Last night was an important event in our family’s journey. My husband’s firm hosted a Bon Voyage cocktail party for him at the fabulous Bridgewater Hall in Manchester which was attended by clients, contacts, colleagues and his family. Our boys ages range from 25 – 17 years and their experience of ‘public’ events of this kind has been, not surprisingly, rather limited. They did us and themselves proud though – networking and chatting like professionals.
As with so many social events of this scale, we all came away regretting not having had more time to talk to more people but in full agreement that the night had been a great success. It was lovely for the boys to hear people talking about a man that they only really know of as ‘dad’ in such glowing terms and with obvious regret that he’s leaving Manchester coupled with admiration at the adventure we’re embarking on.
As we settled down together for the night and reflected on what a great evening we’d had, my husband became very quiet and started to list all the people who hadn’t made it, some of whom had accepted and not then sent any apology for their absence. Oh how human – why do we so often reflect on what we don’t like or what didn’t happen?! I made the usual platitudes about how many did come (far more than didn’t) and how we hadn’t managed to speak to everyone anyway so more guests would only have exacerbated the situation. He was slightly mollified but still a little upset by some of the ‘no shows’.
This got me thinking though. Hand on heart, not one of those people meant him any harm by not attending. Some will have had cast iron, genuine reasons for their absence. And for many they simply won’t even have thought that their presence would be missed.
What I’ve taken from the evening, in addition to the friendship and support of so many guests and a great sense of pride in our boys, is a reminder to Keep Your Word. I am as guilty as the next person of saying I’ll do something (and meaning it at the time) and then changing my mind, often due to tiredness or lethargy rather than anything more acceptable as an excuse. So, one thing I want to take to Hanoi next month is a commitment to keep my word. If I commit to something, business or social, my aim is to keep that commitment and not assume that my absence won’t be noticed or missed.
Right, back to sorting the cookery books into piles to either ship or store!
I applaud the move to a paperless world (except where novels are concerned and much as I love my e-reader, there’s nothing quite like holding a book in my hands) but …
We’re at the part of the process of becoming expats where we have to notify everyone of our change of address and/or cancellation of whatever service we previously bought from them. Having enjoyed the benefits of being able to conduct my own transactions and manage my accounts on line, I’m now paying the price as I try to make changes remotely too. Nearly everyone wants confirmation in writing, fair enough it is no doubt as they claim ‘for my additional security’ but boy oh boy, I’ve spent hours trying to find exactly who to write to and where and running off letters with all the correct references and account numbers on. And these are just the accounts, services and utilities. Direct mail is a whole other category.
Despite starting months ago and dutifully notifying Saga (I know, I know, I’m way too young but their stuff automatically kicks in on your 50th birthday), Pia Jewellery, Charles Tyrwhitt shirts and a zillion a.n.others I still get mail from 90% of them. Once you’re on their database there is no place to hide.
Which leads me to my next gripe. Health Insurance/Medical Cover. Having been cossetted by the National Health Service in the UK, not perfect I know but has always done me very well, I now find myself needing private health cover as an expat. Trying to compare the Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels (or whatever equivalent title they’re given) with USA cover or without, with evacuation or without, with or without dental … I don’t even know how to begin to decide. But that’s not my real issue. My real issue is with the brilliance on the part of all these environmentally friendly companies who no longer need to send a brochure. Simply email the pdf and some poor sucker at the other end has to either print the whole thing out or spend half a day sifting through the pages that are actually needed in order to make an informed decision.
I’m exhausted and my head’s spinning. Maybe it will all become clearer after a glass of wine? Will I have to declare it on my medical application form?
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!