Saturday, 30 November 2013

Here

Yes!  We made it!  We are actually here!  At this point I was going to include a cheesy upside down picture of us for giggles, but frankly our jet-lagged faces would have caused serious emotional and physical damage to you, not to mention the camera.

So, after we took refuge in the safe haven of Singapore Air, we hunkered down for our first 12 hour flight.  Several films and thousands of bags of peanuts later we arrived, bleary-eyed, into a ridiculously sunny morning in Singapore.  We met a friend of Jan's there who was on holiday and kindly took a day out of his own sightseeing to escort us around town.  We caught the train into town and walked around the harbour area where there is a giant three-tower hotel with what looks like a large boat atop of it.   



This is the Marina Bay Sands and for a tenner you can ascend in the ear-popping lift and get a good view from the top. 




Of course the one and only thing to do once you have reached the top of said dizzy heights and had a look around is to participate in a bit of Movember Blue Steel...




After that we went to get food, by which time I was practically asleep on my feet and drowning in my own sweat (a difficult feat, but totally achievable in the insane humidity).  We ate at the Food Trail which is a series of small huts selling different foods and drinks and it was yummy.  We ate satay skewers, Hainanese chicken rice and pak choi in oyster sauce, and tried cold bird's nest soup* and sugar cane juice to drink.  We then headed to Raffles hotel for a mandatory Singapore Sling before we headed back to the airport and on to even more bags of peanuts and our final destination.

And now we are here.  And it is kind of strange.  We are not rushing about doing the sightseeing touristy things like we would if we were on holiday.  We have sorted bank accounts and phones and wandered around a bit looking at a city we don't know, but knowing it will become ours in time.  We have unpacked our clothes (how did I manage to bring only ONE pair of trousers and ONE long sleeved top and NO pyjamas for slouching around in?!?!) but we have no house to call our own yet.  It has rained (trust us to move half way around the world and have it RAIN) but that actually made me feel a bit more at home.  We have done a shop and found some brands the same and some brands different.  Home feels far away at the moment, which is both exciting and scary, but we will take it a day at a time and, for now, say a big CHEERS!  We are here!



* Meh.
 † Also meh.
   Definitely NOT meh.

Friday, 29 November 2013

Leaving #2

I am not a fan of flying.  I used to be terrified.  Now I am more relaxed and can get on a plane without practicing a bunch of rituals in my head to prevent the plane going down, or checking I have a working lifejacket.  But after our last week in England was over, I was positively running on to the plane and begging it to take off.  Read on to discover why...

At the end of the last post, we were innocently heading into our last week here.  We saw off Jan's mum and dad on Monday morning (sob-fest as previously predicted) and Tuesday saw me running around London amending, cancelling and updating accounts and such.  Wednesday was my last day of work and on Thursday I went down to my parents' house to spend a few days with them.  On Saturday my dad sang in his male voice choir with a military charity, so I was happy to see him perform for one last time before heading off. 

On Sunday I brought my parents back to London - something they will no doubt regret forever, as it was less a poignant-last-few-days-with-beloved-daughter and more a last-few-days-with-a-screaming-harpy-ball-of-stress-and-insanity.  We started well enough with a lovely Sunday lunch with some friends.  Then we trotted back home and realised we essentially had a whole house to go through and split into "container", "suitcase", "parents" and "dump" categories.  Simple, when in your head you don't have that much stuff.  Not so simple when stuff keeps bloody appearing out of drawers and cupboards and goodness only knows where and you are still in the first room you started on hours ago.  After eons of sorting, compiling and dumping crap on innocent friends we retired, dusty and forlorn, to bed.

On Monday, I had some errands to run and took my mum with me, while we sent my dad to do a run to a charity shop.  Neither journey went well.  We live a 5 minute drive from the high street, yet my dad managed to bypass all of those charity shops and ended up at a Cancer Research two miles away in Highgate.  He found his way home after an hour.  We got on the road to go and drop off a chair at my friend's parents' house - without actually having put the chair in the car.  Fortunately we realised after ten minutes or so and rushed back to get it.  During all of this Jan was bouncing around at home with no clue what was going where anymore, cursing the day he ever met any member of the Oates clan.

By the time mum and I made it back, dad and Jan had loaded up a car and made it to the tip.  Dad and I then went with another carful of junk - only to find the tip closed at 4pm (DAMN YOU, BARNET COUNCIL, grrrr!).  It was now 4.10pm and we had at least two more carfuls of crap to go.  We called the council but some mischief maker on the other end claimed we couldn't leave the stuff out for them to pick up, they wouldn't collect it, and had we thought about leaving it in a church car park and asking the Christians for help?  Erm, no, we hadn't thought of that.  But as it was rapidly getting dark and we were rapidly being chucked out of the house by the inventory checker (who was actually very nice to us, probably because she realised she was dealing with complete and utter lunatics) we took the car and went up to the church where our theatre group has rehearsals.  No-one was there (all being at The Gatehouse in Highgate for their new show Treasure Island (we are gutted to be missing it!!  CLICK HERE, GO AND SEE IT PEOPLE AND REPORT BACK TO US!)) so we essentially fly-tipped the stuff around the back of the church while frantically calling theatre friends, begging them to do our dirty work for us and take the stuff to the tip the next day whilst at the same time hiding shamefacedly every time someone came out of the church, as they were finishing a service at the time.  This was obviously just our way of making our leaving easier for friends to cope with, by engendering a feeling of "just bloody go already and leave us in peace" in their hearts and minds.

After another two cars full of crap were dumped, a rental car dropped off and an obscurely situated hotel found at Heathrow, we finally breathed out - and then commenced packing the suitcases properly.  YES, IT WAS NOT OVER EVEN THEN!!!  After multiple re-packings and re-weighings of luggage, Jan deemed the suitcases acceptable and we collapsed into bed.  And that was it.  Our final week in England was over and now all that was left was to say goodbye to my parents (GAH, woe and misery) and then get on the plane.  Or the "Safe haven of no more stuff to pack" as I like to call it.


Monday, 18 November 2013

Leaving #1

It's been a while since the last post, because FINALLY things are happening here*!  But given that I had to spend several hundred pounds on repairs to my work machine after I accidentally poured a glass of liquid** over it, I figured I'd better stay away from the laptop until I got my uncontrollable sobbing outbursts in order, to protect it from snot-related damage.

So, first things first, to drag the previous analogy kicking and screaming into this post, Australia has decided it will date us!  Yay!  Now we just have to decide what to wear and how to have our hair!  (Only I have no summer clothes and Jan is in the middle of Movember, so we will definitely NOT be making a good impression.)  

Hot on the heels of our visa approval, we were finally able to book our flights.  Normal people of course would book flights based on sensible things like timing and cost and luggage allowance.  We booked ours on the basis that Jan wanted a go on the new double decker planes that have just come out, which we since discovered have a crappy luggage allowance, so now we have some serious packing decisions to make (Jan refuses to wear his parachute rig on the plane, so it looks like I will have to wear all my clothes at once Joey-from-Friends-style to make room for it).  But hey ho, our official leaving date is 26 November, when we take to the skies for the day, then stop at Singapore on the Wednesday, arriving in Sydney on the Thursday morning.  We also have details for our fancy serviced apartment - in Waterloo, nonetheless! It is paid for by the company for one month, after which it is highly possible we will be sleeping on the beach.

Since then, it has been a Whirlwind of auf Wiedersehen (or a Tornado of Tschüss if you wish).  I visited my dearest friends in Telford/Birmingham for a long weekend, which was a unique form of self-torture.  You spend a few days with your favourite people which just emphasises how freaking awesome they are and how much they mean to you, how much of your history is tied up together and how you just wouldn't be sane and present in the world today if it wasn't for them, and then you tear yourself away because you won't be seeing them for a year or two.  Ouch.  Suffice to say, there were many tears and it hurt WAY more than this:



But then I guess with good friends like mine I take comfort from the fact that they, like the tattoo, will be around for ever (and will need considerably less aftercare.  Seriously, the world's supply of nappy rash cream has been severely depleted due to this body art).

We kicked off this weekend with a leaving do in London for our friends here, which was fantastic. To have all of those lovely people in one room was so much fun and it was really touching that so many could make it to see us off (or make sure we were leaving?!).  It has really made us realise how lucky we have been in our lives here and how blessed we were to make such good friends.

On Saturday I woke up with the worst hangover ever, thinking I might not make it through the day, let alone through another couple of weeks (they lied you know!  Beer before wine does NOT make you feel fine.  Not at all.)  Then Jan's parents arrived.  They had driven FROM GERMANY to come and say goodbye in person (and to let us dump all the crap we can't take to Sydney on them).  Given I could barely remember my own name, the small talk in German was a bit lacking.  At one point I thought my brain had haemorrhaged and was seeping slowly out of my nose as I tried to string the German for "Did you have a good journey***" together.

We will say goodbye to them on Monday morning (another sobfest naturally).  This week we have even more goodbyes to say, to friends as well as my parents.  Underneath it all there is a certain amount of excitement for what is to come, but for now we are very much still living in what has gone before and working out how to say goodbye to it without drowning it in snot.

*   Yeah I know, we don't blog when there's nothing happening and we don't blog when big things are happening - what kind of half-assed bloggers are we?!
**   It was a wine/mosquito related incident.
*** It's two words, dammit.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Teenage Kicks

If you have ever idly dreamed about how much simpler things were when you were a teenager, or how how simple and innocent your first love was, and wished you were back there - DON'T.  Going through the visa process has been somewhat like that unrequited, head-over-heels, crazy first love we all went through.  You spend ages dreaming about what it would be like if it came true, you start planning in your head for the eventual realisation of said love, you start bargaining with your chosen deity* that if only - if only - this happens you will do whatever is required of you.  Then you spend a lot of time and effort concocting just the right form of words that must surely sway the mind of your True Love (to be sent in a letter/text/Valentine's/voice message/dating website/whatever teens do these days) and send it off and hold your breath.  And wait.  And wait and wait and wait.  And sneakily check whatever medium you have used to send the message (is your phone still connected?  Still receiving calls/texts?  Has your email suddenly broken/started putting all emails in the spam folder?  WHY IS IT ALL WORKING FINE, DAMMIT!).  And still nothing arrives.  And now you are desperate!  Why, oh why, haven't you heard anything?  What does it mean?  Did they get the message?  Read it?  Are thinking about just the right response?  Do they hate you and have dedicated themselves to ignoring you for the rest of their lives?  WHAT?!?!

So every day, we keep on checking our emails (including the spam folder), we keep on checking the immigration website and we keep on keeping our fingers crossed that sooner or later a message will come to say ... Australia loves us! And we can go on our first date!  <3  <3  <3

*or fate, destiny and chemical chance, if you don't have a deity to call God.