Tuesday 26 August 2008

First (and hopefully last) visit to A&E

We arrived safely in Dumfries yesterday lunchtime and David went straight for a sleep. We have been catching up with family yesterday and today.

We have found Scotland to be so grey, the weather has been wet and overcast, but it seems the sunshine does not break through the grey skies very often this far north. We are pining for the sunshine of our island home.

Today we went to a chocolate factory where Peter, Joseph and Aaron (my nephew) tried their hands at being Oompha Loompa. They spent about an hour making (and eating) lots of chocolate and came out with a bag full of goodies.

After the Chocolate Factory the next stop was the David Coulthard Museum, where the kids practised pit stops on all the cars and Joseph tested how far he could push a replica MacLaren with one finger (too far for David's liking). The mums tested out the cafe and found it very acceptable!

We attempted a picnic in Castle Douglas, but were driven back home by a combination of the weather, some scary swans and a man running about wearing two children's jackets zipped together...

After lunch we thought we would try out the new leisure centre in Dumfries (catchily named DG One). It was a great facility with three pools including a little leisure pool which was a lot warmer than our usual pool in Guernsey (Beau Sejour). It was all going swimmingly until Luke slipped and cut his chin while climbing up the steps for the small slide. He quickly recovered and wanted to go back into the water, but we decided (on the advice of Doctor Dan) to take him to the hospital, where he was glued and paper stitched up and sent on his way with a sticker and a bravery certificate.

Hopefully tomorrow will be less eventful!


Monday 25 August 2008

Leaving the rock

21:30 Sunday 24th August 2008. I'm writing this post “off-line” on Sunday evening (so ignore the post date/time stamp which will be the time I next find an internet connection!)

I'm down at the harbour waiting to board the fast ferry (Condor) to Weymouth. Now that experience is normally enough in itself to bring a tear to my eye (I await news on how late today's ferry will be). As this represents the end of my Guernsey adventure – 2,061 days of it, so in a way I'm not in as much of a rush as usual so I will savour my last view of the St Peter Port skyline (for at least a year).

9:55. I've just reached the front of the queue and checked in – they are claiming no delay to the ferry, we'll see.

It's been a weekend of high emotion. We spent the weekend on the island of Sark. Saturday was the wedding of the boys' nanny, Sian (to Andy). Sian has worked for us for two years and before that looked after Joseph at nursery from a very young age (Joseph's age that is, not Sian's).

Sian had a great bond with all of the boys and they don't realise yet how much they will miss her. To be honest I didn't realise how much I would miss her until this week – I thought that I felt sad on behalf of the boys, who obviously spent more time with Sian around. But on reflection I realise that I will also really miss her being around. She fitted so well into the family and there will be a hole in our lives for a while. Sian also brought into the boys' lives some surrogate aunts (Becky, Lisa and Dale) who will be missed (and, I strongly suspect, will miss the boys). So under the cover of Sark darkness I did shed a couple of tears on the walk back to our hotel on Saturday night (Nicola, of course, spent most of the day in tears).

Sian looked great and it was a fantastic wedding day (great weather too) – a few photos are here. One of the major draws which could bring us back to Guernsey is the thought that Sian might come back and look after the boys again!

So, we arrived back in Guernsey on Sunday (today, remember) afternoon. We spent a few hours doing one last drive around some of our favourite places (Footes lane, Cobo, Ladies Bay, Pembroke etc) before heading back to base camp (Mike & Loretta's house in St Martins) to cram our belongings into the car.

22:20. No sign of the Condor yet, looks like they're going to need a record turnaround to get us on board for the scheduled 22:30 departure. At least when we're on the other side of the world we can rest assured that nothing really changes in Guernsey. It will still be the same when we come back in X years and there'll still be an extra wait at the harbour when we next try to escape the rock.

22:46. We are sailing – bye Guernsey, hope it's not too long till I see you again (I wish the same could be said about the damn Condor Ferries safety video).

Thursday 21 August 2008

Hungry and homeless

Thursday 21st August 2008...moving day. We had to be at our solicitors for just after 9am, so at 8.55am we had packed the boot with two big rucksacks, a tent, a holdall, four small rucksacks, an empty box, coats, a can of petrol and a printer. Luckily Joseph, Luke and the buggy were at nursery so this meant we could squeeze the back carrier, a small suitcase, Peter, a rucksack, a bin bag of toys and a travel cot into the back seats. Leaving me to put my rucksack and the hoover at my feet and I only had to hold a box of food on my knee. It was a bit of a squeeze to say the least.

I was glad to get out of the car when we got to town! All went well at court and the house had new owners by 10am. As we were hungry and homeless we had a quick breakfast stop before doing some shopping! We arrived back at the car with an additional six pairs of socks, a thank you card and a lilly to squeeze in.

First stop after town was our self store, then the reclamation yard, then our friends house where we are staying this evening...by which point we all felt a bit less claustrophobic! I should point out that the stuff to take on our trip is within our original plans, however now that we are taking the car back over I have added one (or three) boxes of stuff to take back up home to family! Sorry Mum!

In the afternoon we collected the boys from nursery and walked to Lihou Island, which is something that we have been meaning to do for the last five years. Was a very short visit...but at least we managed it.

Tomorrow we head off to Sark for Sian's wedding, which we are really looking forward to...but we have to repack our stuff...better go and get started now!


Wednesday 20 August 2008

The week so far

We headed out for our walk (Nic, Peter and me) at 8.15am. First down to Cobo and then North to Ladies bay, across the common to Pembroke and over bunker hill towards Bordeaux. We hit 10.00 miles on the GPS just before Bordeaux kiosk and Peter was then given the option of stopping for a bus or keeping on. He was keen to complete a half marathon distance so we headed on towards St Sampson and back towards St Peter Port. It was clear that if we walked home the distance would be over 15 miles so we jumped on a bus from Bulwer Avenue to town and then walked home from there. Peter crossed his virtual 13.1 mile finishing line close to home (with a Usain Bolt style celebration on the line) in 5hours 18mins and by the time we reached our front door we had walked 13.44 miles. Nicola (knee) and I (feet) hobbled around for the rest of the day getting the house cleared out a bit more, Peter ran around as if he had just finished a normal short walk with no ill effect whatsoever!!

Major clearing out of the house plus a trip to town to collect Joseph's new made-to-measure sleeping bag, and to sort out the paperwork for our New Zealand bank account. It was Sian's last day at work and we were both very sad (so was Sian) - as ever the boys were unmoved, but they really will miss her a lot. Looking forward to her wedding on Sark on Saturday, the weather forecast is looking good.

Final push to get the house cleared out. Joseph and Luke went in to nursery for the day - an unusual experience for Luke who cried so much in the morning that he was upgraded to the pre-school room so that he had Joe for company. Peter couldn't believe his luck when he was left to watch TV all morning whilst mum & dad tidied and emptied the house. He soon worked out that it wasn't going to be such a great day after all when the TV was packed up and taken away just after lunch! For a long time it felt like it was never going to end. Runs to the charity shops & reclamation yard, runs to storage and the recycling bins and ever filling skip bags didn't seem to make a dent, but finally around 4pm the house was (more or less) empty except for a single bedroom with a mountain of kit ready for its voyage around the globe.

We took the boys down to the storage centre to show them our storage room (by now crammed full of our stuff) before taking them back to the empty house, thought it might be worth providing some proof that we did still have their toys/furniture/bikes rather than them thinking it might never be seen again.

We had dinner sitting on the kitchen floor on a picnic rug. Nicola and I had some very spicy pakora which Luke insisted on trying; it didn't go down well. It didn't go down well the second time, or the third or fourth either- I think the spices might have been giving him short term memory loss.

Luke spent the last hour before bed listing things that were missing and telling me that they were in storage: "my chair.....gone....storage, pillows.....gone....storage". Makes a change from "my aeroplane, mummy aeroplane, daddy ferry" which is what we've had for several days now.

For those who don't know the Guernsey legal system - we have to go to court tomorrow morning for the house sale to go through. Peter will be coming along with us - his first taste of court at age six (and he doesn't even live in Bellshill).

Monday 18 August 2008

Unemployed and almost homeless

We both had our last day at work on Friday, so we are now unemployed. Feels a bit scary to think that we will not be getting paid at the end of this month! I was worried I would feel a bit lost on Monday morning...and I would be found sitting on the steps of the office...but we have decided to do a walk, so with David and Peter, we are aiming to walk 10 miles this morning!

We did not do much packing at the weekend, we have mainly been watching the Olympics. We are planning to get all packed up this afternoon and tomorrow. The house still seems full of stuff, no matter how much we pack up there still seems to be stuff everywhere. This is partly because the boys just spread their books and toys out over the available space. By the end of tomorrow we are planning to only have in the house what we are taking with us.


Monday 11 August 2008

Packing day...

Packing day got off to a bad start when David misjudged the van width on the way back from picking it up and clipped a wall and ripped off the passenger mirror. Driving became a bit stressful after this as the van no longer had a mirror making driving harder and if David misjudged again then it could be the van that was smashed...the roads started to look very narrow.

We got the van packed up with a lot of furniture and boxes, this was all going into a crate at a local storage company (R&R). This all had to be packed up today and will be inaccessible once packed up, so we wanted to get it packed tight. The crate was 250 cubic feet and I found it hard to imagine how much stuff we would get into it, alternating between extremes of thinking it would be huge then tiny!

After getting the van packed up we quickly popped into town to pay the deposit on our 6 berth Mercedes camper van (diesel automatic)...which will be waiting for us to pick up on arrival in Christchurch in November.

We then headed out to the store to get the crate packed. David was a bit nervous as we headed out some very narrow roads to get there...or not...as unfortunately I had not actually found out where the store was and took David to the wrong side of the island....40 minutes, a sense of humor failure and a few grey hairs later we arrived at the store. The box was a good size and with some great help from the R&R staff we got it packed in no time and were heading off for the second load.

The van (a diesel automatic) was terrible to drive, we spent most of the day driving in second gear as it seemed to have a phobia of third! Thank goodness we haven't just bought just such a van to live in for six months....

Once the box was packed up we had to move our big fridge freezer into the self store. This proved to be a bit tricky, but we got there in the end thanks to a man with a forklift truck and a Phillips screwdriver!

The house is looking bare and we are living on patio furniture for the next two weeks!

See our photos from today here.

Sunday 10 August 2008

Guernsey leaving party

15 days until we leave Guernsey (or is it 14?)

We made a slight change this week to the plan for the start of the trip. I am now going on the ferry on 24th August with Nicola and the boys flying up to Manchester on the morning of the 25th (where I will pick them up for the journey North). We advertised our car for sale but had little response, so we have decided to hold on to it for when we get back next year - hence the change of plan.

Today we had our Guernsey farewell party at our house. Lots of friends from school, work and sports clubs came by for some food and drink. Despite the gloomy predictions of the weather forecasters all week the sun shone and the rain stayed away all day, so we got to spend most of the day in the garden. Thanks to everyone who came, it was nice to see you all and we hope that you enjoyed the afternoon as much as we did.

Following the party we quickly tidied up and then had time for some more packing; mainly the boys' books and bedroom furniture. The poor boys never know what will be gone when they wake up in the morning, hopefully the lack of a bed beneath them tomorrow won't be too traumatic! I wish I could just go to bed and find someone had packed all of my things away some nights.

Day off work tomorrow, lots more still to sort out.