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Keep Your Word

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!

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Paperwork

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!

Procrastinating

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 🙂

Moving costs and the dog …

Hugely mixed emotions today.  The first quote for transporting Sally door to door from Sale to Hanoi arrived into my Inbox this morning and I need a lie down.  Crikey – even if you say it quickly that’s a lot of money!  Okay, add to my already overstretched To Do List – get more pet transport quotes!!!

On the other hand, and when my heart has stopped doing double quick time, the first of the relocation agents is coming this afternoon to advise/quote on shipping/storing etc.  At least we don’t have to pay this bit of the move (well, the storage I guess is down to us) but still a little nervous based on the dog quote experience!

If anyone living in Hanoi has a dog can you tell me please – are there places to take them to run and play off lead?  Sally’s a lively whippet/lurcher – like a little greyhound so a very fast runner.  I think in the hot weather she’ll be a bit lazier than she is here and she doesn’t like the rain very much so that will keep her indoors a bit too but realistically she is going to need to run.  Here I take her out, off lead (leash to American readers I think?), for 40-60 minutes a day.  She’d need that twice a week I think and a regular long walk on lead the other days.

Phew, I feel like I’ve done 5 rounds with Amir Khan and it’s only 09.30 🙂

One down Eleven to Go

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 🙂

Changing Species

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!

Whole new Vocabulary

Well, I’m learning a whole new vocabulary.  Words like ‘relocation agent’, ‘work permit’, ‘DEFRA’, ‘pet taxi’ and ‘non-resident landlord’ are now entering my world.  Some are obvious and easily dealt with where others appear deceptively simple whilst actually being a portal into a whole other world of complications!

Even trying to find out from the Vietnamese Embassy in London which sort of Visa I should apply for and what’s the longest duration I can apply for at a time – i.e. 6 or 12 months perhaps – becomes a little tedious when you realise you’re in an automated reply loop that it’s impossible to break free from.  Will resort to the telephone between the hours stipulated online.

So the news is semi officially announced at hubby’s work – some people know and some don’t yet.  This can be tricky unless you just forget all about it and wait for the other person to raise the subject.

The reaction of family has been interesting – generally incredibly positive and supportive with the occasional touch of petulance that we’re leaving them behind.  Who’d have thought a soon to be 17-year old who’s still at grunting stage conversationally, would have been all that concerned.

I think maybe what we’ll need to manage over the coming months is the perception and expectations around our move, rather perhaps than the reality.  Change is often uncomfortable, particularly for those left behind and I guess doubly so when you’ve had no say in the change that’s taking place.

I’ve started to make lists of things to consider, think about, action over the coming months and this week will begin to fine tune it and try to work out a calendar/schedule that I could put on my home office wall to track progress (or otherwise!).

Starting with a conversation with a relocation agent sounds like quite a good idea – will probably unearth a whole load of other stuff I didn’t even know I didn’t know about!

Right, where’s that number …..?