laugh though as on Thursday night he said he had a viewing. A bit bonkers I thought showing someone round when the house is jam packed full of boxes but Belgium and bonkers are synonymous. At 9pm I opened the front door to them and it was the Adams Family. No joke - 8 children, and Robbie Coltrane and Dawn French leading the way. After the house inspection they all ran wild in the garden until 10pm. When we went to the neighbours the next morning to say goodbye and distribute our house plants, the lady clasped my hand and asked if the family were really moving in as they had de-headed all her roses in the front garden and broken off the little wooden door to their postbox. I said yes I thought so and that I also knew that they had 4 dogs and 2 cats as one of the boys had been in Chloe's class. Now, what a dilemma for our landlord, will he take their money and forever upset the neighbours or will he turn down the opportunity of double rent for 2 months.....

Anyway, we are staying with Lemony now for a couple of weeks and tonight we are all in the same room. It's fun, like camping. I used to wish ahead a bit but now I live for the moment so I'm enjoying it here and the children adore it as they have 24 hour playmates.

23 days to go until we see our new house.......just a little wish then I guess.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

How to wrap and pack like an expert

It's all done. The house is full of boxes and the 40 ft lorry parks outside our house at 8am tomorrow. I got up at 5am this morning with a spooky 6th sense on the key to our built-in house safe. I had left it in the door of the safe - too sensible. It had been packed with the rest of the stuff in the study. So between 5am and 7am I unwrapped, de-taped and went through all the boxes to find the key - I found it - was an eureka moment but no-one was up to share it with me unfortunately. I then spent half an hour redoing all the wrapping so the packers didn't know. Why I'm bothered about this I really don't know as I doubt they really care but they do seem to take pride in their work. There is a correct way to tape and seal a box you know, possibly - I was taught by someone today who has been doing it for 47 years - can you imagine that - packing and unpacking other people's stuff forever - I wonder if he ever moves house. I thought he was Master Packer Extraordinaire actually. Until I spotted him putting the flourishing touches to the seal of the freezer. In broken Dutch (well lots of sign language really involving my mouth and licking - bit like a dog) I casually asked if he'd checked the freezer - ummm, the fridge was empty but the kids had left 3 half-eaten ice creams in freezer section the night before.........6 weeks later in Dominica I don't think they would have relished them as much. Off went the packing. I skulked away and paid a quick visit to the bakery and returned with croissants, cakes, sandwiches, the works. Well, that kept them all very happy for the rest of the morning. I took a picture but I'm not sure you really want to see a house full of 160 boxes. Don't want to put you off the relocation challenge completely either..........

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

How clean is your house?

Still no sign of our bank transfer, luckily our over overdraft has been extended into an everdraft facility...boxes are all packed except our beds and the contents of the fridge and this pc. I keep telling the guys we are here until Friday but they clearly want to just finish the job today and be gone. We are fined for every key missing so I keep trying to put them all in safe places but nothing is safe when you have packers in, everything goes. We will find the contents of our bins when we unpack I know. Talking of my favourite bin subject, my friend had to bring all her special regulation bin bags to our house yesterday (each town has a different bag) and we put all my bags into hers so she could drive them all the way back to her house late last night. She probably resembled a body snatcher when she unloaded by moonlight. But, we still have the large pile of cuttings and the designated compost removal man with a van has gone on holiday. It's been raining all night, the pile is one huge sludgy mess but we have to remove it by 5pm tomorrow. In addition, we have the regulation (but this is only the limited list) cleaning list given to us - I thought it only fair to share:-

What needs to be cleaned ? (limited list)

The minimum requirement is that the premises are in the same condition as when you moved in.

All cleaning needs to be done before the final inspection (survey-out).

Please focus special attention on :

Floors :

  • wooden floors need to be cleaned and if necessary (depending on type wooden floor and used cleaning materials) treated with special products.

  • Stone floors must be cleaned and all stains removed (be very careful when using corrosive products or de-greasers on floors! )

  • Carpets must get a shampoo cleaning.

Walls :

  • all dust (cobwebs) removed, all material attached to wall like posters, decorations, etc must be removed and holes filled up with plaster.

Doors :

  • woodwork should be cleaned and stains removed (remove dust from top of door and wooden skirt board around door)

Windows :

  • glass cleaned inside and outside, woodwork cleaned, dust in woodwork when windows are open.

  • If curtains are present they must be cleaned otherwise you will be charged for it.

Kitchen :

  • clean oven and all utensils, fridge, freezer, hood cleaned and filters replaced or cleaned, all cabinets washed etc..

Bathrooms :

  • all cabinets washed, all chalk removed from tabs (also underneath sink), tub, sinks, shower window(s).

Terrace, drive way :

  • cleaned and all unwanted weeds, moss removed

Garden :

  • lawn mowed and maintained, hedges cut back etc.. discuss this with your gardener.

It's going to be a loooooooooooong last day.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lost in transit....

Our bank transfer from the UK to here to pay for our container has got lost in transit...........what on earth does that mean?........a trace (whatever that is exactly) has been put on it and an answer may appear between 2 days and 3 weeks. Alternatively the money broker/exchanger/dealer has just stolen our money. The shipper, Ziegler, wants their money before Friday. A visit tomorrow first thing is called for to our friendly bank manager. Do you think we'll get a 13,000 Euro overdraft facility with no questions asked when we are leaving in 3 was all going too well wasn't it............I don't want to discuss high stress levels because in the big scheme of things there are plenty worse off than me I know and I have to keep telling myself this...there again I really would like my container to actually leave this country.....anyway our friend George has just arrived with the rest of our state of the art (even prefab is state of the art you know) pool stuff and a nice bottle of champagne. All I need is a straw now and I'm not sharing. Maybe tomorrow this will all be a dream.............

ps The packer packed all my shoes so I have one pair of flips for the next 6 weeks - am thinking along the 'loads worse off than me' principle again so no problem hey.