My day job is an interesting combination of marketing writing, teaching Business English and being on the Community Aid Committee of the wonderful Hanoi International Women’s club. And of course those tasks get juggled alongside everything else that most women (and yes, some men) deal with on a daily basis – currently that includes moving house. So it will come as no surprise that I cannot function without a daily To Do List, combined with jottings and slips of paper in a desk calendar, a pocket calendar and electronic calendars all neatly synched between laptop, iPad and phone. Simply keeping these aide memoires up to date and colour co-ordinated regularly provides endless hours of entertainment (I think that was someone’s catch phrase but don’t know whose?).
In that wonderful way that only the universe fully understands, my various ‘worlds’ often overlap and merge in a very satisfying way (and occasionally collide in a less pleasant manner) and I marvel every time when I’m asked to write an article on a subject that is just the topic I need to know more about at that particular time.
Two recent examples illustrate my point. The first, more positively than the second, was an article I wrote for an e-newsletter where the topic was how to handle email overload in the office. I have the Post It Note in front of me as I type: Do, Delegate, Designate Time and Dump and I have to say, this system works very well for me (when I remember to use it!).
The second article was a longer piece about business blogging – why you need one and how to get started. Researching this article had me engrossed and I enjoyed writing it so much I even decided to implement some of the advice. An hour or so later I had a hand written, a typed and an Evernote version of my blog’s mission statement, frequency, editorial calendar and keywords.
That was back in April and since then I ‘should’ have written fortnightly on:
- Public Holidays in Vietnam
- Getting a second dog
- Trailing spouse syndrome
- Visiting Thailand
- Staying home alone in a strange country while hubby works away
- Visiting Phu Quoc island
- The CAC and HIWC
- Moving house, what you look for in a home when living abroad
- Holidays redefined – when going back home is not a holiday
And since April I think, from memory, I’ve posted about two blogs and probably not actually covered any of these topics. In fact, I haven’t felt inclined to blog at all. What had been a pleasure that I admittedly didn’t indulge in as often as I would have liked, had suddenly become a chore. Creating this plan took all the creativity out of the process for me. What had been fun has now become work.
Three months later here’s what I’ve learned – not all plans are good plans, you don’t always need a plan and – if it isn’t working ditch the plan!
So, hopefully I’ll be back more often and writing about the stuff that appeals at the time of writing rather than following a ‘features calendar’ and hopefully my readers will enjoy the randomness of ad hoc writing. I’ll leave you with a photo of me and the hubby getting soaked playing splash with an elephant in Thailand – just to bring the fun back into this blog!
It’s official, the house is now available to let and I’m busy getting all those odd jobs done that we never quite got around to. Like putting draught excluder on the windows and doors that previously allowed the gales to blow right in as we shivered inside muttering: We should put draught excluder on that window/door. Daft isn’t it – £6.95 in B & Q and we’re snug as bugs. The only thing is we do get a bit of a shock when we open a door and realise it is actually still blowing that gale outside, we just didn’t notice it!!!
Enough about draught excluder. The To Let board has just gone up outside the house and I feel quite strange looking out at it – there’s something slightly vulnerable about being inside a house that’s advertising the fact that you’re going. Anyway, we’ve had an enquiry from a family relocating from Austria which I’d love – there’s something really appealing about a family having an adventure here as ex pats while we’re in Vietnam doing the same. However, sentimental old fool that I am – a rental’s a rental and I won’t insist that the house goes to ‘someone that I like’ 🙂
Christmas was wonderful and we had plenty of time with all the kids which was great – they seem to think that they must spend lots of time with us because we’ll soon be gone. They do know we’re back on 16th June don’t they?! Ah well, I’m not complaining, it’s been ace.
This week has been remarkably stressful because I ‘phoned Singapore Airlines, just to confirm the arrangements for Sally and was told that they don’t take pets from the UK. Panic, panic, deep breaths, scream. Not to be deterred I emailed them and asked the same thing, only to have a lovely man call me to say yes it can all be done, to explain the process and get her booked in. Maybe I’m old fashioned but I always like to speak to someone first and really dislike/distrust online booking forms. This incident reminds me though how important it is to do both – but make sure you’re dealing with someone who does actually know/have the ability to help you. Avoid call centres at all cost!!!
In addition to clearing the house I’m busily arranging to meet family and friends to say goodbye – only 6 weeks really to do it all and we’re going to Vejer for a week in the middle of it all so plenty to keep me busy.
Well, we’re on Plan C regarding furniture shipment versus storage but at least we’re making progress (baby steps are still progress right?!).
There’s something so intimidating about official documents to my mind. We’ve just got back our ACRO certificates of good conduct from the Police and, despite both being certified as 100% in the clear, we look like criminals on the photos and the document looks exactly as it would if we had convictions as long as your arm. Couldn’t they put ‘good’ certificates on different coloured paper or would that be discrimination? Okay, just a joke 🙂
We’ve got our visas sorted and were just about to send a load of paperwork off to be officially translated by an approved translation agency when it appears that can all be done in Vietnam provided it’s been notarised here, certified by the F&C Office and the Vietnamese Embassy in London. Seriously? I can’t help thinking that my husband’s firm is ‘doing things by the book’ but have a sneaky suspicion that 80% of people doing the same move wouldn’t be ticking quite so many of the boxes! Ah well, we’re keeping a whole army of officials in business I guess!
The dog next – I need to sit my dog courier (okay, stepson!) down tomorrow and explain exactly what he’ll be required to do (as best as I can having never actually done it myself), including possibly needing some jabs himself. Then I’m ready to get his visa and both their flights booked.
Interestingly, we were due to book our flights last week end and didn’t get around to it. Not a great sign eh!! I think actually booking flights feels a little bit too real but we’re going to need to at some point given that everything else will be booked and sorted. It would be a shame to miss all the fun by not having plane tickets!
Blimey, who’d have thought it was so complicated trying to decide what to do with various items of furniture and personal possessions? First of all we decided (perhaps being a little cowardly) that we’d just ship most of it out to Hanoi and decide what to bring back when the time comes. Then, after seeking advice from friends and people in the know, we decided to store stuff that we thought we’d definitely want back here at the end of our Vietnamese adventure. And now …?
Well, the cost of storing it seems ridiculous and most of it is far too good to just give away but the second hand value of household things and furniture is almost zero and I can’t really be bothered trying to sell items bit by bit – surely life’s too short to go down that road? I’m exhausted just thinking about it – mind you I am full of a cold and dosed up with Beechams Cold and Flu Remedy so that probably isn’t helping on the ‘clarity of thought’ front!
Think we’re going to end up shipping it out there and then deciding what to do when the time comes to return home – i.e. procrastinating 🙂
Yippee, we’ve agreed what we’re doing with all the items in one room of the house. Okay, we haven’t done anything with them yet and I did pick the easiest room – the sitting room. But, don’t knock it, for a hoarder this is amazing progress with 6 months still to go before we move!
I’ve devised a Ship, Store, Sell checklist; itemised everything in the room and then have a quickfire session where hubby gets to say what happens to each item. Any that I don’t agree with we discuss before moving onto the next item. I think this is called teamwork!
I haven’t quite worked out a prize system yet but really feel that something should be on offer to make a painful process a little more enticing! (Prize for me that is, Kevin (did I mention his name before – well, he’s the hubby!) isn’t sentimental about most ‘stuff’ and would happily get rid of 90% of it).
Ship and Store are pretty self explanatory but Sell actually means I need to give some thought to anyone who might want the item among our friends and family. If not, whether it genuinely is worth selling, if it would better suit www.freecycle.org , the charity shop, local community furniture project, recycling or the dump.
Time for coffee and cake to give me the energy to tackle – the dining room 🙂
I’m considering changing species and registering myself as a dog because the lady who we’re talking to about moving Sally out to Hanoi sounds so lovely I’d rather like her to take care of me too!
More seriously though, of the three relocation agents I contacted last week only one responded promptly, one claims they replied and the other hasn’t even responded to my second attempt to get a dialogue going with them!
The one who claims they replied have now sent me a 5 page form to complete which entails me walking around the house ticking boxes as to how many of each item we’ve got, then specifying items of particular value and putting an insurance valuation price on it all. Blimey, I’m bored just thinking about it!
On the 14th September someone is coming over from Leeds (from the first company – oh go on Karen, name them. Crown Relocations) to talk us through the process and establish how best to move the contents of one quite large family home into a 20 foot container and ultimately a house in Hanoi and I’m quite excited.
Whilst on the subject of clearing the house – which I’m sort of talking about today aren’t I – having started to give away clothes to charity (and binning the stuff that I don’t think they’ll want) I’ve just come across clothesbank.co.uk who PAY YOU for reusable clothes, shoes, belts and handbags. Alright, it’s only 60p per kilo but, they do collect and I’ll need that money to buy my own dog biscuits when the inter species transfer comes through!